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14 Apr 2014

Dodge offering novel 1-year lease on '14 Challenger and Charger models

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2014 Dodge Charger and Challenger

Dodge is just days away from unveiling refreshed versions of the Charger and Challenger at the 2014 New York Auto Show, models promising updated styling and new powertrain options. Depending on how you look at it, the company is either so confident in its forthcoming 2015 models that it’s offering an interesting Double-Up lease deal on the current vehicles, or it’s so eager to clear out existing stock that it’s resorting to novel lease deals. In any case, what they present is an interesting scenario, one which allows buyers to get the existing model right now, and then trade up to the facelifted 2015 models in one year.

Starting April 17, when the refreshed cars debut through the end of August, buyers can lease a 2014 Charger or Challenger for one year and exchange it for a three-year lease on a 2015 model next year, with no additional money down and the same monthly payment. Customers can even switch vehicles when the new lease starts. If drivers want to buy the ’15, they get $1,000 off the purchase price. To be eligible, both leases must use the same dealership and be financed through Chrysler Capital. The Double-Up deal excludes the SRT versions of both cars and Charger SE models.

To offset the flood of one-year-old models coming back to dealerships, Dodge has struck a deal with rental car agency Enterprise, which has agreed to buy them all. “One-year leases are highly unusual in the industry,” said company spokesperson Ralph Kisiel, and the fleet sale deal is what makes it possible.

This offer might be a good way for Dodge to boost flagging sales of both models this summer. According to Chrysler sales data, Charger sales are down 4 percent, to 24,956 units from January through March, and the Challenger is down 24 percent in that time, with just 11,034 sold. Maybe the refreshed vehicles and lease deal will provide the sales jolt they need. Scroll down to read all of the details.

Continue reading Dodge offering novel 1-year lease on ’14 Challenger and Charger models

Dodge offering novel 1-year lease on ’14 Challenger and Charger models originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 14 Apr 2014 15:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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13 Apr 2014

Cadillac's Euro reboot may have implications for US models, sales

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Cadillac CTS V Coupe at the end of the road Magdeburg Germany

Firmly on the comeback trail in the US, Cadillac is still trying to get out of the starting blocks in Europe. At the Geneva Motor Show in March, Cadillac’ senior execs revealed plans to grow the brand’s presence in a luxury market dominated by the big three German marques, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.

GM President Dan Ammann says he sees “enormous” potential for Cadillac globally.

Over the past 20 years, the General Motors premium nameplate has tried and failed multiple times to break into the European market. This time around, Cadillac recognizes that progress will be modest at best, and depends on specific changes to models, some of which may impact the brand’s US lineup. Planned new sales tactics in Europe may also impact the way Cadillac does business on this side of the pond.

GM President Dan Ammann says he sees “enormous” potential for Cadillac globally. “Our goal is to take a much more consistent long term approach than what the company used to historically,” he tells Autoblog.

For Uwe Ellinghaus, Cadillac chief marketing officer, this means a slow and steady strategy for the European market. Ellinghaus, a former BMW executive, sees annual sales volumes reaching around 2,000 units for the next few years. That, of course, is a drop in the bucket compared to the German luxury brands’ sales totals. But being the underdog is not necessarily a bad prospect, says Ellinghaus. Cadillac lacks a properly developed dealer network in Europe, but this gives the brand an opportunity to experiment with a new approach. “I think the future of retail in the automotive industry is without bricks and mortar, at least in comparison to what we do now, which is investing multi-millions in dealerships all over the country,” he notes.

“Because of our limited volume, it will be easier to take care of customers on an individual basis. So we see a competitive advantage there and can pioneer a new retail format, with pop-up stores, virtual stores and a flagship store, maybe. If this approach works we then roll it out in rest of the world.”

Continue reading Cadillac’s Euro reboot may have implications for US models, sales

Cadillac’s Euro reboot may have implications for US models, sales originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 11 Apr 2014 16:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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13 Apr 2014

How Mercedes' sterling reputation hurts Sprinter sales

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2014 Mercedes-Benz Sprinter

If you’ve ever visited Germany, you know that Mercedes-Benz doesn’t exactly carry the high-end cache in its homeland that it does in the US. While the Three-Pointed Star is still certainly known for its luxury sedans and sports cars, the brand also represents most of the taxis on the road, and its Sprinter vans make many of the deliveries. The upscale image in North America might be beneficial when trying to lure new buyers to a CLA-Class, but Merc is seeing pushback from some commercial buyers who think its vans are too ostentatious for them.

Mercedes USA has created a dedicated van unit, and one of the group’s first tasks is to fight this belief. It has already begun targeted, web-based ads advertising the truck’s monthly payments to show potential customers they can afford it. “We want to align perceptions with realities,” said Christian Bokich, Mercedes USA Product and Technology Manager. A standard Sprinter in the US starts at $35,920 with a 144-inch wheelbase and standard roof, and the largest models provide the most cargo space among competitors.

The company also has another way to sell the Sprinter – Freightliner ; these models are identical other than the grille. According to Automotive News, that brand sees most of the van’s large fleet orders.

Despite some customers being turned off by a commercial Mercedes, Sprinter sales are growing. According to AN, the van’s sales were up 25 percent in March to 1,915 units, and February was up 18 percent. For 2014, the US model receives a new standard powertrain that pairs a 2.1-liter four-cylinder BlueTEC diesel, making 161 horsepower and 265 pound-feet of torque, with a seven-speed automatic, and an all-wheel drive version is on the way. Mercedes is out to prove to the US that it is as good at vans as it is with plush sedans.

How Mercedes’ sterling reputation hurts Sprinter sales originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 12 Apr 2014 13:02:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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11 Apr 2014

Zenos E10 coming to America priced from $39,500*

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Zenos E10

Tired of seeing all the coolest track toys just beyond your reach, across the pond in the UK and Europe? Well we’ve got good news for you, because as promised, Zenos is coming to America.

For those unfamiliar, Zenos Cars is the outfit started by former Caterham boss Ansar Ali and his engineering partner Mark Edwards. After working at Lotus together and leaving Caterham, Ali and Edwards (which sounds to us more like a boxing match than an engineering duo) struck out on their own and have been developing a line of lightweight sports cars.

The E10 is the first of them, and was unveiled a few months ago at the Autosport International show in Birmingham (England, not Alabama – or any of the other US states that have a town by that name). It’s built around an innovative carbon and aluminum backbone and packs a 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine from Ford with 200 horsepower on tap that, thanks to its low 1,430-pound curb weight, is enough to send it to 60 in 4.5 seconds.

The startup has now set up Zenos Cars USA and will begin delivering the E10 to American customers next year. Pricing will start at $39,500 (*plus destination and taxes), with the Launch Edition encompassing many of the options for $43,750. That, for reference, puts the Zenos E10 at about the same level as the entry-level Caterham Seven 280 (which starts at $40,900), but significantly less than even the cheapest Radical (the SR4 Clubsport that starts at $65k).

With the distribution channels already established, Zenos has an E11 convertible and E12 coupe in the works based on the same architecture. Feel free to read more in the press release below.

Continue reading Zenos E10 coming to America priced from $39,500*

Zenos E10 coming to America priced from $39,500* originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 28 Mar 2014 09:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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11 Apr 2014

VW has figured out how to make a cheap car for around $8,000

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Volkswagen Up

Renault’s Dacia brand has shown through its success that consumers are willing to give up some creature comforts for solid, basic transportation. Soon, Nissan will follow a similar path with the launch of its Datsun brand in emerging markets. We’ve heard rumblings Volkswagen Group might follow the trend and go back to its roots with a second people’s car, and the vehicle might be closer than ever.

Reuters says that VW Group’s executive board is due to sign off on its entry-level car as soon as this week, and the company’s supervisory board will lend its support by the summer. A VW spokesperson revealed that the new model was in development behind closed doors, despite the final production order not yet given. The vehicle is slated to cost 6,000-8,000 euros ($8,261-$11,015) and be built and sold in China starting in 2016. That brings the starting price about 4,000 euros ($5,500) below the already basic Up! (pictured above).

The key to this entry-level market is creating purpose-built cars for the needs of users, according to industry analyst Dave Sullivan of AutoPacific. “As we saw from the Tata Nano, taking everything out and making it super low cost won’t get people to buy it,” he told to Autoblog. The little Indian car was touted for its low cost but hasn’t lived up to sales forecasts. According to an earlier report, Volkswagen was having trouble meeting its desired quality and safety standards for the budget vehicle, while maintaining profitability, which obviously compromises user need.

“There is actually a huge demand for affordable and reliable transportation,” said Sullivan. He believes VW may face a challenge because by the time the new model is ready, it will face competition from Datsun and Chinese brands expanding into emerging markets. While VeeDub regularly dukes it out with General Motors over the title of the largest automaker in China, in the rest of Asia and India, the company has a relatively small market share, according to Reuters. The cheaper entry could give the brand a foothold there and help propel the Group to its goal of being the world’s largest automaker by 2018.

VW has figured out how to make a cheap car for around $8,000 originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 26 Mar 2014 18:03:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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11 Apr 2014

Nissan testing experimental dealer with no desks or offices

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Nissan UK Showroom

Nissan thinks it has found a better way to sell cars, and it involves stripping showrooms of everything but the cars and sales team. The brand calls the experiment the Nissan New Retail Concept, and it might get tested in the US in a few years.

The concept is relatively simple. Showrooms ditch offices, reception counters, cubicles and desks. Instead salespeople walk around inside and outside the dealer with mobile devices to assist customers and even complete sales. Associates are trained to take immediate responsibility for each visitor they encounter. For example, if owners comes inside with a problem with their vehicle, the employee escorts them to the service department and introduces them.

A dealer in London has been testing the new layout for the last nine months, and so far it reports better customer satisfaction, loyalty and most importantly higher sales. Nissan next plans to launch test stores in Moscow and Stuttgart. Then it will broaden out to more of Western Europe and finally will be tested in the Japan, the US and the Middle East, according to Automotive News.

Koen Maes, Vice President Customer and Retail Experience of Nissan Europe, came up with the idea. “The whole idea of taking a shopper – male or female – back into a back room to finalize the deal is threatening. We want to get away from that,” he said to Automotive News.

The concept is certainly novel and echoes the customer-centric sales strategy used to sell many luxury goods. Salespeople might not welcome the inability to sit down while working, though. We’ve contacted Nissan for more details about the dealer’s design and concept and will update this story if and when we hear back.

Nissan testing experimental dealer with no desks or offices originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 26 Mar 2014 08:44:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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11 Apr 2014

Ram 1500 to get Pentastar V6 option in top-shelf models

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Ram 1500 Laramie Limited

Ram has seen such positive customer feedback from its 3.6-liter Pentastar V6 and TorqueFlight eight-speed automatic transmission in the Ram 1500 that it’s bringing the powertrain upmarket, and it’s now going to be available in truck’s Laramie trim level (Laramie Limited pictured above). The new choice means better fuel economy and lower pricing in one of the 1500’s higher-end models.

A Ram 1500 Laramie Quad Cab 4×2 with the 3.6-liter Pentastar and eight-speed automatic will retail for $38,775, plus a $1,195 destination charge. It’s a savings of over $1,000 over the trim’s current starting price.

Ram says the decision to offer the V6 option was customer driven. “Today’s V6 engine is a lot stronger than yesterday,” said Nick Cappa of Ram Truck media relations to Autoblog. Cappa notes that dealers have reported buyers returning from test drives who can’t believe there are only six cylinders operating underhood.

The Pentastar Laramie uses the same 3.6-liter V6 with 305 horsepower and 269 pound-feet of torque as other trims. In rear-wheel drive configuration, it is rated at 17-miles-per-gallon city, 25-mpg highway and 20-mpg combined. With six-cylinder Laramie models not available yet, their popularity is probably too early to forecast, but Cappa says his company believes that “the demand is there.”

Ram 1500 to get Pentastar V6 option in top-shelf models originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 25 Mar 2014 17:45:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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11 Apr 2014

2015 BMW M3 and M4 configurator launched, no lunch hour safe

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BMW M3 Configurator

BMW M4 ConfiguratorBMW has just made your lunch break a little more interesting by launching the configurators for the M3 and M4. Pricing and options for the new sports coupe and sedan was revealed just a few days ago, but it’s always more fun to see the visual effect your personalizations have on the bottom line.

The M3 and M4 start at $62,000 and $64,200, respectively, without a $925 destination charge. However, as soon as the configurator is opened, both models default with metallic paint ($550) and the M Double-clutch Transmission ($2900), plus extended leather on the M3 ($950) and full leather on the M4 ($3,500). This is basically the way they were shown when displayed at auto shows. Of course, there’s nothing preventing users from setting up these performance machines however they like.

So sit down at your desk with a cup of coffee or a sandwich and create your perfect German sport sedan or coupe. It’s always fun to see how much money can be spent on a dream car.

2015 BMW M3 and M4 configurator launched, no lunch hour safe originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 03 Apr 2014 14:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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11 Apr 2014

Honda, Mercedes top KBB brand image awards [w/video]

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Kelley Blue Book has announced the winners of its 2014 Brand Image Awards, which look at brands with “attributes that capture the attention and enthusiasm” of customers in the market for a new car.

The award is divided up into luxury brands and everyone else non-luxury brands, with a number of sub-awards in each group. There’s also a single award for truck brands. Taking the crown for the best everyman brand (for the second year in a row) is Honda, while Mercedes-Benz was the king of the luxury brackets. Ford, meanwhile, had the best image among pickup buyers.

Honda was also named the most trusted brand among shoppers, while Kia, GMC, Mini and Chevrolet also snagged awards for value, refinement, performance and styling, respectively. Secondary winners in the luxury ranks include Lexus, Buick, Porsche and Jaguar. Mercedes was also named the most refined luxury brand.

“The classic saying ‘perception is reality’ falls true with the Kelley Blue Book Brand Image Awards, as more than 12,000 in-market new-car shoppers have voiced their opinions about today’s automakers,” said Hwei-Lin Oetken, vice president of market intelligence for KBB. “With strong marketing communications coming from auto manufacturers and dealers, and the increased importance of peer reviews and ratings, consumers today are more influenced than ever to take interest in a brand, ultimately affecting their vehicle purchase decisions.”

Take a look below for KBB’s video recap of this year’s awards, as well as a press release detailing the winning attributes of each brand.

Continue reading Honda, Mercedes top KBB brand image awards [w/video]

Honda, Mercedes top KBB brand image awards [w/video] originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 09 Apr 2014 16:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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11 Apr 2014

Did Ram outsell Chevy Silverado for first time in history last month?

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Ram 1500

Recently released automotive March sales figures point to a major shakeup in the pickup world. Last month, Ram’s trucks overtook the Chevrolet Silverado to become the second-best selling vehicle in the segment for the first time ever.

The Ram pickups outsold the Silverado by 285 units in March. Chrysler shifted 42,532 trucks for the month compared to 42,247 for the Chevrolet fullsize. According the Allpar, this is the first time either Dodge or Ram’s pickups have outsold Chevy in a month, and the Bowtie has held down the second place spot in the pickup market since 1978 when Ford took over the top spot. The F-Series remains the market’s king, with 70,940 sales in March and 173,358 sold since January.

The results may only be a blip. From January through March, Ram has sold 96,906 trucks versus 107,757 for the Silverado. One month of sales figures isn’t enough to call this a trend, but it’s certainly an interesting data point.

A second qualifier to in these results is that Ram includes medium-duty Class 4 and 5 chassis cab vehicles in its figures, plus any 3500 chassis cab fleet models. For its part, Ford rolls in F-450 and F-550 in F-Series sales, according to The Silverado doesn’t offer these types of configurations.

Could we be seeing a seismic shift in the pickup truck market, wherein Chevy will drop to third place in the segment for good? In truth, it’s likely to be a short-term win for the Auburn Hills automaker, but it’s a trend worth watching over the long term, too. For one thing, General Motors’ latest-generation truck launch certainly hasn’t been without issues. And as notes, Ram sold more 3/4-ton trucks and more 1-ton trucks than Chevy last year, and they are gaining ground in half-ton models, as well. This is clearly a story developing month-by-month, but it’s also clear that Ram truck sales are fueling Chrysler’s fortunes more and more.

Did Ram outsell Chevy Silverado for first time in history last month? originally appeared on Autoblog on Wed, 02 Apr 2014 13:29:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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