• Volvo XC90 Excellence to sell for $104,900 in US market

    March 28, 2016

    Volvo has detailed US launch plans for its XC90 Excellence, a flagship package that takes aim at German luxury rivals.

    The Excellence edition brings a much higher level of luxury compared to the company’s previous offerings, with a price to match. The crossover will sell for $104,900 when it arrives in US showrooms, more than double the base model’s MSRP.

    The driver driver and front passenger seats have been duplicated for the second row, while the third row has been eliminated to provide even more room for just two rear-seat occupants. The reclining seats feature massage and ventilation, with retractable touchscreens and folding tables in the back.

    The ultra-luxe interior features a refrigerator with bottle and glass holders, along with a heating/cooling cup holder and handmade crystal glasses from Sweden’s Orrefors.

    Nappa leather and open-pore wood can be found throughout. A 20-speaker Bowers & Wilkins sound system provides 1,400 watts of high-end audio.

    The Excellence is offered exclusively with Volvo’s T8 Twin-Engine plug-in hybrid powertrain, delivering 400 horsepower.

    The first examples will arrive in US showrooms this summer.

  • BMW to offer high-end X7

    March 28, 2016

    BMW will eventually launch a super high-end version of its upcoming X7 SUV, a top executive at the German automaker has revealed.

    Speaking on the sidelines of the recent New York auto show, BMW sales head Ian Robertson confirmed to Automotive News that the company is working on a super-luxury version of its X7 flagship SUV. The luxed-out X7 will be part of BMW’s new Grand Klasse strategy, or GKL for short, which will eventually include a range-topping version of the 7-Series sedan.

    The X7 GKL is believed to be an answer to Mercedes-Maybach’s upcoming GLS luxury SUV. Robertson didn’t indicate if the top-spec X7 would wear a different name badge, or simply be positioned at the top of the X7 hierarchy.

    Whatever the case, the X7 is expected to steer clear of BMW’s Rolls-Royce luxury brand. Rolls will launch a utility vehicle of its own in the coming years, but that SUV, called Cullinan, won’t share any components with the X7.

    “Of course the quintessential luxury is still the [BMW-owned] Rolls-Royce — we do not need a Maybach,” Robertson said.

    Few other details are known about the super luxurious X7, but it will retail for somewhere between $100,000 and $200,000.

  • TrueCar revises policies to improve dealer relations

    March 28, 2016

    TrueCar has outlined a number of policy revisions designed to improve relationships with dealers.

    The company is attempting to move away from its sole focus as a consumer advocate, with a price-driven shopping tool that had caused friction with many dealers.

    Prices curves will now be based on local data from a smaller geographical area, rather than comparing prices on a regional basis. The previous system had pressured dealers to compete with rivals outside their home market.

    Consumers will be forced to submit their contact information before viewing pricing, providing leads to dealers before the consumer has even looked at pricing data. The TrueCar interface also eliminates a tool that compared estimated prices from rival dealers, and sellers can now add “why buy from me” messages.

    The company is switching to a VIN-based inventory of specific vehicles, rather than comparing pricing for generic vehicles that may not reflect dealer inventory. The previous system sometimes caused “difficulty” when buyers arrived at a showroom.

    “We’re cleaning up our consumer-facing advertising and website language by creating more balanced messaging that positions dealers in a positive light,” said TrueCar’s new CEO, Chip Perry, in a message to dealers. “Over the past decade, TrueCar has been successful in attracting car buyers, but its overall approach has alienated many dealers across the country.”

  • Land Rover working on BMW X6 rival

    March 28, 2016

    Land Rover is said to be moving forward with a sleekly-styled Range Rover model that will take on the BMW X6 and the Mercedes-Benz GLE Coupe.

    The new model is being developed under the codename L560 and is believed to be the same vehicle as the long-rumored Evoque XL. However, the repurposed Evoque XL will take on a sportier and more stylish demeanor than initially thought.

    Positioned more as a lifestyle vehicle than Land Rover’s Defender and Discovery model lines, the L560 will utilize coupe-like styling not unlike the X6 and GLE Coupe. As a reflection of that, Autocar reports than the model could bear the name Range Rover Sport Coupe.

    Although that nameplate would closely tie the Sport Coupe to the Range Rover Sport, it will actually be based on Jaguar’s upcoming F-Pace SUV. That means the Sport Coupe will be slightly smaller than its German rivals, but the F-Pace’s aluminum platform should give it a significant leg up in the weight department. It’s possible that the Sport Coupe could weight up to 880 pounds less than a comparable X6 or GLE Coupe.

    As style will take priority over SUV functionality in the Sport Coupe, it will ship standard with a 2+2 seating configuration. However, a five-seat configuration will likely be offered as an optional extra. A three-row version has been ruled out due to the constraints of the F-Pace’s aluminum construction.

    Power will likely come from Land Rover’s current six- and eight-cylinder engines. It’s also possible that Land Rover could use the same 575 horsepower F-Type SVR for an SVR-version of the Sport Coupe. A hybrid will eventually join the range and a pure electric could also be in the cards.

    The interior of the Sport Coupe will be more driver focused than Land Rover’s other Range Rover models, with an emphasis on luxurious appointments. Although the Sport Coupe will be closer in size to the X4, it will command an X6-like MSRP, which means Land Rover will have to get its cabin just right.

    Land Rover is keeping quiet on the Range Rover Sport Coupe for now, but the fast-back model could debut as soon as next year.

  • Cadillac to move away from long-wheelbase cars for China

    March 28, 2016

    Cadillac is preparing to reposition its lineup for younger buyers in China, moving away from long-wheelbase vehicles geared for older businessmen.

    General Motors’ top luxury brand will opt for single unified designs that will be sold in all markets, including the US and China. Future models will bring a “right size” wheelbase, longer than Cadillac’s current US-market cars but not quite as stretched as China-spec variants such as the ATS-L, chief executive Johan de Nysschen told Reuters.

    Older businessmen have shown a preference for long-wheelbase vehicles, preferring to sit in the back while a chauffeur pilots the vehicle through heavy traffic. Younger buyers appear to be more enthusiastic to drive a car themselves.

    The brand reports early success in targeting younger buyers, with Chinese owners averaging just 34 years old.

    “In China, young buyers already dominate the luxury market,” de Nysschen added. “It was far easier to begin to cultivate the desired positioning for the brand from the get-go.”

    The executive expects China to become Cadillac’s top market in the coming years, eventually exceeding US sales. The company will be designing upcoming models with Chinese tastes in mind, potentially resulting in toned-down styling with a less angular look.