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Sent to over 30,000 recipients every weekday morning, FirstUp conveys the day's auto-related news quickly, concisely, and accurately. Topics covered in FirstUp range from new vehicle releases, to the latest legislation concerning the auto industry. This is news designed with you in mind.
May 17, 2013
Audi Shifting to High-Performance Models to Propel Sales
Audi AG, the world's second-largest maker of luxury cars, said high-performance cars like the RS5, as well as the new version of the A3 compact, will help propel sales this year amid intensifying economic headwinds. "We aim to increase sales of high-performance cars by one third" in 2013, CEO Rupert Stadler said Thursday in the text of a speech delivered at the brand's annual shareholders meeting in Neckarsulm, Germany. According to Automotive News, Audi sold about 11,000 of its RS and R8 sports cars last year. "We want to, and we will, grow further in 2013," Stadler added. Profit from Audi is critical to financing parent Volkswagen AG's strategy to overtake General Motors and Toyota Motor Corp. as the world's biggest automaker by 2018. Audi accounted for 56 percent of the VW's first-quarter operating profit and VW CEO Martin Winterkorn pledged last month to increase the group's presence in the premium-car segment, where profit margins are higher than for mass-market models. Volkswagen, Europe's largest automaker, also owns sports-car maker Porsche, British luxury-car producer Bentley and the Lamborghini and Bugatti supercar brands. For more on Audi’s plans, click here.
Patented Powertrain Key to EV Carmaker's Success
Elon Musk was fresh off the sale of PayPal and starting another business, commercial rocket service Space Exploration Technologies Corp., when he met kindred spirit JB Straubel. Their shared belief that consumer electronics advances could be applied to more earthly modes of transport is a cornerstone of Tesla Motors Inc. They quickly found a shared passion for the idea that lithium-ion battery cells used in consumer electronics could be rigged up to power a car. In 2004, Straubel joined Musk and three other men to turn Tesla from a concept into a startup with a goal of bringing a new type of electric car to market. With some of Musk's proceeds from the $1.3 billion sale of PayPal to eBay Inc., Straubel put a crew together in his garage wiring up thousands of cells. Since then, while other companies have struggled with electric batteries, Straubel, as chief technology officer, has kept Teslas running. Last week, the company reported its first quarterly profit, according to The Detroit News. Tesla's battery uses thousands of small cells, unlike those in competing plug-in models that are designed using hundreds of larger lithium-ion cells. Read more about Tesla’s strategy here.
European Car Sales Post 1st Gain in 19 Months
European car sales rose for the first time in 19 months as a gain in consumer sentiment in countries using the euro led to rebounds in Germany and Spain. According to Automotive News, registrations in April increased 2 percent to 1.08 million vehicles from 1.06 million cars a year earlier, the Brussels-based European Automobile Manufacturers' Association, or ACEA, said today in a statement. Four-month sales fell 7 percent to 4.18 million vehicles. Germans and Spaniards bought more cars as the two countries were among those in the euro area where consumer confidence rose in April, counter to economists' predictions of a decline. Still, the European auto market is at a two-decade low, and industry executives are forecasting a drop of about 5 percent for 2013 amid a recession in the 17-nation euro zone. "Hopefully the worst is over," said Hans-Peter Wodniok, an analyst at Fairesearch GmbH in Kronberg, Germany. "For the rest of this year, the market will probably be less negative than it was before," with "no more dramatic falls" in the southern part of the region. Click here for more on European auto sales.
A Benz with a Virtual Chauffeur
The premiere of the new S-Class at a vast Airbus jetliner factory on Wednesday night was a grandiose event. The latest incarnation of the S-Class is notable for much more than features like the so-called hot-stone massages offered by its reclining rear seats. Or the Wi-Fi. Or the cup holders that keep drinks warm or cold. According to The New York Times, the 2014 S-Class, which goes on sale in September at an estimated starting price of $100,000, is a significant advance in the development of autonomous autos. That is, while it still requires a human behind the steering wheel, in the right conditions the car can steer itself through city traffic or drive on the highway at speeds upward of 120 miles an hour using an array of radar, infrared, and optical sensors to track lane markings or the car ahead—even around curves. “It marks the beginning of autonomous driving,” said Dieter Zetsche, chief executive of Daimler, the parent company of Mercedes-Benz. The S-Class, which can also park itself, brake automatically to avoid hitting humans or other cars, and sense when a driver is becoming fatigued, is a further evolution of systems intended to relieve some of the tedium of driving. Read about the Mercedes-Benz S-Class here.
KBB Editors Choose 10 Best Family Cars of 2013
As the summer family vacation season begins, KBB.com editors offered consumers their choices for the “10 Best Family Cars of 2013.” The vehicles on the list have more than a few selling points for dealers carrying these new models, reports Auto Remarketing. For example, the 2013 Honda CRV (No. 8) has the highest residual value on the list by far, “and we expect the model-year 2013 redesign to hold its value very well,” KBB.com analysts told Auto Remarketing. The average transaction price for the 2013 Honda CRV EX Sport Utility 4D is $25,684, and KBB.com predicts the 60 month residual value will come in at $13,438, with the unit retaining 50 percent of its value. KBB.com editors also pointed out that the list has three model-year 2013 redesigns that dealers can directly compare within their segment—the Accord (No. 2), Altima (No. 9), and Fusion (No. 7). “The Accord is the major standout among the mid-size cars, and it was the winner of the 2013 Kelley Blue Book Best Resale Value Award in the mid-size car class,” KBB.com editors shared. Check out KBB.com’s list of the best family cars here. To read more about the list at Auto Remarketing, click here.
Download AIADA’s Official Summit App
If you haven't done so already, there's still time to register for AIADA's 7th Annual International Auto Industry Summit in Washington, D.C. Join fellow dealers and general managers to learn how to Make Your Mark as a dealer advocate in Washington, D.C. This year’s event – held May 21 and 22 at the Hyatt Regency Washington Capitol Hill, will help dealers navigate the landscape of Washington and become effective advocates by building relationships with their members of Congress. Dealers and general managers will hear from congressional speakers and other Washington leaders, including former United States Trade Representative Ron Kirk and Politico co-founder and executive editor Jim VandeHei. Participants will complete the event by traveling to Capitol Hill to visit with their members of Congress. For more on information on this year’s Summit, download the official Summit app on your smartphone. Search for "AIADA Connect" in either the Google or Apple store. For Android devices, click here. For Apple devices, click here. Registration for AIADA’s 7th Annual International Auto Industry Summit is still available, but don’t wait. Register today by visiting AIADA.org/Summit or calling 1-800-GO-AIADA.
Around the Web
Wheelies: The Change the Batteries Edition [NY Times]
Lexus LFA Owner Successfully Lobbies Town to Have Speed Hump Removed [MotorAuthority]
Fisker Karma Prices Tanking on Used Market [Autoblog]
Porsche Unveils Plug-In Hybrid 918 Supercar [USA Today]