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Does Alex Rodriguez' Mercedes dealership have a PR problem?

Thu, 08 Aug 2013 11:01:00 EST

Alex Rodriguez, in case you haven't heard, is seemingly the new Most Hated Man In Baseball, ostensibly replacing commissioner Bud Selig (for now). Rodriguez was slammed with a 211-game suspension due to his role in the MLB's latest steroid scandal in which "A-Roid," as fans have taken to calling the former superstar, was cited with steroid use and attempts to hide his involvement by "engaging in a course of conduct intended to obstruct and frustrate" the investigation, according to the MLB's official report.
Why is this on a car site, then? Because Rodriguez' name is attached Alex Rodriguez Mercedes-Benz in League City, TX. An Ad Age report cites Mercedes-Benz USA in saying that A-Rod owns "about half'" of the dealership. Mercedes, for what it's worth, isn't going to any to any lengths to distance itself from its dealership or its controversial namesake, saying, "We never promoted the fact that A-Rod owned a dealership, so there's really nothing to 'distance' ourselves from. And since his activity is not illegal but rather prohibited by MLB, there's nothing actionable here."
With the scandal still a fresh piece of news and A-Rod's pending appeal, it's difficult to tell what sort of effect, if any, his name will have on the dealership's sales. Ad Age contacted the GM of Alex Rodriguez Mercedes-Benz to get the dealership's view, but no calls were returned. According to Mercedes, any name change is up to Rodriguez and his partner(s) at the dealership. Somehow, though, we think A-Rod has other things to worry about beyond his dealership's name.

Rare Isdera Imperator 108i flexes its considerable muscles

Mon, 05 Aug 2013 16:59:00 EST

The Isdera Imperator 108i is a remarkably rare supercar from the late 80s and early 90s. Born of a Mercedes-Benz concept car, it's powered by a range of AMG-developed V8s, with five to six liters of displacement, depending on the engine. The example shown here, lapping the legendary Spa-Francorchamps circuit, features the most potent 6.0-liter V8 available. And rather than just being driven about on a perfectly clean racing line, it's freaking power sliding!
Yes, there's something eternally childlike about a wedge-shaped supercar from our formative years being flung about a Belgian racetrack. Adding to the appeal is the Imperator's stumpy, periscopic rear mirror, sticking out of the roof. Even after being out of production for 20 years, this is still a wild, wild car and we'd happily snap up the opportunity pilot one of the 36 Isderas that were built. Take a look below for the full video from Spa.

France formally moves to ban Mercedes vehicles using contested refrigerant

Wed, 31 Jul 2013 18:00:00 EST

That didn't take long. Shortly after a French administrative court gave the French government a ten-day window to reconsider its ban on registrations of Mercedes-Benz A-, B- and CLA-Class cars using the prohibited R134a refrigerant, the government cited an EU directive to formalize banning the sale of the cars. The country's environmental ministry said that registrations "will remain forbidden in France as long as the company does not to conform to European regulations," meaning so long as they do not use the approved R1234yf refrigerant.
Daimler had won the administrative court decision by challenging France's application of a "safeguard" provision in which the EU allows a country to block sales of cars that would "seriously harm the environment." In spite of Daimler's victory, France has cited that very provision as basis for the continuation of the ban.
Daimler got permission from Germany's KBA federal motor authority to keep selling cars with the coolant banned by EU politicians, and is using that national permission as the right to sell the cars throughout Europe. Meanwhile, above that battle, German politicians are asking the EU to let Mercedes sell the cars in France while the KBA does more testing, at the same time as the EU is threatening Germany with repercussions if it doesn't bring the KBA and Daimler into line.

Mercedes leads in US luxury car thefts

Wed, 31 Jul 2013 08:30:00 EST

Mercedes-Benz makes some fine automobiles. The Silver Arrow'd cars are so good, apparently, that thieves can't help but try to steal them. The German brand is at the top of the charts for luxury car thefts in the US, according to the National Insurance Crime Bureau, with New York City leading the way. (And those New Yorkers complain about Detroit being bad!)
The C-Class was the most stolen model, with 485 ganked between 2009 and 2012 in NYC alone, while the E-Class and S-Class (which also boasted the worst recovery rate, at 59 percent) both finished in the top ten. Following the C-Class was the BMW 3 Series and Infiniti G. Not surprisingly, each of these were the most common models in their respective lineups. Los Angeles and Miami are also prime hotspots for luxury car thefts, according to the Detroit News report.
While getting your car stolen is pretty awful, there was one inspiring statistic compiled by the NICB - the average recovery rate across the board was 84 percent, with the Cadillac CTS getting recovered 91 percent of the time.

Aston Martin signs Letter of Intent for technical partnership with AMG

Thu, 25 Jul 2013 09:00:00 EST

A little over two months ago came reports that Daimler and Aston Martin were in talks, again, about "supply and technical-cooperation agreements." The next step has been taken with Aston Martin announcing that it has signed a Letter of Intent that looks "towards a technical partnership" with Mercedes-AMG GmbH, and the two companies aiming to have definitive agreements done by year's end.
While it will get to use certain electric and electronic components from AMG, the true golden egg for the maker of the Vanquish will be the ability to develop a new line of "bespoke V8 powertrains" that will be fitted to "a new generation of models." In return for opening up the larder, Daimler will get a non-voting stake of up to five percent of Aston Martin.
Nothing else is being said about the tie-up for the moment, but there's a press release below with a few more details.

Mercedes FWD platform to last until 2018, convertible and two-seater future uncertain

Mon, 22 Jul 2013 18:59:00 EST

Mercedes-Benz seems to be expecting a lot of success from its front-wheel-drive CLA-Class. Automotive News is reporting that the sub-C-Class sedan could grow when its second generation arrives in 2018.
The current FWD platform for MB underpins the CLA, the B-Class, the GLA-Class, and the A-Class. The B-Class will arrive in North America as an EV for spring of 2014, while the production GLA crossover will arrive three to four months after that. The five-door A-Class won't be crossing The Pond. Sad faces all around.
According to AN, another model will be based on the front-drive architecture, but it won't be coming to the US market. Set to arrive next year, rumors are that it'll be a wagon version of the CLA, sort of like the ill-named five-door CLS Shooting Brake that is also a Europe-only item.

Highlights from the Goodwood Festival of Speed, including the McLaren P1 and a Ford Transit running the hill

Mon, 15 Jul 2013 19:01:00 EST

The sole purpose of this post is as a time-waster, and since you shouldn't have to work to waste time, we've done it for you. In the numerous videos below you'll find cars that have lately been in the news tramping all over the grounds of Lord March's estate in Goodwood, England.
There's the McLaren P1 heading up the hill, the Jaguar Project 7, then a casually-driven Porsche 917 followed by an even-more-casually-driven Porsche 956, topped off by a Porsche 936 that is anything but casually driven. The next round is the flame-spitting Peugeot 405 T16 Pikes Peak from Climb Dance, a camera mounted on the Peugeot RCZ R after it showing you what the whole, uninterrupted run up the hill looks like. For a real head-turner, we couldn't embed it but there's Andy Reid blasting up the hill in a Ford Transit Supervan with a Cosworth 3000 V6 engine.
The modern racing contingent has Allan McNish doing the hill in the Audi R18 e-tron quattro he used to win Le Mans and Lewis Hamilton making lots of tire smoke in the Mercedes-AMG Petronas MGP-W02. For comparison, that's followed by Nick Heidfeld's record-setting run up the hill in 1999 in the McLaren MP4/14 . The classic racing contingent is headlined by 71-year-old Giacomo Agostini on an MV Agusta.

Mercedes-Benz S63 AMG officially teased in mini video

Mon, 15 Jul 2013 18:33:00 EST

The followup to the Mercedes-Benz S550, the S63 AMG, will sport a biturbocharged V8 that will likely turn out around 550 horsepower. The new engine is probably the 5.5-liter, biturbocharged V-8 that's been popping up in everything from the ML63 to the E63 AMG. The front fascia is more aggressive, which shouldn't come as a surprise, while a meaty exhaust setup can be found out back.
We managed to pick all that up from a short, 17-second video posted by MB. The original video that unveiled the S63 AMG has since been pulled down, making this YouTube clip the best look we now have at the new super sedan, at least until the Germans give up the goods for real.
Be sure to check out the video below, along with our original posting on the S63 AMG.

Firing of M-B boss upheld

Mon, 15 Jul 2013 18:02:00 EST

Ernst Lieb, the disgraced former CEO of American operations for Mercedes-Benz, will not be getting any more money from the Silver Arrow'd teat. His wrongful dismissal suit against MB's parent company, Daimler, was tossed out of a German appeals panel. This, followed the initial rejection by a lower court last year.
According to court documents acquired by Automotive News, Lieb was found to have "accepted payments of substantial value to which he - as he was aware - had no claim."
Lieb took over American operations from former CEO Paul Halata in September of 2006. Reports surfaced in October of 2011 that Lieb was dismissed from his posting at MB, with a variety of rumors swirling. Eventually, news broke that financial wrong doing was responsible for the German's firing.

BMW expects China to pass US as its top market in 2013

Thu, 11 Jul 2013 15:42:00 EST

When you combine two billion citizens, 100 cities with more than a million inhabitants and an economy that's as unrestrained as Jim Cramer on an Adderall binge, China's explosive auto industry growth shouldn't be a huge surprise. Audi already lists the communist country as its largest market, while Mercedes-Benz is expecting it to be there in the next few years. Now, according to a report from Automotive News, BMW is expecting the People's Republic to overtake the United States in sales by the end of 2013.
We already discovered the extent that BMW is going to in establishing a dedicated Chinese stronghold, when we explored BMW's Shanghai-based DesignWorks studio ahead of April's Shanghai Motor Show. And while we argued that DesignWorks Shanghai hasn't really borne fruit, it isn't due to a lack of sales.
BMW China has seen a 16-percent jump in year-over-year sales, lead by a 28-percent gain in 5 Series sales. Part of BMW's growth strategy comes from an ever-expanding dealership network. Remember those 100 cities we mentioned with over one million people? According to Karsten Engel, CEO of BMW's Chinese operations, those 100-million-plus city dwellers don't have access to a premium dealership.