Mercedes-Benz GL – 80% New for 2013


Mercedes-Benz GL350 BlueTEC

Mercedes’ (@mbusa) top of the line SUV, the 7-passenger GL (#2013GL-Class), is new for 2013.  As the top selling premium luxury sport utility vehicle, GL certainly is a healthy profit contributor to parent company Daimler AG.  Built at Mercedes-Benz Tuscaloosa, Alabama assembly plant, 53% of GL production is sold in the United States.  The 2013 GL is the second generation GL and continues to be derived from the platform that also underpins the 5-passenger ML.  About 80% of the GL is all new for its second generation.  We had a chance to drive several versions of the new GL at its global press preview in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

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2008 L.A. Auto Show – BMW 7-Series ActiveHybrid


The Los Angeles Auto Show saw the world debut of the BMW Concept 7-Series ActiveHybrid. The concept shows the potential of BMW ActiveHybrid technology in the premium luxury car segment and is part of the BMW EfficientDynamics innovation strategy.

BMW 7 Hybrid SV VehicleVoice.jpg

The objective of the 7-Series ActiveHybrid is to achieve much better fuel economy and lower emissions in a premium luxury car – a class not known for being particularly environmentally conscious.
Mild Hybrid Teamed With Potent V8
The BMW Concept 7-Series ActiveHybrid combines an 8-cylinder gas engine and electric drive as a mild hybrid. The drivetrain technology featured in the Concept Car allows enhanced driving dynamics together with a reduction in fuel consumption and emissions by 15% versus the same car running on an internal combustion engine only. BMW states that the ActiveHybrid does not compromise the driving dynamics, performance or features of the 7-Series.
BMW contends that there are no compromises to the original 7-Series equation when the mild hybrid is adopted. The ActiveHybrid Seven looks practically the same, has the same level of comfort and performance while getting better fuel economy with lower emissions through use of the mild hybrid technology.
Twin Turbo V8 Based on 750i Powerplant
The internal combustion engine portion of the BMW Concept 7-Series ActiveHybrid is a Twin Turbo V8 gasoline engine and high precision fuel Injection based on the 4.4L V8 of the BMW 750i. Maximum output of the conventional engine in the regular production model is 407 horsepower, with peak torque of 442 lb-ft.
BMW 7 Hybrid Engine VehicleVoice.jpg

BMW claims the V8 power unit is the most efficient engine in its class and is ideal for focusing on both driving dynamics and efficiency. BMW says its V8 is the only eight-cylinder gasoline engine in the world with its turbochargers mounted in the Vee between the two cylinder banks.
Electric Motor incorporated in Transmission Housing
The V8 is combined with an electric motor fully integrated in the transmission housing, developing maximum output of 20 hp and peak torque of 155 lb-ft. So with the mild hybrid concept, the electric motor boosts the dynamic driving potential of the eight-cylinder gasoline engine in a unique manner most appropriate for the character of the BMW 7 Series, giving the car better acceleration than the already great acceleration of the 750iL.
BMW 7 Hybrid Battery VehicleVoice.jpg

Regenerative Braking Supplements Power for Accessories
Using Brake Energy Regeneration, the electric motor supplies electric power to the power-consuming items on board the car, minimizing the direct conversion of fuel into electrical energy and maximizing the drive power available for enhanced driving dynamics.

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Cerberus Takes Chrysler Off Daimler's Hands


Private equity firm Cerberus is in the process of taking Chrysler Group out of the hands of the automaker formerly known as DaimlerChrysler AG (DCX). What will soon become Daimler AG will continue to own 19.9% of the new company – Chrysler Holdings LLC – with Cerberus owning the remainder. This is the end of the Jurgen Schrempp dream for Daimler-Benz to create a global auto colossus made up of Mercedes-Benz, Freightliner, Chrysler, Mitsubishi and Hyundai.
Daimler-Benz took over (no merger – ever) Chrysler Corporation in November 1998 for $36 billion. Nine years later, DCX agreed to sell 80% of what is now Chrysler Group to Cerberus Capital for $7.4 billion. Clearly Schrempp’s plan did not work.
Impact on Opinion of Chrysler –
In late March, a VehicleVoice survey indicated that the opinion of Chrysler Group had deteriorated drastically from a year earlier. Our respondents variously said: “Daimler bought ’em, raped ’em and threw them away,” “Why would I buy a car from a company that’s parent company is trying to sell it?” Perhaps the purchase by Cerberus will serve to offset some of this deterioration, but time will tell.


Cerberus Has Auto Industry Heavyweights Involved
Cerberus is the mythological three-headed dog that guards the gates of hell. Cerberus Capital is an interesting firm in its own right. Secretive to a fault, at least three auto industry heavyweights are on its letterhead (if they had one): David Thursfield, former Vice Chairman of Ford and an aggressive cost cutter; Wolfgang Bernhard, former COO of Chrysler Group (with Zetsche) and then head of Volkswagen in Germany prior to his Cerberus gig; and Robert Rewey, former head of Sales at Ford. Rewey could sell anything any day of the week. While Cerberus says they will keep the present Chrysler Group management team in place, it is only a matter of time that “adjustments” begin being made.
Remember the character in Pretty Woman played by Richard Gere? He was a private equity magnate that wanted to buy a shipbuilder, break it up and sell the pieces for a profit. A private equity firm like Cerberus isn’t too much different and the jury is still out on how Cerberus will handle its investment in Chrysler Group.
Cerberus has an interesting portfolio – a large stake in Delphi, 51% of GMAC – General Motors’ financing arm, Tower Automotive, Guilford Mills, Albertson’s, Sav-On, and others. The fact that Cerberus now controls Chrysler Financial and over half of GMAC gives it substantial clout in the automotive financial services market.
So, now, Chrysler Holdings can stay below the radar as a privately held company. Unfettered of its requirements to be transparent financially the company will largely be able to restructure itself outside the glare of the media and Wall Street. What will emerge after three, five or seven years is unknown, but the story will be fascinating to watch as is unfolds.

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