This Week in Car Buying: Pickup truck shoppers’ dilemma; AMG sub-brand booms; Lincoln Experience pays off; Mazda Miata must have
Two of the biggest stars of the 2018 North American International Auto Show in Detroit promise to be the 2019 Chevrolet Silverado and the 2019 Dodge Ram 1500. Even in advance of their official launch, both Chevy and Ram are pushing hefty incentives on these vehicles. In the case of the 2017 Silverado, there’s a total of just over $11,000 in discounts and incentives, if you trade in a 1999 or newer vehicle. Ram has nearly $14,000 in price breaks on select 2017 models of its 1500 pickup.
So, the question is whether to buy now and get a great deal or wait for the all-new trucks to arrive and pay a price that is much closer to MSRP? Also, keep in mind once the 2019 models bow, you will have a two-year-old truck. Further complicating matters is that both makers plan to continue to build the current trucks as 2018 models with pricing and incentives that will put them somewhere between the deeply discounted 2017 models and the new generation trucks.
Taking that middle path might not be a bad option, if you wait until the spring selling season. As supplies ramp up on the 2019 models, look for discounts to rise on leftover 2017s and even the 2018 models. Of course, if you opt for the previous generation trucks you’ll be passing on the weight saving and fuel efficiency improvements of the new trucks, along with the fact that those 2019 models will be depreciating at a slower rate.
AMG sub-brand booms
Conventional wisdom holds that model proliferation tends to debase the exclusivity and therefore the margins on more limited edition trim levels. Or at least that was the case until Mercedes-Benz decided to make a sub-brand out of its AMG performance car unit. Nearly every single model in the Mercedes lineup can be had in an AMG variant of one sort or another.
As a result, according to Automotive News, the Mercedes-AMG sub-brand is fast approaching 10 percent of the company’s total volume. AMG has seen its sales grow by 50 percent over the last year to 30,116 units and that’s against a 2-percent overall decrease in M-B’s sales.
Most of the growth has come from the twin-turbo V6 powered AMG 43 models, although demand remains strong for the V8-powered 63 models as well. And the performance brand is looking to add still another option in AMG 53-powered vehicles that use a twin-turbo inline 6-cylinder engine. These models, the CLS AMG 53 and E Class Coupe and Cabriolet AMG 53 models are slated to debut at the North American International Auto Show.
Mercedes is also upgrading its dealerships to provide a more specific AMG experience in selling and servicing these vehicles. Called AMG Performance Centers, these facilities have dedicated showroom space and specialized personnel training to support sales and service. About 60 are now in operation and Mercedes expects to have 90 centers in total over the next year.
Lincoln Experience pays off
New product is the backbone of Lincoln’s plan over the next two years to triple current sales of about 100,000 units. The new product propelling that plan include the Continental sedan, redesigned Navigator and a freshened MKX which will be called the Nautilus. But another element is the rather unorthodox approach of having showrooms that can’t sell cars.
Ford’s luxury division opened the Lincoln Experience in Newport Beach, California, at the upscale Fashion Island mall well over a year ago with just three vehicles on display and no way to complete a transaction, since all sales must be made through franchised dealers. However, the storefront has provided a way to expose Lincoln vehicles to shoppers who may not have considered one before. It also doesn’t hurt to have a location a few doors down from a similar mall showroom run by Tesla.
Automotive News reports that Lincoln has discovered that no less than 60 percent of the visitors to the location are not familiar with the brand. About 700 leads have been generated for local dealers. A second Lincoln Experience has since been set up in Frisco, Texas, a suburb of Dallas. Browsers can stop in, look over the vehicles on display (the trio are rotated regularly), use a digital display to configure cars and arrange test drives through a concierge. Lincoln plans to add more experience centers in unspecified locations, but count on them being in upscale markets where Lincoln needs more brand recognition.
Mazda Miata must have
Just in time for Christmas, Mazda has introduced a new dark cherry colored soft-top on its 2018 MX-5 Miata. The new color fabric can be teamed with either the Soul Red or Machine Metal Gray exterior color along with a new Auburn Nappa leather interior. The plush interior is being offered on Grand Touring models and was previously only available on launch edition versions of the MX-5 Miata RF with the retractable roof panel.
Mazda has also upgraded the Sport and Club models. For 2018, MX-5 Sport adds standard Mazda Connect infotainment system with a 7-inch touchscreen display, while the Club had new heated cloth seats and standard 17-inch dark gunmetal alloy wheels. Also available on the MX-5 Club models is a Brembo/BBS package that includes black heated leather seats.
Pricing for the 2018 Mazda MX-5 Miata starts at $25,295 for the Sport model, $29,155 for the Club and $30,195 for the Grand Touring. The new models go on sale in January.
Shopping for a new family car can be a daunting task. But you can whittle the list down quickly with Kelley Blue Book’s 12 Best Family Cars of 2018.
You may be buying your next car online rather than in person. Find out how the buying process is changing in this report: Digital Retailing: Evolution or Revolution?
The North American International Auto Show is just weeks away. Get an early look at what’s slated to debut here.
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