This Week in Car Buying: Porsche sells cars and experiences; Inventories rise; BMW prices M760i xDrive; Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid priced

By Matt DeLorenzo on November 18, 2016 6:00 AM
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While most of the industry is taken with the idea of autonomous vehicles, Porsche has placed a big bet that people will always enjoy driving by opening the fifth in a series of Porsche Experience Centers (PEC) in the Los Angeles area. The 53-acre site is the ultimate playground for enthusiasts to experience everything that the German automaker has to offer over on- and off-road courses.

Klaus Zellmer, President and CEO of Porsche Cars North America said during the opening of the $60 million center said “Our new west coast destination provides a unique product and brand experience for our customers and fans in a region where the automobile is so passionately celebrated.” 

Visitors to the PEC LA can enjoy instructor-led, 90-minute experiences on the driver development track in Porsche sports cars. The eight training modules include two handling circuits, an ice hill, an off-road course, a dynamics area, a launch control and acceleration straight, as well as a low-friction handling circuit, low-friction circle, and hydraulic kick-plate. The PEC will be used to not only demonstrate products to potential customers, but also through a unique delivery option, give new owners an opportunity to test the capabilities of their cars under the supervision of the instruction team.

The facility, which is open to the public, also includes a gourmet restaurant called 917, the Speedster coffee shop, a Porsche merchandise boutique and space rental for functions. Also, Porsche has relocated its North American racing division to the facility, which prepares  competitor cars for private teams as well as restoring historic Porsche racing machines.

Porsche recently opened its first U.S. experience center at its North American headquarters in Atlanta, and has three centers in Europe at Silverstone in England, Le Mans in France and at its Leipzig assembly plant in Germany. A sixth center is planned for Shanghai, China.

The Atlanta Porsche Experience Center welcomed 36,000 visitors in its first year of business. The company anticipates the new Porsche Experience Center will mirror the success of its sister facility in Atlanta, with an expected 50,000 guests each year. The PEC reflects a growing trend, especially among luxury vehicle makers, of not only building vehicles for their customers, but also offering them exclusive experiences which are viewed as profit centers in their own right.

Inventories climb         

New car inventories climbed during October, and while the overall numbers rose from 64 to 73 days, the picture is a bit more complex, with  car inventories rising  faster than trucks as buyers continued their shift away from traditional sedans and coupes to crossover SUVs and pickups. Automotive News reports that the increase in inventories usually happens at this time of year as dealers take delivery of more new units for the 2017 model year and that the 73-day supply figures is not out of line for this time of year.

However, the trade journal said that car inventories increased from 63 to 76 days’ supply (the figure represents the numbers of days it would take at current sales rate to sell all the vehicles in stock). Trucks, however, increased only 6 days from 65 to 71 days’ supply. Light trucks accounted for 63 percent of October sales. Simply put, the inventory figures suggest that buyers will get better deals on cars as their inventory numbers increase, while trucks will be less likely to get steep discounts because of their relative popularity to cars. The industry considers 60 days’ supply an ideal level.

Subaru continues to have the tightest stocks at 26 days, while Mitsubishi has the most at 120 days’ supply. Among the major makes, Ford is running 90 days’ supply. GM and Fiat Chrysler Automobiles both had 84 days’ worth of vehicles in stock.

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BMW prices M760i xDrive

The first M-branded version of BMW’s flagship 7 Series sedan has been priced. The 2017 BMW M760i xDrive will be start at $153,800 when it goes on sale early next year.  This sixth generation BMW 7 Series features a TwinPower Turbo 12-cylinder, the most prestigious engine in the BMW range with 601 horsepower and an impressive 590 lb-ft of torque available as low as 1500 rpm. The 8-speed Steptronic Sport Automatic transmission equipped with Launch Control paves the way for drivers to achieve a 0-60 mph run of just 3.6 seconds.

 Chrysler announces sticker on Pacifica Hybrid

On the efficiency side of the ledger, Chrysler has announced pricing on the industry’s first plug-in hybrid minivan in its new Pacifica family.  Prices will start at $41,995 for the first of two highly equipped PHEV (Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle) models. Because of its 30 mile pure electric range before the hybrid powerplant takes over, the 2017 Pacifica Plug-in Hybrid is eligible for a $7,500 federal tax credit, which effectively lowers its price of entry to $34,495.

“No other vehicle in the marketplace can move people or cargo like the 2017 Chrysler Pacifica, and adding electrification technology to that equation means even more efficiency for customers,” said Tim Kuniskis, Head of Passenger Car Brands, Dodge, SRT, Chrysler and Fiat, FCA - North America. “By storing the battery pack under the second-row floor, customers aren’t losing any passenger or cargo volume, so there’s no trade-off or compromise when choosing the Pacifica Hybrid. Most importantly, the driving experience for customers remains unchanged – the vehicle operates in electric mode whenever possible and seamlessly transitions to hybrid mode when needed.”

With 30 miles of electric operation and an EPA rating of 80 mpg-e, the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid is said to have a range of 530 miles.  The Pacifica Hybrid also boasts exclusive technology features, including a smartphone app,  that deliver relevant vehicle information, such as charge status and scheduling, charging station locations and an “efficiency coach” for more efficient driving.

The rundown

Check out the This Week in Car Buying Podcast here.

The 2017 Honda Civic repeats as the overall winner in the 2017 Kelley Blue Book Best Buy Awards.

Meanwhile, we get a chance to check out the 2017 Honda Civic Hatchback in this First Review.

Get a jump on the next model year by taking in our Class of 2018 Future Models.

In the market for a new car? Explore these useful tips on how to get the best deal:

Kelley Blue Book’s Complete Guide to Incentives

All you need to know about leasing

Which dealer services are right for you?

What to look for in your next economy car

Ten insider tips for new car buying


 

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