This Week in Car Buying: Polestar announces retailing plan; Audi tests subscriptions; Genesis prices 2019 G70; Inventories kept in check
Polestar, the startup performance and electric vehicle sub-brand from Volvo, has announced its retailing plan which will emphasize a digital sales experience as well as a subscription approach to ownership.
“Launching an entirely new car brand gives us the opportunity to assess what customers enjoy about car ownership and what they are less keen on,” said Thomas Ingenlath, CEO of the brand. “we also want to remove the hassle from traditional car ownership. The customer will be able to research, configure and order their car online. They can choose our innovative subscription model that enables them to have all their motors costs covered by one single monthly payment.”
While prospects may be able to configure and buy Polestar vehicles online, Ingenlath stressed the need to have cars available for people to see and as a result will use franchised Polestar Place locations in urban areas to experience the vehicles. He also said that the company will be heavily promoting the use of concierge services to pick and deliver not only new cars, but also for those requiring service. “The days of standing in line at service reception are over,” he promised.
The brand’s first product will be Polestar 1, a high performance 600 horsepower hybrid, which is slated to start assembly in mid-2019. The first year of production is sold out with some 200 vehicles earmarked for North America. The second vehicle will be Polestar 2, a pure battery electric sedan designed to compete with Tesla Model 3. Polestar 2 will be revealed early next year with production starting at the beginning of 2020.
Audi tests subscriptions
Joining rivals BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac and Volvo, Audi is rolling out a subscription service pilot in Texas called Audi Select. Offered at five dealerships in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, the program gives customers access to a range of Audi vehicles as well as rentals in 24 domestic markets for its Silvercar subsidiary.
The monthly payment in Audi Select is $1,395 and allows participants to choose and swap among Audi A4 sedans, A5 convertibles, S5 coupes, or Q5 and Q7 SUVs. Customers can stay into vehicles up to six months and can swap products as often as twice a month. The subscription includes insurance, maintenance and taxes, but no fuel. The program is open to customers 25 years or older with no major moving violations on their driving records.
Another benefit of the service is the ability of subscribers to take advantage of Audi’s Silvercar rental service, which is offered in two dozen markets including New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Miami and Denver. Those in the Audi Select pilot are entitled to up to 24 days of Audi rentals through Silvercar per year. Audi said it would study the results of the program before deciding to roll it out into other markets by year’s end.
Genesis prices 2019 G70
Hyundai’s luxury division, Genesis, has announced pricing on its entry-level sport sedan, the 2019 Genesis G70. Pricing keys off BMW’s pricing structure for its 3 Series, though the G70 offers a higher level of equipment and performance in its base turbo 252-horsepower 4-cylinder turbo, while the comparable 320i offered less than 200 horses.
Pricing starts at $34,995 including $995 destination for the 2019 Genesis G70 2.0T Advanced rear-drive model. All-wheel drive is $2,000 extra. The Sport model is $37,995 for rear-drive only with a 6-speed manual, but also comes in 365-horsepower 3.3T V6 with an automatic in either rear or all-wheel drive respectively priced at $50,495 and $52,495 including delivery.
The standard 3.3-liter V6 Advance model comes with a starting price of $44,745 for rear-drive and $46,745 for all-wheel drive. There are also two Launch Edition trims in the 3.3T V6 range, Design and Dynamic. Design models start at $49,645 including destination, while Dynamic is priced from $51,145. All-wheel drive is $2,000 extra. All models except the 4-cylinder Sport trim come with 8-speed automatic transmissions. Also available on both the 2.0T and 3.3T models are Prestige and Elite trim levels that add more equipment.
Inventories kept in check
New vehicle inventory climbed slightly from August to September but remains relatively in check by coming in two days lower than year earlier numbers. According to Automotive News, the industry has 69 days’ supply of vehicles on hand Sept. 1, up three days from August, but down from the 71 figures of a year ago. Days’ supply is how long it would take to move all the cars on the ground at the current sales rate.
This relative stability in stocks indicates the industry is taking serious commitments to control production to match the market to avoid an oversupply situation that could trigger a costly round of incentives. Car inventories continue to shrink to account for only 28 percent of the vehicles in the pipeline, while trucks are in greater supply averaging 70 days to cars’ 67.
Subaru continues to have the tightest inventory control reporting just a 23-day supply, compared to Audi’s 50, Mercedes’ 52 and Lexus’ 54-day supplies. Fiat continues to have the most cars on hand and slowest sales resulting in a 182-days’ supply of vehicle. Next closest is Buick at 140 followed by Mitsubishi with 115.
Mercedes has just introduced a new entry level subcompact, the 2019 Mercedes-Benz A220. We get behind the wheel in this First Review.
Audi is the next to step up into the full electric SUV segment by taking the wraps off the 2019 Audi eTron. Pricing will start around $75,800 before tax credits.
FCA has announced that it is doing a limited run 2018 Ram Power Wagon Mohave Sand Edition. Only 1,500 of the outgoing half-ton pickup will be built.
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