November 26, 2012

Last Call for These Cars that will Soon be History
Buying a car that’s going out of production can be a great way to get a bargain on new wheels, says Karl Brauer, editor of Total Car Score. “Model lines on the chopping block tend to lose resale value faster than cars with some life left in them, and dealers know it,” says Brauer. Since dealers are often eager to get “walking dead” cars off their lots quickly, he tells car buyers, “Feel free to practice a bit of role reversal, informing the dealer you’re going to do him a favor by taking this discontinued car off his hands.” Total Car Score compiled a list of 10 other vehicles that are going away in 2013, including the Hyundai Veracruz (replaced by a larger Santa Fe), the Mazda CX-7 (replaced by more fuel-efficient CX-5), and the Jeep Liberty (to be replaced next year by a Fiat-designed Jeep). According to Forbes, some are being discontinued because they flopped in the market, like the Maybach ultra-luxury sedan, the Mercedes-Benz R-class, or the Lexus HS250h. Others simply had grown long in the tooth and couldn’t keep up with the competition any more. For one last farewell to these and other discontinued models, click here. Read more about them here.

International Autos Lead Resale Values
Japanese cars demand the highest resale values in Kelley Blue Book's 2013 Best Resale Value Awards. But their lead isn't what it used to be, reports The Detroit News. International automobiles make up nine of the 10 best 2013 model year vehicles for resale values. Only Chrysler Group LLC's Jeep Wrangler is in the top 10, though Ford Motor Co. made great strides overall. "I think Toyota and Honda have been fairly dominant just about every year," said Eric Ibara, director of residual consulting for Kelley Blue Book. "The domestics have made very good improvements, so they may not be at the top of the segments, but they're no longer so far behind." Another report, from ALG, a TrueCar company, had no domestic automakers leading any category. Honda Motor Co. swept four crucial vehicle segments in Kelley Blue Book's report: subcompact, compact, sporty compact, and midsize. Toyota Motor Corp. has the best resale value in six segments: full-size (Avalon), midsize SUV-crossover (FJ Cruiser), full-size SUV-crossover (Sequoia), midsize pickup (Tacoma), full-size pickup (Tundra), and minivan-van (Sienna). Chevrolet's Volt has the best resale value among electric vehicles. Click here for more on auto resale values.

Mazda's Move: Upscale
Mazda will reposition itself as a more premium brand, Mazda Motor Corp. CEO Takashi Yamanouchi announced. "The question is: In the global market, what is the significance of a player with a mere 2 percent?" Yamanouchi told Automotive News last week. "It's something we frequently discuss internally. We came to the conclusion that if we make ordinary cars for the mass market, there is no reason for us to exist." Yamanouchi, a soft-spoken former purchasing executive, wants to boost sales in Mazda's biggest, most important market by 43 percent to more than 400,000 U.S. units by the fiscal year that ends March 31, 2016. To get to that record level, Mazda will launch a flood of products over the next few years using an upscale brand image. Internally, Mazda is calling its brand shift "Japan premium." That term will not be used in marketing. But the strategy is to leverage Mazda's new technologies and styling to lift the company above its Japanese rivals and other mass-market brands. The third-generation Mazda6 mid-sized sedan, which hits U.S. showrooms in January, will lead the upswing in sales and brand identity. Read more about Mazda’s new strategy here.

Los Angeles Car Show is Charged Up
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Los Angeles International Auto Show, which opens to the media on Wednesday, is set to host the unveilings of a series of new models, ranging from a new minivan-like wagon from Ford Motor Co. F to a Mercedes-Benz super sports car with a top speed of just under 200 miles an hour. Despite the hype around electric vehicles, battery-powered cars so far have struggled to take off. Sales of the Nissan Leaf, which has been available in the U.S. for more than a year, total only 1,000 or so each month. However, GM has developed the Spark EV, an electric version of the automaker's Korean-made subcompact, and will offer the car first in California. Chrysler also plans to introduce the 500e in California before expanding its availability. Other vehicles that will make debuts in Los Angeles include the Ford Transit Connect Wagon. Mercedes will show off the SLS AMG Black Series, which sports a 6.3-liter V-8 engine. It is supposed to be capable of 196 miles an hour. At that speed, the car essentially would travel the length of a football field in one second. Click here for more on what to expect from this week’s Los Angeles Auto Show.

Want Millennial Buyers? Make a Video
To connect with millennials in the fast-growing ad format of Web videos, Toyota Division did something different: 5-second commercials. In one Web commercial, an exuberant woman standing next to a RAV4 says "Airbags!" – and the spot is over in 5 seconds. According to Automotive News, automakers are embracing online video ads for millennials for an obvious reason: That's where young shoppers' eyeballs are; they're buyers who appreciate the offbeat and humorous. In October alone, 183 million U.S. Internet users viewed more than 37 billion videos and 11 billion video commercials online, data from digital analytics firm comScore show. That amounts to an average of about seven videos and two commercials a day for each adult. Automakers say online videos, which range from standard TV commercials to offbeat videos, hold advantages over TV or print ads. Advertisers can more precisely target ready-to-buy consumers using data about Web users' surfing behavior or interests. Online video also can be a more interactive and engaging advertising format than TV. Hoping to get a viral hit, auto advertisers are more willing to experiment with edgy or sometimes downright goofy video ads. Read about automakers’ strategy to reach out to millennials here.

Around the Web 
How to Fix Your Car's Dents with a GoPro [Autoblog]
2013 Audi R8 Road Trip Through Italy Picture Gallery [Edmunds Inside Line]
Best Viper Yet [CNN Money]
Suspects Sought in $1.4 Million Car Sales Scam [USA Today]

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