Lamborghini Joins the Boom in Supercar SUVs with Urus Unveiling

First Up 12/04/17

International Nameplate Auto Sales Up in November
Despite a slowing U.S. auto market in November that appears on pace to log the first decline since the great recession, international auto brands continued to lead among U.S. car shoppers, reports AIADA’s Market Watch. International brands were led last month by Honda (up 8.2 percent from last November, a brand record for the month), Mercedes-Benz (up 3.6 percent), and Mitsubishi (up 24.8 percent). Most sales improvements were driven by light truck purchases, which rose 6.6 percent as a segment from last November, while cars continued to lag, down 8.2 percent from a year ago. “International nameplate brands continue to perform well in today’s market,” said AIADA President Cody Lusk. “Demand is steady, and dealers are in a position to end the year on solid footing and begin 2018 with a competitive edge.” Read the rest of AIADA’s November Market Watch here

With BMW Reprieve, All Dealers Will Get Bonus
BMW of North America has promised to put controversial changes to a dealership bonus program on hold until May 1 while it works out a solution with a select group of the brand's retailers, reports Automotive News. Bernhard Kuhnt, who took over BMW's U.S. operation March 1, announced the reprieve to dealers in mid-November. Kuhnt, a former dealership operator himself, says the change of plans is emblematic of his goal to work collaboratively with dealers and repair the brand's fraught relationship with its sales network. "There were still some questions, so what we did say is that we're going to honor and grant everyone into the program until next year," Kuhnt told Automotive News at the auto show in Los Angeles last week. "But at the same time, we demanded, in a positive way, that we're going to work together, a self-selected group of the dealers together with us, to work out a solution that we're planning to announce in April. So [it's] very collaborative: Take away the headache, work on it together and announce it together." Read more here

California Nixes Plan to Limit Carmaker Liability
California regulators have nixed a plan to let self-driving car manufacturers evade liability for crashes if the vehicle hasn’t been maintained according to manufacturer specifications, reports The Detroit News. The new rules released this week delete a provision suggested by General Motors. California Department of Motor Vehicles spokeswoman Jessica Gonzalez said the change came after a review of comments on the plan. John Simpson of the nonprofit advocacy group Consumer Watchdog called the change a “major victory for consumers.” The rules could have absolved car makers of accident responsibility if a car owner hadn’t cleaned his sensors appropriately, said Simpson, the group’s privacy and technology director. The department is taking comments on the latest changes until Dec. 15. The final regulations are expected to be enacted early next year. Read more here

Toyota's Show Cars: The Onslaught Begins
President Akio Toyoda's urgent call for Toyota Motor Corp. to adapt quickly to unprecedented industry change was on display last week at the Los Angeles Auto Show — not in the form of self-driving electric urban pods, but in vehicles that the company needs now to fund new mobility ventures for an uncertain future. According to Automotive News, Lexus finally launched a three-row version of the RX midsize crossover after years of pleas by dealers who said they were leaving money on the table as luxury buyers went elsewhere for family-friendly haulers. Toyota unwrapped a small crossover concept, the FT-AC, that looks ready to slot between the compact RAV4 and large Highlander. Both brands' U.S. executives promised that the L.A. offerings were just the start of an onslaught of new ideas and products as the execs take up Toyoda's call for more get-up-and-go across the company. Read more here

Lamborghini Joins the Boom in Supercar SUVs with Urus Unveiling
Supercar makers have long known that parked next to that snarling Lamborghini, racing-red Ferrari, or stately Bentley at some of the globe's toniest addresses is a practical SUV. With the sport-utility vehicle market growing by leaps and bounds, they increasingly want in on those profits. According to USA Today, Lamborghini will unveil the once-improbable Urus SUV on Monday at its headquarters in Sant'Agata, Italy, where the supercar maker owned by the Volkswagen group is expanding the factory to meet utility vehicle demand. The Urus enters a luxury field crowded with the Mercedes G-Class, the Bentley Bentayga, and the trailblazing Porsche Cayenne — and soon to be joined by Aston Martin, Rolls Royce, and, in all probability, Ferrari. Analysts say that the move into SUVs has become a natural fit for most brands, even supercar makers like Lamborghini, despite the risk of alienating aficionados. Read more here

Webinar: A 2017 Review and 2018 Projections
Join AutoTalk on December 19th at 10:00 a.m. or 4:00 pm. EST where we will join an outstanding team of panelists that are returning for December’s year-end webinar. They include, Tom Kontos, Senior Vice President and Chief Economist for KAR; David Lim, Chief Auto Analyst at Wells Fargo; and Jonathan Smoke, Chief Economist at Cox Automotive. Listen in as they discuss important 2017 trends and market performance, and what to expect for 2018. To register for one or both sessions, click here

Around the Web

2019 Mercedes-Benz GLE Spy Shots and Video [MotorAuthority]

Here's a Land Rover Defender Mule [Autoblog]

The Entertainment Industry Already Has Big Plans for Self-Driving Cars [Digital Trends]

Rarest of the Rare Muscle Cars Unite Under One Roof [MSN Autos]