Mercedes Pickup Aims to Mimic Success of Brand's SUVs

First Up 11/14/17

NAFTA Negotiators Set to Look for Small Wins After U.S. Threats
As Donald Trump pushes to overhaul U.S. trade ties abroad, negotiations with his two biggest export markets are resuming in hopes of finding new common ground on easier subjects – leaving the most contentious U.S. demands for later. Bloomberg reports that the fifth round of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) talks starts Wednesday in Mexico City, two days earlier than initially scheduled. It’s the first meeting since U.S., Mexican, and Canadian negotiators extended talks to March and added more time between sessions, abandoning Trump’s previous deadline. Mexico is warning talks could impact immigration cooperation with the U.S., while Canada is effectively holding up the Trans Pacific partnership – a deal Trump quit, that was also effectively a NAFTA update – as it pushes for improvements. One government official said NAFTA negotiations this week are expected to focus on smaller issues related to modernizing the deal, and the thorniest discussions will be put off until later rounds. For more on what to expect from the latest round of NAFTA negotiations, click here

Mercedes Pickup Aims to Mimic Success of Brand's SUVs
Daimler hopes the new Mercedes-Benz X class will be a game-changer for its light commercial vehicles division, giving the business a more diversified sales footprint by entering the booming global segment of midsize pickups. According to Automotive News, Mercedes-Benz Vans boss Volker Mornhinweg said pickups are moving upmarket, just like SUVs have done. "SUVs are elegant lifestyle products with a high-quality finish to them. Not every customer takes them into the wilderness anymore. We believe pickups could go in a similar direction," he told Automotive News Europe. Until now, Daimler's vans division has been overwhelmingly dependent on Europe, with 70 percent of its 360,000-unit volume coming from the region last year. With the X class, Daimler is targeting a diverse customer group from farmers in South America, building contractors in Australia, families in Brazil, and trend-conscious individuals in Europe and South Africa. For more on Mercedes-Benz’s new truck, click here

Lexus Nabs Name for Detroit's First Velodrome
Downtown Detroit’s newest sports stadium will give Lexus a sought-after advertising presence in a city increasingly drawing worldwide attention. According to The Detroit News, the global luxury brand of Japan’s Toyota Motor Corp. landed the naming rights for a $4 million velodrome set to open in January in Midtown. The Lexus Velodrome will house a 166-meter indoor cycling arena, lanes for walking, running and skating, and an infield for exercise classes and other events. It will be the second indoor velodrome in the U.S., and the first in Detroit. It’s Detroit’s fourth major sporting venue within the 7.2-square-mile greater downtown area. And it is due to open less than six months after Little Caesars Arena hosted its first game in Cass Corridor, and at the same time Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan, businessman Dan Gilbert, and the William Clay Ford family are trying to bring a Major League Soccer team to Detroit. For more on Lexus and Detroit’s new velodrome facility, click here

2018 Detroit Auto Show: Construction Crews Already Pouring Into Cobo
The 2018 North American International Auto Show is about two months away, but the construction needed to create one of the premier auto shows in the world at Detroit's downtown convention space is happening now. According to The Detroit Free Press, the crescendo of construction activity will build until moments before the doors open, according to Max Muncey, a spokesman for the event which started in 1907 and has had an international focus since 1989. On Monday, Muncey led a Free Press reporter and photographer on a tour of the main show hall. Workers moved about on the floor and overhead. Survey crews had already begun placing what looked like white stamps on the floor to mark specific exhibit spaces. Over the coming weeks, 1,800 semis will be bringing in and later removing the materials for the show. What takes about 12 weeks to install will only take about two weeks to dismantle after the show ends. For more on the Detroit Auto Show, click here

The Year's Biggest Winners and Losers Among SUVs and Trucks
With the 2018 model-year well under way, Forbes reports that much of the momentum and enthusiasm in the new-vehicle market has shifted to the truck side of the showroom, as motorists are trading in their sedans in earnest for burlier modes of transportation. Sales are on the rise in most non-passenger-car segments, with luxury compact SUVs and subcompact SUVs being the big winners over the first 10 months of 2017 with gains of 17.1 percent and 11.6 percent, respectively. As it did with passenger cars in a separate post, Forbes is tracking the SUVs, pickup trucks, and minivans that have posted the biggest sales gains and losses so far during 2017, based on year-over-year-to-date data provided by Kelley Blue Book and confirmed via automakers’ reports. The newest of all new-vehicle segments, subcompact crossovers are booming, with sales swelling by 11.6 percent through the end of October. The Honda HR-V is enjoying a 23.9 percent increase, while the aging Nissan Juke–the first and oldest member of this fledgling niche– is feeling the sting of a 44.0 percent loss. For more, click here

Around the Web

CA Clears the Way for Testing of Fully Driverless Cars [LA Times]

The Porsche Panamera is Business Insider's Car of the Year [Business Insider]

Here Are the 18 Cars You're Most Excited About for 2018 [Road and Track]

A Look at Some Odd Cars [USA Today]