New Mercedes E class is coming
New E class
A new Benz E Class is coming, though you probably won’t
immediately spot the difference. After making only minor modifications to the
vehicle’s exterior but 2,000 parts changes, Mercedes-Benz is banking on the
freshened 2007 E class to increase sales, worldwide, but especially in America.
According to Automotive News, mid-cycle changes include major engine,
performance and safety upgrades. In the US, the new model Mercedes will be more
expensive, with the E350model up by $500, to $51,275, including shipping,
despite the addition of what it says are $2,750 in features. Those include the
Pre-Safe system, which anticipates crashes by rolling up windows, tightening
belts and adjusting seat backs.
A diesel E320 BlueTec will cost $52,325, including shipping, when it goes on
sale in mid-October, when low sulfur fuel is available, but expect to pay around
4 million baht in this country.
Mercedes-Benz has launched the E class sport model at no extra charge. It has a
chrome grille with black inserts; 18 inch, 10-spoke wheels; a lowered sport
suspension; and cross-drilled front disc brakes.
Mercedes-Benz wants to lure buyers who prefer sportier cars - a strategy that
worked in the C class when a sport model was introduced in January 2003, says
Bernard Glaser, general manager of product management for Mercedes-Benz USA LLC
in Montvale, N.J. Glaser says Mercedes-Benz is making the shift to sportier
models because of the invasion of Asian makes and Cadillac into what was
traditionally the marketplace for the Europeans. These newcomers include the
Lexus GS, Infiniti M, Acura RL (Honda) and Cadillac STS. Glaser admitted, “None
of them were serious competitors before. It has made life difficult for us.”
Mercedes-Benz wants to attract buyers from those brands and give C class sport
version owners a step up, Glaser says, “Internally, C sport people can move up.
Right now they have nowhere to go.” With the C class sport being almost the same
price as the standard E class, a sports E does make model sense. Glaser says
Mercedes-Benz is confident the new E sport model will make significant sales
gains because of what’s happened with the C class. He would not make specific
sales predictions, but indicated that the previous model had peak US sales of
about 55,000 units in 2004. (When you consider that total M-B production for
March this year in China was around 8,000 units and in Thailand 500 units, you
can see why we have to wait for new models to come here; however, I would expect
that the right hand drive new E class would be given its world debut at the
Bangkok International Motor Show.)
There’s no money in Malaysia?
An expensive day
Our Down-Under correspondent John Weinthal, now occasionally
domiciled in KL, sent the photo of a cavalcade of three car transporters, each
carrying six AMG SL55s, which turned into the Sepang F1 circuit last weekend.
AMG do not indulge in expensive track days like this, if they did not think
there would be 18 orders at the end. I am assured that if John Weinthal had the
readies, he would have gladly signed; however, since his budget would almost go
as far as buying the transport drivers a cup of tea, he returned without an AMG.
Last week I mentioned the Land Speed Records. The John Cobb Railton in 1938
employed ice cooling. Another two record breakers used this method before then,
rather than radiators. I asked what were they? The answer was the Stutz Black
Hawk in 1928 (which killed driver Frank Lockhart) and Kaye Don’s Silver Bullet
So to this week. What was the first British make to win a Grand Prix? Clue, the
driver was also the first British driver to win a GP.
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
Chinese car production
If you think that Thailand is leading the Asian motoring
revolution, then I have some very bad news for you. In the first six months
of this year, China produced 1.3 million motor vehicles, with many of them
being home-grown such as the Changfeng Liebao, the Great Wall Hover or the
Chery Tiggo or the FAW Xiali. And the Xiali is the top selling car in China,
with 93,800 going to new homes in the first six months of this year. That
was more than double the figures for Toyota Corolla, for example.
China Business Weekly also stated that Chinese motorcycle manufacturers,
such as the Lifan group, are diversifying into motor cars, having seen the
transition in the fortunes of another motorcycle company that went the four
wheeled way – Honda. In fact, today the revenue from Honda two wheeled sales
are just one ninth of its revenue from the auto business, claims China
Lifan, who are fairly late entrants into the motor vehicle sales, will knock
out 80,000 units this year, with export orders going to Africa. By 2008,
they intend to be producing 150,000 units a year.
Called the Lifan520 this new compact sedan is powered by a 4-cylinder 1.6
liter petrol engine supplied by Tritec of Brazil. It is apparently the same
engine as found in the Mini Cooper and the Chery Fengyun. It is sold in
China for under USD 10,000, but the export models will be around USD 14,000
(under 600,000 baht).
Hybrids drive your dollar even further than before
The hybrid technology which is being used by both Toyota and
Honda makes them currently the leaders in the fuel miser stakes, but private
enterprise has further developed the electric side of the Prius Hybrid
What has been done is to increase the range of the vehicle using the
electric motor, by installing the very latest technology battery. This can
be charged up by the owner overnight, and since the vehicle can then use the
electric side more than the internal combustion (petrol) side, the distance
traveled per liter of fuel is reported to be in the range of 60 km per
liter, whilst a standard Toyota Prius Hybrid returns around 20 km per liter.
When you consider that an average 2 liter petrol engined vehicle will return
around 10 km per liter, this new technology would cut your fuel bill by
5/6ths. That is not to be sneezed at. The modification will cost around USD
12,000, and the fuel savings should return that sum very quickly.
Whilst this ‘after-market’ modification may void warranty, Toyota themselves
have admitted they are also looking at increasing the distance that can be
traveled with electric power alone. “We are currently in the R&D phase and
have made significant progress with the project, but until we are confident
of the product, no release date will be set,” said Toyota spokeswoman Cindy
Daimler and Chrysler to share engines
DaimlerChrysler AG plans to invest about $2 billion in a new
global family of V6 engines. This is the beginning of the end for Chrysler,
in my book, as Mercedes-Benz technology will swamp the home-grown American
The ‘modular’ engines will begin appearing at the end of the decade. The
project, known internally as Phoenix, will build the V6s at three Chrysler
engine plants in the United States, as well as at a Mercedes factory in
“We are working on a new family which can operate on a modular base,”
DaimlerChrysler CEO Dieter Zetsche said in a recent interview. The program
will reduce DaimlerChrysler’s V-6 engines “to one family instead of five,”
Chrysler spokesman Mike Aberlich said the company is still completing some
“business plan issues” on the program. He said those issues should be
resolved within a few months; however, the cost figures came from the United
Auto Workers union sources who claimed that DaimlerChrysler is investing a
total of $2 billion in the three American engine plants.
When the two firms announced the amalgamation a few years ago, the Chrysler
side denied that it was the junior partner. I predict that within 10 years
Chrysler will be without an identity. I hope I am wrong, as Chrysler has a
wonderful history, but so did Austin, Morris and MG.
Biodiesel gets the nod in Munich
For Munich Airport’s ground services fleet, biodiesel will be
part of the fuel mix of the future. With the launch of this project, FMG,
the airport operating company, aims to substantially increase the use of
renewable energy sources at Munich Airport. Already the site of a hydrogen
fueling station for some years now, and with the world’s largest
photoelectric generating facility on an airport terminal roof, the airport
has long been a trailblazer in testing and utilizing renewable energy
Munich Airport CEO, Dr. Michael Kerkloh, says the airport is an ideal
setting for presenting modern technologies, “By making biodiesel an
important fuel for our airport equipment, we are clearly signaling our
belief in regenerative energies. Munich Airport, which welcomes a large
international audience every day, is the perfect setting for showcasing
convincing concepts for a sustainable energy supply.”
Considering that Rudolf Diesel’s first engine ran on biodiesel (peanut oil),
it has only taken 100 odd years for the concept to really be developed.