Once in a blue moon I’m asked to comment on a problematical automotive subject. In early 2005 it was in Detroit with the executives running GM discussing ways to improve their business. That day I also warned GM’s top executives that if their sales fell below 25 percent of the total market, then the business media would start writing non-stop that GM would likely end up in bankruptcy. And that would become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Jeep rolled out its all-new Grand Cherokee to rave reviews for model year 2011, then last year made even more tweaks to it, creating the best five-passenger midsize family crossover the brand has ever produced.
It’s when they’re facing the greatest financial peril that the two Porsche family clans seem to get along best, and 1993 was just such a time. The year did not start well for the Volkswagen Group; massive losses at Porsche dictated a new CEO, Wendelin Wiedeking, while Ferdinand Piech would take the reins at the VW Group. Things were so bad that Piech quickly instituted huge pay cuts and three-day workweeks just to keep his VW workforce intact. He stole a top executive from GM to fill in a weak spot over at Audi; and now he’d set his sights on the man he wanted beside him while he remade Volkswagen into a worldwide automotive powerhouse.
Mercedes-Benz introduced a new entry-level CLS400 for 2015, and the rest of the four-door, midsize luxury “four-door coupe” CLS-Class received a styling refresh inside and out, along with a few new safety features, bringing it in line with other Mercedes models.
Hyundai has moved into the high-end luxury class with the Equus full-size sedan, but unlike some of its Asian competitors such as Toyota and Nissan, Hyundai chose not to create a separate luxury brand.
One can never overstate the accomplishments of Ferdinand Piech in keeping the Volkswagen empire alive; likewise, his errors in judgment are also legendary in the automotive industry. However, in just 22 years Volkswagen has gone from near bankruptcy to being the world’s second largest automobile manufacturer – and that, too, is a direct result of the vision, focus and arrogance of Ferdinand Porsche’s grandson.
Mercedes-Benz has an all-new five-passenger SUV model for 2015, the GLA-Class compact crossover, which offers three trim levels – 250, 250 4Matic, and 45AMG 4Matic, with prices from $31,300 to $48,300. Mixing attributes of a hatchback and a small crossover, GLA offers a sporty ride, a luxurious, well-finished cabin and a higher drive height.