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When it was introduced, many were baffled by the BMW 5-Series Gran Turismo, citing it as a car in search of a market. BMW had originally planned to sell around 4,000 to 8,000 of these beasts annually in the United States, but so far actual demand has fallen far short of that.
In 2010, the company sold just 2,848 of them and in the first four months of this year, just 720 copies. Given those numbers, the decision to drop the 5-Series Touring (wagon) perhaps wasn’t such a shrewd move after all.
Although we aren’t likely to see such a vehicle return stateside anytime soon, BMW currently has no plans to drop the smaller 3-Series Touring, even with the upcoming introduction of the 4-Series Gran Turismo, fearing that doing so will yield sales to arch rival Mercedes-Benz (which is what happened with the 5-series).
Whether the 4-Series will prove any more popular than the 5-series GT remains to be seen, but as somebody once said, too many cooks can seriously spoil the broth and with another niche product on the way, in BMW’s case it looks like that could be a serious possibility.
[Source: Automotive News]
It’s the most prestigious (and largest) institution dedicated to preserving America’s past. But when it comes to cars, the Smithsonian Institution has many of its 73 vehicles locked away in storage.
However, it will shortly be putting two of them on display as part of the National Museum of American History Collection from January 22 to February 21, 2011. The only problem is, deciding which ones should qualify.
To that end, the Smithsonian is asking the public for help in selecting the candidates – the first time ever it’s offered such a proposal. The candidates are listed below.
1880 Long steam tricycle, an early precursor to what we know as the automobile.
1894 Balzer quadricycle, recognized as the first American-made car to be driven around New York City.
1903 Oldsmobile curved-dash runabout (credited as the first high volume production car)
1929 front-drive Miller Race Car, (front drive was fairly novel in the late 1920s, especially on racers)
1948 Tucker Torpedo (the most technologically advanced ‘production’ car of the 1940s)
1953 Glasspar sports car, a roadster built by a California boat builder out of fiberglass.
1987 GM Sunraycer, a solar powered machine that dominated an 1,864-mile race across Australia.
1998 GM EV1 electric car (shown)
We might be going out on a limb by saying this, but given current fad surrounding electric cars, we’ll bet that the EV1 will be one of the two vehicles ultimately selected for display. The winners will be announced on January 12th.
Originally intended primarily for the U.S. market, when it was launched for the 1990 model year, Lexus has since grown to become a world wide brand, but it’s the global aspect that’s causing headaches for parent company Toyota.
According to Karl Schlicht, general manager of Global Lexus marketing and product planning, “it’s very simple when you’ve got one market,” but “you have multiple regions now – like Europe wanting one direction, Japan another and China coming on, that gets complicated.”
Schlicht’s solution to this problem is what he sees as a type of progressive luxury, where social responsibility counts just as much as power and exclusivity, factors that can likely help the brand connect with a greater number of buyers in different parts of the world. To that end, future Lexus models will adopt more expressive styling, greater use of hybrid driveline technologies and onboard telematics.
In addition, Lexus will broaden the range of sport packages, offering them on the RX and new entry-level CT models as well as the IS sedan. These sport packages will incorporate different suspension and chassis tuning and where applicable, more performance oriented driveline features.
Also in the works is a new coupe, to replace the previous SC, along with some new SUVs, but while those are some of the things we can expect down the road, in the meantime and particularly here in the U.S., Lexus has it’s eye on the number 1 luxury sales spot again for 2011, though Schlicht says that moving forward, they’ll be less of an emphasis on the heavy incentives to move metal off the lots, though so far, it’s been these very incentives that have enabled the brand to hold onto that coveted market position, ahead of BMW.
[Source: Automotive News]