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The Mercury Cars Guide : June 20th 2009
Saturday, June 20, 2009 Classifieds 62 300 400 • carsguide.com.au BMW’s green lap of luxury —13 Getting them in early JAPANESE luxury car maker Lexus needs an entry-level car to combat BMW’s 1 Series. Lexus Australia boss John Roca said it was one of only two obvious gaps in their admittedly small product range. He said the other major gap was between the IS and GS with the departure of the ES. ‘‘A lot of young people know more about Lexus than older people so we need a car to get them started in the brand,’’ Roca said. ‘‘A $49,000 car with a Lexus badge is what they really want. ‘‘It’s what I have been telling (head office) for ever and they are now starting to listen.’’ ‘‘There is already talk about a baby Lexus within the next three years, but they are very very vague about it. EFFICIENTLY ELEGANT: The new BMW 730d boasts impressive fuel consumption figures for a luxury car. BMW’s 7 Series diesel will be boxing well out of its eco division when it hits showrooms this month. Kevin Hepworth reports traditional luxury rivals. ‘‘This is a car that really redefines B how efficient a large luxury car can be,’’ says BMW Australia’s Toni Andreevski. The new 730d has an official fuel consumption rating of 7.2l/100km, just 0.2l above the limit set by the Government for cars to benefit from the green car exemption from luxury tax. ‘‘It is just outside that level at the MW’S new 7 Series diesel boasts fuel consumption more in line with small four-cylinder cars than its moment, but with almost daily im- provements in our efficient dy- namics technology I amhopeful that it won’t be too long before that level is reached,’’ Andreevski says. In the interim BMW will just have to be satisfied that the 730d is the first car in the upper luxury sedan seg- ment that emits less than 200g of CO2 per kilometre, putting out 192g/km. That measure puts it ahead of the Lexus LS600hL hybrid and diesel competitors in the segment and on a par with a clutch of four-cylinder cars, such as the manual 1.8-litre Holden Astra CD, the manual 1.6-litre Skoda Roomster and the automatic 1.8-litre Honda Civic VTi. ‘‘It’s not often a luxurious five- seater saloon is compared with smaller four-cylinder cars, but in terms of fuel consumption the 730d demonstrates the remarkable achievement of BMW’s Efficient Dy- namics program,’’ says BMW Aus- tralia’s general manager of market- ing, Tom Noble. The 730d’s Euro 5 compliant turbo- charged all-alloy straight six- cylinder engine produces 180kW and 540Nm, giving the car a 0-100km/h sprint of 7.2 seconds. The 3.0-litre diesel features a third- generation common rail direct injec- tion system with piezo injectors and a maximum injection pressure of 1800 bar, variable turbo geometry, diesel particle filter and oxidation catalyst. Standard equipment levels on the 730d are the same as the recently released 740i, including heads-up dis- play, rear-view camera, metallic paint, 18-inch light-alloy wheels, dynamic driving control, brake energy regen- eration, adaptive headlights, heated and ventilated front seats, sunroof, soft close on all doors, television tuner and voice recognition. New sales surge with scrappage scheme MARK HINCHLIFFE SCRAPPAGE schemes where the government and car makers provide amonetary incentive for motorists to sell old cars have spurred a recovery in new car sales in Europe. TheGermanmarket isnowup 39.7 per cent on May last year, a 20.3 per cent improvement over April’s fig- ures, thanks largely to their scrap- page system. Similarly, France is benefiting from an improved sales performance in May with registrations up 11.8 per cent, compared with April which was 7.1 per cent down on the previous year. The Australian automotive indus- try has called on the government to implement a scrappage system that also includes recent used cars. Lexus Australia boss John Roca said the industry would need an- Ford’s true-blue focus SINGER John Williamson turned the ‘‘true-blue’’ Aussie saying into a smash hit in 1981. Now Ford hopes the phrase could be just thing to help win over customers. Ford president and CEO Marin Burela believes the tag could have a future as the company seeks to re-engage customers. ‘‘The Aussie customer is start- ing to look at Ford in a different light,’’ he says. Burela acknowledgesmanycon- sumers ‘‘had fallen out of love with Ford and we weren’t responsive enough’’. True blue is one of several ideas Ford is considering, among them third-party brand endorsements, to reconnect with existing custom- ers, lure new buyers and sell cars. ‘‘Third-party endorsement, whether it be a personality or just the true-blue mums and dads and young people of Australia, I think is a really interesting way to go out and communicate our mes- sage,’’ he says. However, he is wary about such an endorsement being seen by today’s tech-savvy consumers as too corny. ‘‘I don’t know whether true blue is the right tagline, but I love it personally,’’ he says. ‘‘I’ve asked the Ford team to go out and see if there is mileage with it. ‘‘I honestly believe that if there is a company in Australia that can say that they’re the people’s com- pany, I think it’s us.’’ Ford had particular success with a series ofTVads in the 1970s when it used a farmer in South Australia’s Flinders Ranges to endorse its luxury Fairlane sedan as ‘‘a big car for a big country’’. Burela believes a 21st century take on this style of thinking could be good for the Broadmeadows- based carmaker. NEIL McDONALD other incentive after the govern- ment’s business bonus scheme runs out at the end of this month. He said a scrappage system would assist the ‘‘volume end’’ while relaxa- tion or axing of the luxury car tax would help the top end. Analysts believe European scrap- page schemes are helping sales of small cars more than larger and more expensive vehicles. In Europe, the Fiesta is up 56 per cent and Volkswagen Golf up 32.1 per cent with strong performances also from the Fiat Punto and Panda and VW Polo. The overall European new car market is down 13.1 per cent year-to- date, but improved 2.4 per centonthe previous month. This compares with Australia where sales are down 19.2 per cent so far this year but also up on the previous month by 17.9 per cent. ‘‘At this stage they won’t even confirm if the project exists. If it does, it’s either an entry level passenger car or an SUV.’’ He said an ES-sized mid-range car would be good but his priority would be an entry-level car to attract more people to the brand. ‘‘BMW gets people into the brand with the 1 Series and they develop a loyalty,’’ he said. ‘‘Once they have a loyalty to a brand it’s hard to get them out of it.’’ Roca said an entry-level Lexus would not impact on Toyota. ‘‘They are two very different buyers,’’ he said. Roca said Lexus was launched in Australia in 1990 when the economic climate was not suit- able. ‘‘We launched with the LS400 at $117,000 in the middle of a reces- sion when housing interest rates were 17 per cent and car finance was about 24 per cent,’’ he said. ‘‘It was like launching the Mercedes brand with just the S class. ‘‘In 1991 we added the ES300 and that was it for about seven years. ‘‘Today we have 8.8 per cent of the luxury market with just a handful of models.’’ MARK HINCHLIFFE
June 13th 2009
June 27th 2009