Archive for Industry Analysis

JEEP Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel Summit

Jeep Grand Cherokee

Jeep GC EcoDiesel Summit (7)

Jeep, in its last-generation flagship Jeep Grand Cherokee, introduces a diesel version to the somewhat anti-diesel obsessed North America.

On August 1st, Fiat shareholders approved the automaker’s merger with Chrysler. This is a milestone in FIAT’s history and marks the end of one of the icons of Italian industry and business.

This process started a couple of years ago when Chrysler declared bankruptcy and welcomed Fiat’s control. FIAT, Italy’s largest manufacturer and a symbol of the country’s was already struggling to adapt to globalization and in fact to survive. The bond between the the companies is in fact Mr Sergio Marchionne, an Italian Canadian and CEO of both companies. FIAT is leaving home after 115 years. The new company arising from the merger, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV, will be incorporated under Dutch law, based in the UK and listed on the New York Stock Exchange.

The merger will create the world’s seventh-largest automaker.

In early May, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, as it is now called following FIAT’s acquisition of Chrysler early this year, laid out its business plan from now until 2018 and kept very few details secret.

As Sergio Marchionne, the Italian Canadian CEO of the company expressed it, Fiat Chrysler is beginning to write a completely new book. I will discuss different aspects of this plan in this and upcoming other articles.

The instrument cluster is modern with a highly classic look. No experiments

The instrument cluster is modern with a highly classic look. No experiments

Let’s start with the Jeep Grand Cherokee:

 

Jeep, one of the non-human heroes of the WWII, is, with very little doubt, the most valuable brand of the group on this side of the Atlantic.

In May 2014, the brand’s monthly sales reached a historical high of 70203 units. This figure doubles Volkswagen and triples Buick. The market growth in North America is driven by SUV and CUV’s. Who else could benefit from this trend as much as Jeep does with a portfolio consisting of just those types of vehicles.

With the Patriot and the Compass to be discontinued in 2016, the Jeep Grand Cherokee, as the flagship of the brand will be even more important, complemented by the hard core Wrangler and the new, highly successful compact SUV, the Cherokee.

With a global vision in the near future, Jeep needed more choices in terms of engines, among other things. A diesel engine is not less than inevitable especially considering the ambitious goals in Europe. The average North American driver is still largely obsessed with the bad-smelling, smoky and noisy machines from the seventies and Jeep is doing a good job to destroy this mental wall.

Jeep GC EcoDiesel Summit (12)

The Lord of the Tough Terrains did not limit its Fiat based diesel power source just to Europe. It is available in Canada and the USA. The three-liter, six-cylinder Jeep Grand Cherokee EcoDiesel delivers 240 HP of power and 420 lb-ft of torque. Mated to an eight-speed auto, the full-size SUV Jeep Grand Cherokee promises 9.8 litre in the city and 7.0 litre on the highway. Even if these numbers are more theoretical than actual, they make high promises, at least on a comparative basis. After more than 600 kilometers of mixed use my Jeep Grand Cherokee in one week, I scored an average of 11 litres. This again reminds me the fact that the consumption measurements in Canada and the USA need a redefinition and closer ties with the reality.

Jeep GC Diesel testinin sonu (8)

The eight-speed auto in the Jeep Grand Cherokee is a well-engineered transmission. Furthermore, the front wheels of the Jeep Grand Cherokee are decoupled when they’re not needed for traction and help saving fuel. The short ratios require a lot of shifting as you pull away from rest of the traffic. Luckily the shift action is nice and smooth. You will witness this diesel hitting high revs around 3,000. A frequent redliner for this type of powertrain.

In Canada, since the diesel is slightly more expensive than the regular gasoline, saving money by driving diesel is quite controversial and definitely a long-term investment. The driving pleasure of the low-end torque probably matters more.

My fully loaded test vehicle had a MSRP of CAD 69,655. (The base price is CAD 62,445) The price difference with the gasoline engine is almost CAD 5,000.

For this price you get a luxury SUV with everything from leather trimmed bucket seats (heated and ventilated), dual pane panoramic sunroof to heated steering wheel, navigation, aluminium polished wheels and much more.

Jeep Grand Cherokee

The Jeep Grand Cherokee provokes you to “unfollow” the road

 

The material quality and craftsmanship of the Jeep Grand Cherokee is very good and promises a level comparable to Mercedes and Range Rover, maybe more so in the next generation.

Chrysler Canada provides a five year, 100,000 km (whichever comes first) zero-deductible, fully transferable powertrain warranty.

The test vehicle (Jeep Grand Cherokee) was provided by Chrysler Canada.

For the latest specifications and the pricing info, please visit www.jeep.ca

All rights reserved. This article cannot be copied entirely or partially without the prior written consent of the author. Links to the website (autoandroad.com) are allowed.

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LINCOLN MKZ: An Excellent Car For Any Season

LINCOLN MKZ 2.0 Hybrid

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A “not-so-new” Contender in the Luxury Segment
The MKZ has a special status in the history of Lincoln. No other model played such a crucial role in the destiny and survival of this once-iconic brand. The cousin of the Fusion was introduced as a prototype during the 2012 Detroit Motor Show. Max Wolff, Lincoln’s design chief was (and is) the savior, at least symbolically. The Lincoln MKZ is on sale for a couple of months and it remains to be seen how much of Fusion’s success it can replicate as a more expensive yet uniquely styled premium version of Ford’s best-selling midsize car.

Under the leadership of Alan Mullaly, Ford passionately pursued the “One Ford” strategy and sold its “once hopeful” premium and luxury brands; Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover. Lincoln, this century old brand remains Ford’s only contender in the luxury segment. Sadly, Lincoln has no presence outside North America and will do so at least in the foreseeable future.

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It is not unfair to state that Ford largely ignored this brand. Only in the last two or three years, the management of the Blue Oval Company grasped the idea that Lincoln deserves much more attention.

Lincoln is undergoing a comprehensive re-branding process. Dealers are trained in the Lincoln Academy and need to learn among other things- how to persuade customers to buy an Lincoln MKZ and pay around 20 grands more instead of a Fusion.

Meeting the expectations in the luxury segment and providing highly personalized customer service is a crucial part of this re-branding strategy.

Lincoln created a website, named “Lincoln Concierge” to be in touch with existing and potential customers on 24/7. Those people can contact a live agent not only to ask questions and arrange a test drive, but also to book a hotel or a dinner at a fine-dining restaurant. They can even organize a party.

At the dealership level, if a customer asked for a bottle of Perrier in a previous service visit, this dealership is expected to make sure that by the next time, this customer gets it. It is still a bit early to conclude if this kind of highly individualized service will deliver the expected sales results. However, the preliminary figures are somewhat promising.

In Canada, the Lincoln MKZ is offered with three different engines: A two-liter, four-cylinder Ecoboost, a 3.7 liter V6 and a two-liter hybrid.

My wife and I tested the hybrid version of the Lincoln  MKZ (provided by the BHG Media on behalf of Ford Canada) and drove the car for about 1500 kilometers including a trip to Ottawa.

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We were able to test the Lincoln MKZ under different road conditions from highways to twisted country roads.

The four-cylinder engine with an Atkinson cycle delivers a combined output of 188 HP (including the 88kW electric motor). The system is complemented by a lithium-ion battery with 1.4 kWh.

A CVT gearbox transmits this power to the wheels. Shift buttons on the dashboard constitute a unique feature of the Lincoln MKZ.

So far, the hybrid model generates 30 percent of total sales. In environmentally more conscious cities like Los Angeles, every other Lincoln MKZ sold has the hybrid source of power.

The Lincoln MKZ is assembled in Hermosillo, Mexico.

Even if the engine delivers sufficient power to move forward, those who expect a sporty performance will most probably be disappointed. Maybe there is a lesson to be learned from Lincoln: A luxury car does not have to have a high-beating heart.

Cost considerations in the automobile productions is a hard and bold fact no company can disregard. In a world where a Rolls Royce uses a BMW platform or a Bentley relies on a Volkswagen architecture, the Lincoln MKZ has no chance of being a stand-alone product. However, still much remains to be done. During our test drives within one week, at least three people approached me in the parking lot and voiced their opinions about the beauty of this car. Congrats to Ford and Max Wolff for giving this car its unique identity and so much differentiating the Lincoln MKZ from the already stylish Fusion.

We cannot reach the same conclusion for the interior of the Lincoln MKZ. At first sight, a careful eye will detect that this is a Fusion interior. Two unique features give the midsize Lincoln its identity: a push button gear selector that liberates valuable space in the center console and a huge, panoramic sunroof (an option that our test car had). A harmonious combination of leather and aluminium (instead of wood) complemented by limited use of plastics creates a luxurious interior.

The sound insulation is very good and meets the expectations in this class. With the exception of  sudden acceleration, the biggest noise in the cabin would be the buzzing of the climate system. The additional insulation materials under the hood, as well as in front and side panels help to reach this quietness. While driving in the sports mode, “active noise cancellation” system is turned on to neutralize the disturbing sound resulting from higher revs.

The magnetic suspension system of the Lincoln MKZ can be tuned to three different modes and it makes a difference in comparison with its Ford cousin.

In the Nation’s Capital

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We visited Ottawa in the last days of June. The nation’s capital was getting ready for July 1st.

The Parliament, architecturally relevant to the one in London, UK is undergoing an extensive renovation that could last up to 10 years. A giant stage for the Canada Day celebrations was under construction. I was not able to take a proper picture of the “Hill”, no matter whatever angle I tried.

ByWard Market in Lower Town, is in walking distance to the Parliament and a fusion of a modern, clean farmers market and an entertainment district. Once the focal point of Irish and French immigrants, ByWard owes its existence to the construction of the Rideau Canal. In 1826, when the construction began, this commercial district flourished as a logistics and procurement hub.

9. Listen to the heatbeat of the capital in ByWard on a Saturday evening

President Obama, shortly after coming to the office in his first term, made his first official visit to Canada. While he was in Ottawa just for a couple of hours, he did not by-pass ByWard. Le Moulin de Provence, the  famous bakery  proudly presents his pictures with the employees and leverages this visit to boldly state the quality of its sandwiches, breads and pastries. I tried the cold steak sandwich and liked it. It was not the best I ate. Not so for the cheese cake. So, give the desserts priority unless you starve from hunger.

The capital area is divided between the twin cities of Ottawa and Gatineau, which are parts of Ontario and Quebec respectively. The 200 km-long Rideau Canal, that the British built against a possible American invasion, connects Lake Ontario to the Ottawa River and flows through the heart of the capital.

In winter the Canal becomes the Skateway, the world’s largest skating rink. You can skate through the heart of downtown Ottawa and enjoy this UNESCO World Heritage Site at its best.

The Skateway is 7.8 kilometers long, and begins just steps from Canada’s Parliament Buildings. The scenic skating rink extends to Dows Lake. In between, warm up at rest areas, where there are toasty fires, hot drinks and tasty snacks.

When the subject matter is outdoor activities, Ottawa offers more and not just for the winter: Bicycle paths surrounding the capital region are 300 kilometers long. During our stay, people filled these paths thanks to wonderful weather, a precious gift for Ottawa known for its long and tough winters.

Conclusion

After 1500 kilometers we achieved an average consumption of 7.1 liters. We have to keep in mind that we drove the Lincoln MKZ mostly on highway and with cruise control set to 110 km/h in most instances. The theoretical values of 4.2 (in city) and 4.3 liter (highway) should be used for comparison purposes only.

It was fun to drive the newest Lincoln and it remains to be seen if the Lincoln MKZ will change the destiny of the brand. I am excited to see the sales performance by the end of this year.

The MSRP of the Lincoln MKZ Hybrid in Canada is CAD 44,050.

With the options in our test vehicle,  the price climbs to CAD 52.505. The technology package of CAD 2,450 includes a radar assisted cruise control and park assistance. The panoramic sunroof, another unique feature costs CAD 3,450.

And The Lincoln MKZ Adventure Continued in the Harshest Winter for Years

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To conclude my impressions about the Lincoln MKZ, I had the privilege of the driving the top-of-the-line AWD with the 3.7 liter, 24-valve V6 engine delivering 300 HP at 6500 rpm and 277 lb.-ft. of torque at 4000 rpm. This model with the intelligent all-wheel-drive system was the ideal vehicle to be tested in the toughest days of February with gusting winds and never ending snow storms. I felt very proud when entering and cruising safely on the abandoned HOV lane of the QEW between Burlington and Mississauga.

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The intelligent AWD drive system (mated to a 6-speed auto) deserves its name and keeps the Lincoln MKZ on track at all times. Road holding spells confidence and comfort probably more thanks to continuously controlled damping (CCD). Torque vectoring control helps the vehicle to the road when accelerating through a corner by adjusting the speed between the front wheels, while enhancing cornering agility and helping to reduce understeer. And adaptive cruise control maintains a preset speed without using (much) the brake or accelerator pedals, and uses advanced radar technology to scan ahead and adjust the speed to adapt to the vehicle in front.The desired gap can be set through the steering wheel to 4 unique gap settings.

Heated steering wheels is an important feature in the luxury segment especially when it feels around -20. It becomes “operational” after less than two minutes.

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In a mixed-use dominated by city driving for nearly 500 kilometers, I came up with an average consumption of 12,6 liter. This is higher than the “theoretical” city driving of 11.5 liter. Common sense tells me to use these consumption figures for comparative purposes only. Plus, you probably are not much worried about this difference, when you are able to pay 56K for mid-size luxury car.

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Pricing
The base price for this Lincoln MKZ is
$ 47,700. The tested vehicle was fully loaded with a not-so-short list of options including: Technology Package, $2,450 (Active Park Assist, Adaptive Cruise Control, Lane Keeping System); Panoramic Roof, $3,450; Multi Contour Seats, $750; and Interior Satin / Nickel / Aluminum trim, $225.
With the destination fee of $1,650 and A/C Tax: $100, the total price as tested is $56,425

For more and most up-to-date information, please visit:

www.lincolncanada.com

www.ottawatourism.ca

www.ontariotravel.net

Varol Karslioglu is a Certified Travel Manager licensed by TICO (Travel Industry Council of Ontario). He is a partner and Marketing Director of ATS Academy Travel Services Inc., in Toronto, a TICO-registered travel company.

Varol is also a columnist and North American Reporter of Otohaber, Turkey’s first weekly car magazine.

No part of this article or the pictures included in this article can be used without prior written consent of Varol Karslioglu, the author. (varol@rogers.com)