- Mercedes-Benz’s chief operating officer, Markus Schäfer, told the U.K. publication Autocar that even though some markets still love their wagons—sorry, estates—”this market is under pressure.”
- For the U.S., Mercedes said the few station wagon models it sells remain important thanks to loyal customers.
- Other model segments that Mercedes could shrink or discontinue include coupes and cabriolets, in part because making a beautiful electric cabriolet is an engineering challenge, he said.
Station wagons have been all but eliminated in the U.S. thanks to the popularity of crossovers and SUVs, but they are certainly not dead in the hearts of many. Which is why it’s notable that Mercedes-Benz’s chief operating officer, Markus Schäfer, has hinted that the automaker is questioning what role these wagons—called estate models in Europe—will play in the company’s future.
“[With] estate cars, we have to see,” Schäfer told Autocar. “This market is under pressure as more and more customers move to SUVs, and there are just a few markets left for estates and station wagons. So we have to see how the volumes are developing. They’re technically absolutely possible—that wouldn’t be a problem—but it’s more a question of how this niche is developing. I know the U.K. is a great market for station wagons.”
Autocar, which is based in the U.K., said it has heard from other Mercedes-Benz representatives that the fact that today’s SUVs are getting more efficient, especially when it comes to designing aerodynamic electric SUVs, means that demand for estate cars is shrinking.
In the U.S., Mercedes sells the E-Class wagon, calling the E450 All-Terrain wagon (top) “quite possibly the most brainy wagon on Earth” and the 2021 AMG E63 S wagon (above) “unexpectedly exotic.” Those positive remarks are in line with the official company line regarding the future of Benz wagons in the U.S.
“Station wagons [estates], although occupying a specific niche, remain an important offering to one of our most loyal customer segments,” a spokesperson for Mercedes-Benz USA told Car and Driver.
But there’s another concern: Mercedes-Benz’s work on developing more vehicles with electric powertrains could reduce the number of coupes and cabriolets the brand sells, Schäfer told Autocar.
“We have to recognize that the demand for cabriolets is dropping around the world. China is not a roadster-covering market, and there are [fewer] buyers in Europe who decide on a cabriolet, compared to some years ago,” he said. “It’s not that easy to build a good-looking cabriolet [as an EV]. It’s an engineering effort. It’s quite a job and a task to keep it in nice proportions and not to lift it too high, with a big battery underneath it. There are some cars out in the market that would not meet our tastes. So we will come up with something better.”
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Apple Inc. has hired Ulrich Kranz, a former senior executive at BMW AG’s electric car division, to help lead its own vehicle efforts, according to people familiar with the situation.
The technology giant hired Kranz in recent weeks, about a month after he stepped down as CEO of Canoo Inc., a developer of self-driving electric vehicles. Before co-founding Canoo, Kranz was senior vice president of the group that developed the i3 and i8 cars at BMW, where he worked for 30 years.
Kranz is one of Apple’s most significant automotive hires, a clear sign that the iPhone maker is determined to build a self-driving electric car to rival Tesla Inc. and other carmakers. Kranz will report to Doug Field, who led development of Tesla’s mass-market Model 3 and now runs Apple’s car project, said the people, who requested anonymity to discuss a private matter.
Apple has become the world’s most valuable company, with a market capitalization of more than $2 trillion, by selling iPhones, iPads, Apple Watches, Macs and services. With investors and customers clamoring for new products, the company has targeted cars and augmented-reality headsets. An Apple spokesperson confirmed Kranz’s hiring.
Apple began developing a vehicle in 2014 but shelved the effort around 2016 to focus on an autonomous platform it could sell to other companies or eventually use itself. Along the way, Apple poached several Tesla executives, who now help head up drive-train engineering, self-driving software and interiors and exteriors.
Last year, Apple gave oversight of the operation to John Giannandrea, senior vice president of machine learning and artificial intelligence and Field’s boss. Several months ago, Apple rebooted its efforts to develop a full-fledged electric car, but development remains in the early stages, so a launch is likely at least five years away.
Before hiring Kranz, Apple lost some key auto executives. Benjamin Lyon, Jaime Waydo and Dave Scott, who worked on engineering, safety systems and robotics, respectively, all departed in recent months. It’s unclear why the three left.
Following successful stints at BMW’s Mini division and teams working on sports cars and SUVs, Kranz was asked to run Project I, a battery-powered vehicle skunkworks started in 2008. It yielded the all-electric i3 compact and the plug-in hybrid i8 sports car. The former was panned by design critics, and production was very limited on the latter.
Kranz left BMW in 2016 and soon became chief technology officer at Faraday Future, an electric vehicle startup based in Los Angeles. He stayed only three months, before co-founding Canoo. Both firms have struggled with their technology and ability to produce vehicles, while Canoo reportedly discussed selling itself to Apple and other companies.
Canoo went public in December after a reverse merger with a special purpose acquisition company, or SPAC, called Hennessy Capital Acquisition Corp. Canoo last month said it was being investigated by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, becoming the third clean-energy auto startup to disclose a federal probe in the past year. Canoo plans to debut a minivan for
In 1780, in the midst of the Revolutionary War, John Adams took up his pen to help draft a new constitution for his home state. He famously wrote in that document’s opening lines that the aim of the American Revolution was to establish “a government of laws, not of men.” That has been the American ideal ever since. The rule of law is impartial. It is no respecter of persons. It restrains the violent and protects the weak. It is blind to all but conduct and character.
With this ideal in view, the Missouri General Assembly created the Annual Vehicle Stop Report nearly two decades ago. This Report was meant to further our common commitment as Missourians to the rule of law, and our common efforts to achieve it. When a person is stopped or searched or arrested only because of his race, the rule of law suffers. Racial profiling threatens that fairness and impartiality the rule of law demands. And it badly undermines the vital trust between everyday citizens and the law enforcement officers who risk their lives to protect them.
As it does each year, this year’s Report contains statistics and information about certain vehicle stops conducted over the last calendar year. I hope this data will help us toward a constructive conversation about what we must do together to better achieve—and protect—the rule of law in our state.
A final word about the data itself. For years, commentators have noted that the Report only compares the number of individuals from a particular racial or ethnic group involved in traffic stops to the number of persons in that group who live in the jurisdiction and are eligible to drive. A better and more informative approach would compare the frequency of stops involving particular groups to the number of group members who actually do drive in the jurisdiction, which in some cases may differ substantially from the number who live in the jurisdiction and are of driving age.
Consequently, I am issuing new regulations that will direct law enforcement agencies to collect information about whether stopped individuals reside within the agency’s jurisdiction. This change, fully supported by both law enforcement and the civil rights community, will enable the public to draw more relevant inferences from the traffic-stop data going forward.
Concerns by the citizens of Missouri and the Missouri legislature regarding allegations of racial profiling by law enforcement prompted the passage in 2000 of Section 590.650, RSMo. That statute requires that all peace officers report specific information—including a driver’s race—for each vehicle stop made in the State. Law-enforcement agencies must provide the data to the Attorney General by March 1, and the Attorney General is required to compile the data and report to the Governor no later than June 1 of each year. The Governor may withhold state funds for any agency that does not comply with these requirements.
The statewide vehicle-stop data contained in this Report have been analyzed by Dr. Scott H. Decker, professor and director of
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The Executive Transportation Group signs agreement with Prime Time Transportation
The Executive Transportation Group (ETG) has entered into a partnership agreement with Prime Time Transportation, Inc. Read the press release here.
All City receives MBE certification
All City has been accredited as a Minority-Owned Business Enterprise (MBE). Read the press release here.
The Executive Transportation Group signs agreement with Vital Transportation
The Executive Transportation Group (ETG) has entered into a partnership agreement with Vital Transportation, Inc. Read the press release here.
The Executive Transportation Group wins 2 Taxi & Limousine Commission Safety Award(s)
Yes, not just one, but two. There are 877 bases, the TLC honored 20. We were honored with 2. What does that tell you? See the awards here.
The Executive Transportation Group signs agreement with Royal, Last and Velocity
The Executive Transportation Group (ETG) entered into joint venture service agreements with Royal Dispatch Services Inc., Last Radio Dispatch Services Inc. and Velocity Limo Inc. Read the press release here.
ETG receives Insurance Safety award
Hereford Insurance has once again presented ETG with their annual award for exemplary safety records. Read the full article from Black Car News here.
ETG Partners with Tel-A-Car
The Executive Transportation Group on April 1, 2013 announced a partnership with of one of the preeminent Black Car companies in the New York Market, Tel-A-Car. Read the press release here.
Fuel Surcharge Policy
Fuel Surcharges are based on the cost of a gallon of gas. In December 2018 the average cost per gallon was $2.26 and is below the fuel surcharge threshold. Please see program details here.
ETG signs agreement with All City
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