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UK carmakers offered faint praise for the country’s Brexit deal while warning border chaos will be unavoidable unless governments allow more time to meet new customs-related administrative requirements.
The accord reached last week with the European Union largely addresses the auto industry’s immediate concerns about tariffs, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said Wednesday. Still, the trade group said the agreement fails to deliver on key demands including regulatory cooperation and customs procedures.
“With no detail or time frame for implementing reform, immediate costs and friction are inevitable,” Mike Hawes, CEO of the trade group, said in a statement calling for a phase-in period that allows businesses to adapt. “Suppliers and manufacturers on both sides will face a significant administrative challenge that will undermine productivity and increase operating costs.”
The SMMT’s request echoes other business groups’ calls for a grace period to meet rules and regulations agreed to on Christmas Eve, days before the Brexit transition takes effect Jan. 1. Keeping the UK’s auto sector connected to the EU with limited trade friction is key because the bloc accounts for about 80 percent of the country’s vehicle exports.
Hawes said the lack of firm commitments by the UK and EU to recognize and cooperate on regulatory standards could delay new products coming to market. He called for the two sides to address this after the Brexit agreement is ratified.
CarMax’s long-stated goal has been to give customers the chance to transact when, where and how they want to — whether in the physical or digital realms or in both — a concept known as omnichannel retailing.
The nation’s largest used-vehicle retailer has now transformed every aspect of its business to fulfill this goal, and it will let the masses know about it through a multimillion-dollar marketing push set for 2021, CEO Bill Nash said.
“We want customers to understand that CarMax offers the ultimate flexibility to shop and buy on their terms, their way,” Nash said last month after the retailer reported higher earnings for its fiscal third quarter.
CarMax was set to launch the first ads in its multimedia marketing campaign in late December. The pitch, Nash said, is to highlight the differences between the sales platform offered by CarMax and the approach taken by traditional dealerships and online competitors.
The new campaign will run across several channels, ranging from broadcast TV to digital and even billboards, he said. CarMax wouldn’t disclose a specific spending amount for the effort but did acknowledge that the omnichannel campaign represents the vast majority of a planned $25 million increase in ad spending for the company’s current fiscal year, which ends Feb. 28.
CarMax completed the omnichannel rollout to its 220 stores this summer, wrapping up by the end of August. Nash called it a “significant milestone.”
“We really wanted everybody to be on the same platform before we started to go out and educate the consumer,” he said.
One of the key aspects to the retailer’s omnichannel approach is customer experience centers, which are used to offer remote customer service. In CarMax’s fiscal third quarter ended Nov. 30, about 70 percent of customers who bought a vehicle interacted with a customer experience center, and more than half of all customers chose to advance their transaction in some way online, Nash said.
Still, most customers opted to complete vehicle purchases inside a store. Fewer than 10 percent of vehicle sales completed in CarMax’s third quarter were what the company calls alternative deliveries, which include home delivery and curbside pickup.
With the rollout to stores complete, CarMax aims to further automate certain aspects of a vehicle transaction that still require assistance from customer experience personnel, such as appraisals, transfers and appointment scheduling.
“We are now focused on enabling self-service for all components of the sale that will deliver significant improvements over the next two quarters,” Nash said.
As an example, Nash pointed to instant appraisal offers on carmax.com. The feature gives customers an offer on their trade-in vehicle in five minutes or less. After initial testing, the company is offering the feature more broadly and expects it to be available for standalone appraisals nationwide by the end of February.
“We are on track for most of our customers to have the ability to buy a vehicle online independently if they choose” by late summer, Nash said.
CarMax launched its omnichannel capabilities in Atlanta near the end of 2018 and has since seen the platform deliver sustained growth in that market, the company said.
CarMax’s continued focus on its omnichannel platform comes as retailers from all sectors in the U.S. struggle through the coronavirus pandemic.
COVID-19 has sparked sharper growth in e-commerce, as it also has prompted government stay-at-home orders and fostered general uneasiness about physical shopping for some people. CarMax said its same-store vehicle-sales pace was tracking at a mid-single-digit percentage increase early in its third quarter but had dipped to a slight decline at quarter’s end. The company attributed that to a tapering off in demand, along with other macroeconomic issues.
How the pandemic plays out in 2021 undoubtedly will continue to affect sales for CarMax and other vehicle retailers. For customers who want to transact away from other people, CarMax’s new campaign will let them know they can do just that.
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The Mercedes-Benz CLS63 AMG Shooting Brake is a special high-performance wagon — and today I’m reviewing it. First I’ll show you all the quirks and features of the CLS63 Shooting Brake, and then I’m driving the CLS63 to review the driving experience of this special AMG Wagon.
Now Tesla hacker ‘green’, who often finds new features by digging into new Tesla software updates, reports that he saw something called ‘S/X P2’ in the Tesla code and it referenced being equipped with the latest Autopilot hardware 3.2 with a cabin-facing camera:
This would confirm that Tesla has some plan to update the Model S/X interior to include a cabin-facing camera.
The cabin-facing camera is one of many features that was introduced in the Model 3 and Model Y programs but never made it to the more expensive Model S or Model X vehicles.
We posted several internal design images of the planned changes – pictured above. It included a change to the center display to match the horizontal design in Model 3 and Model Y.
This refresh was delayed as Tesla focused all its resources on ramping Model 3 production.
Now the timing of an update is back into focus following all the recent new information that has been revealed.
Again, I’m fairly confident that there’s going to finally be a significant Model S/X design update in 2021 at someone point ahead of the start of Model S Plaid deliveries.
However, I don’t think we should get our expectations too high for it happening in the next month due to the extended production shutdown.
It’s not impossible, but there are also other things than a design refresh that Tesla could be trying to achieve with the shutdown.
Also, taking notes from the Model 3 2021 refresh and the fact that Elon Musk always says ‘Tesla doesn’t do refreshes’, we could see Tesla implement many of the changes gradually – leading to a refresh over time by the end of the year.
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