Cadillac to launch Escalade-V series

DETROIT — Cadillac is launching a performance variant of the Escalade, its top-selling nameplate, for the 2023 model year.

The luxury brand teased the Escalade V-Series in a video Thursday and confirmed the new variant on Friday.

Cadillac will share vehicle and performance specs when the SUV is formally revealed this spring.

The Escalade, redesigned for the 2021 model year, a Cadillac pillar for more than two decades and one of GM’s most profitable nameplates, is the top seller in the full-size luxury SUV segment.

It racked up U.S. sales of more than 40,000 in 2021, according to the Automotive News Data and Research Center. It was followed by the Mercedes-Benz GL/GLS, Land Rover Range Rover Sport and Land Rover Defender.

The V-series variant is an opportunity for Cadillac to drum up even more excitement for the Escalade franchise, said Paul Waatti, manager of industry analysis at AutoPacific.

The Escalade-V will likely be the most powerful three-row SUV when it launches, he said.

“Escalade buyers have been clamoring over a V-series performance model since it launched,” said Waatti. “We have yet to see a ceiling on how much consumers will spend on luxury SUVs.”

The highest-priced 2022 Escalade trim, Sport Platinum, starts at more than $103,000.

Cadillac has offered a V-Series option on the CT4 and CT5 sedans since 2020. The 2022 CT5 V-Series Blackwing became the most powerful vehicle Cadillac had ever built.

Cadillac declined to say whether the Escalade-V will get the Blackwing track-capable power and badging.

Vroom returns to Super Bowl following controversial 2021 spot

Online used-vehicle retailer Vroom will return to the Super Bowl this year with an ad that highlights the company’s ability to buy cars from consumers.

The ad, called “Flake the Musical,” depicts a consumer who is ready to sell a vehicle through a peer-to-peer transaction, only to have the buyer back out of the deal. The 30-second spot centers on a woman dancing down a city street as she sings about finally finding a buyer for her vehicle before receiving a text message that the transaction was off. The musical number was choreographed by Mandy Moore, who also worked on the Hollywood musical, “La La Land.”

“Never deal with flaky buyers again,” a narrator says, as the scene flips to a Vroom-branded flatbed truck loading up the seller’s vehicle.

“Now is a terrific time to sell a vehicle with used-car pricing at all-time highs. However, the process can be overwhelming and unnecessarily complicated,” Peter Scherr, Vroom’s chief marketing officer, said in a statement. “At Vroom, we make selling your car as easy as possible. Being a part of the Super Bowl allows us to invite tens of millions of consumers to visit and get an instant price on their car. When someone is ready to sell, we pick up the car and the consumer gets paid, all from home. No more meeting strangers, endless negotiating or being flaked on.”

Click here for full coverage of automotive ads in the Super Bowl.

Vroom allows consumers to receive an appraisal and instant price on their vehicle that is valid for seven days or 250 miles, and the company arranges to pick up the vehicle.

New York-based Vroom made waves last year with its Super Bowl debut, “Dealership Pain,” in which it depicted a dealership salesman threatening a customer with an electric shock. The company told Automotive News at the time that it was intended as an exaggerated example of some consumers’ dissatisfaction with traditional dealerships.

Franchised retailers, however, said the “Dealership Pain” spot promoted outdated stereotypes as the industry moves toward more digital transacting.

Vroom’s ad will air in the fourth quarter of the game, which will air Feb. 13.

Mercedes-Benz looks to Luminar in new lidar deal

Lidar technology startup Luminar said Thursday that it has established its latest automotive partnership with Mercedes-Benz.

It will involve series production of sensors, enhancing the automaker’s automated highway driving systems.

There’s not yet a timetable for when Luminar’s “Iris” lidar will be installed in passenger vehicles, nor specific vehicle models chosen.

As part of the agreement, Mercedes-Benz notches a financial stake in the company. The automaker will receive 1.5 million shares of Luminar stock, which closed at $13.39 per share Wednesday. The company’s market capitalization stands at about $4.7 billion.

For Luminar, the Mercedes-Benz partnership represents another major design win, its ninth overall and third for conventional passenger vehicles. Only weeks ago at CES, the lidar company unveiled a similar effort with Volvo Cars. Luminar now works with many leading global automakers including Toyota Motor Corp. and China’s SAIC among others.

This one, though, brings newfound significance.

“It’s the big leagues when it comes to the volume game,” Luminar CEO Austin Russell told Automotive News. “We’re really getting into that, and it’s pretty meaningful from the standpoint of enabling the next generation of safety system and autonomous capability for their vehicles. That’s the whole objective.”

Lidar sensors use lasers to detect objects in the traffic environment and measure their distance from vehicles. With the exception of Elon Musk and Tesla, more and more automakers have come to believe lidar is an essential component in advanced driver-assist systems.

Mercedes-Benz is already allowing drivers to push beyond systems that require human oversight. In December, the automaker said it will launch its “Drive Pilot” Level 3 automated system on German roads. Drive Pilot allows for hands-free driving up to 37 mph on certain roads and does not require a human to monitor its performance.

Available in early 2022 on the S-Class sedan and coming soon on the EQS electric vehicle, Drive Pilot already contains lidar.

“Mercedes-Benz’s achievement of SAE Level 3 already marked a huge milestone for automated driving, and I am absolutely convinced that partnerships will increase our level of ambition for what is possible in the future,” Markus Schäfer, member of the board of management at Daimler and Mercedes-Benz, said in a statement.

In the future, Luminar’s Iris lidar will enhance the performance of Mercedes’ systems. They can spot objects at a maximum distance of 600 meters, and perhaps as important, reach 250 meters at 10 percent reflectivity, an important metric for tasks like detecting dark objects at night.

Iris will enter series production by the end of the year, Russell said, in parallel with Luminar’s first production program with Volvo.

In some sense, the deal with Mercedes-Benz is not a surprise. Luminar previously worked with Daimler and has a partnership with Daimler Trucks. What’s perhaps notable is the direct nature of this partnership.

Unlike many competitors that work with an automaker’s preferred Tier 1 supplier, Luminar works directly with Mercedes-Benz.

Partnerships involving the legacy Tier 1s, Russell said, can be more of a “hindrance than a help at the end of the day,” to deal with the “legacy mentality they bring into it,” he said. “You don’t have the talent and the expertise when it comes to these complex lidar systems. You can’t just throw a design over the wall and say, ‘Hey, build a million of these.’

“That direct relationship allows us to have a great, close feedback loop that enables those extra capabilities and move quickly to make all this happen.”

‘Dismayed’ U.S. Lawmakers pen letter to Tesla’s Musk questioning Xinjiang Showroom

‘Dismayed’ U.S. Lawmakers pen letter to Tesla’s Musk questioning Xinjiang Showroom

Two “dismayed” United States Lawmakers have penned a letter to Tesla CEO Elon Musk questioning the company’s recent opening of a showroom in the Xinjiang region of China.

In early January, Tesla opened a showroom in Xinjiang, a controversial region of China that is often under intense scrutiny due to its human rights abuses. The area is currently the holding location of Uyghur Muslims, who are being held due to potential extremist and separatist ideas, according to the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR).

The opening of the showroom prompted a harsh warning to any U.S. entity that plans to open operations in the region from White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, who said that companies that fail to address forced human labor or human rights abuses could “face serious legal, reputational, and customer risk.”

Now, Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ 9th District) and Earl Blumenauer (D-OR 3rd District) have written a letter to Musk, calling the company’s decision to open a showroom “misguided.” Additionally, Pascrell Jr. and Blumenauer have asked Musk questions regarding Tesla’s future in China.

“We are dismayed that Tesla has reportedly opened a showroom in the province that is at the heart of China’s Uyghur detainment in camps and forced labor in factories,” Pascrell Jr. and Blumenauer wrote. “As the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) commits genocide against the Uyghur peoples and ramps up its hostility towards America and our allies, your misguided expansion into the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region sets a poor example and further empowers the CCP at a fraught moment.”

Human Rights Watch, a non-governmental, international organization that “defends the rights of people in 100 countries worldwide,” estimates that one million Uyghur Muslims are detained in the region.

“Evidence of the genocide in Xinjiang is well documented. From the farm to finished goods, forced labor in the region appears to be prevalent at all levels of the supply chain because of the CCP’s internment of more than one million Uyghurs, as well as forced labor by prisoners incarcerated in the Chinese government’s penal system,” the lawmakers wrote. “Numerous credible reports have detailed forced labor and other violations of fundamental human rights under the CCP’s rule. Weeks after CCP General Secretary Xi Jinping all but declared himself dictator for life and the CCP politburo standing committee tightened its totalitarian grip over virtually every sector, American business cannot further empower the gross human rights violations of the CCP.”

While at least 50 companies in the Fortune 500 have operations in the Xinjiang region, Tesla’s most recent expansion into the area has caused plenty of uprise from politicians. Tesla has not issued a formal statement regarding its showroom in Xinjiang.

The full letter to Musk is available below.

In December, President Biden signed the Uyghur Forced Labor Prevention act, which bans imports from the Xinjiang region unless companies can prove that their products were not made with forced labor.

2022.01.19_bp_eb_to_tesla by Joey Klender on Scribd

‘Dismayed’ U.S. Lawmakers pen letter to Tesla’s Musk questioning Xinjiang Showroom

Lexus IS 500 Shows That Old-School V8 Power Still Has A Place In 2022

The Lexus IS 500 doesn’t have the power to rival the likes BMW M3 Competition and Mercedes-AMG C 63 S but it does have a unique appeal to it. Throttle House recently put it to the test to find out just what makes it so cool.

The most thrilling aspect of the IS 500 is its use of the automaker’s beloved naturally-aspirated 5.0-liter V8. This engine pumps out 472 hp and 395 lb-ft (536 Nm) of torque that drives the rear wheels through an eight-speed automatic transmission. Those figures aren’t far off the M3 and C 63 S but if you look at the $56,500 price tag, you’ll notice that it is almost $15,000 cheaper than an M3 and just a couple of thousand more than the BMW M340i, its closest competitor.

Read Also: 2022 Lexus IS 500 F Sport Performance Says F All Your Preconceived Notions

While speaking about how the IS 500 compares to the M340i, the reviewers state that by every quantifiable metric, the BMW is the better sports sedan. However, the Lexus has something going for it that cannot be measured on paper and makes it more thrilling and appealing than the M340i.

Things fall down in the cabin, however. The interior of the IS 500 is virtually identical to the 2014 model, meaning it is very dated and bathed in cheap-feeling black plastic. The infotainment system is also lacking but the cool digital gauge cluster makes up for this.

We had the opportunity to drive the IS 500 late last year and were very impressed with it, in particular the quality of the ride. The standard Dynamic Handling Package adds to the driving experience with adaptive variable suspension and a limited-slip differential.