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Mercedes-Benz – the world’s most valuable brand

Mercedes Benz is now worth $43.9 billion, 24 per cent more than in the previous year, according to the 2018 Brand Finance Report.  

Second place went to Toyota, who dropped 6 per cent compared to the previous year, to $43.7 billion, while the third spot went to BMW, whose brand value is estimated at $41.8 billion. Volkswagen, who suffered a severe drop in brand value following the ‘Dieselgate’ scandal, is on the rebound, occupying fourth place ($25,014 billion).

The biggest increase in value belongs to Aston Martin, who managed to increase by 268 per cent compared to 2017. The brand reached $3.6 billion and is now the fastest-growing brand in the automotive sector. Overall, Aston Martin ranked 24th in the report.

The fast-growing Chinese car market managed some serious leaps in terms of brand value, with six Asian brands managing to make their way into the top 50; Haval, Geely, BYD, Baojun, Foton and JAC Motors.

According to the report, brand value is established after compiling data from several key indicators. These indicators include marketing investment, stakeholder equity, business performance and royalty rate. Brand revenue is also taken into consideration.

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Mercedes involved in emission scandal

US investigators have found potentially illegal software modifications in Mercedes-Benz diesel cars to help the vehicles pass emissions tests, German newspaper, Bild am Sonntag, said yesterday.

Investigators found that engine management functions called “Slipguard” and “Bit 15” enabled the card to emit NOx pollutants up to ten times higher than legally permitted levels.

Bild am Sonntag cited emails from the automaker’s engineers questioning whether the software functions were legal.

A spokesman for Mercedes owner Daimler declined to comment on the content of the documents, saying the automaker was fully cooperating with the U.S. authorities and had agreed upon strict confidentiality with the Department of Justice.

“The authorities know the documents and no complaint has been filed,” the spokesman said. “The documents available to Bild have obviously selectively been released in order to harm Daimler and its 290,000 employees.”

There has been growing scrutiny of diesel vehicles since Volkswagen admitted in 2015 to installing defective software that allowed them to emit up to 40 times legally allowable emissions while meeting standards when tested by regulators.

The cars had software that switched off performance-reducing emissions control systems during laboratory testing.

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Mercedes’ history for auction

UK based specialist auction house Silverstone Auctions have a new car to add to your wishlist.

This morning, the auctioneer who specialises in classic cars, announced that it will be offering a 1954 Mercedes-Benz 300 Adenauer Cabriolet for auction on 2nd September.

The 300 goes on sale September 2.

The classic is estimated to go for between $575,000 to $665,000 NZD and is one of seven right-hand drive examples to be produced.

When it was manufactured the car was thought to be the most expensive in the world.

The 300 takes its informal name “Adenauer” from the first post WWII German Chancellor, one of Mercedes’ most high profile customer at the time. To Silverstone Auctions’ sales manager Will Smith, this label is fittingly symbolic, and represents both Mercedes’ and Germany’s rise from ruin.

Interior of the ’54 Cabriolet.

“The 300 is a historically significant car as one of Mercedes-Benz’s first all-new designs of the post-war era. Its arrival re-established Mercedes-Benz in the front rank of prestige car manufacturers, marking a return to the marque’s tradition of building high-performance luxury automobiles of the finest quality.”

According to Silverstone’s website; “The ethos of using the original parts applied throughout the whole of this restoration and the complete interior, all the glass and all the chrome date from 1953, although returned to shining health. There are some marks on the rear bumper and the number plate plinth where originality was preferred over a non-genuine new item. The headlights and spot lights are original Bosch and the renovation of these alone cost over £5,000.”

“For the collector who has everything.” The auction includes a rare Lambo tractor.

The 300 is part of a Silverstone’s 2017 Salon Prive Sale which also includes a 1949 Cadillac Series 61 ‘Club Coupé’ (an American contemporary), a 1966 Lamborghini 1R tractor, and a number of luxury watches.

More information on the auction, including a full list of offerings, is available at .


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New details dropped for E-Class Cabriolet

Mercedes-Benz has announced further details, including manufacturer’s pricing, for the new E-Class Cabriolet.

The four-seater convertible is the fourth member of the E-Class line-up, which has been entirely refreshed over the past 12 months, and features a fully automatic soft-top cover.

The E 300 opens the range, powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder engine producing 180kW of power and 370Nm of torque matched to a 9G-TRONIC automatic transmission.

The E 400 4MATIC is the first model to contain an all-wheel drive system. A 3.0-litre, six-cylinder engine, partnered with the same 9G-TRONIC automatic configuration, produces an increased 245kW of power and 480Nm of torque.  

As well as the bigger engine, the E 400 also contains a 13-speaker Burmester surround sound system and virtual image windscreen projection as standard.  

The soft cover, which comes as standard across the range, can be fully opened and closed in 20 seconds when travelling at speeds of up to 50km/hr.

Inside the cabin, two 12.3-inch displays serve as the infotainment and vehicle control system, and can be voice controlled.

The new E-Class Cabriolet has increased its dimensions, and is now 4826mm long, 1860mm wide and 1428mm tall, and Mercedes says the wider footprint particularly benefits passengers in the rear.

So far, only the Manufacturers List Price in Australia has been revealed, at $(AU)123,500 for the E 300 and $(AU)157,500 for the E 400. These prices include GST but exclude dealer delivery and on-road costs.

Final local pricing is yet to be announced and drive-away price information will be available from authorised dealers.

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Mercedes to recall entire EU diesel fleet

Daimler chief executive Dieter Zetsche

Virtually Mercedes-Benz diesel vehicle sold in the EU since 2011 will be recalled, Daimler has announced.

The move comes after allegations that the Mercedes-Benz had faked emissions tests were published in a German newspaper last week, and an investigation into Daimler in May.

Daimler refuses to say the announcement is a recall, dubbing it a “service action” in a statement.

Owners of nearly every model produced since 2011 will be asked to return their cars to their local dealer so the engine can be adjusted to reduce emissions.

Altering the 3 million cars on European roads will cost the German car maker $346 million, the Telegraph reports. The recall includes popular C-Class and E-Class Mercedes vehicles.

“The public debate about diesel engines is creating uncertainty,” chief executive of Daimler Dieter Zetsche said in a statement.

“We have therefore decided on additional measures to reassure drivers of diesel cars and to strengthen confidence in diesel technology.”’

The software update is expected to take approximately an hour, and will extend emissions controls on the engine so it will activate under wider conditions.

Zetsche said the action wasn’t the end of the diesel engine for Mercedes, and that the company is “convinced that diesel engines will continue to be a fixed element of the drive-system mix, not least due to their low CO2 emissions.”

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Mercedes X-class launch

Mercedes-Benz Vans announced the new X-Class ute will launch in Europe in November 2017 with Australia and South Africa to follow early in 2018.

Managing Director Mercedes-Benz Vans Australia and New Zealand, Diane Tarr, said, “The high level of interest and anticipation in the lead up to revealing the new X-Class has been a reflection of just how engrained dual cab utes are in both the Australian and New Zealand culture. The fact is we love utes and we are showing a desire to incorporate this type of vehicle into our lives in more ways than we did in the past. Not just for work, but also increasingly for private use.

“The new X-Class finds the perfect balance between the stylish design expected of a Mercedes-Benz and the uncompromising robustness and functionality demanded of the category. As a result, with the X-Class, we can effectively provide a solution for trade and fleet customers, and we will find out just how far this category can evolve for private customers who need the vehicle to support their lifestyle.”

The Mercedes-Benz X-Class has been specifically developed for the changing requirements of the ute market in mind. The demand for midsize utes with typical passenger car characteristics and comfort features has been steadily on the rise for years. At the same time, the number of utes for private use is increasing. They are no longer viewed purely as “workhorses”.

There are three design and equipment variants to choose from as well as four or six-cylinder engines, rear-wheel drive and engageable or permanent all-wheel drive, a six-speed manual transmission and a seven-speed automatic transmission. It consists of a ladder-type frame, rear multi-link solid axle, front independent wheel suspension and coil springs on both axles.

Built on this platform, the distinctive X-Class design is available in three model variants to suit different lifestyles and work environments:

The basic X-Class PURE variant is ideal for rugged, functional use.
The X-Class PROGRESSIVE is aimed at people seeking a rugged ute with extra styling and comfort functions.
The X-Class POWER is the high-end design and equipment line.

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Mercedes-Benz under investigation

A German newspaper has reported that Mercedes-Benz is under investigation for possibly selling over a million cars with excess emissions in Europe and the US.

The Sueddeutsche Zeitung, citing a search warrant issued by a court in Stuttgart, Germanny, says prosecutors were examining the possible use of illegal software to manipulate emissions test results in Mercedes-Benz vehicles between 2008 and 2016.

Both the prosecutor and Daimer, Mercedes’ parent company, declined to comment to Reuters regarding the report, but Daimler said the firm was fully cooperating with authorities and did not believe cars will lose certification.

“We take comfort from the fact that this is a European issue, not a US investigation. We also do not believe these Merc cars will lose their certification,” analysts from Bernstein Research told Reuters. “Our judgement is that Merc will be asked to recall these cars for a ‘software fix.’”

Bernstein estimated that if Daimler faced penalties at a similar per-car level to Volkswagen, the total fine would amount to $275 million to $400 million.

Stuttgart prosecutors conducted raids on 11 different sites in Germany as part of a wider probe into possible excess diesel emission from Daimler, and two employees are under investigation.

Mercedes-Benz has dropped plans to seek US approval to sell its 2017 diesel models, and investigations from the US Justice Department and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) are ongoing.

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AMG celebrates 50 years

AMG celebrates 50 years with a special edition GT3

2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the high-performance AMG division of Mercedes-Benz. Founded in 1967 by Hans-Werner Aufrecht and Erhard Melcher, the sports car brand based in Affalterbach now employs 1600 staff.

AMG’s 50th year in operation follows record sales figures in 2016, with international growth of more than 40 per cent to over 100,000 vehicles.

Sales in New Zealand also broke records last year, spokesman for Mercedes-Benz Matt Bruce told Autofile, and as a percentage of sales, New Zealand represents the highest-selling AMG market in the world.

To commemorate the anniversary, the car maker plans to release the new Mercedes-AMG GT3 Edition 50, with a unique colour concept and paint finish, restricted to just five cars worldwide. The 6.2-litre V8 supercar was released last year, and had a quadruple victory in the 24-hour race at Nürburgring.

Locally, AMG is celebrating 50 years with a series of unique experiences. “Mercedes-Benz New Zealand is providing 1 VIP, Festival of AMG experience each month to a buyer of a new or demonstrator AMG vehicle,” said Bruce. “12 total experiences will be awarded throughout 2017.”

These include a snow experience in Queenstown, and a day at the Philip Island Grand Prix Circuit.

“In addition, globally, Mercedes-AMG are launching an ‘Edition 50’ of the Mercedes-AMG GT, and we look forward to introducing this locally,” he added.

After a record 2016, AMG’s New Zealand operations have no plans to slow down. 29 models are currently available in the range, and plans are underway to add the new GT Roadster, and GLC 63, to the line-up.

“We’re really confident that the AMG brand will continue to grow from strength to strength,” Bruce said.

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Mercedes builds new EV battery factory

Angela Merkel attended the ceremonial laying of the foundation stone at the new factory

Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler AG has broken ground on its $690 million electric battery plant in Kamenz, Saxony, at a ceremony attended by German chancellor Angela Merkel.

“The automotive industry is facing a fundamental transformation and we see ourselves as the driving force behind this change,” said Daimler AG chairman Dieter Zetsche.

“The battery factory in Kamenz is an important component in the implementation of our electric offensive. By 2022, we will have more than ten purely electric passenger cars in series. We also continue to drive forward the hybridization of our fleet.”

Daimler has invested an overall $1.6 billion in global battery production so far, and have delivered over 80,000 batteries to consumers. The new battery factory, the second built by the company, will begin operation next year.

 “With the second battery plant in Kamenz, we are giving the initial start for the development of the first premium eBattery factory,” said Mercedes board member Markus Schäfer.

Mercedes have also unveiled more plans for their next-generation electric fleet, which has been promised almost $16 billion of funding. Ten EVS will be launched over the next five years.

The company predicts total vehicle sales for Mercedes-Benz will be between 15 per cent and 25 per cent electric by 2025.

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Mercedes debuts new S-Class in Shanghai

Mercedes-Benz have debuted the new S-Class range in Shanghai on the eve of Auto Shanghai 2017, with an engine redesign and a range of new features.

 A new V8 engine producing 345kW and 700Nm of torque, powers the S 560 4MATIC. Mercedes claims it’s among the most economical engines of its class in the world, with fuel consumption is rated at 8.5l/100km.

The next step up, the 63 4MATIC+, contains a boosted 4.0-litre V8 Biturbo engine with cylinder deactivation, and generates 450kW of power and 900Nm of torque.

Mercedes have also included the most powerful diesel car in the company’s history in the S-Class line-up. The S 350 d 4MATIC six-cylinder engine generates 210kW of power and 600Nm of torque, and the next-generation S 400d 4MATIC variation 250kW and 700Nm. The new engine consumes seven per cent less fuel while maintaining the extra power thanks to a new two-stage turbocharging and CAMTRONIC variable valve-lift control.

Inside the new Mercedes-Benz S-Class

As well as four new engine options, Mercedes have included a plug-in hybrid model variant an increased battery capacity of 13.3 kWh and a 50km electric range. An on-board 7.2kW charger allows for fast charging of the battery.

The S-Class also comes with a range of new safety features and an upgrade of existing systems. The DISTRONIC active proximity assist now uses significantly more map and navigation data and supports the driver based on the route. Active steer assist, lane-change assist and emergency stop assist have also been upgraded.

The S-Class is set to hit showrooms from July, with a New Zealand launch date pending.

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Lost keys set record

Losing the keys to their 1996 Mercedes-Benz SL500 brought a hefty pay day for a British driver, whose car – with only 129km on the odometer – sold at action for a record $101,800.

Experts estimated the car would sell between $80,000-$98,000.

The sole owner received the roadster as a birthday present in Mayfair and stored it in an underground garage shortly afterwards. The keys were then lost and the car was never driven again.

The SL500 odometer

The SL500 was rediscovered earlier this year and sold by Coys auction house at their Spring Classics auction in London.

“This is a fantastic price bearing in mind that a normal version of this car, with reasonable mileage, would probably be worth 20 per cent of what this SL500 made today,” said Coys CEO Chris Routledge.

The Mercedes-Benz SL500 R129 roadster was produced from 1989 to 2002 and was a high-tech vehicle at the time, featuring electronically controlled damping, electric windows and mirrors and an extending roll-over bar.

The model sold at auction contained more factory extras, including heated seats and a six-CD multi-changer.

A new set of keys were included with the sale.

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