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1
Aug

NLRB says Mercedes violated Alabama worker rights

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Mercedes-Benz US International Inc.

Mercedes-Benz has run afoul of the National Labor Relations Board after an administrative judge ruled that the company violated organizing rights of workers at the company’s Vance, AL factory, which builds the M-Class, GL-Class and the new C-Class.

Judge Keltner Locke upheld the charge that MB told employees they couldn’t distribute pro-union literature in the factory’s common areas during off-work hours, according to Automotive News. The other charges in the September 3 complaint, meanwhile, were dismissed, with Locke saying the company took “prompt remedial action.”

While Locke’s ruling comes without penalties, the factory, which is formally known as Mercedes-Benz US International Inc., must tweak its rules to allow off-duty workers to solicit other off-duty workers in certain parts of the factory (parking lots, break rooms, etc.), a right provided by the National Labor Relations Act.

The decision by Locke still isn’t sitting well with some of the plant’s employees, though. Don White, a 19-year veteran of the facility and one of the parties to the NLRB complaint, is one such worker.

“We’re allowed to talk about church, football, anything else,” White told AN. “There has been a lot of intimidation to keep us from trying to organize.”

NLRB says Mercedes violated Alabama worker rights originally appeared on Autoblog on Thu, 31 Jul 2014 18:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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29
Jul

2015 Mercedes C-Class starts at $38,400*

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2015 Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Mercedes-Benz just keeps dropping pricing bombshells on us. After unveiling the cost of the models of the upcoming GLA-Class compact crossover, now the 2015 C-Class, the German brand’s bread-and-butter luxury sedan, is ready to unleash its secrets, as well.

The least expensive of the new models is the rear-wheel-drive C300 with a starting price of $38,400, plus a $925 delivery & destination charge, to bring the actual base price to $39,325. However, the two-wheel drive version doesn’t hit the road until the first quarter of 2015. The first variants that people can actually buy arrive in September 2014, and they are the all-wheel drive C300 4Matic and C400 4Matic for $41,325 and $49,515, respectively, after the destination fee.

In addition to styling inspired by the S-Class, the 2015 C-Class models also have new engines. Both variants of the C300 use a turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine pumping out 241 horsepower and 273 pound-feet of torque. The more powerful C400 uses a bi-turbo 3.0-liter V6 making 329 hp and 354 lb-ft. All models get Mercedes’ 7G-Tronic Plus seven-speed automatic gearbox. Merc is holding back on fuel economy numbers and 0-60-miles-per-hour specs until a bit closer to launch.

As befitting a Mercedes, all versions come packed with luxury features. The C300 comes quite well equipped as standard, with dual-zone climate control, power seats, a seven-inch infotainment display and more. Moving up to the C400 adds standard heated front seats, LED headlights and an upgraded stereo. Of course, there’s also long list of options including improved interior upholstery, a sport package, upgraded infotainment and a whole lot more.

Comparing pricing of the 2015 C-Class to the 2014 model is rather tricky. The rear-wheel drive C300 is over $2,000 more expensive than the current C250, but if you look at the 2015 C300 4Matic versus the more comparable 2014 C300 4Matic, the latest one is only about $1,000 more. The C300 is also more expensive than the base BMW 320i, A4 or Lexus IS250, but the Mercedes is bringing more to the table in terms of engine power.

Continue reading 2015 Mercedes C-Class starts at $38,400*

2015 Mercedes C-Class starts at $38,400* originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 29 Jul 2014 15:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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29
Jul

Mercedes rolls out versatile new Vito van

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2015 Mercedes-Benz Vito

Mercedes-Benz may be known for its luxury cars on this side of the Atlantic, but it’s equally known around the world for making robust workhorses as well: trucks, buses and vans. It has started to turn Americans on to that idea with the successful transplant of the Sprinter van to North America, but it still has a whole range of commercial vehicles it doesn’t offer here. It recently rolled out the Renault-built Citan to replace its Vaneo, replaced its Viano with the new V-Class, and it has now introduced a new Vito van as well.

More utilitarian than the V-Class, the Vito is a smaller alternative to the Sprinter and hits showrooms in other global markets in a wide array of configurations. For starters, it will be available in numerous lengths as a panel van, a passenger van or as a crew cab, a configuration that combines a four-door passenger compartment with a cargo bay in the back. It’s also intriguingly available in front-, rear- or all-wheel drive, motivated by a pair of four-cylinder turbodiesels displacing 1.6 liters or 2.1 liters with power ranging from 136 horsepower up to 190. Regardless of engine selection, buyers can choose from either a six-speed manual or seven-speed automatic.

In addition to a wider range of powertrain and bodystyle choices, Mercedes has also redesigned the new Vito to be safer and more comfortable than the model it replaces. It has a more aerodynamic shape for a lower coefficient of drag that pairs with the new engines to help reduce fuel consumption. That’s particularly important to the vehicle’s competitiveness among fleet buyers, because improved fuel economy leads to reduced running costs. Further, the new Vito can be kept on the road for 25,000 miles over two years in between service intervals.

Despite the suspension that’s been redesigned for a more compliant ride, the new Vito doesn’t skimp on the utility. In fact, Mercedes claims it’s got the highest payload capacity in its class at over 3,000 pounds and a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of over three tons, depending on spec. Read all about it in the press release below and scope out the range in the high-res image gallery above.

Continue reading Mercedes rolls out versatile new Vito van

Mercedes rolls out versatile new Vito van originally appeared on Autoblog on Tue, 29 Jul 2014 14:15:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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29
Jul

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA priced from $31,300*

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2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA250 4Matic, front three-quarter view.

Mercedes-Benz has kindly let loose the price of the US-spec 2015 GLA-Class, telling Autoblog that the base 208-horsepower GLA250 in two-wheel drive form will go for $31,300 *not including a destination charge of $925. That makes for $32,225 in total to get one off the lot, a price predicted as early as last year and in our recent First Drive. The other two available models can push power to all four wheels, and after the destination fee is applied the GLA240 4Matic (pictured) will be $34,225 while the 355-horsepower GLA45 AMG will change lives and wallets to the tune of $49,225.

On the base scale, that puts the GLA250 just a few hundred dollar bills above the more powerful, rear-wheel-drive BMW X1 and a stack of hundreds below the less powerful, front-wheel-drive Audi Q3. If you’re keeping in-house score, the GLA250 comes in at $1,400 above its sedan platform-mate with the same engine, the CLA250. At the high end, however, the competition doesn’t have anything that can touch the AMG trim. Not that it should matter all that much – Mercedes needed something to keep these buyers in the family, and now it has it. If any of them should need even more power and more money spent, then there’s always that 394-hp Brabus flavor. We’ll have more info and details on each trim when Mercedes unleashes the shebang in the not-too-distant future.

2015 Mercedes-Benz GLA priced from $31,300* originally appeared on Autoblog on Mon, 28 Jul 2014 23:38:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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28
Jul

Race Recap: 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix a thrilling wet mess

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Graphic for the Hungarian Grand Prix.

Three Free Practice sessions left us thinking Lewis Hamilton looked good to claim another victory for Mercedes AMG Petronas and close up the Driver’s World Championship race, but the first qualifying session for the 2014 Hungarian Formula One Grand Prix threw out that script. A fuel leak in Q3 set Hamilton’s car aflame and he never set a time. His chassis damaged beyond repair, the team built him a new one and he started from pit lane. That same session also claimed Ferrari’s Kimi R

26
Jul

China probing German automakers over spare parts

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General Views Of Shanghai's Economy

The Chinese market has proven to be a boon to German luxury automakers. However, the way that the companies have allegedly been controlling their supply of spare parts has begun to draw the ire of the nation’s government. According to insiders speaking to Bloomberg, officials from the country’s economic planning organization have opened a probe into Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz and some Japanese carmakers over claimed price inflation and limiting supply.

Specifically, the investigation centers around two aspects of how the companies do business, according to Bloomberg. Investigators want to know whether the original equipment component makers are able to sell spare parts only to automaker-authorized dealers or if they are also available to independent shops. There is also the issue of whether the price markup on replacement pieces is too high. The tight controls could be partially explained by China’s reputation for producing counterfeit parts.

Evidently, the investigators haven’t checked parts prices at car dealers elsewhere in the world. At least in the US, paying more at the dealer for factory components just goes along with owning a vehicle. If evidence of price fixing is found, the companies could face fines the equivalent of millions of dollars, according to Bloomberg.

China probing German automakers over spare parts originally appeared on Autoblog on Sat, 26 Jul 2014 07:59:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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26
Jul

What you missed on 7.25.14

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Daily U-Turn

Aston Martin Lagonda super sedan teased

Fans of England’s most famous sports car builder have something for which to cheer today, as Aston Martin has revealed two new images of its upcoming Lagonda performance sedan. The luxurious new Aston will be built in “strictly limited series production,” with customers arriving by invitation only, and likely only from Middle East regions. Technical details and pricing (if you have to ask…) are still a ways off.

Former Ford engineer investigated by FBI

Ford has been working with the FBI to investigate espionage charges leveled at a recently terminated engineer at the company. In what Ford is calling “a joint investigation” the FBI had warrants to seize listening devices that were allegedly employed by the terminated engineer. For her part, the employee maintains that she has done no wrong, and that any and all listening devices were used without malicious intent.

Mercedes details turbo 4.0L V8 for AMG GT

The days of “no replacement for displacement” continue to fade from memory, as companies like Mercedes-Benz continue to build new, small, turbocharged powerhouses like this 4.0-liter V8. Set to make its home in the upcoming AMG GT sports car, the Mercedes mill is said to produce a robust 510 horsepower and 479 pound-feet of torque, thanks to twin turbochargers and a 7,200-rpm redline. We can almost hear it now…

Top Stories

What you missed on 7.25.14 originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 25 Jul 2014 19:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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25
Jul

These are the top luxury cars bought by people entering the segment for the first time

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Volvo C70

Let’s say you just got a big promotion at work or the kids are moving out of the house, and you finally have some extra money. You decide to blow it all at once and treat yourself by upgrading your ride. Naturally, you look to a luxury automaker. What do you choose?

Models like the Audi A3 and Mercedes-Benz CLA-Class may be tailor-made to introduce buyers to the premium segment, but a new study finds that they don’t garner the highest rates of non-luxury customer conquests. It turns out that a Volvo leads among folks moving up to a premium brand, and it isn’t even one that’s made anymore, at that.

A recent study by Polk and IHS Automotive looked at what models had the highest rates of buyers upgrading from a non-luxury segment. The information comes from its new vehicle registration data through April 2014. All ten top models boasted conquest rates of over 50 percent, but the Volvo C70 led the field with 68.01 percent of its customers coming from non-premium brands.

It’s an odd winner because the C70 isn’t even available as a new model anymore, having been discontinued after the 2013 model year. It isn’t the only car no longer offered that’s on the list, either. The BMW 128i is in seventh place with 53.93 percent of conquest buyers despite leaving us in MY 2014. It seems likely that some of these vehicles are still on dealer lots, and buyers are getting good incentives to pick them up at lower prices.

According to Polk, the 10 models with the highest conquest rates from non-luxury segments are:

If you’re curious about the other side of the table, the Mercedes S-Class is the least likely vehicle for new luxury buyers to choose at 10.35 percent. Although, that’s not exactly a shock – with a starting price of nearly $100,000, it would be quite a leap up from a Camry or Accord.

These are the top luxury cars bought by people entering the segment for the first time originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 25 Jul 2014 16:30:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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25
Jul

Mercedes details 4.0L twin-turbo V8 for AMG GT

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Mercedes-Benz AMG M178 V8

We can lament the passing of the Mercedes-Benz M156 6.2-liter V8 until the end of time (and we probably will), but none of our moaning is going to stop Mercedes or the madmen of AMG from coming up with more modern, forced-induction mills like the 5.5-liter twin-turbo V8, or this, the company’s new 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8. The freshly unveiled mill will make its production debut in the Mercedes-AMG GT, and based on the stats, it should prove a real honey.

Code-named M178, the new, turbocharged mill comes to party with 510 horsepower, but its big trick is the 479 pound-feet of torque it deploys between 1,750 and 4,750 rpm. Engine, thy name is usable power. The new 4.0 can rev to the same 7,200 rpm redline as the 6.2-liter V8 in the SLS AMG, meaning it should be a jolly good engine to wring out. The two turbochargers, meanwhile, can run to a maximum pressure of 17.4 psi and can spin to 186,000 rpm.

The measure of an engine isn’t limited to just its power output. In today’s world, it needs to be light. According to AMG, the new 4.0 is just that, boasting a dry weight of just 461 pounds, thanks to an aluminum crankcase. AMG even cast an eye on the way the engine’s fat is distributed, fitting the turbochargers not outside the cylinder banks, like on a typical engine, but in what it calls the “hot inside V” configuration. That allows a lower, more compact engine package whose weight is better distributed.

Sound is arguably one of the AMG engine’s most important aspects, and in that important arena, the 4.0 shouldn’t disappoint. Slated to debut in the Mercedes-AMG GT, the 4.0 will be paired up with an exhaust that includes variable flaps that open and close depending on things like the transmission mode and throttle inputs. That should allow the GT’s new engine to balance the AMG sound we know and love with a more relaxed, mellow and quieter character in everyday driving.

We’ll have much more on both this engine and the car it will debut in, the Mercedes-AMG GT, in the coming months. Until then, there’s a wealth of nitty gritty information available in the attached press release, from Mercedes-Benz. Scroll down for a look.

Continue reading Mercedes details 4.0L twin-turbo V8 for AMG GT

Mercedes details 4.0L twin-turbo V8 for AMG GT originally appeared on Autoblog on Fri, 25 Jul 2014 11:31:00 EST. Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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24
Jul

40+ cars that barely avoid the gas guzzler tax

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The Gas Guzzler schedule, with mpg ratings and charges that haven’t changed since 1991, lays out which fuel-swillers owe what to Uncle Sam.

I started thinking about the “Gas Guzzler Tax” – considerably less well known as The Energy Tax Act of 1978 – when I was driving Dodge’s new Challenger SRT Hellcat last week. Unsurprisingly for a car that can burn 1.5 gallons of gas per minute at max tilt, theoretically able to empty a full tank of premium in about 13 minutes, the Hellcat will be subject to the Gas Guzzler Tax schedule when it goes on sale.

Beyond knowing that it existed, and occasionally seeing a surcharge for it listed on the specification sheet for a press car I’d been loaned, I didn’t really understand how the GGT worked or was calculated.

Thankfully, the Environmental Protection Agency makes learning about the GGT (and a lot of other stuff) pretty simple. EPA.gov has a clearly written explanation of the tax and the tax schedule. That schedule, operating with miles-per-gallon ratings and charges that haven’t changed since 1991, clearly lays out which fuel-swillers owe what to Uncle Sam. Basically, if a car’s combined fuel economy rating is 22.5 mpg or higher it’s off the hook

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