The day has come – the SEAT brand will be discontinued by the VW Group. This decision has been speculated upon for a long time; VW Group had been considering ending the SEAT brand, but it managed to survive until now. However, this announcement marks the final chapter for SEAT. SEAT will cease production of cars altogether at the end of the life cycle of the current-generation models (Source: Autocar). The future of the SEAT brand will focus on mobility solutions, such as electric scooters.
On the other hand, the CUPRA brand will continue to manufacture cars. CUPRA essentially represents the performance-oriented version of the SEAT brand.
Unfortunately, SEAT never managed to achieve millions in sales, and its brand image was somewhat confusing. Was SEAT meant to be an affordable alternative to Audi or a sportier version of Skoda? Additionally, SEAT cars often struggled to provide the same level of sales figures as other VW Group brands.
To be honest, I’m not surprised to hear that SEAT will be discontinued. My main concern now is what will happen to the people working for SEAT?
Ford Fiesta is gone after 47 years and eight generations in production, as it couldn’t compete with the growing popularity of SUVs. On July 7, 2023, the last Ford Fiesta rolled off the production line in Cologne, Germany.
The decision to cease Ford Fiesta’s production was mainly driven by the need for space in the factory to accommodate the upcoming Ford Explorer electric SUV. Martin Sander, the general manager of Ford Model E Europe, confirmed this reason.
The Fiesta’s production plant will be transformed into a fully battery-electric plant, a move that aligns with Ford’s strategy to focus on electric vehicles due to the declining sales of the Fiesta. Despite being in production since 1976 and holding the top-selling cars position in the UK from 2009 until 2023 (it even topped the list for the first five months of 2023), the Fiesta struggled to maintain its market share. The Ford Puma, on the other hand, gained more attention and market share, contributing to the Fiesta’s decline.
In addition to the Fiesta, Ford also axed the Mondeo, S-Max, and Galaxy models, replacing them with EV models. The Ford Focus is also scheduled to be discontinued by the end of 2025, and it is likely that by the time you read this article, all Ford models will have EV versions.
There was once a Ford Fiesta Vignale model known for its high-quality leather interior and top-spec features, making it a proper luxury car. However, despite its appeal, it couldn’t survive in the market.
Overall, the Ford Fiesta will be fondly remembered for its long legacy and its once-strong position as one of the UK’s top-selling cars. Its departure marks a new chapter in Ford’s journey towards a more sustainable and electrified future.
Finally, we are introduced to the epitome of luxury electric vehicles, the Rolls Royce Spectre. The Spectre gracefully replaces the aging Wraith with its all-wheel drive electric powertrain. I recently had the extraordinary opportunity to witness the Spectre’s presence at HR Owen Rolls Royce dealer.
Upon my first encounter, one thing was undeniable – its sheer size! The Spectre stands even larger than the Wraith, showcasing the new modular platform that Rolls Royce has implemented in the Ghost, Cullinan, and Phantom. To put it honestly, the Spectre is a grand coupe with an impressive stature.
The Spectre boasts two BMW electric motors harmoniously connected to a 100 kWh battery, resulting in a remarkable power output of 585 horsepower and 900 Nm of torque. However, it’s important to note that the Spectre carries a weight of 2975 kg, making it quite a heavy coupe. Therefore, one shouldn’t expect Tesla-like acceleration figures. The Spectre takes a modest 4.5 seconds to reach 100 km/h, which is impressive for a vehicle weighing three tonnes.
It is my belief that none of the Spectre owners acquired this Rolls-Royce for its performance capabilities alone. The electric drivetrain epitomizes the pinnacle of Rolls-Royce innovation. This renowned brand focuses not on high power outputs or acceleration, but on providing serene and peaceful journeys. The electric power of the Spectre will undoubtedly enhance the tranquility associated with Rolls-Royce.
Now, let’s discuss the range. The Spectre boasts a range of 519 km (323 miles) based on WLTP ratings. However, it is essential to consider that the urban driving range will be considerably lower. Given the substantial weight of this three-tonne vehicle, a significant amount of energy is required to for stop-and-go traffic.
One interesting fact is that the Spirit of Ecstasy, the iconic little statue on the radiator, has been redesigned to improve aerodynamics. This enhancement has contributed to the Spectre achieving an impressive aerodynamic coefficient of 0.25 cw.
Overall, the Spectre is an awe-inspiring car. If you have the means, it is a truly remarkable choice worth considering.
The future of car dealers was a prominent topic discussed at the Financial Times’ Future of Car Summit this year (2023). As the car industry embraces a more digital customer experience approach, the role of dealers is evolving.
For a long time, the prevailing belief in the car industry was that no one would buy a car online, and I have written about this extensively. Car industry insiders had a valid point: buying a car is a significant and critical decision, and many consumers would hesitate to make such a purchase online.
However, just before the pandemic, Tesla began accepting deposits for their cars online. The pandemic then had a profound impact on online shopping, as it became the primary option for consumers in 2020. As people grew accustomed to buying everything online, the question arose: why not cars?
Car companies have started redesigning their websites to offer an online shopping experience. However, they have been cautious about implementing Apple Pay, Google Pay, or PayPal buttons for purchasing cars online. Perhaps the perception is that cars are still too expensive to be bought online.
To illustrate, let’s consider an extreme example from the high-end fashion brand Hermes. Hermes is a French luxury brand known for its exceptionally expensive products.
One of their most lavish offerings is a £101,110 Sofa Sellier 5-seater corner. Surprisingly, this sofa can be purchased online using Apple Pay or a credit card.
While this example may be at the extreme end of the spectrum, there are customers who are willing to make such online purchases. If a sofa can be bought through Apple Pay, why not a car? After all, one can visualise the size, appearance, and features of a car more easily than an unfamiliar sofa.
Considering this perspective, it may be worth exploring the incorporation of Apple Pay, Google Pay, or PayPal in the car industry to gauge consumer reactions.
After a long hiatus, I returned to the Financial Time The Future of Car Summit 2023. Despite the pandemic, the summit continued in an online format. It was delightful to reconnect with familiar faces after four years. This year’s hot topic was, surprisingly, “Would you pay a monthly fee for heated seats in your car?” I understand that this might sound amusing and absurd. However, notable automotive brands such as BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Volkswagen, Toyota, Audi, Cadillac, Porsche, and even Tesla charge a monthly fee for optional features available on their cars.
This represents a new paradigm! In the past, when purchasing a car, you would specify the desired features at the dealer, and that was the end of it. If you opted for heated seats, you would have them, or else you wouldn’t. Now, however, things have changed. All cars come equipped with all features, but you need to make monthly payments to activate them.
Mercedes-Benz has taken an unconventional approach by introducing a monthly subscription fee for increased acceleration.
The list of examples is extensive, but it is not something that consumers are happy to pay for. Here’s why: car companies compare this model to services like Apple Music, Netflix, or Spotify. They argue that tech companies, such as Apple, follow a similar approach. However, Apple never charges a fee for features like the ultra-wide lens or external speaker. Apple and Google charge for software. If you wish to listen to music, you can pay for Apple Music or download Spotify. Even if you choose not to pay for Apple Music, your iPhone’s speaker still functions. You are not limited to exclusively listening to music from Apple Music. Your iPhone will continue to operate properly.
During the FT summit, I posed a question to Matthew Simpkins from Salesforce. I inquired about Netflix losing customers after the pandemic, as people grew bored with the content and realised they were paying a substantial amount of money. Essentially, people became disinterested and stopped paying. I wondered if the same issue could arise in the future with car subscriptions. Matthew made an excellent point, highlighting that Netflix failed to introduce exciting new content, leading people to no longer find value in paying for the service. He suggested that the car industry could learn from this situation and take the opportunity to improve technology and introduce new features. Additionally, he emphasised the importance of bundling these optional extras with the monthly lease payments. Otherwise, customers may be reluctant to pay an additional £50 while already paying £500 per month. It was a great answer, and Matthew wrote an article about this topic on the Salesforce website, which you can read through the provided link.
From the perspective of participants, the majority at the FT Car Summit are not enthusiastic about paying a subscription fee specifically for heated seats. Drawing from my observations and experience in behavioural economics, it is clear that people generally dislike paying last-minute extra fees, such as delivery charges for online shopping or fees for individual features like heated seats. It would be more effective to bundle these fees into the overall price customers are already willing to pay. This way, the subscription fee would essentially become an optional feature fee. In essence, this approach would likely result in no significant change.
I believe the car industry is endeavouring to find new sources of income and taking inspiration from the tech industry. However, it’s important to note that the tech industry primarily sells software, unlike the automotive industry, which deals with high-priced products like cars. Attempting to retrofit a Netflix payment model to something like a BMW heated seat may not prove successful in the long term.
I attended Salon Privé this year and was worried I would be late, but my timing was perfect – I arrived just after the rain. Although the show was a bit wet, it didn’t stop people from attending.
The most iconic cars of this year’s event were the Ferrari F40 and F50. I have to admit, I am a bit biased towards these cars because they are rare and very hard to come by. Not only are the F40 and F50 limited in numbers, but they are also difficult to drive.
Like the previous year, I visited Anna-Louise Felstead’s stand, and as always, she had amazing paintings.
Ferrari introduced the soft-top version of the Ferrari Roma by HR Owen, called the Roma Spider. The final version of the Aston Martin DBS 770 Ultimate was also on display, marking the end of an era for V12 Aston Martins (except for the SUV).
Anyway, there were so many cars at the event. Salon Privé is the best car show in London, and you shouldn’t miss it next year.
In just a few weeks, Salon Prive will return to the Royal Chelsea Hospital in London. Salon Prive is arguably one of the only motoring shows in West London. Even if you are not particularly interested in cars, it is worth attending to see artwork inspired by automobiles and to catch a glimpse of some concept vehicles that may or may not make it into production.
If none of these aspects captures your attention, you will still be at the Royal Chelsea Hospital, which was built in 1682. It is one of the most calming places in Chelsea and, surprisingly, someone has not yet managed to turn it into a block of flats. Simply walking around the hospital’s garden is a great experience to have.
The new Mercedes-Benz E-Class is going to feature TikTok and Angry Birds built into the MBUX system. We have been waiting for this for a long time. While Angry Birds may be considered an outdated smartphone game (sorry, Angry Birds, but your time has passed), it’s still nice to have it available. Meanwhile, TikTok has become a social media sensation. It’s better to have TikTok on your smartphone while you are at home or on public transportation.
It is not ideal to have TikTok on your car’s screen! TikTok is the most addictive social media app, and Mercedes-Benz is offering this app on its most “boring” car, the E-Class. I think Mercedes-Benz is trying to add some excitement to the E-Class with a TikTok app, but let’s be honest, the E-Class has always been seen as a bit dull.
The E-Class is not exactly known for being fun or exciting; the CLS is the cool one. Unfortunately, Mercedes-Benz is going to stop manufacturing the CLS.
From a logical perspective, adding TikTok to the E-Class is unlikely to attract a younger audience. And how are they supposed to use TikTok while driving a car? If they can only use TikTok when the car is not moving, what’s the point of having it in your car? Why not just use your smartphone?
The second strange feature in the new E-Class is inherited from the Porsche Panamera: touch screen controlled air vents. Did you know we have a built-in feature for moving air vents? It’s called our hands! Controlling air vents from a touch screen with a slight delay is like using a smartphone with a stylus!
The E-Class is a nice car in terms of engineering and technology, but it’s not designed for fun or excitement. It’s a car that gets the job done. I don’t really see the point of adding unnecessary features. I know Tesla adds everything to their cars, but the Tesla cars also have reliability issues. They even fail to do basic things like opening the door from the door handles.
Bugatti Chiron Profilée was sold for €9,792,500 at RM Sotheby’s Paris auction, excluding VAT, making the final price higher. This makes the Chiron Profilee the most expensive car ever sold at an auction.
The Bugatti Chiron Profilée was planned as a limited-edition, but it was not produced due to the 500 unit allocation for the Chiron being filled before the Profilée. The Chiron Profilée is designed to be stiffer than the Pur Sport, offering a more dynamic driving experience. It features a fixed rear wing and has a top speed limit of 380 km/h. The engine’s redline has also been increased to 6900 RPM. The 8-lt W16 engine produces 1500 hp.
There is a rumor regarding the Bugatti W16 engine that it is based on either a VW VR engine or an Audi V8. The truth is unknown. However, it is certain that the buyer of the Chiron now possesses the last W16 engine ever built by Bugatti.
Autosport International is back in 2023, three years after its last appearance at NEC, Birmingham. I am excited to see the show this year and the return of cars and models.
I have been attending Autosport since 2012, and the last three years were a significant break.
As expected, the show was amazing. There were new companies, models, and exciting new motorsport technologies, particularly electric vehicle racing cars. I anticipate seeing more electric vehicles in future Autosport shows.
By the way, I don’t know the story behind that Lamborghini Huracan.