CAR REVIEW – FORD SHELBY GT500
“Mustang itself is an icon, and GT500 is the pinnacle,” said Erich Merkle, Head of US Sales Analysis at Ford Motor Company. “The Mustang speaks to the Ford heritage, as an automaker and to our ability to push the performance edge to new frontiers.”
Just like hip-hop has always been black music, but it’s a white artist that sits atop of that league, drag races were always a muscle car thing though, you can probably beat one now with an electric family sedan or an SUV and sadly, the time is near when drag races will not be singing the tune of roaring V8 engines. The era of clean and green cars has arrived and even the big players like Mercedes, Audi, BMW, Jaguar, Hyundai, VW, etc. have started pushing out electric vehicles and/or concepts that define the future of automotive.
With the Lamborghini Urus and the upcoming Ferrari Purosangue, it definitely seems like we might be at the cusp of an end for the gearhead era. Even the joy of driving a car might be snatched away from us as we are seeing leaps of advancement in the self-driving car technology. So, it all sounds too sad and dreary for petrol heads. But, there are some brands that take good care of their loyal fan base. Those that still put out naturally aspirated V12’s and V10,s those that create modern art with their designs and let the gearheads feel orgasms with their roaring engine sounds, those that don’t use turbochargers and superchargers to artificial create power and give a lag from pushing the throttle to reaching a speed. One of those is Ford.
The mustang has always been a name that spoke straight to the soul. From its three vertical slat tail lamps to the noise from the exhaust pipe and the oomph of its stance, all of it is nothing short of artistry, a very enigmatic and vulgar piece of art. But, Caroll Shelby knew that for some people, the mustang will not be enough. Hence, the Mustang Shelby GT name was formed. Over the years the Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 has not just made its fans drool over what it was but also shown that a finely tuned, loud and brash muscle car can definitely take on some of the sports cars and is not just a straight line drag strip showoff.
The 2019 Mustang was already pretty great. But, the hardcore Shelby fans wanted more. So, certain companies tried fulfilling their wishes with models like The Mustang RTR Spec-3. Mind you, it is great car with good enough cornering capabilities, a finely tuned engine and bespoke looks. But, it still lacked a bit of the character of a true Mustang.
Ford Mustang Shelby GT500 is the most powerful street-legal Ford ever. This beast of a vehicle boasts 700 horses. Yep, SEVEN HUNDRED HP in a Mustang. Featuring a 5.2-liter, supercharged V-8 mated with a first-in-its-class seven-speed dual-clutch automatic, the GT500 will hit 60 mph in 3.5 seconds and turn the quarter-mile in less than 11. The all-aluminum V-8 is built by hand, with cylinder heads optimized for maximum airflow, larger forged connecting rods, and internal passages improved for better lubrication and cooling. And while some Dodge Demon fans will see this as “not so much”, it is worth noting that the Dodge has lost to almost every supercar which has lesser power and is not a very good example of fine engineering.
Of course, the engine of the car is supercharged, but it does not create the whining noises and you listen to pure brute force of the V8 pistons pounding as hard as they can. In fact, the supercharger in this car is more engineered than the Dodge Demon in its entirety. A 2.65-liter, roots-type supercharger features an air-to-liquid intercooler. A carbon-fiber driveshaft routes all that power to the rear wheels and the dual-clutch transmission is capable of changing gears in less than 100 milliseconds. And you don’t have to compromise anything in the inside for all the fun you want to have with it. If I am starting to sound like a fan boy, well I am. But, I am a logical one at that. I still don’t believe that the pricing of the car is enough value, the infotainment system on the inside is still a Ford thing with the “Shaker” pro sounds and the blinkers on the front bumper, which were DRL’s in the previous car, look like they’re a borrowed piece, from the 1960’s.
Yet, I’d put all my money on this car since, I feel its possibly still the best muscle car that is able to keep up with what muscle cars were supposed to be in the 60’s and the 70’s. And also because of that name, Mustang!
It’s truly said that if you haven’t heard a lion roar, get your ears next to one of these cars.
The thoughts shared in this article are provided by Prakhar Khandelwal who takes pride in being an automobile enthusiast and a budding writer. Want to share your thoughts and ideas about the auto world with Open Bonnet community? Write to us at [email protected]Car Review – Ford Mustang Shelby GT500
Car Review – BMW Series 7
Luxury cars are now becoming more affordable and hence, within reach to a lot many people. There was a time when a BMW 5 series or a Cadillac would be a choice of the rich and the not so wealthy would purely imagine of what it could be on the inside of these “palace on wheels”. That though has changed drastically in the past decade or so. With brands like Hyundai launching their own luxury brands (Genesis) and other manufacturers offering similar products to compete, the luxury cars nowadays have to have a distinct profile of their own for customers to buy them. In fact, big German automakers like BMW, Mercedes and Audi along with others like Jaguar also had to come up with their answers for the Genesis and Honda Accords of the 21st century with the Audi A4, Merc’s C-class, Jaguar’s XE and the phenomenally impeccable BMW 3 series. All this effort had to be made to push more cars to more people because at the end, it’s those higher sales numbers that will pay the bills.
But, in this race towards getting luxury car experiences to the public, certain cars have had to face a lot more tough times than others. Yes, the uber luxury segment ranging from the Jaguar XJ to the Merc S-class, Audi A8 and the BMW 7 series have had some serious troubles. It’s because those looking for luxury vehicles would look at their neighbor’s Genesis or their Volvo S90 and think “hmm… mine’s quite a bit more expensive yet doesn’t look that much”. At this point they’d also start thinking to enter the Bentley Flying Spur or the Rolls-Royce Ghost territory. Over and above all of that, the recent mass attraction towards SUV’s has made the sales of these luxury vehicles plummet like Piers Morgan’s reputation. While Mercedes came up with an answer by relaunching the Maybach brand, BMW has finally decided to show up at the party only this time, it’s properly dressed up and ready.
Enter, the 2020 BMW 7-series. While you could be forgiven to miss the older 7 series when you saw it on the road, the Bavarian automaker has made sure that this time you won’t. A massive chrome front kidney grille which is 40% bigger than its predecessor, a pair of sleek and stylish LED laser beam headlamps, an almost crease less but curvy side profile to accentuate this already very long car and a somewhat larger multi-spoke rim design scream bling and ogles of luxury on offer. The styling is more of a subjective thing but, unlike public opinion, I am more angled towards liking the smart and massive front grille because it gives the car a robust stance and “ready to take on the RR Ghost rather than an Audi A8” look. I also like the new bumper with larger air intakes which will make the car more stable around corners and also help with better wind noise insulation. At the rear, the most noticeable change is the new set of 3D design LED tail-lamps with its running light strip across the width of the car making it in-sync with the new design language of BMW as seen on the new 3 series as well.
Under the hood of this four-door mansion on wheels BMW has introduced a comprehensively re-engineered version of the 4.4-liter V8. It now generates 523 hp (390 kW), 80 hp (60 kW) more than before, and up to 553 lb-ft (750 Nm) of torque, 74 lb-ft (100 Nm) more than on the outgoing model. In the 750i xDrive, the new V8 ensures the sedan reaches 62 miles per hour (100 kilometers per hour) from a standstill in just 3.9 seconds. But, the cherry on top, a gearhead’s love, is the V12-powered top-of-the-range M760 with its 600 horsepower (447 kilowatts) and 627 pound-feet (850 Newton-meters) of torque.
Going with the reputation of the brand which makes one of the best driver’s cars, especially 4 door sedans, we don’t doubt that this engine packs a punch. While a first glance at the specs sheet MIGHT look like it’s not too much for such a heavy car (apart from the M760), let me tell you that the older 7 series was already the fastest accelerating luxury sedan that I had ever driven so, expect the new generation to be more of a Tesla Model S for this segment. The German automaker has also revised the eight-speed automatic which is the standard gearbox on all models for the 2020 model year. It should now deliver quicker and smoother gear shifts, and comes as standard with a Launch Control function.
At launch, the new 7 will also be offered in a plug-in hybrid version which combines a specially adapted inline six-cylinder engine with 280 hp (209 kW) with an electric motor rated at 113 hp (84 kW). The system stores electric energy in a new lithium-ion battery, but, BMW is not ready to disclose the all-electric range just yet. The PHEV version of the car combines a crowning total of 389 hp (290 kW) which is enough for a 0-62 mph (0-100 kph) dash in 4.9 seconds. The PHEV powertrain uses a hybrid-specific variant of the Sport Steptronic transmission with an improved separating clutch that acts as the link to the engine thus, making quicker gearshifts and lowering reaction times of the car when it’s using both the electric and gasoline motors.
And yes, let’s talk about that interior too. Let me talk about the elephant in the room first, yes BMW interiors have been the most boring and bland looking of the lot. Not a question on their immaculate quality or fit & finish but, the design is just, well, meh! On this one though, it’s a bit different. While, it’s the same kind that you’d find on the new 8-series or the X5, but it still kind of gives a bit fresher look to the car. The fully digital instrument cluster bring it at par with the year 2020 and BMW’s i-drive system takes things up a notch with a bigger touchscreen and wireless charging for phone as standard. In fact, you can get your phone configured to unlock the car with it and put it on the charging spot to even use it as a key. The rest of the interiors is almost the same story as the previous car with top quality materials and an amazingly comfortable seating arrangement. More about the interior feels can only be said once the actual car is made available for review.
When it arrives at showrooms in April this year, the 2020 BMW 7-Series will be available in five different specifications i.e. four all-wheel-drive models and one rear-wheel drive one. BMW has already revealed some user specifications and colors that are to be made available which in my personal opinion are a bit too restricted for a luxury sedan. But, let’s see what the actual ones hold. Prices will be announced closer to the on-sale date.
So, do you think the new 7-series will be able to hold a place of its own in markets like Dubai where even a Rolls-Royce struggles to mark its territory? Let us know in the comments below.
The thoughts shared in this article are provided by Prakhar Khandelwal who takes pride in being an automobile enthusiast and a budding writer. Want to share your thoughts and ideas about the auto world with Open Bonnet community? Write to us at [email protected]Car Review – BMW Series 7
Uberization of Global Auto Aftermarket
Uberization of Auto Aftermarket – it’s enough to bring a smile on Dara Khosrowshahi’s face…and yours. First, Mr. Khosrowshahi will be a happy man, because there’s an innovative trend emerging in the vehicle servicing space that, in a nod to the original paradigm buster, has been termed “uberization.” It’s good news for you, if you’re a car owner, because it means you get to select, with nothing more onerous than a couple of keystrokes on your computer or mobile, which workshop best meets your car servicing requirements. And, finally, it is a great development for small, independent vehicle servicing workshops, parts dealerships, and service aggregator platforms because it means a wider target audience and more revenues to spread around.
A Winning Proposition for Car Owners and Service Businesses
The premise behind the uberization of vehicle services is quite simple. Similar to the Uber model, vehicle workshops (think drivers in Uber’s case) can list themselves on online platforms or mobile apps. Among the more established platforms are Whocanfixmycar.com, Autobutler, Openbay and Caroobi. A customer requiring, for example, an engine oil change can go onto these platforms and search for workshops located in close proximity. They can also instantly get comparative estimates on how much each workshop will charge for that particular job. There’s the additional benefit of workshop ratings and reviews. Armed with this knowledge, they can make an informed decision about which workshop to go with, schedule an appointment, and pay online.
In my opinion, it’s a win-win-win situation. An overwhelming number of vehicle owners in mature markets do online research before purchasing parts or servicing their cars. In this context, online service marketplaces are extremely convenient since they include price quotations and customer reviews, and allow customers to make their service bookings through a digital platform. In short, convenience, value, and transparency in pricing and service quality. What more could a customer want?
Today, after-sales are becoming an increasingly important component of profitability for parts dealerships. For original parts dealerships, it offers better access to out-of-warranty and independent aftermarket customers, and helps build brand trust and transparency. In other words, the prospect of customer retention and expansion, and the ability to develop multi-brand repair capabilities. What more could a parts dealer want?
The uberization model is also a powerful tool with which independent vehicle servicing workshops can withstand the onslaught of franchise chains. Establishing a digital presence helps boost their competitiveness, widens their access to customers, and allows them to build brand trust. What more could an independent workshop want?
The uberization of vehicle services is then, in many ways, a mirror of how Uber upturned the mobility industry. It marks the emergence of new tech-based intermediaries who are using the power of e-commerce, digitization, and connectivity to completely disrupt traditional after sales dynamics. It’s a trend that has transformed every aspect of the service delivery process and marks a definitive move away from traditional vehicle “repair and service” models to a revolutionary vehicle ownership “management” paradigm that offers end-to-end solutions for car owners, fleets and installers.
Show Me The Money!
It’s clearly a change that has appeal. When I talked about “more revenues to spread around,” I was talking in the range of about $1.5 billion, a figure that a new study by Frost & Sullivan expects will collectively be generated by 2025, by job bookings on online vehicle servicing platforms in the U.S., U.K., Germany and France. The obvious question then is: where are the revenue streams and what are the key performance indicators (KPIs) in this new model?
Service aggregation platforms draw revenues from two primary channels: B2B, where revenues derive from job referrals and services provided by workshops, and B2C which center on vehicle owners.
In the workshop centric B2B model, service aggregators make money on service commissions and subscription fees. Every mobile application/online platform will charge a commission—either flat or tiered—for every job acquired on it. Typically, the platform keeps about 10-15% of the total job value of each individual job, while the workshop retains the bulk of 90%.
Subscription fees represent another approach to revenue generation. Here, workshops pay a fixed monthly fee—say, anywhere in the range of $15-$200—to either be listed on the site, to qualify for tiered commission plans, or to maintain an online presence with CRM support. A third way for service aggregators to profit is by charging a commission on parts. Here, they supply replacement parts for jobs booked on their platform, but tack on a slight mark up.
Revenues from the customer focused B2C channel come from having drivers pay for a telematics application in order to access onboard features that also include service aggregation. However, this channel has not yet been widely tested and its success could be crippled by customer unwillingness to pay for a service they might otherwise expect for free.
It’s a new and evolving business, with competitors constantly working to improve a range of workshop centric KPIs. Among these include the conversion ratio or the ratio of quotes to jobs completed. Currently, this ratio currently varies between 10-30%. Then there is network size which relates to the number of workshop partners. Another important KPI is subscription penetration which focuses on membership subscription ratio by package type. Currently, only about 5% of workshops subscribe to a premium package in the case of tiered plans.
Equally distinct KPIs are used to measure the model’s success with vehicle owners. One is the average bill value per customer, which currently hovers at about $250-$270, globally. Other indicators include customer retention levels or the ratio of repeat business; the average quote for every job request and the mix of quotes from franchised, large groups or independent workshops; and reviews of customer scores for workshops which reveals levels of customer satisfaction.
As the uberization of vehicle services continues to win adherents, vehicle manufacturers and parts suppliers—BMW, PSA and Shell, among them—are showing increasing interest in stepping into the fray. I advise they not wait too long since I strongly believe that such digital service marketplaces will be integral to building a comprehensive, integrated mobility solution for the future.
Notes from the Author:
Managing Partner – Middle East, Africa & South Asia at Frost & Sullivan
I am a Senior Partner in Frost & Sullivan where I head the Automotive & Transportation practice and also founder of a think tank group that works on future (Mega) trends. My team and I pioneered the “Macro to Micro” approach in analyzing Mega Trends in 2008, which has since been tried and tested with Fortune 1000 companies in developing white space opportunities. I authored “New Mega Trends,” published in 2012 with Palgrave Macmillan, which has since been sold in over 30 countries and is currently being translated into Chinese for a China market release in 2014. I consult Fortune 1000 companies (clients like P&G, Ford, Philips, BMW, Fiat group, Nissan, Toyota and UNIDO). I am an Engineer and have a MBA from Leeds University Business School, for whom I am now a member of their Advisory Board. I have also done an executive course at the Kellogg School of Management. I am a well-known thought leader and a charismatic futurist who combines engineering acumen with strong commercial experience. Follow me on Twitter: @Sarwant.
This article was written with contributions from Anuj Monga, Program Manager with Frost & Sullivan’s Aftermarket Mobility team. RI
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Car Review – Bentley Continental GTC
Arguably one of the most consistently opulent looking 2-door luxury grand tourer is back with its topless version, only now with a new neck warmer and a new convertible roof.
The 2020 Bentley Continental GTC was unveiled without much fuss or a big public event. The GTC shares its styling cues and underpinnings with the already familiar coupe, as it always has. However, it also features a new soft-top and a few extra features inside the cabin this time. The roof mechanism is a new Z-fold system which folds up and down in 19 seconds at speeds of up to 50KPH. In fact, it now is 3 decibels quieter than before, if that matters to you.
The good part is that it shares the underpinnings with its coupe sibling up until its waist. After that, well, it’s a hit or miss. Convertible GT cars are hard to design for a number of reasons. Firstly, they’re heavier and hence, they need to shed some weight here and there. Secondly, the aero of the car gets disturbs and it takes some engineering to design the tonneau cover that fits the roof and does not look weird. So, Bentley has to be given credit for consistently making it look like a natural car and not just some after-thought designed to fill demand for a convertible. That rear end though, is still not good enough. When the roof is up, the side profile looks a bit disproportional because of a very skinny back end and a beautifully placed heavy front end with that massive Bentley grille. With the roof down, things look much more pretty but, the rear end is similar to the coupe which is not really very Bentley like. Those tail-lamps do not showcase the true persona of this car. But hey, this is a Bentley with so much good stuff, it makes the bad design elements look like a piece of art.
Its powered by the same 6-3/4th liter W12 motor which delivers 626 horsepower and 664 pound-feet of torque and pushes the drop-top from 0 to 60 mph in 3.7 seconds. That’s a tenth of a second slower than the coupe but, it’s still blisteringly fast for a 6,316 pound car. Top speed, on the other hand, is similar to the Continental GT at 207 mph. The dynamics of this car are still pretty much the same with the same gearbox and similar body panels. Anyway, most of those interested in a car like this are probably wondering “how good is it on the inside though?”
Well, not surprisingly, the GTC borrows everything inside the cabin from the coupe. It sports the same dashboard and seat designs, as well as that Rotating infotainment Display. It features a 12.3-inch touchscreen housed in a three-sided unit, including veneer that matches the dashboard, the screen itself, and three elegant analogue dials. Of course, everything is wrapped in soft-touch surfaces and you can choose from many leather and wood veneer options. If you go for the Mulliner specification though, you can customize the cabin to a bespoke configuration just like you could add a diamond studded Breitling clock in the Bentayga for a mere £160,000. Talk about extremes, this car has the very same Naim audio system that can amplify any note of Beethoven and can also crank up the beats of whatever hip-hop track you can possibly imagine. It’s so good that sometimes you’ll be able to catch the faults in songs which the artists couldn’t while they recorded it in the studio. Those speakers have some diamond finished center points that announce your arrival more than the exhaust.
So, it’s amazing to drive, nice to look at, is a convertible and is loaded with tech, just like a Rolls-Royce Wraith. The question to ask then, is whether it’s as good as the Wraith. And the answer to that is that it’s subjective. Both Bentley and Rolls have come up to create a separate stance of their own and they’re both unique, expensive and amazing pieces of art. The perfect answer to that will be why not buy both. Since, anyone who’s at a stage of buying any of these cars definitely has enough dough for both of them.
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The thoughts shared in this article are provided by Prakhar Khandelwal who takes pride in being an automobile enthusiast and a budding writer. Want to share your thoughts and ideas about the auto world with Open Bonnet community? Write to us at [email protected]Car Review – Bentley Continental GTC
Choosing Car Spare Parts!
Let’s face it, not everyone has the means to afford a supercar or a luxury tourer. And it’s not only because of how much they cost, it’s because of the maintenance cost afterwards as well. But, most people want the experience, exhaust notes and styling from a supercar in their cars and it’s not very hard to find aftermarket parts to do justice to their cars as well. But, the question most people ask to me is whether or not go for aftermarket modifications. The short answer is yes. If that’s all you wanted to know, there you have it but, if you would like to know how perfectly balanced it can be, let’s take a look at the full answer below.
The pricing of cars from established automakers is at a high premium. It’s no more like the old times where if you’d want a hot hatchback, you’d visit your nearby showrooms and pay the amount because of how reasonable they were. Not only that, cars felt worth their money and thus, made their marginal utility a whole lot higher. Forward some 15 years, a hot hatch from Mercedes i.e. the A45 AMG would cost you enough money from which you could purchase a VW Golf GTI or a Ford Focus RS or even a Mini Cooper JCW and still have enough to modify it with power upgrades from Mountune or better and louder exhaust systems. As a matter of fact, aftermarket parts both cosmetic and performance upgrades, are so high quality and reasonably priced that the option to get optional packages in your small car from the company itself seems to be a mistake. Cosmetic upgrades like Lights, Rims, Brake calipers, bumpers, wide-body kits, roof and bonnet scoops cost about as much as you would pay for a set of simple styling kit options with your car company, a chrome strip here, some matte finish rims and voila, all your money is gone. The paint schemes from the car company would cost you a lot more than just getting a simple color of your choice and then having your car wrapped in whatever wave of colors you have in mind. The wraps are removable so you can always go back to the simple one or even change it from time to time. Similarly, performance upgrades, though a little bit expensive from brands like Renntech and Mountune, are still priced quite well to give you the worth of your hard earned money, just like old times.
The best part about it though, is the fact that a lot of these parts do not void your car’s warranty, fit in the exact size slot available without any additional cuts or creases so that if you want, you could go back to your original car. They also provide their own warranty and are most of the times, a quality product. The only part you need to keep in mind is to have a well-researched vendor for the parts and make sure that their team has highly skilled professional installers for your parts.
- Automobile Manufacturers
- Traders – Wholesalers, Retailers, Importers/Exporters, Distributors
- Service Providers – Service Stations, Workshops/Garages, Car Modifiers, Car Washers, Dealers, Auto-Builders