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Luxury race heats up at Detroit show

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - 02:50

Jan 10 - Dinner reservations? No problem with some of the new luxury cars unveiled at the Detroit auto show. Deborah Gembara reports from the Detroit auto show.

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When it comes to enticing new customers --- luxury car makers are emphasizing two things with their newest models --- increased connectivity and a more personalized vehicle. For BMW, which is coming off a tremendous year as the best selling luxury car brand in the U.S., its new 3-Series offers a heads up display which projects the car's speed over the front of the vehicle --- it's a feature they say will the driver's eyes on the road. Not to be outdone, Bryan Smith, Lexus's Vice President of Marketing says their new GS offer a 12.3 inch screen for navigation among other things. SOUNDBITE: BRYAN SMITH, VICE PRESIDENT OF MARKETING, LEXUS (ENGLISH) SAYING: "But it also has apps imbedded now that allows a driver to make reservations for dinner or purchase movie tickets while they're en route home." In addition to a lighter body, the Mercedes Benz new SL features an integrated hard drive for storing MP3 files. But the personal touch goes beyond technology for BMW. Tweaks to its popular 3-series will include customization, says executive board member Ian Robertson. SOUNDBITE: BMW EXECUTIVE BOARD MEMBER IAN ROBERTSON (ENGLISH) SAYING: "For the first time, we've now launched three , what we call lines - the sport line, the modern line and the luxury line and therefore our customers have even more chances now to make that car specially to their own particular desires." What that means is different color interiors, body lines and lights --- For the sport line, there's the option of a red strip across the dashboard, and modern types might gravitate towards the wood accents. Meanwhile, Lexus buyers interested in the limited edition LFA can customize right down to the color of their brake calipers. And Mercedes Benz hopes the design of the new SL will trigger an emotional response. Dieter Zetsche, CEO of Daimler AG and head of Mercedes Benz. SOUNDBITE: DIETER ZETSCHE, CEO, Daimler AG (ENGLISH) SAYING: "When you look at this vehicle, your pulse goes up, the adrenaline shoots into your body and that's what emotion creates." While it is too early to know how these new offerings might be received, one thing is clear --- competition in the luxury car marker is fierce. Once the reigning luxury brand in the U.S., Lexus struggled with production problems caused by the earthquake in Japan. It was enough to allow BMW to claim the top spot in 2011 with Mercedes not too far behind. And there's new competition coming from General Motors with a smaller Cadillac designed to go head-to-head with the 3-series. Deborah Gembara, Reuters.

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Luxury race heats up at Detroit show

Wednesday, January 11, 2012 - 02:50