New-Vehicle Debuts: Smaller and Pricier

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Detroit Free Press

The Los Ange­les Auto Show is a smor­gas­bord of new vehi­cles that includes a wave of smaller more expen­sive cars aimed at peo­ple seek­ing a lux­ury pack­age, accord­ing to ana­lysts attend­ing the show.

Take a closer look at automaker pre­sen­ta­tions mar­keted to sell “entry-level luxury”.

The smor­gas­bord of new vehi­cles debut­ing this week included a wave of smaller, but quite expen­sive crossovers and cars tar­geted at peo­ple seek­ing lux­ury in smaller packages.

Mar­ket­ing experts call it “entry-level lux­ury,” a jar­gony term that encom­passes a diverse range of designs and util­ity. The segment’s growth — more than 10% this year over 2012 — reflects an opti­mism that an ample num­ber of con­sumers are doing well enough to spend more than $40,000 on new cars even as U.S. per­sonal income is grow­ing only slightly — up 0.5% in Sep­tem­ber, the lat­est monthly report issued by the government.

“Automak­ers are … able to focus beyond pop­u­lar seg­ments and address more spe­cific mar­kets,” said Lacey Plache, chief econ­o­mist at Edmunds.com. “We’re also see­ing evi­dence of a push toward more niche offer­ings like the Porsche Macan and the redesigned Mini Cooper.”

Mark Reuss, pres­i­dent of Gen­eral Motors North Amer­ica, said the L.A. show “is a reflec­tion of the health of the indus­try. Five years ago, it was pretty dark.”

Porsche is adding a fifth vehi­cle — the Macan com­pact crossover that will start at just under $50,000 and run to about $111,000 fully loaded. Porsche started tak­ing orders last week for the crossover that goes on sale in May, said Detlev von Platen, head of Porsche North America.

Lin­coln also is expand­ing its lineup with the MKC com­pact crossover.

“Lin­coln remains in dire need of fresh prod­uct, and the com­pact lux­ury crossover mar­ket is hot­ter than ever,” said ana­lyst Karl Brauer of Kel­ley Blue Book.

Audi is revamp­ing and expand­ing its line of A3 small cars from a sin­gle hatch to a sedan, hatch­back, con­vert­ible and a per­for­mance S4, with options for a hybrid or diesel.

BMW has intro­duced a new 4 Series convertible.

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