Lexus beat rivals, inventory for Q3 luxury lead

Lexus sprinted to the front of the luxury sales race in the third quarter despite having the tightest vehicle inventory among the major luxury brands.

The Japanese automaker overtook perennial front-runners Mercedes-Benz and BMW, which also struggled with lean inventories due to pandemic-related production shutdowns this spring.

But Lexus dealers had a 26-day supply of vehicles in the third quarter, compared with 34 days at BMW stores and 49 days at Mercedes retailers, according to data from Cox Automotive.

Strong demand for its hybrid crossovers lifted Lexus’ sales 2 percent to 75,285 vehicles in the third quarter. And its hybrid sales surged nearly 60 percent in September.

For the quarter, Lexus sold 29,438 RX midsize crossovers — more than twice the volume of its next-bestselling model, the NX compact crossover, at 13,204.

Bob Carter, head of sales for Toyota Motor North America, said the strong third-quarter performance from Lexus was driven by its ability to stabilize production of high-volume models, including the RX and NX and the ES sedan, and get inventory for dealers to sell.

“We knew there was business out there, and we wanted to support our dealers,” Carter said. “We’re pretty confident right now. I’m not in a race, and I’m not going to do abnormal acts to win a trophy, but we’re going to land 265,000, maybe even 270,000, Lexus sales in a really, really trying year, and that’s important for us, and it’s really important for our dealers.”

Karl Brauer, executive analyst with iSeeCars.com, says Lexus may be getting a second look from luxury buyers nervous about the security of their paycheck and the state of their stock portfolio.

“Some of the people who would have bought a Mercedes or a BMW might be saying, ‘I’m still going to buy a vehicle, but I’m going to cut back and buy something that costs less upfront,’ ” Brauer said.

Overall, U.S. luxury sales dipped 6.5 percent to 519,227 cars and light trucks in the third quarter, slightly better than the entire industry’s 9.5 percent decline.

The premium segment also outperformed the overall industry for the year to date — reporting a nine-month sales decline of 14 percent, compared with the overall industry’s 18 percent slide. More than half of the 15 luxury brands outsold the industry through September.

But uncertainty around the November presidential election and the long-term economic fallout from the pandemic will weigh on the luxe sector’s sales outlook for the remainder of 2020, said Akshay Anand, executive analyst at Kelley Blue Book.

“Going forward, the name of the game for luxury will be consumer sentiment and the economy,” Anand said. “Things seem to be humming along, but that can and may change at a moment’s notice.”

Propelled by demand for its core crossovers, Mercedes-Benz eked out a mere 61-vehicle sales lead over rival BMW in the third quarter.

Mercedes delivered 69,631 vehicles, excluding commercial vans, down 9.4 percent from a year earlier. The GLC compact crossover led the results, with 11,428 sales, followed by the GLE midsize crossover, with sales of 10,858.

BMW sold 69,570 vehicles in the third quarter, down 16 percent from a year earlier. BMW’s quarterly sales were buoyed by additions to the 2 Series and 8 Series sedan lineups.

Lexus’ inventory also benefited from a narrower portfolio of products and options packages than those of its German rivals, said Tyson Jominy, vice president of the Power Information Network at J.D. Power. The top three model lines accounted for nearly three-quarters of Lexus’ third-quarter sales, while the top three Mercedes lines delivered less than half of its sales.

“Think of how many options and customizations BMW and Mercedes offer and the additional inventory that requires,” Jominy said. “Tighter inventory may only force a Lexus customer into a second color choice or buying up one package. But it could require bigger trade-offs” for a Mercedes customer.

Among other luxury brands, Tesla saw an estimated 17 percent increase in third-quarter sales — delivering an estimated 64,000 vehicles. With an estimated 196,000 cars and crossovers sold through September, the California electric vehicle maker commanded about 14 percent of the segment, very close to market share leader Mercedes, with 14.1 percent.

Audi rounded out the top five, reporting 47,893 sales in the third quarter, down 16 percent from a year earlier. Infiniti suffered the largest sales dive in the segment, tumbling 30 percent 17,367.

Porsche Cars North America reported quarterly U.S. sales of 15,548 vehicles, a 5 percent uptick from the same time last year.

Larry P. Vellequette contributed to this report.

Audi boss predicts 2020 sales slide; seeks to recapture tech lead

Audi is benefiting from a surge in China demand, but it won’t offset losses suffered during lockdowns around the world caused by the coronavirus pandemic, CEO Markus Duesmann said. The 51-year-old executive also ruled out a move to Wolfsburg to take on a bigger role within Audi’s parent, the Volkswagen Group. He discussed these topics and more with Frank Johannsen, who is a reporter at Automotive News Europe sister publication Automobilwoche.

You started as Audi CEO in April, in the middle of the lockdowns caused by the coronavirus pandemic. After having to wait 18 months to start at Audi following your departure from BMW, did you envision a different situation?
It was spooky somehow. I took the opportunity to spend two weeks gathering information in Ingolstadt beforehand, starting in mid-March. That was exactly the point when all the plants and the entire country shut down. I was suddenly in the thick of things and could only look on with amazement. But the crisis team completed a mammoth job in cooperation with the works council. It worked out tremendously well.

How are things going now?
July, August and September look very good. September was the strongest [sales] month of the year – worldwide. Things are going especially well in China, where we even expect a small increase for the entire year. But we are not making up for the heavy losses from April and May of this year, although our sales organization has done a really good job.

When will you be back at pre-crisis levels?
That will take a while longer. Right now, there are still many countries where consumer reluctance persists. I expect it will be about two years before the normalization is complete.

You are Audi’s CEO, R&D chief and China boss, the head of R&D at Volkswagen Group, supervisory board chairman at Lamborghini and Ducati, and have leading roles at the Artemis project for a self-driving EV and the Car.Software organization. Can one person do all that?
Our plan is to breathe life into the claim Vorsprung durch Technik (German for Advancement Through Technology) and give it greater clarity. That’s why we launched the Artemis project and created the Car.Software organization at the corporate level. It makes sense that I would have responsibility for R&D. The construct fits this purpose very well and it works superbly, even if it is naturally very demanding for me to deal with all these matters well. But special times require special measures. And these are very special times for the auto industry. It’s a good thing that I have a strong team handling these issues.

You are Audi’s seventh R&D chief since 2012. How long do you intend to keep that title?
I’ll do it until I believe there a good solution to the succession issue. You cannot change the reality that the company has had turbulent times, especially in development. That was certainly not ideal. Now I will do all I can to make sure everything runs much better in the future and we show continuity again in the R&D area.

You are being considered a potential successor to VW Group CEO Herbert Diess. Is this the next step in your career?
I am clearly ruling that out. This is my dream job, and I’m as happy as can be at Audi. I’m moving from Munich to Ingolstadt right now, and I want to stay here. This is my company.

What lessons are you drawing from the pandemic? Are you making changes to your supply chain to avoid bottlenecks in the future?
I am inclined to think that the supplier structure has shown how robust it is. We hit a bump or two, but all our suppliers basically performed superbly. Everything worked amazingly well. The relaunch was relatively problem-free in this regard. I am really satisfied with the cooperation. I see no need to make any major changes.

Daimler and BMW have intensified their cost-cutting programs during the crisis. Audi says it is still only cutting the 9,500 jobs that were already agreed upon before the pandemic.  Will that be enough?
Nothing is planned beyond that. And we are sticking with the employment guarantee until 2029.

And no more short-time work in Germany despite the fact most of the momentum is coming from China, where you already have a number of factories?
Our German plants also benefit from sales in China since the volumes that Europe supplies to the country are also rising. But it is correct that the European plants mainly depend on Europe, and demand is still restrained here. Fortunately, our plants in Ingolstadt and Neckarsulm are doing well. We even added special shifts in September. We are very confident and aren’t planning any more short-time work for this year.

And for 2021?
We can only hope there isn’t another coronavirus wave. That would be bad. We are confident about next year otherwise.

There has just been a noticeable uptick in the demand for electric vehicles. So far, Audi only has the e-tron and e-tron Sportback in its lineup, with the e-tron GT and the Q4 e-tron coming in 2021. Are you too late to benefit from the boom?
A little earlier wouldn’t have been bad. The topic has picked up quite a bit of steam lately. I think we will still be on time. We will have 20 battery-electric models by mid-decade. That puts us in an excellent position.

What exactly are you planning?
We are coming out with at least one new battery-electric vehicle each year — and that’s in a range of classes and segments. We will be making offers along the entire breadth of our portfolio.

What is on the way specifically?
We aren’t talking about that yet. For now, I’m just looking forward to the e-tron GT, which will reach the market in early 2021. The car is a sensational product. It’s going to be my favorite car.

And your next company car?
Of course!

And how long will internal combustion engines survive?
I think it will be a while. The future of the internal combustion engine will ultimately be a political question, and it won’t be decided throughout the world at the same time. So, it definitely makes sense for different markets to turn to electric mobility as well as modern, highly efficient internal combustion engines.

At Audi as well?
We have a very systematic electric strategy. But for the foreseeable future, many of our customers will continue to want an internal combustion engine. So we will keep working on their efficiency. It is still our goal to be CO2 neutral by 2050 in line with the Paris climate accord. We are committed to it.

Does that also apply to diesels?
Out of all the internal combustion powertrain, diesels are by far the most efficient. But due to exhaust treatment, they have also become very expensive and are not an attractive option in every vehicle segment. But since many of our customers still love diesels, we will continue to offer them. 

What are you most looking forward to when the pandemic is over?
Greeting people with a handshake again. I am a big fan of the handshake. I miss it a lot. It’s not the same as someone just nodding at me or bowing.

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Gardening for life: nature and gardens heal – Montclair Local

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Trees, like those at New Jersey Audubon’s Sherman Hoffman Wildlife Sanctuary in Bernardsville, can contribute to a feeling of well-being. JOSE GERMAN/FOR MONTCLAIR LOCAL

By JOSE GERMAN
For Montclair Local

Jose German is an environmental activist, Essex County certified master gardener and

climate
JOSE GERMAN

Montclair resident. He is the founder of the Northeast Earth Coalition.

Goldenrod and joe-pye weed are in bloom, and the asters’ buds are starting to open. Nesting goldfinches are flocking over drying coneflowers in search of seeds to nourish their hatchlings. Monarch butterflies are laying their last batches of eggs to produce this season’s final generation of butterflies before the migration to Mexico. A monarch caterpillar you encounter today may soon embark as an adult on a journey of thousands of miles.

If you have a vegetable garden, at this time of year you are harvesting some of the most bountiful produce of the season, from tomatoes, basil, beans, eggplants and cucumbers to carrots, kale and collard greens. While the weather stays warm, you can still plant seedlings for fall crops to harvest into November and possibly beyond; with a mild winter, kale and collards may yield food into the spring. 

Bok choy, lettuce, arugula and cilantro will also produce through the cool fall weather, but if you’ve been procrastinating up to this point it’s now best to plant them as seedlings rather than seeds.   

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READ: GARDENING FOR LIFE: ENJOYING LAZY SUMMER DAYS

READ: GARDENING FOR LIFE: HOME-GROWING A NATIONAL PARK

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Everything going on in your garden is also telling you a story about life, hope, transformations and transitions. As humans, we are also part of this process; let’s connect and synchronize our lives with nature. Native Americans have always recognized the sanctity of their natural surroundings, from animals to trees to rivers to mountains. 

Modern American society has lost this sense of sacred connection, but we are capable of rediscovering it. The first step is to go outside and observe.

The 2020 gardening season will be remembered forever as a time when people turned to gardens as sources of nourishment for the soul as well as the body in a time of stress beyond what most of us could have imagined. COVID-19 transformed the world and our lives, but it has also brought new perspectives about our social roles and appreciation of the value of nature, from the micro universes of our homes to the greatest open public spaces. 

In our suburban settings, our closest contact with nature often happens in our backyards. Those who recently discovered the wonders of growing their own food now know the joy of watching a little seed transform into an edible plant. The forced slowdown of our fast-paced lives has allowed us to pay attention to things in our gardens that we didn’t have the time to notice before. Watching pollinators, particularly bees and butterflies, offers a lot of fun and learning. 

Can you distinguish the difference between a bumblebee and a honeybee? Are you aware that black swallowtail and tiger swallowtail butterflies do not migrate in the winter? When you start to learn about the meaning of the phrase “host plants for pollinators,” you begin to open a treasure chest of knowledge about nature’s harmonious connections.

In all religions, nature is a symbol of God and reflects divine oneness and perfection. It is easy to be intrigued and amazed by nature. You can be agnostic but not indifferent to the beauty of a forest, gardens in bloom, or the flight of butterflies and birds. You may know the wonder of planting a few beans in July and harvesting their bounty in August. 

Maybe you have experienced the liberating energy of being at the top of a mountain or hill as a soft breeze touches your face. How about the calming and healing effect of hiking in the woods? Or listening to the cascading sound of a waterfall or free-flowing river?

In this time of uncertainty, stress, pain, mental suffering and social unrest, let’s use our gardens and open spaces to calm our anxieties so we can listen to our bodies and minds. Let’s be mindful, too, and contribute to the healing of our planet. Your contribution is important, even if you think it is small. Get out, observe your natural surroundings, and get the message. 

Absorb, as much as you can, the transformational and therapeutic effect of nature on human behavior. Think about the butterfly’s amazing metamorphosis, from a tiny egg to a caterpillar, from a caterpillar to a cocoon, then finally to a creature of astounding beauty.  

Think about the legacy you are leaving your children and grandchildren. They will inherit a wounded planet, and everything we can do to leave our planet home in better shape than we found it needs to be done now. 

Doing nothing to protect the environment will deprive the younger generation of a livable planet. Change your consumption habits, switch to renewable energy, plant trees and pollinator gardens, support local environmental organizations, and get out and see what the world has to offer. It is worth preserving.

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Brian Scott Campbell: Home & Garden | Freight + Volume – Artsy

Arts+Leisure is thrilled to announce Home & Garden, an exhibition of recent paintings and drawings by Brian Scott Campbell. Working within the bounds of a tightly defined, yet painterly and expressive visual style, the paintings on display radiate an inner mysticism and profound stillness. Seaside landscapes, country homes, and other bucolic scenes are simplified geometrically, and rendered in a muted palette of predominantly blue and gray hues. Hints of bare canvas appear through Campbell’s thin washes, emphasizing the paintings’ material nature and placing a categorical distance between the viewer and the work as an aesthetic object.
At once weathered and “hand-made”, with several pieces bearing the appearance of aged prints, the works in Home & Garden nonetheless bear a marked softness. In Dockers and For Robert, forms reduced to their simplest geometric foundations maintain a certain fuzziness, as if delineated with a finger rather than a brush. Straight lines seldom appear in Campbell’s work, lending paintings like Mid Summer a hazy, undulating quality accented by his translucent application of paint.
Campbell’s use of flashe, a vinyl based paint that dries in particularly thin layers, captures traces of his hand, preserving a complicated mesh of variable brushstrokes. On full display in Glen, densely clustered stippled brushwork alternates with long, fluid strokes, creating a parallel pictorial drama as different mark-making techniques refract off each other. In other works, Campbell manipulates the viscosity of his paint, creating alternately “wet” and “dry” passages.
As if hovering just beyond our grasp, the paintings in Home & Garden are enigmatic and nebulous, with their flat planes and thickly outlined objects suggestive of a secret ulterior meaning. Though lacking their nervous energy and horror vacui, or avoidance of empty spaces, Campbell’s paintings evoke both Outsider art, as well as referencing the grainy, roughly drawn work of Jean Dubuffet. In a collection of drawings exhibited along with the paintings, quick, energetic lines mark trees, homes, and other elements, offering a glimpse of the paintings stripped of their painterly heft. Set against the light, sparse drawings, Campbell’s extraordinary ability to conjure impressions of volume and weight is amplified, and it is indeed this duality of form and formlessness that is the crux of Home & Garden.

Brian Scott Campbell (b. 1983, Columbus, OH) received a BFA from Columbus College of Art and Design, OH and an MFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts, Rutgers University, NJ. Campbell has exhibited widely including shows at Stene Projects, Stockholm; Dutton, New York; Fredericks & Freiser, New York; Asya Geisberg Gallery, New York; Jeff Bailey Gallery, New York; Anna Zorina, New York; Metropolitan Art Society, Beirut (Curated by Suzanne Geiss Co. New York); Zevitas Marcus, Los Angeles; David Shelton Gallery, Houston; David Risley Gallery, Copenhagen; NADA New York and Untitled Miami Beach Art Fairs among others. His awards and residencies include Atlantic Center for the Arts Residency with artist Dana Schutz; The Macedonian Institute; a McColl Center for Visual Art Full Fellowship; a Vermont Studio Center Fellowship, the Artist in the Marketplace Program, Bronx Museum, New York. Campbell’s work has been reviewed in Modern Painters / Blouin ArtInfo; Whitehot Magazine; Los Angeles Times; Contemporary Art Review LA, The Huffington Post; Hyperallergic; Glasstire; i-D Magazine / Vice; and Art Viewer, amongst others. Campbell lives and works between Denton, Texas and Reykjavík, Iceland, and is Assistant Professor in Drawing and Painting at The College of Visual Arts and Design at The University of North Texas.

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Staten Island Home of the Week: ‘Storybook’ English-Tudor, Grasmere, $2.5M – SILive.com

This five-bedroom, three-bathroom custom-built home is “just 10 miles from Wall Street” at 78 Windermere Road, Grasmere.

78 Windermere Road, Grasmere

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It is priced at  $2,499,000  according to the listing on SILive.com.

78 Windermere Road, Grasmere

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“As you walk up the stone path to the house you are met by an English Garden right out of a magazine. The stone exterior was painstakingly restored to its original condition and the slate roof/copper gutters were recently replaced for a totally maintenance free exterior,” as listed.

78 Windermere Road, Grasmere

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The listing on Staten Island Multiple Listing Service at SIBOR.com states that the home’s kitchen features  “custom cherry wood cabinetry and granite countertops; the tumbled marble floor is beautiful and durable at the same time. The kitchen also includes  a Viking stove and commercial exhaust. There is also a Sub-Zero refrigerator and freezer.

78 Windermere Road, Grasmere

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“The dining room located across from the kitchen is the perfect area for the family to gather.There is also a large window overlooking the pool and stone patio,” according to the listing.

“Also included are private lake rights and a summer beach club located just 500 feet down the road at the only private freshwater lake on Staten Island,” as listed.

78 Windermere Road, Grasmere

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Andrew S. Porazzo/Connie Profaci Realty is the listing agent. (Courtesy Staten Island Board of Realtors)

78 Windermere Road, Grasmere

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78 Windermere Road, Grasmere

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78 Windermere Road, Grasmere

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78 Windermere Road, Grasmere

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Coming up: Home, garden and outdoor events – The Columbus Dispatch

The Columbus Dispatch

COMING UP

Coming up is a calendar of upcoming home, garden and outdoor events in the Columbus area. Send items at least two weeks in advance to bkover@dispatch.com

Declaring victory

What: Victory Gardens in the 21st century will teach the lessons of Victory Gardens to address current food and sustainability issues.

Where: Columbus Garden School online class

When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday

Details: $10; visit ColumbusGardenSchool.com to register

Planted by science

What: This Plant Science 101 class demystifies the perplexity of grown plants.

Where: Franklin Park Conservatory online class via Zoom

When: 6 p.m. Wednesday

Details: $25; instructor is master gardener Kimberly Kincaid; register at fpconservatory.org.

A cut above

What: Gain confidence in pruning with this tree-pruning workshop.

Where: Franklin Park Conservatory online class via Zoom

When: 10 a.m. Saturday

Details: $25, taught by master gardener Bill Johnson; register at fpconservatory.com.

Scrappy class

What: Learn to turn kitchen scraps and yard waste into nutritious garden compost in this Backyard Composting class

Where: Columbus Garden School online class

When: 1 p.m. Oct. 19

Details: $10; visit ColumbusGardenSchool.com to register

Steve Stephens

sstephens@dispatch.com

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Fine-tuning new Uconnect system in crisis had upside

When drivers start up the 2021 Chrysler Pacifica and Dodge Durango this fall, they’ll be introduced to the next-generation version of Fiat Chrysler Automobiles’ heralded Uconnect infotainment system.

The latest iteration, Uconnect 5, runs on an Android-based operating system and has processing speeds five times faster than those of its predecessor. It enables two Bluetooth phones to connect simultaneously, aiding those who carry multiple phones and allowing passengers to interact with the system in addition to the driver.

Getting the system ready in time for vehicle launches became a tougher task than expected after the coronavirus pandemic forced designers to rearrange their working conditions on the fly. And the experience could leave a lasting imprint on how designers go about their duties in the future.

The crew of about 30 employees had to finish tuning Uconnect 5, which was far along in its development, using standalone prototype units in home offices. The team usually operated with a few prototypes at FCA’s suburban Detroit headquarters but suddenly needed a few dozen with everyone separated.

Vince Galante, FCA’s chief designer of user experience, said he might keep a standalone unit at home from now on — even after he eventually goes back to working at the office.

“I get software updates once a week, for sure, sometimes twice a week,” he told Automotive News. “We get on calls and we talk about it, we look at it. We update, we tweak, we get a new software download and we’ve been doing that for six, seven months now.”

The design team has been making a lot “fine adjustments” such as ensuring that the selected screen colors work and that the contrast is right so everything is easy to read.

Response time is another key piece in making Uconnect 5 intuitive. This was evident in the system’s “card-based format” that allows users to personalize and simplify display screens. Users can group features into different screens to determine how and where each is displayed.

By touching one of the cards and holding it for a second, a user can move it into different positions on the screen. Getting the timing right required a delicate balance.

“We started off with, like, 2 seconds, and that just felt too long,” Galante recalled. “We went down to half a second; it was too quick. And so we’ve been doing little adjustments like that. Really fine-tuning to make sure that all those things [are] put in there to make it really easy to use, to make sure they’re working right, exactly how they should be. Those are some of the small adjustments we’re making, but they’re really, really important for when the customer is finally using it.”

As team members made changes, Galante would get texts alerting him to try it out on his prototype. He said this is the way they have to work. Speed is critical.

In fact, working that way might even be a little quicker in some aspects, Galante said. Relaying ideas, which may have required a presentation previously, can be as simple as zipping texts back and forth.

“It would have taken a little bit of time,” Galante said. “Now that we’re so used to this really iterative, quick communication, [I] just get a text. Before, they’d have to prepare something, and now it’s like, ‘No, no, he’s there, he’s available, let’s just ask.’ ”

While the home prototypes have been invaluable to refining the system, the true proving ground is the vehicle itself. Uconnect 5 appears to be passing that test with Galante’s children, ages 9 and 6.

The youngsters jumped in a Jeep Grand Cherokee equipped with the prototype unit and learned the system within a few seconds.

“I just put it in front of them, and they’re very curious. They were making pages and changing widgets and moving things around. I didn’t have to say a thing,” Galante said. “As soon as I saw that — I mean it was 30 seconds and they had their own screens built. I said to myself, ‘OK, I think we got something here.’ ”

Galante’s mother got in on the act, too, and was able to pick up on the intricacies of the system.

Working from home, he said, has yielded an unforeseen benefit.

“Designers, when you’re more comfortable, when you’re more in your element, it’s a little easier to be even more creative, come up with new ideas and do all those things,” he said. “A nice surprise of all this has been all of us designers are in our comfort zone. I’ve actually seen an explosion of creativity that I didn’t expect.”

It’s hip to be Rolls: Evolving brand brings in younger buyers

As Rolls-Royce’s lineup has expanded via new models and redesigns, the evolving British ultraluxury brand is attracting more and younger customers.

A stately sedan to be chauffeured in? Yes, Rolls-Royce still offers the flagship Phantom, a posh behemoth that costs about half a million dollars.

But the rest of Rolls-Royce’s lineup — the Ghost sedan, Wraith coupe, Dawn convertible and Cullinan crossover — not only increased the brand’s global sales in the past decade, it has sparked a generational shift, attracting super-rich millennials.

“That’s been the biggest change,” said Kelly Wolf, CEO of IndiGO Auto Group, which includes Rolls-Royce Rancho Mirage in California and Rolls-Royce North Houston. Customers now are “a little more youthful, a little more exciting.”

“The old kind of Grey Poupon stereotype is gone,” he said, referring to the mustard commercials from the 1980s which depicted two wealthy gentlemen, each riding in the back of a Rolls, with one asking the other whether he had that brand of dijon. “The new Rolls owner is driven, is edgy and typically is very successful. That works out good for us.”

Rolls-Royce’s average customer age has dropped to 43, the automaker said in August. It was 56 prior to 2010, when the Ghost joined the lineup and started the brand’s product push beyond the Phantom.

Rolls clients represent a broad mix, said Beau Rice, general manager at Hi Tech Motor Cars in Austin, Texas, which includes Rolls-Royce Austin. The buyer could be an attorney or physician, a venture capitalist or a professional athlete.

“I’m asked all the time, ‘Hey, what is your typical Rolls-Royce customer? What’s he or she look like?’ And my answer to that is they’re not typical. That’s what they look like,” said Wolf, who also is chairman of the Rolls-Royce dealer advisory board.

“They are unlike any other customer in our portfolio. It’s hard to put a stereotype around them. Their underlying similarities is they’re all very, very successful and very confident in what they do. But other than that, they’re truly unique individuals. That’s why they’re searching out such a brand.”

Karl Brauer, ISeeCars.com executive analyst, said Rolls introducing models that are clearly meant to be driven, as opposed to being used to chauffeur people, has been much more appealing to wealthy people younger than 50.

“There’s a spectrum between old, established and staid and young, vibrant and hip,” Brauer said. “They’ve absolutely moved the needle from the one side of that spectrum towards the other side, substantially.”

After the Ghost, the Wraith launched in 2013 and the Dawn debuted in 2015. Black Badge, Rolls-Royce’s performance and style subbrand, which is aimed at younger customers, launched in 2016.

The Phantom was redesigned in 2017, the Cullinan launched a year later and the redesigned 2021 Ghost will arrive at dealerships by year end. All three models are on the brand’s aluminum architecture.

While people in their 20s and 30s would not have considered a Rolls-Royce in the past, that’s changing. “With Black Badge, the new designs and all the technology inside the cars, it’s just attracting that younger demographic,” Wolf said.

One noticeable example of Rolls’ younger customers is 23-year-old celebrity Kylie Jenner. She’s shared photos of her bespoke Cullinan — it has a black exterior with a hot-pink interior — on her Instagram account, which has 197 million followers.

The impact of a growing lineup has been significant on Rolls’ sales. In 2009, the brand sold 1,002 vehicles globally. In 2019, that figure grew to 5,152, a surge of 25 percent over 2018’s results, driven largely by the Cullinan.

“Cullinan has done very well for us,” Rice said. “It’s been fantastic. It’s an exceptional car.”

The automaker doesn’t break down sales by region but has said that North America accounts for roughly one-third of its total. It has 37 dealerships in the U.S. and seven combined in Canada, Mexico, Brazil and Chile.

The Automotive News Data Center estimates U.S. Rolls-Royce sales at 916 through September, down 30 percent.

For the brand’s dealers, their mission is clear: Identify potential customers and make the crucial introduction to the storied brand.

“Once you’ve owned Rolls-Royce, there’s nothing like it,” Rice said. “There is not a car that has that level of detail, that level of craftsmanship, that sense of arrival and that sense of experience. But it’s getting people that haven’t been in that portfolio to understand it, to experience it sooner than maybe perhaps they planned.”

That can mean meeting in a social environment away from the dealership, such as a country club or at a restaurant rooftop, Rice said. That way the conversation can be focused on a passion, such as $400,000-and-up vehicles.

“It’s really just coming up with unique concepts, as far as places to host, with an idea in mind and what we want to share,” Rice said. “And coming up with a plan that wraps that all into something that is fun and that people are going to talk about. Maybe it’s not the actual participant that we speak to that ends up buying a vehicle, but they’re so excited about what they saw, what they heard and what they experienced, that they go and share that. It broadcasts that message out for us. That’s something you just can’t buy.”

IndiGO Auto Group was awarded the Rolls-Royce North Houston franchise in 2017. Wolf said he doesn’t think the retailer has even “scraped the surface as far as the potential in Houston.”

“While there’s plenty of wealth, it’s a much more conservative market,” Wolf said. “We have been working on teaching people how to own a Rolls-Royce. I know that sounds funny, but some people, regardless of their wealth, would not even consider a Rolls.

“But when you show them how to own a car, show them how to enjoy it and teach them — and I use the word ‘teach’ for lack of better word — how to enjoy their own success when it comes to this type of vehicle, it just takes a while.”

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Southern Gardening: Use Telstar dianthus for cool season color – The Commercial Dispatch

One of the attributes I look for when choosing annual color plants is how hardworking they will be in my home landscape.

While I know garden chores are an integral part of the landscape game, I like my garden and landscape to be relaxing. I don’t like to change out color every month. If you do, that’s fine, and you might not be interested in what I have to say next. But I personally like easy.

When we get into the cool season — and yes, we’re finally getting the cooler weather we’ve been waiting for since COVID struck — we have many choices for long-lasting, multiseason annual color. Planting now lets the plants develop a robust root system to sustain them almost all winter long.

A big root system helps plants look great, carry color all through the fall and still put on a beautiful and colorful display in the coming spring.

That’s why I love Telstar dianthus; it checks off all the boxes on my list.

The Telstar series of dianthus has great flower colors ranging from carmine rose, pink and purple to almost red. I really like the picotee selections, which have pretty bicolor flowers. Flower petals have a delicate serration on the margins.

Telstar dianthus has a uniform growing habit and only gets about 10 inches tall and wide. This makes it a perfect mass-planting choice, whether in a raised planting bed or container.

We are rapidly moving towards winter and its associated cold weather.

In my coastal Mississippi garden, freezing temperatures will damage any open Telstar flowers. And there’s always the possibility that the foliage may start to show purplish colors, which I like to tell fellow gardeners indicates that the plants are shivering. But this far south, the plants will recover and resume flowering.

In northern Mississippi, I think it would be easier to enjoy the fall flower display and simply replant in the spring.

The Telstar series is easy to grow and maintain. For best performance, always plant in the full sun in well-drained soil.

Dianthuses are susceptible to root disease problems and don’t like their feet wet. This is a concern in our cool, wet fall and winter seasons. For this reason, growing in containers is my preferred strategy, and these plants always look great in my self-watering containers.

Telstar dianthuses also make great partners in my cool-season combination containers. I really like to combine them with the spreading Cool Wave pansies.

These plants are moderate to heavy feeders all through their growing season. I always add some good, controlled-release fertilizer at transplanting, and then I supplement monthly with water-soluble fertilizer when watering.

You can encourage Telstar dianthus to produce more flowers by pinching them back a couple of inches after the first flower flush. This stimulates more lateral growth and more flowers.

If you are intrigued by this plant, head out to the garden centers early for the best choices. But, if they don’t have any Telstar dianthuses, you’re not out of luck because I’ve always found excellent, generic dianthus that will look great in your fall, winter and spring landscapes and gardens.

Gary Bachman is an Extension and research professor of horticulture at the Mississippi State University Coastal Research and Extension Center in Biloxi and hosts Southern Gardening television and radio programs. Contact him at [email protected]

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Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion still on market | Home and Garden – NNY360

PALM BEACH, Fla. — It’s located in one of the most envied and desirable towns in the world, and yet a seemingly well-priced 14,000-square-foot mansion for sale here is languishing, despite its six bedrooms, seven baths, a large swimming pool and frontage along the Intracoastal Waterway.

That mansion in Palm Beach belonged to the late, disgraced financier Jeffrey Epstein, and although it’s been for sale since early July there are apparently no takers so far. The price for the mansion with southern exposure and water views remains fixed at just a hair under $22 million.

It is one of at least three homes the Epstein estate is selling as part of the liquidation of his assets, including one on a private island in the Virgin Islands and one in Manhattan.

The Corcoran Group was tapped to offer the Palm Beach mansion for sale. Large homes in exotic locales can be a plum assignment, but this home’s sordid past would overshadow any curb appeal. Its Palm Beach listing agent, Kerry Warwick, declined a request to allow McClatchy and the Miami Herald to accompany her on a future showing. She also declined to discuss why the luxury property, just a mile from President Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago resort, where Epstein used to visit, is not selling.

“You can call our New York office,” she said.

At New York headquarters of the Corcoran Group there was also little desire to discuss sale of the mansion now infamous as one of the multiple places Epstein’s accusers say the mysterious, high-flying businessman with friends in high places abused them when they were minors. A Corcoran representative said there was nothing to add beyond what Warwick shared with The Wall Street Journal in July.

Epstein’s home is certainly not the first notorious South Florida mansion to hit the market. Gianni Versace’s Miami home on South Beach was sold after his headline-grabbing murder in 1997 and remains a curiosity for tourists to this day.

But that mansion is smack in the middle of a bustling hot spot for nightlife. Epstein’s Palm Beach home, associated with ghoulish events, sits at the end of a sedate tree-lined street where many occupants of nearby gated mansions are only there for the winter months.

A recent drive down El Brillo Way at nighttime, with the intent of checking if anyone was still occupying the Epstein residence, was eerie. Hardly a mansion on the street had inside lights on. The next morning, gardeners spread out and feverishly trimmed the tropical foliage along the otherwise empty street.

One factor weighing against sale of the gated Epstein mansion may be that it’s older and boxy, lacking the eccentricities of other homes on the block. It was designed by John Volk, a prominent architect in the 1950s whose name is synonymous with the development of Palm Beach.

With its westerly views of Tarpon and Everglades islands, the Epstein home has land value but lacks pizazz. It has a different feel than most of the Venetian and Mediterranean style mansions in the Estate Section of Palm Beach. Those European looks were the hallmark of Addison Mizner, among the most sought-after architects in America’s Gilded Era of the 1920s, whose thumbprint remains across South Florida.

In fact, Murray Gell-Mann, a Nobel-winning scientist befriended by Epstein, once described the Palm Beach residence to a friend as “ugly and unremarkable,” lacking any charm.

Epstein bought the Palm Beach mansion in September 1990 for $2.5 million, according to Palm Beach property records. In December 2011, Epstein transferred ownership rights on the home to an offshore company, filing paperwork that transferred the property to a shell company called Laurel Inc. that he’d established a month earlier in the U.S. Virgin Islands, his principle residence.

The Palm Beach mansion is being offered at nearly $20 million more than the original purchase price. And it’s still at a discount compared to similar homes in the area.

One of the few neighbors who was around in mid-September was in the middle of reconstruction of his entrance way that sits across from the Epstein mansion. Eduard de Guardiola, a retired Atlanta real estate executive who now buys and sells local mansions in Palm Beach County, said he didn’t know what sort of traffic the Epstein home was drawing because he had been away for much of the summer.

Not long after Epstein’s reported death by hanging in a Manhattan jail cell in August 2019, the gate outside of Epstein’s Palm Beach mansion was vandalized with red spray paint. De Guardiola hadn’t noticed any recent pickup of onlookers or curiosity seekers, and as a veteran of the rough-and-tumble world of real estate he did not expect the notoriety of the home to stall its eventual sale.

Proceeds of the eventual Palm Beach sale are expected to flow in part to the Epstein Victims Compensation Fund, which began operating in late June, independent of the Epstein estate. It is already receiving dozens of claims from victims using the nonjudicial process to stay out of the headlines while seeking compensation and closure for being sexually abused by Epstein, often when they were minors.

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