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Vladimir Putin buys newest Kortezh limousine amid money laundering accusations

Recently, Russian President Vladimir Putin has been under fire over an alleged money laundering scandal. The Russian President is linked to a suspected $2 billion offshore bank transaction involving some of his associates. It was revealed by a set of confidential documents called the “Panama Papers” that Bank Rossiya was doing a billion-dollar operation in behalf of some of Putin’s associates.

The documents show how money of as much as $2 billion was channelled through the offshore accounts of some of the Russian president’s closest friends. Even if Putin was not part of the transactions, he is still under fire because of his association to these people.

However, it seems like the Russian president is in no way affected by these controversies. Or it would seem that just like the rest of us, Putin likes to do some shopping to relieve stress. Just recently, it was unveiled that the Russian president is to receive a new Kortezh limo from the first batch of Cortege cars according to Industry and Trade Minister Denis Maturov’s announcement.

Read the entire article Vladimir Putin buys newest Kortezh limousine amid money laundering accusations

Klassen is offering to convert the Rolls-Royce Cullinan into a long-wheelbase model

Once considered the most anticipated sports utility vehicle in the world, the Rolls-Royce Cullinan was the brand’s first SUV. Since it was launch, the ultra-luxurious SUV has been exceeding the Rolls-Royce sales expectations. Now, the Cullinan is made more opulent with a stretched wheelbase version as created by German company Klassen.

Tagged as the Rolls-Royce of SUVs, the Cullinan is meant to appeal to wealthy customers looking for a potent, ultra-luxurious yet highly practical SUV. But the people at Klassen know that ultra-rich people see luxurious mobility as being driven, not being behind the wheel. Thus, cabin space is of utmost importance to them, and luxurious cars with long wheelbase are heavily preferred. Klassen seeks to redefine the opulence of the Cullinan by creating a long-wheelbase version.

Klassen is not new to stretching high-end vehicles. In fact, creating long wheelbase models is its specialty. It has already created long wheelbase version of a number of luxury models, such as the Bentley Bentayga, Mercedes-Maybach S-Class, Mercedes G-Class and the Range Rover Autobiography. With the Rolls-Royce Cullinan tagged as an ultra-luxurious SUV, there is nothing that can prevent Klassen from giving this model a long-wheelbase makeover.

Read the entire article Klassen is offering to convert the Rolls-Royce Cullinan into a long-wheelbase model

Vladimir Putin’s 850 hp limo debuts at his inauguration

A week ago, we spoke of the Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s up-and-coming limo that was scheduled to make its debut during his inauguration. And we weren’t disappointed when the massive limo finally was presented. The limo is actually how we imagine a hybrid of a Mercedes-Benz S Class and a Rolls-Royce Phantom would be like.

Putin’s limo is referred to with the code name Kortezh or cortege in English (which directly means entourage or procession). The front fascia features a large chrome grille with vertical slats that accentuate the limo’s considerable size. It features rectangular headlights that evoke an image of the Chrysler 300. As you move onto the back, the rear glass flows back to a long tail, and the taillights look a lot like those on the S-Class.

Unsurprisingly, we don’t have much technical information about Putin’s limo, for obvious reasons. But according to sources, the limo uses a turbocharged V12 with 850 horsepower (634 kilowatts) that was achieved with assistance from Porsche engineering. The engine works with a Russian-designed nine speed automatic gearbox. Under the Kortezh’s skin, we expect an abundance of armour, communication, and security technology.

Read the entire article Vladimir Putin’s 850 hp limo debuts at his inauguration

Here’s what we know about Vladimir Putin’s new armored luxury limo

One thing that the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin will really need would be a vehicle that isn’t only comfortable, but one that will also protect him from the most brutal attacks. And that’s why his new luxury limousine had to go through a long development and testing period. And after many sessions of crash testing, Putin’s ride is finally ready to drive him around the country.

Denis Manturov, Russia’s trade minister, told national daily newspaper Russia Today, that the president’s new vehicle will be spotted in action at Putin’s presidential inauguration on May 7. There is no better way to form a new government and denounce your western rivals from a position of luxury and comfort.

Before the end of the month, Putin’s car is scheduled to be delivered to the Kremlin. The newly re-elected Russian premier is said to have been closely involved in the project, even finding the time to get out of the office and drive earlier versions of the vehicle.

Read the entire article Here’s what we know about Vladimir Putin’s new armored luxury limo

The BMW 7 Series is already highly sought after but nonetheless, the German marque is giving it a more exclusive variant for the Russian market, and they are calling it the 7 Series Individual Edition Black Ice. It’s only available on orders. The special edition features a ton of unique features inside and out, making it truly stand out from the rest.

The Black Ice name was derived from the model’s Frosty Black metallic finish. And it is not just your typical black paint. It has got a unique painting technology that gives it transformative properties. This is because the base metallic paint is coated with a special matte varnish. So under the right lighting, its 7 Series’ silhouette is amplified with its unique shine.

Apart from the distinct paint job, the BMW 7 Series was built with an aerodynamic M Sport package. This package has a double grille design, gloss black door handles, and a gloss black boot lid. To complete the exterior design, the Black Ice 7 Series now sits on a set of 20-inch BMW Individual V-spoke 649s with different sized tires, and of course, a body kit by M Sport. Other features that are already included on the standard edition are laser headlamps, parking assist with a remote control module, a 360-degree vision system, and an Executive Drive Pro package with roadway scanning.

Read the entire article Check out this BMW 7 Series Individual Black Ice Edition exclusive to Russia

The Volkswagen Atlas is yet to be sold in the US but it does look like the company is already preparing to expand its client base. As earlier reported, Volkswagen of America will be exporting the big SUV to Russia and will be using an exclusive 2.0 litre 4-cylinder diesel for its engine. This was revealed during the press interview at the Los Angeles Auto Show with Juergen Stackmann. When asked to comment whether the Atlas is going to be sold in Western Europe, Stackmann stated that the company has been eyeing Russia.

At the same event, Volkswagen’s head for Sales and Marketing also mentioned that they are considering other countries. But no other country has been specifically named afterwards. Instead, the Atlas will also be available in China beginning next year under the name Teramont. It is also believed that the Teramont will be slightly modified for its market. Considering this, Volkswagen has already confirmed that the particular model will be assembled locally in China and will not come from the US.

The Atlas was actually inspired by the CrossBlue concept three years before. Like this, it was created with Volkswagen’s MQB modular design platform. In fact, Audi A3 and Volkswagen Golf have been using the same platform as well. All these years, Volkswagen has picked out names that start with the letter T for its mid-size SUVs.

Read the entire article VW to export Atlas to Russia with exclusive 2.0 litre diesel engine

Tesla has been stirring up media attention lately with their upcoming Model 3 and upgraded Model S. But wait, there’s more. Tesla has been focused on increasing production. That’s well and good but recently though, there was plenty of buzz created about a soon-to-be-released one-off modified Model S that captured the interest of so many people in the industry.

We don’t blame them. The idea of a stretched XL Model S limousine sounds great to us. This limousine project is said to be inspired by environmental reasons rather than a commercial one. Actually, Tesla hasn’t yet released any comment about this independent undertaking.

Although if you ask us, there isn’t any downside to converting this electric-powered sedan into an environment-friendly limousine. Tesla would likely even be flattered with all the attention. California-based custom limousine builder Big Limos is presently up and about creating this one of a kind masterpiece.

Read the entire article California-based Big Limos is converting Tesla Model S into a limousine

Audi has always put their customers first and has prioritized their needs, whether the purpose is for safety or comfort. The brand is even known for sometimes giving in to what can be considered as bizarre requests. One such example is a European customer’s request for a king-sized version of the Audi A8 L. Yes, cars also go in the same sizes as beds but what’s interesting is why this particular customer wanted a larger Audi A8 L.

Of course, Audi conceded and created the six-door Audi A8 L Extended. The Audi A8 L Extended is Audi’s very first version of a king-sized sedan. With a length of 6.36 meters and weight of 2,418 kilograms, this six-seater king-sized sedan offers top-class comfort in every aspect.

It took almost a year for Audi’s engineers to develop this exceptionally long sedan. Most of the challenges came from safety and rigidity as well as the styling of its extra-large body. An Audi Space Frame design made of aluminum was used for the production model’s body, resulting to a low weight.

Read the entire article Audi introduces A8 L Extended one-off limousine

The British car manufacturer first unveiled their grand tourer, the Aston Martin DB9, during the 2003 Frankfurt Auto Show. The vehicle was actually made available both as a coupe and as Aston Martin DB9 Volante (which was a convertible). DB9 was the successor of the Aston Martin DB7 and was the very first model that was built in the British manufacturer’s Gaydon facility.

Aston Martin DB9 was designed by Henrik Fisker and is mainly made of aluminium except for the front bumpers and bonnet (which were composite). It was based on the DB7 with a more contemporary approach to the classic DB design elements and characteristics. The DB9 has a traditional Aston Martin grille and side strakes for simple and refined lines. The front portion of the car has no visible bumpers and does not have a separate nose cone. It is powered by a 6.0L V12 engine that can produce a maximum power of 444 horsepower. It has a top speed of 186 mph and can accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in a matter of 4.7 seconds.

Aston Martin’s DB9 has been around for more than 12 years and has gone through a lot of model year revisions to be able to cater to consumer needs. Now, the time has come for the DB9 to retire. But it does not have to end up in an old rusty junk yard. Cliché as it may sound, great things start from small beginnings, and so Russian coachbuilder Cardi is at the works of creating something great from the DB9.

Read the entire article Meet Russia’s Cardi 442 Concept - a reworked Aston Martin DB9

Renault has launched its new KAPTUR crossover, part of the new 10-model splurge that Groupe Renault’s president and chief executive Carlos Ghosn has announced for this year. These new 10 models are part of Ghosn’s plan to expand Renault’s reach beyond Europe, particularly in Russia.

Renault expects the introduction of the KAPTUR in the fast-growing SUV segment to help it secure its grip in the Russian and Eurasian Customs Union markets. KAPTUR should complete Renault’s SUV and crossover range in Russia alongside the Sandero Stepway, Duster and Koleos.

Laurens van den Acker, Vice President for Corporate Design at Groupe Renault, remarked during the presentation of the KAPTUR that the new SUV is a blend of the best in Renault’s stunning design while considering Russian needs for off-road abilities, versatility and travelling comfort.

Read the entire article Renault launches new KAPTUR crossover in Russia

Bentley has unveiled at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show the Mulsanne Grand Limousine by Mulliner. Longer (by around 1 meter) and taller (by around 79 mm) than the Bentley Mulsanne, the Mulsanne Grand Limousine by Mulliner is a representation of ultimate exclusivity, comfort, luxury, refinement and craftsmanship.

To match its augmented dimensions, the Mulsanne Grand Limousine by Mulliner comes with a fully engineered powertrain and transmission as well as a re-engineered chassis and suspension.

All Bentley vehicles are special, and Mulliner could even make them more extraordinary as it works to fulfill the requirements of the marque’s most discerning customers.

Read the entire article Mulsanne Grand Limousine by Mulliner unwrapped by Bentley at Geneva Motor Show

BMW will use kits delivered from its U.S. plant to boost production this summer of the X4 SUV in Russia with local partner Avtotor based in Kaliningrad. At this plant, BMW already assembles seven models from semi-knockdown kits. When interviewed by Automotive News Europe, a BMW spokesman said that these X4 SUVs built by Avtotor will only be available in Russia.

The spokesman also said that BMW group’s Spartanburg plant in the U.S. will ship the X4 assembly kits to Russia. BMW had recently announced that it had put off deciding on a plan to construct its own plant in Russia due to uncertainty from the financial crisis.

From the start of the year through April, new-car sales in Russia declined by 38% as customers now rarely make large purchases in an economy affected by Western sanctions, dropping oil prices, and a weakening currency.

Read the entire article BMW will assemble X4 SUVs in Russia from US-made kits

Daimler plans to build a car plant in Russia and will choose from three potential sites -- Saint Petersburg, Tatarstan's capital Kazan, or the central Russian region of Sverdlovsk, according to Russia Today. It’s expected that Daimler will make its decision next month. Brand sales in this country are rising despite the steep downturn in its market.

According to Yuri Spiridonov, the president of the Russian investment agency Invest in Russia, Daimler wants to begin construction of this plant at the end of 2015 and hopes to achieve full capacity by 2017. The report also revealed that Daimler will produce the S class, E class, GL, ML and A class at this plant.

Officially, Daimler has said that it has made no decisions yet on the issue of the local production of Mercedes-Benz passenger cars in Russia. A company spokeswoman told Automotive News Europe that the company is “continuously reviewing local production” and is looking at the growth in the market and sales prospects.

Read the entire article Daimler considers plant construction in Russia

General Motors has unveiled its strategy to offset the effects of the current crisis in Russia to its operations in the country. Its Opel division will exit Russia, shutting down its site in St. Petersburg by the end of 2015. Likewise, Chevrolet will scale back its presence in Russia, selling only “iconic” US-made models like the Corvette, Camaro and Tahoe.

GM will concentrate on selling premium Chevrolet and Cadillac vehicles in Russia. GM president Dan Ammann said in a statement that the change is part of the carmaker’s global strategy to ensure long-term sustainability in markets where it operates. He said that the decision avoids significant investment into a market that has “very challenging” long-term prospects.

Opel Group chief executive Karl-Thomas Neumann remarked they still expect a return to profitability next year and will stick to its long-term goals as defined in its DRIVE!2022 strategy. The carmaker expects to record up to around $600 million in net special charges -- including sales incentives, dealer restructuring, contract cancellations and severance-related costs -- primarily in the first quarter of 2015.

Read the entire article General Motors to pull Opel out from Russia

A current slump in the Russia auto market may delay by a year a target of Skoda to sell 1.5 million vehicles annually, sales chief Werner Eichhorn told Automotive News Europe. He said that Skoda still sees 2018 as the target year, adding that whether the carmaker achieves the goal a year later is not of vital importance.

He noted that profitable growth is crucial instead of buying market share. Carmakers sold 38 percent fewer vehicles in Russia in February to 128,298 units, and 32 percent fewer in the first two months of 2015 to 243,826, according to the Moscow-based Association of European Businesses said Tuesday. Skoda, meanwhile, sold 3 percent fewer vehicles in Russia to 10,743.

With this development, Eichhorn said the United Kingdom may well replace Russia this year as Skoda’s third-largest market, behind China and Germany. In 2014, Skoda posted a 3-percent drop in sales in Russia to less than 84,500 vehicles, but logged more than 14 percent jump to nearly 75,500 vehicles in the UK, according to industry data.

Read the entire article Russian crisis may delay Skoda’s 1.5 million annual sales by a year

Carmakers are finally seeing growth in Europe after years of slump, but remain cautious of the possible effect of the current situation in the Russian auto market. Opel chief executive Karl-Thomas Neumann quipped that Russian market – which used to be General Motors’ third largest in Europe -- is down and the carmaker plans to temporarily shut down its St. Petersburg site for eight weeks starting late March and into May.

GM has already trimmed output at the facility from two shift s in September 2014 to just one, as its Opel and Chevrolet units suffered from a huge drop in demand in Russia and from the depreciating ruble. Neumaan remarked during an event hosted by the Vauxhall brand that GM doesn’t think the situation in Europe will fundamentally change.

He noted that while there are European markets that are growing, there are other those that are “hugely disappointing,” citing the Russian market. On the other hand, Volkswagen top honcho Martin Winterkorn said that while he was optimistic about the growth prospects in Western Europe, the situation in Russia has rendered “made forecasting as a whole difficult.

Read the entire article Carmakers see Europe growth this year, but are wary of Russia

The current economic and currency crisis in Russia is not deterring Ford Motor’s product plans for the country. In fact, chief executive Mark Fields told German weekly business magazine Wirtschafts Woche that the carmaker plans to roll out six new models this year. He remarked that there are no bad times to introduce “a great new model,” even if the economic conditions are not very favorable.

The US carmaker has lowered its forecast for its Europe operations in 2015, citing the current economic and currency woes as major reasons for the update. Ford saw its vehicle sales in Russia drop 38 percent in 2014 to 65,966 units, while the whole auto industry logged a 10-percent fall, according to data from the Association of European Businesses.

Ford was not alone in blaming Russia, as other carmakers also suffered losses and cut their production in the country for the same reason. Earlier this month, Ford Chief Financial Officer Bob Shanks remarked that the company is taking a look at measures to cope with the Russian crisis.

Read the entire article Ford to launch six models in Russia this year despite crisis

General Motors will temporarily stop output at its St. Petersburg assembly site in Russia from mid-March to mid-May and is hiking product prices due to the weak Russian ruble that is eating its profits. The site is home to the Russian production of the Opel Astra and Chevrolet Cruze, according to the Automotive News Europe Guild to Assembly Plants in Europe.

The St. Petersburg site is the only plant that GM fully owns in Russia. GM also operates a joint-venture site in Russia with AvtoVAZ. GM has already raised prices for its vehicles sold in Russia due to the currency, a spokesman for GM Europe said. He, however, could not confirm a report by Kommersant that prices have surged an average of 20 percent in the last two months.

In 2014, GM saw its sales in Russia decline 26 percent to about 258,000 vehicles, according to data from the Association of European Business (AEB) – sharper than the 10-percent drop posted by the industry to 2.49 million.

Read the entire article GM to suspend St. Petersburg output as Russia ruble weakens

New car and light commercial vehicle sales in Russia are expected to drop 24 percent this year to 1.89 million vehicles, according to Joerg Schreiber, the chairman of the Association of European Businesses automobile manufacturers committee. Carmakers sold 2.49 million vehicles in Russia in 2014.

Schreiber remarked the decline last year eased in the last two months as consumers went out to purchase more expensive goods even while the local currency continued to drop. In fact, vehicles sales last year surged 2 percent to 270,600 vehicles, according to the industry group's data.

While AEB’s forecast represents a significant drop in auto sales, Nissan’s head in Russia Philippe Saillard said the figure was "slightly higher" than the level he expected. Likewise, Suzuki Motor said AEB’s forecast was "very optimistic, with its director for the country Koichi Takakura placing the figure at between 1.5 and 1.7 million units.

Read the entire article Vehicle sales in Russia seen to decline 24% to 1.89 million units this year

Carmakers remain confident of their business in Russia in the long term, despite a deteriorating economy that has led them to incur heavy losses. With a weakening local currency and lethargic vehicle sales, carmakers have no choice but post losses. "It's a bloodbath for everybody,” Renault-Nissan chief executive Carlos Ghosn was cited by Reuters as saying.

Some carmakers like General Motors, Audi, Renault-Nissan and Jaguar Land Rover decided to suspend to limit sales a time this month to offset losses brought by the depreciating ruble, which value has dropped over 40 percent against the dollar since Jan. 1.

Other carmakers like Ford and BMW hiked prices of their offerings as they bid to make up for surging losses. Ford has seen its sales dip 40 percent in the first 11 months of 2014 to 56,807 vehicles, as demand for the Ford Focus continues to drop.

Read the entire article Carmakers still believe in long-term viability of Russian market