Retail

Sears continues to dismantle your childhood memories with sale of DieHard battery brand

Customers shop at Chicago's last remaining Sears store on May 3, 2018 in Chicago, Illinois. The store, which opened in 1938, closed in July 2018. Sears opened its first retail store in Chicago in 1925.

Photo by Getty Images

Do you remember the smell of freshly painted metal Kenmore appliances? Tiles floors with remnants of cardboard packaging stuck on the bottom corners of display racks? The sound of the mall's waterfall welcoming customers to the store's entrance?

Slowly but surely, financially-challenged Sears is selling off parts of your childhood. Left and right, the box box retailer has been closing stores. In 2017, Sears sold the Craftsman brand for $900 million to Stanley Black & Decker Inc. Now, the retailer has sold the DieHard car battery brand to Advance Auto Parts for $200 million.

"We are excited to acquire global ownership of an iconic American brand," said Tom Greco, president and CEO, Advance Auto Parts. "DieHard will help differentiate Advance, drive increased DIY customer traffic and build a unique value proposition for our Professional customers and Independent Carquest partners. DieHard has the highest brand awareness and regard of any automotive battery brand in North America and will enable Advance to build a leadership position within the critical battery category."

In 2005, Sears merged with K-Mart. K-Mart, once a staple of midsize towns across the U.S., is having its own difficulties and will be reduced to just over 50 locations by early 2020. As part of its efforts to become profitable, Sears will operate under 200 stores in the U.S. by early 2020.

Both companies are now subsidiaries of Transform Holdco LLC, a privately held company that is owned by ESL Investments, a hedge fund managed by Eddie Lampert who formerly has previously served as the director of AutoNation and AutoZone.

This isn't the total end of Die Hard at Sears. The company will still be able to sell the batteries at its stores. Advance Auto Parts will also sell the batteries at its 4,800 stores. Advance Auto Parts also granted Transform Holdco LLC the exclusive ability to have a royalty-free, perpetual license to develop, market, and sell DieHard branded products in non-automotive categories.

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The car incorporates modern and future Lexus design.

Photo courtesy of Lexus

Lexus is putting the pedal down. The company is working to accelerate the production of new models as its moves to diversify its lineup. Currently the brand offers five sedans, eight SUVs, and five coupes, with slightly less than half of those being hybrid variations of other vehicles on the roster.

By 2025, the luxury arm of Toyota will introduce 20 new or improved models, including more than 10 electrified models including battery electric vehicles (BEVs), plug-in hybrid electric vehicles (PHEVs), hybrid electric vehicles (HEVs), and other electric vehicles. The company is also is committed to making sportier versions of their more traditional vehicles.

Lexus aims to be a carbon neutral company throughout the lifecycle of its entire model lineup by 2050. To help achieve that goal, in March 2024 Lexus will open a new business and technical center that will allow various Lexus teams to more cohesively work together.

Lexus LF-Z Electrified: Exterior

Photo courtesy of Lexus

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The LF-Z Electrified concept car is a conceptual BEV that puts driving performance, styling, and technology today in one concept car package. The exterior of the mode furthers the Lexus design story, carrying with it many hallmarks of today's vehicle design while infusing new elements. Lines are clean, simple, and directional, drawing the eye forward and back toward simplified design at the face and rear.

It is driven via all four wheels, a technology called Direct4. Lexus says that the system has many advantages, "By controlling the front and rear drive wheels independently, the system can provide the appropriate drive system ...for each driving situation. The system controls the distribution of driving force through the seamless orchestration and calculation of accelerator pedal application and steering wheel operation, resulting in powerful acceleration and exhilarating cornering performance that aligns near-perfectly to the driver's will."

Engineers have given the car the "Lexus Driving Signature", a connected drive experience that made its debut in the refreshed 2021 Lexus IS. This new model is said to raise that driving style to new heights by "evolving the basic performance of the vehicle".

Lexus LF-Z Electrified: Interior

Photo courtesy of Lexus

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The BEV hides its battery longitudinally under the floor of the vehicle, attaching it to the chassis and adding rigidity. This, in addition to other design attributes is said to help mitigate vibrations and noises that tens to permeate the cabin.

Lexus designers have created the cockpit with open and minimalist design. Engineers have given the car futuristic tech that interacts with the driver by learning their behavioral traits and patterns. When it does that, the car's infotainment system will be able to offer proposed routes and other lifestyle choices. Mercedes-Benz's infotainment technology already does this.

A panoramic glass roof and simple, molded forms emphasize the car's connection with its environment, according to the automaker. Look closely at it all. Lexus says the design shown here suggests the direction of next-gen Lexus interior styling.

This concept includes numerous technologies already applied in luxury and mass market vehicles, including digital key, which allows phone-as-key technology and makes delivering packages to a vehicle easier. An E-Latch system extends and retracts door handles depending on when they are needed.

Reclining and massaging seats, a next-generation Mark Levinson audio system, and other features complete the Lexus concept car package.

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The 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe is not as fuel efficient as its counterparts.

Photo courtesy of Stellantis

Stellantis doesn't have many electrified vehicles in its U.S. portfolio. With the exception of the Chrysler Pacifica Hybrid, the closest thing that buyers could get to an electrified power plant up until this year was the mild-hybrid Ram engines. It doesn't help that they also have one of the least fuel efficient lineups out there as well.

The 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe is upon us. It's a plug-in hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV) that was said to allow for a Jeep-estimated 25 miles of all-electric range.

Jeep's estimates were off. Way off. Sixteen percent off. The 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe only has 21 miles of all-electric range, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the governing body over the testing of these figures. It is good for 49 MPGe and 20 mpg. With gasoline and electric power combined, the SUV's range on a tank is 370 miles.

2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe The 2021 Jeep Wrangler 4xe delivers more horsepower and torque than other Wranglers. Photo courtesy of Stellantis

The Jeep's powertrain consists of an electric motor, 17- kilowatt-hour battery, eight-speed automatic transmission, and turbocharged 2.0-liter four-cylinder engine working in unison. It delivers 375 horsepower and 470 pound-feet of torque, which is only bested by the new Wrangler 392, which comes with a V8 under the hood that offers 470 horsepower.

Adding insult to injury, it can't go as far as other Wranglers on a single tank as well. The new fuel economy figures make the Wrangler 4xe less fuel efficient than the 2021 Jeep Wrangler two-door and the 2021 Jeep Wrangler four-door. All the models come standard with four-wheel drive and have an available eight-speed automatic transmission.

When equipped with the eight-speed automatic transmission, two-door gets 22 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway according to EPA estimates when equipped with a similar 2.0-liter turbo-four setup. The four-door, when equipped with the same power plant, gets 21 mpg in the city and 24 mpg on the highway. Their fuel tanks give the two- and four-door Wranglers 402 and 385 miles of range, respectively.

The Wrangler 4xe also isn't as efficient as the company's V6-powrered Wranglers. Those deliver 21 mpg combined in either two- our four-door formats. Drivers get access to 285 horsepower and 260 pound-feet of torque in both.

What's more, the Wrangler 4xe is one of the priciest Wranglers you can buy. It has a starting MSRP of $47,995.

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