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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Electric vehicles

Three new EVs we can't wait to see

The F-150 Lightning is just one of several new EVs we'll see soon.

Ford

With all the crazy news coming out of the auto industry this year, it'd be easy to believe that the rollout of new models is slowing to a snail's pace. The pandemic and ongoing microchip shortage have slowed vehicle production, to be sure, but they haven't put the brakes on automakers' push to roll out exciting new electric vehicles. In the next few months alone, we'll see several new electric trucks, cars, and SUVs hit the market, some of which will break new ground and help define their segments. We're on board with this trend 100 percent, and to help you get excited, we've rounded up a few of our favorites.

Here are the three upcoming electric vehicles we're most excited to see.

Ford F-150 Lightning

One of the world's best-selling and most popular vehicles is going electric. The Ford F-150 Lightning is set to arrive in 2022 with a fully electric powertrain, forward-looking technology, and a familiar style that will make any truck lover feel at home. We don't have full details on the truck, but Ford has shared some awe-inspiring performance numbers. The Lightning will offer around 563 horsepower and 775 pound-feet of torque, which should push the truck to 60 mph from a standstill in just four seconds. Payload capacity comes in at up to 2,000 pounds, and towing will reach 10,000 pounds for specific configurations.


Ford F-150 Lightning The Lightning will offer impressive capability in a familiar package.Ford


The Lightning's starting price will come in under $40,000, but don't get your hopes up about actually buying one for that amount. Ford says the entry-level Lightning is a commercial truck that will be a stripped-down work-ready vehicle, which likely means features like vinyl seats and far fewer of the desirable tech goodies that you'll want. To get the truck you and your family will want to drive, you'll need to spring for the XLT model, which starts just shy of $53,000. That's quite a bit more, but it is still a somewhat reasonable price to pay for what will surely be a capable electric pickup.

Mercedes-Benz EQS

The S-Class is a unique model in Mercedes-Benz's lineup. The car typically showcases the automaker's latest technologies and design techniques and offers a glimpse of the features that eventually trickle down to the rest of Mercedes' vehicles. Soon, we'll see the EQS, a fully electric flagship sedan that paves the way for the brand's other electrified offerings. The car will have a range of well over 400 miles on a charge, up to 516 horsepower, rear-axle steering, and breathtaking technology.


Mercedes-Benz EQS The EQS will usher in a new electric era at Mercedes.Mercedes-Benz


The EQS is expected to land sometime late in 2021 and will carry a price tag that matches its premium brand name and top-notch feature set. Pricing for the "entry-level" EQS 450+ will come in at around $100,000, while the top EQS 580 4MATIC will land well north of that number. Remember, though, that Mercedes offers a long list of ultra-desirable options for its cars, so you'll likely shell out more than the base price to get the features you want.

Hyundai Ioniq 5

The Hyundai Ioniq name is nothing new, but the way it will be seen in the automaker's lineup will change significantly going forward. Rather than being a model name within the Hyundai catalog, Ioniq will split off and become its own sub-brand, covering a line of electric vehicles of all types. The Ioniq 5 is the first such vehicle and will be offered in single- or dual-motor configurations that generate 225 or 320 horsepower. The car's futuristic design is attractive and features a pixelated look for the front-end, lighting features, and rear. Inside, the vehicle is clean but comforting and offers the features buyers expect in a family crossover.


Hyundai Ioniq 5 The Ioniq 5 is the first in what will be an entire line of new EVs from Hyundai.Hyundai


The Ioniq 5 should go on sale in late 2021 and is expected to cost between $40,000 and $50,000.

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Twelth-grader Vincent Piaskowski took top honors in the Stellantis competition.

Photo courtesy of Stellantis
Stellantis, formerly known in the U.S. as Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, has just wrapped its annual Drive for Design contest and has crowned three impressive winners. The contest gives high school students an opportunity to win prizes, meet influential member of Stellantis' vehicle design teams, and spend time at the College for Creative Studies.
  • First Place: Vincent Piaskowski, 12th grade from Michigan
  • Second Place: Rocco Morales, 10th grade from Michigan
  • Third Place: Alex Wang, 12th grade from California

Second place winner Tenth-grader Rocco Morales won second place.Photo courtesy of Stellantis

The winners submissions were impressive, but the prizes they won are pretty cool, too. First place took home a Wacom MobileStudio Pro 16, a Virtual Day of Design that includes a one-on-one portfolio review with Stellantis design leaders Ralph Gilles and Mark Trostle, and a scholarship for a four-week virtual summer program at the College for Creative Studies. Earning a second- or third-place price wasn't so bad, either. Those two got an Apple iPad Pro and Apple Pencil, a visit with Head of Ram Truck and Mopar Design, Mark Trostle, and the same four-week scholarship.

Before they could claim a prize, artists' submissions were scrutinized in four key areas, each evenly weighted in judging. Craftsmanship, design quality, illustration, and originality were all scored to find the winner. Looking at the top three entries, it's clear that the choice before the judges was a tough one.

Third place winner Twelth-grader Alex Wang took home third place.Photo courtesy of Stellantis

The winning submission was a concept called the Jeep Grand Teton. It's accompanied in the sketches by its own reconnaissance drone, and doesn't look all that far-fetched, as far as concept vehicles go. The second-place submission is called the Jeep Crazy Horse. It's quite a bit more "out there," and features a sliding battery unit to improve vehicle balance off road. Third place, while futuristic, looks to be a throwback to the vintage Jeep Forward Control pickups of decades past. Named the Adversary, the concept features solar cells, tent storage, and a unique cabover design.

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