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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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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The Ford F-150 Lightning is the company’s first all-electric pickup truck

Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The day is finally here. Ford has just taken the wraps off its hotly anticipated F-150 Lightning full-size electric pickup truck. The electrified pickup will be the most powerful F-150 ever made, and will offer buyers a unique set of features thanks to its battery packs and electric powertrain.

The Lightning will come packing 563 horsepower and 773 pound-feet of torque, which will provide a zero to 60 mph time in the mid-four-second range and standard four-wheel drive. Ford is targeting a payload capacity of 2,000 pounds in standard-range models with 18-inch wheels and a max tow rating of 10,000 pound for models with an extended-range battery and Max Trailer Tow Package. All of that in a truck that will have a 300-mile driving range on a single charge, a giant frunk (front trunk), and the ability to act as a generator with enough juice to power a home.

Inside, the F-150 Lightning will feature a 15.5-inch center touchscreen running Ford's SYNC 4A infotainment software. Beyond the staples such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, the system is designed to adapt to driver behavior and can provide in-depth information on how the truck is performing at any given moment. Ford says that it will continue to improve the system and add new features via over-the-air (OTA) updates, which may prolong the new truck's lifecycle as new functions become available.

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning The F-150 Lightning is designed to be able to handle worksite tasks.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Compay

Ford says it tested the new truck in punishing conditions for towing capability, hot and cold temperature resistance, and for safety in collisions. The F-150 Lightning carries a liquid cooling system, and its battery is contained within a waterproof casing that sits inside a crash-absorption protector. The truck's powertrain layout is designed to manage heat distribution across the vehicle to allow it to perform in harsh temperatures.

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning There are a few differences between the interior of the Lightning and other F-150s, but not many.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

When it's time to charge, the Lightning will feature an exclusive 80-amp charge station that uses the truck's dual onboard chargers to replenish battery power more quickly at home. Ford says the system will allow the Lightning to add an average of 30 miles of range per charging hour, and notes that an extended-range version of the truck can charge completely from 15 percent battery in around eight hours. Out in the wild, the F-150 Lightning's infotainment system will help drivers plan their routes to reach charging stations while taking weather, traffic, and payload into consideration. The Lightning, like the Ford Mustang Mach-E before it, can take advantage of the FordPass network, which includes over 16,000 charging stations across the country.

2022 Ford F-150 Lightning The F-150 Lightning has the ability to tow 10,000 pounds.Photo courtesy of Ford Motor Company

The Ford F-150 Lightning will begin hitting dealers' lots in spring 2022. The truck will be offered in four trim levels and two battery options, and will be sold at Ford's 2,300-plus EV-certified dealers in the U.S. The Blue Oval will offer a commercial version of the Lightning with a starting price of $39,974 and the more comfortable mid-range XLT model will start at $52,974. Both prices are before any federal or state incentives are applied.

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