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Mid-Town Ford delivers first Fusion plug-in Hybrid

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The first Ford Fusion Energi plug-in hybrid sold in Manitoba is in Winnipeg entrepreneur Peter Johnson's driveway.

And it's particularly fitting that he's 'going electric'.

Johnson is the founding president of Indus Automation, a Winnipeg-based manufacturer and supplier of industrial, utility, OEM, electrical and control-system products and services. One of the company's most recent contracts is building the charging systems for New Flyer Industries' new fleet of electrically-powered buses.

"It's nice to be able to be more environmentally-friendly and leaving a smaller carbon footprint," said Johnson, who purchased his new car at Mid-Town Ford Sales. "I'm thrilled with my new model."

Johnson expects to drive to work and back five days a week in his new car.

Mid-Town sales rep Sam Melquist said the Fusion Energi, Ford's first plug-in hybrid, can go 30 kilometres on just electric power. And every time you step on the brake, you're recharging the battery.

"When you want to pick up speed - for passing, for instance - you just put your foot down on the gas pedal and the Fusion switches to gas mode," Melquist said.

A 110-volt recharging system comes with the Fusion Energi. When the battery is depleted or more power is required, the vehicle switches to a traditional gas-electric hybrid.

Melquist said the Fusion hybrid boast self-parking, blind-spot and cross-traffic alerts, a lane-keeping system and MyFord mobile features. The model seats five comfortably.

The new Fusion Energi starts at $46,299, including freight. "We have one more coming in and we're taking factory orders," Melquist said.

New Impala arrives at GM dealers

It may still be relatively early in 2013, but the new 2014 models are already beginning to appear.

General Motors' new Impala, which arrived in dealer showrooms in mid-April, is the second 2014 model (the new Kia Sorrento arrived in mid-March) to make its appearance locally.

The redesigned 2014 Impala has a new look with sculpted front end and a new Camaro-styled fascia. There are three engine options available, all with direct injection to slightly boost power and fuel economy: a 303-horsepower 3.6-litre V6, a 2.5-litre 195-hp four-cylinder and 2.4-litre 182-hp four-cylinder with eAssist.

Birchwood Chevrolet Buick GMC sales rep Karl Decksheimer said there are a number of new standard features with the 2014 Impala, including 10 air bags (earlier models had six), 18-inch wheels, premium cloth seats, 8-way power seats, a 4.2-inch colour infotainment display with USB port, Sirius XM satellite radio and Bluetooth connectivity.

The sedan is available in LS, LT and LTZ models. The base price for the LS model is $29,995 plus freight and pdi. Decksheimer aid Birchwood has received just one model so far.

Also relatively new for Buick dealers is the 2013 Buick Encore compact crossover, a new addition to the Buick line-up that arrived in showrooms in mid-February.

The new model is powered by a turbocharged 1.4-litre four-cylinder engine with an output of 140 hp and 148 lb-ft of torque. Ten airbags are standard, and available safety tech includes forward-collision alert, lane-departure warning, front and rear park assist, and a rear-view camera.

The Encore is the first Buick to use the Bose active-noise-cancellation system. The headliner and windshield have been acoustically treated, the doors are triple-sealed, and cavity-filling foam and other sound-absorbing materials are used inside and out.

"It's the usual Buick quiet technology," Decksheimer said, adding that the Encore comes in Comfort and Convenience, Leather and Premium versions. Birchwood currently has one Premium and three Comfort and Convenience models in stock.

Prices for the new Encore ranges from $28,500 to $38,300.

New sales staff at Porsche Centre

Porsche Centre Winnipeg is up and running as a stand-alone operation, with a full complement of sales reps and service technicians. The store used to share space in the Auto Haus building with Volkswagens.

Trip Sandhu, a veteran of five years in auto sales who joined the Auto Haus Volkswagen/Porsche sales team in 2010, said selling Porsches "is my dream job.

"I was the kid with the Porsche posters on my bedroom walls when I was growing up."

Like Sandhu, Esther Zacharias has been in auto sales for five years, mostly selling luxury European models. She said she came to Porsche Centre Winnipeg on March 20 because of the opportunity to combine sales with the finance duties.

"There is a customized approach to car sales here," Zacharias said. "I surpassed my sales targets for the first month that I have been here."

Daryn Chernick is the rookie on the team. The former business development consultant bought his first Porsche, a Porsche 911 Carrera S, last August and said he loved his new car so much that he wanted to represent the brand.

"I've always been an autosport enthusiast, and I'm excited to be representing the Porsche brand. I'm also happy to be working with this amazing team. Porsche Centre Winnipeg is a terrific company to work for."

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 26, 2013 E4

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