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When BMW recently opened a store on Paris' Avenue George V, that was first and foremost a retail play that offers interaction with its cars. Audi has just opened Audi City, a metropolis cyberstore in London, and gone the other way: this is where you go to buy a car as if you were shopping in a Regent Street or Saville Row boutique, with some retail bits thrown in.

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BMW has opened a new "Brand Store" on Avenue George V in Paris, not just as a way to initiate tony walking traffic into the brand, but as a salvo in a "comprehensive programme" of luxury retail warfare. Said company CEO Ian Robertson, "We aim to be the benchmark in automotive retail."

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If you want to buy a new car, you go to a car dealership. If you want to buy a ridiculously expensive and luxurious cashmere sweater in any color imaginable, you go to Harrods. At least that's the way it once was, but these days the swanky London department store has been turning its front window display into an automotive showroom.

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Grand Opening of the Ferrari Pit Store store at Vulcano Buono – Click above for high-res image gallery

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2011 Aston Martin V12 Vantage Carbon Black – Click above for high-res image gallery

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click above for more images of the HiQ service center

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Ferrari's new global branding division, under the direction of former Red Bull lieutenant Dany Bahar, is planning to open no less than 40 new stores around the world over the next five years. The latest location just opened at Barcelona's El Prat International airport in Spain, soon to be joined by locations in Abu Dhabi and Moscow in the next few months, followed by Singapore, Macao and Honolulu next year. (Maybe Cleveland will get one soon! - JN)

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After the recent announcement from Tesla Motors about their plans to set up a network of company owned retail outlets to sell and service the Roadster and future models, some traditional franchised dealers responded in a negative way. First of all aside from issues like pensions and health care, the traditional franchise dealer system may well be the biggest problem that the domestic car makers have. The domestics have far too many dealers and state franchise laws make it difficult or impossible

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A new online sales site specializing in hybrid and electric is being launched by Rocket City Automotive Group. People will be able to buy and sell electrically driven vehicles through eEVoutlet.com. Similar to eBay, users will have to pay a listing fee to put their car on the site and can also pay extra for other features to make their car more visible. Sellers can add photos and a streaming video to their listings which can then also be added to eBay Motors, Auto Trader and other sites.

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Tesla Motors Chairman Elon Musk has a new post up on the company blog about the thinking behind the new Tesla stores. Martin Eberhard touched on the retail plans when we talked recently, and Elon goes more in depth. He describes the goal as a cross between an Apple Store, a Starbucks and a good kitchen.

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Ferruccio Lamborghini, as the story goes, approached Enzo Ferrari with ideas on how to improve his sportscars, but Enzo rebuffed him promptly. And so Lamborghini Autobomili SpA was born, hungry to beat Ferrari at its own game, and been trying to ever since.

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