Maytag's New Neptune Sets Sail

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NEWTON, IOWA-- Maytag's second-generation Neptune washer went into production last month and should begin hitting store floors nationwide next week.

According to Brett Noser, Maytag's director of laundry product planning, the launch is part of a sweeping change in the company's laundry platforms that was carried out over the past 60 days.

Two new Neptunes replace the original 1997 model, which will be phased out by December. The updated front loaders boast improved styling in the guise of a curving, wave-like back panel that supplants knobs with an LCD touch screen or LED touch-button pad.

The latter, which will be in limited distribution through December, carries the same $999 suggested retail price point as its predecessor, while the touch-screen model will sell for $1,399.

The higher price tag brings with it Stain Brain, a trilingual onscreen information center that provides prewash tips and instructions as well as one-touch, preset wash cycles for 55 of the most common stains. Consumers can also program up to 24 of their own cycles.

In other news, Maytag has teamed up with the Department of Energy to sponsor a six-city country music tour touting the benefits of energy-efficient majaps. Other supporters include Best Buy and Procter & Gamble. The free concerts kick off Oct. 28 in Boston, site of a joint Maytag-DOE study of Neptune water and power usage.

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