Auto Brands Keep 'Em Coming at New York Show

Posted by Dale Buss on March 28, 2013 06:32 PM

Because the Tri-State market is so demographically broad, automakers load up their car haulers for the New York International Show and bring every conceivable type of new vehicle—from inexpensive fresh production models to concept cars that would demand seven-figure prices if they were available—in an effort to leave no segment of the local market unturned and to impress the hordes of journalists who've assembled in the world media capital.

Given that the U.S. auto-sales recovery continues to gain some steam, it's no surprise that this year's show at the Javits Center has attracted one of the most impressive hauls of automotive hardware to the New York show that's been seen in several years.

Here's a brand-by-brand account of some of what news media have been seeing as the show prepares to open to the public:

Honda got tongues wagging this week with, of all things, a vacuum cleaner. HondaVAC debutes in the Touring Elite version of the 2014 Honda Odyssey as the brand ups the ante in the rolling-living-room segment. The device was developed with Shop-Vac and is comprised of a powerful vacuum, replaceable filter and canister bag with nozzle accessories neatly integrated into a dedicated space on the driver's side bulkhead of the rear cargo area, Honda explained.Continue reading...

green shoots

New York Auto Show: Car Brands Race to Feed into Evolving Green Market

Posted by Dale Buss on March 28, 2013 05:29 PM

The stagnation of the U.S. market for all-electric vehicles has automakers thinking more creatively about how to address American consumers' desire for maximum fuel economy without attempting fruitlessly to guilt them into buying EVs.

The evidence of this trend has been abundant this week during the media previews at the New York International Auto Show, and news that the Obama administration is planning to get tougher on car emission standards, with "sweeping rules" expected from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency requiring cleaner gasoline and cars.

"I think green has gone mainstream" as automakers employ fuel-efficient technologies across their lineups, not just in electrified vehicles, Consumer Reports director of auto testing Jake Fisher told WWJ-TV in Detroit. "It doesn't matter what you get, you can get green in your car, whether or not it's a sports car or an SUV."

That's why, for example, Dodge is able to claim that the new 8-speed transmission in its 2014 Durango SUV qualifies as a "green" advance: It helps boost fuel economy of the nameplate by close to 10 percent, Reid Bigland, Dodge brand CEO, told the TV station.Continue reading...

automotive

GMC, Lexus Are Tops for Dealership Satisfaction

Posted by Dale Buss on March 15, 2013 04:43 PM

General Motors brands and Lexus were the big winners when J.D. Power & Associates announced its highly regarded annual awards for dealership-customer satisfaction based on its survey of thousands of American automotive consumers.

Three GM brands—led by GMC, and also including No. 3 Buick and No. 4 Chevrolet—placed in the top five in Power's prestigious designation. No. 2 Mini and No. 5 Volkswagen rounded out the top five. Three Chrysler Group brands—Jeep, Ram and Dodge—finished at the bottom.

In the luxury arena, Lexus once again won the day—for the fifth straight year—followed by yet another GM brand, Cadillac; Jaguar; Acura; and Infiniti. BMW and Mercedes-Benz placed below average, while Land Rover gained the most of any luxury brand from last year.Continue reading...

automotive

Ram's "God Farmer" Ad Isn't the Savior It's Cracked Up To Be

Posted by Abe Sauer on March 4, 2013 10:16 AM

And so God created spin.

Get ready for the coming announcements that Ram's much touted "God Made a Farmer" ad and subsequent "farmer" campaign led to sales success for the flagging brand. There is likely to be more pieces with headlines like this one: "Chrysler Ram's farmer strategy pays off." But don't be fooled. Ram's strategy has no more paid off than the ad's narrator, Paul Harvey, knew about farming. Continue reading...

Auto Makers Roll Out More New Brands as Recovery Continues

Posted by Dale Buss on February 27, 2013 05:24 PM

The question of adding brands has become a hot topic for auto companies these days as they revisit strategies from before the Great Recession. Fiat, Chrysler and Volkswagen are among car makers that have become bullish on new brands while General Motors, Ford, Toyota and Hyundai are among competitors that haven't moved in that direction.

It didn't seem that this would be an issue as recently as three years ago. GM famously shed Saturn, Saab, Hummer and Pontiac (a few years after killing Oldsmobile) as it shrank down for the 2009 bailout, while Ford finally deep-sixed Mercury after decades of keeping it on life support. Going lean with brand architecture, the thinking was, would be the future as automakers focused on globalizing product platforms and marketing to keep things simpler, more cost-efficient and, they argued, less confusing to consumers.

Though lately, some players have been throwing that logic out the window—seemingly to good effect.

Chrysler, for instance, spinned off Ram from Dodge, began adding Fiat to its brand stable in the U.S., created an SRT performance sub-brand and announced that, soon, Fiat will be bringing Alfa Romeo to the United States again. Meanwhile, it has been bulking up its other brands with new products, such as Jeep, which just announced that it is resurrecting the venerable Cherokee nameplate for 2014. Continue reading...

Toyota, Japanese Brands Keep U.S. Down in Consumer Reports' "Best Cars" Rank

Posted by Dale Buss on February 26, 2013 07:22 PM

The good news for Detroit's three automakers is that Chevrolet and GMC managed to get some of their new models recommended by the influential Consumer Reports. The bad news is that just about every other brand fielded by General Motors, Ford and Chrysler is still placed near the bottom in the magazine's new rankings of the best light vehicles on the market.

Just like every year, the new rankings—listed in the April 2013 issue of Consumer Reports—finds that Japanese brands, especially those made by Toyota, continue to dominate. Toyota landed three of the top seven spots, with Lexus as CR's best overall brand as well as Toyota at No. 4 and Scion at No. 7.

Subaru and Mazda finished second and third while Acura and Honda finished fifth and sixth. Audi led its German rivals to finish No. 8, followed by Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz to round out the top 10. Continue reading...

brandcameo

Lana Del Rey Croons for Jaguar, Latest in Auto-Branded Video Boom

Posted by Abe Sauer on February 21, 2013 12:28 PM

To paraphrase Don Draper: At last, a beautiful product placement Jaguar can truly own.

And own it they do when it comes to the latest music video for Lana Del Rey's new track "Burning Desire."

"I drive fast / Wind in my hair / I push you to the limits / Cause I just don't care," sings Del Rey. With her on a dark lonely stage and a Jaguar F-type on a sunny lonely highway, the video might be something Don Draper and team would have cooked up themselves.

It's been nearly a year since Jaguar was ambushed with its unflattering product placement on Mad Men, where Jaguar was party to prostitution and a failed suicide attempt. Jag's appearance in Del Rey's "Burning Desire" video is the latest step on the march to the upcoming debut of the branded film, "Desire," which the luxury automaker is commissioning from director Ridley Scott's production company.

Everything old is new again as auto companies from Mercedes to Dodge are embracing the exploding auto-branded content format... again. Continue reading...

social media watch

UPDATE: Chrysler Yanks Tasteless Dodge "Viper Rides Meteor" Video

Posted by Dale Buss on February 15, 2013 05:32 PM

Two strikes and you're in the hole. That's where Chrysler stands with social-media mistakes today after the company took down (as we suspected they might) a timely but insensitive promotional video on YouTube that was first noted by brandchannel Editor-in-Chief Shirley Brady.

The four-second video depicted a Dodge Viper that had been edited into a video to look like it was riding on the meteor that exploded over Russia's Ural Mountains today with the power of an atomic bomb, its sonic blasts shattering countless windows and injuring about 1,100 people.

Titled "Viper Rides Meteor" on the Chrysler Group's PR-managed Pentastar Video YouTube channel today, the short clip came with the description: "Yeah ... it's that fast. The SRT Viper outraces that meteor :)" Actually, the pricey sports car has a top speed of about 206 mph, Road and Track says. Russian authorities estimated that today's meteor was traveling at about 30,000 to 45,000 mph when it cracked up.

A Chrysler source told brandchannel that the company was still investigating how the tasteless video percolated through internal procedures to reach its public YouTube channel. It's not the first time Chrysler has been so embarrassed on social media, either. In 2011, what Chrysler said was a compromised Twitter account led to a vulgar tweet that read, "Whoa -- What? RT @chryslerautos: I find it ironic that Detroit is known as the #motorcity and yet no one here knows how to f------ drive."

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