As Robert posted below, TTAC is redoubling its efforts to get timely road tests by reaching out to the very manufacturers we lay into on a daily basis. But why, you might ask, would these giant firms feed the mouth that bites them?
The simple answer is that auto writers provide one single commodity to the manufacturers: credibility. With the rise of blogs and social media, consumers are seeking and finding the most credible sources for reviews without the industry’s traditional advertorial filter. This outsourcing of PR duties to reliably sycophantic writers and publications may prevent a certain number of negative reviews, but it also robs positive reviews of their power.
GM’s so-called “perception gap” illustrates this syndrome perfectly. The General regularly cites rave mainstream reviews as evidence of the superiority of certain models, while noting that these accolades have made little impact on the buying public. Instead of merely complaining about this phenomenon, isn’t GM even remotely curious as to why this happens? The obvious answer is that auto writers must earn the trust of their readers in order for the manufacturers to earn the trust of consumers.
Outlets which reject collusion or cozy relations with automakers may seem angry or biased in contrast with the puffy prose of old-line auto journalists, but at least they still offer the credibility that the manufacturers were seeking in the first place. As competitive as the market for cars is, isn’t it time for automakers to accept that courting real credibility inevitably carries risk?