Posts By: Frank Williams

By on September 2, 2009

Omnicom Group Inc.’s BBDO is Chrysler’s ad agency.  At least for now. The Wall Street Journal reports the ailing automaker “has grown dissatisfied with the agency’s creative output.” The semi-nationalized automaker’s looking elsewhere for someone who wants to take on the sisyphean task of convincing Americans they need to buy cars from a bankrupt automaker with stale inventory that’s owned by another automaker with the one of the worst reliability ratings on the globe. Of course, marketing being what it is, all that’s needed is a catchy slogan akin to Toyota’s “What a feeling,” VW’s “Think small,” or Chevy’s “Like a rock,” right? That’s where you come in. What slogan or catch phrase would convince you to buy a Chrysler product? “Most smartly different?” Or what?

By on September 1, 2009

Move over corn. There’s a new sheriff in Ethanol City and his name is Watermelon. Every year, famers leave about 800 million pounds of watermelons to rot; the fabled orbs simply weren’t perfect enough for persnickety melon buyers. According to Automotive Fleet, USDA scientists in Lane, Oklahoma are converting melon juice from the abandoned fruit into ethanol. Researchers have determined that a 20-pound watermelon can yield about 1.4 pounds of sugar, which can be converted into ethanol more easily than corn. Allegedly. Common Sense Agriculture, a small biofuels company in College Station, Texas, is developing an in-field, watermelon-to-ethanol conversion machine for next season. They don’t say how much ethanol the equipment will have to produce to offset the fuel used to get to the melons, make the conversion and transport the liquid back to base. Here’s hoping this doesn’t lead to any watermelon riots, as Fourth of July and Labor Day picnickers protest a shortage of their fruit of choice.

By on August 28, 2009

The Mazda3’s performance has always kept it a step ahead of the other economy cars on the market. However, as Mazda’s worked to differentiate their econobox from cookie-cutter Cobalts, Corollas and Civics visually, they’ve tweaked it from “different” to “borderline bizarre.” They say, “beauty is only skin deep, but ugly goes clean to the bones.” Has Mazda gone too far, or is the 2010 Mazda3s Sport still good enough underneath to make you overlook its sheet metal shortcomings?

By on July 31, 2009

The Alliance of Automobile Manufacturers’ Senior Director of Communications has informed TTAC via email that the CARS (AKA “Cash for Clunkers”) program has NOT been suspended. “All deals concluded before a suspension is announced (if that happens) will be honored,” promises Charles Territo. We’ve also heard that the President is urging Americans NOT to not buy a new car (i.e., go ahead and buy a car) under the program over the weekend.

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By on July 28, 2009

Rear view cameras are becoming commonplace on SUVs, CUVs and luxury cars. But only as part of very expensive option packages. If you prefer spending your money on things like groceries and house payments, or have an older vehicle, you’re pretty much out of luck. But not entirely. Peak (yes, the antifreeze people) offer the Peak Wireless Back-up Camera System. To see if it passes muster, I installed one on my 1999 Chevrolet Tahoe.

By on July 27, 2009

While Ford and GM consider building their mid- and full-size cars on a single platform, Toyota and Nissan are already doing it. The Avalon has been based on the Camry platform since its inception and now Nissan is giving us an Altima-based Maxima. The key to pulling this trick off successfully is differentiating the resultant cars visually and dynamically, and preferably aiming them at different market segments. Did Nissan succeed at this mission, or did they just give us an Altimus Maximus?

By on July 10, 2009

The House Appropriations Committee has passed a provision in the 2010 financial services spending bill that would require GM and Chrysler to work through state courts—instead of the federal bankruptcy court—to terminate dealerships. Rep. Steven LaTourette, R-Ohio, sponsored the amendment. Ignoring the fact that federal bankruptcy law trumps state bankruptcy law, LaTourette explained, “Car companies have used bankruptcy to run roughshod over state bankruptcy laws.” In reporting this, Automotive News made what has to be the understatement of the month, if not of the year: “GM opposes the House bill.”  Ya think???

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By on July 10, 2009

TTAC’s Lutzies are safe. When Bob Lutz announced his retirement from GM at the end of this year, automotive journalists openly wept at the prospect of losing an never-ending supply of quotes and sound bites. But now we can rejoice. He’s back. Automotive News reports that Maximum Bob has decided to “extend his career as vice chairman in charge of all ‘creative elements of products and customer relationships.’” What that means isn’t exactly clear but he’s supposed to work with design chief Ed Welburn “to guide all creative aspects of design.” The chiefs of all of GM’s brands, plus all corporate mouthpieces will report to Lutz, who in turn will report directly to CEO-for-now Fritz Henderson.

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By on July 8, 2009

The inmates are running the asylum today while our fearless leader takes the day off to celebrate the BIG FIVE-OH. We all wish Robert a very HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

By on July 3, 2009

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