Even though I’ve never been in a Austin/MG Maestro, I feel fairly confident in stating that the Rover Group’s little front-drive compact was unexciting at best. Still, the advertising folks must have though (after 11 rounds of Singapore Slings down at the pub) we can make it look cute and sexy! Read More >
Category: Sales and Marketing
I remember the look on my father’s face when I explained to him that I would be selling cars. It was the look any of someone who has just heard the details of a grisly murder; a bit of curiosity, quickly overtaken by disdain. He sank into his chair. “It’s a job,” he grunted, and I realized that was as strong an endorsement for my new job as I was going to get. Truth be told, I felt about the same.
There are days when I wish industry analysts and auto industry journalists should be required to carry maltreatment insurance. This is one of those days. Bloomberg reports that “Volkswagen AG will probably become the world’s biggest carmaker this year, vaulting past Toyota Motor and General Motors on gains in emerging markets.” Pure and unadulterated nonsense. Read More >
The idea that environmentalists in this country are waging a “War On Cars” has gained some currency within the right wing in recent years, fueled by the Obama Administration’s increased emphasis on public transportation and cycling. Of course, statistically speaking, the car is proving more than capable of defending itself, as sales and ownership levels remain improbably robust (in per-capita and per-GDP terms) despite the recent “Carmageddon.” But GM waded into the fray anyway, running the anti-cycling ad seen above in several campus publications (via bikeportland.org), likely in hopes of fighting against the kuruma banare phenomenon that began with Japanese youth abandoning cars and has progressed to a full-blown national love affair with bicycles. But cyclists are a passionate bunch, and GM’s ill-advised ad prompted a torrent of Twitter protests (see for yourself), eventually causing the automaker to apologize and pull the ad.
I like to tout myself as the youngest full-time auto writer in the industry, but sometimes it backfires – like when an Acura exec came up to me on my first press trip (at 19 years old) and warmly told a few assembled journalists and PR types that he hadn’t seen me since I was this big.
On the other hand, my youth gave me particular insight into two products that launched within the last month, and are aimed squarely at my demographic – the Hyundai Veloster and the Chevrolet Sonic. Both cars launched at the 2011 North American International Auto Show, though their reception couldn’t have been more different.
Today, my phone rang repeatedly, and my email inbox quickly filled with questions. They all said: “Did you see this? Do you know these people?”
I knew the guy in the picture. I used to be married into a family that was in the Washington Green book. I lived in Virginia two driveways from Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello. I was surrounded by gentleman farmers and politicos. Jeez, the late Ambassador Fritz Nolting drove into my pool on a riding mower with a cocktail in one hand and a cigar in the other. Talk about distracted driving.
The right man in the picture wanted to be Governor of Virginia. He still does. The left man wants to be a tycoon.
The man who leans over that sign somewhere in the godforsaken desert of Inner Mongolia, China, is Terence “Terry” McAuliffe. Yes, the very same Terry McAuliffe who was a Democratic National Committee head and a close Bill Clinton adviser who, according to a United States Senate document organized the famous coffees and sleepovers that saved Bill Clinton from electoral annihilation.
According to one source, “McAuliffe’s soft money strategy was responsible for President Clinton’s 1996 scandal concerning the Lincoln Bedroom sleepovers and the White House coffees, two tactics employed to solicit huge donations from wealthy friends and patrons of the Clintons.”
Putting the Lincoln Bedroom up for sale for $100,000 a night (on average) was only a minor scandal compared to what was called “Chinagate.”
Al Gore, friend and beneficiary of Buddhist monks, praised McAuliffe as ”the greatest fund-raiser in the history of the universe.” Coming from Gore, that’s the best endorsement one can get.
Yes, you are looking at THAT Terry McAuliffe.
Yes, it’s the same and he is back in China, and back in the fundraising business. This time, he promises to bring 300,000 cars to China. Made in America by Americans. Assembled in China. In that new factory which is going up behind the two gentlemen.
Wait, there is more. A lot more. Read More >
Mark Modica, a former Saturn dealer GM bondholder, has leveraged his financial loss at the hands of the government bailout into a blogging position at the National Legal and Policy Center, a conservative nonprofit that “promotes ethics in public life through research, investigation, education and legal action.” At the NLPC, Modica focuses on what he believes to be corruption surrounding the auto bailout, and has written a series of anti-GM posts that make TTAC look like a Detroit hometown newspaper (TTAC “bias police,” take note). Most recently, Modica has caught the attention of the auto media, including Automobile Magazine and Jalopnik, with a series of posts accusing Chevy dealers of “scamming” taxpayers by claiming the Volt’s $7,500 tax credit and then selling Volts as used cars. TTAC welcomes anyone seeking to cast more light on the bailout, but unfortunately, Modica’s attacks are too focused on making GM look bad and not focused enough on providing relevant information to the American people. Let’s take a look and see why…
While the political battle lines over increasing CAFE standards are being drawn in Washington, with the industry taking on both environmentalists and itself, a line of analysis that’s been around since 2009 is exacerbating the industry’s internal divisions over the impact of CAFE increases. A two-year-old University of Michigan study has been exhumed and expanded upon in a new CitiGroup report which makes a bold claim: CAFE will actually improve both sales and profits for the industry. And with Detroit taking the lead in resisting CAFE increases, one might think that the industry’s “turncoats” like Toyota and Hyundai, who have made marketing-led decisions to support CAFE increases, would be the main beneficiaries of these reports. Not so. According to this battle-line-confounding analysis, the biggest beneficiary of CAFE increases will be… Detroit. Madness you say? You may well be right…
The combined market share of GM and Ford will reach 40% of the US market by the end of 2015. Yes, you just read that correctly. That’s a full five percent more share than what they have today, or a gain of just one percent a year. Call me crazy… but recall that Farago and I called the GM bankruptcy way before most industry observers (and certainly before the BoD of Old GM) could see it coming. Long time TTAC readers will also remember my call to buy Ford’s stock in April 2009 when it was trading in the three buck range. So calm those gut-reactions for a few minutes and let’s walk through this.
For years now the Chinese automakers have been the bête noir of the global car industry, inspiring equal parts fear and contempt in boardrooms and editorial meetings from Detroit to Stuttgart. In an industry built on scale, China’s huge population and rapid growth can not be ignored as one scans the horizon for dark horse competitors. And yet no Chinese automaker has yet been able to get even a firm toehold in the market China recently passed as the world’s largest: the United States.
Certainly many have tried, as the last decade is littered with companies who have tried to import Chinese vehicles, only to go out of business or radically rethink their strategy (think Zap for the former and Miles/CODA for the latter). Others, like BYD (or India’s Mahindra), have teased America endlessly with big promises of low costs and high efficiency, only to delay launch dates endlessly. In short, a huge gulf has emerged between overblown fears of developing world (particularly Chinese) auto imports and the ability of Chinese automakers to actually deliver anything. No wonder then, that we found what appears to be the first legitimate attempt at importing Chinese cars to the US quite by accident…