Category: Sign of the Times
The de-Ramification of the Dodge brand took another important step today, as Dodge previewed its new Ram-free logo. Similarly, the new 2011 Durango (on which the updated logo appears) has also had the Ram taken out of its Rama-lama-dingdong… er, technical underpinnings. Once a big BOF bruiser, the Durango has had a unibody makeover along the lines of Ford’s Explorer, making 2010 the year of the Cross-retro-ver. But will the old SUV brands remain relevant after becoming poster boys for automotive and cultural excess back when gas prices spiked? More importantly, does anyone actually like the new Dodge badge?
Does a passport with an RFID chip freak you out? Not if you don’t carry your passport on you. How about RFID-equipped drivers’ licenses? Well, stick the license in a shield and nobody will be the wiser. Never heard of RFID? It’s a chip that needs no power. It sends out a number that identifies you. Think of a barcode on your forehead. How about RFID equipped cars? Read More >
When I was a young and budding Creative Director on the Volkswagen account (some time in the wild 70s,) I was told that there is only space for 10 automakers on this planet. In 2008, Marchinonne said there is room for 6. Now, the odds are there is Lebensraum for 3 to 5 automakers, depending on who you ask.
The prophets don’t seem to look around when they say that. The annual OICA list of the world’s largest automakers has 50 positions. In China alone are anywhere between 60 and 120 automakers, nobody seems to have a definitive number. Since I was a young and budding Creative Director on Volkswagen 30 years ago, the number of carmarkers worldwide has risen dramatically. It looks like the minute a country turns from a “developing country” into an “emerging country” (whatever that may be,) they want at least one of their own automakers. Even Iran has a couple of sizable automakers, they aren’t on the OICA list, and it’s not for a lack of units made.
If it would be true that one needs annual output in excess of 5m cars to survive, then our choices would be limited to Toyota, GM, and Volkswagen. Reality looks different.
The motorized mass mortality doesn’t seem to happen, and it won’t happen anytime soon. Read More >
Japan’s Internal Affairs Ministry has bad news for Japan’s automakers: Japanese citizens are dumping their cars and take the train. Domestic car ownership has declined for the first time since 1964, with declines particularly pronounced in big cities, report The Nikkei [sub]: “Less-status-conscious city residents are abandoning cars for public transit.” Read More >
Car & Driver’s endearingly awkward Editor-in-Chief Eddie Alterman took to the interwebs today, with a “viral-style” video imploring enthusiasts to “save the manuals.” And though Alterman can’t help but sell the faux-sincerity, the message is brain-hurtingly mangled by his attempt to be the Old Spice Guy of the car world.
Read More >
Drivers tooling around East College Avenue that runs past the Penn State campus showed symptoms of distracted driving after an encounter with an electronic road sign. It flashed the common “Stay Safe PA,” followed by a highly uncommon “Check for Smegma.”
A lot has changed since 1978… and not all of it for the better. One undeniable trend: young folks just aren’t that into the cars anymore. Automotive News [sub] takes on this, the greatest challenge facing automotive marketers in a lengthy piece that asks
Is digital revolution driving decline in U.S. car culture?
The implicit answer: yes. As a member of the generation that will doubtless be blamed for the decline of the auto industry for decades to come, I think the root causes of Millennial carlessness are a bit more complicated than mere progress in digital technology. And though the causes may be complex, the reality couldn’t be more clear. Want to know how this dynamic plays out? Take a look at Japan. If the car industry doesn’t find a way to re-associate its products with more positive connotations than debt, traffic, commuting and pollution, it’s going to face an increasingly tough slog as the Millennial generation comes into its own.
At this risk of stating the supremely obvious, we’re not enjoying a lighter-than-usual workload today in order to remember cars. The sacrifices of America’s warriors are the reason for remembrance today, as we reflect on the wrenching experiences that allow our flawed-but-wonderful experiment in democracy and capitalism to persist. But memory is a funny thing. Once you start looking back at through the jumbled scrapbook of past experience, unexpected artifacts come looming out of the fog.
My earliest memories of America at war, during Operations Desert Shield and Desert Storm, remain strong: the yellow ribbons sprouting up like weeds, the menacing strangeness of terms like “Scud Missile,” the wail of Israeli air raid sirens broadcast into my family’s bastion of suburban privilege. Still a young child at the time, these memories mark a growing awareness of the world around me, and yet the memories that feature most prominently in my mind from that period are the comfortingly familiar ones. The smell of pine trees baking in the hot sun at summer camp. The taste of blackberries. The creak of swing axles, and the bucolic brumm of a straight six as the old yellow Ford pickup made its sedate progress towards the dump. Straddling the Hurst shifter and leaning into the curves, goading Dad to make the poor thing backfire while my sister and I screamed in delight.
To this day, nothing in this world reminds me of that or any other period of my life the way sitting in “Old Yellow” does, inhaling the smells of gas and manure, and absorbing every squeak and grumble. It’s a rolling memory machine, a warp-speed express to a world where war was a foreign presence, an atavism of history intruding on our perfect future. Somewhere in everyone’s past there’s a time and place that we can remember only in innocence. If we’re truly lucky, there’s still a vehicle that can take us there. What’s yours?
We love us some data here at TTAC, and since we’re already looking at a grip of sales data today, we thought we’d add this excellent infographic that appeared in Sunday’s New York Times to the mix. It depicts America’s per-capita miles driven on the x-axis, and the price of gasoline on the y-axis, and shows that the two aren’t as inextricably linked as some might have thought. As we try to make sense of monthly sales data and look for “the new normal,” this kind of data provides a crucial context for month-by-month trends. We hope you find it as enjoyable and illuminating as we did.
Toyota is still smarting from a heavy decking it has received from Congress, the NHTSA, lawyers, and the press. Toyota’s answer? Let’s get SMART! Read More >
The V6 wars may show no signs of stopping. However, Ford is quietly making contingency plans for a future conflict: The war of the four-bangers. Start hoarding your big bore brutes and head for the hills. Ford may want to take them away.
Ford will use the upcoming SAE World Congress, to be held from April 13-15 in Detroit, to showcase its engine-building prowess. Ford will demonstrate to the world’s most eminent confab of piston-heads that there is a replacement for displacement. Read More >
A few days ago, we reported that Toyota had caved in to demands of the Commerce Bureau and the Consumer Protection Committee of China’s Zhejiang Province. Under the agreement, Toyota will reimburse Zhejiang customers for losses sustained from the RAV4 recall. Toyota will send people to pick up and deliver the affected vehicles, and will provide a loaner while the car is in the shop. The whole thing was started by New York’s AG Andrew Cuomo who strong-armed Toyota into supplying similar services to recall-affected residents of the Empire State. The Zhejiang-accord had The Nikkei [sub] worried: “Such an agreement could lead to demands for similar deals from customers in not only other provinces, but also other countries.” It didn’t take long. Read More >
The city of Guiyang, in China’s southern Guizhou province, decided to crack down on drivers who flaunt the law. Guiyang’s Channel Five TV thought it’s a good idea to do a Chinese COPS-type reality show, called “Rule of Law Frontline.” A cat fight of epic proportions brought the program national attention. Read More >