The Truth About Cars » launch The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sun, 27 Jul 2014 14:03:49 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » launch Editorial: Chrysler Dodges Poison Pen Darts By Delaying Jeep Cherokee Launch Wed, 31 Jul 2013 16:03:21 +0000 F5B1A05901-450x298

Monday night at 5:43 PM, TTAC received this note from Chrysler PR

Due to unforeseen circumstances, the 2014 Jeep Cherokee and Dodge Durango short-lead media drive program – originally scheduled for August 4-14 in Seattle – is being postponed.  We deeply regret this late notice and apologize for disrupting your busy summer schedule.  We will get back to you as soon as possible regarding information for the media drives of the Cherokee and Durango, which we expect will take place in the first half of September.
For those of you that have already booked your flights to the program, your reservation will automatically be canceled by our travel company, BCD Travel. Should you have questions related to this, please feel free to contact me and/or the individuals noted below:

This is the first time in recent memory that a press launch has been cancelled outright, and the delay apparently stems from calibrating the much-hyped 9-speed automatic transmission that has so far been vaporware in the Dart. This follows announcements by Chrysler that Cherokee production would be delayed and units wouldn’t arrive at dealers until September, while other reports cited fit-and-finish issues as well as transmission problems as the reason for the delay.

Delaying the launch leaves Chrysler in an unfortunate position in terms of public perception (and certainly among the media), but frankly, they have good reason to do it. The Cherokee is a very important product for them; Jeep’s future in world markets, as well as North America, is riding in part on this car.

Chrysler is definitely cognizant of the fact that this car is controversial among certain members of the media. It is the revival of a storied nameplate but is seen to lack any continuity with the original XJ Cherokee. Despite the fact that the vast majority of consumers want a crossover and their needs are best served by them, the automotive press continues to regard crossovers with barely disguised disdain.

Between that and the highly polarizing styling and you have a recipe for a PR disaster should the Cherokee not be up to snuff in terms of QC or driving dynamics. There are certainly members of the press ready and willing to rip it a new one for failing to live up to their expectations, whether realistic or outlandish. Personally, I am very interested in this car. As the first major Jeep launch built of CUSW, and the first application of the 9-speed automatic, it will set the tone for Jeep’s performance as a future star (and profit center) of Chrysler and Fiat. The consequences of it flopping will be severe for Chrysler, and I was looking forward to getting some seat time in the Cherokee. Evidently, that will have to wait.

By delaying the launch (even at great expense) they are increasing their chances of getting good press for such an important car.The recent recall of the Grand Cherokee and the Liberty is also looming in the background at Auburn Hills, even if it doesn’t have a direct bearing on the Cherokee’s launch.   What I’m curious about is whether this apparent commitment to quality will extend past the launch of the Cherokee and into regular production and future launches. Any future delays or holdups with future product launches won’t exactly inspire confidence in Chrysler’s ability to launch high-quality vehicles in a timely manner. This is “Strike Two” after all.


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2013 Ford Mondeo Delayed Tue, 17 Jul 2012 17:48:29 +0000

The 2013 Ford Mondeo, aka our 2013 Fusion, was supposed to hit UK showrooms around this time, but the launch has been pushed back to September, so Ford can work out some quality-related bugs prior to its on-sale date.

AutoExpress spoke to a Ford representative in the UK, who told the publication that the Mondeo would be delayed so that Ford could “work through various issues to ensure a robust and high-quality launch”. Specifics weren’t given by Ford, but WhatCar, quoted another unnamed Ford spokesman as stating

‘We have a complex global vehicle programme, and we have to sort issues with the vehicle’s robustness and quality that would not be met with the original timings,’ he continued.

The European Mondeos are all sourced from Ford’s Genk, Belgium assembly plant. In the mean time, the tried-and-true current Mondeo will be produced to supply the market.

There’s been no indication that American-market Fusions will be afflicted with these sorts of problems (yet), but that doesn’t mean Ford hasn’t learned from the issues that affected the initial months of the Fiesta and Focus. Hopefully, they paid attention and learned from past transgressions. The importance of the Mondeo in Europe can’t be overstated, and a botched launch would be disastrous, perhaps more so than the DN101 Taurus kerfuffle was for North America.

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The “Slow Reveals” Need To Stop Fri, 24 Feb 2012 17:48:24 +0000

As a “glass-half-empty” kind of guy, I would need a minute to think about the most fascinating story I’ve ever written, but could easily tell you about the most infuriating. That dubious honor goes to the Facebook launch campaign for the 2012 Ford Explorer.

Starting in June of 2010, Ford released a series of “teaser images” of wilderness or other scenes with an Explorer barely visible. The process went on for roughly a month, and I was responsible for writing blog posts about the new images, which proved to be trying. By the time the 2012 Explorer launched, I was sick of hearing about it, and didn’t care whatsoever about any of the new technologies or improvements.

The Explorer is far from the only car to get this treatment; most notably, the Chevrolet Camaro and Scion FR-S/Subaru BRZ underwent this excruciatingly uninteresting method of endless concept cars and leaked details. Other vehicles, like the Dodge Dart get social media soft launches where little teaser photographs are dribbled out bit by bit.

The car companies feel that this builds buzz for the “brand”, but most importantly, it’s great for the auto bloggers. Every new photo or piece of information can generate a new post, which can generate an all-important “click” (see also: Top 10 lists, slideshows, reporting on social unrest and natural disasters). It’s a symbiotic relationship between the OEM and the media that’s unlikely to change, given the dysfunctional economics of blogging, that rewards speed, sensationalism and superficial content (which generate clicks) over the kind of slow, measured, in-depth work that the foundations of real in-depth journalism are built on. The kind of content that takes time and money to produce, bores many readers because it’s over 800 words long and often gets displaced in the article hierarchy because a new Toyonda Camcord Juicy Couture Special Edition was released and if we’re not first at re-hashing the press release and stock photos, we’ll be rendered irrelevant. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have a new Ferrari teaser photo to write about.


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And You Thought The Ford Focus Titanium Was Expensive Wed, 02 Nov 2011 16:49:06 +0000 Did you think $27k was a steep ask for a non-premium-brand compact car? How does a $40k Focus grab you? That’s a good four grand over what Nissan wants for a Leaf (and about $2k more than a loaded Leaf), and about $12k more than the Mitsubishi i (all before available tax credits). On the other hand, we don’t yet know if Ford can claim an EPA-certified range advantage over the Leaf (both Ford and Nissan initially claimed 100 miles, but the EPA dropped the Leaf to 73 miles). In any case, if you want the most expensive Focus ever built, or the first Blue Oval-badged plug-in, Ford’s started taking reservations online… but like any good insanely-expensive-for-what-it-is product, you need more than money to bring home an Electric Focus. Specifically, a little patience and an address in one of the following communities:

 Atlanta, Houston, Austin, Boston, Chicago, Denver, Detroit, Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, New York City, Orlando, Florida,Phoenix, Tucson, Portland (OR), Raleigh-Durham, Richmond, Virginia, Seattle, or Washington, D.C.

But only California and New York will get a Focus EV this year… the rest will be waiting until Q2 of next year. And the remainder of the US market could be waiting even longer, as Ford has not yet announced a full rollout date. But then, a little exclusivity never hurts when you get above the $40k price point.


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Under Forum Fire, Ford Reveals Limited Initial Focus EV Rollout Mon, 08 Aug 2011 20:42:26 +0000

You know it’s time to say “Toto, I don’t think we’re in traditional journalism any more” when fanboys get better access than industry rags. In a story picked up by Automotive News [sub], commenter whitgallman showed the auto media what can be done if you just send a few emails… as long as you make it clear that you are only interested in buying a car, not embarrassing the program. Because then, instead of languishing in some disinterested inbox, your emails actually draw a response, like this from David Finnegan, Electrified Vehicles Marketing Manager at Ford:

For the first few months of production, we will be concentrating on California and New York. Our dealers in those areas will be the first to have their retail orders scheduled and receive the Focus electric. We will be rolling out to the remainder of our initial markets starting in spring 2012.

Well, that was news to Automotive News [sub], which had been told (along with everyone else) that the Focus Electric was supposed to launch in “late 2011″ in 19 US markets. So what happens to Focus EV intenders in Chicago, Detroit and Seattle (among others)? Per AN [sub]:

As for the rest of the country’s markets, no word yet from Ford, so the best advice is to be patient.

Uh-huh. We’ll send some emails ourselves, but we aren’t holding our breath for Ford to admit that, say, buying the Focus EV wholesale from a supplier may not have been a great idea. Or that there are problems with the batteries (again, hypothetically). But there I go thinking like a “traditional journalist” again…

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After Much Hype, Fiesta Launch Falters Fri, 27 Aug 2010 20:04:31 +0000

We don’t just want it to be seen,” said Jeff Eggen, Ford’s car experiential marketing manager, speaking about the Fiesta’s appearance in “Diaries.” The idea is to “have a second element or a third element” rather than just a placement on a TV program, “where we can engage with the fans outside of the show with additional content

While AdAge raves over Ford’s “product placement plus” marketing scheme for the Fiesta, actual customers for the Mexican-built subcompact are starting to get testy. The Fiesta’s Facebook page is home to several customer complaints about slow delivery of Fiesta, and Ford has already sent out $50 Mastercard gift cards to waiting customers. But in the letter accompanying the gift cards, Ford blamed hurricanes for Fiesta delays… and it turns out there’s more to the story than that. The Freep reports that 6,000 Fiestas were delayed last week due what Ford’s Mark Fields calls “a part-quality issue.”

Fields reassures consumers that only 12 out of the 2,300 cars that were inspected were found to be lacking, and

We have addressed it, and vehicles are shipping from the plant. We don’t believe that, at this point, there are any vehicles in customers’ hands that have that issue

More importantly, he stresses that

The biggest delay was caused by Mother Nature

Ford’s received much attention for its marketing in the leadup to the Fiesta launch, and the good vibes are clearly here to stay in the advertising industry press. So we’ll be the one’s to say it: your marketing doesn’t mean squat if you can’t deliver cars to customers. Acts of nature suck and we’re certainly glad Ford delayed again rather than ship Fiestas with faulty parts, but the unsexy business of delivering to customers is just as important as building buzz. Without product (and not just the “vamped-out” contest prize model), the buzz has no purpose.

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Fisker Karma Production Delayed Until 2011 Tue, 29 Jun 2010 20:37:20 +0000

The Fisker Karma hybrid sedan may be debuting in about two days and counting, but what does a debut mean? According to the Detroit News, Fisker spokesfolks are already saying that

the “first few customers” will get Karma vehicles by the end of the year, with full production to start in the first three months of 2011.

In other words, we’re afew days away from a Potemkin launch, in order to keep the Department of Energy from looking like a misinformation peddler. The DOE said the Karma would be on sale this summer way back when it lent Fisker $530m. Whoops!

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Quote Of The Day: Sooner Or Later Edition Tue, 22 Jun 2010 17:27:01 +0000

We won’t be nationwide by end of 2011. By that time we expect to be shipping vehicles to Canada, Europe and several markets beyond those we’ve already announced.

[The nationwide launch date is] all still work in progress and will clearly be dependent on the ability of the production facility to ramp up as planned and all those kind of things. I’m not in a position to tell you by X-date we will be nationwide. I will tell you we’re heading towards national distribution and theres no question about it

Volt Communications Manager Rob Peterson (first quote) and GM Director of Volt Marketing Tony DiSalle (second quote) tell that the previous 2011 date for the nationwide rollout of the Chevy Volt isn’t going to happen. Meanwhile, if you’re in California, Michigan or Washington DC, your Volt should arrive by 2011. Be sure to tip your congressional representatives, folks! Luckily, though, this video proves that the Volt will be more than up to the challenge of eating the Nissan Leaf’s dust.

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2011 Volkswagen Jetta Image Embargo Busted Mon, 14 Jun 2010 19:51:35 +0000

Apparently these press images were embargoed until tomorrow… and yet here they are. But who, you might ask, would risk being boarded by Volkswagen commandos in order to deliver these images to the huddled masses, yearning for a a glimpse of the new blandness? Oh right, it says Auto Express on the picture. According to the embargo-running Brits, this is the first Jetta to be more than a Golf with a trunk: thanks to VW’s new modular architecture, the wheelbase has been extended for more rear-seat legroom. More details when Volkswagen is good and ready, likely sometime tomorrow.

2011Jetta 2011jetta1 2011Jetta2 Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail ]]> 49
Chevrolet Cruze’s “Flawless Launch” Delayed by Transmission Problems Thu, 12 Nov 2009 14:17:15 +0000 Cruze control. Or not.

When GM CEO Fritz Henderson promised Congress he would run the nationalized automaker with complete transparency, we knew he was full of shit. How could anyone expect New GM to do anything but lie, misdirect, prevaricate and obfuscate when the same Bozos that ran it into the ground were still large and in charge? Which GM dealers are canned? Which GM dealers have been resurrected? Why? Who is the GM executive (other than Fritz) who earns more than $500,000 per year—that the company refuses to name? What are the internal targets that GM says it’s meeting? Why did the company overestimate sales of some of its key models in its November press release? Why did Fritz and CFO Ray Young promise a 2010 GM IPO without the Chairman’s approval? And so on. To that list, add this from the AP: “But GM postponed the Cruze’s April build date about three months, said Mark Reuss, GM’s vice president of global vehicle engineering. The company, he said, wasn’t happy with the Cruze’s performance, especially with the six-automatic transmission. ‘No one was thrilled with where it shifted, how it shifted.’” Well that’s the first I’ve heard of that. And while it’s nice that GM is putting our money where it’s mouth is in its desire to ensure the Cruze’s “flawless launch,” what the hell happened? And why wasn’t anyone fired for it? Oh right, GM.

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