Here’s a quick example of Gen Y marketing done right, but this isn’t so much to do with the product.
It hasn’t gotten nearly as much attention as the handful of early production Tata Nanos that caught fire, or the Ferrari 458 recall, also for fire safety issues, or the newly expanded investigation into Jeep Wranglers burning, and certainly not nearly the attention given the near non-event with that one crash tested Chevy Volt, but BMW appears to have a corporate wide fire problem with turbocharged models that has now resulted in recalls of BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce vehicles. (Read More…)
We have at least two dandies on staff who make Beau Brummel look like Christian Audiger, what with their Zegna blazers and tailored shirts and handmade shoes and watches that aren’t also calculators. In the ordinary course of things, I leave it in their capable, well-manicured hands to wax eloquent on the concept of style.
As far as I’m concerned, clothes are just something which keep me from
(b) being arrested.
However, even with such a clear disclaimer to my limited scope where fashion is concerned, I feel it necessary to point out at least one simple rule: if you walk around all day wearing a baseball hat turned around backwards, you’ll look like an idiot. Or Fred Durst.
Wait, that’s redundant. (Read More…)
A decade ago, MINI launched in the United States, at a time when gas was cheap and small cars were decidedly not in vogue. The original Cooper has given birth to the Clubman, Countryman, Coupe and Roadster, in a brilliant display of making many lengths of sausage from one pile of meat.
Canadians already bought the Honda Civic in droves, so it would make sense that another unloved car, the Fiat 500, would do well in a country that favors smaller, more European vehicles, right? Sort of.
My two weeks in Europe has drawn to a close, and I’m back at my familiar desk, in front of my familiar computer, catching up on all the automotive happenings I missed, contemplating my transition out of TTAC’s day-to-day leadership, and reflecting on all I saw over my whirlwind two weeks. And though you haven’t heard from me much in the last two weeks, rest assured that I have not forgotten TTAC, nor have I missed any opportunities to accumulate impressions from the automotive landscape of modern Europe.
Under Penske management, the Smart minicar brand sold fewer than 6,000 vehicles last year, capping a sales decline that led Mercedes to take back management duties for the brand. And, according to the new folks in charge of Smart, there’s only one real problem with the brand: awareness. Or, more precisely, lack thereof. We’ve heard this song before from Smart’s new GM, but now Ernst Lieb, boss of Mercedes U.S.A., is picking up the tune, telling Automotive News [sub] that
With the marketing activities that we’re going to have, we’ll see some positive momentum. The biggest problem the car has right now: Nobody knows it.
Which, of course, is nonsense. Nonsense that allows you to appear aware of the sales problem without acknowledging a single problem with the product itself, but nonsense none the less. And Smart’s not the only micro-car brand that’s reaching for it either, as Fiat-Chrysler marketing boss Olivier Francois has the exact same excuse for Fiat’s weak start, telling AdAge
I don’t think we have a car problem; people love the car. I think we have an awareness problem.
Are Americans incapable of seeing, recognizing or being aware of anything that weighs less than 3,000 lbs? Or is it possible that there are a few things wrong with the Smart and 500?
Ever since I test drove the original Honda CRX a quarter-century ago I’ve been a big fan of small cars. In everyday driving I’d rather have a small car with limited power than a large car with a lot of it. And yet I’ve never quite connected with the MINIs I’ve driven. Perhaps I just needed more time in the seat? To find out, I recently spent a week with a MINI Cooper S—a small car with plenty of power.
Hey Sajeev and Steve,
So my girlfriend is in the process of getting a new car. We’re graduating college in May and she was lucky enough to have her Mom offer to buy her a car as a graduation present. Thats pretty much perfect timing because her 1996 Jeep Cherokee Country is on its last legs. She loves her Jeep but it has almost 300,000 miles on it and it hasn’t been the most reliable thing in the world over the past year
Originally, this whole process was supposed to be pretty easy. Her Mom offered to buy her a car worth up to $8000, and loving Jeeps she pretty much had her heart set on a TJ Wrangler, which (correct me if I’m wrong) would probably be pushing her budget.
Since cementing its premium-retro-cutesy positioning in the marketplace, MINI’s been leveraging its two platforms into a niche-munching binge. Soon the MINI lineup will range from cozy Coupe to two-door “Sport Activity Vehicle,” and will include two convertibles, multiple versions of the two-door hatche, two-and-a-half-door hatch, and four door SUV. So what’s missing? A Moke? A Delivery van? What about a re-interpretation of the old Mini Pick Up? You and I may feel like the MINI brand already has plenty of niche offerings, thanks, but here is indisputable proof (found in a supermarket parking lot) that the market thinks MINI hasn’t chased enough niches. Carry on then, lads…
With recent models like the Countryman, MINIs have become larger than ever. So it was inevitable that the next model in the brand’s lineup would try to reconnect with the value of small. When I first saw the concept of this MINI Coupe, my thought was “just what the market was asking for… a MINI with less space,” but in the context of a MINI Countryman that hulks over its brand-mates (not to mention a coupe-ified version of same), this fresh, saucy little coupe makes a certain amount of sense (if only in the “endearingly pointless/pointlessly endearing” sense, as it’s actually 44 lbs heavier than an equivalent Hatchback). Of course, it will make even more sense as a drop-top roadster, but that’s another subtle-yet-profitable variation of the basic MINI formula for another day… (watch a MINI Coupe prototype go ’round the ‘ring here)
I’m a 35 year old physician with wife and 2 kids, who has happily made do with a succession of automatic VW Passat wagons, first a chipped 2000 and now a 2010 I use to reverse commute out of my large metro region. We’ll be moving to the oceanfront suburb of a small New England city this summer and I’ve got to select car #2. My commute will by short and pokey–7 miles each way, some of it along beautiful marshland and ocean, some of it not. Long haul family trips can be done in the Passat, but the second car should safely carry the kids in a pinch. Budget is 30-35k max. I’ve been thinking new v6 mustang convertible, but then again, is it time to invest in the future and, say, lease a volt? Or practical, comfortable fun in a new GTI/Golf TDI? Revisit a heavily depreciated bug convertible we used to love despite it’s crude underpinnings and tight back seat? Or take advantage of some older interesting vehicles–S4 cabriolet, 3 series convertible, or something I’m too boring to have considered?
Steve Answers: (Read More…)
Is imitation the sincerest form of flattery? Nobody told the Germans, who seem to be growing weary of China’s ceaseless automotive design flattery. “The Copy-Shop is open again” grumbles AutoBild, of the Emgrand EC6-RV, which marks the second obvious Chinese MINI clone here’s the first) in the last several years. At least Emgrand’s parent company Geely isn’t ripping off its joint venture partner… but then, didn’t Geely buy Volvo so it wouldn’t have to rip off Western brands? Old habits must die hard…
There it was: a honk, a pair of grins and waves from two middle aged women in a MINI Cooper. It was time to find out whether these MINI fans approve of my epic (patent pending) Mehta parking lot swagger, or if the allure of the John Cooper Works MINI had reduced them to smiles. After all, the JCW is more than just a serious piece of hot-hatch kit, it’s wake-up call for the non-believer: spend some time in this car and you’ll have no choice but to learn just how crazy people are about their MINIs. And in this cult of the cutesy and subcompact, the John Cooper Works is king. But does any of this actually justify parting with $33,000 for a tiny, front-drive car?
I snapped this shot of an Austin Mini (technically a Morris 850) and a Buick Electra 225 parked side-by-side in an Alameda, California parking lot before I left the West Coast, and every time I look at it I wonder: would I rather have an early Mini or a Malaise Era Electra? I can’t decide! (Read More…)