The longer I do this, the more I realize that it’s about people, not machines. Don’t get me wrong, I still think that cars are way cool, something only human beings could create, but it’s those human beings involved in that creation that make stories worth telling and hearing. When my son, my only son, Moshe, whom I love, was a boy we put model cars together. It was a father-son thing but I also wanted him to learn a little patience. We took care putting them together, but we rarely painted them. That too took much patience. Sometime when he was in fifth grade, so this would have been 1994 or 1995 when Mo was ten years old, we were building a model of a Dodge Viper. It was an AMT/Ertl kit, in 1:25 scale. (Read More…)
After a long slog through NAIAS and getting TTAC’s house in order for the new year, I was delighted to see the response to my first big endeavor of the year, my Generation Why piece. But with 174 comments and multiple tangents, I wanted to open up the floor to clarify a few things.
Nissan is keeping true to its promise of offering up a new model every 3.5 seconds for the rest of time. What you see above is the newest child to be birthed from Yokohama Prefecture, Japan – the Nissan Versa Note.
Our NAIAS preview post revealed a common theme of dissatisfaction with the slow-striptease style of product reveals, where manufacturers “leak” teaser shots ad nauseam in the run-up to a product launch. It seems the readers are tired of it, and frankly, I am too. So what’s to be done about it?
It’s a new tradition at the storied Mini brand: Each car show gets its own dedicated Mini. Swatch tried it with the Swatch car, but could not pull it off. Now, BMW’s Mini is doing it with great success: At the inside, the same movement. At the outside, ever changing designs. Collect all colors!. Of course, Mini won’t break tradition at the Detroit Auto Show, and it will bring you: The John Cooper Works Paceman.
TTAC’s influence on the auto industry continues to grow. Following TTAC’s choice of the Detroit Beer Company as the location of our meet & greet during the North American International Auto Show’s press preview, the NAIAS’ own organizers, DADA, the Detroit Auto Dealers Association, held a press conference this morning, upstairs at the same brew pub, announcing plans for next year’s show. Most of the announcements were fairly mundane, but buried in the news there may have been hints of a change brewing in how General Motors’ flagship brand is marketed.
With all of the leaks, it’s not so easy to be surprised at NAIAS. But I managed to learn a thing or two by attending. My top dozen takeaways:
1. Compared to a Lamborghini, a Ferrari seems…normal. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. (Read More…)
There’s a bit of a brouhaha brewing about Ford bringing about 150 “social media influencers” to Detroit and then Las Vegas for the big North American International Auto Show and the Consumer Electronics Show. While there may be some ethical issues concerning transparency and disclosure, I doubt that anyone begrudges Ford the ability to spend Ford stockholders’ money promoting Ford Motor Company and its products. Ford is acting in the fiduciary interests of those stockholders. Whether or not cabinet members and other Washington officials are acting in the fiduciary interest of taxpayers by flying to car shows is another question. (Read More…)
At the North American International Auto Show in Detroit (9 – 22 January,) Porsche will unveil its latest topless 911, the 911 Cabrio. The more chaste 911 Coupé will be available in the USA starting in February 2012. The Cabriolet will follow a few months later, when the season allows public disrobing of your car. (Read More…)
Photo Credit: Autoblog Green
It’s getting a little predictable. Go to a big car event like the North American International Auto Show or the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) World Congress and you’re going to see politicians and government officials. I suppose that’s to be expected, but to be honest, I’m a little ticked off at how our public servants get a large megaphone at those events without bearing any of the costs that you, I, or a car company would have to pay for for the same treatment.
For the past three years particularly because of the meltdown of the domestic automakers, the bailout and the US Treasury’s subsequent stakes in GM (still held) and Chrysler (divested so that Fiat could own more), but really since the beginning of time, politicians and auto shows went together. I remember, after a press conference where Wayne County (MI) executive Robert Ficano exchanged gifts with the chairman of the People’s Army owned automaker Changfeng, asking Mr. Ficano just how many Changfeng employees voted in Wayne County. During the ’08 presidential election, most of the primary candidates on the Republican side visited the show’s press preview.
Want a small electric car that looks like a movie theater or even a stadium inside? Johnson Controls shows the ie.3 concept car at NAIAS. Sure, it has a battery. But it also has spring loaded flip-up seats, just like at the movies. Or at he ballpark. (Read More…)
“Prius has become to hybrids what Kleenex is to tissues and Levis are to jeans.” So said Bob Carter, group VP and general manager of Toyota U.S.A. With so much brand power, it would be a waste to have only one Prius. From now on, Toyota has three. The Prius received a bigger and a smaller sibling, with the idea towards creating “a modern family with a Prius for everyone.” (Read More…)
Pickuptrucks.com‘s Mike Levine snapped this shot of Honda’s NAIAS booth, indicating that the Motor Company might not be quite as proud of its unibody truck as it once was. Ridgeline sold 16,464 units last year, less than half of its 2008 volume. Honda’s Alabama plant, where the Ridgeline is assembled alongside the Pilot, saw its output drop 35 percent in 2009. Having tried the unibody option that so many formerly truck-dependent firms now see as an alternative to body-on-frame offerings, it seems doubtful that Honda would recommend it to any of them. When it comes to the truck market, there are no easy answers.
Daimler’s Dieter Zetsche arrived at NAIAS with his left arm in a sling. What happened? Too much arm wrestling with unions or suppliers? Nah, that would be the right arm. Turns out, Dr. Z was injured by a woman. On the ski slopes in Austria, a female snowboarder had crashed into Zetsche. Left shoulder fractured. Dr. Z wore a helmet, which avoided more serious damage.
Germany’s BILD Zeitung reports that doctors at the Austrian hospital prescribed at least 6 weeks of strict convalescence. Says BILD: “Daimler’s boss ignored them. He popped some pain killers, flew to Detroit with shoulder and arm bandaged. Courageously, he presented the new Mercedes products.”
Thanks to the unionization of the US auto industry, its politics (and accordingly, those of the state of Michigan) tend to be of the center-left persuasion. This tendency was doubtless aggravated over the last year, as a congressional bailout of the industry was denied by southern Republican senators. But even in Michigan, the union-industry alliance isn’t strong enough to counter the trend towards ever more divisive politics, as two recent stories show some of the ideological cracks forming in this now highly politicized industry. First,according to the Freep, the National Tax Day Tea Party will re-open last year’s political wounds by staging a rally outside the RenCen during the Detroit Auto Show this year. The idea behind the rally is to “make a peaceful yet clear statement against government takeover of America,” specifically the government ownership of General Motors. Though it’s clearly an empty gesture intended to rally political support more than change anything, it will be a jarring contrast to the usual convivial mood at the NAIAS. And it’s just one of several ways in which the politicization of the industry is becoming steadily less containable.