The Truth About Cars » Winter Olympics http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 24 Jul 2014 14:26:12 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 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 editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (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 » Winter Olympics http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com German Olympian Compares Team’s Bobsled to Trabant As BMW Spends $24 Million Building Americans’ Successful Sleds http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/german-olympian-compares-teams-bobsled-to-trabant-as-bmw-spends-24-million-building-americans-successful-sleds/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/german-olympian-compares-teams-bobsled-to-trabant-as-bmw-spends-24-million-building-americans-successful-sleds/#comments Sat, 22 Feb 2014 14:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=749129

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Unhappy with his team’s performance this year in general and at the 2014 winter Olympics in particular, a German bobsledder compared the team’s slow sleds to the Trabant, the primitive 2-stroke powered cars sold in the former East Germany. ABC News quoted bobsled pusher Kevin Kuske, who has won four gold medals at previous Olympics, as saying, “If in 2010 we were sitting in a Formula One car, then this time we were sitting in a Trabby.” At the same time, German bobsled enthusiasts are a bit unhappy with BMW because the German car company helped make the sleds for the America bobsledders, who so far have done well in Sochi.

Germany has traditionally been a power in the sliding sports but the national team is having a bad year. The Olympics have started poorly for German bobsledders, with their two-man teams missing a medal for only the second time since 1964. It wasn’t just that they were off the podium. The best German finish was eighth, a very poor showing for a team used to medaling. Some German bobsled enthusiasts are questioning the German bobsled federation’s ties to the Institut für Forschung und Entwicklung von Sportgeräten (Institute for Research and Development of Sport Equipment), FES, which built the bobsleds the German team uses. FES was established in the early 1960s by the East German government and according to Reuters the institute receives 90% of its funding from the German government. After reunification, the West German government and sports federations absorbed many elements of what had been East Germany’s extensive sports training apparatus focused on Olympic success.

It’s not clear if Kuske’s comment were a reference to the East German origins of FES or simply a joke comparing the slow sleds to a perennial “worst cars of all times” contender.

While the German team is unhappy, the American team is celebrating, having taken bronze in the men’s two-man bobsled event and silver and bronze in the women’s two-place competition. Making the Germans even more unhappy is the fact that a German company, BMW, had a major role in the American bobsledders’ success. BMW/Designworks USA, the automaker’s California design studio, designed and built the American team’s new sled and the company spent a reported $24 million on the project. BMW North America has a sponsorship deal with the U.S. Olympic team that runs through 2016 and the Olympics are an important part of their marketing effort. BMW North America also sponsors the Canadian Olympic team.

The American team’s previous sled had been built by NASCAR’s Bodine Racing, and a number of high performance automotive companies have contributed to the sport, with Ferrari helping the Italian team and McLaren the British team. The Designworks team came up with a bobsled that, to use Mr. Kuske’s metaphor, comes closer to a F1 car than to a Sprint Cup racer. It’s made of carbon fiber, which saved 15 lbs, and since bobsledding rules mandate a fixed weight for the sleds, the reduced weight of the basic sled allowed the BMW Designworks engineers to have some flexibility with weight distribution, lowering the center of gravity and yielding a better handling sled. Preliminary designs were tested with fluid dynamics in the digital domain, while full size models were fine tuned in a wind tunnel.

As mentioned, BMW’s sponsorship of the American and Canadian Olympic teams is an important part of their overall marketing effort in North America.  Commercials for the i3 and i8 EVs were debuted during the opening ceremonies on NBC and cars on BMW’s stand at the Chicago Auto Show had license plates decorated with the Olympic rings, an American flag and the slogan “Proud Partner”. A series of commercials, short films and advertisements, like the video at the top of this post, tying BMW to the American and Canadian Olympic teams has been produced.

Around the world, local subsidiaries of foreign owned automakers use sports, including sponsorships of Olympic teams, as part of their marketing efforts trying to portray them as community members and good corporate citizens. It’s of a part with publicity about how many Americans, or Australians, or Austrians for the matter are employed locally by those companies, or how much local content Camry’s built in Kentucky have. Doing that, though, has been a delicate dance when “Japanese quality” or “German engineering”, the engineering, manufacturing and design cultures of companies’ native countries, have been part of the marketing mix. The Olympics, with their heavy dose of nationalism, provide an opportunity for automakers’ foreign operations to show that they are part of their adopted countries’ local communities, but as BMW is finding out, it’s also an opportunity to offend the folks back home if one of their adopted countries’ athletes outperform those of their native land.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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BMW Uses Olympics, Chicago Auto Show to Market i Series in U.S., Offers Loaners to Offset Range Anxiety http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/bmw-uses-olympics-chicago-auto-show-to-market-i-series-in-u-s-offers-loaners-to-offset-range-anxiety/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/bmw-uses-olympics-chicago-auto-show-to-market-i-series-in-u-s-offers-loaners-to-offset-range-anxiety/#comments Mon, 10 Feb 2014 12:30:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=738289

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BMW has reportedly spent billions of dollars so far on developing various aspects of its carbon fiber intensive and electric powered i series of cars. The Bavarian automaker obviously wants to get that money back and more so it is now using high profile events to launch the i subbrand in North America, including buying ads during the opening ceremony and other broadcasts from the Winter Olympics currently being held in Sochi, Russia. The first of three ads that BMW will be running during the NBC network’s coverage of the Olympic games is called “Hello Future” and uses a 1964 recording of futurist Arthur C. Clarke to promote the $136,000 i8 hybrid super car. A second ad for the i8 is called “Sighting“, showing people’s reaction to first seeing the car. The more mass market $41,300 i3 is being sold with “SHHH“, depicting a teenager using his father’s silent i3 to sneak a nighttime joyride with a girl he’s trying to impress. He gets the girl but dad has been tracking the car with BMW’s i remote app.

The Winter Olympics have some of the biggest television audiences of the year. The Chicago Auto Show has the biggest attendance of any car show in North America. The i3 and i8 were also a major focus of BMW’s display and press conference at the Chicago show. Journalists clambered all over and inside the i3, complete with production stickers on its hemp paneled doors, that was on the show floor.

The i8 is going on sale later this year and while it isn’t quite in production like the i3 is, by now BMW has enough preproduction and validation models made that instead of the charcoal grey i8 that they showed in Detroit, at Chicago’s McCormick Place a gleaming pearl white i8 coupe was behind glass barriers next to the i3.

While the i8 is more of a plug-in hybrid, the i3, even with its gasoline-powered range extender, has still compelled BMW to come up with a rather novel solution to range anxiety. Buyers of the i3 can reserve the use of conventional gasoline or diesel-powered loaner cars should they need one for a long distance trip.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Hot Sleds: BMW Seeks To Improve Chances Of U.S. Olympic Team – Rough Sledding Ahead http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/hot-sleds-bmw-seeks-to-improve-chances-of-u-s-olympic-team-rough-sledding-ahead/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/11/hot-sleds-bmw-seeks-to-improve-chances-of-u-s-olympic-team-rough-sledding-ahead/#comments Wed, 14 Nov 2012 15:36:43 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=466895

By way of one of its usual trademark flowery press releases, BMW says it is developing a new two-man bobsled for use by Team USA in the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games.

According to the release, “BMW aims to leverage its world-class engineering and design expertise to answer longstanding equipment and innovation needs of the U.S. Bobsled Team.” The team’s needs definitely demand world-class engineering: The last time the two-man bobsled team was 1953 (silver). In Vancouver 2010, Germany won gold and silver, Russia went home with bronze.

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