Marketing Boss Uwe Ellinghaus Resigns From Cadillac

After overseeing the introduction of the “Dare Greatly” campaign, a move of company HQ to tony Manhattan, and an ad spot touting Super Cruise during the MTV Video Music Awards, Uwe Ellinghaus is resigning from his post as head marketing honcho at Cadillac.

Tapped by Caddy chief Bob Ferguson in 2014, Ellinghaus arrived at the luxury automaker after a stint at Montblanc International and, prior to that, nearly 15 years at BMW.

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Ford's Marketing Strategy for Plug-in F-150 Fixates on More Power

The pervasive opinion among truck enthusiasts and industry experts is that nobody cares about plug-in hybrid pickups. Fuel economy isn’t a major priority among those in the market for something that can haul bales of hay or a stable of horses.

This poses a problem for pickup manufacturers striving for lower emissions and fuel consumption. Ford, which previously lightened the F-150 and outfitted it with a bevy of more economical engines, knows this problem better than most.

However, Ford is pressing onwards. It even intends to bring a hybrid plug-in variant of its ultra-popular pickup to the market in the coming years. But how is it going to market the technology to consumers who are unlikely to care? The company has strategy for that and it’s less reliant on fuel savings than you might expect.

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Adventures in Marketing: Lincoln Hires a New Ad Agency

Another day, another chance for this author to write about the Lincoln brand. This time, we learn of the company looking outside the WPP ad agency for help marketing its new Lincolns.

The Glass House is not ditching its longtime partner. Instead, it’s turning to the Wasserman Media Group and their Laundry Service ad shop based in New York to handle social media for a new campaign for the redesigned 2018 Lincoln Navigator SUV.

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Formula One Gets New Logo for Next Season

With the conclusion of the 2017 season, Formula One decided it was time to unveil its new logo at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The change underlines a “new era” for the sport under Liberty Media and, admittedly, does seem to be a bit more with the times.

While it was a fine race, Valtteri Bottas beat both Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel, there was no upset in the final standings. Hamilton had secured ultimate victory for himself and Mercedes earlier in the season, while Vettel and the Ferrari team held onto second place. Bottas took third overall, leaving the new logo as the only genuine surprise of the day.

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Cadillac Expands Its Subscription Service to New Markets

Since its launch in the Big Apple earlier this year, the BOOK by Cadillac car-subscription service has allowed customers in New York City to get behind the wheel of a Cadillac without signing the note on one of The General’s top-flight vehicles.

The project has proven to be enough of a success that Cadillac is now launching the product in two additional markets: Dallas and L.A.

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Aston Martin Now Sells Idiotic Tom Brady 'Signature Edition' Vanquish

I’ve already made the case against Aston Martin using Tom Brady as a brand ambassador. However, after months of marinating in a pool of semi-rational anger, I came to the realization that not everyone would view it as a step down from James Bond.

Brady was chosen specifically to appeal to the United States because Aston wants to bolster sales in North America. His eerily straight teeth and All American Good Looks™ were a marketing selection, albeit an incredibly boring one.

While I prattle on endlessly about how unsettling I find the man, what I find particularly bothersome is that we’re supposed to presume Brady is an automotive enthusiast and ambassador of good taste. However, I’ve never seen him doing guest spots on motoring shows and his penchant for the finer things appears to be nothing more than a byproduct of his being successful. So, when Aston announced the $360,000 car he spent five months helping design was finished, my eyes rolled so far back into my head that it induced a nose bleed and I subsequently passed out.

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To Date, There Are 13 Volvo V90 Cross Countrys in America for Every Standard Volvo V90

Through the end of September 2017, Americans have registered 13 times more Volvo V90 CCs than Volvo V90s, clarifying with purchasing habits what every auto industry observer, casual or professional, already knew.

Volvo’s surely not surprised, either. After all, if you want to acquire a low-slung Volvo V90, Volvo forces U.S. customers to actually order the car. (Perish the thought.)

Even less surprising is the frequency with which Volvo now sells wagons. Combined, the four V60 and V90 variants account for fewer than one-in-10 Volvo USA sales through the first three-quarters of 2017.

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What's Missing In Volkswagen's New "Rain" Warranty Commercial?

This commercial is not a circa 1970 follow-up to 1969’s infamous Woodstock Music & Art Fair. It’s not a the result of marketers in the 1980s looking back 10 or 15 years. It’s not Volkswagen’s late-to-the-party retro take on counterculture. No, this is Volkswagen’s People First Warranty commercial from 2017. Today.

It is a wholehearted embrace of Volkswagen’s history. The Microbus. An original Beetle. Hippies.

“I think what’s powerful about it,” Volkswagen of America’s marketing director Greg Tebbutt says, “is we’ve got a heritage story that is unique to us and only we can tell.”

But there’s something conspicuously absent from the 60-second “Rain” spot.

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Genesis Motors U.S. Dealer Network Will Be Separate From Hyundai by 2020

Hyundai’s Genesis Motors offshoot intends to finalize its transition into an entirely separate U.S. dealer network within the next three years.

The process of building an undetermined number of distinct Genesis outlets has not yet begun, but it’s clear the brand is well aware of the limitations with which it’s currently operating.

“The reality is, many, many luxury customers tell us they love our products, they’re amazing, but I’m not going into a Hyundai store to buy it,” U.S. Genesis boss Erwin Raphael tells Automotive News.

No kidding.

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The Subaru Legacy Sport Utility Sedan Returns, in a Sense

What does an automaker do after the company’s three-year-old midsize sedan — the only midsize sedan with standard all-wheel drive — is slightly upgraded for 2018?

It initiates a new marketing campaign. And what must that marketing campaign entail when the car is chronically unpopular and suffering from sharp sales declines in a shrinking category? It must utilize a catchy, attention-grabbing slogan.

Thus, for 2018, Subaru gives us the rebirth of a tagline: sport utility sedan.

Only this time, unlike 1998, the Legacy SUS isn’t lifted, it doesn’t wear two-tone cladding, its tires’ lettering won’t be emboldened by white font. The 2018 Subaru Legacy Sport Utility Sedan is just a Legacy.

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2018 Kia Stinger is $95 Cheaper Than 2017 Kia Cadenza

Let’s face it. Most American car buyers in 2017 don’t actually want cars. You know, the traditional passenger car. Most car buyers who actually want cars don’t want full-size sedans built by mainstream sedans. And among the few car buyers who actually want full-size volume brand sedans, the overwhelming majority — 99 percent, in fact — do not want a Kia Cadenza.

The U.S. market is about to get a lot more difficult for the Kia Cadenza, which is currently priced from $32,890. Admittedly more powerful than the forthcoming 2018 Kia Stinger, the Kia Cadenza is a nearly five-year-old front-wheel-drive luxury barge in a semi-attractive Kia body.

The 2018 Kia Stinger, on the other hand, is a flashy new cut-price sports [s]sedan[/s] hatch, a model deserving of some anticipation that’s priced from $32,795, or ninety-five dollars less costly than the chronically unpopular Kia Cadenza.

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Jaguar Is Committed to Its Increasingly Popular Diesels in America, but the Marketing Plan Is Quiet

Jaguar’s U.S. outlets are benefiting not just from last year’s introduction of a new XE entry-level sedan and the brand’s top-selling F-Pace SUV but also the broad availability of diesel powerplants.

In the shadows of Volkswagen’s diesel emissions scandal that broke in late 2015, Jaguar began offering diesel engines in the United States for the first time in 2016. Through the first eight months of 2017, 13 percent of the vehicles sold by the Jaguar brand in America were powered by the company’s 2.0-liter turbodiesel.

It’s not surprising then that Jaguar told TTAC’s own Adam Tonge at the North American unveiling of the new E-Pace crossover that diesel will continue to be a focus for Jaguar Land Rover in the United States. The company sees a niche for diesel vehicles in the premium space, particularly now with the complete absence of Mercedes-Benz, Audi, and Porsche in the sphere.

And yet you won’t really be hearing about Jaguar’s diesel offerings.

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BMW's Getting a 'New Logo' for Its Flagship Models

Interested in distinguishing its premium models from the rest of the flotsam and jetsam, BMW is launching a “new” black-and-white logo it will use to market its “flaggschiff” units around the globe. The updated look was unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show and will be used for the 7 series and i8 coupe, as well as the forthcoming 8 series coupe, convertible, i8 roadster and X7 SUV.

Rumored to be similar to the cheesy carbon variant of the company’s emblem found in numerous aftermarket Ebay listings, the new logo is essentially the old one, only desaturated into monochrome with the company’s full name — Bayerische Motoren Werke — written out in its entirety. However, there seems to be some confusion as to how the new logo will be used and what its heritage actually entails.

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Hiring a New Marketing Agency Isn't a Sign That Mitsubishi's Leaving America

Between its peak in 2002 and the depths of the recession in 2009, Mitsubishi’s U.S. sales plunged 84 percent. Market share plunged from more than 2 percent to less than half of 1 percent. Could the company survive in America?

The loss of product gave observers even more reason to doubt the brand’s staying power. Bigger SUVs such as the Montero and Endeavor disappeared. Mitsubishi’s midsize sedan, the Galant, generated its final sales in early 2014, a decade after the Mitsubishi Diamante departed. The discontinuation of the Eclipse and Lancer Evolution spelled the end of Mitsubishi’s performance bona fides. Then Mitsubishi also ended the Lancer, leaving the Mirage G4 to fight America’s sedan battle.

Meanwhile, Mitsubishi’s plans to bolster its U.S. lineup haven’t always translated to reality. The Outlander plug-in hybrid was initially bound for the U.S. market in 2014 or 2015 — it’s still not here. As for U.S. production, which Mitsubishi’s president Osamu Masuko said in 2013 would not end, the final U.S.-built Mitsubishi rolled off the Illinois line last year.

Despite the heavy load of evidence that would support the belief that Mitsubishi Motors USA was on its death bed, Mitsubishi is on track in 2017 to sell 100,000 vehicles in the U.S. for the first time since 2007, having enjoyed five consecutive years of growth. Settling in for the long haul, Mitsubishi has also signed Mini’s old ad agency, Butler Shine Stern & Partners.

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Could Bringing Classic Cars Into Dealerships Create a Halo Effect?

While there are dealerships that will happily service your vintage automobile, there are reasons a lot of classic cars are wrenched at home or taken to speciality shops. It’s not typically in a service center’s best interest to hunt down rare discontinued parts and train employees on the reassembly of carburetors. But it still happens, especially among premium brands.

Porsche is rather obsessive about its heritage and has extended that to maintenance and repairs at a large number of stores. It isn’t alone, either. Mark Rogers, a 20 Group consultant with the National Automobile Dealers Association, estimates as many as 1,800 U.S. franchised dealerships are willing to service vintage cars. Some are even selling them — putting desirable classics on the showroom floor in the hopes they might garner positive attention.

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Subaru Believes Dog-focused Advertising Has Been a Large Part of Its Success

Automotive advertising has always been an amalgamation of information and hype. Carmakers use commercials to inform the public of what makes their model different and new, while simultaneously promising an intangible goodness. Mid-century ads were less specific, reassuring prospective customers of a nondescript better way of life, but modern marketing has become much more focused. If ads are to be believed, buying a car today means purchasing more than just the hardware its comprised of — you’re buying an identity.

I’m reminded of a collection of car commercials from the 1960s that essentially vowed to nerds that, if they bought a specific car, they would be pursued endlessly by attractive women. It was a bold and extremely unsubtle way to kick off the new trend.

We’ve [s]come a long way[/s] evolved slightly since then, but the concept of identity-focused advertising is more popular than ever. In fact, Subaru attributes a large portion of its own success to marketing that closely associates the brand with good values, family, lovable mutts, and the great outdoors.

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Don't Be so Quick to Pull the Trigger on That 2018 Toyota Camry - 2017s Are Cheap and Abundant

The 2018 Toyota Camry is the first truly, completely, all-new Toyota Camry since 2002. Built on Toyota’s New Global Architecture, it’s stiffer, safer, and by all accounts, substantially better to drive than the 2017.

Fuel efficiency took a leap forward. Horsepower did, too. The feature count, including the safety department, was elevated. The 2018 Toyota Camry even has a sense of style, whether you like its sense or prefer less offensive past examples.

With an all-new architecture for an in-demand car — yes, even as sedans slow, the Camry is still the 15-time best-selling car in America — comes a lack of willingness on the part of Toyota to deal. That’s made all the more true by the current cost of importing Camrys. While production will eventually be in full swing at the Camry’s Georgetown, Kentucky, assembly plant, early copies of the 2018 Camry hail from Japan.

Rare will be the buyer who heads into a U.S. Toyota store this Labor Day weekend with a strong preference for the old Camry, still available in abundance on dealer lots. Even with concerns (albeit modest concerns; this is a Camry) regarding first-model-year reliability, the MY2018 Camry is the bright and shiny object.

The 2018 Toyota Camry is better than the 2017 Toyota Camry: objectively, subjectively, on paper, on the road. But is it 41-percent better?

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Ford Motor Company's Antonella Wants a Nicer Fiesta Now, but There's No Antonellas in America

Remember Antonella?

Antonella was a 28-year-old Italian, living in the heart of Rome in the latter part of the last decade, who needed a nimble and stylish Ford.

Antonella has changed. Antonella has more money. She no longer lives with her parents. She has, say it politely, aged, though she’s “still very expressive,” Ford of Europe’s design boss George Saridakis tells Automotive News Europe. Since Antonella changed, the Ford Fiesta for which she was created (or vice versa) has also changed. Ford of Europe now hopes 10 percent of Europe’s Antonellas will choose the upmarket Fiesta Vignale.

What about Antonella’s cousin, Amy in Cleveland? Ford probably hopes she’ll buy a 2018 EcoSport. But if we’re going to be honest about Amy (a TTAC creation), we all know Ford’s inadvertently pulling her into the leftover 2017 Escape she’s been eyeing, the one with a $2,500 discount and interest-free financing over 84 months.

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Want a Mercedes-Benz C-Class Hood Ornament? You'll Have to Steal One, Which Is What You Always Did Anyway

Through the 2017 model year, Americans in search of a traditional entry luxury sedan could spend $350 to swap the Mercedes-Benz C-Class’s badge-emblazoned grille for an old classic.

Three horizontal bars, one vertical support, no badge.

The “Luxury” grille was also accompanied by unique bumper treatment and softer suspension.

But how were you to advertise the fact that you were, in fact, driving a Mercedes-Benz? There was a three-pointed star perched on top, a hood ornament in automotive parlance.

Unfortunately, the C-Class hood ornament that harkened back to a more elegant era has gone the way of crank windows.

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The Prestige: Airport Replaces Handicap Parking With 'Lexus-only' Spaces

We’re all familiar with the concept of executive parking spaces, and surely most of us know someone with a sign hanging in their garage that reads “Mopar Parking Only.” Both are annoying concepts highlighting one person’s perceived superiority over another but without any real consequences. After all, it’s not as if they’re stealing someone else’s space.

Thinking it might be a good idea to combine these two scenarios as part of a marketing ploy, Lexus teamed up with the Calgary Airport Authority to convert five primo parking spots into branded spaces. However, the locations they ended up replacing were designed for handicapped patrons. While that understandably didn’t go over well with travelers, you have to admit there is a certain level of prestige associated with displacing people who actually need something just because you want it for yourself.

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The Biggest New Vehicle Discount Available Right Now? $23,500 Off a Volvo XC90

In anticipation of a welcoming party for 2018 models, non-Volvo luxury car owners are currently eligible for a discount valued at $23,500 on a handful of remaining copies of the 2017 Volvo XC90 T8 Excellence.

There’s only one problem. The Volvo XC90 T8 Excellence is not exactly the most affordable member of the second-generation XC90 lineup. In fact, the T8 Excellence is the most expensive XC90 in America — by a wide margin. While the XC90 range opens at $46,745 for a five-seat front-wheel-drive variant, the T8 Hybrid turns on the lights with 400-horsepower for $69,895. Bump up another couple of trim levels and you’ll find yourself at the — let me clear my throat — $105,895 XC90 T8 Excellence.

Yet the $20,000 bonus Volvo is paying to dealers for XC90s in T8 Excellence trim means the laughably high $105,895 price — $1,005 more than a Land Rover Range Rover Supercharged — and a $3,500 conquest bonus drops the $105,895 XC90 T8 Excellence way down to $82,395.

It also means you lay hold on what CarsDirect’s Alex Bernstein says is, “the single largest discount on any vehicle at the moment.”

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Drivers Are Pissed About Lyft's New Partnership With Taco Bell

Taco Bell and ride-hail company Lyft announced plans this week to debut “a unique ride-thru” experience called “Taco Mode,” which will allow patrons to request a pit stop at the nearest Taco Bell location. Lyft claims it’s the perfect option for “passengers seeking the ultimate Taco Bell experience.”

While riders can already request to be driven to the restaurant with some of the worst-maintained bathrooms imaginable, Lyft promises the app makes the overall endeavor of buying fast food “more convenient — and fun — than ever.”

Why would these companies join forces? According to the press release, it’s because they “are two like-minded brands at the forefront of technology and innovation.” Don’t laugh. After all, Taco Bell was the company that realized you could make a taco shell out of fried chicken, while Lyft was the organization that took Uber’s business model and added furry pink mustaches.

They also both serve the late-night community. The restaurant chain provides a “fourth meal” to individuals that are too drunk or stoned to cook and the ride-hailing service keeps them from endangering others by stopping them from operating a motor vehicle. On the surface, it seems like a natural fit for a genius cross-marketing opportunity — until you place yourself into the shoes of the driver plighted to slop these disgusting animals in the backseat.

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Fiat Chrysler Thinks Americans Outside of California Don't Know What the Pacifica Plug-in Hybrid Is

It’s a fact that California contains half of the country’s electric vehicles and a solid chunk of America’s hybrids, but that doesn’t necessarily mean residents of the other 49 states can’t tell a plug-in hybrid from a turnip.

As all-electric range grows, plug-in hybrids have begun eclipsing conventional hybrids in the U.S. marketplace, enticing buyers with the prospect of leaving the gas engine shut off (potentially) for the whole commute. After hopping on the green bandwagon with its Pacifica Hybrid, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles was able to boast of having the only plug-in minivan in North America.

Only, it won’t boast about the “plug-in” part anywhere except California. Nope, you won’t hear the company call it a plug-in in New York City, or Seattle, or Chicago. Not in Vermont or Georgia, either. Apparently those people just can’t handle it.

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The Outsider: New Global BMW Sales Boss Pieter Nota Comes From Royal Philips, Beiersdorf, Unilever

After a near decade-long run at the helm of BMW Group’s sales and marketing department, Ian Robertson is retiring.

Taking over from the Englishman Robertson will be Pieter Nota, a Netherlands native who is anything but representative of the BMW establishment, every inch not automotive industry insider. Nota comes from Royal Philips, where you buy your electric razors, and formerly worked at Beiersdorf (where you buy your Nivea moisturizer) and Unilever, which fills your grocery store shelves with Axe, Hellmann’s, Ben & Jerry’s, and Dove.

I can’t believe it’s not [s]butter[/s] a board member.

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Ad Time: Promising Sesame Street Chrysler Promotion Ruined by Guy Smiley, Big Bang Theory

Get to know me, even just a little, and you’ll quickly discover my seething hatred for the inexplicably popular and mercilessly long-running sitcom, The Big Bang Theory. Given the chance, I’d banish the writers, producers and male cast to the barren wastes of Siberia, where the overpaid hacks could atone for their sins (and remain quiet) while braving the frigid winds in search of nutrient-rich mosses and lichens.

Maybe it’s the death of the sitcom that brought us to this point. Raised on the terrific sitcoms (and some guilty also-rans) of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s, my childhood television experience was abundance in diversity. Still, despite my love for cars and guns and the like, my TV starting point, like that of so many others, was Sesame Street. America’s social barometer, it was, and continues to be.

Like now, strong options loomed large in little Steph’s brain. Never cared for Big Bird. Too big. Dull in conversation. Grover? Who is Grover really supposed to be? And frankly, I wouldn’t leave any child of mine alone with Elmo.

Still, certain characters hold a special place in my dark, shrivelled heart. Until, that is, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles got its hands on their innocent, soft upper halves.

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Chevrolet's Real People Commercials Are Once Again Pitting Silverado Against F-150

With the July 10 launch of a new Chevrolet Silverado commercial, General Motors is once again using its Real People, Not Actors campaign in an attempt to tarnish the Ford F-150’s good name.

This methodology doesn’t appear to have had an impact in the marketplace in the past. Yet two years after General Motors displayed conversations between Howie Long and GM engineer Eric Stanczak discussing repair costs on the Ford F-150’s aluminum bed and one year after Chevrolet punctured a Ford F-150’s aluminum bed with 825 pounds of concrete blocks, General Motors is turning to admitted Ford F-150 owners as a means of casting aspersions on America’s top-selling full-size truck.

After earlier rounds, Ford gained ground in America’s full-size pickup truck market in 2016. Indeed, Ford is continuing to gain ground in that same market in 2017. Ford is selling more trucks than its rivals. Ford is selling more trucks with less incentivization. Ford is selling more trucks with less incentivization at higher average transaction prices.

So, GM sends the Chevrolet Silverado back to the same ol’ well.

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How Do Americans Manage to Pay Record High Prices for New Cars in 2017? By Paying Forever
ALG says new vehicle prices averaged $32,900 in June 2017, up 2 percent from last year and a record high for the month of June.

Yet month after month, for six consecutive months to begin 2017, automakers are witnessing fewer and fewer buyers walking into dealers after sales shot to record levels in calendar year 2016.

Incentives, at $3,550 per car, are an effective lure. But that doesn’t change the fact that buyers are paying, on average, $33,000 and borrowing, according to Edmunds, $31,000 in order to finance a purchase.

How do car buyers afford the highest prices on record? By stretching the payment period to the longest terms ever: 69.3 months in June, Edmunds says.

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Kia Has Lebron, Now the Global Ambassador at Infiniti Is Steph Curry

In the world of celebrity pitchmen, there’s a big leap between, oh, Jared Fogle at Subway, for example, and Andy Murray at Jaguar.

In the world of basketball’s best, there’s less of a gap between LeBron James and Stephen Curry.

Now combine the world of celebrity pitchmen with the world of NBA superstars. LeBron James quite famously falls under the Kia umbrella.

But what automaker wouldn’t want the best player on the reigning NBA champion Golden State Warriors? Steph Curry, Nissan’s premium division announced today, is the new global ambassador at Infiniti.

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New 2018 Honda Odyssey Commercial: Your Kids Are Awful, We Have A Solution

They’re monsters, fighting over a squeezable toy bus before the journey has even begun. They’re inattentive rascals, wearing headphones and tuning out their parents before Mom is even in the van. They’re instigators and agitators, wholly dependent upon parents to keep the peace.

Or are they? Are children really so bad that Honda’s very first marketing campaign for the fifth-generation 2018 Odyssey has to present a negative slant on the life of a parent?

Maybe not. But in an age in which conflict is fostered during live news coverage all day long, in which children are perpetually entertained so they don’t need to entertain themselves, in which there’s not enough time before Zoey’s pottery class and Aiden’s play date to source a conventional resolution, Honda’s Magic Slide seats produce a brilliantly eye-catching commercial, with a little help from animation.

Of course, my kids would never tussle like this.

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Depressing New Lexus IS Commercial Basically Gives up on Behalf of All of Us

We’ve got more than a few years of driving remaining, don’t you think?

It’s 2017. People still grasp steering wheels, still prod throttle pedals, still check blind spots (sometimes), still use their left hand to flick a signal stalk, and still stop for red lights by firmly pressing a right foot against a brake pedal. Last I checked, in my driveway sits a two-seat convertible with a six-speed manual transmission.

But in a 30-second spot that aired repeatedly during the final game of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs on Hockey Night In Canada, Lexus strikes fear into the soul of drivers everywhere in order to get you into a 2017 Lexus IS today. Today, before they — whoever “they” are — come for your manual transmissions and your steering wheels and your pedals. Before your driver’s car is replaced by an autonomous pod.

“Enjoy the thrill of driving,” Lexus says. “While you still can.”

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Buick's Launch of Avenir Sub-Brand Gets Underway With 2018 Enclave - 11 Percent More Money for Avenir

Pricing for the long-awaited, second-generation 2018 Buick Enclave starts at $40,970, nearly $1,000 more than the 2017 model, according to Automotive News.

But it’s at the top of the 2o18 Enclave’s lineup where Buick begins the launch of its new Avenir sub-brand. The 2018 Buick Enclave Avenir is a $54,390 three-row crossover; $56,690 for an Enclave Avenir with all-wheel drive.

Buick has high hopes for the new Enclave, and rightly so. With the brand’s U.S. car sales flagging, the Enclave takes its place as the rightful flagship of a three-pronged crossover lineup — a lineup that now accounts for more than three-quarters of Buick’s U.S. sales. Already helping itself to high average transaction prices, the Enclave will become an even more premium entity with the new Avenir trim.

And how will you know it? Enclave Avenirs feature a “three-dimensional” mesh grille, pearl nickel 20-inch wheels, and badges on each front door and the left side of the tailgate.

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Facebook, Which Knows Everything About You, Really Wants to Be Friends With Automakers

Facebook isn’t just a hotbed of meaningless virtue signaling, thinly veiled racism, political rants, and overly serious arguments with people you haven’t seen in several years. It’s also a great place for advertisers to spend their money — at least, that’s what the platform wants automobile manufacturers to believe. The social media site is trying to establish closer ties with the industry, and went so far as to send COO Sheryl Sandberg to Detroit to host the first Facebook Automotive Summit in five years.

However, if you’re anything like me, your feed is probably already clogged up with car ads. This morning’s limited browsing yielded placements for Jaguar and Genesis before asking me when I last drove a Hyundai. Facebook thinks it can do more, targeting the subset of its 2 billion users which could benefit automakers the most. While the website has stepped up its game, future ad investments will still suffer from runoff to zero-engagement click farms in countries like India, Egypt, and Brazil.

A large company might deem those losses acceptable, but does it really matter when so few people buy new cars online?

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Now Is the Time to Get Yourself a Midsize Sedan on a Dirt Cheap Lease Deal

“Stepping up to a midsize is basically a no-brainer for buyers at this point,” CarsDirect’s senior price analyst Alex Bernstein tells TTAC.

With demand for midsize sedans drying up, deals on aging models are warming up.

Now in its sixth model year, the 2017 Volkswagen Passat 1.8T S — the entry-level Passat — is available in June for a 36-month lease at $189 per month and $1,999 due at signing.

The 2017 Honda Accord, a new version of which is due later this year, is also available in June in basic LX trim on the same terms.

Meanwhile, the mid-grade 2017 Toyota Camry SE 2.5, set to be replaced in the coming months by an all-new model, is likewise available in June for $189 per month with $1,999 down over 36 months.

“This is about as cheap as lease deals have ever been on these midsize sedans,” Bernstein says. But it actually gets even cheaper, marginally cheaper, according to CarsDirect’s examination of 500 lease deals.

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The 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure Is No Niche Market Special Edition - It'll Be More Popular Than Most SUVs

In late 2015, Toyota revealed that the automaker’s increasingly popular RAV4 would be increasingly leaned upon for major U.S. sales volume.

As of five years ago, Toyota USA had never sold more than 200,000 RAV4s on an annual basis. Toyota didn’t touch the 300,000 marker until 2015.

But the goal set in 2015 was loftier: 400,000 U.S. sales of the RAV4 in 2018. An SE trim level helped. Then the RAV4 Hybrid became a real success. Toyota sold 352,154 RAV4s in 2016 and is on track for 380,000 sales in 2017.

What will put the Toyota RAV4 over the hump?

If all goes according to plan, the 2018 Toyota RAV4 Adventure that goes on sale in September won’t be a mere oddball offshoot.

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GMC's New Ad Campaign Isn't 'Like a Rock' - It's Like a Pro

Like a rolling stone. Like a rock. Like a G6 (not the Pontiac version). There are many descriptors out there, but GMC feels nothing fits its owners quite like “pro.” The trucks are still Professional Grade (TM), but advertisements are supposed to be all about us, about we, about me.

And so, GMC plans to embark on an advertising campaign calling its owners just that. The all-utility brand’s “Like A Pro” campaign kicks off this month, with a number of tailored TV and online spots showcasing “those who reach higher in everything they do,” according to the automaker.

Marketing efforts are fraught with peril, so no ad counts as a slam dunk until the public gives it a resounding thumbs up or, alternatively, mocks it out of existence. Let’s take a closer look at one of these spots.

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Here's Some Evidence At Least One Rival Automaker Approved Of Volkswagen USA's Post-Emissions Scandal Handling

Vinay Shahani, a former decade-long Nissan employee, has just been poached from Volkswagen of America by Toyota.

Shahani was Volkswagen’s U.S. vice president in charge of marketing, responsible for cementing a cohesive product message after the eruption of the now infamous diesel emissions scandal that broke in September 2015.

“Things are definitely difficult for the Volkswagen brand,” Shahani told the Automotive News New York Marketing Seminar one year after Volkswagen’s wrongdoing was made public.

Shahani’s perseverance through said difficulty obviously drew the attention of Toyota Motor North America, particularly since Shahani’s resume proves he’s no mere ad man.

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Dealer Lesson: JM Lexus, the Most Successful Lexus Dealer In America, Is a No-Dicker-Sticker Store

Half an hour from Fort Lauderdale, in Margate, Florida, sits JM Lexus, the highest-volume Lexus dealership in the United States.

Even by Lexus standards, where throughput is the best of any premium automaker operating in America, JM Lexus’ 8,000-unit new vehicle sales tally in 2016 was striking. That’s more than 150 new luxury cars, crossovers, and SUVs sold each week. That’s roughly six times the volume achieved by the typical Lexus dealer.

And JM Lexus, perennially the top Lexus dealer in America, does so as part of the Lexus Plus strategy: no negotiating, a single representative per customer, fixed prices for new and used cars as well as service fees and accessories.

Perhaps there’s a lesson to be learned by Lexus’ other dealers. For the time being, according to Automotive News, only 5 percent of Toyota’s premium brand stores operate under the Lexus Plus model.

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Picture Time: The Couple Really Needs Your Help

You’re all too familiar with that image, aren’t you? She’s laughing hysterically or having some sort of crisis. Her male friend, hand outstretched to receive his car key, looks on in amazement at her awkward and overblown reaction within this sales situation. They are The Couple, and they are stock image gold.

Want more of them? You got it.

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Those 'Real People' Ads Aren't Going Away Anytime Soon: GM Marketing Exec

Not since “the Caddy that zigs” has a General Motors marketing campaign spurred so many jokes among the automotive punditry and public alike. GM’s much-lampooned “Real People, Not Actors” commercials have become the target of spoof videos mimicking the often eye-rolling exploits of ordinary human beings mistaking Chevrolet Cruze and Malibu models for taut, European luxury sedans. Expect more of those.

Despite the comedic backlash, General Motors claims it has no plans to back down from the ads, ensuring more spoof fodder for years to come.

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Attention, Millennials: Jeep Wants You to Quit Your Job and Eat Meat

The only thing missing is Fleetwood Mac’s Go Your Own Way bleating from the speakers, but songs from 1977 often don’t play well with those born after 1980. (Or 1982, depending on your source.) Slow, maudlin hipster “rock,” if you can call it that, is how you reel in those youngsters these days.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles, knowing exactly what it wants the second-generation Jeep Compass to mean to the most sought-after segment of car buyers, is placing its sales pitch to scruffy Millennials in a new ad campaign.

As Millennial automotive marketing is usually a cringe-inducing affair, each new product launch and ad campaign targeting this generation sparks morbid interest in cynical observers. Hence, this post.

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Too Hot: Killer Lease Deal Got German Peugeot Managers Fired

When you’re hot, you’re hot. And when you’re the architect of a leasing promotion gone bad (by way of being too successful), you’re fired.

PSA Group reportedly canned its top German managers after a scorching lease deal on Peugeot 208 hatchbacks sent the country’s residents clamoring for wildly discounted French cars.

It wasn’t supposed to be that way.

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The 2017 Buick LaCrosse Won A Comparison Test Conducted By Buick

Native advertising is funny. Not because native advertising, the kind of marketing that appears as though it is the content of a specific publication aside from a disclaimer or two, shouldn’t exist. In a land of free speech, companies should be permitted to tell stories in just about any way they wish to do so.

No, native advertising humors me when it becomes obvious just how difficult it was for a company to strike the right balance. Honesty is key, or else credibility is lost. The Truth About Cars can’t say, “TTAC is the best automotive site on the internet with the best writers and the best design,” because it’s not believable.

On the other end of the spectrum, The Truth About Cars shouldn’t run an automotive website comparison test in which TTAC doesn’t win. “Golly, Jalopnik sure is some good car blog, and while we dun paid for this here piece of native advertising, we’re gonna give the victory to the Gawker folk.”

Somewhere in between is the proper blend, a blend for which Buick searched long and hard in a comparison test paid for by Buick in a Buick vs. Lexus comparison test for Automobile Magazine.

There are no secrets here. The article says “Sponsored Content” across the top. The author is listed as Buick.

The winner of the comparison test? Oh, you’ll never guess.

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Mazda Appoints Chief Marketing Officer in Upmarket Push

Mazda’s North American Operations has named Dino Bernacchi as its chief marketing officer, a position created specifically to aid the automaker in establishing itself as a premium brand.

The manufacturer has taken steps to ditch its economical heritage for nearly a year as it pushes upmarket. Model redesigns have followed a cohesive, sleek trend while the company zeroes in on a future “premium, pricey model” to secure its new identity.

Until then, image is everything for Mazda. The brand doesn’t seem interested in swapping over to a luxury-focused lineup or changing its production philosophy. While Mazda had what was arguably the most aesthetically appealing booth at the New York auto show (even if Porsche and Volvo had the better snacks), most of its vehicles still start below $25,000.

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Honda Actually Has a Nurburgring-related Feat Worthy of Bragging About

“Tested on the Nürburgring,” is just the latest eye-rolling claim to be adopted by automakers desperate to instill a new product with an air of sportiness.

“Nürburgring?!” being the anticipated reaction. “Well, the Germans aren’t going to let just any minivan on that track … ”

There’s much guilt to go around. Just as a Ram maintenance truck trundling down the runway at Edwards Air Force Base is not a space shuttle or F-35, running some laps on the famed circuit does not a supercar make. Still, the track’s allure persists, especially among marketing types.

Sometimes, an achievement crops up that makes the typing of “Nürburgring” an acceptable practice — specifically, the setting of a record.

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Hyundai's South Pole Stunt is Good for Marketing, Better for History Geeks

Northerners, and almost all Canadians, will tell you that starting your car in -28 Celsius (-18.4 Fahrenheit) weather is a drag, but at least it wasn’t colder that morning.

With this in mind, the temperatures experienced during an expedition to the South Pole in that continent’s high summer aren’t outside the realm of personal knowledge. A good many of us have gauged the frostiness of the outside air by the speed in which our nose hair freezes.

Still, Hyundai’s recent stunt, which put famed explorer Ernest Shackleton’s great-grandson behind the wheel of a modified Santa Fe Sport, impresses. It’s not solely the distance covered, the conditions experienced during the 3,600-mile crossing of Antarctica, or the mechanical feat of turning a pedestrian crossover into the most rugged of all-terrain vehicles. It’s the historical tie-in.

If you grew up reading — and re-reading — Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage, you know what I mean. Hollywood writers could not have penned a better adventure, nor can any scientific-minded person believe that such a feat was even survivable.

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BMW Is Making Fun Of The Toyota Camry With A Used 3 Series Sedan

Call them frenemies. BMW and Toyota are working together on a high-profile sports car project that will result in a long-awaited Supra successor and a replacement for the Z4. Two heads are better than one.

“The concept works, the platform can deliver and now we have two proud sets of engineers — one group German, one group Japanese — who are each fighting and arguing for the car they want,” BMW sales boss Ian Robertson said last year.

The fighting and arguing extends beyond the R&D facilities in Munich and Toyota City.

On a mission to exalt its 3 Series in a certified pre-owned commercial, BMW sought to make fun of a typically bland midsize sedan. 2001 Chevrolet Malibu? 2006 Kia Optima? 2017 Subaru Legacy?

No. BMW chose the most basic, beige, new Toyota Camry to make a point on behalf of a bright red pre-owned 3 Series.

Hardly the work of a BFF.

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Volvo Misses April Fools' Day by Almost an Entire Week

Last night, Volvo released a teaser video for a new vehicle it labeled as its “smallest coupe ever,” and I can’t help but feel that its marketing department dropped the ball on the timing.

The video introduces it as an ultra-modern, limited edition representative of a model specifically aimed at the next generation of consumers. Then, Volvo hinted that it might even be autonomous, and I assumed this was some wild concept vehicle never to enter production — but Volvo is already building it.

Of course, I felt like a moron when the big reveal finally came.

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Here Are the Brands That Won't Be Shipping Out to the Frankfurt Motor Show This Year

Frankfurt is the real deal when it comes to trade events. Germany’s International Motor Show is the oldest and, frequently, the largest exhibition of new vehicles and automotive engineering on the planet. However, some important automakers are deciding not to bother with it this year.

The event’s organizer, Germany’s VDA industry association, has confirmed that several automakers have cancelled on the Internationale Automobil-Ausstellung in September 2017. While there will still be over 50 individual brands from Europe, Asia, and the United States, a few of the heavier hitters are following the trend of taking their marketing money off the floor and rerouting it back into digital advertising.

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Toyota Is De-Volkswagenifying the Air in California

Toyota is teaming up with Clear Channel Outdoor Americas to help clean California’s air with a billboard advertising its hydrogen-powered Mirai fuel cell sedan.

From April 3 to May 28, a total of 37 billboards in Los Angeles and San Francisco will filter smoggy air, thanks to the titanium dioxide-coated vinyl used in the sign.

While Toyota missed an opportunity to explicitly rub salt in a certain rival’s wounds, this is nonetheless a pleasant change of scenery in the automotive world, especially considering all of the [s]Volkswagen[/s] emissions scandals of the past couple of years.

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2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon's Teaser Shows 'TransBrake,' License Plate Mystery

The 2018 Dodge Challenger SRT Demon’s teasers continue, with this week’s spot showing yet another way the Demon will launch like a bat out of… well, hell.

The new Demon will sport a new feature that Fiat Chrysler Automobiles calls TransBrake. According to the automaker, TransBrake does exactly what it says: locks the output shaft of the automatic transmission to keep the vehicle stationary until launch.

Apparently, it does its job well.

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Volkswagen's Car Sex Commercial is Unsettling in an Unusual Way

Volkswagen USA released an advertisement on YouTube today entitled “Luv Bug,” and it uses the ever-popular growing family angle to appeal to the customer.

Click through to watch this interesting take on in-car entertainment, and see if you spot what’s wrong.

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The New Buick LaCrosse Is Already Fading Into Obscurity, Except On Dealer Lots

In 2016, as General Motors launched an all-new Buick LaCrosse for the 2017 model year, sales of the LaCrosse fell to an all-time annual low.

But wait a second. Transition years are difficult for any model. Clearance of the outgoing model ends, production of the new model is ramping up, availability at dealers is limited, and the product mix is often skewed toward less affordable models.

Nevertheless, cognizant of the fact that 2016 wasn’t likely to be a great year for the Buick LaCrosse, it’s still easy to declare that 2016 was an awful year for the Buick LaCrosse. Sales were 70-percent lower last year than in 2005, when U.S. LaCrosse sales peaked. Even compared with 2014, U.S. LaCrosse sales were nearly chopped in half in 2016.

And at the current pace, 2017 will be much, much, much worse.

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GM's Maven Reserve: Book a Tahoe for the Same Price as an Escalade or CTS-V

As urban populations grow and analysts continue to predict dwindling car ownership, alternatives have sprung up and automakers are gradually getting in on that sweet car-sharing action. Currently active in 17 North American cities, General Motors’ hourly ride-sharing unit Maven has been building slowly.

GM is now expanding Maven to include long-term rentals which, come to think of it, sounds identical to what it was doing with its Book by Cadillac premium subscription service. While the Caddy offering is intended to be a monthly subscription serving as an alternative to normal vehicle ownership, nothing is really stopping customers from using “Maven Reserve” in a similar manner.

Also similar is the pricing. While the special Maven Reserve vehicles don’t yet encompass all GM’s fleet, a Chevrolet Tahoe runs $1,500 for 28 days, which is identical to the subscription fee for Cadillac Book, which also includes curbside car delivery and mid-month vehicle swapping.

In essence, GM is allowing you to have simultaneous access to a CTS-V and Escalade or a Tahoe for the same amount of money.

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The 2017 Toyota RAV4 Adventure Is Not The RAV4 Trail, Or Is It?

Ridicule it if you must, but the 2017 Toyota RAV4 Adventure gives the people more of what the people want.

Yes, consumers are buying utility vehicles for reasons related to hatchback practicality, all-wheel-drive availability, and peer review equivalency. But they’re also buying SUVs and crossovers — more often than cars now — because they sit up high.

And the RAV4 Adventure sits up a little higher. Improved towing capacity, black wheels, more black cladding, and “dirt-inspired styling” have, however, led Toyota Canada to call the 2017 Toyota RAV4 Adventure the Toyota RAV4 Trail.

Yes, Trail — a name Toyota off-road enthusiasts will know well. Why isn’t Toyota using the Trail name in the United States?

Because the Trail, my friends, has ended.

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2017 Chevrolet Colorado ZR2 - Cheaper Than That Tacoma You Shouldn't Buy, Says GM

Chevrolet gave many truck lovers what they wanted when it previewed the 2017 Colorado ZR2 last year. Sporting a cutaway front bumper, towering suspension travel and all the right components to turn a basic midsize pickup into a mini Ford Raptor, the ZR2 was General Motors’ way of saying, “Look, we’re listening!”

After releasing pricing for the ultimate Colorado today, GM really wants you to know that the $40,995 ZR2 is way cheaper than a model it won’t mention.

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ZZ Top Is Ruining America('s Special Edition Ram Trucks)

As we reported in the middle of the night, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles will show two new Ram special edition pickup trucks at the 2017 Chicago Auto Show this week.

One truck brings the 1500 Night package to the 2500 Heavy Duty. The other is the Ram’s 1500 Copper Sport.

Or is it?

Hours after the embargo lifted and Matthew Guy’s story went live on TTAC, we received a press release from Fiat Chrysler Automobiles Canada’s PR department. Our eagle-eyed managing editor, Mark Stevenson, noticed something peculiar.

“New Limited Edition 2017 Ram 1500 Copperhead Sport Launched,” FCA Canada announced.

And why won’t the Copperhead Sport be the Copperhead Sport in the United States?

Don’t blame Steve Earle. Blame ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons.

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24/7 Wall St. Declares 'Book by Cadillac' a Failure; Cadillac Shrugs Off Questions

General Motors’ luxury division isn’t content with brewing coffee and showing off fashionable new threads at its new SoHo space — it also wants you to drive its cars.

Book by Cadillac, a monthly subscription lease service that launched one month ago, aims to get more people in the metal to the tune of $1,500 a month — and 24/7 Wall St. is already calling it a “major flop.”

According to the self-described “financial news and opinion” website, “[Uwe] Ellinghaus [Cadillac’s chief marketing officer] in particular has to be humiliated,” as there aren’t enough subscriptions available to supply the demand.

Say what now?

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If You Miss the Old Ford, You'll Really Hate Its Latest Hire

Ford Motor Co. has hired former Apple marketing guru Musa Tariq as part of its expanding need to make the case that it is a mobility company not simply an automaker. Taking the newly created position of vice president and chief brand officer, Tariq will help construct and differentiate the brand identify Ford is hoping to carefully curate for itself.

Cars were for your grandfather’s generation. We now have mobility solutions.

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When the Droids Go Home: Nissan's Rogue is a Sales Stud, But What Comes Next?

If compact crossovers were feature films, Nissan’s Rogue would be tapped for an Academy Award statuette. The surging model ended a record sales year with a truly boffo month, and Nissan can give partial thanks to the visibility heaped on it by the Rogue One marketing campaign.

You couldn’t escape it — simply, it was everywhere. No longer dodging monsters made out of ice, the Rogue spend the holiday season dodging lasers as it plowed across a Martian-like landscape. The automaker’s partnership with Lucasfilm took the vast marketing power of the Star Wars franchise and brought it to bear on a relative latecomer to the crossover game, cranking its exposure up to “11.”

That, coupled with a cringe-inducing (or lustworthy) limited-edition Rogue and an end-of-year sales push, made the Rogue the best-selling non-pickup vehicle in the U.S. for the month of December. Unfortunately for Nissan, nothing lasts forever. Rogue One won’t stay in theaters forever, and there’s no new partnership on the horizon.

What to do?

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GM Patents 'Man Step' After Criticizing Ford For Selling One

General Motors loves to poke at its competitors, especially when it comes to trucks. We’re all familiar with its recent barrage of ads attacking Ford for using aluminum in the F-150’s bed, but another ad from 2009 may be coming back to bite them.

The ad in question made fun of a new feature that extended a step and handle from the tailgate of the F-150. Chevrolet didn’t have anything similar at the time, so it decided instead to make an ad mocking the step and making it seem like a feature for unmanly weaklings. Chevy resurrected a similar feature in the bumpers of some trucks a few years later, though a recent set of patents shows the automaker is almost replicating the step they ridiculed eight years ago.

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  • Pmirp1 Simple. Electrics are not yet prime time. In time, they may become the norm. For now, they are still the new kid on the block. A curosity. A status symbol. They are not the work horse of American life. Everyone knows that. You buy it because it is fast. It makes you feel like, you know, Prius like 10-15 years ago.Electrics have improved. Tesla is without a doubt the standard bearer. Still, long way to go before they can be your ONE vehicle. So companies charge more because these things are coooool. Not real.
  • Rich Benkwitt I’ll take that red and white 2 door and I guess the 4 banger so I can have the manual tranny just like my 1969 Bronco. I have my Wildtrak on order now waiting impatiently!
  • Theflyersfan I was living in one part of the world when China and Russia were completing their 21st century scramble of Africa. They were pumping billions into the economies of these countries building new dams, bridges, skyscrapers, freeways/toll roads, utilities, power plants, you know - projects that would benefit the average resident of said location. All they wanted in exchange were the mineral, mining, fishing, timber, etc., rights of said location. And they got them. So during that era when they were looking at global expansion, we were fighting unwinnable wars and our "leaders" on the left were yelling at the "leaders" on the right and vice versa, and what happens when all you do is stare and focus on one thing like DC is known to do? The world moves on around you. And that's what happened here.We had the same opportunity to build Africa up and to make the same deals as other countries, but our "nation building" tends to take place via the conversion from something solid and standing to something in pieces and in rubble. So it looks like we'll continue to have to deal with hostile nations holding our feet into the fire and working through their many geopolitical issues just so we can continue to get cheap electronics and necessary materials in our manufacturing just because we decided around 40+ years ago to ship it all overseas because we wanted to save 50 cents on a pack of socks and the CEOs needed their next quarterly statement to look even better to the shareholders so they could increase their pay and bonuses, consequences be damned.
  • DweezilSFV I didn't think GM could make a worse looking truck than their full-sizers.Success.
  • DweezilSFV GM. Still trying to make OnStar happen.And still the answer to a question no one ever asked.