Late yesterday, news dropped that Volkswagen planned to change its name to Voltswagen. A lot of automotive journalists noted the date and called out the announcement as a premature April’s Fool prank, but further reporting seemed to confirm that the name change was indeed real.
Turns out that it really is an April Fool’s prank gone awry.
Ford has hired Suzy Deering as global chief marketing officer to help execute its plan to unlock customer and company value. Deering will join Ford as head of Global Marketing on January 4, 2021, from worldwide and North America CMO at eBay for five-plus years.
Deering will succeed Joy Falotico as Ford CMO. The company previously announced that Falotico, who has been managing both marketing and the Lincoln brand for the past three years, will be dedicated solely to her role as president of the Lincoln Motor Company, Ford’s strategically important and growing luxury vehicle brand.
You had to expect it. This QOTD, that is, not the reason for it.
As yours truly basks in the smugness of having stocked up on at least a month’s worth of food, toilet paper, and disinfectant two and a half weeks ago, thus sidestepping the panic-buying hordes picking supermarket shelves bare like buzzards on still-fresh roadkill, his self-satisfaction is nonetheless tempered with an edge of dread.
Frankly, I’m freaked out. Prepared and informed, yes, but worried all the same. For many of us, there could be plenty of days — and maybe even weeks — ahead where we’re not allowed to leave our homes. Your author’s prime minister already finds himself in just such a situation.
How would you pass that time?
Automakers are obsessed with promoting high-tech concepts in an effort to prove to investors and the general public that they aren’t falling behind the times. While artificial intelligence remains the gold standard, what constitutes A.I. can get a little foggy. However, in the present, the term can be used to describe any machine that effectively mimics cognitive behaviors, like the ability to learn or create.
Car manufacturers want to fine tune specific A.I. examples to be implemented in autonomous driving hardware and high-end, modern infotainment systems. For example Mercedes-Benz wants to use the technology to build a more serious relationship between drivers and its cars by allowing future vehicles to “learn” about the driver. Meanwhile, General Motors decided to branch out to see how such a system would handle marketing by linking up OnStar Go with IBM’s Watson, an A.I. which famously beat Jeopardy champion Ken Jennings.
Watson is now working with Lexus and taking things a step further. The automaker just released a new advertisement it claims was written by IBM’s machine and directed by Kevin Macdonald.
A good morning to each and every one of you. We know you’re eagerly looking forward to your Memorial Day long weekend, but there’s trouble brewing in this bucolic paradise. You see, oil and gas companies exist, and that’s bad. Also, there are car companies that manufacture products that ordinary citizens can buy, and they’re also allowed to — get this — advertise what they sell. Distasteful, we know.
What’s worse, lurking among the citizenry (most of whom are true of heart and noble in intention), is a subversive threat that can no longer be tolerated. They call themselves “journalists” — bored, bourgeois types, to be sure, but possessed with the notion that what they scribble about cars isn’t fully and completely tainted by the fact that car and oil companies can advertise. Bloated and decadent from the checks rolling in from ExxonMobil and General Motors, they profess to speak the truth.
We know this isn’t the case. Come with us, comrade, as we discuss a solution.
Depending on who you believe, Tesla is either the innocent victim of a shadowy, union-backed disinformation campaign peddled by so-called journalists, or a cynical, profit-chasing company willing to underplay injury statistics in a bid to keep its operation looking viable and progressive.
It’s not hard to fall into one of these two camps.
There’s a battle raging between the electric automaker and the journalists behind an explosive story published in Reveal, a publication of the nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting. In it, Reveal claims workers at Tesla’s Fremont assembly plant face unsafe working conditions resulting from an all-hands-on-deck-style work culture. Workplace injuries are often categorized as personal medical issues, the report stated, and CEO Elon Musk’s dislike of the color yellow (a color used to mark workplace hazards) has created further risk to employees.
False, false, and false, Tesla claims.
As you would expect, most of the reaction to Cadillac’s announcement of the 550-horsepower CT6 V-Sport centered around its engine, a “clean-sheet” 4.2-liter V8 that is either meant to slavishly ape the current German fetish for diminutive, twin-blown bent-eights or cash in on all that nostalgia for the Northstar and its litany of opportunities for improvement. I’m not sure which.
I don’t know about you, but I think it makes sense to develop a whole new powerplant for the CT6 because, if there is one thing that GM does not already have, it is an exhaustively developed, amazingly compact, remarkably lightweight, and impressively powerful V8 engine. Honestly, the whole thing reminds me of the time that I accidentally bought a used DVD of “Cloverfield” at a Blockbuster Video sale only to get home and discover that not only did I already own a used DVD of Cloverfield, the one I’d just bought had a big scratch in it. Oh well. If nothing else, this new CT6 V-Sport will increase the alacrity with which the tatted-up part-time-barista grandchildren of Boomers await their death and subsequent estate distribution. Grandpa might have left you the ’57 Strat, but he left me that wacky thing that looks like a normal Cadillac Escalade but sits really low on the ground for some reason!
The Son O’ Northstar wasn’t the only technological innovation reported in the press release, however. When the CT6 V-Sport hits the streets, it will feature the largest front brakes ever fitted to a production automobile, eclipsing the 17.3-inch rotors of the Lamborghini Urus with a 19-inch system sourced from Brembo. Even more surprisingly, the whole thing fits snugly inside 20-inch wheels. This new innovation was reported across hundreds of media outlets in the automotive, business, and popular-interest press.
There is just one little issue: it can’t be true.
It’s odd to consider, but in a world where Steve McQueen had never lived I’d be about three dozen serious injuries better off than I am today. Scratch that. I don’t need him to have never lived. I just need him to have not supported the production of “On Any Sunday.”
That film romanticizes the Elsinore GP, which in turn led me to enter the Elsinore GP, which led me to break my leg training for the Elsinore GP, which led me to record a big fat DNS for the Elsinore GP. Worse than that, however, the opening sequence of “On Any Sunday” is commonly understood to be the catalyst for the sport of bicycle motocross, which has treated me worse than Ike Turner treated Tina.
Not that I bear any grudge against the man, mind you. I do, however, have complete and abiding contempt for the consumer-driven culture of McQueen worship that has arisen in the past 20 years or so. If you wear Hunsiker McQueen shoes or a McQueen T-shirt, or if you repeat the “Racing is life” line from LeMans like it was someone’s actual philosophy and not just a line written for an actor on a set, I’m going to think less of you. It’s not because McQueen was a vile person at times, although it is worth noting that his behavior often went past the rambunctious into the just plain despicable. It is because while boys and teenagers need heroes to admire and emulate, grown men shouldn’t wear another man’s face or name on their bodies if they can help it. Period, point blank.
Last week, Ford introduced a new “ Bullitt Mustang” with the help of McQueen’s lovely granddaughter, Molly Flattery dba Molly McQueen. I have to say that I like everything about the car but the new-for-2019 nose, which is uncomfortably catfish-esque, and the “Bullitt” logos. As was the case the last two times a Bullitt Mustang appeared, there’s been a revival of interest in the movie. My wife had never seen it, so we watched “Bullitt” this past Friday night. Shortly afterwards, I read a Jalopnik piece by Raphael Orlove describing the movie as “boring garbage.”
It seems like the right time to take a look at the film without Gulf-colored lenses or Millennial-ish suspicion, so let’s open the curtain on another episode of TTAC At The Movies, shall we? Warning: spoilers ahead for those of you who haven’t managed to catch the film in the past 49 years.
Don’t look now, but there’s a major shortage affecting the automotive industry. Well, maybe that’s putting it a bit too strongly. There is a major shortage — but it primarily affects the automotive blogging industry, and the shortage in question is a shortage of history.
Here’s the problem in a nutshell: There are approximately one zillion car websites on the Internet, each of them trying to cook up 10 new stories a day to “increase engagement.” So how do you get those 10 stories? You can get a few of them from Automotive News and a few more from press releases, but that won’t fill the hopper all the way to the brim. To paraphrase the talking house in D.H. Lawrence’s sublime The Rocking-Horse Winner, “There must be more stories!” So you start looking for Wacky Car History Features to write. The problem is that this ground has been worn smooth by the grubby fingers of the second-tier blogger class. Everything you can think of has already been written up 10 times by drooling morons. The Mercedes 500E? The “Pasha” interior Porsches? The Mazda Cosmo? They’ve all been done to death. You’d better start looking at more esoteric stuff than that, like the Mitsuoka Viewt… oh shit, that’s been covered thirty times.
Eventually you give up and just start throwing darts at the Standard Catalog Of Imported Cars. Which brings us to Jason Torchinsky’s “Meh Car Monday” on the Infiniti G20. I think Torch is a great writer and a great person and a great dad, and to be fair the G20 piece is pretty well-balanced. The G20 has received much worse from far less talented writers; Doug DeMuro applied his genial disregard for the truth in the vague direction of the smallest Infiniti a few years back, claiming that it was just a Sentra. He was wrong, and Torch is careful to disavow that claim in his piece, but I’m a little troubled nevertheless.
Allow me to explain why the G20 was anything but “meh”, and why it’s important to remember that fact.
Last week’s ABC News investigation into unrecalled BMW models bursting into flames after being parked raised a number of questions, but didn’t provide viewers with many answers.
While the automaker, like others, has seen its fair share of fire-related safety recalls in recent years, the models involved in the apparent rash of spontaneous fires appear quite diverse — both in model type and age. Any fire can have a number of causes, leading many to see the report as sensationalism, especially after the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it couldn’t find a recall-worthy issue behind the blazes.
After taking time to examine ABC‘s findings, BMW decided to speak out.
One of the great things about childhood is the feeling that unlimited possibilities will arrive the moment you turn 18. Rich and famous? Adventurer? Carefree private eye who lives in a trailer by the beach? All of those future lifestyles exist in the realm of possibility when you’re a kid.
You’ll make it happen one day. First, you just need to grow up.
Adulthood, of course, has a way of stepping in and saying, “Whoa there…. whoa, whoa, whoa. Easy now. Have you thought about coding? Plastics? Think, son — what about your retirement?”
Adulthood is one giant buzzkill after another.
The “Big Game” is as much of a sporting event and as it is a tactical delivery system for advertisements and, at roughly $5 million just to reserve a thirty second slot, the folks working in the media department want their commercials to have a strategic impact. Reaching your intended audience is only half the battle. You must also provoke them into action.
While there were plenty of Super Bowl 51 car commercials that got under people’s skin, those strong feelings often failed to morph into consumer interest. For example, Ford’s mobility-focused spot featuring Nina Simone’s classic civil rights song I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel to Be Free was all over social media when it aired right after kickoff. However, nobody sent me a surprised and excited text about Ford like they did for Alfa Romeo.
Faraday Future, the Chinese-answer-to-Tesla car company whose travails have been worthy of three concurrently running soap operas even though they have yet to put a single car anywhere near a showroom, debuted a sorta-concepty-production thing this week. And boy oh boy did the knives come out. But why?
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