By on July 17, 2017

2017 Cadillac Escalade

If Cadillac’s top boss, Johan de Nysschen, had his way, The Hunt for Red October would feature a scene in which Capt. Vasili Borodin describes his dream of seeing the United States in an Escalade, not an recreational vehicle.

While General Motors’ luxury division counts on American and Chinese buyers to keep it flush with cash, there’s still room in the fold for other markets. Assuming, of course, those citizens have a willingness to cast off deep-seated consumer habits and, perhaps, prejudices.

After dropping pedestrian vehicles for an all-prestige lineup, GM’s conquest of the Russian luxury market hasn’t yet occurred, though it’s still early days. Sales are looking up. With a new partner in tow, Cadillac feels confident it can muscle out the Germans on the streets of Moscow and St. Petersburg. (Read More…)

By on April 26, 2017

Subaru Legacy 2018 Logo Emblem Grille

The importance of favorable perception is invaluable when it comes to sales. If a product or brand doesn’t inspire some sort of positive association, then it’s not likely to be around for longer.

Automotive brands are specifically interested in gaining recognition for their strengths. When you think of the most reliable or best-looking cars, one or two brands usually jump to the front of your mind — and the same can be said for the worst examples in the industry. Those companies are aware of their status and, on the off-chance they forget, certain outlets are only too happy to remind them.

Based on insights and data collected via Kelley Blue Book’s brand watch study, the automotive research company has established the victors of its Brand Image Awards for 2017. While most winners are about as surprising as a cold winter in Canada, a few recipients took some dissecting to make sense of.

(Read More…)

By on March 27, 2017

2015-Chevrolet-CorvetteZ06-003-sm

Former General Motors vice chairman and product development bigwig Bob Lutz has always had lots to say about the Chevrolet Corvette, and advanced age hasn’t diminished his enthusiasm for the model and its potential.

Even in the pre-recession, pre-bankruptcy days, a pre-retirement Lutz opined that the ‘Vette nameplate could host more than just a sports car. Back then, Lutz wasn’t saying that Corvette should be spun off as its own make, but he is now. (Read More…)

By on December 11, 2016

Nissan Battle Tested Rogue Virtual Reality Star Wars

I despised all of the cross-promotion taking place between Nissan and Star Wars this fall, especially now that it has devolved into dealerships offering free worthless collectables to lure in prospective buyers. However, you have to admit that they did a phenomenal job implementing the campaign.

It was a perfect storm of coincidences that allowed this cooperative marketing strategy to emerge from Nissan’s womb. The Rogue shared a name with the upcoming Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, the timing of the film’s release roughly coincided with the model’s 2017 face-lift, and the automaker wanted to put a lot of money behind the advertising of its best-selling model.

Although it probably didn’t hurt that Nissan’s North America marketing chief, Jeremy Tucker, joined Nissan from Disney — the company that now owns Lucasfilm and Star Wars — in 2014.  (Read More…)

By on October 15, 2016

2016 Jeep Wrangler

After posting sales gains that most automakers would sell their souls for, Jeep’s skyrocketing climb hit the upper limits of the atmosphere in September, with sales dropping by 3 percent compared to the same month a year ago.

Maybe the Jeep brand isn’t bigger than Jesus. With the new vehicle market cooling off and two of its oldest — but still strong-selling — models being pared down to one, Jeep needs to branch out to keep the momentum going.

It has products up its sleeve — a Wrangler pickup and $140,000 luxo-ute to name a couple — and has factories planned for developing nations everywhere, but Jeep could reap a sales reward if it stopped screwing up in one obvious but overlooked market. (Read More…)

By on October 5, 2016

2017 Toyota Highlander

Interbrand released its annual list of the world’s top 100 brands, a ranking that now contains an independent automaker.

While Toyota climbs one spot to the No. 5 position (the highest of all automakers), Tesla has muscled its way onto the field, slotting at No. 100. Volkswagen continues the brand value descent it began last year, falling from No. 35 to No. 40 and posting a value decline of 9 percent.

There’s grim news for GM, as none of its brands made the list this year.
(Read More…)

By on July 27, 2016

high_macan_gts_2015_porsche_ag-4

This must be getting boring for the guys and gals in Stuttgart.

For the 12th year in a row, Porsche ranked first in J.D. Power’s new vehicle appeal study, but other automakers are closing in on its crown.

This year’s Automotive Performance, Execution and Layout (APEAL) study found that driver-assist safety features cause drivers to fall in love with their vehicles. They also bore friends and co-workers by talking about it all the time. (Read More…)

By on June 8, 2016

2017 Toyota Highlander

When it comes to brands that resonate with buyers, no other automaker tops Toyota, according to a recent study.

In its annual ranking, BrandZ Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands shows the Japanese automaker rising two spots to place 28th out of all companies in 2015. Second and third-place automakers BMW and Mercedes-Benz both gained ground in the rankings. (Read More…)

By on June 6, 2016

2017 Mercedes-Benz GLC Coupe (Image: Mercedes-Benz USA)

Women play a very large role in the purchase of new vehicles, and automakers are scrambling to tap into the demographic — among them, the staid, dignified and traditionally male-centric Mercedes-Benz.

The German automaker wants to throw off that old image and make itself the top premium car brand for women by 2020, according to Automotive News. (Read More…)

By on May 17, 2016

volkswagen-jetta-tdi-clean-diesel-event-no-better-time-to-buy-large-3

Decades of feel-good corporate outreach and a hug-worthy relationships with buyers didn’t stop potential customers and veedub diehards from fleeing Volkswagen after the diesel stink bomb went off in Wolfsburg.

Like a husband of 50 years caught cheating with his wife’s sister, the intentional deception behind the diesel emissions scandal shattered the hard-earned trust between the company and its consumers. Thanks to that, Volkswagen’s sales trajectory now mimics that of a very leaky submarine.

Could Volkswagen have managed the scandal better, and can the company rebuild that lost trust?

According to the consumer opinion-tracking Reputation Institute, the answers to those questions are “you bet” and “yeah … it’s gonna take a loooong time.” (Read More…)

By on May 14, 2016

2016-cadillac-ct6

Will there be black berets, obscure Russian poetry and Yoko Ono albums for sale at the door?

Fans of the General no doubt recoiled in horror at reports that Cadillac — a brand that conjures images of Elvis, Bruce Springsteen, the movie Badlands, and the hopes and aspirations of middle America — is opening a swank coffee joint in Manhattan.

Well, it true. They’re here, they’re upscale, get used to it.

If you’re really lucky, maybe one day you will find yourself drinking java from the upper slopes of a mountain you’ve never heard of while discussing designer fragrances and interpreting (wrongly) works of modern art…alongside a Cadillac. (Read More…)

By on May 6, 2016

Tesla Model 3 Prototype on road, Image: Tesla Motors

Time’s a wastin’ if you want to impress your friends and neighbors with a gee-whiz Tesla Model 3 anytime in the next three years.

As he’s known to do, Tesla founder Elon Musk took to Twitter last night to warm wannabe owners about the growing wait for his $35,000 electric sedan. If you’re just lining up for a Model 3 now, consider signing a lease for another vehicle while you wait — you probably won’t have to terminate it early. (Read More…)

By on March 28, 2016

2016-Cadillac-CT6

The lowly Cimarron might be be a distant, nightmare-fuel memory, but Cadillac’s current sales strategy is still being impacted by a history of not measuring up to European rivals.

The luxury automaker’s newest offerings — the CT6 sedan and XT5 crossover — have been saddled with so-so resale values by residual forecaster ALG, according to Automotive News, making it more difficult for Cadillac to offer competitive lease rates.

(Read More…)

By on December 13, 2010

Thought the Toyota brand had been dealt the death blow during the recall crisis? That brand seems to be more resilient than imagined: The latest Kelley Blue Book Brand Watch study has Toyota on top “as the most-considered auto brand among new-car shoppers.” That according to a press release just released by KBB. (Read More…)

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