Posted by Dale Buss on September 19, 2014 02:10 PM
Google and automakers are pursuing somewhat different visions of what "self-driving cars" mean, but each side is going all-out to execute their strategy, and the end result is likely to be mostly autonomous vehicles within several years.
Each week brings new developments that seem to bring this new horizon forward but at the same time sharpen the distinctions between how the tech giant is approaching this vast new arena of commercial possibility and how the auto industry's traditional players are.
This week, for example, Audi and Mercedes-Benz as well as Google received the first permits issued by the state of California for testing of self-driving cars on all of the Golden State's roadways. The permits are designed to help keep California the inarguable bellwether of new automotive technology as it has been for decades in prompting improvements in fuel economy and emissions controls.Continue reading...
brands under fire
Posted by Dale Buss on September 17, 2014 11:47 AM
Nestle Waters is involved in one of the first major brand disputes relating to the devastating drought in California. But it's likely not to be the last tangle over how brands and products use water in the parched Golden State as California increasingly goes drip-dry and state residents have been urged to cut their water usage by 20 percent.
In the case of Nestle's bottled-water brand, a conservation group is petitioning to stop Nestle from tapping its site in Cabazon, which bottles water from a nearby spring in Millard Canyon under the Arrowhead Mountain Spring Water brand. The League of Conservation Voters wants Nestle CEO Paul Bulcke to stop "taking water from the state, bottling it, exporting it out of the state and profiting." Another group, Global Call for Climate Action, has criticized Nestle Water because its plant sits on a Native American reservation where it's immune from state regulation.
To this, Nestle Waters has replied basically: We're one of the most responsible industrial users of water in the state. Go pick on other businesses, ranging from soft-drink plants to agricultural growers, that are much more intensive users. Nestle Waters previously came under fire in Canada for its water collection practices. Continue reading...
brands under fire
Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 28, 2014 04:47 PM
Private transportation service Uber is happy to self promote, but there is likely a whole side of its business that it wishes no one knew about: its legal problems.
The international app-driven car and delivery service has attracted a lot of attention for its one-off marketing stunts that have so far included kitten, Christmas tree and ice cream truck deliveries. But lately, the brand has been in headlines for less admirable practices.
Across the US, from New York and Boston to Chicago, Uber is facing claims (and some actual lawsuits) for "illegal practices including misleading marketing and unfair competition," according to the Reuters. Most recently the company apologized to rival car company Gett after some of Uber's New York employees ordered, and then cancelled, more than 100 cars in a scam that debilitated the service. Uber turned the PR disaster into a recruitment fair, trying to convince some of the Gett drivers to swap companies.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on November 25, 2013 01:47 PM
Hyundai continues to be practically unsurpassed at doing interesting things in the US car market. The latest is its vow to debut for retail customers a fuel-cell version of its Tucson SUV by next spring.
Interestingly, such a showing would leapfrog the plans of both Toyota and Honda to introduce a retail fuel-cell vehicle in the United States. And while the fuel-cell Tucson will be extremely limited as a Hyundai sales opportunity for at least the first few years, the move does indicate that Hyundai wants to go hard and establish an unassailable foothold in fuel-cell technology as Toyota did over a decade ago with Prius to gain early dominance of the hybrid segment.
"Today, right here, the hydrogen fuel cell is making a shift from a research project to a real consumer choice," John Krafcik, CEO of Hyundai Motor America, said at the unveiling of the fuel-cell Tucscon at the Los Angeles Auto Show, according to Automotive News.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on July 22, 2013 10:40 AM
As every brand marketer knows, sex sells. And, if you're Fiat, you're suddenly aware that orange does, too.
The Italian brand has been mounting an uphill battle for mainstream awareness, brand recognition and sales in the United States since its little cars returned to American shores a couple of years ago under the aegis of Fiat's ownership of Chrysler and the keen sense of CEO Sergio Marchionne that the timing might be right for Fiat's reappearance in the US market.
Sex appeal has been a staple of Fiat's marketing, and it's no surprise that the brand is turning to it again in new campaigns for its Fiat 500 Abarth version and the new Fiat 500e all-electric vehicle that will be sold first only in California. From its "Seduction" ad a couple of years ago to the one it debuted early last year featuring a supermodel, her bikini top, a scorpion, and—oh, yes—the black-and-red Abarth, Fiat has been playing this card consistently.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on July 10, 2013 10:41 AM
Often a bellwether, California is playing a key role again in a brewing food-safety controversy involving PepsiCo and the alleged carcinogen that helps give colas their caramel color.
PepsiCo recently reformulated its colas sold in California to comply with provisions of the 27-year-old Proposition 65, which requires food and beverage companies to warn consumers about potential toxins in their products. It did so after an Oakland-based group called Center for Environmental Health (CEH) last year helped prod both PepsiCo and Coca-Cola to pledge to remove the chemical in question, known as 4-MEI for short.
Testing this year by CEH revealed that Coca-Cola, as promised, had reformulated its drinks across the United States in order to eliminate or minimize MEI. But Pepsi had only taken care of California, where it was in apparent violation of Proposition 65.Continue reading...
license to thrill
Posted by Mark J. Miller on March 8, 2013 11:01 AM
With its most famous resident putting a "For Sale" sign in her front yard, the city of Malibu, California, is looking for new ways to attract tourists and boost income.
CNBC reports that Malibu has signed a deal with Excel Corp. in order to start “licensing apparel, active wear, and even things like sunglasses, watches, and volleyballs” with the extra money going to “fund special projects.”
The city is forking over $90,000 for Excel to design a logo and find licensees.Continue reading...
chew on this
Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 18, 2013 04:02 PM
New York City is downsizing its soda sizes, Australia is placing nasty images on its cigarette packs, and sales of organic food are growing in the U.S. Many places in the world certainly seem a lot more aware of health and wellness than they did only a few years back.
Yet amid it all, the doughnut industry continues to thrive, especially in the United States.
Dunkin’ Donuts it plans to open anywhere from 330 to 360 new locations in the U.S. this year, making it one of the fastest-growing quick-service restaurants.
Dunkin’, which has about 7,000 stores in 36 states, opened 291 stores last year in an effort to eventually have 15,000 locations. The brand “sells 1.7 billion cups of coffee every year,” the L.A. Times reports — more than anyone else.
The brand has just announced it will target California for some of its openings in 2015 — a state where Dunkin' has been runnin' on empty, with no stores there since 2002. Executives are confident that it's time to stage a return.Continue reading...