detroit auto show
Posted by Dale Buss on January 16, 2013 12:20 PM
It's too early to determine whether the new Cadillac ELR truly will be a game-changer in the sluggish U.S. market for plug-in hybrids. But in unveiling the new vehicle to the world's automotive press at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week, at least General Motors is bidding to change the dynamics of the segment in a significant way. Already, it's been deemed best production car of the show, as Cadillac proudly tweeted.
ELR isn't expected to go on sale until early 2014 ("winter" is what GM is promising) and at a price tag (before U.S.-government tax credits for a "green" car purchase) of more than $50,000. GM is relying on the same basic powertrain in Volt, a combination of powerful batteries that can take the car 25 or 30 miles on a charge and a small gasoline engine that takes over once the batteries are out of juice and provides an effective range for the vehicle of about 300 miles.Continue reading...
on the road again
Posted by Shirley Brady on November 19, 2012 03:04 PM
BMW on Saturday wrapped its BMW i global Born Electric Tour's New York City pit stop, which featured a digital window that turned the reflection of cars passing by into its own electric vehicles, the all-electric BMW i3 and plug-in hybrid BMW i8 concept vehicles. Find out more below, along with interviews from the automaker's execs who turned up to the Big Apple.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on November 14, 2012 04:18 PM
Buying a car has never been a walk in the park. But in New York this week, at least looking at BMWs can be that simple.
BMW is displaying its brand in all sorts of new ways these days, including its retail store in Paris and new licensed goods ranging from baby strollers to watches. And now, BMW is bringing its brand to a pop-up experience near you — at least if you live in New York, Rome, Dusseldorf, Tokyo, London, Paris or Shanghai.
The Born Electric Tour, on behalf of the BMW i sub-brand of electric cars announced last year, and featuring glimpses of the brand's future, opens today at Bryant Park in New York, through Saturday. Vehicles on display include the BMW i3 Concept, the BMW i8 Concept Spyder, and its "future mobility services" that reflect the company's vision for urban transportation.
It's the latest stop on a year-long global tour that kicked off in Rome in June. The goal is showcase the BMW i series in a series of pop-up events in seven cities, including Dusseldorf, Tokyo, London, Paris and Shanghai. It's no accident that the tour is visiting only a handful of the largest and most important metropolitan areas in the world's most significant and populous markets.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on October 11, 2012 04:03 PM
These are rough times for the electric-vehicle business, despite sky-high gasoline prices, extensive marketing of EVs, and a continual drumbeat of support by the news and entertainment media and governments at all levels.
Nissan has become so concerned about lackluster sales of its all-electric Leaf that it is trimming the price on its 2013 model. Ford is in no hurry to invest marketing resources in the launch of its new Focus Electric. And Toyota — which can count on the success of its Prius hybrid brand instead — has all but forsworn any significant EV presence in the market for at least the next few years.
Why? Despite incredible marketing investment and societal pressure thrown behind getting car-buyers to adopt all-electric vehicles, American consumers by and large are resisting the very notion of EVs. A new study even casts doubt on the net environmental benefits of electric cars, depending on how the power to charge their batteries is produced.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on October 8, 2012 03:08 PM
Nissan is doubling down on its investment in the Leaf electric vehicle in a big way, by opening a $1.6-billion factory in Smyrna, Tenn., to bring to the U.S. production of a car that has been built in Japan until now. Although Nissan is selling fewer Leafs than a year ago, the Japanese automaker — which just moved up 30 percent to #73, with a brand valuation just shy of $5 billion, on Interbrand's new Best Global Brands report — is determined to turn around Leaf's fortunes.
In addition to localizing Leaf production, Nissan underscored the EV's woes late last week as word got out that it plans to introduce a budget version of the nameplate next year in a bid to make the sticker price more plausible to more Americans, according to Automotive News. The low-cost trim level would be positioned below the two higher-spec Leaf versions currently on the market, apparently, and will debut as part of a 2013-model facelift of the entire Leaf line. Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on October 5, 2012 05:09 PM
In taking on the Prius brand, king of the hybrid mountain, Ford has launched a daring first TV-advertising campaign for the 2013 C-Max hybrid. But it might even be more clever than it is daring. In TV spots that debuted this week, Ford uses an old school but eye-catching 2-D animation technique (and a character who's familiar at least to the rest of the world) and directly compares the new vehicle to Toyota's Prius v.
The first commercial highights MPB by showing "Mr. Linea," a line-drawn character from a classic Italian TV series, outpacing a Prius v in his zippy new C-Max.
Another of the spots, called "Say Wheeee," plays up horsepower, showing him jumping out of his Prius v, kicking it in frustration after being passed by other traffic, and then hopping into a C-Max newly drawn by the cartoonist — then zipping past the Prius v and other vehicles.
A third, called "Be Great," shows off the C-Max hands-free lift gate feature ... before the vehicle zips past a car shaped like (you guessed it) a Prius v.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on October 4, 2012 03:03 PM
"Lightning rod" no longer suffices to suffice to describe the platform for controversy that the Chevrolet Volt has become in its two-year history on the market. Maybe someday Volt will simply serve as its own metaphor for a brilliant but troubled car — like "DeLorean."
That's not to say that it's not successful — indeed, the Volt has expanded its lead, as Bloomberg reports, "as the top-selling U.S. rechargeable car this year as Toyota expanded plug-in Prius deliveries and Nissan said it's working to boost electric Leaf sales." Chevy sold 2,851 Volts in September; Nissan sold 984 Leafs; it wasn't clear how many of Toyota's mearly 19,000 Prius sales were plug-ins, but certainly it was a small percentage.
Even so, Chevrolet CMO Chris Perry is having to defend the recent ramping up of sales incentives that the brand is using to entice consumers and dealers into moving more units of the plug-in hybrid nameplate.Continue reading...
Posted by Shirley Brady on October 3, 2012 05:17 PM
Google isn't the only brand developing driverless cars. Nissan, which rose 30 percent on Interbrand's new Best Global Brands report, has unveiled NSC-2015, a prototype version of its Leaf electric vehicle "that can park itself, come when you call it and warn you about burglars," as Forbes notes. "The car can’t drive itself down the street," or and wouldn't even be legal in Japan (yet). Still, it's an intriguing move for the Japanese automaker as it works out the kinks on the cloud-based technology.
"When a smartphone sends an instruction to park, the instruction enters the cloud to the Nissan Global Data Center," explained Tooru Futami, engineering director at Nissan's Electronics Engineering Development Division. "There, a car health check is performed. The system decides if the car is OK to enter automatic driving mode. If everything with the car is OK, the automatic driving mode is enabled."
See more of the test car, cruising driverless at around 5 kmh at CEATEC in Japan, billed as Asia's biggest tech show, below.Continue reading...