Posted by Dale Buss on June 13, 2013 10:37 AM
Tesla seems to be on quite a roll. Sales are rising, profits are rising and accompanying buzz is off the charts for the luxury-electric-vehicle startup that keeps acquiring momentum even as other EVs and the brands that peddle them are stalling out.
Yet there are some speed bumps in Tesla's way, as indicated by a new evaluation by Barron's that apparently was singly responsible for a hit to Tesla's stock price this week.
As co-founder Elon Musk dimensionalized Tesla's aims, paid off its US-government "green" loan of nearly a half-billion dollars, and released quarterly numbers recently, both investors and the news media—as well as American consumers—warmed to the prospect that there would be enough customers for the $70,000 Tesla Model S to keep the brand's success story going.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on June 12, 2013 01:51 PM
No industry is in the environmental spotlight like autos. It transformed the globe and remains the most impactful on the planet and on humanity.
That's why it's especially encouraging to see car companies stepping up around the world to the sustainability challenge, certainly in how they're approaching the environmental impact of their vehicles but also in a myriad other ways including engineering and design, manufacturing practices, future-product planning and even marketing.
In fact, auto makers hold four of the top five spots in Interbrand's Best Global Green Brands 2013 report: No. 1 Toyota, No. 2 Ford, No. 3 Honda, and No. 5 Nissan.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on June 5, 2013 04:27 PM
Prius sales ticked up in May for the best month in a year for Toyota's hybrid family, but the good news on the Prius front didn't last long: The company just announced a recall of about 87,000 model-year 2010 Prius and Lexus HS 250h hybrids.
But unlike Toyota's difficulties three years ago with the massive recall of its vehicles because of concerns about unintended acceleration, which trashed the brand for a time, the company seems to be on top of the latest action: Toyota said that it has had no reports of accidents or injuries associated with a brake-pressure accumulator that may develop a fatigue crack on an internal part due to vibration.
Good thing. Toyota seems to be getting the Prius franchise back on track these days. Franchise sales for the year to date through April were down by 12 percent and not on pace for the company's full-year target of 250,000 units, even though Prius is now available in several variants from original to compact to enlarged to a plug-in hybrid version.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on June 4, 2013 06:26 PM
Sometimes serendipity brings marketers together in a partnership that makes great sense for both. That appears to be what has happened in a California-only linkup between Fiat and Jones Soda.
Fancying themselves on the cutting edge of American culture, the two brands were already talking, but when they discovered that Fiat was planning to roll out its new California-only 500e this spring at the same time that Jones was planning to launch distribution of its new Natural Jones Soda in California, a fated promotion took shape.
Thus, the newly announced "Jonesin' for a Fiat 500e" summer-photo contest promotion featuring the new all-electric version of the Fiat 500 and the lighter-calorie, reduced-sugar line of new sodas introduced by one of the original boutique-soft-drink brands. They'll be seeking submissions of photos of any Fiat 500 model via social media, partnering in sampling Natural Jones Soda and providing peeks at the 500e at California surfing events and other showcases, and even giving away Natural Jones to visitors to Fiat "studios" in the state.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on May 30, 2013 04:41 PM
Elon Musk already invented one digital-age business, is well on his way to creating another, and now has his sights set on fathering yet a third: affordable, appealing electric cars.
The co-founder of PayPal, which originated digital currency on a broad scale, and the CEO of SpaceX, which is trying to make space travel mainstream, has run into a recent winning streak with his other company, Tesla Motors. Bouncing high off the low of a tussle with The New York Times over the winter about the charge-holding capabilities of the Tesla Model S, Musk recently has made the company profitable for the first time, sold more than 4,000 Model S units in the first quarter, and paid off a $452 million federal government "green" loan early.
Investors have shown their appreciation by bidding up Tesla stock. Musk is talking about what kind of company might eventually want to acquire Tesla, and he's become a media darling once again.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on May 28, 2013 03:41 PM
Ex-GM executive Bob Lutz has been resolute in his support of the Chevrolet Volt that he championed when he was vice chairman and product czar at General Motors a few years ago. Now he's singing the praises of another electric car with a patchy record: the Fisker Karma.
In fact Lutz, bon vivant, former jet-fighter pilot and one of the most celebrated of the few true American auto-industry heroes of the last 20 years, likes Fisker so much that he wants to buy it—the company, not the car—along with some Chinese investors.
Trouble is, another investor group aiming at Fisker Automotive has also surfaced in the last few days. This one is also backed by Chinese investors but is headed by Henrik Fisker, co-founder of the company and designer of the Karma who left it a few weeks ago after a fallout with other top executives over strategy. Hong Kong billionaire Richard Li, a Fisker investor, is his partner.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on May 27, 2013 11:14 AM
GM CEO Dan Akerson has promised that the next generation of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid will be priced as much as $10,000 lower than the car's current sticker price of about $40,000 as the company learns how to cut manufacturing costs and spread the savings across higher production volumes.
But for electric-vehicle aficionados who don't want to wait that long before a battery-powered car becomes affordable, GM is doing something now: offering the new Chevrolet Spark electric vehicle at a price of just $27,495, making it among the least expensive EVs on the market.
GM is keeping the sticker price at less than $20,000 after a $7,500 federal tax credit is applied. It also is offering a $199-a-month, 36-month lease with $999 down, matching the lease deal of rival Fiat, according to Automotive News.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on May 14, 2013 10:38 AM
Tesla has left that nasty New York Times review so far in the rear-view mirror that it barely registers anymore. Riding enthusiasm generated by a far more important all-important evaluation of its Model S by Consumer Reports—which gave the brand its highest score ever—the EV maker now sees its stock rising and its prospects growing.
On the heels of a rosy first-quarter earnings report last week, Tesla's shares have continued surging, closing Monday at $87.80 a share, up 57 percent from $55.79 a share on Thursday before the report. "How far can Tesla go?" said Theodore O'Neill, founder of Connecticut-based Litchfield Hills Research, according to USA Today. "As far as they want to go."Continue reading...