Posted by Dale Buss on May 17, 2013 07:30 PM
Ford is facing a lawsuit that threatens to tarnish the carefully nurtured image of its EcoBoost engines as a way to get big improvements in fuel efficiency without giving up driving performance.
Some Ford owners in Ohio alleged in a suit filed in federal court in Columbus that Ford vehicles containing the 3.5-liter, V6 EcoBoost engine are "subject to sudden shuddering, shaking, rapid loss of power, and inappropriate transition to limp mode." The allegations echo complaints that Ford addressed last year in a non-public bulletin to dealers and by making changes on its engine assembly line.
At the same time, there are more reports from reviewers who maintain that EcoBoost engines don't deliver their promised fuel efficiency in real-world driving performance.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on April 15, 2013 05:33 PM
Even before it's clear whether Ford Focus or Toyota Corolla actually wears the crown of the world's best-selling car, Ford is wasting no time in pivoting into its new "And Not Or" advertising campaign in the US, while Toyota is gamely trying to get ahead of a huge recall of airbags in its vehicles, which also have affected four other brands—but not Ford.
In fact, Focus is the—er, focus—of one of the first three TV ads in Ford's new marketing campaign, which begin airing April 16 on various programs on the big three broadcast networks and were first shared exclusively with brandchannel.
In the Focus spot, consumers are shown what it would be like to have to choose "sweet or sour" chicken and reminded to be grateful that it's sweet and sour—and that Focus doesn't make them choose between good fuel economy and the convenience of voice-activated Sync infotainment. Likewise, consumers are spared from having to stay at "bed or breakfast" spots, just as the Ford Escape allows them both fuel economy and the convenience of a foot-activated rear liftgate; and Ford Explorer provides great mileage as well as seven-passenger seating, similar to a wet and wild tourist attraction.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on April 9, 2013 05:37 PM
A series of bedrock presumptions has dominated successive eras of the US auto industry. The first one was that the domestic Big Three would be on top forever. A second and more recent "truth" was that Japanese imports were unbeatable.
Now, a third truth that has been part of the presumed backdrop of the industry for nearly a generation may be set to fall this year. That's because Toyota Camry and Honda Accord no longer are shoe-ins to be the best-selling mid-size cars in America for 2013.
They long have reigned; Camry has been America's best-selling car for 11 consecutive years, having taken over around the turn of the century from the Ford Taurus. The Honda Accord, through its various generations, typically was right on the heels of Camry, sales volume-wise. Other mid-size entries didn't stand a chance of matching them.
In the meantime, there's one sales title that none of the four mid-size sedans can aspire to: world's best-selling car. In 2012, Ford claimed that crown with various versions of its Focus, which easily beat out versions of the Toyota Corolla for the No. 1 spot. Ford executives have promised that the Focus would be a global nameplate, and they've made it one—the biggest one. Adding to that accolade, the Ford Fiesta is now the world's best-selling sub-compact.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on September 18, 2012 12:53 PM
Just in case things get dicey once Mark Fields, Ford's presumptive next CEO, takes the reigns, Ford's board reportedly is considering keeping current CEO Alan Mulally around past his retirement as the non-executive chairman.
As skilled as is Fields, the 51-year-old head of Ford's Americas operations, you can't blame Ford's directors for not wanting to let Mulally go completely once he ends his tenure as CEO, with a rumored target for departure around the end of next year. The 67-year-old former chief of Boeing has worked wonders at the auto manufacturer since he took the helm in 2006, seeing it through the global financial collapse and Great Recession without a U.S.-government bailout, supervising the launch of a fleet of worthy new products, and guiding Ford into leadership positions in infotainment technology and fuel economy.
And though Fields may be champing at the bit, Mulally is hardly ready to ride into the sunset just yet. He's got Ford moving on a number of important ongoing and new initiatives. They include:Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on August 31, 2012 03:27 PM
Anticipation has been heavy for the success of the new Dodge Dart, the Illinois-built compact car that represents the first complete-vehicle collaboration between Chrysler and its new Fiat parent. The just-launched model has been saddled with hopes and responsibilities ranging from reestablishment of Chrysler's design chops to re-ignition of the company's hopes in a small-car market where it hasn't excelled for a long time.
But all of that has been delayed, at least, by Dart's slow start out of the gate, according to the Wall Street Journal. Noting that Chrysler sold fewer than 1,000 Darts in the car's first two months in dealer showrooms, June and July, the newspaper blamed Chrysler, in part, for producing many more manual-transmission Darts than the market requires.
An increasing number in the auto industry are talking about stick shifts these days, as a way to entice financially strapped Millennials into purchasing automobiles. In mainstream product segments, stick shifts are less expensive to manufacture, purchase, drive and insure. (Of course it's an entirely different market for stick shifts in pricey luxury makes, where they're provided for driving feel.) Continue reading...
Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 2, 2011 05:02 PM
Air New Zealand isn’t above doing something a little scandalous to bring in customers and publicity. Two years ago, it painted uniforms onto the skin of supposed members of a ANZ flight crew for an ad campaign, raising more than a few eyebrows.
Then a year ago, the airline introduced a brand mascot: a raunchy puppet named Rico, who starred in an online-only ad campaign in which he used “sexual innuendo and chats with B-grade celebrities,” such as David Hasselhoff, Richard Simmons, Snoop Dogg and Lindsay Lohan, to help sell the airline, according to New Zealand’s Stuff.
Rico found some success, collecting 4.5 million YouTube viewers and more than 48,000 Facebook fans along the way. ANZ is likely the only major airline that had a series of online ads starring a puppet that all opened with the text, “The following video contains language and themes of a sensitive nature. Viewer discretion is advised.”Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on October 25, 2011 04:02 PM
Ford sustained a heavy blow today when it dropped like a rock in the influential Consumer Reports magazine annual reliability ratings of brands in the U.S. market, falling to 20th place among brands from last year's 10th place.
Jeep took the top ranking among domestic marques, as Chrysler's brands surged overall in this evaluation. Or Consumer Reports summarized its new reliability data, "Ford is down, Chrysler is up and the Japanese carmakers came out on top."
The knock on Ford's reliability wasn't unexpected.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on September 28, 2011 05:57 PM
It was only last week that we asked, "Has Ford's Focus Spokespuppet Doug Jumped the Shark?" Turns out, he has jumped ship entirely.
Ford has decided to shelve Doug, the orange spokespuppet for the Focus, after a six-month run that did wonders for consumer interest in the car, exceeding the company's initial expectations.
Brandchannel has learned that the denouement of Doug's story will be told on Thursday with the release of the last new video in a series of many.
Ford released the penultimate chapter today, a Doug-less video that featured only "John," the human handler for the smart-alecky mascot, bemoaning the departure of his friend after Doug drove off himself in a 2012 Focus.
"The video today tipped it off," Scott Monty, Ford's head of social media, told brandchannel. "Tomorrow we'll have the concluding video."Continue reading...