GM's Plan for Global Domination Would Meld Buick and Opel, Further Chevrolet

Posted by Dale Buss on September 18, 2013 01:41 PM

General Motors is still trying to work out major pieces of its new global brand architecture, namely: What does it do about Buick? And Opel? And what does it do about Europe?

As they continue to elevate Chevrolet and Cadillac as truly global brands, GM execs seem to be melding Buick and Opel to some extent on a second tier of brands. A new Reuters report said that the company already is moving to more closely integrate global product development between Buick and Opel in a way that would cut costs—yet allow each to refine and extend its brand identity and unique products.

That could mean some new European-bred cars under the Buick marque for consumers in the United States and China, the biggest geographic markets for the GM premium brand. And similar Opel-branded vehicles would be built and sold primarily in Europe, the news service said.Continue reading...

Volvo Amid Identity Crisis as New Owner Aims to Create More 'Showy' Brand for China

Posted by Dale Buss on September 12, 2013 11:06 AM

There were bound to be some difficulties in mashing up a new owner from China with the quintessential Swedishness of Volvo when Geely bought the brand from Ford three years ago. And now, as Volvo tries to re-acquire momentum in various markets—and to take off in China—some of those differences are coming to the fore.

In one corner, according to reports by Reuters and the International Business Times, is the brand's new owner, Zhejiang Geely Holding Group. Billionaire owner Li Shufu believes that China, where more than 1.2 million premium cars were sold last year, is key to Volvo's future and its goal of doubling Volvo's annual global sales to 800,000 vehicles by 2020.

He wants Volvo, according to Reuters, to come up with a large premium sedan aimed at China's newly wealthy who tout their social status with Audis, BMWs and Mercedes-Benz models.Continue reading...

digital moves

Nissan Speeds Up Smartwatch Race with Nismo-Themed Concept Piece

Posted by Dale Buss on September 9, 2013 01:39 PM

Every automaker is trying to win the tech race inside the car and under the hood. Now, Nissan has added another playing field: the driver's wrist.

On the heels of Samsung's debut of its Galaxy Gear smartwatch and the awaited unveiling of Apple's reported iWatch, Nissan introduced the Nismo Concept Watch at the Frankfurt Motor Show today, calling it "the first smartwatch to connect a driver to the car." The clamp-style, sleek-metal accessory is named for the company's racing brand, and its first applications are coming as a way to connect race drivers more closely to their cars.

Like the concept cars that are introduced at auto shows, the new Nismo watch is far from a production model as well. But it already has digital-tech cognoscenti enthusing.Continue reading...

brand news

In the News: Nissan, IKEA, BMW and more

Posted by Dale Buss on September 9, 2013 09:35 AM

In the News

Nissan unveils its own smartwatch.

IKEA no longer ranks as Sweden's most trusted brand.

BMW eclipses rivals at Frankfurt Auto Show with three-level test track.

Apple readies to announce two new iPhones tomorrow. 

Audi sees global sales rise 10 percent in August.

Clorox spoofs Real Housewives as "green" sales miss mark.

Daimler joins parade by aiming to launch self-driving car by 2020.

Deutsche Bank launches customer service channels on Facebook, Twitter. 

Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne cancels two media appearances at Frankfurt Auto Show.

Holiday Inn Express debuts first ever European ad campaign. 

Instagram will introduce ads within a year, reports say.Continue reading...

start your engines

Post-Frankfurt Auto Show, German Carmakers Rev Up Plans

Posted by Dale Buss on September 21, 2011 12:05 PM

They aren't exactly hurling bratwursts at one another yet, but the Big Three auto makers of Germany — Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW — certainly are ratcheting up the world-domination rhetoric these days. From their rosy projections and concomitant saber-rattling, you wouldn't know that these companies will be challenged as their German taxes help to bail out a bankrupt Greece for the next several years, or as the global economy continues to teeter on the precipice of a double-dip recession.

Volkswagen — with hopes high for the 2012 VW Beetle — plans to sink $86 billion over the next five years into plants, vehicles and R&D to bolster its much-discussed bid to overtake Toyota in global sales volume by 2018. Those projected outlays are up a tad from what VW previously was planning. The company "is investing a record amount in forward-looking projects to achieve its goal of becoming the world's best automobile manufacturer," CEO Martin Winterkorn stated in an announcement timed to last week's Frankfurt Auto Show.

One likely landing spot for an increase is its new U.S. manufacturing operations in Tennesee. Getting a much bigger share of the American market — despite its maturity and how highly competitive it is — is considered key to VW's plans for global domination. And Volkswagen of America CEO Jonathan Browning told brandchannel that the U.S. arm of the company is doing its part. "We can make sure we're offering vehicles and services that represent great values in the marketplace and really biuld on inherent strengths that consumers recognize" in the VW brand, he said.Continue reading...


Daimler Revs Up Smart Brand in Hong Kong, Frankfurt and US

Posted by Mark J. Miller on September 19, 2011 12:01 PM

The smog was so bad in Hong Kong last month that “people with heart or respiratory illnesses (were) advised to reduce physical and outdoor activities,” according to Radio Television Hong Kong. 

Daimler AG is looking to help ease matters by bringing a trial version of its Smart electric car (which won't be produced until next year) to the city, according to Bloomberg. The German car manufacturer has partnered with the Hong Kong Jockey Club, Swire Coca-Cola Hong Kong, and four other HK-based organizations to provide two-seater Smart cars in a trial that will last six to 12 months, as part of a bigger four-year trial for the EV.

There are currently 300 charging stations for the 170 electric vehicles in Hong Kong, but the plan is to increase the number of stations to 1,000 in the next year. Nissan and Mitsubishi are also pushing “to introduce electric vehicles in Hong Kong,” Bloomberg reports, “where pollution reached ‘very high’ levels on a record one in four days in 2010.”Continue reading...


See That Brand in the Rear-View Mirror? It's Lexus, and It's Charging Hard

Posted by Dale Buss on September 16, 2011 09:55 AM

If you're BMW and Mercedes-Benz, you're taking lots of sideways glances at the other brand these days, because the German luxury leaders are locked in a tight competition for the crown of best-selling upscale brand in the U.S. market for 2011. A flurry of new-product introductions by each brand during the last few months of the year promises to make the finish even more exciting than the start.

But another place their brand executives are looking is the rear-view mirror. That's where they'll find Lexus, last year's segment champ in the last of a long string of annual victories. And while the Toyota luxury marque most likely won't be able to make up sales of the tens of thousands of extra units in the United States that it would take to pull off a stunning, come-from-behind victory in the second-half and nip Mercedes-Benz and BMW, Lexus is definitely making German executives nervous again at the Frankfurt Auto Show this week.Continue reading...


Imported From Detroit: The Made in America Maserati

Posted by Dale Buss on September 14, 2011 12:03 PM

When Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne tossed around the idea of an American-built Maserati at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last January, the notion had an odd ring to it.

Even for a group of companies, operations and brands that the peripatetic Italian was still trying to organize into a cohesive global whole, the possibility of Chrysler workers in Detroit — a few miles down the street from the auto show — building a true luxury vehicle for export seemed too far-fetched even for him.

But half a world away, in Germany this week, Marchionne showed just how serious he was when he unveiled the vehicle in question at the Frankfurt Auto Show.Continue reading...

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