Posted by Dale Buss on April 8, 2013 05:54 PM
It seems every auto brand wants to move upscale these days. Mazda is just one of the latest.
The company said it's developing a new look for its US dealerships even as many of its dealers are continuing to adopt a showroom-renovation program that Mazda launched 10 years ago. Such is the importance for car brands of creating a "retail experience" that fits consumers' self-importance as well as developing and introducing upscale vehicles that can boost a brand into an upscale neighborhood.
Mazda dealers are abuzz about the new design direction—discussed by Mazda executives with Automotive News at the New York auto show last month—in part because dozens of them already are in the process of investing $2 million to $4 million in bringing their enterprises in compliance with a program Mazda called Retail Revolution when it launched the facility-upgrade program a decade ago. Retail Revolution facilities feature two-story, glass-enclosed vehicle displays and metal elements with green and orange accents.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on April 1, 2013 04:31 PM
American Millennials are the apple of everyone's eye in the auto industry: They're the largest generation in the most reliable car market in the western world. And yet they're proving to be the most elusive in terms of attaching themselves to brands and even to the idea of owning a vehicle.
So automakers are beginning to do some unprecedented things to reach them. Case in point: Toyota executives revealed at the ongoing New York International Auto Show that they're considering converting Scion—which until now has focused on quirky designs and low prices to attract young buyers—into an entry-level "luxury" marque in a strategy that might enable the company to battle more effectively in that important gateway segment for upscale Generation Y buyers.
"Today it's hard to find much value below $18,000 to $20,000" for a car, Jim Lentz, CEO of Toyota's North Ameica Region, told Automotive News. "There's going to be a big need in the $25,000 range for a fun-to-drive, nice-looking, value-oriented product."Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on March 28, 2013 06:32 PM
Because the Tri-State market is so demographically broad, automakers load up their car haulers for the New York International Show and bring every conceivable type of new vehicle—from inexpensive fresh production models to concept cars that would demand seven-figure prices if they were available—in an effort to leave no segment of the local market unturned and to impress the hordes of journalists who've assembled in the world media capital.
Given that the U.S. auto-sales recovery continues to gain some steam, it's no surprise that this year's show at the Javits Center has attracted one of the most impressive hauls of automotive hardware to the New York show that's been seen in several years.
Here's a brand-by-brand account of some of what news media have been seeing as the show prepares to open to the public:
Honda got tongues wagging this week with, of all things, a vacuum cleaner. HondaVAC debutes in the Touring Elite version of the 2014 Honda Odyssey as the brand ups the ante in the rolling-living-room segment. The device was developed with Shop-Vac and is comprised of a powerful vacuum, replaceable filter and canister bag with nozzle accessories neatly integrated into a dedicated space on the driver's side bulkhead of the rear cargo area, Honda explained.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on March 19, 2013 10:23 AM
This week, Scion will select the 10 final winners in its Motivate program to help and learn from entrepreneurs in the creative community. It's also another step in the brand's program to engage more fully with Millennial consumers not only who might be creatives but also who might be inspired by their aims and passions—some of the same kinds of passions exemplified by Scion's youthful positioning and the unique designs of its vehicles.
The 50 Motivate semifinalists heard from speakers and learned and shared business-building skills during a three-day workshop in Santa Monica, Calif., last week, at the end of which each of the 10 finalists will receive $10,000, a Scion vehicle and a tie-in to a personal business mentor.
"If our objective is only to get a big share of the independent-minded-entrepreneur market, we're probably not going to hit our sales targets with that alone," Doug Murtha, vice president of Scion, joked to brandchannel. "But one thing we learned is that the concept of going out on your own and taking something you have a personal interest in and making a profession out of it resonates with the unemployed, the underemployed and people working at big companies as well. Whether they have the gumption to go do that is another thing altogether."Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on February 26, 2013 07:22 PM
The good news for Detroit's three automakers is that Chevrolet and GMC managed to get some of their new models recommended by the influential Consumer Reports. The bad news is that just about every other brand fielded by General Motors, Ford and Chrysler is still placed near the bottom in the magazine's new rankings of the best light vehicles on the market.
Just like every year, the new rankings—listed in the April 2013 issue of Consumer Reports—finds that Japanese brands, especially those made by Toyota, continue to dominate. Toyota landed three of the top seven spots, with Lexus as CR's best overall brand as well as Toyota at No. 4 and Scion at No. 7.
Subaru and Mazda finished second and third while Acura and Honda finished fifth and sixth. Audi led its German rivals to finish No. 8, followed by Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz to round out the top 10. Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on January 3, 2013 05:12 PM
Toyota's report of a 27-percent gain in U.S. sales in 2012 is the latest welcome sign of recovery and revival by a company that has been tortured — by itself, by economic forces and even by Mother Nature — for the last four years. Management led by CEO Akio Toyoda has been clearing the decks for what promises to be Toyota's best year in several.
"With sales nearly doubling the [percentage] increase of a healthy industry" overall in the U.S. last year, Toyota "had a breakout year," said Jim Lentz, president and CEO of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., in a press release. "As we move into 2013 and the market sees continued growth, we expect to outperform the industry once again with another nine product launches on the horizon."
What's more, Toyota in 2012 reclaimed its title as the world's largest automaker, selling 9.7 million vehicles globally and leapfrogging GM and Volkswagen to get back on top.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on October 31, 2012 05:13 PM
Ford's fall from grace with Consumer Reports has been breathtaking. The brand finished in second-to-last place, 27th of 28, in the magazine's closely watched, newly released automotive-reliability ratings — just three years after the bible of product quality praised Ford as the only domestic automaker with "world-class reliabilty."
Stunningly, Ford still apparently hasn't corrected its huge problems — real and perceived — with its MyFord Touch system, which continues to confuse some customers even a year and a half after Ford publicly acknowledged the usability problems with what is essentially Sync 2.0.
"They've put out some updates to try to address some of those problems for both the transmissions and the infotainment controls, but it doesn't seem to be enough," Jake Fisher, director of testing for Consumer Reports, commented on the most and least reliable rankings to the Detroit Free Press.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on October 25, 2012 04:18 PM
Recent college graduates are down in the dumps financially, with about half of them unable to find good jobs, and many of them reluctantly moving back in with Mom and Dad -- where at least they can be covered for health insurance until they're 26.
Surveying this scene, Scion has been moving decidedly up-age in in its target market. Introduced as Toyota's "youth brand" nine years ago painting a bull's-eye on newly minted college graduates, Scion brand executives now say that their primary target are still Millennials, but they're moving slightly older, to college grads around age 25 — and they want to help them make their business plan a reality.
"Five years ago, it was the 21-year-old who would have the high propensity to buy a new car, and their parents or other co-signers had a higher propensity to help them out with that purchase" than now, Owen Peacock, national marketing and communications manager for Scion, told brandchannel."Now if you look at a 21- or 22-year-old, their top concerns tend to be debt and student loans and getting a job," he added. "And the first thing when they're done with school isn't going to be buying a new car."Continue reading...