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Ford Brand Dinged in Consumer Reports Reliability Ranking

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...


Acura 'Avenged' With DVD Product Placement, But Digital Adds Are The Future

Posted by Abe Sauer on August 31, 2012 05:26 PM

Box office hit The Avengers contained a respectable amount of product placement.

Now, Acura is seeing its product placement in the superhero film expanded as deleted scenes are added back into the film for its DVD release. Could this form of retroactive product placement become a common Hollywood practice? Continue reading...

auto motive

Honda, Toyota Shift More Production to America

Posted by Dale Buss on August 13, 2012 03:22 PM

Japan's automakers are moving more and more of their "crown jewels" to the U.S. market, which promises to continue to transform the brands both home and abroad into more of a "Made in America" proposition than anyone would have imagined just a few years ago.

Honda plans to give the lead to its North American operations for a growing number of global vehicle-development projects of the type which traditionally were executed in Japan. Company executives hope the moves would help Honda fend off competitive challenges in the North American market and also hedge against a strong yen.

The U.S. R&D team, most of it located in Raymond, Ohio, already stands at about 2,000 people, and Honda could add to that for engineering and development work on the new-generation Acura NSX sports car, the next-generation Civic and other models, said Erik Berkman, the new president of Honda R&D Americas, according to Automotive News.

"As an organization, our U.S. facilities and the skill level of our engineers have achieved full citizenship in R&D," Berkman said. Honda already has been gearing up a huge shift of auto production to the United States from Japan because of the stubbornly strong yen, which makes U.S. manufacturing less expensive.Continue reading...

auto motive

Mazda a Homebody as Japanese Rivals Boost U.S. Output

Posted by Dale Buss on July 23, 2012 02:38 PM

Mazda may be zigging with its decision to bet heavily on making more of its vehicles in Japan and exporting them in the nation's classic Japan Inc. way. But all of its Japanese rivals are zagging — and sinking unprecedented amounts into building up their manufacturing presence in North America, as the lofty yen gives them little choice but to do so for currency hedging.

The little automaker has declared that 90 percent of the output of its new CX-5 crossover, in Japan, will be aimed for export and that it can make a profit on sales to the U.S. even if the yen continues to appreciate against the dollar.Continue reading...


How Chrysler is Diluting 'Imported from Detroit' With Dark Knight Tie-In

Posted by Abe Sauer on June 25, 2012 07:07 PM

For a series of Batman movies that takes itself so seriously, it's a surprise to see it right there so prominent as one of only five menu items on the official The Dark Knight Rises website: "Imported From Gotham City."

The Dark Knight Rises has a number of other official partners. There is Nokia (remember them?) and No Fear (remember them?) and Mountain Dew, which features at the core of its tie-in "Sad Batman." But none of these brands even get a mention on the film's official website, let alone being featured on the site navigation.

It seems that the heavyweight "Imported from Detroit" campaign, which debuted with Eminem at the 2011 Super Bowl and was reborn with Clint Eastwood at the 2012 Super Bowl, is now so ingrained in the American psyche that it's worth lampooning. But the first rule of auto product placement is "be serious." Be so, so serious.Continue reading...

auto motive

The Let's Get Lost Brand: Acura Pitches ILX to Generation Y

Posted by Dale Buss on June 5, 2012 02:02 PM

For the members of Generation Y who (hope they) have stable jobs and incomes and are (reasonably) confident about their financial future, Acura has a message: The brand has a car for you, the new "gateway" model ILX.

The Honda-owned luxury brand is debuting the all-new compact luxury sedan at a starting price of $25,900 with the expectation (and new messaging) that young Americans in their early thirties, with their act together and decent prospects, are going to gravitate to what Acura calls a true luxury car at an attainable entry-level price point.

"This car was specifically designed for these people because of what they've gone through," Mike Accavitti, Acura's U.S. CMO, told brandchannel.Continue reading...

auto motive

Nissan Poaches Audi Exec for Infiniti (and Beyond)

Posted by Dale Buss on June 4, 2012 05:33 PM

Auto-industry observers didn't have to wait long to find out what Johan de Nysschen was going to do after announcing on Friday that he was leaving the helm of Audi of America for another job, following a stellar six years of advancing the cause of the German premium brand in the U.S. market.

Today, Nissan announced that De Nysschen will become SVP of the Infiniti luxury brand worldwide. The 52-year-old De Nysschen will assume the post on July 1st and will be based at Infiniti's new global headquarters in Hong Kong.

"We have exciting and ambitious plans for improving the Infiniti brand including introducing new models in all markets where premium customer demand exists," stated De Nysschen's new boss, Nissan EVP Andy Palmer. The choice of De Nysschen to head the Infiniti brand is a savvy move.

Nissan's luxury marque has been faring OK over the last few years and got through the supply disruptions of last year in better shape than Toyota's Lexus or Honda's Acura brands. Infiniti introduced the new JX seven-passenger SUV this year, which has gotten off to a solid start, and Inifniti sales overall in the U.S. market are about 7 percent above a year earlier.Continue reading...

in the spotlight

McDonald's, Automakers Read Tea-Leaves on Consumer Confidence

Posted by Dale Buss on June 4, 2012 04:13 PM

It's the third year in a row that brand executives have worried about the "c" word — as in "confidence." Consumer confidence, to be exact.

In the wake of last week's tough U.S. jobs numbers for May, there's more discussion among brands whether the economy this year will follow the pattern of the last couple of years: a first-quarter strengthening followed by relative anemia in the following months.

Only this year, while the American economic recovery has at least seemed on track, brands are more worried about negative influences from abroad.

"The headwinds we face on both the top and bottom lines, such as austerity measures in Europe, higher commodity costs in the U.S., and slowing growth in Asia, do remain," Don Thompson, new CEO of McDonald's, told securities analysts last week, according to Nation's Restaurant News. "I'm confident in our ability to navigate these near-term headwinds, because we've faced these situations before."

Thompson told the analysts that McDonald's long-running Plan to Win best practices platform, established by his predecessor as CEO, Jim Skinner, will be up to the challenge of any softening in consumer confidence, using local innovations scaled across the company's entire global system, for instance.Continue reading...

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