auto motive

Ford Grasps for Infotainment Edge by Expanding Sync, Adding Veteran Exec

Posted by Dale Buss on January 6, 2014 06:41 PM

Amid the flurry of infotainment announcements at the Consumer Electronics Show this week, Ford is trying to maintain a lead in an area where it blazed trails by expanding and enhancing its Sync telematics platform and swiping a veteran executive with experience in General Motors' OnStar operation to help out.

Ford announced that it will expand availability of its Sync AppLink to 3.4 million more vehicles later this year with a free upgrade that enables current Ford owners to access and control smartphone apps via voice command.

The company ran into problems with consumers over the last couple of years as subsequent generations of Sync became more complicated to operate and owners pushed back via third-party ratings such as Consumer Reports. But Ford has worked hard to overcome those difficulties, and its latest moves with Sync represent an attempt to re-assert itself in the pole position of a telematics revolution that is vastly reconfiguring the very notion of a car and which is drawing in not only automakers but also a wide range of tech companies in what Ford futurist Sheryl Connelly has called a "quiet riot of innovation."Continue reading...

auto motive

GM Plunks New Call Center in Heart of Product-Development Complex

Posted by Dale Buss on December 9, 2013 06:30 PM

General Motors is opening a new customer-service center in the heart of its engineering and product-development operations in suburban Detroit to underscore its commitment to making its customers experiences stand out from the industry’s typical subpar performance. In the process, it’s drawing lessons from iconic handholding brands ranging from Amazon to Apple to Nordstrom to Zappos.

GM’s call-center operation on the campus of its sprawling GM Technical Center will employ about 300 “advisors” and 35 managers by year’s end. The company also has doubled the number of its own and dealers’ employees, to about 50, that are being deployed at dealers to help explain the latest in-vehicle technology and infotainment features to customers.

Both measures are part of a broader attempt by the company to follow up on recently improved valuations of product quality and customer perceptions, and to turn that area into a relative strength for Chevrolet, Cadillac, Buick and GMC instead of a traditional vulnerability. Dropping the ball in that area certainly has hurt cross-town rival Ford lately. Continue reading...

auto motive

Mercedes-Benz Ready to Take US Luxury Auto Sales Crown from BMW

Posted by Dale Buss on November 11, 2013 12:29 PM

Mercedes-Benz is determined to make the United States market a long-term growth play at a time when China and other emerging markets seem to bear the greatest potential for global luxury car brands. The first step on that journey would be for Mercedes-Benz to wrest the 2013 premium-sales crown for the US from BMW.

The oldest German car brand seems to be well on its way to doing exactly that. So far this year, it is beating BMW by about 5,000 vehicles in the US. And with the launch of its highly hyped new CLA entry-level sedan still picking up steam, that's a gap which actually could grow by December 31. Also, Mercedes-Benz already has flooded the airwaves with helpful seasonal-promotion TV ads featuring Santa Claus and his frigid garage full of Benzes.

Mercedes has gained at least one significant believer this year. "I think Mercedes is definitely in a position of strength considering the CLA launch, which is a segment that BMW isn't in yet," Matt Carpenter, general sales manager for Audi of America, told brandchannel. "It's a segment we're going to be making a statement in next year with our new A3 sedan."Continue reading...

brand news

In the News: BT, CBS, Alibaba and more

Posted by Dale Buss on November 11, 2013 09:11 AM

In the News

BSkyB shares hit by BT Champions League football rights deal win.

CBS criticized for not running more extensive apology over flawed Benghazi report.

Alibaba set for US$5B boost from China's online "Singles Day."

Adidas sprints for lead with Smart Run watch.

Amazon taps U.S. Postal Service to establish Sunday delivery for Prime customers.

Apple finds surprising market growth in Japan as China supply chain practices face fresh criticism.

Bank of America may have to pay US $864M over "Hustle" loans.

Bloomberg curbs reporting that might anger China.

Boeing and Japan Air Lines face another Dreamliner battery incident.

Bottega Veneta unveils new 'green' headquarters.

Cadillac's new CMO aims to focus brand around design.

Charmin pulls cheeky Twitter ad campaign.Continue reading...

china

The Week in China: Pitt Pays Off for Cadillac, China's Affinity for Polo and more

Posted by Abe Sauer on November 8, 2013 12:22 PM

China is the second largest economy in the world and every significant brand's future is impacted by its growth (or collapse)—but who's got the time?! Here's the week's reads that will make you look like a keen China observer in case you find yourself immersed in a cultural conversation.

This week: Cadillac finds success with Pitt... VW hopes for Xu hit, too... Online shoppers… the dirty business of infant formula... shark fin soup is out… iPad Air sells out… the American behind the baijiu mojito… kindergarten costs… Bitcoin busted… Jackie Chan farce… a supposedly fun thing the Chinese are going to do again and again and again... and more.Continue reading...

auto motive

Can a Plug-In Hybrid Hold the Future for Cadillac? Its New CMO Thinks So

Posted by Dale Buss on November 8, 2013 11:33 AM

Cadillac has "a relevance issue," its new CMO told brandchannel—and Uwe Ellinghaus means to fix it in a way that may surprise: Highlight the new Cadillac ELR plug-in hybrid that isn't due out until next year.

The brand's CTS mid-size sedan was just named Motor Trend Car of the Year for 2013. Its ATS compact sedan is bringing younger luxury buyers into the fold who wouldn't have considered Cadillac before, and Caddy is due to introduce not only coupe and performance versions of the ATS next year but also a long-awaited new iteration of its flagship, the hulking Escalade SUV.

But Ellinghaus—who joins Cadillac following a 14-year stint at BMW that included serving as head of brand strategy from 2010 to 2012, followed by a non-automotive detour to luxury pen brand Montblanc—believes the key to elevating Cadillac in the accelerating premium-car wars in the US and worldwide is the Tesla-fighter known as ELR.Continue reading...

car talk

Cadillac Hopes to Squeeze Sales—and Maybe a New Sub-Brand—Out of 2015 Escalade

Posted by Dale Buss on October 8, 2013 03:58 PM

It isn’t clear if Ludacris is lining up for a new 2015 Cadillac Escalade, but apparently Donald Trump is. And General Motors’ enthusiasm for the first major overhaul of its iconic chiseled and luxuriously appointed mammoth SUV in seven years even has executives considering ways to extend the Escalade franchise beyond a single vehicle, as good as it might be.

GM revealed the redesigned Escalade in New York at an appearance that included Trump’s endorsement as well as company marketers eager to highlight the sleeker exterior, interior wood trim, and quieter and larger inside of the new model. 

Prices of the current Escalade start at $63,475, and GM is looking for a 10 percent boost in sales of the new version beginning next year after Escalade sales have gradually declined over the last several years.Continue reading...

china

The Week in China: Victoria's Secret Angel Knock-Offs, Xiaomi Takeover, Vanity Economy and more

Posted by Abe Sauer on September 6, 2013 12:38 PM

China is the second largest economy in the world and every significant brand's future is impacted by its growth (or collapse)—but who's got the time?! Here's the week's reads that will make you look like a keen China observer in case you find yourself immersed in a cultural conversation.

This week: Victoria's Secret knock-offs... G. Patton SUV at the Chengdu Auto Expo… Xiaomi beats Apple… Coke… IKEA… drone deliveries… Samsonite sales… Jiang Wen goes Taobao… adult diapers... and more.Continue reading...

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