Posted by Abe Sauer on May 10, 2012 06:06 PM
Kubang! It's not Chinese, it's Italian. But Maserati is aiming its new luxury SUV Kubang concept vehicle at the growing China market in the hopes of eating some of Porsche's lunch.
While it's rare to see a Porsche Cayenne SUV on streets in the West, the model is an astoundingly common sight in the Chinese cities of Shanghai and Beijing. The driver is almost always a woman. China is Porsche's largest market in the world for the Cayenne SUV. And while sales of Porsche in China may be slowing due to a flattening of China's luxury car market, sales of the Cayenne specifically may slow because the marketplace is about to get a lot more crowded.
While the West is still nursing its SUV hangover, Chinese drivers are just entering the nation's SUV age. Brands, luxury and less luxurious, are lining up to cash in as mainland consumers begin delusionally rationalizing SUVs.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on April 24, 2012 01:51 PM
There's nothing like robust sales and some good, old-fashioned TV commercials to bolster a brand's perception with the public. That's exactly what's been happening lately with Chrysler, according to YouGov's Brand Index.
Some worried that Chrysler would have a difficult time finding the right positioning after its 2011 Super Bowl-originated "Imported from Detroit" theme ran its course, especially without a reprise by Clint Eastwood of his role in the company's halftime commercial during the 2012 Super Bowl.
But judging by the feedback to YouGov, it appears as if Chrysler might have waited too long to move past Eminem, Dirty Harry, gritty images of downtrodden Detroit, and its vehicles in the midst of it all.
Turns out that Chrysler's new fleet of four TV spots — each of which bolsters an important bit of positioning for one of its four brands — have been all but magical in lifting the perception of the individual auto brands and Chrysler as a whole among those who've seen them.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on January 13, 2012 11:04 AM
If there is one thing that has characterized the renaissance of Chrysler over the last three years, it is an insistence by the company's leadership to ignore the doubters and forge ahead, following their vision.
That's why Fiat accepted the carcass of Chrysler from the U.S. government three years ago in the first place, why CEO Sergio Marchionne figured he could cobble together a competitive global automotive company from the two, and why he and his lieutenants make interesting — and sometimes daring — product and marketing bets in America.
Sometimes they work out uproariously, like the Chrysler 200 and the Eminem "Imported from Detroit" commercial that debuted during last year's Super Bowl. Other times they have worked out poorly, such as the 2011 debut of the Fiat 500 in the U.S. market, which led to criticism for the Jennifer Lopez music-video-style commercial for the car, and the subsequent ouster of former Fiat U.S. brand chief Laura Soave.
Chrysler and Fiat's CMO, Olivier Francois, says he has learned from these mistakes.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on January 12, 2012 12:09 PM
Hyundai just keeps rolling along. The latest testament to the stunning rise of the Korean brand in the U.S. market is its industry-best showing in J.D. Power's much-watched customer-retention study, announced this week. Last night, Hyundai's growing relationship with its customers also was recognized in its first award in annual prizes sponsored by R.L. Polk, another industry research analyst.
That was after the new Hyundai Elantra won North American Car of the Year honors at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. And as company executives continued to make a case for how they can stretch the Hyundai brand from its original value positioning into what Hyundai of America CEO John Krafcik calls recognition as a "valuable brand" with a vehicle roster that runs from spartan to opulent.
Power's exhaustive surveying of U.S. automotive consumers led to its conclusion that Hyundai had the highest customer-retention rate last year among auto brands, with 64 percent, beating bigger competitors Ford and Honda, who scored 60 percent. BMW finished in a tie for fourth with 59 percent, with Hyundai's sibling brand, Kia.Continue reading...
sports in the spotlight
Posted by Dale Buss on January 11, 2012 05:44 PM
Nissan and Buick marketers recognize the advertising juggernaut that the NFL has become. And their brands, like their rivals, are advertising during this month's NFL Playoffs, and many brand are gearing up for record auto-industry spending to advertise during Super Bowl XLVI on February 5.
But Nissan, its Infiniti luxury brand, and GM's Buick brand also have been making a departure from the football-chasing pack by investing more heavily than the rest in special marketing relationships with college sports, both basketball and football. Infiniti and Buick are the car sponsors of NCAA's March Madness basketball tournament.
And in the meantime, Nissan has been ramping up its ties with college football and the Heisman Trophy, signing a new five-year agreement as a "premier partner" with the award that goes to the game's best player each year. "It's a big strategic opportunity for us," Bill Peffer, Nissan's director of marketing communications, told brandchannel. Nissan wil be able to feature the Heisman Trophy in ads, for instance, and bring the hallowed piece of metal with it now on College Football Experience tours that it brings to football-crazy campuses.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on January 11, 2012 02:05 PM
Ford's press preview of its sleek new Fusion sedan and an MKZ concept vehicle at the North American International Auto Show this week kicked up the kind of design-oriented buzz that the automaker hasn't seen in a quarter-century.
The Fusion's debut at CES also generated buzz, prompting tech blogger Robert Scoble to post the photo above on Instagram and comment, “The new Ford Fusion just launched at CES. Pretty cool electric.” As the automaker's executives previewed their new-product plan for financial analysts at the Detroit Auto Show, it became evident that that the company intends to keep making this kind of noise.
After wowing thousands of auto journalists at its debut on Monday, Fusion followed up late yesterday by winning the annual Eyes on Design award for a production vehicle displayed at the show. It's determined by a panel of industry design eminences, who were impressed by the almost-fastback silhouette of the new Fusion — which could shake up the staid mid-size sedan segment — and other design cues, such as inverted-trapezoidal front grille, sweeping front-to-rear lines and what Ford calls lots of "light catchers" on the sheet-metal surfaces.
"This is extremely significant, not only because of the new design for Fusion but also because this gives Ford a lot of scope for derivative models off of a new platform," Eyes on Design judge Jack Telnack, retired design chief for Ford, told brandchannel. And Telnack should know, as he was mastermind of the design of the 1986 Ford Taurus that revolutionized the industry then with its "jellybean" design.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on January 10, 2012 05:33 PM
In advertisements that began in the U.S. market last weekend, BMW launched an attempt to move its brand definition beyond traditional notions of "performance" to a more holistic positioning that depicts the company's entire model range as offering the "ultimate driving machine" for someone, depending on their wants and needs. And at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week, BMW executives explained what they mean.
"We want to set in motion a platform that defines what 'the ultimate driving machine' means in 2012 and beyond," Dan Creed, CMO of BMW of North America, told brandchannel. "Twenty years ago, it was all about visceral horsepower, handling and going fast. But now we have four, six- and eight-cylinder engines; we have diesel and gasoline and EV [powertrains]; we have 'i' [electric vehicles for urban setings] and still our strong involvement with motorsports. Those last two are extremes. What we're saying is that, no matter the vehicle, we're delivering an ultimate driving machine."
The timing couldn't be better, with BMW having just won the 2011 crown for luxury auto sales in the U.S., pipping Mercedes-Benz and Lexus for the title. But there's no evidence of schadenfreude for having won the race against a highly competitive Mercedes-Benz, and succeeding Lexus, which had held the crown for 11 years.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on January 10, 2012 03:13 PM
Toyota and Honda must be concerned about the here and now after their abysmal 2011s. They're still attempting to get back to par with their global venicle inventories and have been gearing up new products they're hoping will begin attracting Americans back to their brands this year.
But at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this week, their necessary preoccupation with sales numbers for this month and next month didn't prevent Toyota and Honda executives from turning toward the mid- and long-term future as well.
For Toyota, that meant, among other things, a heavy reckoning with its trailblazing investments in hybrid automobiles and a rather candid assessment of American consumers' continued ambivalence about electrified automobiles. The brand showed off its new Prius c — the "c" in the name is for city — a small entry in its growing "family" of Prius hybrids, and bowed its NS4 concept plug-in hybrid that should see the market around 2015.Continue reading...