tech in the spotlight
Posted by Mark J. Miller on January 9, 2012 10:16 AM
In China, 2012 is the Year of the Dragon, but at the Consumer Electronics Show this week in Las Vegas, 2012 bears a far catchier catchphrase: the Year of the Interface. At least that’s what Canada's CBC has dubbed it.
The New York Times' Gadgetwise tech blog sees ultrabooks taking over the show floor, along with car-related tech announcements (such as Ford's Silicon Valley lab news) aplenty — a convenient overlap with the North American International Auto Show (aka the Detroit Auto Show) taking over Cobo Hall in Motor City this week. The New York Times' big story this morning, however, dismissed CES as irrelevant, citing the pullout of Microsoft as sounding the death knell for the show.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on January 6, 2012 06:26 PM
Today is, unofficially at least, "Love Detroit" Day.
The robust Detroit Lions are about to enter the NFL playoffs for the first time in 13 years. Chrysler just announced the addition of 1,100 new auto-assembly jobs in the city, great news following the ebullient 2011 U.S. car sales reports this week. And Motown is spiffing up for an influx of thousands of foreign journalists and auto-industry executives attending the 2012 North American International Auto Show next week — not to mention the other thousands of Michiganders who will attend the public part of the Detroit Auto Show the following week.
So if Detroit lovers could take a snapshot of any particular day and just live in it for a while, without the clock moving forward, January 6th, 2012 might be that day. Nothing has been ideal in fiscally strapped and infrastructure-challenged Detroit for a long time and might never be again, but today's news has presented a trifecta of developments that the city will certainly embrace for a while.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on January 6, 2012 04:34 PM
The U.S. economic climes are growing about as balmy as the unseasonably warm weather expected next week when global automotive media and industry executives descend on the North American International Auto Show in Detroit. And car brands from Acura to Volvo are poised more than they have been in a few years to try to take advantage of the platform to launch new models, brag about technological innovations, tease with concept vehicles and spin their stories to several thousand curious journalists, bloggers, TV producers and hangers-on.
Overall, NAIAS will feel more like the golden days of yore than a Detroit show has in years. For example, Nissan is making a return to the exhibit after a couple years' absence during the Great Recession. Fuel economy and electrification will continue to be strong themes as they have been for the past few years, but with a slow but steady multi-year recovery in the U.S. market underway, auto brands will be emphasizing "happier" themes such as exterior-design departures and interior connectivity technologies.
Audi plans to use the show to unwrap a concept "Vail" version of its compact Q3 just for the U.S. market, where the company plans to introduce several more models in the years ahead as it tries to supplant BMW as the world's largest luxury-car maker by 2015. Audi sells only about half as many vehicles in the American market as BMW and Mercedes-Benz at this point, but the Volkswagen-owned brand has been growing by leaps and bounds in teh U.S. already. Audi executives have said they're also looking at the idea of making SUVs in the United States as its two German rivals do already.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on January 5, 2012 04:04 PM
General Motors today took what it hopes is a big step toward keeping the Chevrolet Volt brand on track, announcing its promised "quick fix" to a design flaw that led some of the car's battery packs to catch fire days or weeks after they were damaged in government safety tests.
The move comes just weeks after the problem led to a federal investigation, its relative speediness testifying to the tremendous long-term importance that has been attached to the success of Volt, a so-called plug-in hybrid that can be powered entirely either by its battery pack or by a small gasoline engine, a significant wrinkle compared with electric-only vehicles such as the Nissan Leaf.
GM is adding a tamper-resistant bracket to the top of the battery coolant reservoir to prevent potential coolant overfill, to "further protect" the battery against the kinds of damage in question. The company noted that Volt remains a Top Safety Pick by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, and executives have remarked that Volt is as safe as any other vehicle. Today's announcement was aimed at going "the extra mile to ensure our customers' peace of mind," said Mary Barra, GM's vice president of global product development.
Volt could use some steadying. The nameplate sold 1,529 units in December, its best month, but many of those were sales to commercial fleets, not retail customers, Alan Batey, head of the Chevrolet division, told journalists. And total sales of fewer than 7,700 Volts for the year fell far short of GM's projection of 10,000 sales in the car's first year.Continue reading...
Posted by Mark J. Miller on December 14, 2011 05:05 PM
Can’t wait for the North American International Auto Show to kick off on January 9th in Detroit so you can see the next version of the Ford Fusion? Well, you don’t have to.
Ford has released an app for the iPhone and Android that is simply activated by pointing the mobile device at a Ford logo, whether it’s on a car, online, or on a piece of paper, Mashable reports.
The app, which can be found on the Ford Fusion Facebook page, allows users to go for a drive in the new car on a variety of courses and gives them the ability to view the bare bones of the new car from 360 degrees.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on February 4, 2011 11:30 AM
Brand managers kept Nissan out of last month's Detroit Auto Show and Sunday's Super Bowl TV lineup, but they’re doing plenty of other things to make sure the company capitalizes on its increasingly strong performance in the U.S. auto market.
For several months, Nissan could rely on buzz about its Leaf all-electric vehicle to supply marketing energy behind the overall brand. But now that Leaf is on the market, the Nissan brand is moving into the next phase, as the American arm of the Japanese automaker tries to close the gap with its relatively stagnant main rivals, Toyota and Honda.
The biggest marketing gambit for Nissan — its sponsorship of the upcoming Sports Illustrated swimsuit issue.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on January 27, 2011 01:00 PM
A few years ago, Chinese automakers seemed poised to follow the well-trod path of the Japanese, Germans, Swedes, Koreans and even Yugoslavs to smashing success in penetrating the U.S. market as importers.
But these days, BYD stands practically alone as a Chinese brand that is poised to make any kind of impression on American car buyers. And even that is slow in coming.
BYD — an acronym for “Build Your Dreams” — was the sole Chinese exhibitor at the recent North American International Auto Show. Partially owned by Warren Buffett, who has a 10% stake, the Shenzhen-based company hit the Detroit Auto Show for the fourth straight year.Continue reading...
Posted by Shirley Brady on January 25, 2011 12:15 PM
Nissan isn't the only auto brand pulling at the heart-strings with customers' stories.
GM's Chevrolet division highlighted its safety and reliability on Friday by presenting a new 2011 Malibu to Marc Keinath, a Michigan resident whose Malibu was crushed (though he wasn't) during an icy encounter with a tractor-trailer three days earlier.
GM's "#1 Camaro fan" Christopher Tribuzzo, who was discovered on Facebook, was also invited to Detroit by GM. He attended the recent North American International Auto Show to get a peek at the model's future with Ed Welburn, the automaker's VP of global design.Continue reading...