Best Global Green Brands 2014

auto motive

Back On Top, Toyota Restores Brand Loyalty and Preps a New Truck

Posted by Dale Buss on February 5, 2013 04:20 PM

Toyota's latest Avalon: Off to a good start in the U.S. market, but can the Tundra follow suit?

March will mark the second anniversary of the earthquake and tsunami that leveled much of Japan's northeast coast and sent the nation's auto industry into a tailspin.

While many psychic, physical and economic scars remain nationwide, Toyota, Japan's leading auto brand, is back on top of the world: Today, the company reported a 23 percent rise in quarterly net profit and raised its annual profit forecast by 10 percent.

Toyota and its Lexus and Scion brands are all benefiting from a snapback in sales and market share in the U.S., as Toyota has managed to get through its recall fiasco in 2010 — as well as the natural disaster in 2011 — with flying colors. Toyota reported a 26 percent gain in January sales in the U.S. market — more than double the industry average gain for the month. Sales of the new RAV4, as well as a new version of the Avalon full-size sedan, have started off strong.Continue reading...

brand news

In the News: BlackBerry 10, UPS, Dreamliner and more

Posted by Dale Buss on January 30, 2013 09:04 AM

In the News

RIM prepares for BlackBerry 10 global launch this morning.

UPS acquisition of TNT formally blocked by EU.

Boeing had concerns about batteries before Dreamliner failures.

Taco Bell and Volkswagen get heat over their Super Bowl ads as Kia unveils full Space Babies spot.

Toyota recalls 1M Corollas and Lexus sedans.

AT&T bites deeper into Vampire Diaries with social "rehash."

American Airlines signals serious merger intentions with United Airways.

Apple refused bigger damages from judge in Samsung case.

Bob Evans plans to sell Mimi's Cafe.Continue reading...

detroit auto show

NAIAS 2013: North American Auto Show Hails Return of Detroit's Big Three

Posted by Dale Buss on January 14, 2013 09:55 AM

The Motor City is the hub of the global auto industry once more, and the North American International Auto Show that opens with a press preview on Monday in Detroit's Cobo Center will underscore that welcome returning reality. It's also expected that the U.S. market as a whole will pick up share versus other global markets in 2013.

Over the last decade, Detroit's traditional "Big Three" automakers have been transformed. Their shares of the market collapsed; then the Great Recession whacked the U.S. car market; then the federal government bailed out two of them.

But now, arguably, General Motors, Ford and Chrysler are in their best shape collectively in a very long time.

Each is selling trucks at a healthy clip again, their most profitable segment. GM will finally shed the rest of the albatross of U.S.-government ownership soon and, with a slew of new-product launches ready for 2013, should enjoy a share uptick this year. Ford will be trying to build on its gains of the last few years with solid new models including a restyled Ford Fusion sedan, the hybrid-only C-Max and the new Escape. And Chrysler, now owned by Fiat, will attempt to keep building on its remarkable turnaround story.Continue reading...

mobile marketing

Mondelez Pairs Brands With 2013 Class of Mobile Futures Startups

Posted by Dale Buss on January 8, 2013 01:06 PM

Joining other major companies and brands such as Unilever, Nike, PepsiCo, LexusBMW and AT&T in spurring mobile innovation around its brands, Mondelez International is investing in mobile startups in the hopes that they'll bring the kind of game-changing innovations to the company that often are hard to come by at corporate stalwarts such as the global-snacks operation that used to be part of Kraft Foods.

That said, it was Kraft that spearheaded the mobile incubator program that Mondelez is now running with. Mondelez just announced nine startups to participate in an ambitious new mobile-technology initiative aimed at drivng more impulse purchases and better in-store marketing. Called Mobile Futures, the program kicked off in October with a call for new ideas that drew 126 applications. Twenty-two startups survived the first cut, then were narrowed to nine after a two-day pitch event last month.

Mondelez hopes to launch one or two mobile-focused tech companies out of the process as well as garner new applications specifically for its business. It's one important way in which the spinoff — which owns megabrands such as Oreo, Trident, Stride and Cadbury — is attempting to do business differently, more dynamically, than in its old incarnation paired with what has now become Kraft's North American grocery business.Continue reading...

auto motive

CES 2013 Watch: Auto Brands (Self) Drive Digital Chops

Posted by Dale Buss on January 7, 2013 12:12 PM

The evolution of the automobile into a mobile living room takes a giant leap forward this week at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, with many of the world's top 10 car makers touting wares that advance the richness, variety and seamlessness of the infotainment experience inside their vehicles. Audi, Chrysler, Ford, General Motors, Hyundai, Kia, Subaru, and Toyota's Lexus brand are all tooting their own digital horns and partnerships at the 2013 CES show.

Garnering some pre-CES buzz, both Lexus and Audi will be showcasing their respective advances in the self-driving car arena, whose development so far has been aggressively pursued mainly by Google (using Lexus for its self-driving car test) Both luxury auto brands are displaying technologies that could bring this once-outlandish notion closer to the actual road.Continue reading...

auto motive

Toyota Happily Faces the New Year as World's Top-Selling Automaker

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...

super bowl

Super Bowl Ad Watch: Mercedes-Benz Puts Kate Upton Front and Center

Posted by Dale Buss on December 19, 2012 05:05 PM

If any Super Bowl should be a key moment for Mercedes-Benz, the 2013 game on February 3rd is it. The brand's name is on the stadium where the Big Game is taking place, for one thing. It's introducing an important new model. And Mercedes-Benz could use a boost in the U.S. marketplace, especially one that would reverberate around the world.

Enter Kate Upton and Usher. Mercedes-Benz USA CEO Steve Cannon shared some details (and a sneak peek at the shoot, above) about the brand's 60-second ad planned for Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. He told Business Insider that the ad will be "a tongue-in-cheeck depiction of how far a person might — or might not — go to get their heart's desire."

Such goals might be, say, an evening of clubbing with supermodel Upton, Cannon said, although "we are not using her as a sexual object," he insisted. Instead, the ad will be "upbeat, high-energy, fast-paced [but not] funny." And, of course, there will be a car in there, too. Specifically, Mercedes-Benz will be trying to appeal to a younger demographic by promoting the new CLA, which comes at a lower price point than the rest of Mercedes-Benz's luxury lineup.Continue reading...

auto motive

Toyota, Lexus Trip Again on Floor-Mat Issue in Record U.S. Safety Fine

Posted by Dale Buss on December 18, 2012 01:08 PM

Toyota may be on the rise again in the U.S. market, but it still can't get the floor-pedal thing right.

The automaker has just been ordered to pay a record fine of $17.35 million for failing to report a safety defect to the U.S. government in a timely manner, the U.S. Department of Transportation said. The fine is a record civil penalty for a single violation and the maximum that the federal government can assess.

And the thing is, the fine relates to the same troubled region of its automobiles — the intersection between floor mats and floor pedals — that was behind Toyota's catastrophic unintended-acceleration problems in 2010 and the company's payment of nearly $50 million in total fines for reporting violations on sticking gas pedals and some other matters.Continue reading...

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