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Fiat is Paying US Volkswagen Owners to Switch Brands

Posted by Dale Buss on December 11, 2012 01:24 PM

Fiat faces more and more problems in the struggling European car market, so it's got to make more progress than company executives initially had hoped in the U.S. market — and faster than they'd planned.

So Fiat is turning up the voltage. In tandem with other Chrysler-owned brands, it is offering what it calls Conquest Bonus Cash as an incentive to U.S. buyers who own Volkswagens to switch. They'll give $1,000, through January 2, to any VW owner who buys one of their cars except for a handful of excepted models.

This isn't a usual tactic — the last time Chrysler did it was 2010, targeting Toyota. "We believe the Dodge Dart, for example, would appeal to current Volkswagen owners," Ralph Kisiel, a Chrysler spokesman, told brandchannel. Customers don't even have to give up their VW to qualify.Continue reading...

auto motive

Audi Chief Spreads the Gospel of Clean Diesel

Posted by Dale Buss on December 5, 2012 03:47 PM

Diesel automobile sales continue to gain momentum and share in the US market even as hybrids and electric vehicles continue to stall as a segment. Mazda, for instance, just announced that it will offer a diesel beginning late next year. It's Audi, however, that continues to push the clean-diesel proposition more than any other brand.

As the brand unveiled its new offering of its TDI (Turbo Direct Injection) diesel engines across most of its product lineup — now including all of its mainstream models in addition to the A3 and Q7 clean diesel models where the option originated a few years ago — at the Los Angeles Auto Show, Audi of America President Scott Keogh was articulating his company's case for the technology in an unprecedented way.

Fuel-efficient, emission-reduced clean diesel "is the best choice for drivers seeking to save at the pump, for a nation seeking to free itself from the grip of foreign oil, for a society seeking smart ways to cut greenhouse gases, for a world seeking more sustainable mobility," Keogh told journalists assembled in Los Angeles, where the Q7 also received the ALG residual value award.Continue reading...

brand news

In the News: Apple, Toyota, Papa John's and more

Posted by Dale Buss on November 14, 2012 09:01 AM

In the News

Apple stock plunge concerns Wall Street.

Toyota recalls another 2.77 million vehicles.

Papa John's hit with $250 million lawsuit over unwanted text-message (aka spam) promotion.

BP settles with Russian partner.

Call of Duty: Black Ops II depicts David Petraeus as secretary of defense.

Cisco beats profit estimates.

GM and Peugeot halt talks on deeper tie-up.Continue reading...


Skyfall Pushes Products Galore, Including a Return to Tobacco

Posted by Abe Sauer on November 12, 2012 12:32 PM

Country? England. Gun? Shot. Agent? Provocateur. Murder? Employment. Skyfall? Product placement.

The latest James Bond film hit the US this weekend, letting audiences decide for themselves what all the product placement hubbub was about. The verdict? Meh. Some valuations have nailed down some dollar numbers on just how much exposure Skyfall brought its top-line brand partners, but what about the unidentifiable brands on-screen?

Despite no label ever being seen, at least one already has backorders going into 2013. And what to make of Bond's glorious return to tobacco?Continue reading...

auto motive

Volkswagen Now Willing To Warranty Other Brands' Late-Model Used Cars

Posted by Dale Buss on November 9, 2012 02:02 PM

Sales of "certified pre-owned" cars have been climbing so steadily over the last several years that a program like Volkswagen's new WorldAuto initiative may have become inevitable. It refines VW's "CPO" program and, more significantly, also applies similar certification and quality guarantees to other manufacturers' late-model used cars that VW already has been willing to vouch for in its own CPO used cars.

VW has stepped up apparently to become the first brand to introduce this kind of program on such a vast scale. "We are strong in the used-car market, and if you want to grow, you need to attract new customers that will trade other brands," Scott Weitzman, general manager of VW's used-car programs in the U.S., said in a statement. "We're not growing with the market, but above the market."

Growing "above the market" is something Volkswagen of America certainly has figured out how to do lately, given its market-outperforming new-car sales increases in the U.S. the last few years. It's had 26 months of year-over-year growth in the U.S.Continue reading...


MINI Goes Big in China to Take On a Major Rival: VW's Beetle

Posted by Abe Sauer on November 8, 2012 05:32 PM

Last weekend, the latest leg of MINI's "The Chinese Job" contest was broadcast live on China's video sharing site Youku. The winner of the ongoing driving contest wins the use of a special-edition MINI for a year.

The third annual "Chinese Job" — a spoof of The Italian Job, the film that made the Mini famous, of course — comes as more and more of the distinctive cars are seen on China's roads. BMW, Mini's parent, hopes that the trend will continue, opening China's first ever Mini dealership in Beijing just weeks ago.

But with VW's Beetle going hard for the same China millennials market, and its own BMW parent pushing its 1 Series, will MINI be able to find a market beyond a small niche of quirk?Continue reading...

auto motive

Are Consumer Reports Auto Rankings As Relevant As They Used To Be?

Posted by Dale Buss on November 1, 2012 04:44 PM

Automakers still hold their breath each year when Consumer Reports comes out with its vehicle-reliability ratings. The annual assessment — based on the publication's own research and a survey of its subscribers — traditionally have carried weight with car brands and with many Americans who've always looked to CR as a sort of bible for smart consumption.

But do the ratings have the clout they used to? Maybe not. As Bloomberg points out, several of the nameplates that were dinged worst by Consumer Reports lately are doing quite well, thank you. For instance, the Volkswagen Passat, built in Tennessee, and the new Honda Civic, introduced last year, initially lost the magazine's coveted "Recommended" rating. This year, in the magazine's just-released new ratings, Passat returned to "Recommended" status — but Civic didn't.

Last year, Consumer Reports said that the new Passat had lost "some of the sharpness" of its predecessors and that the overhauled Civic had introduced too many cheaper materials to the interior. Both VW and Honda are crying all the way to the bank over the dissing. Sales of the new Passat in October, for example, were up by 66 percent over a year earlier, when the new model was just coming into volume production.Continue reading...

auto motive

GM and Chrysler Reject Romney China Claims

Posted by Dale Buss on October 31, 2012 04:12 PM

Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has been busy this week denying what he won't do and sharing what he wants to do. And everything he has said has implications for the company, its brands and consumers on four continents.

Of most immediate importance, Marchionne was compelled to inject himself into the U.S. presidential campaign this week after a Romney TV commercial and radio spot in battleground Ohio highlighted his plan to build Jeeps in China.

It could be inferred from the Republican nominee's spot that Jeep jobs might leave Ohio and Michigan in such an endeavor — a suggestion that Marchionne swiftly rejected. Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan also said in a statement released by Romney's campaign: "GM and Chrysler are expanding their production overseas. These are facts that voters deserve to know as they listen to the claims President Obama and his campaign are making."

An irked Marchionne released a statement to assure Chrysler employees and the public that the company's commitment to U.S. production of Jeeps, which has been expanding lately, was secure, stating "I feel obliged to unambiguously restate our position: Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China." GM also refuted the Romney campaign claims.Continue reading...

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