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In the News: Apple vs. Samsung, ESPN, Ford, Tiffany & more

Posted by Dale Buss on August 28, 2012 08:47 AM

5-Hour Energy and other energy-drink makers face New York state probe over ingredients and marketing.

Amazon reshapes computing with its cloud power.

Apple moves post-ruling efforts toward banning some Samsung phones from U.S. market as Korean company vows to fight, and Google looks at implications of case for its own business.

Avis drops "We Try Harder" tagline after 50 years in favor of "It's Your Space."

Axe enlists Jim Henson's shop to help with latest campaign.

Best Buy board steps to the side so founder can proceed with effort to take over company.

Boeing adds third line for Dreamliner assembly.

Bravo plans to launch another Top Chef spinoff.

Chevron marshals cash as investors wonder what energy company will do with it.

Disney sails through summer behind long-term plans.Continue reading...

auto motive

GM Vet Bob Lutz Dusts Off Soapbox to Rail Against A123 Sale to China

Posted by Dale Buss on August 8, 2012 05:53 PM

The auto industry continues to move in fits and starts — some huge, some tiny — toward the future of the electrified automobile. It hasn't been pretty getting this far, and there will be many ups and downs for electric vehicles before U.S. and global consumers presumably someday embrace them.

One of the inevitable shifts along that path came today when a Chinese auto-parts company rescued cash-strapped A123 Systems, an American lithium-ion battery maker for the U.S. electrified-car market that has been in lots of financial trouble in part because of how slowly the market has developed. Wanxiang can acquire up to 80 percent of A123 Systems in return for an investment of up to $450 million.

Quickly, a very public critic of the deal emerged: Bob Lutz, former GM vice chairman, in a column on Forbes.com. The father of the Chevrolet Volt plug-in hybrid is opposed to the "green-technology" mandate on the U.S. auto industry by the Obama administration, which had made a $249-million loan to A123 Systems.

Lutz characterized the acquisition of the high-tech company by the Chinese concern as a downfall of trying to "mandate" an EV-car market to an American public that isn't ready for it yet.Continue reading...

auto motive

Ford Can't Escape 2nd Recall in Two Weeks

Posted by Dale Buss on July 19, 2012 02:48 PM

Recall all that pre-launch marketing that Ford so carefullly laid for the 2013 Escape? The branded entertainment experiment that was the Escape Routes prime-time TV series on NBC; the Spanish-language TV commercial during the NBA Finals featuring the Miami Heat; and, in its latest promotional stunt, measuring the model's interior in ping-pong balls (56,778, in case you were wondering).

Well, Ford may need all of the interest and goodwill generated by those marketing gambits, and a lot more, to get past the fact that the automaker just announced the second recall in as many weeks for the crucial new version of its venerable SUV. It also raises the issue that when it comes to brand recalls, customers do recall recalls, as Toyota found out the hard way.Continue reading...

auto motive

Chevy Volt Charges Past Nissan Leaf in America's Green-Car Derby

Posted by Dale Buss on July 16, 2012 12:52 PM

Pulling away at a "go" light, plug-in hybrids like the Chevrolet Volt have a big advantage over all-electric cars like the Nissan Leaf — because they have a gasoline engine on board that can provide the required performance punch.

That's sort of what is happening in sales of Volt versus Leaf as well. While the Chevrolet sold nearly 1,700 vehicles in June and, at 8,800, has more than tripled the number it sold last year, Nissan could only report sales of 535 Leafs in the U.S. last month. For the year to date, Leaf sold only about 3,400 units, down 19 percent from last year.

A Nissan spokeswoman told the Detroit News that the main reason for the decline in Leaf sales is that Nissan has been moving away from a "web-driven, build-to-order system that was designed to handle initial sales to more of a traditional dealer-based model."

As for Volt, "We're still trying to manage the production to demand," Chris Perry, Chevrolet's CMO, told brandchannel. "We still haven't totally filled the inventory needs growing in California and some other markets. We're still not sure how high is high with this product."Continue reading...

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Watch the Phone: Jay-Z Makes NYC a Wireless Charging Pad with Duracell

Posted by Sheila Shayon on June 11, 2012 03:54 PM

In an unusual partnership, New York rap legend Jay-Z and Proctor & Gamble's billion-dollar Duracell brand are joining forces to market wireless charging systems and deploy wireless hotspots in New York, including one at the multimillionaire’s own 40/40 Club on Madison Square Park in Manhattan.

“Mobile devices have become essential tools in business, entertainment and managing our social lives,” said Jay-Z, an investor in the Duracell Powermat joint venture. “Being able to charge wirelessly is a necessary step into the future.”

The 24-Hour Power System contains a charging mat that serves as a wireless power transmitter and a portable backup battery with micro-USB output and iPhone connection when in between hotspots. The kit is designed specifically for the iPhone 4 and 4S, but Duracell is working on greater device compatibility.

It hits select retailers today (just as Apple announces its new iOS 6 features) and is also available online. The complete system costs $99.99, with additional (colorful) cases for $34.99 and additional batteries for $49.99.Continue reading...

auto motive

GM Touts Happy Volt Owners and MPG Edge as Prius Sales Jump

Posted by Dale Buss on June 8, 2012 12:57 PM

Toyota Prius has it all over Chevrolet Volt as a brand these days except among a rabid core of Volt fans who believe the car is the greatest thing since the Model T. But at least in one area, General Motors has won bragging rights for now for its Volt over a Prius model: the mileage and range of the apples-to-apples versions of each product line.

GM, which is featuring "Happy Volt Owners" in a new online video push on its YouTube channel, said this week that changes to the battery of the Volt will extend the range of the 2013 model to 38 miles on a single charge, an increase of three miles. And its "mpg-equivalent" — a term the auto industry and regulators have come up with to try to help consumers understand how little gasoline they're using in hybrids compared with conventional vehicles — will rise to 98 miles from 94 when it goes on sale in August.Continue reading...

brand news

In the News: Apple, Prada, M&S Bank and more

Posted by Dale Buss on June 8, 2012 09:03 AM

In the News

Apple will use Baidu search engine on phones in China and gets on fast track in court to block Samsung Galaxy phone as iPhone 5 speculation mounts ahead of WWDC, while marketing head Steve Schiller gets a Bloomberg Businessweek profile. Also, Apple will pay $2.5 million to settle false advertising suit in Australia over 4G iPad claims. 

Audi plant expansion tests ability to maintain quality.

Boeing hits milestone on 787 Dreamliner.

Burger King plans to expand in Russia.

Cannes Lions to honor Dan Weiden of Weiden+Kennedy.

Carnival Cruise loyalty program members are up in arms.

CBS chief Les Moonves says "partisanship" is part of journalism now.Continue reading...

auto motive

Toyota Plans All-Electric RAV4 EV for Summer Release

Posted by Dale Buss on May 10, 2012 04:02 PM

Toyota is going down the electric-vehicle trail once again, but it's not getting too charged up about it.

The automaker revealed an EV version of its popular RAV4 SUV this week at the Electric Vehicle Symposium in Los Angeles. But unlike rivals Nissan and Chevrolet, who have backed their EVs with major marketing splurges and ambitions of quickly reaching 10,000 sales a year, Toyota is deliberately reining in both output and sales expectations for the RAV4 EV, which is expected to be available in the third quarter.Continue reading...

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