Archive for June, 2010

Jeff Zwart will race a purpose built Porsche GT3 at Pikes Peak

Wednesday, June 23rd, 2010

Here he is on a testing run:

Press release from Porsche: (more…)

Hyundai Equus. Can Hyundai succeed with a D-class model?

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

The D-segment of the luxury market is tough.  The best luxury manufacturers in the world bring their best technology, design and engineering to the table and the result is the world’s best 4-door sedans: BMW 7-Series, Mercedes-Benz S-Class, Lexus LS, are perennial best sellers.  It’s tough to break-in, Audi has struggled for years to build volume in the segment with its A8 despite having what many would say is the best product.

So what makes Hyundai think they can introduce the Equus into this rarefied air and succeed?

Let’s get one thing out of the way.  From a product perspective, the Hyundai Equus will be a very able competitor to the best luxury sedans in the business.  Hyundai has demonstrated that they build exceptional quality cars at multiple price points, the most recent being the Genesis, a near to mid luxury entry.  The Equus is already getting good reviews and at $55,000 will offer D-class luxury at a very reasonable price.

The issue for Hyundai is not the product or the price. (more…)

The “Chevy” vs. “Chevrolet” dust-up. What it means for a global brand.

Friday, June 11th, 2010

The last twenty-four hours has been full of articles, blogs, tweets, surveys, all questioning the wisdom of the folks at Chevrolet who were apparently seeking to remove “Chevy” from the brand’s lexicon (NYTs 6/10/10).  Predictably, people were shocked and the Chevrolet folks accused of varying levels of insanity, some even questioning their patriotism.

Thankfully, as the day wore on, Chevrolet made an effort to explain that it had been mis-understood (see the press release) and that the memo leaked to the New York Times had been “poorly worded.” Unfortunately for the folks at GM, this whole incident has just added fuel to the fire for those folks who want to find fault with every thing the company tries to do.  If you take the GM folks at their word, what they were trying to do really isn’t crazy.

At the heart of this dust-up is a real issue.  How to most effectively manage a global automotive brand.

Here’s a video of Alan Batey explaining that indeed “Chevy” is just fine but that “Chevrolet” is the global brand:

Put aside Mr. Batey’s understandable defensiveness and his desire to assure us that “Chevy” is OK.   (more…)

Infiniti: From “rocks and trees” to “brush-strokes,” can it become a Tier I luxury brand?

Wednesday, June 9th, 2010

Yesterday’s Automotive News had a brief piece about Infiniti marketing that struck me as interesting.  In it, they reported that “Infiniti has told its dealer advisory group that it is committing to a five-year run for the new ‘Way of Infiniti’ campaign–a long-term pledge intended to reassure retailers that the brand will have a consistent message.”

I immediately thought to myself “Good for them.”

Infiniti from the very beginning has had a difficult time establishing a brand identity and finding a way to execute it in communications. Introduced in 1989, Infiniti was Nissan’s response to the introductions of the other Japanese luxury marques, Acura and Lexus.  The original Q45 was a sporty performance alternative to the Lexus. Unfortunately, Infiniti got off to a rough start when it introduced the car and brand with the infamous “rocks and trees” campaign created by its agency Hill, Holliday, Connors, Cosmopulos.

The “rocks and trees” campaign sought to present Infiniti as the result of the unique Japanese culture and sensibility.  The campaign attempted to make its Japanese origin an asset, similar to the way that the German brands have used their ‘German-ness.’  The Infiniti ads were very different than any automotive company had ever done (they didn’t even show the car initially).   (more…)