All Change At VW in the Font Department

I am not an expert in graphic design which means the very subtle differences in sans-serif fonts often elude me, especially when the font is a version of Helvetica.

2015 VAG font change
For graphic designers such differences are as clear to them as the difference between an Audi A6 and an Audi A4 is to me. Thus it is with some bemusement I note VW has elected to change their corporate font to something very slightly different. If you look closely you notice the “a” has changed the most and the letters seem slightly different.
Continue reading “All Change At VW in the Font Department”

Theme: Evolution – From Iron Bars To Plastic Assemblies

The role of the bumper can be inferred easily from the name.

2015 Nissan Altima: where does the body start and bumper end? http://vietq.vn/so-sanh-xe-sedan-honda-accord-va-nissan-altima-d55126.html
2015 Nissan Altima: where does the body start and bumper end? Source: vietq.vn

Originally they were mere metal bars attached to the front of the car, and were visually separate from the wings and grille they were intended to protect. Let’s take a quick look at how they changed over time from a piece of steel to complex plastic assemblies merged seamlessly to Continue reading “Theme: Evolution – From Iron Bars To Plastic Assemblies”

You’re Bothering Us With This Carbon Dioxide Business, You Know.

The ACEA calls on the EU to ‘rebalance’ its attitude to carbon dioxide emissions.

Carlos Ghosn asking for an easier time of it: ACEA.be
Carlos Ghosn asking for an easier time of it: ACEA.be

It’s not hard to guess the rebalancing is not in the direction of an even more stringent approach to reducing carbon emissions. Carlos Ghosn said “As Paris and the world gear up for the COP21 global climate change conference, we must make sure that ambitious climate change policies do not conflict with the need to protect jobs and growth in Europe.” The next interesting bit is this “By 2020 average emissions of new passenger cars will need to Continue reading “You’re Bothering Us With This Carbon Dioxide Business, You Know.”

Bentley Has A New Design Chief; Luc Donckerwolke Leaves

VW Media Services reports that Stefan Sielaff is to take over as design chief following the departure of Luc Donckerwolke.

Luc Donckerwolke: autoevolution.com
Luc Donckerwolke: autoevolution.com

Sielaff will be a busy chap as he as also responsible for VW group’s interior design strategy. Of the two jobs, perhaps that is the most challenging as requires finding imaginative ways to justify the price differentials between VW’s many brands. Sielaff starts at Bentley in July. Donckerwolke was only at Bentley for three years meaning that for much of his tenure he was watching the work of his predecessor being released while his own efforts will be launched with Sielaff occupying his former post. Donckerwolke Continue reading “Bentley Has A New Design Chief; Luc Donckerwolke Leaves”

Why Did They Bother?

The Hyundai Genesis is coming to the UK market and Car magazine has phoned in a review in the June edition.

2015 Hyundai Genesis: Hyundaigenesis.com
2015 Hyundai Genesis: Hyundaigenesis.com

“It has the handling properties of a marshmallow,” they write. I ask why Car troubled itself with taking up half of page 49 with the test-drive. I can’t fault Car for having its own agenda which these days is focused on performance cars. The Genesis, a 3.8 litre V6 rear-wheel drive saloon is miles away from Car’s core area of interest which is high-revving sports cars so it will fall at every hurdle. On the other hand, the Genesis is a welcome alternative and the question is does it Continue reading “Why Did They Bother?”

More Borgward News

USA Today reported that a Mercedes Benz executive, Ulrich Walker, will oversee the return of Borgward to production after a bit of a gap.

1960 Borgward P100 - was this affordable luxury? Image: www.history-of-cars.com
1960 Borgward P100 – was this affordable luxury? Image: http://www.history-of-cars.com

The article reported that Walker’s vision for the car is affordable luxury, which is rather intriguing as this translates as that class of car where there has been the most fatalities in the last few decades: Triumph, Lancia, Rover, Saab, Oldsmobile, for example. Further, mainstream brands that have had products that reached into the affordable luxury sector have been less and less successful. Continue reading “More Borgward News”

Alternative Paths In An Unpredictable Industry

DTW Considers The Alternative German Big Three

At the end of the 1950s, there was a sizeable group of home-owned players in the German industry, but we shall concentrate initially on three of them – Borgward, NSU and Glas. Only the first few paragraphs of this piece are fact, the rest is entirely speculation as to how things could have worked out quite differently, yet might have ended up much the same.

Borgward had been making cars since the 1920s. They were fast to restart manufacture after the War, being the first German company to put an all new car into production, the Hansa 1500. This was replaced in 1954 by the mid-sized Isabella and that was joined in 1959 by both the larger six-cylinder P100 and the smaller Arabella, featuring a flat 4 boxer that Subaru used as a reference point when developing their own engine. Continue reading “Alternative Paths In An Unpredictable Industry”

Theme: Secondhand – Opinions

I had quite a lot of those bits of received wisdom until recent years.

1976 Porsche 928 interior

Some of those shopworn gems include the idea that steering should be heavy, Opel make bad/dull/boring cars, Ferrari is interesting but Japanese cars are not; small saloon cars are drab, six speed gearboxes are a good thing, low profile tyres and big wheels are visually worth it, bright colour is wrong inside and out. Those are some of the bits of second hand wisdom I have accumulated and sloughed off.

Car journalism is full of ideas like these that hang waiting on pegs ready to Continue reading “Theme: Secondhand – Opinions”

2015 Ford Mondeo Vignale – What Autocar Says

It’s faint praise time for Ford again. Autocar have tested the Vignale version and came to a predictable conclusion. Yes, they like it but they still think you should buy a BMW 5 instead. Auto Express take an even harder line.

2015 Ford Mondeo Vignale
2015 Ford Mondeo Vignale

You can read the entire Autocar article yourself by clicking on the link above. What struck me was that the Vignale is clearly the Ghia X for our times. The key mistake they have made with this car is that it is lacking a distinctive, mechanical difference from the Titanium spec models that sit below it in the model hierarchy. I would dearly have liked this car to Continue reading “2015 Ford Mondeo Vignale – What Autocar Says”

Theme: Secondhand – Rooting in the Parts Bins

Car advertising (like almost all advertising) commonly emphasises the new and the improved. There is not a single advert drawing attention to the subtle and not-so-subtle second lives of components intended for one car but which lived on in another…and another…and another…

The whole design takes its starting point from the door handles: www.spannerhead.com
The whole design takes its starting point from the door handles: http://www.spannerhead.com

Last week we discussed the afterlife of the Buick aluminium 215 engine. Such a re-use is not what I have in mind in terms of rooting around the parts bins. Rover had the decency to rework the engine –endlessly – to make it work so that by the time they had stopped fiddling in 2004 there was little a Buick engineer from 1957 might recognise other than the porosity problems and flagrant thirst. Continue reading “Theme: Secondhand – Rooting in the Parts Bins”

You’re Not Alone, Jaguar

We look closer at European luxury car sales

Large Car Sales Europe
Looking at European sales of the 7 Series, A8, XJ and S Class since 1997 (figures courtesy Left-Lane.com) in chart form is revealing. Of course, each brand’s sales pick up when a new model is released, but the S Class jump with its last three model launches is proportionally huge compared with the others. But as the model becomes established, it sinks to quite similar levels as the A8 and 7 Series. Why is this? One explanation may be the private hire trade. In this a Mercedes is the default choice and, as I heard from one guy who runs his own car, clients don’t like being picked up in a previous model – as soon as the new model becomes available he puts in his order for a car that lasts him 7 years. Continue reading “You’re Not Alone, Jaguar”

Theme : Secondhand – Forecourt Temptations 4

DTW Asks If Small Is Really Beautiful?

Chatenet CH26B

This is one of a bewildering variety of French microcars. I assume it is one owner since it has covered just 11,887 km. That seems modest until you realise that the Chatenet is powered by a 5.4 hp 523cc twin cylinder diesel giving it a maximum speed of 45 kph. Someone therefore has sat in this car and driven it for at least 264 hours. Continue reading “Theme : Secondhand – Forecourt Temptations 4”

They’re All At It Now (nearly)

A recent announcement by Aston Martin that it will go off road soon confirms that the ranks of aristo SUV’s are now filled, just about. Anything is now possible.

2017 Rolls Royce Cullinan: techviewon.com
2017 Rolls Royce Cullinan: techviewon.com

The Cadillac Escalade arrived first in 1999, an SUV from a marque known for limousines and stately sedans. Because Cadillac’s brand value lay in the ditch by then, nobody minded much: more kitsch, they said. However, it was an inspirational move from a brand that has often – though unintentionally – led the way. Lincoln dressed up a Ford pick-up to make it into the Blackwood in 2001 and got a three year run before really piling on the trim for the 2005 Mark LT. Continue reading “They’re All At It Now (nearly)”

Bridesmaid Revisited

FCA’s perennial wallflower lashes out.

Why won't anybody dance with me, wails Sergio? Image via Bloomberg
Why won’t anybody dance with me? Image via Bloomberg

We’ve all had to cope with rejection at some point in our lives – smiling grimly through the tears, as we peel our shattered egos off the floor. But no stoic is our Serge. Far from taking it on the chin, he’s gone on the offensive, raging to industry analysts this week at the unfairness of it all. Has he lost his mind? Continue reading “Bridesmaid Revisited”

Invincible Defeat: The VW Phaeton

Peak Piëch?

Image via carspecsreview
Image: carspecsreview

Phaeton. As a name it never really struck the right note. A little too puffed-up, ever so slightly grandiose for what really is a rather self effacing car. Perhaps in the absence of a suitably important-sounding wind, VW lacked options, or it was just another of Dr. Piëch’s flights of self-aggrandisement.  Continue reading “Invincible Defeat: The VW Phaeton”

Rearview: An early Piëch at an Audi

Ferdi wasn’t always a household name. Here’s where he came in…

Ferdi 006
With reports earlier this week suggesting Ferdinand Piëch has threatened to resign over his failed attempt to oust VW CEO Martin Winterkorn, it’s as good a time as any to look at possibly his earliest appearance in the UK press. Continue reading “Rearview: An early Piëch at an Audi”

Renault are Doing Quite Well

“Renault group revenue increased 13.7% in the first quarter,” they announced here. They are very diligent about sending me this kind of news.

2015 Renault Captur: Renault, Denmark.
2015 Renault Captur: Renault, Denmark.

Offsetting the deteriorating market conditions in Russia and Brazil, Renault group registrations increased 0.8% during the first quarter of 2015, reaching 641,588 vehicles in a worldwide automotive market up 1.7%. Furthermore, during the first quarter of 2015, Renault group registered 641,588 units (+0.8%), posting a stable worldwide market share at 3.0%.

In Europe, where the market increased by 8.9%, Group registrations were up 9.9%, driven by Continue reading “Renault are Doing Quite Well”

Auf Wiedersehen Piëch?

As the Dark Lord of Wolfsburg loses his grip, is this the twilight of a dictator?

VW's puppetmaster-in-chief - Dr Ferdinand Piech
VW’s puppetmaster-in-chief – Dr Ferdinand Piëch . Photo via spiegel.de

Lately, the mighty VW juggernaught has appeared unassailable. The Golf and Passat dominate their respective classes, while Audi and Porsche reap record profits on the back of a global luxury car boom. Yet serious fissures have appeared at the very top of the management chain which unchecked, could destabilise the entire organisation.  Continue reading “Auf Wiedersehen Piëch?”

Rearview: Try Justifying This…

Nice car, patronising car ad.

Car-adphotos 001

For those of us who grew up in the 1970’s, it doesn’t necessarily always feel that long ago. Revisiting this print ad, I realise it was. Advertisements like this were not all that unusual then, especially when it came to advertising more ‘masculine’ cars. Like so many things we can now look back in astonishment over, this form of casual and gleeful sexism not only portrays women as emasculating killjoys, but also as quite incapable of appreciating a nice car – let alone being capable of driving one. Continue reading “Rearview: Try Justifying This…”

European Car Sales Increase for 19th Consecutive Month

European car sales rise 11% on strong demand for VW, Renault and FCA.

Car dealers at Goad Cadillac dealership in the 1960s. Image: blog.hemmings.com
Car dealers at Goad Cadillac dealership in the 1960s. Image: blog.hemmings.com

After what has seemed like most of a decade in the doldrums, European sales are growing again. It doesn’t feel like it but the increase in car sales is a trend almost two years old. 11% is quite a remarkable increase and reflects a number of factors, among which are a weak Euro and consumers eventually deciding to replace worn vehicles. The statistics were published by ACEA today.

Continue reading “European Car Sales Increase for 19th Consecutive Month”

Qoros Show A Drawing

The chief designer of Qoros, Martin Hildebrand, has revealed a drawing showing the style of the brand’s projected next car, the 2. Shades here of Hillman’s Benny Dohar, I feel.

2015 Qoros 2: big on wheels and short on details, small on themes. Image: Qoros
2015 Qoros 2: big on wheels and short on details, small on themes. Image: Qoros

The 2 will Qoros’ fourth model. The other three are the Qoros 3 hatchback, saloon and City (all essentially the same car tweaked). At present the firm is focusing on sales in China but has a small, experimental dealer network in Slovakia where 40 customers have been lured in. Continue reading “Qoros Show A Drawing”

Archive: “More T-Junctions, Vicar?”

DTW presents another look back at the archives of motoring writer Archie Vicar. This item appears to be a transcript from “Motorists and Motorism”, August 1975.

1975 Simca 1301: best car of Vicar´s week.
1975 Simca 1301: best car of Vicar’s week.

What a week and indeed what a summer it has been so far. In May I had a chance to sample Michelin’s tyres at a special “closed track” day at Silverstone. A Mercedes 240D and a Peugeot 504 LD served as test-beds for Michelin’s new all-weather radial tyres. Peugeot have thought to bring these diesel cars over as they have had enough experience selling them on the continent. Also, seems as if they don’t want to Continue reading “Archive: “More T-Junctions, Vicar?””

A Little More On Naming Systems

Yesterday I took Lincoln to task for their model name system. I argued that since all their models bar one had an MK prefix, that part served no purpose. Lincoln are not alone though.

2015 Cadillac line-up. Image: Cadillac.com
2015 Cadillac line-up. Image: Cadillac.com

Automotive News  report that Citroen is thinking of revising their own model nomenclature. Currently Citroen use a C prefix and this too is redundant. Unlike Lincoln’s fairly lame scheme, at least the MK might remind one of the glory days of Lincoln’s Mark-series, the Continentals. The C-system doesn’t even do that as it simply Continue reading “A Little More On Naming Systems”

The Resurrection Won’t Be Televised

Today, we examine rumours in the mainstream car industry that if accurate, could precipitate something quite unusual. Genuine surprise.

Anyone for for a spot of gravedigging? Image via craigqmonreals
Anyone for for a spot of gravedigging? Image via craigqmonreals

In a polarised landscape, the worst place to be is in the centre ground. This is as true of the mainstream motor industry as it is within politics, religion or even retail. Anyone not attempting to create upmarket brand extensions hopes to convince customers to pay more for their existing products. Others see the creation of new brands as the answer.  Continue reading “The Resurrection Won’t Be Televised”

Austerity Drive

Look at all my lovely buttons – so much choice, so little time!

My Head Hurts! Ford Focus ST
My Head Hurts! Ford Focus ST

From The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut : “The only controls available to those on board were two push-buttons on the centre post of the cabin – one labelled ‘ON’ and one labelled ‘OFF’. The ON button simply started a flight from Mars. The OFF button connected to nothing. It was installed at the insistence of the Martian mental health experts, who said that human beings were always happier with machinery they thought they could turn off.”

In a companion piece, I’ll shortly sing the delights of a car that entertains, but there’s another side to this. Cars have become complex, with lots of switches and touch-screen options. If you drive a modern car, do you use every option that is available to you? Do you even know every option?

Continue reading “Austerity Drive”

They Never Learn

Automotive News reports that Renault are going to replace the Laguna and Latitude with a single model. Fine. But they said something we have heard so many times before.

2007 Renault Laguna: the problem is not the styling.
2007 Renault Laguna: the problem is not the styling.

“Renault says the Laguna/Latitude replacement will have a more emotional styling.” The bulk of AN’s report details the statistics of the C-D segment. In brief: fewer sold than ever, Renault selling fewer again, losses. What the article doesn’t address is that the last Laguna lost customers due to its reliability problems and the current car did not get those customers back because it simply wasn’t special enough. Special doesn’t mean emotional.

As I never tire of repeating, Continue reading “They Never Learn”

The Hunt For a Green Car, Continued

Nothing turned up at Renault though their Clio has 13 colours**. Fiat made it impossible to find out what they had in under five minutes though their website looks nice. I could not be bothered….

2015 Citroen Cactus colour palette. Not very green.
2015 Citroen Cactus colour palette. Not very green.

Mazda have six colours for their new 2 but not a green. The red costs a remarkable €750 while the other colours are running at €450. White is the only colour that comes at €0. Citroen is another green-free zone. The DS5 which is a car for individualists comes in a range of colours limited to six, nearly all of which are some form of grey or black. I really believe that if they offered this car in banana, lime, strawberry and mustard it would Continue reading “The Hunt For a Green Car, Continued”

Finally, Something Good From Pininfarina

While The Truth About Cars was informing us on the business model of the Autolib concept, I was thinking about something else. 

Autolib electric per-per-mile rental cars in Paris, France. Image: Wikipedia. Give them some money, please. We all use Wikipedia so cough up. Thanks.
Autolib electric per-per-mile rental cars in Paris, France. Image: Wikipedia. Give them some money, please. We all use Wikipedia so cough up. Thanks.

This is some of what the Truth About Cars wrote: The technology involves lithium metal polymer batteries, developed by Bollore’s Blue Solutions. The batteries, which don’t need liquid electrolytes to store power, are not only lighter in weight than lithium-ion packs, but can be charged up to 3,000 times, and are stable at temps up to 338 F. No one else has gone for the technology thus far, however; Bollore invested €3 billion ($3.2 billion) over three years to develop the EVs and the battery technology now in use by his ventures.” Continue reading “Finally, Something Good From Pininfarina”

Are Things Warming Up? Hyundai’s New Colour Options

Ever since 1978 (Oct 4, 12.34 pm), the dominant colour range used in car interiors has been tending towards the cool: that would be grey, blue, black. 

2015 Hyundai i20 door.
2015 Hyundai i20 door.

Up until that time most manufacturers offered upholstery, carpet and plastic trim in colours such as ivy green, navy blue, light blue, orange-brown, mid-green, red, bordeaux (what the Truth About Cars insists on calling Bordello Red). I have been looking at colour lately and first noticed a more daring use of tans and browns in concept cars (the most concept-y aspect of most of them) and now this trend feeding into production car interiors. Here is my evidence: the new Hyundai i20. Continue reading “Are Things Warming Up? Hyundai’s New Colour Options”

Theme : Benchmarks – Lost In Translation

Let’s re-create a winner. What could go wrong?

Jaguar Presentation

Motoring history has many concepts and show cars that disappointed when they were turned into production models, but equally tantalising are the occasions when a manufacturer has looked back into its own history and tried to re-create one of its own supposed ‘classics’.

This is sometimes commercially successful, sometimes critically successful, but those of us in the world of motoring who spend our time considering the automotive equivalent of fitting angels onto pin heads are usually frustrated. Here are some of my own personal disappointments and maybe a success or two. Continue reading “Theme : Benchmarks – Lost In Translation”

A New frontier? Aston Martin’s DBX

Every so often, a concept car symbolises the crossing of an invisible line. Here’s one of them.

Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer next to the DBX concept-Geneva 2015 - image via motorauthority
You’d imagine they’d have found a jacket to fit him… Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer announces the DBX concept-Geneva 2015 – image via motorauthority

The Aston Martin DBX represents the best clue yet to the Gaydon-based marque’s future intentions. Aston Martin’s new CEO, Andy Palmer has stated a version of this car will be produced, telling the Telegraph last week; “The DBX is not an SUV, it’s an expression of a GT sports car; a DB crossing over into that usable space… it will be a five-door vehicle, and it won’t grow much bigger than the DBX.”  Continue reading “A New frontier? Aston Martin’s DBX”

The European D-Sector – So Long, Farewell…Sayonara

Having sniffed the exhaust pipes of the French and German marques within Europe’s D-segment, we make one last visit to wave a fond adieu to our friends from Japan. 

Toyota Avensis - get 'em while they're hot - image via infoziare
Toyota Avensis – get ’em while they’re still hot – image via infoziare

A facelifted Toyota Avensis bowed in at Geneva, featuring front-end styling eerily familiar to current Auris and Corolla owners. It probably represents the last opportunity to purchase one of these while they’re still warm because Toyota has broadly hinted that they may not replace the model once it breathes its last in a couple of year’s time. Continue reading “The European D-Sector – So Long, Farewell…Sayonara”

Theme : Benchmarks – A Random Selection From A Random Industry

Some Very Personal Benchmarks

Panhard 24

Since Simon has granted us the discretion to be reasonably subjective, I make no apologies for presenting a set of purely personal benchmarks, which I will make little attempt to defend with any objective data.  Continue reading “Theme : Benchmarks – A Random Selection From A Random Industry”

The European D-Sector – A German Perspective

The Passat is very much das auto in the European D-segment. We look at how everyone else is doing.

Image via autoblog
Passat 2015-style. Image via autoblog

With the strongest sales of all of the major European producers, German manufacturers remain hugely successful in the mainstream D-segment. Today, we delve below the surface to see if the figures tell the full story.
Continue reading “The European D-Sector – A German Perspective”

Who is the Second Largest Supplier to the Car Industry?

Here’s something interesting. Car and Driver reckon that the Mercedes C-class has the best automotive interior under $40,000. Let’s say that interior is not better than the one fitted to the S-class coupe.

Made by the same people who supply the Peugeot 508. Image: Faurecia.com
Made by the same people who supply the Peugeot 508. Image: Faurecia.com

Then consider the interior of the Citroen DS5 and while it’s nice enough it’s not stellar. Now visualise the interior (or much of it) for the Audi Q7. Audi interiors regularly get called the best in the business. Then sit inside the unremarkable Peugeot 508. What do the S-class, Q7, DS5 and Peugeot 508 have in common?

Continue reading “Who is the Second Largest Supplier to the Car Industry?”

How Do You Solve a Problem Like Laguna?

Last week we poked a stick at PSA’s sector-D saloon offerings to see if there was any life in them. Today we cast a glance towards their domestic rivals and ask how Renault can keep churning out Lagunas at a loss of around €3,500 a pop?

Renault-Laguna-2014.autompv
The 2014 Renault Laguna – image via autompv

Last year, Renault sold 16,019 freshly minted Lagunas across Europe and given it probably isn’t offered in too many markets outside the territory, that’s probably about as good as it got. What keeps Renault shooting themselves in both feet when on the face of things, more successful players are picking up sticks and leaving for good?  Continue reading “How Do You Solve a Problem Like Laguna?”

Production and design: EDAG´s research into additive manufacturing

Recently under the rubric of the Geneva Motor Show 2015, I mentioned the Light Cocoon concept car produced by the consultancy EDAG. This work highlighted the possibilities of additive manufacturing methods. Does it have a meaningful place in the future of car manufacture?

2014 EDAG Genesis
2014 EDAG Genesis

First, let´s find out a bit more about additive manufacturing. In contrast with standard mass production, additive production relies on building up material layer by layer using lasers to activate and bind particles together to the required shape. Lasers follow a path through a mass of granules and cause selected ones to fuse. The path is defined by a mathematical model generated using CAD programmes. Other additive methods use extrusions of hot plastic laid down in layers. Again, the layers are defined by CAD data. The key thing is that material is addded and not removed. (Sculpture using stone is subtractive manufacturing, so is wood turning.) In automotive production the methods used to make thing usually involve stamping where a flat sheet of metal is pressed into the required shape using a specially made one off tool. In moulding processes a liquid is introduced to an empty form and takes up the shape of the tool. In both cases the CAD data is mediated by costly forms or dies which need to be milled slowly from tough materials. These are usually finished (polished) by hand to

Continue reading “Production and design: EDAG´s research into additive manufacturing”

On The Outside Looking In: French Cars In America

The roll of call of great French cars is almost the same as the roll call of French cars that have failed to generate anything but legends of unreliability and weirdness in North America.

Not on sale in the US, the facelifted Peugeot 208.
Not on sale in the US, the facelifted Peugeot 208.

The DS, the SM, the 604, the Renault 5 (known as “Le Car”) and the Peugeot 405. Yes, French cars have not been a great success in North America but a dedicated group of automobile enthusiasts still have a fascination for them.

The leading site for news of cars North Americans can’t buy if they live in North American is French Cars in America. The site carries articles about developments among the French marques plus pages on matters more historical. Ahead of PSA, FCIA gives the DS label Continue reading “On The Outside Looking In: French Cars In America”

Marketing Wisdom From Cadillac

Car and Driver carried an interview  with Uwe Ellinghaus, Cadillac’s marketing boss. He said a few surprising things.

2007 Cadillac DTS

As an industrial designer by training, I noted that Ellinghaus is tired of what are called “personas”.  These are stereotypical identities that embody the essential character of a vehicle’s target customer. For a Ford Fiesta the persona was probably a female, aged 25-35 with an urban lifestyle and perhaps one or two children.  The designers were told to imagine this person when creating the car’s look and feel. All car companies use these strategies.

Continue reading “Marketing Wisdom From Cadillac”

Danish Car Sales For January 2015

What are the Danes buying? In at number 20 in January is the Kia Rio. What else?

2015 Kia Rio: one of Denmark´s most popular car (20th most popular). It outsold the BMW 3-series anyway.
2015 Kia Rio: one of Denmark´s most popular car (20th most popular). It outsold the BMW 3-series anyway.

First, they are buying small cars. The VW Golf and Peugeot 308 are the largest cars in the top ten and the top spot goes to a sub-B car, as does position 6 and 7. Secondly, Danes are buying the latest thing. The Peugeot 108’s cousin the Aygo has been on sale for six months or so and buyers have Continue reading “Danish Car Sales For January 2015”

How Well is Nissan’s Pulsar Doing?

Not as well as the Qashqai but the Qashqai has outsold the Ford Focus in January 2015.

2015 Nissan Pulsar
2015 Nissan Pulsar

According to Nissan UK, the Qashqai cross-over/softroader has achieved sales of 19,500 units. The Pulsar has shifted 3,322 units in January. By comparison the Focus, (Ford’s evergreen mid-size family hatchback), does much better. Ford claim 14,500 vehicles sold. However, if we do not compare like with like, the Qashqai shows people are willing to Continue reading “How Well is Nissan’s Pulsar Doing?”

Another Niche Within a Niche is Filled: BMW Active Tourer 7-seater

The old shibboleths are invalid. Not only has BMW launched a five-seater, front drive hatchback, they now have revealed a 7-seater as well. Zafira watch out. BMW watch out too.

1983 bmw-733i-06 reworked

I think the doctored photo shows the 7-seater but I am not entirely sure. It probably doesn’t matter a whole lot. It’s very much just a car that was bound to happen. It isn’t hard to turn a five seater MPV into a 7 seater. This is the version of the car that has finally erased my core image of BMW which is a gleaming black 1986 528i (E12) with grey cloth and a manual transmission parked outside an ad agency on Fitzwilliam Square, Dublin. Now my core image of a BMW is

Continue reading “Another Niche Within a Niche is Filled: BMW Active Tourer 7-seater”

Can the Anti-Bahar Rescue Lotus? – Part Two

Driven to write concludes its examination of Jean-Marc Gales’ plans to save Lotus

evora tail

Many of Lotus’ apologists incline towards the view that Dany Bahar had the right basic idea, but was thwarted by DRB-HICOM’s lack of imagination. Unsurprisingly then, their view on Jean-Marc Gales appointment is of a similarly reactionary hue. Gales made a mess of PSA they contend, and will do likewise at Hethel. Leaving aside the steaming lake of ordure their spiritual leader left behind at Lotus for a moment, the question is worth considering. Is Gales the right man?

Continue reading “Can the Anti-Bahar Rescue Lotus? – Part Two”

Can the Anti-Bahar Rescue Lotus?

Part 1: Driven to write fixes its gimlet eye towards Jean-Marc Gales and asks if he has what it takes to transform Lotus’ fortunes in a post-Bahar era.

Lotus-Elise-S-Cup.automotivpress
Don’t mention the Bahar – Jean-Marc Gales with the team behind the Lotus Elise-S Cup. Photo via automotivpress

Four years ago at the Paris Motor show, Lotus attached a rocket to its back and aimed for the stars showing five audacious concepts. Rocketman, Dany Bahar, Lotus’ shamanic leader attained perihelion before learning a valuable, if rather messy lesson in physics. Bahar told The Telegraph recently he in fact never intended making all five concepts, his intention merely being “to make a lot of noise”. It clearly escaped his notice that it’s a lot easier and ultimately less time-consuming to just set fire to huge wads of cash in public. Just ask the KLF.  Continue reading “Can the Anti-Bahar Rescue Lotus?”

Death Has a Revolving Door: Here’s Borgward!

The coffin lid groans as the once lifeless corpse reanimates

borgward-geneva-motor-show-003-1

It was revealed earlier this week that Borgward, the long-dead German quality auto marque will announce their first new vehicle in over 50-years at this year’s Geneva Motor show. Borgward, who last produced cars in 1961, join Saab and Bristol amongst deceased marques making belated and in Saab’s case, serial comebacks from the grave.

Although amazingly, neither have as yet Continue reading “Death Has a Revolving Door: Here’s Borgward!”

Lovely, Lovely Numbers

Opinions are fragile things, aren’t they? Left alone and sheltered from the cold gusts of fact, they thrive but a few small bits of data can destroy them in an instant, like hail shredding the most tender of blossoms.

This is the only image of thsi car I could find that was not black-ish or white-ish.
This is the only image of this car I could find that was not black-ish or white-ish.

The ACEA (European Automobile Manufacturer’s Association) released data for car sales in 2014 recently. Automotive News made a bit of a meal of the matter of who would take next-to-top spot. Would it be Renault, Opel or Ford who will take the number two position in the future? At the moment Ford holds this honour, with just under a million cars sold. GM, perhaps because one or two models are below par, sold a bit less again. But that part of the story, the cars-as-sports story, didn’t really interest me so much as the way the numbers reset my expectation. Continue reading “Lovely, Lovely Numbers”

World Cars: Ford Eco-Sport

Automotive News reports that Ford’s Eco-Sport soft-roader/crossover has not been a success in the European market. Is it an example of world cars only selling in parts of the world?

Too chunky for us. 2014 Ford Eco-sport.
Too chunky for us. 2014 Ford Eco-sport.

The Renault Captur, Peugeot 2008 and the Opel Mokka all sold remarkably better than the Eco-Sport. How well? For every eco-sporty vehicle Ford sold, Renault sold 13 and a bit Capturs. Additionally, Peugeot sold 11 of their chrome-laden machines and even more additionally, Opel shifted 10 Mokkas for every Ford that drove off the dealer’s yard.

That means for each little Continue reading “World Cars: Ford Eco-Sport”

Customerless Car Companies 2

Further to the article about driverless cars, I’d like to draw your attention to Bosch’s path towards driverless cars.

1958 driverless car

According to Automotive News the four main steps are as follows:

• Integrated highway assist: In 2017, the vehicle would travel up to 75 mph on the highway, remaining within its lane, while the motorist keeps his eyes on the road. Continue reading “Customerless Car Companies 2”

Customerless Car Companies

Newspapers are interesting. You can pick up a sheaf of pulped wood and read articles about all sorts of fascinating topics. Just the other day I read a small piece about driverless cars. This made me wonder about two things.

2015 Mercedes Benz customerless car concept. Note the horrible melange of anti-urban architecture in the background. Let´s get out of here.
2015 Mercedes Benz customerless car concept. Note the horrible melange of anti-urban architecture in the background. Let’s get out of here.

The article I read (in the International New York Times) reported how last Monday at the International CES, a large trade show themed on technology, Dieter Zetsche showed off Mercedes Benz’s vision of a driverless car. Zetsche described the car as a sort of “luxury carriage” that could provide a peaceful and pleasant space for its passengers. Continue reading “Customerless Car Companies”

The Private Buyer Is Dying Off [Exclamation Point]

That’s the tabloid-style scare headline for this topic. The sensible, broadsheet-style headline would be “Fleet buyers to dominate in car market”.

Not enough people want this sort of thing. 1978 Opel Senator's rich ambience.
Not enough people want this sort of thing. 1978 Opel Senator’s rich ambience.

According to Automotive News (who posted this story on Saturday, Jan 10th – do they never rest?) Renault are to bank on fleet sales as the proportion of private customers decreases relative to corporate ones: “Renault hopes its new Espace will appeal to business customers as family buyers increasingly shun minivans”. Furthermore, AN reports that “Jamel Taganza, an analyst for Inovev, said fleet customers now represent the majority of potential buyers of midsize vehicles in Europe: ‘With the exception of Italy, the shift to fleet sales is a European-wide trend,’ he said”. Continue reading “The Private Buyer Is Dying Off [Exclamation Point]”