Thursday, October 27, 2011

Interview: Brand Loyalty

I had the opportunity to have an interview with Doug Scott who is Sr. Vice President of GfK Automotive. He has more than 29 years of experience in the automotive and marketing research industries. He has also worked with automakers such as Toyota, Chrysler, and Subaru. Mr. Scott was a national research manager for Toyota Motor Sales before joining GfK.

GfK Automotive conducts research for the global automotive industry.

My interview with Doug Scott focused on Brand Loyalty and how technology is changing the way we buy cars. Check out my interview below. While you may hear Doug Scott clearly, you may have some difficulties hearing me speak. So these are the questions that I asked Mr. Scott:

1. What does brand loyalty mean?
2. Will Toyota's brand loyalty increase or will it stabilize?
3. What is your take on the success of Hyundai and Kia?
4. Do you think the younger generation will become more loyal as they age?
5. Which automakers have benefited from new technology enhancements?
6. Had an improvement in overall quality helped automakers attract and retain new buyers, as well as pre-boomers and boomers?

I want to thank Daniel Schwartzberg for putting this interview together. I also want to thank Doug Scott for taking out the time to answer my questions.

For more information on GfK Automotive check out their website:

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Monday, October 24, 2011

Is It The End of the Line for Saab?

Things have not been going well for Saab, since it was purchased from General Motors. To be honest I was really shocked that Saab was experiencing so many problems from the start. I thought Saab would be in better hands than when it was under General Motors. Saab could have been a very profitable brand if GM put in the investment. I know that Saab's current owner is trying to keep Saab alive but the time is surely ticking now!

Last month Saab won court protection from creditors to reorganize. Pang Da Automobile Trading Co. and Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co. had agreed to buy a combined 53.9 percent stake in Saab. This offer was rejected by Mr. Muller. Saab recently obtained financing from North Street Capital. North Street Capital would lend Saab $60 million and buy 2.39 million shares. Many people are surprised that this offer was not taken because of Saab's current position. I have to give credit to Mr. Muller for really believing in Saab because he is trying really hard to keep this company alive. I don't think that Mr. Muller is going to let Saab die that easily. He has so much faith in this company and I'm sure he has the right plans to bring this company back to the forefront of the automobile industry. 

There is no telling what will happen to Saab in the next few days or weeks. But I am surely rooting for Saab to survive. I think Saab is one of those distinct and quirky brands that could thrive if it had the right management unlike with GM (Cough!). I would love to see more products from Saab that are actually competitive. If Buick can be turned around then I'm damn sure Saab has a chance. The end of Saab could be coming very soon but there still seems to be a bit of hope left.

Update: Saab has rejected a full buyout from Pang Da Automobile Trading Co. and Zhejiang Youngman Lotus Automobile Co.

Do you hope Saab makes it?

For more information about Saab and it's products check out Saab's website:

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Ford Explorer Passes the 100,000 Sales Mark

The Explorer has become the fastest growing midsize crossover in the U.S. After a complete redesign, compared to 2010, U.S. sales are up 290 percent. The Explorer has passed the 100,000 vehicle sales mark. Ford has been on a roll lately with their recently re-designed vehicles.

Amy Marentic, who is a Group Marketing Manager at Ford stated "with best-in-class fuel economy and technology like MyFord Touch®, terrain management and the world's first second-row inflatable seat belts, Ford had shown that our dedication to customers' needs is paying off,". 

The new  EcoBoost engine has an EPA rating of  28 mpg on the highway. Ford's all new Escape will be unveiled at the upcoming Los Angeles Auto Show. It will be offered with a 1.6 liter and 2.0 liter EcoBoost engine.

This is great news for Ford and I hope they continue with their success.

Check out more information about the Explorer on Ford's website:

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Thursday, October 20, 2011

No More Dodge Grand Caravan and Avenger!!!

For 2013 The Chrysler Group will be eliminating the Dodge Grand Caravan and Avenger. Doing this will leave just one minivan the Town and Country and one midsize car the 200 in The Chrysler Group's portfolio. The next generation Town and Country will arrive in 2014. While the 200 replacement will arrive in 2013. I think that this is a very smart decision by The Chrysler Group because it eliminates duplicate vehicles. I was surprised that Chrysler decided to discontinue the Grand Caravan instead of the Town and Country because it's Dodge's best selling model. But it looks like The Chrysler Group is trying to make Dodge into a sporty brand which it should have been from the very beginning. This will allow Dodge, Chrysler, and Jeep to occupy different parts of the automotive market. In January of next year Dodge will launch a new compact sedan based on the Alfa Romeo's Giulietta platform. After seeing many spy shots of Dodge's new compact sedan, I can't wait for it to be fully revealed.

Both the Dodge Grand Caravan and Avenger will be replaced by a single crossover based on a Fiat platform. At first I thought that it was a bad choice by the Chrysler Group but now I understand why they are doing this. I would really love to see this new crossover which is set to arrive in 2014, compete against the Nissan Juke, Hyundai Veloster, VW Beetle, and the Mini Cooper Countryman. In my opinion I think that Dodge has a good chance of creating a very sporty and reasonably priced crossover.

Is The Chrysler Group making the right decisions?

Will you miss either vehicle?

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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

2013 Porsche Macan

The Porsche Macan will go on sale in 2013. The Macan will be based off the same platform as the Audi Q5. It will take the slot below the bigger Cayenne in Porsche's lineup. Like the Audi Q5 the Macan may receive the same 2.0 liter 4 cylinder and 3.0 liter V6 engines. There will definitely be a five door configuration but no definite answer on the three door option. The Macan will be produced at Porsche's plant in Leipzig.

Porsche is hoping to attract younger buyers to it's brand with the Macan. I think that the Macan will definitely bring in the new buyers that Porsche is hoping for. There's no doubt that the Macan will be a great addition to the Porsche lineup and the luxury crossover market.

Well it looks like Porsche decided not to keep the Cajun name around. I don't know if I like Macan but it might grow on me over time.

How do you feel about the Macan name?

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Monday, October 17, 2011

Thoughts: Buick Verano

Buick has really transformed themselves in the past few years, in a good way. I was first impressed with the Enclave and how stylish it was because at that time I couldn't believe it was a Buick. Then came the LaCrosse which is just a great looking car. Every time I see the LaCrosse, I just think "luxury". The Regal was the next Buick model to appear and I was blown away again. But my thoughts about the Regal changed after I drove the CXL model. Now there is a new Buick model coming called the Verano. I will give it to Buick that their vehicles are very attractive. The Verano like the rest of the Buick family screams "luxury". When I heard that this model was going to be below the Regal I started to have doubts. Those doubts continued when I found out that this model will share it's platform with the Chevrolet Cruze and Volt. All I kept thinking in my mind was that the Verano was going to be an upscale Cruze. Their price ranges overlap each other which doesn't help. When I think of models that are rebadged I think why would someone pay a premium price for a Verano when they can get similarly equipped Cruze for less money?

The Buick Verano will start at over $23,000. The base Verano will be equipped with a 2.4-liter engine that produces 180 horsepower. There will be a 2.4-liter turbo four engine later on in the model year. While Buick states that the average Verano customer isn't interested in performance, I really don't believe that. In my opinion if someone is spending money on a premium or luxury vehicle, I'm sure they expect a decent engine to come with it. I'm not saying put an engine with 300 horses in the car but an engine that makes a statement. In this price class there are so many other choices to choose from. I'm really rooting for Buick to stay competitive and be successful. But the biggest problem they have to fix is their engine choices. The base engine in the Regal and Verano just don't cut it in my opinion.

What are your thoughts on the new Buick Verano?

For more information on the Verano check out Buick's website:

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Monday, October 3, 2011

Thoughts: Infiniti

I've driven just about all of the Infiniti models except for the M and QX. Lately everyone has been bashing   Infiniti for their designs, I praise them because there are no other car companies that can pull it off. There is nothing wrong with Infiniti's designs in my opinion. I think every Infiniti looks good with my favorite being the FX! Everyone that has talked to me or read my blog knows that I am a big fan of Nissan & Infiniti. My grandmother has had three generations of Nissan Maxima's ('84, '99, & '05) and two Infiniti EX's ('08 & '11). They are my top two favorite brands mainly because of their bold designs and great engines. While I do like Infiniti there are some things that I dislike about the brand as well. I am not a big fan of the new 7-speed transmission. The biggest complaint I have about Infiniti is their model line-up. Yes they will be adding the new JX and a small compact car but I don't think those two are enough especially when you compare their line-up to BMW or Mercedes-Benz.

In one of my post a week or so ago I talked with Matt Farah and he stated "They need a halo car" referring to both Infiniti and Acura. I had to sit and think about it but I completely agreed with him. Infiniti has been saying for the past few years that it is not the right time to bring back the Q45. But I think its hurting the brand more by not having a halo car that competes against the Audi A8, BMW 7 series, and the Mercedes-Benz S class. There are also talks of a Infiniti super car based off of the Nissan GT-R, which I think would be great for the brand. If the rumors are true and this car does come to the line-up I hope that its after the Q45. I would also love to see Infiniti make a car that competes against the Mercedes-Benz CLS and Audi A7. One car that needs to be grow in size to be more competitive is the EX. Infiniti doesn't sell many of these and that has do with the fact that the EX is smaller than its competitors.

I consider Infiniti a luxury brand but if they want to truly go head to head with their German rivals they have to take the IPL brand to the next level. It has been said that the IPL brand does not compete against BMW's M and Mercedes-Benz AMG performance brands. But I feel that it should have been positioned to compete against them and should not have been released if it wasn't going to be a true performance brand. I know that Infiniti can take the IPL performance brand to the next level. If Infiniti does go about repositioning the G IPL I'm sure they can take on the M3 and C63 AMG.

I am no expert on the auto industry but over the years I have seen the auto industry evolve. The luxury car market has become very competitive and no luxury automaker can afford to make a mistake. Infiniti's sales have increased from where they used to be but they still don't come close to BMW, Mercedes-Benz, or Lexus. Infiniti's marketing team has to really get aggressive and promote the brand more. I think the introduction of the JX and new compact sedan will bring more buyers to the brand but Infiniti still needs a halo car. It's time for the Q to be resurrected, and if it is, Infiniti needs to make sure it is just as competitive as the S class, 7 series, and the Lexus LS. If I had to buy a luxury car, Infiniti would be my first choice I would not have to think about it twice. I wish Infiniti nothing but success and hope that the brand will become a more competitive luxury car brand.

I can't wait to drive and review the new JX!

Are you a loyal Infiniti fan? What is your favorite Infiniti model?

For more information on Infiniti vehicles check out there website:

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