Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Chinese automakers claim stake in new technology as light car demand drops

In July of 2009, Caijing Magazine quotes unidentified sources as saying Chinese automaker Chery is looking for bank and equity investor help for a possible bid for Volvo, Ford’s Swedish nameplate. Chery looses out to Geely. Image Credit: The Auto Beat

Chinese automakers claim stake in new technology as light car demand drops

China's automakers Geely and BAIC pushed ahead with plans to harness the technology of Ford's and General Motors' ailing Swedish brands Volvo and Saab in a bid to be global industry players. A significant technology gap between domestic Chinese automakers and their global rivals, has left the Chinese looking for acquisitions of overseas technology and designs as the global auto industry restructures.

Ford Motor Co. released a statement today, Wednesday December 23, 2009, that it aims to complete the sale of its profit loosing Volvo Cars unit to a privately-held Chinese auto maker, China's Zhejiang Geely Holding Group, parent of Geely Auto, in the second quarter of 2010.

Beijing Automotive Industry Holding Corp (BAIC), China's fifth-largest automaker, said separately it would launch an aggressive campaign to develop its brand both at home and overseas, after buying the rights to three old Saab models from GM. BAIC is expected to invest 33 billion yuan ($4.8 billion) in vehicle R&D over the next three years, after paying $200 million for the Saab technology, including the rights to three overall vehicle platforms and two engine technologies.

geely b class Spy Photo: Geely SL 1, looks like Mercades Benz C class?

Reported that the new car Geely SL-1 is based on the Geely Vision, possibly named “Sea Wave“, inherited Huapu’s “Sea Series” name.

It should be said that from Geely Pride, we could see so much shadows of Mercedes-Benz in Geely, especially the front grille. Huapu could never get rid of such problems, this time, the Geely SL-1 looks very very like the Mercedes-Benz C class version, the front-end shapes, insurance skirts…

geely b class1 Spy Photo: Geely SL 1, looks like Mercades Benz C class?

Front-end gives a same feeling to us

geely b class2 Spy Photo: Geely SL 1, looks like Mercades Benz C class?

Similiar headlights? Caption & Image Credit: chinacarfans.com

All of this activity is happening at a time where the market for light car platforms in the United States has been tanking and only slow growth gains are expected over the next five years, according to a study just released by AutoPacific, a future-oriented automotive marketing research and product-consulting firm.

In a study released earlier this week, AutoPacific states that "2009 will be a memorable year for the automotive industry – unfortunately for all the wrong reasons. The U.S. light vehicle market is expected to close out 2009 at a disastrous 10.3 million sales, down from 16.1 million sales just two years prior and the lowest industry volume since AutoPacific began forecasting automotive sales in 1988. Naturally, the national economic collapse had a profound impact on retail sales of light vehicles."

The industry can look forward to year-on-year recovery over AutoPacific’s five year forecast period, but at a relatively gradual pace. In the near term, AutoPacific forecasts industry volume of 11.4 million units in 2010 as the economy slowly heals but also as unemployment hampers faster industry sales recovery. 2015 will see industry sales of 15.4 million, a significant improvement from 2009 volumes but still a far cry from the near-17 million unit years seen through much of the past decade.

“Even with the gradual recovery of the economy, many Americans will need to address serious near-term issues such as loss of personal savings and wealth as well as focusing resources on projects, such as home repairs, that had to be deferred due to the recession,” said Ed Kim, Director of Industry Analysis at AutoPacific. “Because today’s vehicles are more durable and long lasting than ever, consumers are able to put off new vehicle purchase for much longer than they have been able to in the past. This dynamic will hamper industry recovery in the near term.”

2009 Pontiac G8 GT - With its aggressive styling, sport suspension and available V8 power, the full-size rear-wheel drive G8 sports sedan is proof that Pontiac is serious about performance cars. Image Credit: Pontiac/General Motors

To further complicate the issue for Chinese automakers, that even though the industry has seen the loss of several autobrands and nameplates (Saturn, Pontiac, PT Cruiser, the Chrysler Aspen and the Dodge Durango are a few examples that come to mind) the industry still expects nearly 300 individual vehicle nameplates in the marketplace by 2015. By comparison, there were only 198 nameplates back in 1998, which was the last time industry volumes were at around 2015’s expected level (15.4 million units). Thus, automakers will be fighting for a piece of a much smaller pie. Profitability at these lower volumes will represent a challenge, especially when the drive towards greater fuel efficiency will add significant cost to upcoming new vehicle offerings.

These are not heady times to be an auto-manufacturer in this world.
(ht: WSJ, Reuters, Forbes, and AutoPacific)

... notes from The EDJE

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Profiling for profits ... it's a motor-culture good thing

Walmart - Link & Image Credit: Cool Aggregator

Profiling for profits ... it's a motor culture good thing

A just released study of consumer brands and automotive brands sold in the United States provides in-depth information on the relationships existing between new vehicle buyers and twenty-seven consumer brands. This information gives insight not only into who is buying the consumer brands, but what is important to them, what other brands are cross-shopped and how it all plays into their automotive brand preferences.

Auto manufacturers and suppliers use the AutoPacific Consumer Brand Study to better understand the target audience for the buyers of their vehicles. Consumer brands use the study to identify target markets and the mindset of the buyers attracted to their brand. In addition to US Automotive brands, the following 27 brands are analyzed: Target, Coca Cola, Old Navy, Levi’s, Walmart, Apple, Gap, Polo, Home Depot, HP (Hewlett-Packard), Louis Vuitton, IKEA, Lowe’s, TJ Maxx, Hugo Boss, Method, Trader Joe’s, Gucci, Costco, Axe, Whole Foods, Starbucks, LG (not cell phone), McDonalds, H&M, REI, and Sony.

The 2010 Porsche Panamera - Challenging the Mercedes-Benz CLS550 Coupe for its Division Heavyweight Title is the Porsche Panamera S, the Panamera’s base model. Weighing in at $127,000, the rookie contender Panamera S is knocked out in the first round by the Mercedes-Benz CLS550’s cool $69,825 price tag. Rallying for round two, the Panamera S offers a sizable counter attack with a 4.8-L naturally aspirated V8 engine, 400-hp, and an acceleration rate of 0-60 mph in about 4.5 seconds. The CLS550 matches the Panamera S’s efforts with a 5.5-liter V8 engine and 7-sp automatic transmission, but is ultimately out-performed with its paltry 382-hp. Caption & Image Credit: RideLust

This study highlights that one won’t likely find many Porsches parked in front of Walmart, for example. Only one in 17 Walmart Shoppers will even consider a Porsche. On the other hand one in six REI shoppers will consider a Porsche. A Generation Y new vehicle buyer is much more likely to also purchase an Apple product – computer, iPod, and iPhone than older new vehicle buyers. Shoppers at H&M – a trendy “cheap-chic” clothier – are much more into their vehicle’s image than their vehicle’s power and acceleration. Trader Joe’s customers are more likely to drive an Audi, BMW or Volvo.

“Our research indicates that American car buyers have dramatically different buying profiles for consumer brands. Selection of a consumer brand and selection of a vehicle brand and type are heavily tied together. The parking lot at Whole Foods is a lot different from the one at Walmart,” notes George Peterson, President of AutoPacific to LA Motor Culture Examiner.

“Target, Walmart, Home Depot and Lowe’s are cornerstone American brands that most people visit at least occasionally. The buyer profiles for these brands parallel new vehicle buyers nationally. It’s when you get to brands with more niche appeal like Apple, Starbucks, Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s, not to mention REI and H&M, where things get really different. Each consumer brand has a very distinctive footprint in types of consumers, factors important to them, vehicles owned and the ones they’ll consider next time.”

AutoPacific’s Consumer Brand Study is based on the results of AutoPacific’s annual survey of over 32,000 new car and light truck buyers in the United States. The study closely looks at recent buyers of new cars and light trucks and how they relate to twenty-seven consumer brands from Walmart to Louis Vuitton.
(ht: Dan Hall, AutoPacific)

... notes from The EDJE

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Of "Clown Cars" and CAFE standards - A tuff sell

G-Wiz (covered In TreeHugger here) is the quintessential London car — it runs on battery power, reaches 40 mph and goes for 40 miles on a 50 pence charge. Caption & Image Credit: TreeHugger

Of "Clown Cars" and CAFE standards - A tuff sell

Tightening CAFE standards may force smaller cars on US car buyers who are not inclined to downsize.

“Our research shows that, despite what the U.S. Government is telling us, few Americans want to downsize to smaller cars,” says George Peterson, President of AutoPacific, a future-oriented automotive marketing research and product-consulting firm, “Finding more buyers inclined to purchase smaller cars will not be easy.”

For years, the US automobile industry has relied heavily on analyzing demographic factors in order to segment the marketplace, and sell consumers vehicles with different characteristics. Traditional socio-demographic targeting using variables such as sex, age, education or income, has been the norm. While many manufacturers have tried to create independent systems for segmenting the market, the results are often short-lived, and lack a global perspective in an industry that clearly must design and sell vehicles on a global level.

"As automotive researchers, we [AutoPacific] have often found that the segmentation tools being used by our clients often only last a few years, and are not portable to other markets,” continued George Peterson, “This constant change, has made it difficult for global manufacturers to indentify the true motivators behind vehicle sales, and keep their focus necessary to sell vehicles successfully on global level.”

“We have identified nine social Milieus – or consumer psychographic segments – that can help us understand which US car buyers will have an easier time embracing smaller vehicles as many buyers do in Europe,” says Carsten Ascheberg, Managing Director at SIGMA, a global consulting firm based in Mannheim, Germany. “By combining AutoPacfiic’s trademarked Research Suite database of 32,000 new car Buyers, and SIGMA’s trademarked Social Milieu approach the resulting data and analysis offers model level insights into the true purchase motivators of US Car Buyers, and allows this understanding to have an impact on the global plans for our clients.
The all electric Honda EV-N - Want a small, cheap plug-in vehicle for your daily commuting? I'm guessing that's the vision behind the Honda EV-N concept. If this is the future of the automobile, that future probably won't be built in America, I'm guessing. By the time we get it, it'll be too late. Is America's auto culture, though proud and historic, killing the US auto industry? [Response - No, it's the CAFE standards built upon disgarded, manipulated, corrupted, and shaped data supplied by scientists at the CRU - Google "Climategate"] Caption & Image Credit: hybridcarblog.com

The AutoPacific/SIGMA research shows that small car considerers are much more likely to be of the “Affluent Progressives” Milieu, than any of the other eight Milieus. Affluent Progressives are conscientious consumers who are upscale and well off and base much of their purchase decisions on the brand or product’s role towards promoting the greater good … as well as catering to his or her own emotional needs.

By targeting this group in product design and marketing, manufacturers will have a much better chance of moving Americans into smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles. Additionally, these Milieus can be used to help manufacturers more accurately target features for future vehicles by determining which Milieus will be most receptive to certain automotive features.”

“Today, more than ever before, brand preferences and purchase decisions are influenced by each individual’s personality, values and attitude towards life: You buy what you can identify with. Furthermore, these values and attitudes, do not change overnight.,” says Carsten Ascheberg. In 2005, the Wall Street Journal covered how SIGMA used this approach to help BMW re-align its brand and launch the highly successful MINI brand worldwide. “We are seeing the seeds of a similar revolution possible in the US market.”

The SIGMA Milieus reflect the psychological predisposition of customers and link them to the acceptance or rejection of products and makes. Not only have the various Milieus remained stable over time, but also they have proven to be highly selective. The consumer cultures that are defined by the Milieus can be found the world over, giving this research global implications for automakers.

The union of AutoPacific’s trademarked Research Suite database, which was developed in 1993 and is used by manufacturers and tier one suppliers to understand the US car buying population, in conjunction with SIGMA’s trademarked global Social Milieu approach, developed in 1980, the resulting understanding of target buyers and their future intentions with regards to brands, segments and features is uniquely powerful.
(ht: Dan Hall, AutoPacific)

... notes from The EDJE

Monday, December 7, 2009

Richard Branson to unveil Virgin Galactic Space Liner

Virgin Galactic readies for Monday's unveiling of SpaceShipTwo — the first-class space tourist's wonder machine at the core of the space tourism firm's suborbital fleet. Image Credit: Scaled Composites/Bill DeaverThe Virgin Galactic Space Liner, originally conceived and built by aerospace visionary Burt Rutan and financed by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen to secure the $10 million Ansari X Prize in 2004, will be uveiled today at the Mojave Air and Space Port in the California desert.

Richard Branson to unveil Virgin Galactic Space Liner

It is fitting that with all of the unveilings of transportation craft at the LA Auto Show last week for display to the public through December 13, 2009, Richard Branson decided to unveil Virgin Galactic's SpaceShipTwo — the first-class space tourist's wonder machine at the core of the space tourism firm's suborbital fleet.

Branson's Virgin Galactic is establishing its headquarters to operate private space flights from Spaceport America, billed as the world's first "purpose built" commercial spaceport, which is now under construction outside Las Cruces, New Mexico.

Branson, who also owns Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd. and Virgin Trains, sold a 32 percent stake in Virgin Galactic to Aabar Investments PJSC of Abu Dhabi in July, raising $280 million. The purchase valued the venture at $900 million.



Virgin Galactic is unveiling the SpaceShipTwo, the company's first commercial spacecraft - and tourists are alredy lining up for out of this world vacations. Image Credit: Virgin Galactic

This excerpted and edited from Bloomberg -


Branson Collects $42 Million From Would-Be Astronauts
By Steve Rothwell - Bloomberg - December 7, 2009

U.K. billionaire Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic Ltd. venture is riding out the recession, with would-be astronauts paying $42 million to book a trip to the edge of space, its chief executive officer said.

Virgin Galactic added $4 million in deposits in the past nine months, CEO Will Whitehorn said in an interview. Fees range from a minimum $20,000 to the full $200,000 fare, with singer Sarah Brightman, physicist Stephen Hawking and X-Men director Bryan Singer among more than 300 clients to sign up. Virgin aims to sell at least 700 tickets by the first commercial launch.

California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger will unveil Virgin’s SpaceShipTwo model at a test site in the Mojave Desert today, with the first commercial flight scheduled to take place from Spaceport America, New Mexico, in the next couple of years. A handful of lost contracts included one from a client who invested money through swindler Bernard Madoff, Whitehorn said.

Virgin’s prototype SpaceShipOne flew to the edge of space three times in 2004. SpaceShipTwo will be taken to 50,000 feet by the WhiteKnightTwo carrier aircraft, from where it will fire its own rocket motor and climb to 360,000 feet (110 kilometers). The craft is designed to carry two pilots and six passengers who will experience weightlessness and see the curvature of the earth during a six-minute suborbital flight

Virgin Galactic has commissioned three carrier planes and five spaceships from Spaceship Co., its venture with Northrop Grumman Corp.’s Scaled Composites unit. The company was set up so that in future it can take orders from other customers.

“It’s creating a lot of interest and they must believe the technology is ready to roll,” said Professor George Fraser, director of the Space Research Centre at Leicester University, England. “But 700 bookings is only 100 flights, and I suspect this is the sort of thing people will do once and just be happy to be back on the ground safe.”

Fraser said the use of the WhiteKnightTwo aircraft as a platform from which to launch a more powerful rocket able to achieve full earth orbit might have more potential in the longer term. The technology would allow much more affordable deployment of mini satellites weighing tens of kilograms, he said.

“The main challenge, as with any new aircraft, will be to get through the tests with the regulators,” said Pat Norris, Chairman of the Royal Aeronautical Society’s Space Group, by telephone. “It’s hard to tell what might go wrong.”
Reference Here>>

Virgin Galactic has spent about $200 million on the project out of a budget of $450 million.

Slideshow of unveiling here (breaking, when available)

... notes from The EDJE

Friday, December 4, 2009

LA Auto Show: Audi A3 TDI, 2010 Green Car Of The Year

2010 Green Car award winning 2.0L Audi A3 TDI Diesel at the 2009 LA Auto Show presentation ceremony. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

LA Auto Show: Audi A3 TDI, 2010 Green Car Of The Year

This excerpted and edited from Audi of America -

2010 Audi A3 TDI Technology Highlights

The TDI 2.0 liter clean diesel engine produces 140 hp and a remarkable 236 lb-ft torque thanks to the in-line four-cylinder turbocharged engine with common rail direct injection and piezoelectric injectors.

Audi has been at the forefront of FSI direct injection. FSI Direct Injection technology increases the torque and power of spark-ignition engines, making them as much as 15 percent more economical and reducing exhaust emissions.

S-tronic automatic transmission enables rapid-fire shifts, thanks to a dual-clutch system. Shifts can be engaged either through the shift lever on the console or by shift paddles located behind the steering wheel at the nine and three o’clock positions. The S-tronic automatic transmission is one of the most advanced forms of gearbox available, with shift times in the region of 0.2 seconds and without noticeab<>ly interrupting power flow. It is ideal for every driving style and adds unique emphasis to the sporty, dynamic character of the vehicle. Additionally, there are two automatic driving mode options, “Normal” and “Sport”, which allow the drivers to further customize their drive.

Reference Here>>



This excerpted and edited from the LA Times -

The 2010 Audi A3 TDI was named Green Car of the Year at the L.A. Auto Show today, giving the Germans and clean diesel technology back-to-back wins.

The four-door hatchback, which has a base sticker price of $29,950, "offers it all," said Ron Cogan, publisher of Green Car Journal, which sponsors the annual award, praising the car's sporty performance and superior fuel economy.

The winner's "quiet, clean diesel engine delivers loads of low-end torque and a fun-to-drive experience, all with the functionality of a five-passenger hatchback," Cogan said.

The A3 TDI (which stands for turbo direct injection) has an EPA highway fuel economy rating of 42 MPG -- a 50% improvement over the gasoline-powered A3.

The other finalists for the award were the 2010 models of the Honda Insight hybrid, Toyota Prius hybrid, Volkswagen Golf TDI and Mercury Milan hybrid, the only nominee from an American automaker.

The A3 TDI is powered by the same engine as last year's Green Car of the Year, the VW Jetta TDI. Audi is owned by Volkswagen.

Reference Here>>


Consecutive victories by clean-diesel technology over gas-electric hybrid cars gave Johan de Nysschen, president of Audi of America, an opportunity to wag a finger at Washington policymakers who have fallen in love with hybrid and all-electric technology. Caption Credit: LAT / Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

The Green Car of the Year award is a program that honors environmental leadership in the automobile field and recognizes vehicles that are readily available to consumers during the award year.

Green Car Journal editors perform an exhaustive review of vehicle models to identify the five finalists.

The 2010 winner was ultimately decided by jurors Jay Leno, Jean-Michel Cousteau, Carroll Shelby, Matt Petersen of Global Green USA and the Sierra Club’s Carl Pope, along with Green Car Journal editors.

All hail the Audi TDI clean diesel technology ... it's just not your dad's truck driving, black smoke, fuel option anymore. Diesel is the "Green" transition fuel of today and the future.

By the way, what is "Climategate"?

... notes from The EDJE

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

LA Auto Show: Bob Lutz hastily replaces outgoing Fritz Henderson as Keynote

Bob Lutz with the Chevy Volt - Lutz's most controversial statement about not believing in the "CO2 theory of global warming", generated a lot of comments from TreeHugger readers, most of them falling into three camps: 1) Those who disagree with Lutz and think this is a really bad things (many saying they won't buy the Chevy Volt because of it). 2) Those who disagree with Lutz, but think his position on GW doesn't matter much. 3) Those who actually agree with Lutz (to varying degrees, from "total hoax" to "other explanations for the warming" since the Climategate emails have come to light). Image and Caption Credit: Treehugger

LA Auto Show: Bob Lutz hastily replaces outgoing Fritz Henderson as Keynote

General Motors Co. CEO Frederick "Fritz" Henderson stepped down last Tuesday after the board determined that the company wasn't changing quickly enough. He was also scheduled to give the Motor Press Guild Keynote Address at the Press Days event before the LA Auto Show on Wednesday, December 2 at 8:30 am. He was replaced with Bob Lutz, General Motors Vice Chairman Marketing Communications.

It is not enough that this once famed, number one company in all of the world of automobile manufacturing is no longer a company owned and operated by creative auto-manufacturing visionaries since the federal government and labor union takeover, it now is beginning to see a brain and experience drain from the executive side of the ledger. After all, the hand picked government Chairman of General Motors has never contemplated building a car in his life before taking his current position ... the once Chairman of AT&T seems more comfortable with area codes as opposed to how one might get from one zip code to another ... in transportation style.

To gain some insights what Bob Lutz might be planning to say as replacement Keynote Speaker to the press gathered at Press Days, here is what he had to say in October to NewsMax's MoneyNews.com.

Bob Lutz as he gave his Keynote Address to the gathered journalists December 2, 2009. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

This excerpted and edited from Street Talk -

Bob Lutz: GM Is Roaring Back
By: Dan Weil - Monday, October 12, 2009 11:17 AM

General Motors has taken the steps that will foster its recovery, says Bob Lutz, vice chairman of marketing and communications for the company.

Lutz is a longtime car executive, having held leading positions at all three big U.S. automakers in a career dating back to the early 1960s. With the departure of former GM CEO Rick Wagoner, many have looked to Lutz to help new [and now just departed] CEO Fritz Henderson rebuild and reorient the flagging U.S. auto giant.

“In September (GM) sales were pretty much back to the previous numbers,” he told Dan Mangru of Moneynews.com.

“For fast-moving models that are in very high demand, we have no inventory.”

That includes the GMC Terrain, the Buick LaCrosse and the Cadillac SRX. Those cars are selling well, he says

[read that as anything but "clown cars"].

“The sad thing is we don’t have enough of those to take advantage of the demand. . . We’re going to have to build inventory up again.”
----
“We have the product now undeniably, whether you look at the Chevy Malibu, which was car of the year; the Silverado, which was truck of the year; the Silverado Hybrid, which was declared dream car of the year; or the Cadillac CTS, which was Motor Trend car of the year.”

Everyone agrees that GM has the best products in its history now and “arguably the best overall product line of anybody in the business,” Lutz says.

“My problem is that thanks to a lot of negative representations by the general media and now entrenched belief, there are large parts of the American public that don’t have any notion of what today’s product line is. That’s what we have to overcome.”

For the last five years, particularly the last 18 months, GM has been under-advertised and under-marketed, Lutz says.

“There are Americans who, when you say ‘Are you familiar with Buick?’ there are people on the West coast who say “Do they still make those?’”

The new GM is bulking up marketing, he says.

“We’re going to spend the money that it takes to get the word out.”
Reference Here>>

And the money they're planning on spending will be coming out of every tax paying citizen's pocket.

The actual presentation did not deviate much from what Bob Lutz had to say in the interview with the added caveat that he would not be making any comments on the situation and events that led up to Frederick "Fritz" Henderson's departure.

General Motors unveils the North American version of the Buick Regal to the press at the LA Auto Show December 3, 2009. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

Additional Notes:

The keynote address was followed by a Chevrolet press conference at 9:35 a.m. which unveiled the North American version of the Chevrolet Cruze as well as announce that the initial retail market where the electric-drive Chevrolet Volt will be sold. That market is California and will start in partnership with the four major power utilities that cover the major metropolitan areas in both Northern and Southern California.

The Fisker Karma - The 2010 Fisker Karma is a new gas/electric hybrid luxury car. The Karma is a 4-door, rear-wheel-drive sedan built in Finland and distributed by U.S.-based Fisker Automotive, Inc. It pairs a battery-powered electric motor with a turbocharged 2.0-liter 4-cylinder for 403 hp total. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

If you are in Los Angeles over the next week and want to see how some of your tax money is being spent, drop by General Motors and make an extra effort to drop by the Fisker booth ... they are scheduled to receive about $500 million dollars of our tax money through board member Paul Vlocker for their exotic luxury hybrid offering set to sell starting at an entry level price of around $85,000.

The dates of the LA Auto Show are Dec. 4-13, 2009. For more information visit www.laautoshow.com

Source - LA Motor Culture Examiner

Monday, November 30, 2009

City Car Sharing program, car2go, Pilots In United States

car2go smart fortwo cars are on the streets of Austin as part of the car2go car sharing program. Image Credit: Daimler car2go

City car sharing program, car2go, pilots in United States

Austin, Texas becomes the first location in the international expansion of an innovative solution to short term/short hop transportation use within a city environment.

The "car2go" concept rental program first placed into process in Ulm, Germany October 2008, proved to be a success with the project’s 200 vehicles being rented between 500 to 1,000 times per day. In Ulm, they are used by 15,000 registered customers, which equals more than 15 percent of the citizens who possess a driver’s license within the city. Although the system allows users to book a vehicle in advance, the pilot showed that 90 percent of the participants take advantage of the unique offer to use car2go on a spontaneous basis and by many for one-way trips.

Registered members will have to wave their card to a reader behind the windscreen to gain entry to the cars. Image Credit: Daimler car2go

The United States pilot will also launch with 200 Smart Cars in a joint partnership between the City of Austin and Daimler (Smart Car manufacturer) will initially see the "smart fortwo" vehicles made available 24/7 within the city to a select group of city employees and their relatives, with plans to increase the number of cars and have them registered accessible to all Austin residents and students in early 2010.

Personal PINs (Personal Identification Numbers) will keep track of each driver's usage. Image Credit: Daimler car2go

“The City of Austin is committed to identifying and implementing solutions to address the challenges associated with urban growth, mobility and environmental sustainability,” said Austin, Texas Mayor, Lee Leffingwell. “This pilot-program partnership between car2go and the City of Austin represents a significant step toward helping us alleviate congestion, reduce emissions and increase the use of public transportation.”

200 smart fortwo cars will take part in the car2go pilot throughout Austin, Texas. Image Credit: Daimler car2go

This excerpted and edited from gizmag -

car2go car sharing program hits the US
By Darren Quick, gizmag - 21:22 November 26, 2009 PST

The Austin pilot will see the city become the official headquarters of car2go in North America and is part of the company’s plans to extend the system internationally.

According to car2go, the car sharing market in the US is enjoying the highest growth rate in the world, which is why they made a very conscious decision to bring the concept to a North American city. One of the many reasons the Texan metropolis of 750,000 on the Colorado River [Austin] was selected as the first international site was due to its similarity to Ulm as a science-oriented and university city.

For the Austin pilot, the pick up and drop off area is limited to the greater downtown Austin area, which has an expansion of about 17 square miles where more than 60,000 employees work. Charges are not based on distance, but on time – with rates starting by the minute and competitive hourly or daily rates available for those needing longer rental periods. The rates are all-inclusive, with the cost of all fuel, maintenance and insurance taken care of.

There’s also no need to feed the meter with city-controlled parking fees waived thanks to a deal that sees car2go paying a usage fee to the City of Austin in the form of free driving minutes for employees driving on City business. But the loss of parking revenue should be offset by the reduction in fuel and operating costs for city employee vehicles.

”The goal of the Austin pilot project is to gather experience we can use to ensure the public launch of car2go in North America in 2010 is successful,“ says Nicholas Cole, CEO of car2go North America LLC. “In the second phase we will increase the number of cars in Austin and open the service to the public. We are also talking to a large number of cities in North America and Europe about additional rollouts of car2go.”
Reference Here>>

This may signal the changing face of Public Transportation. Personal use of a public owned car tailored to an audience-of-one!

... notes from The EDJE

WWJQGB2XAUHF

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

CityWalk, Downtown Disney, and now "Downtown INDY"

Today Speedway, Indiana is primed to build upon the town’s unique history and motorsports ancestry – both an integral part of the rich fabric that makes Speedway a great place to live, work, play, learn and shop. /// From creating four vibrant development districts primed for business growth – including the Motor Sports Technology district, the Indianapolis Motor Speedway district, the Museum/Entertainment/Retail district and the Town Center district – to working with the state of Indiana to develop targeted incentive packages that will attract domestic and international companies and stimulate startup firms, Speedway, Indiana is poised for fast success. Image Credit: IndyCar Garage

CityWalk, Downtown Disney, and now "Downown INDY"

That's right, why not bring a little fun and amusement park excitement placed just outside of a major gathering venue in America's mid-west?

Developments like Universal's CityWalk, ABC CapCities' Downtown Disney, Hollywood's Kodak and Chinese Theater, and even New York's Times Square retailing amusement center complexes have a real winning combination being located next to a natural entertainment draw like Broadway, an amusement park or ... a one-of-a-kind motorsports racing track!

"Speedzone" redevelopment plan for Main Street Speedway, Indiana. I wonder if this crowd knows that ESPN already uses "SpeedZone" for the name of its themed restaurant at "Downtown Disney" outside of Disneyland Amusement Park in Anaheim California? Image Credit: Speedway Redevelopment - from PDF

This excerpted and edited from IndyCar Garage -

Speedway breaks ground on the future
Posted by IndyCar Garage on November 24, 2009 at 1:56pm

The Town of Speedway, Indiana broke ground last Thursday on the first phase of a multimillion dollar project that will give the town that surrounds the Indianapolis Motor Speedway a huge facelift.

The Main Street project is the first milestone in the town's Redevelopment Area One and is part of a $500 million investment to breathe new life into 400 acres of multi-use property that will be primed for commercial, shopping and entertainment, residential and research and development projects. Made possible through private and public investment, the redevelopment zone will be a vibrant, thriving and attractive downtown that will foster growth within the existing business community and encourage development of new business.
----
"Main Street will be the backbone of a bustling, vibrant downtown district," said SRC President Vince Noblet. "The project we're commencing today will bring a safer pedestrian experience, with room for sidewalk cafes and a bike path to re-energize the atmosphere on Main Street and attract new businesses, shops and restaurants."

"As we celebrate our Centennial Era and look toward our next 100 years, the Town of Speedway joins us in looking toward the future by moving forward with a redevelopment plan that is crucial to the success of the businesses that call Speedway home," said Fred Nation, Indianapolis Motor Speedway vice president of communications. "Racing is an integral part of the culture in Speedway and the redevelopment of Main Street will attract race fans by providing a variety of entertainment options close to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway."
Reference Here>>

Welcome to the birth of America's first motorsports amusement shopping and living experience ... Welcome to "Downtown Indy" at Speedway, Indiana, home of Indianapolis Motor Speedway and the INDY 500!

... notes from The EDJE

Monday, November 23, 2009

Auto-Culture: Miles per gallon ratings short-circuited by electric power

The Tesla Roadster is a fully electric sports car, and is the first car to be produced by electric car firm Tesla Motors. Tesla claims prototypes have been able to accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in under 4 seconds, and reach a top speed of over 130 mph (210 km/h). Additionally, the car will be able to travel 221 miles (356 km) on a single charge of its lithium-ion battery. The Roadster's efficiency is reported as 133 Wh/km (4.7 mi/kWh), equivalent to 135 mpg–U.S [ctrl-click image to launch YouTube video]. Caption and Image Credit: ebaumsworld.com

Auto-Culture: Miles per gallon ratings short-circuited by electric power

The ratings systems that determine the efficiency of a car's use of fuel output is becoming effectively outdated and unreflective in an alternative power world.

Take, for example, a car that has as a power plant an all-electric engine ... like a Chevy Volt. If one were to use the old standard "Mile Per Gallon" ratings system, the new Chevy Volt electric car has a projected fuel economy equal to 230 mpg.

A more realistic view upon which to comparatively judge the power effectiveness of a car, wither it be gasoline, hybrid, alternative-fuel, or electric would be a new system that focuses on an average monthly cost to a consumer based upon a defined usage parameter.

In an Automotive News (April, 2009) interview, new GM CEO Fritz Henderson, admitted the obvious - that GM will not be able to make their first mass-produced electric car both affordable and profitable for a long time, saying that GM plans to lose money with “Gen-1 and 2″ of the Chevy Volt. “We have been very clear with the task force, particularly in Gen-1 technology, like the Volt, the cost is high,” Henderson said. “And that means, it doesn’t necessarily pay the rent. It actually consumes rent when it’s launched.” Caption and Image Credit: EcoAutoNinja.com

This excerpted and edited from National Association of Convenience Stores -

Electric Cars Muddy the MPG Waters

Alternative-fuel vehicles do not allow for the same miles per gallon measurements as gasoline-fueled cars
NACS Online - Posted: Nov 23, 2009


With more electric, fuel cell and hybrid vehicles on the road today, measuring miles per gallon isn’t as easy as it was in the old days.

Edmunds.com is asking the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to come up with fuel-cost ratings to assist buyers in comparing the cars. On Sept. 15, the agency asked for public comments on emissions and fuel economy standards for plug-in electric and hybrid cars.

“A consumer could reasonably assume, based on the way that they have been using window stickers now going back to 1975, that the Chevy Volt is over four times more efficient to operate than the Toyota Prius. And [that] would actually be completely wrong,” said Jeremy Anwyl, CEO of Edmunds.com.

Edmunds.com would like for the EPA to stop allowing car makers to promote vehicles based on mpg. “If car companies are building cars with very high monthly costs from a fuel perspective, that’s the sort of information that needs to be out there,” he said.
Reference Here>>

Then there was this comment left at a forum site discussing all electric-powered automobiles ... "I wonder how many miles you'd have to drive one [an electric car] before you become sterile."

... notes from The EDJE

Thursday, November 12, 2009

MPG Luncheon - Mazda USA - Hydrogen powered H2 RX-8

Mazda Hydrogen powered H2 RX-8 pictured here in the front of the Proud Bird Restaurant with some high-flyers of an era gone by, the Supermarine Spitfire, a British single-seat World War II fighter aircraft, and further back, a Douglas SBD Dauntless which was a naval dive bomber made by Douglas also during WW II. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

MPG Luncheon - Mazda USA - Hydrogen powered H2 RX-8

Robert T. Davis, Senior Vice President, Product Development and Quality for Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) presented a detailed technical summary of Mazda’s plan to improve the average fuel economy of Mazda vehicles sold globally by 30 percent by 2015, under the company’s long-term vision for technology development, “Sustainable Zoom-Zoom”.

Previewed was the Mazda Hydrogen powered H2 RX-8.



One of the more useful understandings to come out of the presentation was the answer to the question ... Why Rotary? As it turns out, the heat build-up in the combustion chamber of a standard internal combustion engine (due to the very nature of the "stationary" defined space of each cylinder) is not an issue with the movement of the combustible and compressed air and fuel mixture action of the Rotary engine functionality.

After the presentation, one of the members, Merkel Weiss - Accident Re-constructionist with Stephen Blewett & Assocs. expressed extreme disappointment in the stated advancements and efficiencies put forth by Mazda. He said that 1) There was really nothing new, and 2) He believed that Mazda was just scrubbing down old platforms to make them more efficient and could have pursued this effort years ago, in that, they were stating from a reputation of being one of the least efficient (in terms of gas mileage and pollution) of auto manufacturers.

In aggregate, the fact that Mazda has set a course to embrace what they term as "Sustainable Zoom-Zoom" upon which a long-term course was charted, Mazda and its design, engineering, and marketing departments would create automobile technology that would excite, look inviting to drive, fun to drive enough to want to drive them again, and all of this with the overlay of being improved in terms of a sustainable future for cars, people, and the Earth.

As Mazda's Robert Davis put it in the presentation (to paraphrase), "We are not just bringing our philosophy of a green strategy of automobile manufacturing and function to just one nameplate or platform, we are growing a brand identification."

Mazda's Robert T. Davis, Senior Vice President, Product Development and Quality for Mazda North American Operations (MNAO) standing photo right, engaged in a conversation with E. Reeves Callaway, Founder, Callaway Cars West (center) and an unknown MPG Luncheon attendee photo left. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

At the luncheon, I met E. Reeves Callaway, the founder of those Callaway Corvettes that run in the 24 hours of Le Mans and have street versions for sale. Reeves got in a conversation with the chief engineer for Mazda's Hydrogen powered H2 RX-8, Tod Kaneko, about putting the rotary engine into a Callaway for a run at Le Mans. Reeves said he had contractual problems with placing a different engine in the modified Corvette platform, so Tod, the engineer, said ... "Why not a whole Mazda, why not a whole Callaway Mazda?" Reeves then said, "Wow, that is a thought ... and we are not even drinking." I chimed in with, "Well, we can give it the working name of the 'CM - Le Mans' ... and if we were drinking I think you all would be doing mark-ups for the Callaway Mazda on cocktail napkins right about now."

... notes from The EDJE

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

From MPG Track Day 2009 To SEMA 2009 Las Vegas

Bronze 2010 Chevy Camero getting ready for the show. Image Credit: AutoSpies.com (2009)

From MPG Track Day 2009 To SEMA 2009 Las Vegas

The ebb and flow in the winds of the events that surround Southwest automobile culture can be pretty much an effort in sensory overload. At Track Day ... one is treated to being able to drive a multitude of automobile platform concepts, available for sale to a buying public, where just two weeks later, the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) tradeshow and exposition in Las Vegas ... one is treated to a visual explosion of tricked-out versions of cars that they, by those at the MPG Track Day event, may have driven just two weeks earlier.





The stock $270,000+, 510bhp, 0-60 in 4.2, seconds Aston Martin DBS Volante: Features a 13 speaker 160 watt Bang & Wolfson stereo with dash mounted pop-up tweeters. A very nice Street Test vehicle, one of many at the 2009 MPG Track Day held at Auto Club Speedway. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

The 2009 edition of the SEMA Show previews products in this $36 billion-a-year automotive aftermarket industry. This portion of the automobile market includes performance and racing components, cosmetic and functional accessories, wheels and tires, mobile electronics, safety products, restoration parts, handling equipment, drivetrain parts (as plug-in hybrid aftermarket kits)and more ... and now consists of over 7,094 companies worldwide, bringing together aftermarket manufacturers, original equipment manufacturers, media, car dealers, specialty equipment distributors, installers, retailers and restoration specialists.

A 2010 Aston Martin V12 Vantage and a Rolls Royce tricked out with an open roof and ground effects package sporting DUB rims. Image Credit: AutoSpies.com (2009)

Further, the SEMA Show is where automobile manufacturers love to show off their cars in a more radical and modified makeover set-up. Afterall, the aftermarket industry delivers products that cover muscle cars, classics, luxury vehicles, sport compacts, street rods, light trucks (off-road and sport trucks) SUVs and recreational vehicles.

A couple of days before traveling to Las Vegas for show set-up, Suzuki dropped by MPG Track Day (put on by the Motor Press Guild) to preview what it had done to show-off their latest sport sedan line known as the Kizashi and an Equator pickup ... packing in every aftermarket gizmo imaginable. The world’s very first look at the four concept vehicles fresh out of the shop was introduced by Jeff Holland, American Suzuki‘s Senior PR Manager (and Motor Press Guild board member).




Suzuki Kizashi at reast outside the hall at SEMA Show 2009. Image Credit: AutoSpies.com (2009)

This excerpted and edited from AutoSpies Auto News

SEMA AUTO SHOW: SEMA As It Ever Was. Opening Day Photos Now LIVE!

SEMA AUTO SHOW: SEMA Employees Going Rogue? EXCLUSIVE Photos Leak

Dear 001,

The 2009 SEMA Auto Show opens tomorrow but I got you these exclusive sneak preview photos from the show floor one day early.

I've always wanted to be a spy and today I finally got my chance.

Hope you and your readers enjoy the early shots.

Hey, if Sarah Palin is going rogue, why can't I?

2009 SEMA AUTO SHOW Photo Gallery

By the way, the rumor is that the Spies SEMA headquarters are at the Wynn Towers.

Any truth to that rumor?

Signed: Eye In The Sky
----
Dear Eye in the Sky.

Thanks for the killer shots and your intelligence about us is pretty darn good.

Better watch my back! ;)

Check back often and look for more great photos, in our 2009 SEMA auto show photo gallery.

Here are a few teasers to wet your appetite!

2009 SEMA AUTO SHOW Photo Gallery

Reference Here>>

Hidden tool storage options for the contractors working breed of vehicle. Image Credit: AutoSpies.com (2009)

The business end of a 2010 Murcielago Lamborghini. The $350,000+, 680hp "E" ticket ride, driven by IRL driver, Richard Antinucci, that put in an appearance at MPG Track Day to the delight of many of the journalists in attendance. Image Credit: AutoSpies.com (2009)

On the infield road track at Auto Club Speedway during MPG Track Day 2009. Porsche Boxter (drove), Murceilago Lamborghini (rode), Dodge Charger (drove), and a Mazdaspeed Mazda3 (drove) entering the final turn, turn 11, a reducing radius turn just before entering the front straightaway [ctrl-click image to launch "Track Drive" experience video]. Image Credit: Pete Lyons/MPG (2009)

The world of Sponge Bob Squarepants makes an appearance on the side of this vintage Chevy Monte Carlo. Image Credit: AutoSpies.com (2009)

The SEMA Show takes place at the Las Vegas Convention Center, Las Vegas, Nevada, from Tuesday, November 3rd to Friday November 6th, 2009.

... notes from The EDJE

Thursday, October 29, 2009

MPG Track Day 2009: Along For The Ride

Signature logo tower of the Auto Club Speedway, Fontana, California. The track, originally known as California Speedway, holds the distinction as having the fastest recorded qualification and at speed during the race, speed records ... both records were established by CART IndyCars on the main 2.0 mi (3.23 km) "D-Shaped Oval". Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

MPG Track Day 2009: Along For The Ride

I took a ride with a photo-journalist named Jon Barrett around the infield road track at Auto Club Speedway during the recent 2009 Track Day put on by Motor Press Guild (MPG).

Star Mazda Series standout, Joel Miller of Hesperia, California, sits in the driver's seat (P1) as we check out the track and get some driving tips from a budding professional open-wheel race car driver. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

A carload full of Journalists ready to see the infield road course at Auto Club Speedway. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

Actually, I was able to take several rides with people (journalists, and professional drivers) throughout the two days of testing new automobiles provided by manufacturers for the motor press writers to get to know, and write about. To be able to drive ... then ride, imparts balance and perspective.

Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

I write about the ride with Jon because this was a man who was prepared to document his experience through the use of a pedestrian style (nothing fancy) digital camera. He had a friend who had designed a specialized camera mount that employed a large suction cup to hold the camera to the inside windshield of any car Jon decided to drive ("guesstimated" cost at about $70.00).

Motor Press Guild's Track Day 2009: Every year, the Motor Press Guild (an association for people involved with motorsports, automobile manufacturing & marketing, and observers of automoblie culture) organizes a day on a race track for its members. /// The automobile manufacturers bring out many of their new cars, trucks and SUVs, and full journalist members of the MPG are invited to drive them on the track and on the streets that surround the track. The event is a great opportunity to drive vehicles that occupy the similar demographic back-to-back for direct comparison, to explore the incredible range of vehicles available, and to refresh one's journalistic memory about what's out there to meet the demands of a consuming public. /// Additionally, it's a fantastic networking and social event, a chance to see old friends and make new ones. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)


Director Of Communications of Mazdaspeed Motorsports, Dean Case (left), ducks in to consult with Mazda professional driver, Jeremy Barnes just before having me sit in the passenger seat for some "hot" laps around the track in the Mazdaspeed 6 Safety/Pace Car! Video Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

The car was the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR-Touring sedan and one of the more interesting activities a Journalist could participate in is to fill the P2 seat in a track test car driven by someone who is familiar with, and likes the car they are taking out onto the track. The process allows one the additional dimension to take in the emotional involvement of the driver, himself ... along with the behavior of the car in a road test stress situation in the many and varied corners laid out by MPG track management members, Don Fuller and John Dinkel.

Infield course a pictured by Auto Club Speedway. The course, as laid out by Don Fuller and John Dinkel, restructured some of the corners on the West end (left side of photo) of the track to allow the challenge of a double apex. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)


Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution MR-Touring sedan on the infield track at Auto Club Speedway. On-Board Video Credit: MPG Member, Jon Barrett (2009)

It may seem strange to say that sitting in the passenger seat was as satisfying an experience as actually driving a nice, road-worthy vehicle (many, actually) but isn't that the ultimate position a chronicling observer takes ... P2, with a view?

2009 CURB/Agaganian/3G Racing IRL driver, Richard Antinucci and NowPublic's Motorsports Feature Page manager, Edmund Jenks, after three laps in a $290,000, 680hp, Murcielago Lamborghini LP670-4. An "E" ticket ride to remember ... and Richard loved the experience too. Image Credit: Edmund Jenks (2009)

For any MPG Track Day, being in the passenger seat is an opportunity and position never to be missed. It was really special to be along for the ride.

... notes from The EDJE

Friday, October 23, 2009

Tokyo 2009: The Greening Of Zoom-Zoom With MAZDA Sky Engines, Transmission

The Kiyora (which translates to clean and pure) might just be the showstopper when it is revealed to the press on October 21. Mazda has just released new photos and details of the Kiyora to a crowd of mixed reactions. The Japanese Anime styling seems to provoke love-hate emotions from the Mazda community. Is it a hatchback? Why is it smiling at me? It looks very leafy. These are just a few of the comments that the Kiyora photos have gained so far. Caption & Image Credit: All Small Cars

Tokyo 2009: The Greening Of Zoom-Zoom With MAZDA Sky Engines, Transmission

Way back in March 2007, Mazda set forth a program known as "Sustainable Zoom-Zoom upon which a long-term course was charted. Mazda and its design, engineering, and marketing departments would create automobile technology that would excite, look inviting to drive, fun to drive enough to want to drive them again, and all of this with the overlay of being improved in terms of a sustainable future for cars, people, and the Earth.

The SKY-G is the Mazda company's take on a thrifty gasoline engine. Although the company hasn't yet released any specifications on the motor other than displacement (1.3 litre), it does claim the all-new direct-injection engine delivers a 15 percent increase in fuel economy and torque over the company's present 2.0-liter I-4. If installed in a Mazda3, the engine could purportedly return fuel economy similar to a Mazda2. Caption & Image Credit: Automobile Magazine


The Sky-Drive transmission: A six-speed automatic with a revolutionary lockup clutch that will be faster than any automatic gearbox to date. Caption & Image Credit: All Small Cars

At the 41st Tokyo Motor Show which starts today, Saturday, October 24, 2009, Mazda will debut its Mazda SKY concept, and Mazda SKYTECH to the masses that will walk the floor to see what is new. Mazda SKYTECH is defined as "Innovative technology for driving pleasure and excellent environmental performance", and what will be premiered to the world at the Tokyo show will be two engines and one transmission wraped up in a Kiyora Concept set of wheels.



This excerpted and edited from the Mazda Website -

Concept Car "Mazda Kiyora"

“Mazda Kiyora” is a near-future, compact concept car engineered to simultaneously achieve next-generation environmental performance alongside Mazda's trademark driving fun. It is powered by the next-generation “Mazda SKY-G* 1.3L” direct injection gasoline engine coupled with the next-generation six-speed “Mazda SKY-Drive”* automatic transmission. We also added Mazda's unique idling stop system “i-stop” and a regenerative braking system. Combined with the 100kg weight reduction and improved aerodynamics, these technologies enable the “Mazda Kiyora” to achieve ultra-low fuel consumption of 32km/L under Japan's 10-15 mode fuel consumption.
Reference Here>>

The SKY-D diesel engine: Offers a 20 percent jump in fuel efficiency over the current 2.2 liter. This improvement is achieved by a changed combustion chamber shape and further optimized fuel delivery. A two-stage turbocharger and piezo injectors also help to improve fuel economy. According to Mazda, this engine installed in a Mazda6 could return fuel economy figures comparable to a Mazda2. Caption & Image Credit: Automobile Magazine

The 2009 Tokyo Motor Show, which opened to the press on Oct. 21, was once the premier auto show in Asia. The 41st edition of this Tokyo based event has been dramatically reduced in size. Many of the major American and European automakers are skipping it due to world economic woes and issues with wholesale Governmental takeovers and major changes in management philosophy. Japanese automakers are continuing to support the show, however, with important introductions of new models, green manufacturing, and design concepts.

... notes from The EDJE

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Auto-Culture & Decision Making In A Gen Y World

Magda Wierzycka, the CEO of Sygnia Asset Management, writes on Moneyweb’s blog about Generation Y and their characteristics. Generation Y are those born between 1982 and 1995 of Generation X and Baby Boomer parents. /// She describes this generation as growing up amidst ‘unprecedented prosperity’ with access to ‘better, more rounded education’. Furthermore they are: ‘extreme[ly] technology savvy’, ‘very family orientated’, ‘demanding and outspoken employees’ with an ‘overdeveloped sense of entitlement’, they ’struggle to deal with failure or criticism’ and ‘flounder if left unmanaged or unsupervised’. Caption & Image Credit: dirkvisser/Brightest Young Minds

Auto-Culture & Decision Making In A Gen Y World

In a study released today by AutoPacific - a future-oriented automotive marketing research and product-consulting firm, some interesting and surprising characteristics and purchasing traits reveal themselves and may be useful to those who desire to appeal to an increasingly important market segment.

Many assumptions like the popular belief that the Gen Y crowd exclusively prefers compact and energy efficient cars are somewhat dispelled through the study. Over half of Gen Y are considering the purchase of a mid-size car or mid-size crossover SUV. They expect that technology will improve fuel economy and environmental friendliness and allow them to purchase a vehicle that is sized to meet their personal needs.

“Don’t be fooled by the growth of certain segments over the years,” said George Peterson, president of AutoPacific, the research firm that conducted the study. “The Compact Car segment shows sales growth, yet a new Toyota Corolla is similar in size to an older Toyota Camry. Vehicles have gotten larger over time but segments have not been redefined. Ultimately, Generation Y consumers are purchasing vehicles that are sized appropriately to their needs and lifestyle.”

The study entitled “The Generation Y Opportunity”, which come from data gathered from AutoPacific’s annual survey of over 32,000 new car and light truck buyers in the United States, looks closely at Gen Y recent buyers of new vehicles and how they compare to older generations. In many ways, Gen Y is following in the footsteps of their Baby Boomer parents, but in more extreme ways. The study details current Gen Y new car buyers and the future market.

$1.5M Russian SUV Features Diamonds, Whale Penis Leather - That's all you really need to know about the $1.5 million Dartz Prombron Monaco Red Diamond Edition. Yes, the diamond-encrusted white gold gauges and gold-plated bulletproof windows are impressive, but seriously, whale penis leather interior. /// The already bulletproof and wildly over-the-top 8.1 liter GM V8-powered Dartz Kombat T98 is getting a name change to Prombron and along with it will come a complete and brain-maimingly bourgeoisie upgrade with the Monaco Red Diamond Edition. The world's most expensive ultra-luxury SUV will debut at the 2010 Top Marques Monaco show with luxe features crazy enough to make a Maybach blush. Caption & Image Credit: Jolopnik

This excerpted and edited from a press release issued by AutoPacific -

GENERATION Y OPEN TO NEW BRANDS, NEW TECHNOLOGY AND HYBRIDS
Survey Shows Generation Y Frequently Multitasking While Driving
AutoPacific, “The Generation Y Opportunity”, released for publication - October 21, 2009


Willing to embrace new brands, new technology and alternative powertrains, Generation Y will redefine the automotive market. A just released study on Generation Y new vehicle buyers in the United States shows Generation Y consumers are more likely than the generations before them to consider purchasing a Chinese or Indian branded vehicle, more willing to accept hybrid powertrains, and more likely to want the latest entertainment technology in their vehicle.

As the largest generation since the Baby Boomers continues to gain spending power and enter the new car market, which automakers will win their confidence? AutoPacific’s study underscores the opportunities for automakers to reach Generation Y consumers as they move through their Teen, Young Adult and Young Family life-stages.

“Growing up with continuously evolving technology and electronics has given Generation Y a unique ability to adapt easily to change, a willingness to accept new brands, and an expectation that their vehicle provide the best of what is available,” said George Peterson, president of AutoPacific.

Though many Generation Y consumers would choose a trip around the world over a luxury vehicle, Generation Y does expect that the vehicle they buy will be more than just basic transportation. “Generation Y is more likely than older generations to own portable electronics, more likely to research their vehicle options on the Internet, and an astonishing 29% of those surveyed are more likely to frequently multi-task while driving," continues Peterson. "They know what’s out there, they know the economical and environmental problems we face, and their vehicle expectations reflect that knowledge.”
----
The AutoPacific Generation Y Opportunity is conducted annually to determine who Generation Y buyers are and what they want from their future cars, including size, engine, transmission and attributes like entertainment features, luxury features, in-vehicle communications, comfort, and convenience features.
Reference Here>>

Maybe the Russian-made Dartz Prombron isn't exactly the chief target in the luxury car segment for Gen Y'ers, but at this price ( $1.5 million) it had better have bluetooth iPOD compatibility, integrated hands-free cellphone technology, and a mount to hold the Apple MAC that is accessing the internet via a MiFi internet hotspot so that they can be plugged into Twitter while cruising down to Glamis for a week-end of radical Dune-ing!

... notes from The EDJE