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Monday
Nov242014

November Musings

Its November, there is snow, its cold, and also rain, while Christmas is around the corner (sort of). As we near the end of the year we start looking ahead while also looking back. 

Stuff that continues to grasp our attention.

Canadian Sales:

We will have record auto sales in Canada this year, just imagine the various opinions from the various pundits, experts, executives, professionals. It will be interesting...

Social Media: 

Manufacturers have retreated from the initial social media euphoria to going backwards. All manufacturers seem to have a rationale of convenience to justify their position which by now is entrenched in the past...

Vehicle Ownership:

Are we witnessing an inexorable shift in the ownership of vehicles? Is mobility for a monthly fee surpassing ownership?

Z28 / GT350:

Satisfying to see Camaro and Mustang recreate the "good ole days" of Trans Am racing with serious versions of the cars. Really cool...

Premium Economy:

We mentioned Premium Economy a few months ago, we have been observing, we have been patient, prior to sharing further thoughts. We are almost there....

Transmissions:

Are we seeing the last days of the manual transmission with a clutch pedal? The new multi speed automatics with software controls are phenomenal. In addition many folks have no clue how to drive a car with a manual.

Old School / New School:

The mechanical aspect (old school) of vehicles makes them durable, the technology aspect (new school) makes vehicles disposable. Think about this for a moment...

 

 

Friday
Nov212014

Vroom Room

Good Morning,

Ferrari CaliforniaIts Friday, its the Vroom Room,make yourself comfortable, enjoy the cappuccino and biscotti, join the conversation.

Have you noticed that Chevrolet with the Camaro Z28 and Ford with the Mustang GT350 are reviving old pony car memories from 2 generations back. Yes...Chrysler stuffed the equivalent of an "old school Hemi" in their Challenger. Lets ask the question "What would you rather have a German turbo something with paddles, or a Detroit V8 something with a clutch pedal?"

What do you think "Boomers" with "Millenial" offsprings relate to most? Especially if the Boomers went to Trans Am races way back in the day.

A Ford V8 with a "flat crank" is encroaching on Ferrari territory.

What is a "flat cranK" or a "single plane crankshaft"...on a traditional V8 the crank throws are at 90 degrees which generates the tradional V8 sound. A flat crank the throws are at 180 degrees (flat) which generates the traditional Ferrari V8 sound. 

The Los Angeles Auto Show opens this week, while the traditional North American show circuit starts for another year, accompanied by some inspired product, and the usual corporate hyperbole.

The other day we were reading that a publication is offering a "backstage" walk around during press days at the Detroit Auto Show for $495 per person. First thought "Are we reading this correctly?" Second thought "A brilliant way to value the knowledge base of the publication". Third thought "Perhaps we should charge a fee for our knowledge base".

There continues to be talk by industry professionals on the lenght of auto loans, and who is offering these loans. It makes for interesting conversations. As we have been saying "free flowing money" is one element empowering auto sales in Canada.

Our usual old race cars from the Classic 24 Hour Daytona 2014...enjoy the photography.

 

 

Thursday
Nov202014

High Performance

This morning The Colonel dropped in for a cappuccino, lets see what is on his mind.

Q: Colonel you seem a concerned?

A: The other day it struck me, the mainstream "autospehere" goes irrational about the high performance versions of different models. Yes...we all know they are "halo" cars. Yes...there is usually a mandatory "burn out".

Q: You mean the "XYZ" version of the new offering with the ridiculous horsepower, and carbon brakes, paddles, sticky tires, billowing smoke, and so on.

A: Precisely, and the folks disseminating the information, the photos, the opinions don't own one, and perhaps will never own one.

Q: We know that performance costs money.

A: No kidding, and fortunately new vehicles are streetable with truly high performance, but it still costs money.

Q: Streetable?

A: Back in the day cars with a dramatic level of performance were barely streetable, were not daily drivers, were literally toys. You needed at least one other vehicle for daily use. 

Q: If we understand, back in the day of carburetors, to enjoy a serious machine, you needed a daily driver, and probably spent time tinkering with the serious machine.

A: If you were young and only owned the machine you were always tinkering with the car to keep it tuned, and running the way it should.

Q: Today you can use these cars as daily drivers?

A: Yes...you can but performance still costs money. When you have a high performance car you will use it, and its when it starts costing money.

Q: Care to explain?

A: Simple...you have this "high performance" car that you can barely exploit on the street. Assume you take it to the track for a few laps, or a couple of quarter miles. You would quickly notice that high performance cars have a high performance wear and tear factor which quickly escalates.

Q: Barely exploit on the street?

A: These cars have a performance envelope that will get you in serious situations almost instantly on a street or highway. 

Q: You pay for a ton of performance for extremely limited use.

A: Precisely...especially in our climate, and also why you see these cars on a track.

Q: Its driving around with horsepower, carbon brakes, sticky tires and using it 1% of the time.

A: You go it....

Q: They are halo vehicles for the rich, to generate buzz, to get the autosphere talking.

A: Exactly...you took the words out of my mouth.

Q: Is there an essence of reality that is missing?

A: The reality would be to factor in the cost of the high performance wear and tear items. Ex: a carbon ceramic brake job with pads and discs will set you back 5 figures. You will vaporise a set of sticky tires when you go lapping and so on. 

Q: What do you think of the high performance from the Detroit 3?

A: Its affordable (always been) performance, with exceptional track capabilities. A few generations back those cars would have been barely streetable. Keep in mind that a day at the track with one of those cars implies a high wear and tear cost.

Q: These cars on the street, you are using high performance components to navigate through congestion...that sounds expensive.

A: Precisely...back to the daily driver.

 

 

 

Tuesday
Nov182014

The MerBimAu Advantage

In case you forgot: MerBimAu = Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi.

Ever wonder with all the contenders in the luxury segment, many having exceptional products. They remain contenders on the periphery of the segment, while MerBimAu continues to have the largest share.

A quick overview.

 

 

 

Monday
Nov172014

Social Media Paradox

We have been proponents of the Internet for dealers literally from 20 years ago. Back when a web site was a novelty, e-mail went unanswered, and so on. Obvious we were on the cusp of social media from its early days of idealism (same as the internet) to now where its a rigid structure. 

It took how many years for dealers to have a strong internet presence, and to literally have a digital dealership? 

Yes you can ask the same question for social media.

If you go by the various "digital trends" that float around, come and go, are evangelised by various pundits. The entire retail auto business revolves around digital dealership, social media, smart devices, online chat, SEO, compelling content, BDC, and we can keep on going. 

If you are seeking eyeballs, mention "digital" and anything automotive, and the eyeball count just increased dramatically.

Here is the deal:

After 20 years many dealers rely on a host of 3rd party providers/suppliers for many aspects of their digital presence and activity. The same for their social media presence. In the early days of social media manufacturers took a strong interest in the "social". Like most instances of technology and automotive, a few years later the ROI could not be rationalised. Which led to "Lets go back to the traditional way of doing things".

Are we digressing?

In Canada, we have a record year in auto sales...never been seen before...ever.

How do dealers close deals and move iron? More important how does CMS (Citizen Main Street) close the deal? 

The digital aspect of the automotive intelligentsia would like you to believe that it was done over a smart device...and we could keep on going.

The brick and mortar side of the intelligentsia wants you to believe that its the multi million dollar facility, the special tools, the LED lighting.

Increasingly how does CMS close the deal? How does the dealer move the iron?

The decade old "sales event" / "private sale".

Think about this for a moment...in an age of social media, multi million dollar brick and mortar, savvy customers that spend hours online, inspired product, free flowing money.

Increasingly dealers need to hold a "3 day bazaar" to close deals, move iron.

CMS waits for the 3 day bazaar, especially the one near month end to close the deal.

If you are a manufacturer that needs an edge, have some dealers with fatigued facilities, do not have all the consumer financial tools, what do you do to move iron in a competitive environment.

Simple...hold regular 3 day bazaars...observe your Canadian sales go through the roof, month, after month.