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Friday
Dec182009

Olympic Torch Relay

You know that The Colonel went on a mission earlier today, and he did not want to tell us where or why he was going. He's back in the Vroom Room, and now we know why he was being discreet, and perhaps a little secretive.

The Colonel got the very unique and memorable opportunity to participate in the Aurora leg of the Olympic Torch Relay earlier today. Do we have to tell you that we have a few questions for The Colonel.

Here we go...

Q: Colonel how did you get this unique and memorable opportunity?

A: A huge Thank You to the folks that made this possible for me this morning, yes a huge THANK YOU!

Q: Can you give us a few details?

A: A while back it was suggested that perhaps it would be cool to talk to some folks that are participating in the Torch Relay. It started from there, and after several conversations this morning it became a reality.

Q: Tell us more?

A: I was very fortunate to have this unique opportunity to follow the relay in its leg through Aurora, yes I live in Aurora which made it even cooler.

Q: The logistics to have the relay run on time must be impressive.

A: These folks have all the possibilities covered, making extensive use of technology to facilitate their task, while covering 250 to 300 kms per day.

Q: Who supplies the vehicles?

A: GM is the official vehicle supplier, I rode in a Chevrolet Silverado, Coke has 2 very cool trucks, and RBC too has a cool truck. In addition to other vehicles to transport the relay runners, and pick them up, a safety vehicle in case of medical emergencies. A command vehicle, helicopters, and the ubiquitous black Suburbans.

Q: There is a lot of organisation to have this relay.

A: These folks know what they are doing, it runs smoothly and on time, today was the 50th day of the Torch Relay, there is a complete daily itinerary that is extremely detailed. The organisation is impressive, the various police forces do an incredible job to ensure that it runs smoothly.

Q: Who was drving the Silverado that you were in?

A: Art drives the Silverado, he started in Newfoundland and his making his way across Canada with the Torch Relay. Art and Serge oversee the GM fleet of vehicles, their web site is Chevrolet 2010 Road Trip.

Q: Are you going to tell us that Art and Serge are on Twitter?

A: How did you know? Sure they are @GM_ArtandSerge.

Q: You must have some interesting anecdotes, we are sure that Art must have recounted some memorable moments. Colonel what really "got to you" this morning?

A: Absolutely, Art had several moving stories. What really got to me this morning? After you see the organisation behind the Torch Relay, and the people working to ensure that it runs smoothly and on schedule.

What really gets to you is the thousand of people of all ages lining the route, it was chilly this morning, they might have been there for some time waiting. They are all smiling, with a glow in their eyes, they are participating in a unique moment.

Q: The Olympic Torch Relay is all about Canadians.

A: Exactly, its about people, its about Canadians, its about a moment in history. No wonder the folks that organise the relay work long hours, everyday they made thousands of people smile.

Q: It was a memorable experience.

A:  Absolutely, the Olympic Torch Relay a very cool moment.

The photo gallery of the Torch Relay through Aurora.

 

Friday
Dec182009

Vro9m Ro9m 

Good Morning!

Wave Around the PlanetIts cappuccino and biscotti this morning,make yourself comfortable.

We dispatched The Colonel on a very special assignment this morning, actually The Colonel told us that he was going on a special mission this morning. It will be interesting to see when he returns what this mission was all about. 

In case you missed the Wave Around the Planet, how could you? Just in case you missed it. The idea is to have a massive Happy New Year go around the planet using Google Wave. The wave is open to the public, anyone can join, and on New Year just say Happy New Year and where you are located. Its a new decade and 2009 was challenging for a lot of folks. 

Have you noticed? We have continuing our series Thoughts on.....instead of having a summary of the year which for many folks in the auto industry is best forgotten. We are expressing our thoughts, and thank you to the people that take the time, interest, passion to comment...you know who you are.

In our Thoughts on Engines we said "The present, and future trend is to diminish the number of cylinders on engines, and increase the volumetric efficiency, and HP with turbos or superchargers." A few days ago another manufacturer announced that they were going V8 twin turbo. Must be a case of we told you so. What befuddles us...these are the manufacturers that promote one intellectual direction, and then promote another intellectual direction on how to generate horsepower. 

Did you miss our photo gallery of this year's  Motorcycle Show? Yes the mood was subdued similar to the auto industry. 

Is this as creative as it can get? Cheaparral! 

This is the time of year that we get ready for the Holidays, get reflective on the year that has gone by, and also start looking around the corner at the new year, and new decade. If you can spare the time its an informative panel discussion Think Forward, Act Now that will provoke your thoughts. 

If for some reason you are very interested in reviewing what transpired in 2009, we make it simple just use the search feature to locate what is of interest to you. You might be surprised as to what might come appear as a result of your search.

We recently had the opportunity to watch Can-Am The Speed Odissey, what can we say if you are a serious gearhead get the DVD. If you are of an age where you watched these cars race, walked the pits at one of the tracks of the time (obvious that you are not so young anymore). Its a cool experience to watch this montage of the Can-Am years. 

If heard "Flip Top" Cobra...you would wonder what it is, take a look.

Some amazing drag racing photos...for some reason in a time of video photography captures the imagination.

Do you remember ATS? The fascinating story of serial number 2004, take a look

 

 

Thursday
Dec172009

Thoughts on Sales

The focus is on Canadian sales. 

At the beginning of 2009 there were a variety of thoughts, accompanied by different vectors as to how Canadian sales would develop or implode during the year. 

At Strada, we have been saying all along that Canadian sales would be reasonably good in 2009, and perhaps even very good. Especially when you consider the overall negative economic buffeting, accompanied by auto industry specific storms.

Why did we expect a reasonably good 2009? Its simple the Canadian market relied heavily on leasing for numerous years to soften the high Canadian prices. We all know that leasing improves the afford ability of vehicles. In addition when the Canadian dollar was low Canada enjoyed an interesting window of opportunity where many used vehicles were quickly exported to the US. and other countries.

As an aside, in late 2007 we were influential in having prices of Canadian vehicles lowered to reflect the increased value of the Canadian dollar. 

Lets fast forward, the vehicles leased in 2005 and especially 2006 came to term in 2009, which translates into sales for 2009 since most lessees do not purchase their vehicles at the end of the lease, they elect to replace the vehicle with a new lease.

Several months ago we mentioned that Canadians were trading up and trading down. Its been the case during the entire year.

Some points that caught our attention: 

 

  • Manufacturers that are breaking sales records (and vigorously pounding their chests) had new model introductions during the year to bolster lackluster sales of older models. 
  • The Koreans benefited from the trading down trend in the Canadian market. In addition they offered exceptional "value/peace of mind" packages.
  • The market vacuum created by GM and Chrysler was filled by other manufacturers, again it seems that the Koreans were beneficiaries of the vacuum in addition to other manufacturers. 
  • Due to our climatic conditions! Many folks want the peace of mind of all wheel drive (AWD), and the versatility of a station wagon. Yes...compact sport utilities are very popular in the Canadian market.
  • The entry level luxury segment be it cars or the various forms of AWD "utility" vehicles is doing very well in Canada, especially the manufacturers that had new models in 2009. 
  • Entry level luxury is powered by aggressive lease programs, that are invigorated by the respective CPO programs. With some manufacturers displaying compelling "testicular fortitude" in setting their residuals values.
  • The Koreans benefited from the vacuum created among dealers. With the closure of established nameplates (cancelled dealers) many dealer quickly took on Korean Franchises. 
  • In Canada the manufacturers who were tactical to capitalize on their new products, increased sales or stayed ahead of the market downturn. When a product wins the hearts, and minds of Canadian consumers, aided by a motivating financial packages it quickly generates incremental sales.
  • The manufacturers that lost momentum in late 2008/early 2009, a few for whatever reason never regained their pace. You get the impression that whatever decisions were made, were upheld while other manufacturers were flexible with their decisions and regained their strides.
  • The Canadian "leasing effect" becomes prominent when looking at YTD Nov sales in 2009 1.349M in 2008 1.541M in 2007 which is considered the benchmark year 1.533M. Keep in mind that 2008 was the "perfect storm" in Canada with dramatically lower prices and increased incentives.
  • This year(2009) will be down by less than 15% compared to last year, or 2007. 

We can safely say that the Canadian auto market did reasonably well, similar to the Canadian real estate market. In the case of the auto market the "leasing business model" from previous years of strong lease penetration was beneficial to uphold 2009 sales. 

How will 2010 develop in Canada? We expect 2010 to be similar to 2009, with perhaps a downward deflection towards the end of the year (are we sounding like economists?).

 

Wednesday
Dec162009

Thoughts on Mobility

Why do we need a house? Shelter

Why do we need a vehicle? Mobility

We acquire vehicles for mobility, think about this for a moment. After the product, styling, design, interior, comparisons, we seek mobility. Granted there are varying degrees of mobility, we can go from A to B in various forms with various vehicles. The priority remains going from A to B, mobility.

In this new decade of the new century will a manufacturer continue to sell a product, or become a purveyor of mobility?

Have you noticed that some manufacturers are slowly moving towards offering call it "automobility" with their product. What do we mean? Manufacturers offer leases, offer peace of mind insurance, offer maintenance. Is it starting to sound like an automobility package.

In 2009 the manufacturers that offered a "peace of mind package" resonated with CSM (Citizen Main Street) won hearts, minds, and increased their sales in a challenging environment.

Manufacturers with pro active CPO programs are increasingly learning that they can make money twice on the same product. The CPO sales are 35 to 40% of new vehicle sales, and CPO is increasingly becoming an intrinsic part of the business model. The automotive industry, is the only industry that still takes "trade ins" where folks are still "horse traders" although many would want you to believe otherwise.

All the elements to enable the offering of an automobility package are present. You have to wonder why not a single manufacturer is prepared to offer peace of mind mobility with an automobility package.

Your thoughts?

 

Tuesday
Dec152009

Family Tree for Humanity

At times we all wonder how far we can go to seek our roots, this is fascinating the "Family Tree for Humanity...