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If you remember the term "idiot lights" you go back long enough to have experienced several fashion and design seasons of dashboards. Is there such a thing as a fashionable dashboard?

The dashboard was originally meant to monitor the vital statistics/signs of the car. How fast are you going, the purist wanted a tachometer, and other gauges.

Later in the evolution of cars, the heating controls, as well as the radio made their way into the dashboard. It was all mechanical with various cables to operate the speedometer, open and close valves and flaps, and so on.

We could keep on going, but its easy grasp that we have come a long way.

The Mechanical Dashboard

The essential were the tachometer, speedometer, temperature, oil pressure, ammeter, gas gauge. You needed to know your speed, how fast the engine was turning, the water temperature, the oil pressure and so on.

The proponents of idiot lights would say that its too many gauges to monitor, most folks had no clue what was going on, and a shining red light would graps their attention sooner than a reading dropping on a gauge.

The proponent of gauges would say that by the time the idiot light came on, it was too late and had no clue what had developed to turn on the light.

The Layout

The dashboard with gauges, usually a black background with white markings and needle was not easy to read in a race car scenario. The strategy was that if everything was normal the needles would all point in the same direction. Usually up...all the needles are up...its all cool.

Some manufacturers initiated the philosophy that the dashboards in their cars would have the same layout for the various gauges and controls. The idea was that the owner of that brand of vehicles should not go crazy or experience a new learning curve with a new dashboard layout.

Dasboard in 2016

They are literally all over the place. Its fascinating to see the innovation, creativity of today's dashboards, and especially the center screen. As well as the lack of intuitiveness on some of the controls. At the same time they have come a long way, and the "idiot lights" are numerous for a bunch of stuff.

Which begs the question do most folks know what is going on with their vehicle and the various lights in the dashboard?

What do you think?



Canada Day

Have an awesome Canada Day, start of the Dog Days of Summer and week end with your family and friends.




All vehicles have shifters to shift the transmission be it a manual, a double clutch, or automatic.

If you are of a certain age you surely remember the ubiquitous "column shift" usually to shift a 3 speed manual transmission. At that time hot rodders were on a mission to put the column shift out of its miseries permanently. It took years to put the column shift in the "dumpster".

You probably also remember push starting cars at one time.

For a moment focus that we humans have not really changed in a couple of thousand years. While some things are more intuitive than others.

Column Shift

Allowed for a full width front bench seat. The throw from 1st to 2nd was the habitual challenge, while linkages would bind if you were too aggressive.

Floor Shift

In most applications dramatically shorter linkages, and throws although on a 4 speed the 2nd to 3rd was still a bit of a challenge. But to this day you can slam shifts aggressively.

Paddle Shift

Great for a racing application, amusing on the street. Usually used with an automatic or double clutch transmission.


Do you remember the push button shifter on Chrysler cars a few decades back.


There are all sorts of shifters, column, floor, paddle, buttons, wheels, its a fascinating variety of ways to primarily select gears for usually an automatic transmission. You usually need to look somewhere on the dash to ascertain what gear the vehicle is in...think about this for a moment.

Our Preference

At Strada we perhaps are old school...we prefer a floor shift, we believe that its the most intuitive way to select gears on any vehicle be it an automatic or manual transmission.



Excellent Sheep

The other day we were reading an opinion on higher education...the term "excellent sheep" cropped up. can agree or disagree, you are entitled to your opinion.

Is the auto business especially at the retail level generating, and perpetuating a flock of excellent sheep?

Reflect on this for a moment.

We surely don't have all the answers, but when you consider benchmarks here, best practices there, the usual pedestrian knowledge being disseminated over and over.

You have to wonder!

Here is the thing, at a time of big data, curating big data, seeking the next big or small advantage.

Being an excellent sheep surely has its advantages, you quietly fall in line with the flock, and are doing the same things everyone else is doing. Following the same benchmarks, guidelines, reviewing the same data.

There is a sense of security... can be an excellent sheep among the flock, and it might provide you enough of an advantage. Or what you think is an advantage...and obvious a sense of security.

Perhaps you will need to break out of the flock, be a disrupter, reconceptualise the data, and strategy. To gain an additional advantage.

You need to be keenly aware of the "guy in the back of the room" that is observing the "flock of sheep".




More on Passion

This excerpt is from Seth Godin...

When someone handed you a calculator for the first time, it meant that long division was never going to be required of you ever again. A huge savings in time, a decrease in the cognitive load of decision making.

Now what?

You can use that surplus to play video games and hang out.

Or you can use that surplus to go learn how to do something that can't be done by someone merely because she has a calculator.

Either way, your career as a long-divisionator was over.

Entire professions and industries are disrupted by the free work and shortcuts that are produced by the connection economy, by access to information, by robots. Significant parts of your job are almost certainly among them.

Now that we can get what you used to do really quickly and cheaply from someone else, you can either insist that you still get to do that for us at the same fee you used to charge, or you can move up the ladder and do something we can't do without you.


You perhaps remember the advent of the electronic calculator...and if you do let's leave it at that.

Think of the auto retail business....

Think of how many "long divisions" in the retail business have been supplanted by technology...

Think of the passion being diverted to other activities...

If you replace the electronic calculator by computers, the passion being diverted increases dramatically.

How much surplus created by technology could be directed towards passion?





The Deal Post Mortem

One of the fascinating aspects of the auto business is the myriad of post mortems that are performed regarding the purchase of a vehicle.

Is it superfluous to mention that everyone is an expert, with an extensive knowldge base, a wealth of experience, and boundless wisdom.

Suddenly everyone becomes an award winning "Monday Morning Quarter Back", dispensing snippets after the facts.

Lets look at a few points:

Empowered Customer: In 2016 when it comes to vehicles, the customer is totally empowered with a ton of information. If the customers is not empowered...are they hiding under a rock somewhere?

Variables: In the auto business there are a ton of variables in any transaction, its the reason most customers focus on the monthy payment that fits their budget.

Business Office: A profit center for the dealer. Its that simple. In 2016 which customer is not aware that the business office is an intrinsic part of the profit business model of a dealer.

Monthly: Once a deal is closed on the basis of a monthly payment, with software its child's play to work all the variables backward. Is it surprising that the amounts take on a new life.

We could keep on going but you surely get the picture. 

Now arrives the Monday Morning Quarter Back performing a post mortem on the deal, while dispensing knowledge, wisdom, shock. 

Which begs a few questions.

Where were you before or during this deal? 

Do you know the mental and emotional mind set of all the stakeholders as this deal was closing?

What are you accomplishing by offering advice after the facts.

From the customer's perspective...

Unequivocal...the dealer took advantage of the customer.

From the dealer's perspective...

Possibly could have made more money.

Performing a post mortem is a good idea to learn how we behave in a specific mental and emotional state. Keeping in mind the reality that its a done deal.




Fort Mac

At Strada our thoughts and prayers are with all the folks that have been displaced in one fashion or another by the devastating fires that have engulfed Fort McMurray.

We hope that as a Canadian you have by now made a donation to the Red Cross to assist all these folks at a time when they surely need a helping hand from everybody.

Obvious that if you are in other parts of Canada Fort Mac is far removed from the horizon. If you have ever had an opportunity to travel in the northern areas of western Canada, its stunning scenery while reinforcing that Canada is a great country.

If you have travelled in Canada for the past few years, although Fort Mac is far removed, you surely noticed how many folks from across Canada have gone to Fort Mac to work. In its own way its still an economic engine that ensures a livelihood to a bunch of folks across Canada.

If you are in an urban area, you should know that a pick up is the vehicle of choice in northern Canada, its that simple.

Having to leave your home on a moments notice is an excruciating experience, displacing your family especially with small children must be emotionally draining.

Staying in a temporary shelter, not knowing if there is a home to return to, or when you can return, plays out on a wide spectrum of human emotions.

Its moving to see the local folks all pitch in to help each other in any way they can, the rest of us as Canadians also need to pitch in and give these folks a hand.

Simple...its the right thing to do.



Whimsical Thoughts

If you are a die hard gear head, and have been one for decades now...yes we are talking about The Colonel. Every now and then there are these "whimsical thoughts" that crop up usually relevant to the occasion or circumstances at hand.

The deal

Here is The Colonel "This is a cool stretch of road"


Another deal


The Colonel "This is really cool...impressive"


Another deal


The Colonel "Good thing its only a 4 cylinder under the hood..."


You can develop your own whimsical thoughts and conclusions. 


Here is an over the top picture for your consideration.

The mythical "shoe box Chevy" with a race 572 (in case you forgot about 720 HP), with a Tremec 6 speed, and 3.73 or 3.23 gears in the back (in this instance 3.23 would work better). Yes...a serious batch of octane in the gas tank.

That shoe box Chevy with the 572 has been around for a long time...





Software Coding Revisited

Reflect on this what do we really know about all the software code in any vehicle?

That you are a consumer, or an ardent gear head what do you really know about the siftware code, and how it manipulates the performance of a vehicle.

A few months ago we speculated that we were in the dark and shared our thoughts in The Computer Code Epiphany.

Reflect on this for a moment, if you now get a manual the size of a phone book of a small town to operate the center screen on the dash. Imagine a manual clarifying the codes and algorithms for the various black boxes in any vehicle.

Lets get it out of the way now, without software we would not see the horsepower we are enjoying, or the safety we take for granted today. There is no way that any mechanical set up would generate the same results.

At the same time there is a classic case of "Big Brother" watching with the various flash memories in a bunch of boxes.

Think of AV's for a moment, who will know what the decision tree is in the software code, it might be safer than the human driving, but will we know?

When you flick from "normal" to "sport" you can immediately sense the engine revving up higher, the transmission hanging on to a gear a little longer. What else is going on? Do you know? If you do let us know.

What needs to happen to trigger the "stability control" on a vehicle? Do you know? From our experience a steady 4 wheel sideways slide will not trigger the stability control, unless you change the steering angle. If you are in a 4 wheel sideways slide and wait for the stability control to engage, you might wait until you get in deep yogurt, unless you alter the steering angle.

By now you know that we rarely mention or talk about fuel economy. Our mantra is simple "You need gas to make horsepower". Irrelevant if what engine is under the hood, you still need gas to make horsepower. Reflect on this for a moment...back in the day with a 4 barrel carburetor the jets on the secondaries were always bigger (flow more gas), and you could also get a "double pumper" literally running on all 4 barrels all the time.

Think of a modern vehicle, you step on the gas, you are sending a signal from one box to another, the air mass sensor concludes how much air is flowing, sending another signal to the injectors to start metering the flow of gas, then another signal goes to the transmission for how long to stay in a gear. Let's not forget the oxygen sensor sending another signal to control emissions. If all the signals are too aggressive the traction control will start to engage. If its an all when drive various signals will alternate torque from the front and rear wheels.

This is constantly going on in nano seconds in any vehicle.

Back in the day if you throttle up a tillte aggressive at a traffic light especially after a light rain there was a good chance that the back end (rear wheel drive) would break lose and the car shift sideways a wee bit (especially with a positraction). You would pedal the car and upshift if you had a clutch pedal and gently throttle up again. Today you feel the back end of the car bog down, the traction light starts flickering in the dash, you still pedal the car to turn off the traction control, and in most instances the car will not upshift, you gently throttle up again.

The software is the primary mover, and we are along for the ride up to a point. Reflect on this for a moment, and connect a few additional dots.

Then connect a few additional dots about a virus, or hacking the software in any vehicle.



Is The Auto Business Myopic In Canada?

In the early days of the Internet the entire auto industry was myopic towards the Internet, and later towards social media. There are countless cases where the business comes up short.

If you have been around, involved with, or participated in the auto business for a while, you have the luxury of looking back, and looking ahead.

We were doing that the other day, and it hit us that in the 21st century some folks that are truly enlightened, prescient, and always very discreet. While others are myopic, with a glancing pedestrian knowledge, usually if not always making a ton of noise.

Everyone has a better mouse trap than the other guy. Everybody is trying to monetize something or other, or grab some piece of the action.

There is the "guild" for this, the association for that, the convention for something else, the event for another thing...and it goes on. Let's not forget the 20 of this, the 10 best of that, the top 5 of the other thing, and the nominated winner of something else.

Being part of a "guild", while attending these various events of like minded folks is great for networking, disseminating pedestrian knowledge, and inflating egos.

While the really smart "dude" observes from the back of the room acknowledges the myopic behavior, while crafting his strategy.

Agreed...public relations, photo ops, guilds, associations, events, networking, are an intrinsic part of any business, and create the right optics from a social, community perspective. In the auto business the PR budgets are well consumed for a myriad of activities that capture a nano second of attention.

In 2016 if you need to go to an industry event to discover a new product, new software, new concept, bolster your ego...where are you the rest of the time?

There is so much of this low level stuff going on, its has a tendency of sucking in individuals. While propagating "street knowledge" in an auto business environment where you have to be brilliant to make a difference, and stand out.

"Did you really do that (a brilliant move/strategy)?"....reply "Yes"...."How did you do that?"....reply "A bit of this, and that it worked out". Obvious no one will provide a step by step answer....certainly not to a room full of like minded folks (competitors).

Consider this simple graph from JD Power...for March 2016 in Canada.

The myopic / pedestrian comment would be "The spring market is around the corner and you can't sell new vehicles from an empty shelf."

The smart dude in the back of the room, discreetly starts to connect a few dots, seeking an advantage.

If you are an astute observer and conclude that manufacturers have applied the "sledge hammer" approach to move iron, you might be correct.

If you are a dealer and look outside, you visually see the increase in day supply, the increase in longer term loans, the additional challenge to close deals, while intimately feeling the pressure to move iron.

If you are a customer you see serious deals being offered in the immediate horizon.

Do you think that the smart / prescient individual in the back of the room will give you a step by step guide as to what he will do to move iron during the second quarter?