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Thursday
Aug202015

Random Thoughts on 4 Cylinders

Several years ago we mentioned that enhanced by a turbochargers engines in cars would diminish in the number of cylinders, and displacement.

Our thought process at the time mentioned that a V8 would be replaced by a 6 cylinder and a 6 cylinder would be replaced by a 4 cylinder.

In 2015 there is a rash of turbocharged 4 cylinders powering a myriad of vehicles.

Turbocharging:

Its an inexpensive way to generate more horsepower, and especially torque from a smaller displacement. In 2015 the most popular smaller displacement is a 4 cylinder.

Technology:

Without the aid of technology turbo motors would still display some erratic characteristics, and not torque up the way they do.

Transmissions:

Obvious that 6-7-8 speed automatic transmissions are a true benefit to make a 4 cylinder even with a turbo, seem to have more power.

Front Wheel Drive:

Most if not all platforms using a turbocharged 4 cylinder are front wheel drive. Agreed they might have morphed to all wheel drive. Its almost surprising the low level of torque steer with the majority of these applications.

Fuel Economy:

You know the saying "You need gas to make horsepower" we have noticed that the 4 cylinders that truly torque up, are less economical that the 4 cylinders that are more sedate, or have different modes. In general these engines powering a CUV on the highway are not that economical from our perspective.

The optics of fuel economy appeal, and sell.

Durability:

Yes...when you increase the air flow in any engine above atmospheric pressure, there is a fine line and trade off between power and durability. In addtion to increased complexity.

Rush:

There is a "rush" by all manufacturers that have a "generic" 2.0L Turbocharged 4 cylinder as a price leader especially in entry level "premium economy" vehicles. The belief seems to be "If you don't have a 4 with a turbo you are missing out".

 

 

 

 

Tuesday
Aug182015

Random Thoughts on Luxury Brands

A few days ago we took a moment to read "Luxury Branding Below the Radar" in the latest issue of HBR. It struck our imagination and thought process.

This morning we have The Colonel with us...yes he has spent a few decades dealing with luxury cars, and luxury brands. Lets pick his thoughts.

Q: Colonel, you are well tanned.

A: Good Morning guys, yes its summer, working outside on week ends will generate a tan.

Q: From your perspective what is going on with luxury brands?

A: I surely don't have all the answers, but they do not resonate as they did is my first impression.

Q: You mean there is an entire generation that unless they are part of the 1% do not assimilate with luxury brands.

A: Up to a point you are correct, Millenials that through their parents have been exposed to a myriad of luxury brands...it does not impress them in the least bit.

Q: Luxury cars are selling very well in Canada.

A: Yes...the premium economy versions of the luxury brand is doing very well...I stress premium economy.

Q: A Saddlback briefcase is expensive especially with the low CDN dollar today.

A: Precisely, its expensive, its rugged, its not luxury, it generates comments.

Q: A Rolex is expensive too...and luxury.

A: Yes...and who really cares about a Rolex in 2015? Its a personal experience, more than flashing the brand on your wrist. It used to be the other way.

Q: We could keep on going, perhaps you are correct that luxury is becoming a personal experience, more than an outward display of the brand for other to see.

A: I believe that "luxury" is becoming an experience...at one time there was a thought vector that was leaning towards democratising luxury...its happened. Now its the experience.

Q: Luxury can have different aspects for different folks.

A: Precisely...but flashing the brand resonates less.

Q: A bunch of folks are flashing the brand with cars.

A: Agreed...its premium economy (affordable aspirational luxury), its good for sales, is it really good for the brand?

Q: Is luxury still synonymous with quality and durability.

A: You would hope so, although everyone is on a cost saving mission.

Q: Where do you think luxury is headed.

A: With the exception of the 1%, luxury in the past few years has been democratised, diluted, more accessible at a lower price. We have a good indication of where its headed.

Q: Closer to home in the auto business.

A: Its premium economy that will generate the bulk of the sales for the gain of some at the expense of others.

 

 

 

Monday
Aug172015

Random Thoughts on Utility Vehicles

With the inexorable increase of utility vehicles, be it CUV, SUV, Pick Ups to name a few, and the slow decline of the sedan. We thought we should share some of our thoughts and views.

At some point and time most folks had a utility vehicle as the family kicker. Especially in certain neighborhoods it was "de rigueur" to have a fashionable utility vehicle.

At Strada we used to identify utility vehicles as lifestyle family kickers. We have always had a "thing" for Suburbans, although they are quite big. Our family kicker for several years was comparable to a CUV of today, in the old school of solid axles front and rear, and a low range.

Kicker:

Even if its the luxury version with leather, and a myriad of features, its the family kicker that will get dirty, dinged, and used for the kids.

Utility:

Back in the day the "kicker" was a genuine 4x4 with a low range, and often when the kids became of driving age the kicker was passed down. Yes...the 4x4, the low range was often tested in off road conditions by the kids.

Lifestyle:

Utility vehicles are similar to sneakers, when a new version or wave of styling comes along it captures the imagination.

Morphing:

The kicker has through the years morphed into the family car, often replacing the sedan that was the family car. Its progressed from the kicker to the higher off the ground car with all wheel drive capabilities. As its morphed from the kicker status to car status sales have increased appreciably.

Platform:

The original kickers were in essence a truck with car features. There was an endearing truck thing about them, and they often could take some abuse. Today's vehicles are in many instances based on a front wheel drive car platform. If a manufacturer can't sell the platform as a sedan, it will sell as a utility. 

The customer is content with a sedan that looks like a truck.

Coupe:

A few years back we saw, and subsequently followed (going in the same direction) a coupe version of a utility vehicle. To this day we reamin bewildered as to who would buy/lease such a concoction.

Versatile:

Yes...they are useful and versatile, endearing in their own way, while multi tasking as the family car, kicker, hauler to name a few.

 

 

Saturday
Aug152015

A 30 Year History of the Future

At Strada we first bumped into Nicholas Negroponte by reading "Being Digital" a few decades ago.

An informative and fascinating TED Talk by Nicholas Negroponte.

 

 

Friday
Aug142015

Vroom Room

Good Morning,

Caring is human and provocative.Its Friday, its the Vroom Room, enjoy the cappuccino and biscotti, join the conversation.

Yes...the Dog Days of Summer...quiet, relaxing...really, not this year.

In case you always missed it, and possibly want to share your thoughts on the future of the auto business, take a look at Vision 2020.

Think about this...we feel that in 2015 with the inexorable progress of various technologies, the disruptions created by technological applications. You need to be engaged in provocative thinking. Agreed folks around you might think that you are a shit disturber, but keep it up just the same.

Just like  you need to be your own editor, you need to provoke your thought process. Agreed...discretion is a competitive advantage when being provocative.

Especially if you are in the auto business, provoke yourself.

Everyone has an opinion, everyone can quickly publish their thoughts, everyone can embellish their brand, and everyone can massage their egoes. How many truly engage in provoking? What do you think?

The General Motors Tech Center in Warren Michigan has been recognised as a National Historic Landmark. What is the big deal? Way back in the day the Tech Center was the equivalent of buildings/campuses that are going up in Silicon Valley today.

A few decades back The Colonel had the unique opportunity to visit the Tech Center, back then being in the auto business it was a totally cool informative experience.

On a different note, its gratifying to see the level of participation in the Parapan Am Games in Toronto. While raising the awreness towards folks that have various limitations.

Pebble Beach...peruse the RMSotheby Digital Catalog...some extremely interesting cars.

Our usual old cars from the Carmel Concours on the Avenue 2015...enjoy.

 

 

Thursday
Aug132015

Can-Am Nostalgia

The 1967 Can-Am at Elkhart Lake...

 

 

Wednesday
Aug122015

Hyundai Vision G Coupe

Impressive concept car...

The Hyundai press release


HYUNDAI REVEALS “VISION G” COUPE CONCEPT

 

Introduces Concept as Evolution of Hyundai’s ‘Responsible and Respectful’ Luxury Family of Products

 

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, California (August 12, 2015) – Hyundai Motor Company revealed the HCD-16 “Vision G” Concept Coupe before its debut at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance on August 16 in Monterey, California. The concept was described as Hyundai’s inspiration for its family of future premium products that promise luxury, performance and style with the value and responsibility that is the foundation of Hyundai’s brand.

 

“The concept was designed with coordinated input from Hyundai design studios around the world, but was led by our team here in the U.S.,” said Peter Schreyer, Hyundai’s president and chief design officer. “The design is our interpretation of the idea that Hyundai breathes into all of its vehicles – a DNA that balances design and performance with the idea that you don’t need to be over the top in terms of glitz and stereotypical luxury cues.”

 

During the design process, Hyundai’s team of designers focused their work on the notion of “chivalry” – a word they felt best defined the idea that one doesn’t need to shout to be noticed and respected. “Vision G” is purposefully understated, despite its size and dramatic lines. One example of this respectful luxury – and a nod to the self-sufficiency of the driver – is a technology that automatically opens the door as if being opened by a valet.

 

The exterior styling of the concept is highlighted by a long hood, high-beltline and a cabin that presents a slingshot-like appearance. “In keeping with a design that speaks to the owner rather than ‘the spectators’ who might see the car on the road, Vision G appears dynamic and in constant motion,” said Christopher Chapman, head of Hyundai’s U.S. design centre and leader of the coupe’s design team. “After all – and if all is right in the world – the only time an owner sees the exterior of the car is when it’s standing still.”

 

The underlying idea of respectful luxury flows into the interior, underscored by its clarity and simplicity. No glaring examples of luxury, but rather elegant lines and finishes.

 

The heart of “Vision G” is the award-winning 5.0-liter Tau V8 engine producing 420 horsepower at 6,000 rpm and 383 lb. ft. of torque at 5,000 rpm. The Tau V8 engine family has been named to Ward’s prestigious Ten Best Engines list three times. With high-pressure direct injection for impressive power, low emissions and superb efficiency, this latest version of the Tau V8 benefits from an optimized intake runner length, enhanced timing chain for reduced friction and NVH, low-torque exhaust manifold, increased compression ratio and upgraded multiple-injection mapping. These enhancements combine to produce a flatter torque curve at lower rpm for even better driveability.

 


 

Wednesday
Aug122015

Car Commercials

A parody...sprinkled with truth.

 

 

Tuesday
Aug112015

The Growler

Interesting car, informative video...

 

 

Monday
Aug102015

Brick and Mortar

In retailing you hear mentions of online taking over the traditional brick and mortar stores, often accompanied by comments of a spike in online or a resurgence of brick and mortar. Accompanied by various thoughts of the fast and agile thriving and the slow and rigid engaged on a different vector.

We could keep on going, and discuss a myriad of points.

Lets bring it closer to the auto business. Last week we or is it The Colonel had an epiphany moment regarding brick and mortar.

Here is the deal:

  • For decades all the vehicle information is online.
  • You always read that one dealer/manufacturer is putting up a gazillion square foot facility.
  • Lots of glass in the facilities to convey transparency.
  • Agreed...a sophisticated facility might provide a competitive advantage while reinforcing the brand identity at the street level.

Does it resonate with CMS:

  • Yes...CMS is Citizen Main Street
  • These immense facilities with expansive showrooms that can display 3 versions of every model are cold and impersonal.
  • CMS saw the various models online, he is interested in only one version.
  • Especially when the different models are scattered all over the place instead of having model specific clusters. Which would be more relevant to actually closing a deal.
  • What message do these over the top facilities convey to a potential customer? Besides that fact that he will be paying more to support the facility.
  • CMS wants to finalise a decision, not engage in a fitness experience navigating the size of the facilities.
  • The work stalls in the service department are a thing of beauty with sophisticated work bench / tool box integration. Does it close a deal though?

Touch of reality:

"What is that model?"  "That is the new 2016 ABC version just came out a few days ago"  "Do you have a version that is more visually appealing"  "Yes...its..."  "Thank You I'm not taking a hike to the next postal code in your showroom to look at it".

The image, brand at the street level is understandable, and probably, hopefully provides a competitive advantage. Where is the "comfort level" of the building, and touch points. What feels comfortable, and what feels completely over the top and strained.

What is the right size for these facilities, and where does it start feeling over done, over the top.

Or is it a competition of brands, egos, and the customer is an afterthought?