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February '15 - Canadian Sales

February generated spectacular near record Canadian auto sales...a Wow moment.

Lets take a closer look at the results, and while most folks compare numbers. This morning we are taking a different perspective.


Its was a record year in Canada with 1.85 M vehicles sold a truly remarkable achievement.


The executives at the various manufacturers in the waning months of 2014, looking ahead to 2015 are reflecting on how to improve on a record year. Its an auto business mantra that you always have to achieve higher numbers.

To make it interesting there is increased volatility in the air, with a tinge of uncertainty.

How much more do you improve on 1.85 M? At best probably a few percentage points (< 5%).

The astutes are grasping that mobility at a monthly payment is surpassing ownership.

Financial services (free flowing money) will continue in 2015.

The weak players (manufacturers) will adhere to their tried and true (stale) play book. The stronger players will need to  displace "someone" in one fashion or another to increase sales. Other players have fortresses and moats around their market segment.

Hopefully all manufacturers condensed their voluminous big data to uncover market segments with a strategic advantage.

We could keep on going but you surely grasp that for any manufacturer planning for 2015 offered opportunities and posed challenges.

Strategic Vectors

Strong Start - In the auto business its a given that you start strong, in drag racing its known as a "hole shot" a strong start in January provides an advantage and creates quick momentum. Especially with increased volatility in the Canadian landscape.

Conquer New Customers - If one manufacturer conquers another loses, need we say more.

The Migration to SUV/CUV - Which manufacturer will generate a "utilities" strategy to provide a quick start, and advantage.

February 2 Months Into 2015

Its an understatement to say that the auto business is competitive and unforgiving. If anyone misses a month its a salvageable situation. If anyone misses 2 months especially if they blinked due to a competitor its an arduous challenge and task to overcome a 2 month miss. 

"The climate was just awful in eastern Canada we held back on programs till March, watch us now." Its a good PR line to deflect reality that they are in deep yogurt.

At the end of February sales in Canada are ahead by 3% a stunning achievement especially after a record 2014, and a strong December.

Who Caught Our Attention

MerBimAu - we would have been shocked if Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Audi did not continue increasing their sales.

Toyota - made it clear from the start of 2015 that they are more aggressive.

Korea - these folks have enjoyed their windows of opportunities a few years ago, and are facing unrelenting competition.

Detroit - they are collectively waiting for March to overcome the Alberta effect.

Subaru - the niche is expanding.

Nissan - the Micra effect endures.

Honda - a serious blink after only 2 months.

VW - the momentum continues.

It will be interesting to see how March and the first quarter develops.



Vroom Room

Good Morning!

The last Friday of the month, its the Vroom Room, come in make yourself comfortable, enjoy the cappuccino and biscotti, join the conversation.

Looking back its been a positively frigid month. Although global warming is a reality, February was influenced by an unrelenting cold jet stream all month long. In addition to breaking a myriad of records for COLD. Must be winter...

Good thing gas is less expensive, and perhaps we are old school; with cold overnight and early morning temperatures we believe in warming up any vehicle for a few minutes.

Daytona 500

Did you notice the empty stands?

A typical NASCAR race at Daytona, which culminates in yellows, frustration, and NASCAR that tries to end a race on a green flag. Good thing the teams have appreciable budgets to wreck cars, and endure the litany of yellows, then red if a yellow is not enough.

Its the business of racing, not the sport of racing.

The exercise becomes intellectually insulting...and generates empty stands.

Congratulation to Joey Logano for the win, and being at the right place at the right time.

Canadian Sales

It will be revealing next week to see the February sales numbers for Canada, and the initial impact of the Alberta effect will start making its presence felt. As well as the frigid climatic conditions in eastern Canada.

If you missed our Apple and Cars take a look for our perspective.

Sebring Saga 1965, yes...50 year ago.





Autonomous Cars and Winter

With all the current talk and opinions from pundits on autonomous cars. 

Ever wonder how these vehicle would behave in winter, or even inclement weather? 

The current driver aids shut down when the climatic conditions are not auspicious or block certain sensors. 

Smart Cruise Controls in a driving rain stop functioning, and will alert the driver. Obvious that snow is even worse. 

We all know, at highway speeds a good amount of snow, slush accumulates on the front (bumper-grille) of any vehicle.

Lane Departure is the same, if the sensors no longer see the lines on the road to verify the location of the vehicle.

Fascinating that in Canada all the conversations of autonomous vehicles overlook the reality that we have snow, slush, feezing rain for several months of the year. The highway (401) that connects the 2 most populous cities (Montreal-Toronto), as well as one of the busiest border crossing further west (Detroit) in winter is always affected by unpredictable conditions. 

Will autonomous systems comprehend climatic and snow/ice/slush conditions better than humans? What do you think?

At some point in time we will have autonomous vehicles in Canada, that will be fully autonomous for 6 months of the year. 





Cold and Cars

At times you have an epiphany of sorts...the other day we had one.

If you remember mechanical cars, with carburetors, ignition points to name a few. You surely remember the colder it got, the more challenging it was to start a car (vehicle) in the morning.

With advances in technology, be it fuel injection, improved ignition systems, we have quickly forgotten the challenges of a cold start, and the initial effects of cold on a vehicle.

Some things never change, and when its appreciably cold (minus 25-30 C) for a few days and you pay attention, cold continues to have an impact on a vehicle.

In no particular order:

Aluminum Engine Block: Contracts a bit more than steel, creating more friction on a cold start.

Oils: Even synthetic, still increase in viscosity from a good cold soak, be it motor oil, transmission, power steering.

Plastics: From decades ago, they crack and groan, a good reminder that its cold.

Starting a modern vehicle is much easier, as well as letting it warm up...the engine stays on fast idle for a shorter period of time, and obvious makes a few additional sounds.

Once you start moving its the same decade old experience.

Automatic Transmission: the oil is thicker the transmission shifts are slower.

Brakes: The brake fluid is cold, the brakes take a moment longer to apply, and release.

Power Steering: If its an old school hydraulic power steering, its stiff, its only half power for a while.

Thermostat: Once the thermostat open the engine temperature sinks like a rock.

Sounds: The familiar cold sounds of creaking here, cracking there.

Block Heater: Even with modern cars if temperatures are lower than minus 30 C, a block heater will be useful.

Technology: Interesting that the technology behaves quite well in cold temperatures.

Warm Up: We still believe that wen its minus 25 C its a good idea to warm up a car for a few minutes, to put some initial heat in the engine, and get components turning. What do you think?

We could keep on struck us that when it comes to cold and cars some things simply do not change.




Auto Show Media Days

Most folks do not attend the media day/s of auto shows which are held prior to the public opening.

As you can appreciate some auto shows and media days are more prominent than others, although they are all important to provide exposure and visibility for the product.

In case you did not know there are a myriad of agendas being played out by various stakeholders during the media day. There are the prominent figures from the manufacturers, the handlers, the production folks, the show organisers, the main stream media folks, and other media folks. Its a wide spectrum of media that is in attendance.

A ton of actual in person "social" activity going on, at a time of social media here are folks connecting in person, commenting, glad handing, while everyone is busy with their specific agendas.

Its a fascinating experience.

As you can appreciate with the bulk of the auto business being conducted "online" whatever is unveiled at a press day was seen "online" a few days/months prior. Customers do their due diligence online prior to making a purchase decision. You can just imagine the level of online media activity that goes on.

In most instances the unveiling that support the manufacturer specific press conference are an exercise in unveiling "deja vu" from a media perspective. Manufacturers that are keenly aware of customers doing their due diligence prior to visiting a dealer; these same manufacturers remain confused when it comes to media days at auto shows.

Interesting enough the manufacturers that actually sell more iron often do a better job than the manufacturers that are behind the 8 ball...go figure.

Will it change? What do you think? Too many folks are set in their ways, adhering to the same "media" play book.

Should it change? now the media playbook is tired, the product being unveiled is mostly a case of "deja vu", the comments during the press conferences are manufacturer specific self serving. Every manufacturer tries to convey a message that they "get it" when in most instances they stick to an old tired play book.