Oct 29 2008

Pretty cool gauge set

Pretty neat idea of how to make on demand gauges…leaves are hoaky though.

VIDEO: Ford SmartGauge with EcoGuide in action – Autoblog.

Oct 23 2008

Video of a Ferrari California on the Street

In motion on the street, real life video. Looks far better in motion IMOHO.

Ferrari California- Video.

Oct 11 2008

Video, 5th Gear uses girls to test the M3 vs IS-F

Funny, and an unique take as always.

364 Fifth Gear – Lexus IS-F BMW M3 Girls Test- Video.

Oct 7 2008

The Crazy French show us how it’s done, Photo

You want 118mpg?  Get something with two wheels.  Want to stay out of the rain and not have to put a foot down when you come to the stop?  Check out this lane splitter from the congested streets of Paris.

While us Americans think that high gas prices and traffic are some new American invention, the Europeans have been dealing with this as a matter of course for the last few decades.  Their pumped is already primed with out of the box thinking that I guarantee is more fun to drive than a Prius.

Follow the link below to one of my favorite blogs for all things with less than two wheels, to see more photos and details.

Peugeot HYmotion3 Compressor Concept combines C1, MP3 and Prius tech to create most advanced scooter ever – Hell For Leather

Oct 1 2008

2009 Honda CBR600RR, Ed Hardy Edition?

Looks like Honda has been spending too much time cruising West Hollywood.  I’m sure Karan will love it though…. looks like one of his T-Shirts ;-)

2009 Honda CBR600RR gets even uglier graphics for USA, ABS too – Hell For Leather

Sep 29 2008

If only all car commercials were this cool….

The Impossible Dream- Video.

Sep 29 2008

Video, could Chrysler buy Tesla?

Sort of a neat video, but what stood out immediately is that they have an electric Lotus Europa. Tesla anyone?  Is this the first shot over the bow of someone buying Tesla?  Surely it would be cheaper for Chrysler to just buy Tesla, than the reinvent the wheel (Electric powered Lotus).

On the surface of it, Tesla is just getting started, but they need a dealer network, and they need a finance agency and staff training to grow beyond just a boutique manufacturer. Sure it’s all the rage here in California, but what happens if your Tesla breaks down in Vegas?

These are all problems that large manufacturers have already solved. But what they haven’t solved is branding.  Chevrolet is a great brand that doesn’t mean “Electric” to me at all. Toyota is considering a “Prius” brand for future alternative fuel cars, and I have to say that could be a smart move.

Tesla would be a great brand name for this sort of strategy, lord knows Chrysler could use an injection of fun while selling off the Viper.

Electric Vehicles from Chrysler coming soon- Video.

Sep 22 2008

Deborah Meyer, Chrysler CMO talks at The MIXX conference

Deborah Meyer Vice President and CMO Chrysler

Deborah Meyer Vice President and CMO Chrysler

One of this year’s most anticipated speakers at The Mixx Conference in New York was Deborah Meyer, the newly appointed Vice President and first ever Chief Marketing Officer of Chrysler….well most anticipated by myself and the small StreetFire team that was attending.

2008 has been a horrible year for auto, and I wanted to hear how Chrysler was going to react to it given the Cerebus buy out. I’m beating a dead horse to talk about the themes in America’s auto industry…… High gas prices leading customers away from domestic products combined with a financial crisis creating the perfect storm of the worst year in auto in a long time. Deborah opened with how Chrysler is addressing it, by walking away from typical brand building and going where the users are. Bravo.

As a 14 year web geek and founder of an automotive web site it’s music to my weary ears to hear an Automotive executive climbing out of the primordial ooze and finally “getting it.”

First, 80% of all car buying, regardless of vehicle segment or niche, begins online according to Meyer. I’m happy to hear an automotive executive realize that not only are their products being chosen online, but that online buyers need a different format of marketing based on engagement and influencing opinion. Authenticity, deep information and taking a message to a pre-existing community. Agree on all points, and something echoed not just by me, but others as well.

What worries me is the execution of the vision. For example the upcoming RamChallenge.com minisite designed to create authenticity with the real America that will buy it….okay, sounds good.

“We need to be authentic here, no actors, real America and what they think of the 2009 Dodge Ram,” Meyer stated and I nodded in agreement, but the execution looked like a Jerry Bruckheimer Blockbuster with helicopters, explosions and a Rock and Roll Sound track.

Dodge to debut the RamChallenge.com

Dodge to debut the RamChallenge.com

Is this going to work? I don’t think so, I thought this was supposed to be Joe Average?…..unless Joe Average is hauling lumber through an obstacle course of trunk conkers while being chased by a helicopter through explosions… I think they missed something when they sent it off to creative. What I do think is going to work is their other initiative at Jeep.

Sorry I should have grabbed a snap of the new site, but Jeep is going to celebrate the photos and communities that have cropped up around Jeep with Yahoo Groups and Flickr communities….now we’re almost talking…. I say almost because I really don’t know any serious enthusiast that spends a lot of time on Yahoo groups. The real enthusiasts go to destination sites, like JeepForum.com with over a 160,000 Jeep Enthusiasts.

Okay, so the reality is that Chrysler spends a ton of money with Yahoo, and the tie into Flickr (owned by Yahoo) and Yahoo groups, is probably part of some larger Yahoo buy, but still I think Deborah could have built a massive amount of community credibility by giving a mothership endorsement to one of their largest fan sites. But credit where credit is due this is a step in the right direction and I’m sure Deborah had a board room full of people to please on both the Jeep site and RamChallenge.com, I hope a few more iterations will lead us closer to what really makes sense. Something they’re actually already doing…..

Dodge Viper SRT10 ACR Sets Nurburgring Record

You see, there are already groups inside of Chrysler, GM, BMW and others that get it, and that are moving in this direction. I believe the piece missing for Deborah Meyer, and other CMO executives is how do you makes enthusiast communities accountable to actual leads, which is why she has to try out things that directly lead to lead-gen like RamChallenge.com, rather than just directly tap the large Dodge truck communities already around. To her credit, given the economics of the day, Deborah is acting as a good steward of the marketing budget and making sure that every dollar is accountable. This is the lead gen flow chart for a typical initiative. I dare say it’s more complicated than the entire StreetFire video sharing service!

This is how a CMO thinks

This is how a CMO thinks

In summary I am optimistic that Chrysler is getting smart about how to create online marketing. They’ll need to iterate a few times to take out some obvious big-budget Hollywood agency pieces and create an authentic message. The fact that they sent a team to the Nurburgring to take the record in a Viper ACR shows they get online marketing and are trying to put it into practice. Deborah Meyer’s focus on accountable spending and funnel analytic analysis is right for this space, making her the right executive for the job. I just hope that Chrysler and the other manufacturers finally have the needed epiphany that enthusiast communities are their biggest untapped asset and that is the secret puzzle that needs to be figured out.

Sep 19 2008

California Hates Cars, Fines Dealer $34,750 for “unaproved” customizations

“California is a fascist state that hates cars” I was told that when I first moved here.  How could this be?  California is the birthplace of the NHRA, home of SEMA and the heart of the car customization hobby.

Then I read this press release about a California Nisssan dealer being fined $34,750 for “illegally modifying cars”….are you kidding me?  Modified cars and custom bikes are as American as Apple Pie…..but I guess that explains why I was told that California is a fascist state?

2009 Nissan GT-R: Car dealership to pay ARB $34,750 for installing unapproved retrofits.

Sep 16 2008

VIDEO: Walkthrough of 2011 Chevy Volt interior

Autoblog has a video walk through of the new Chevy Volt interior.  I have to say that Chevy is playing up to the fact that many Prius drivers appreciate and want to revel in the technology of the car, and it looks like the Volt will carry this forward.  I can see that GM views this as a game changer for their business, but I have to wonder why they didn’t sell the car through Saturn as a followup to the (more revolutionary) EV1, that was sadly killed before it’s prime.

VIDEO: Walkthrough of 2011 Chevy Volt interior – Autoblog.