Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Chrysler Begins Offering American Delivery Option to Wealthy Foreign Customers

Detroit’s Chrysler Group, a majority-owned subsidiary of Italian automotive giant Fiat SpA, recently began offering an American Delivery Option, or ADO, to well-heeled international buyers of its vehicles.

As a segue from Chrysler’s recent “Imported from Detroit” campaign, marketers began to explore new delivery channels that could help ensure strong profit margins while creating a uniquely American, brand-enhancing experience for their customers. In a similar vein to many existing European delivery options from brands such as Volvo and BMW, Chrysler has pitched this new option as an all-inclusive package deal aimed at European, South American, and Asian buyers to include the following:
  • Round-trip airfare for two on United Airlines, including drink vouchers and pre-paid baggage fees
  • Two nights’ accommodation at the Tropic Motel in beautiful Mexicantown, Michigan, just a short drive from Downtown Detroit
  • Ground transportation to and from Chrysler Headquarters*
  • Guided group tour of Chrysler Headquarters (7:00am or 5:30pm tours)
  • Food vouchers for lunch and dinner at participating area Applebee’s restaurants
  • Temporary license plates and registration valid for up to 30 days**
  • Ship-board transportation of vehicle to port nearest buyer’s home city***

*taxi reimbursement with valid receipt; maximum $30 **DMV visit required ***dockside pickup required at customer’s expense; all cities except Barranquilla, Guangzhou, and Lisbon require additional fees
Priced at a flat fee of $1,500 (plus the full MSRP purchase of a new Chrysler vehicle), the plan is expected to gain quick traction with prospective buyers.

Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne quickly gave his blessing to the American Delivery Option, insisting that “Most affluent European buyers of American cars have little concept of what most of America is like. A big part of taking the Chrysler brand back to its blue-collar American roots is to show our customers the ‘real America,’ a continent which was named for an Italian. Two continents, actually.”

When asked whether this affluent cohort of customers might be underwhelmed by such a visit to the grittier, less flashy parts of America, Marchionne replied “Have you seen most of Europe or Asia? Behind the facades of rich history, most of it is like America was 50 years ago. Maybe 100 years. I consider this visit a step up for them.”

Chrysler design head Ralph Gilles reportedly took issue with the initial plan, arguing on twitter that “These Dagos think they know the real America, they are full of shit! #sergio #detroit #idowhateveriwant.” However, after closed-door talks at Fiat’s Sicilian corporate retreat in April, a rested and bandaged Gilles retracted the statement, supporting his boss’s plan and tweeting “I, for one, welcome my new Italian overlords #chrysler #americandelivery”

Friday, July 19, 2013

Audi to Unveil Decimalized Models by 2016

Until just a few years ago, Audi offered an array even-numbered car models in its markets around the world. Since then, production flexibility, platform sharing, and improved marketing data have driven the expansion into models like the A5, A7, Q5, Q7, and the still-new-to-America A3.

"We will continue to develop models that appeal to our more discerning customers. For example, we are currently considering the idea of an A4.3625, which will be slightly larger and more luxurious than an A4, feature two regular doors, two half-sized "suicide doors," an interior crafted of alligator skin, a 19-speaker, 1800-watt Harmin Cochlea sound system, and a sporty, steeply raked hatchback. In a sense, it's our answer to the Mazda RX-8. That question was not asked, so we must ask it. It is our near-term goal to accelerate this company, intentionally or otherwise, into the next century."
42 Unique New Audi Concepts on Display Near London on Tuesday

Mueller cited the need to enter this market segment after a single write-in questionnaire response indicated a 28-year-old unmarried male in Framingham, MA, with income between $25,000 and $34,999 would be "likely" to "very likely" to lease such a model in the next 18-24 months.

He continued, "For Audi, that's more than enough validation that a solid market exists for this vehicle."

Many critics ask whether Audi should focus more heavily on its core A4/6/8 car models, improving variety, content, and pricing to increase and maintain a competitive edge against worldwide rivals BMW and Mercedes. Several companies--notably GM--have been guilty of expanding product lines in an effort to gain segment market share, diluting the overall brand and reducing quality along the way.

"In Germany, we have a saying 'Eine Wurst, Funfzehn Groesse' (one sausage, 15 sizes). You see, BMW have an X3, so we must have a Q5. They have an X5; we must have a Q7. They have an M3 coupe; we must have an S5. They have a 1-series convertible, we must have a...Scheisse."

Mr. Mueller then ended the line of questioning abruptly, nervously shouting in German to a coworker in the Product Design group. His assistant later referred us to the product website for the Volkswagen Eos, asking us to imagine four rings on the grille.

When asked about the possibility of a diesel-powered wagon with manual transmission in the US, Mueller responded "We have heard this request from thousands of online forum users, but to date have not sold a single one to those people. We believe these requests to be a result of a single hacker using 'alt' identities to pump up interest in obscure, unprofitable vehicle configurations. Similarly, we will never offer a ute [car with truck bed], nor a vehicle where the model's numbers indicate the displacement or any other rational metric."

Monday, September 24, 2012

Depreciation "Not Even a Real Thing" According to NADA Report

At a recent industry trade show, NADA President Victor Cardelli went on record to say that depreciation does not affect the average car owner at all. His comments were a part of a larger PR push to improve new car sales numbers, despite high unemployment and an increase in overall financial literacy among consumers.

"Do you really think that hard-working Joe Sixpack cares about some vague concept invented by those overpaid Wall Street accountants to pad their bonuses?" Cardelli continued, "We can get you $199/month lease payments with no money down. We can get you 35+ mpg to save you money on fuel. Why should you even care about some invisible number like depreciation?"

Harvard Economist Malcolm Freeman rebuked those comments, explaining that they were the "....most retarded....thing I've ever heard," continuing with several examples of the precipitous depreciation in the new car industry and a bunch of other charts and numbers that have absolutely nothing to do with $199/month with no money down and getting you in this car today.

Harvard Economist Dr. Freeman (photo credit: Harvard.edu)

Honda Financial Services CFO Akio Yokohama tacitly agreed with Cardelli, noting that a 2009 Honda Civic still costs just as much as a 2013 model.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Volkswagen Fights Critics with "Increase Your Own Content" Campaign

Chattanooga, TN - Volkswagen of America announced a new ad campaign Wednesday in an attempt to combat rising speculation that broad quality cuts, also known as "decontenting," will tarnish their reputation for quality. The "Increase Your Own Content" campaign will be launched first in Chattanooga, the site of the newest VW plant that currently produces the US-market Passat.

According to marketing intern Hans Gutenmorgen, "To these critics we say, customers must their body size increase to appreciate the larger cars, that produce we will."

Beginning with a series of "Hello, Fattanooga!" billboards, VW hopes to distract potential buyers from the company's cost-cutting measures--such as an anemic 2.5-liter base engine and lower quality interiors--by focusing instead on literally "fitting the customer to the car." With a larger customer base, both in number and physical size, buyers will be more apt to focus on the new Passat's increased seat size, numerous cupholders, and cushier suspension.

Industry analysts have been mixed in their reactions to the news.

"VW has traditionally tried a one-size-fits-all approach to worldwide marketing, something that has resulted in a sub-5% market share in the US," according to an unnamed source at Edmonds.com. "As all fatties know, the 'one size fits all' label can be very misleading. Is 'fatties' still okay to say these days?"

Consumer Reports' head of auto testing, Jim Hondafan, counters that "[VW] has long held the US market in contempt, ignoring the proper 'car appliance' mentality in favor of archaic notions of 'driver engagement' and 'fun.' It's no wonder they've lost so much ground to the Japanese." He continued by citing the increasing size and blandness that have led to decades of success among Asian manufacturers.

Please don't take pics from that angle, it makes my butt look big.

VW has made bold claims in their goal to emulate Toyota's success in the US, despite Toyota's recent troubles with allegations of unintended vehicle acceleration. VW subsidiary Audi had similar problems in the 1980s which were, ironically, a result of Americans' big fat feet awkwardly mashing two pedals at once.

In related news, VW also confirms that their torquey, efficient 2.0 turbodiesel has been a fast-selling option among Passat models. According to an internal press release, the combination of 42mpg highway and 247 lb-ft "moves Americans' cheap, fat asses down the highway with great ease." A manual transmission will not be available, since the company optimistically projects that 75%-80% of their customer base will lose a foot to diabetes over the next decade.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Subaru Offers Greek Vacation for Repeat Buyers

Subaru will soon announce plans to increase their customer loyalty incentives by offering free Greek vacations to all repeat buyers. "Subaru: Visit the Land of Lesbos" encourages owners to take a week-long vacation to the famous Greek island, including airfare, hotel, and the use of a new Subaru Legacy to tour the island.

Customer reactions have been mixed.

WRX owner Travis "T-dawg" Johnson says the vacation sounds "pretty dope," but it's not enough for him to trade his vehicle on a new one. "Dude, I love lesbos, but have you seen the new Rex? It's totally castrated compared to the old one. Besides, I've got like 20 grand worth of mods on my ride and already sold all the stock parts on ebay and NASIOC."

Lesbos: Hot, wet, and sort of fishy-smelling

Former Forester driver Kelli Planche says she experimented with Subarus in college, but it was just a passing fad. "I mostly did it to get the attention of guys. You know, not really something you want to stick with forever. Plus, most of them are kind of weird-looking. But for the right incentive, I'd probably reconsider."

Subaru's Customer Retention department hopes the move will increase customer loyalty--already among the highest in the industry--to unprecedented levels. According to Spokewoman Janine Lavetti, "A lot of people know very little about Subaru or Lesbos, so we're hoping some firsthand experience will increase their appreciation of both."

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Land Rover Suburban Usage Overtakes Off-Road Role

For the first time in company history, British automaker Land Rover now has more vehicles in suburban deployment than in traditional usage, such as third-world charity and religious missions.

Citing data released just last week by the World Transportation Factbook (WTF), the number of Land Rover vehicles currently in use--notably Range Rover, LR3, and LR2--now favors the vehicles' latter-day role as a first-world suburban status symbol. Despite overwhelming data that indicates a high cost of ownership, steep repair bills, and costly parts, most owners have few reservations about owning them. Once claimed to be "The first vehicle ever seen by one-third of the world's population," most modern Land Rovers have taken a position as "The vehicle most often seen by one-third of the world's mechanics."

Land Rover: Terrace-Rated

An Anglican missionary serving in Tanzania, Nevill Chesterfield, is among the traditional users of Land Rovers. "[I've] Never owned a better vehicle in my life," he says loudly of his 1981 Defender 90. "Holds 80 litres of diesel, 15 gallons of water, 3,000 Bibles and rarely struggles through the muddy ruts." Mr. Chesterfield was unable to respond to any further questions, having been rendered temporarily deaf by his 10-minute drive to the nearest village to speak with us.

Marquis Dassad, the Anglo-Yemeni striker for London's Chelsea Football Club, owns a 2010 Range Rover. "Got me some double-deuces [22" wheels], black tint, ten thousand watts of Alpine [stereo system]. I come round, da whole block know I'm all up on it." Mr. Dassad drove his vehicle just 1,200 miles in 2010, never leaving the tarmac of central London. "F*ck da congestion charge, knowutmean?" he continued, gesturing vaguely toward his crotch.

An interesting sub-segment exists, however: American Defender owners. Characterized by their Ray Ban sunglasses, Keen branded shoes, and corduroy pants, these buyers--mostly white males between 36 and 50 years old--both defy and support the new stereotype. On one hand, their yuppie nature means they don't balk at paying $50,000 for a 10-year-old, slightly rusty SUV with solid axles and very little on-road capability. On the other hand, they also attempt to project a rugged simplicity in line with the vehicle itself, despite their spending $5,000 per year on upkeep (for both the vehicle and themselves). Such vehicles are often taken onto dirt trails, but primarily serve as an aimless diversion rather than utilitarian need.

In related news, Werner Herzog is preparing to release his Land Rover documentary, "The Todds Must Be Crazy," the story of suburban Californians Preston Reed and Michael Todd, whose mutual envy of each others' Land Rovers drives both men and their families to the brink of bankruptcy.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Local Man Over-Internalizes Casual Comment About Car

Vero Beach, FL - In response to a passer-by's "Hey, nice Vette. Looks clean." comment, area retiree and Corvette owner Ralph Garrison was overcome with a completely internalized, smug sense of self-satisfaction for the next 20 minutes.

Since first purchasing the 2005 base model Corvette in mid-2005 at a model year closeout deal, Garrison has meticulously paid to have every element of the vehicle maintained, including all optional services recommended by dealers, independent shops, car washes, and random strangers. Although he has spent nearly half of the car's original $72,900 sticker price on maintenance and detailing alone, he nonetheless claims a sense of personal pride and hard work that belies how little work was actually involved in driving the automatic-transmission-equipped vehicle a mere 2,000 miles per year on mainly straight, flat roads.

"She's still purring like a kitten after all this time" Garrison added, tacitly claiming responsibility for the car's condition while refusing to acknowledge the car's 60-year pedigree and tens of millions of dollars of engineering, design, racing, and testing that led to the car's current status. "I guess there's something to be said for the quality of Detroit steel after all," he continued while lovingly patting the car's roof panel which, unbeknownst to him, had already begun detaching at its low-quality welds and would soon remove itself while driving on A1A with the cruise control set to 45mph, leading him to question the sanity of 500-mile oil Amsoil synthetic oil change intervals, 1,000-mile Michelin tire replacements, and, in turn, his entire car ownership habits.

"It just goes to show," Mr. Garrison says, "that a little hard work with your maintenance and care can go a long way. This toy is my own little gift to myself for years of hard work and sacrifice."

Garrison's fortune comes from using his family trust fund to make random investments in the dot-com boom which, completely coincidentally, were still booming at the time of his stock liquidation and 1999 retirement to Florida.

In related news, retired GM CEO Rick Wagoner has been working on his memoirs, entitled "The Best We Could Do: GM's Failure in the Hands of the Ignorant Consumer."