techshake

The Chevrolet Volt and the Price of Success
Aug03

The Chevrolet Volt and the Price of Success

By Charles Krome

On the odd chance Techshake readers haven’t yet heard, GM will be launching a new, extended-range electric vehicle in a few months, with that product slated to offer both a 40-mile all-electric range and the ability to go a further 300 miles by leveraging an on-board, gas-powered generator.

Now, the Chevrolet Volt is far from perfect, but it surely doesn’t deserve the vitriol being spewed in its direction by certain members of the media. I mean, some of these people seem to think the Volt rollout will be the worst thing to happen to this country since the BP oil disaster.

Take the Volt’s sticker price. Sure, $41,000 looks kind of steep, and for some of the GM haters, the federal tax credit of $7,500 only makes things worse. For these people, the car is priced artificially low, preventing the free market from determining the Volt’s fate. On the other hand, other analysts claim the Volt is priced too high and that GM should be following the strategy used by Toyota when it introduced the Prius. When that car first went on sale, the automaker sold it at a $15,000-per-vehicle loss to ensure it would be popular, giving up short-term profits for long-term success.

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Volvo Pegs the Naughtymeter
Jul30

Volvo Pegs the Naughtymeter

By Charles Krome

A recent study in cultural anthropology sought to evaluate human behavior in five different European capitals to determine which city was the “naughtiest.”  The outcome was announced on July 28 and, unsurprisingly, the winner was Paris. More surprising: The whole thing was actually part of a Volvo marketing campaign.  For the full version of the lead photo in this story, click here.

Yep, those wacky Swedes are still at it.

In my very first piece for Techshake, I took a look at how Volvo is trying to widen its appeal by developing unexpected marketing campaigns aimed at attracting new customers. In that story, I mentioned the automaker’s efforts to reach the much-coveted vampire segment through some nifty product placement work in the latest “Twilight” movie.

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2011 Ford Explorer: Redefining the SUV
Jul27

2011 Ford Explorer: Redefining the SUV

By Charles Krome

Okay, I’m calling Ford’s bluff. The all-new 2011 Ford Explorer, as impressive as it is, is simply not an SUV. Or maybe this is just what Ford means by “redefining” the segment.

Think about it this way: The classic definition of an SUV, although perhaps hard to pin down in its particulars, has long revolved around things like body-on-frame construction, towing capacity, off-road capabilities and (lack of) fuel efficiency. But it’s obvious from reading the Explorer press releases that Ford is working off a different vocabulary list. In fact, going through the marketing materials is a near-Orwellian experience.

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Rally on Sunday, Sell on Monday
Jul23

Rally on Sunday, Sell on Monday

By Charles Krome

There are plenty of good reasons why Ford has reclaimed its place as one of the top automakers in the U.S., but one that sometimes gets short shrift is the company’s efforts to unify its global product offerings. So going forward, instead of having to spend the resources needed to support two entirely separate Focus lines, one in the U.S. and one in Europe, the company is going to take advantage of the economies of scale that come with building just one.

Unsurprisingly, the practical effect of this will be that many of the U.S. Fords will be replaced with their European counterparts—not the other way around. It actually started when Ford began importing the Transit Connect, and we’ll soon see the European Fiesta introduced on our shores, followed by the European Focus.

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Chevrolet Launches New Corvette Ad
Jul19

Chevrolet Launches New Corvette Ad

By Charles Krome

About six years ago, in what seemed to me like another gratuitous anti-Detroit effort, auto safety watchdogs convinced GM to pull its latest Corvette commercial. The spot, showing a young boy hooning it up in a ‘Vette while his schoolmates gaped in astonishment, was knocked for encouraging underaged, over-the-top driving, though the scenes were clearly—clearly—meant to be the product of the kid’s imagination.

And that was pretty much the last time you saw a Corvette commercial on TV—until late last week. That’s when Chevrolet debuted a new ad showcasing the Corvette ZR1, with a suitably patriotic “It’s nice to know America still builds rockets” tag line.

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