techshake

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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Chevy Volt Price Confirmed at $41,000

By Chris Haak

We’re not quite sure why this is even news today, since former GM vice chairman Bob Lutz told reporters two years ago, in 2008, that the Chevy Volt would sell for about $40,000 before the $7,500 federal tax credit.  But as the Volt’s fall 2010 launch date approaches, the company has confirmed that Lutz’s prediction proved true.  At that time, Lutz also noted that the Volt in its first generation would blow past its cost target by some $10,000, or 33 percent over the $30,000 bogey at the time the program’s development began.

Why is the Volt so expensive, when a new Prius goes for about half the price with similar interior space (actually, the Prius seats five, and the Volt seats only four) and an all-electric Nissan Leaf goes for $32,780?  And why should you consider a Volt over a Prius or Leaf?

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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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Can Transformers 3 Help NASCAR Transform Its Image?
Jul15

Can Transformers 3 Help NASCAR Transform Its Image?

By Charles Krome

Frankly, I’m not much of a Transformers guy. I was a bit too old to watch the cartoons, and the acting skills of Megan Fox notwithstanding, I watched but didn’t get much out of the first Michael Bay movie. Needless to say, I passed on the second altogether.

On the other hand, I am an old-school NASCAR fan, who grew up cheering for the likes of Bobby Allison, Richard Petty and David Pearson back in the 1970s. True, my interest in the sport shrank as NASCAR itself grew to become a multi-billion-dollar spec-racing series in more recent years, but it never disappeared entirely.

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Making Sense of the Toyota/Tesla Deal
Jul13

Making Sense of the Toyota/Tesla Deal

By Charles Krome

When you think about it, Elon Musk’s decision to name his electric sports-car company after Nikola Tesla made for a perfect match. Tesla, the scientist, was originally known for his groundbreaking research into electricity and electromagnetism, but his later years were taken up by lawsuits, constant battles to get his projects funded and an increasingly eccentric personal life.

Needless to say, it doesn’t take much creative license to apply that template to Musk, which would seem to make Tesla, the automaker, an odd choice for a Toyota investment. Yet back in May, Toyota ponied up $50 million and the NUMMI plant in California to partner with Tesla on future products, with the future arriving a lot quicker than most people thought.

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