Alfa Romeo 100. Where to?

September 8th, 2010 § 3

This year Alfa Romeo celebrates 100 years since the company was founded as A.L.F.A (Anonima Lombarda Fabbrica Automobili) on June 24, 1910.
During this time Alfa Romeo became one of the most known, celebrated, loved and admired brands in the automotive world. For most of its history Alfa Romeo was a leader, always at the forefront of technology and design, through innovative thinking and a commitment to engage its customers into enlightening and memorable experiences.
Today the famous company is at crossroads, fighting for survival… » Read the rest of this entry «

Who is the New Old BMW?

August 12th, 2010 § 7

A good question for designers, marketers and product planners.
Three to four decades ago BMW was a small, independent company making a very limited number of models, practically one design in three sizes, complemented by a very small production of coupes, substantially derived from sedans. From the business point of view it made sense and there was nothing particular there, with one exception: not just the coupes, but also the sedans were sporty, making them special in a world where sedans meant transportation and nothing more. That gave the BMW brand an edge over the competition. » Read the rest of this entry «

The state of design [2]

July 27th, 2010 § 8

From time to time I find in different places on the internet, posts or articles about design and the condition of the designer, how the designers are viewed and treated, and how that influences a business and its brand image.
But what is design? From Wikipedia:
“No generally-accepted definition of ‘design’ exists, and the term has different connotations in different fields. Informally, ‘a design’ (noun) refers to a plan for the construction of an object (as in architectural blueprints, circuit diagrams and sewing patterns) and ‘to design’ (verb) refers to making this plan“…”With such a broad denotation, there is no universal language or unifying institution for designers of all disciplines. This allows for many differing philosophies and approaches toward the subject.”
This reality, reflected in the above definition, is actually creating the issue these posts or articles are bringing up: what is the role of the designer in an organization, how designers are viewed and treated and how all this influences the company’s brand image. » Read the rest of this entry «

The Standard of the World

July 15th, 2010 § 3

Is there a “Standard of the World” in the automotive industry today?
“The Standard of the World” slogan was associated with the Cadillac brand for many years.
Cadillac was founded in 1902 by Henry M.Leland, a machinist, inventor, engineer and automotive entrepreneur with a rich experience in toolmaking, metrology and manufacturing. The new company was born from the remnants of the Henry Ford Company which supposed to be liquidated but, at the advice of Leland, who was hired to appraise the plant, was reorganized and named after Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac, the founder of the city of Detroit.
In 1909 General Motors purchased Cadillac, making it its prestige division, devoted to the production of large luxury vehicles. » Read the rest of this entry «

BMW design

June 14th, 2010 § 3

The new designs from BMW reveal a return to its more conservative styling, reflecting better who BMW as a company is and how the products fit the intended consumers. Honestly I’m a little surprised by the silence of both, the media and the consumers, around the release of the new 7 and 5 series models. They are both handsome designs and fit very well the company’s image. » Read the rest of this entry «

Renault-Nissan-Daimler alliance

May 28th, 2010 § 4

Soon after the alliance was officially confirmed, Automotive News published an article called “ Brand-image killer or sensible move? Analysts debate merits of Renault-Nissan-Daimler alliance” where several quotes were posted. Among them I found interesting two comments:

“…We keep our skeptical stance on Daimler, also with regard to a possible dilution of the brand”
MICHAEL PUNZET, DZ BANK

“Fundamentally, this is really a deal between Daimler and Renault. The number of (Nissan luxury unit) Infiniti cars that can take Daimler’s engines is extremely limited. I can’t see a clear picture of a meaningful cooperation between Nissan and Daimler. It seems Nissan has just been roped in for the money. I can appreciate the attempt by the partners to look for synergies and go into this cooperation, but when it comes down to it, you can’t help but ask, ‘Where’s the beef?’”
TAKAKI NAKANISHI, ALLIANCE BERNSTEIN, SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT » Read the rest of this entry «

Bob Lutz, again?

May 27th, 2010 § 0

Recently Bob Lutz retired from his post as vice chairman of General Motors after a 47-year career, including executive positions at BMW, Ford and Chrysler.

Bob was a bigger-than-life personality known for his outspoken character, blunt at times, and very good talent to inspire and, often, provoke. For sure he was a very controversial figure in the automotive industry. Reading blogs, forums and various articles on the internet, the opinions can’t be more diverse.
Bob Lutz was a brand himself with a very powerful image. » Read the rest of this entry «

The state of design [1]

May 26th, 2010 § 7

Do cars look as good today as they looked in the past?

Recently, in several magazine and website articles I found comments of automotive journalists and simple car enthusiasts talking about the car design of the previous decade. They were not very excited about it and overall the opinion was that car design didn’t reach the levels of the previous decades.
Most of the last ten years represented an economic boom which, by definition, means a period when companies spend more than normal to develop and expand their products. It’s the time when innovation gets much more attention. That’s when one would expect a large number of very exciting designs to come to the market. It is interesting, if not strange then, to hear people saying that in the last decade car design was not as exciting as before. What happened? Is this true? » Read the rest of this entry «

Chrysler & Fiat

May 25th, 2010 § 4

The collaboration between Chrysler and the Italians dates back many decades. From proposals made by Ghia in the ‘50s, to Chryslers made by Maserati, and Chrysler owning Lamborghini in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s.

Today, Chrysler is in the hands of Fiat and its future is, after the Marchionne’s five year plan was released at the end of April, still unknown.

Looking at details of the plan and reading about it in various publications one element came to my attention. Seen as an internal business plan, it makes sense. It’s all about, as Automotive News writes, an “effort to weave together the companies’ product development, purchasing and other operations for maximum efficiencies of scale”. There is perhaps nothing mentioned about the external perceptions of the two organizations. » Read the rest of this entry «

Management 3.0

May 24th, 2010 § 0

When Detroit is criticized for falling behind the competition, besides closed culture, provincialism, unions, short sight and others, two words are always mentioned: poor management.

The fact that the “Detroit 3” had a poor management is very well known and the very situation the three corporations find themselves in is an undeniable proof of that. In the last 3-4 decades poor management became practically part of their brand image.

If they had a better management, would that have helped them? My answer is yes, but it would have helped just slightly, not enough to be competitive. The problem with all three corporations is that they still have in place a management at the 1.0 level. When most of everybody else is at 2.0 that shows that they have no chance to compete even if all the other problems are fixed. » Read the rest of this entry «