Wednesday Snippets – Autoblog made me sick!

Autoblog almost made me physically ill with this image.
alfa-300.jpg
I know this isn’t going to happen, but it is symptomatic of how important brand management can be.
I don’t have anything against the 300C, per se, but as a former Alfa owner and lover of the brand, I must say that I do fear for my favourite little Italians.
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The case for Cash For Clunkers, from Jim Cramer, via Autoblog:

  1. If the total price tag of C4C is $4 to $5 billion dollars, big deal – we spent more than that on Corn Flakes in Iraq.
  2. General Motors and Chrysler are already welfare queens, at least C4C lets them move some metal.
  3. C4C gives Ford, which Cramer calls “the most important auto company with the best lineup of fuel-efficient cars” a chance to stop burning cash, offer refinancing and perhaps equity offers (i.e. offer some common stock).
  4. The environment will be cleaner – “We are doing something good against global warming.”

The case against Cash for Clunkers, from Pete De Lorenzo, the AutoExtremist:

When GM jump-started the auto business – and the nation’s economy – after 9/11 with its “Keep America Rolling” campaign, it was a boon to the industry and to the economic mood of the nation. And it worked well. Too well when it came right down to it. Invigorated by the awe-inspiring sales numbers, GM marketers adopted a strategy that would use the artificially compelling aura of “the deal” to crush its competition in the market, move the metal and grab points of share.
But what was a noble gesture after 9/11 turned into a nightmare in short order. After that, when consumers thought of American cars, their thoughts turned only to the size and scope of the deal.

I can see both sides.
The industry needed stimulation, for sure, but having heard about the Keep America Rolling campaign and having witnessed the “Employee Pricing for Everyone” for myself, experience tells me that De Lorenzo’s right.
This is going to reinforce ‘the deal’ instead of push what car companies need to push for the long term health of the sector – i.e. the product.
I have a feeling that like the Employee Pricing incentives, this one is going to bring a lot of sales forward and create some pain again later in the year.
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Jalopnik have an excellent post today:
The 25 most useful car technologies.
Essential reading.
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And finally, from Flickr, an old postcard photo of a Saab dealer in St Louis, circa 1970-something (I’d guess 1973).
StLouisSaabDealership.jpg
Is that a black vinyl roof on that Saab 99????

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