Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Ford’s Global Think Tank

Wednesday, September 30th, 2015

Excerpt from Motor Matters:

Ford: A Global Think Tank

“Looking Further With Ford” is the automaker’s yearly trends conference, which explores global micro-trends.
Sheryl Connelly, manager global consumer trends and futuring for Ford Motor Company, addresses changes across the globe and demographics with issues that confront everyone, from Gen Y (millennial), Gen X, and Baby Boomers, to the new Gen Z.
Connelly notes “New forms of mobility and collaborative platforms are emerging every day. At Ford, we are always mindful of the blueprint for sustainability, and the need to push the change as much as to adapt to it. You’ll see that in the products that Ford introduces.”
I have known Sheryl over the years and consider her a major force in the automotive industry. She is sharp, energetic, fashion forward, fun, and open minded. Sheryl is a motivator for change. I conducted the following interview.

Holly Reich: How do you source your micro-trends? Do you travel around the world, use the Internet for ideas, or source through Pinterest, Houzz, etc.?

Sheryl Connelly: Although the micro-trend book is published on an annual basis, each edition is built on over a decade of Ford’s trend research, which focuses on consumer values, attitudes, and behaviors. As we develop new trends, we draw upon this historical foundation, and then vet the concepts with thought leaders, academics, and subject-matter experts from around the world.


Mazda MX-5 Miata makes Fortune magazine

Wednesday, October 1st, 2014

OK. I have bragging rights on this! Mazda MX-5

Monday quote: Procrastination

Monday, June 9th, 2014

“One thing that’s good about procrastination is that you always have something planned for tomorrow.”

~ G.B. Stern

2013 Jeep Wrangler Moab

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Special to Bumper to Bumper
Automotive Journalist

If you drive around in a 2013 Jeep Wrangler two-door with a canvas top you can expect to get a lot of second looks. The experts agree. For the third year in a row, the Wrangler was the ‘Hottest 4×4 SUV’ at the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) trade show in Las Vegas.

Our test vehicle was a glossy black Wrangler Moab Edition. On the outside, the Moab is super confident looking. Features like the iconic round headlamps, a bold seven-slot grille, removable doors, exposed hinges, a fold-down windshield and 17.5-inch black painted aluminum wheels and flat black fender flares, are what separates the Jeep Wrangler from any other auto on the road.

Style carries into the simple but eye-catching cabin of the Wrangler. Our Moab edition had cushy black leather seats and high-end additions including a chrome and leather wrapped shift knob. As for the back seat— it was totally do-able if you don’t mind hauling yourself up and in. Obviously, the two-door version Wrangler is not your ride if you have kids with car seats.

This is a vehicle to have fun in. The three-section canvas top offers a choice of open-air experiences. Peel off the front portion and have a sunroof, or heft the whole top back to make your Jeep into a convertible.

While you can’t expect the Jeep Wrangler to ride like a luxury SUV, you can expect it to cover all kinds of ground, from crowded city streets to uncharted off-road areas. The Wrangler is not your sedan-like cushy ride. It would not be my choice if I wanted a low mileage ride (mpg is 17-mpg city and 21-mpg highway) and I drove long distances on a daily basis. So, it’s not my choice for a vehicle that I would drive long distances on a daily basis.

However, if you crave adventure, want a vehicle that is easy to load up with groceries or gear, and you desire the joy of a convertible with the heft of a Jeep, the Wrangler rules.

Pricing starts at $22,195 for the Sport and goes up to $30,495 for the Rubicon.

Women Weigh in on The auto Industry

Monday, July 9th, 2012
Heels & Wheels: Women’s Insights on the Auto Industry

Special to Bumper to Bumper

“We don’t have to worry about wearing Spanx here!” was one of the opening remarks at the second annual Heels & Wheels gathering in San Diego, California. The event, founded by Christine Overstreet, an automotive events consultant, was created for women—journalists and manufacturers—to get together and exchange ideas.

“The camaraderie, the energy and the atmosphere are so different than any other program,” noted Overstreet. “The energy is simply magnificent. This year was exceptional as we had so many facts and figures that prove women are the buying power – it’s a really exciting time for women.”

Female representatives from Buick, Cadillac, Chrysler, Dodge, Hyundai, Jaguar, Kia, Range Rover, Mazda, Mitsubishi and VW attended.

I asked the following questions of the quorum:
Do you think it’s helpful to have an all-women’s car industry gig?

Women often represent the largest group of buyers (depending on segment), but go to market with different considerations than men. We also do research and make purchase decisions via some different resources at different stages in the consideration process (social media, blogs, for example). Events such as Heels & Wheels provides a forum for discussion hosting a variety of women from different types of media outlets, all with pointed interests specific to the female audience.

-Amanda Savercool, Public Relations, Mitsubishi Motors North America

Although women might not match the “gear head enthusiast” mentality of their male counterparts, women do care about vehicles, whether they’re the passenger or the driver. They care about power and safety and gadgets and price just as much as anyone else. It’s insightful to hear what they have to say about our products and the industry as a whole.

-Beverly Braga, Product Communications Mazda USA

When I started there was only a small number of women in the automotive industry; since then, we see women entering in all areas of the business – not just HR, but marketing, engineering, product planning and senior management. The Heels and Wheels event serves as a balance to a lot of automotive industry meetings that tend to be very male dominated.

-Marine Prache, Product Planning Manager, Jaguar North America

Creating an environment for automotive industry females to discuss the merits of female focused marketing is a positive.

-Deborah Sandford, National Communications Events Manager, Jaguar Land Rover North America

It’s nice to get to know women in the industry better and spend some time focusing on the people behind the cars in addition to the vehicles we manufacture.

-Kathy Graham, Product PR Manager – C and D Segment Vehicles, Chrysler Group

Buick was a proud sponsor of the 2012 Heels and Wheels! The event provided an opportunity to participate in candid conversations with a diverse group of automotive experts about the significant steps Buick has made as a luxury brand and how the Buick Verano is drawing new buyers into the showroom.

-Katie Maltais, Buick Communications

With nearly 50 percent of women purchasing vehicles and having increased spending power, Heels & Wheels is an excellent forum to focus on the desires and requirements that affect a woman’s purchase decision. This knowledge is brought back to Kia and integrated into the development and design process.

-Kathleen Zimmerman, Manager, Brand Marketing Plans & Research, Kia Motors America

Participating in the Heels & Wheels all-women car industry event provided insights, feedback and networking with women working at automakers and media outlets that no other auto industry events provide. It was a refreshing change of pace listening to this group of leading automotive women exchange ideas, thought leadership and their expertise on the vehicles provided for test drives and the discussions during the sessions.

-Jody DeVere, CEO

How do you think women will impact style, growth and focus in the future of the automotive industry?

I believe we will see the dealership experience growing as the family model changes. More and more women will be the prime household shopper going forwards, and, because of their different interests, they will look for a new salesperson approach.

-Deborah Sandford, National Communications Events Manager, Jaguar Land Rover North America

It’s not a matter of how or will women impact the automotive industry – because they already do. It’s a matter of the industry further evolving – whether in product development, marketing, sales, etc. – to the ever-changing consumer market. The industry has to adapt – from the sketchpad to the end product and all the processes in between – to be better and smarter in order to provide all consumers with the right products and services to fit their needs.

-Beverly Braga, Product Communications Mazda USA

Women either directly make, or have a large say, in at least half of all new-vehicle purchases. Women tend to focus on different key purchase decisions than men – they tend to have a greater sensibility toward style, luxury and safety, and also the conflicting considerations of practicality and value. Looking forward, this evolving customer will also have an impact on how vehicles are designed, and how they are presented to women through marketing channels.

-Marine Prache, Product Planning Manager, Jaguar North America

Women have more purchase and decision-making power than ever. From the automaker’s side, more women than ever are playing an integral role in the planning, designing and engineering of vehicles. The future result of this dichotomy is an automotive marketplace full of offerings influenced by women and to be driven by women.

-Kathleen Zimmerman, Manager, Brand Marketing Plans & Research, Kia Motors America

At Chrysler Group we take a lot of pride in the fact that the folks that design, engineer and build our vehicles represent the customers that buy our vehicles. Women influence roughly 80 percent of vehicle purchase decisions. We have women in roles that influence the design, engineering and building of the vehicles. As more and more women work their way into decision-making positions with manufacturers, it helps give voice to what women customers are looking for in their vehicle.

-Kathy Graham, Product PR Manager – C and D Segment Vehicles, Chrysler Group

When a larger percent of women participate in all phases of new vehicle design and decision making teams, I believe we will see a shift to designs and features that women will find more appealing. I saw this presented beautifully in several of the vehicles I test drove during the event: the 2013 Dodge Dart specifically was one of my favorites, of which women participated in much of the design. My bet is that women will absolutely love this new vehicle.

-Jody DeVere, CEO

The auto industry faces an extremely dynamic and challenging future as the expectations and demands of consumers continue to evolve. Today and in the future, all consumers expect improvements in safety, performance, efficiency and technology; all while expecting vehicles to continue to meet their expectations for quality and style. Furthermore, in this age of reconsideration, consumers, luxury and mainstream, are increasingly more aware and conscious of how they spend each dollar, and are constantly looking for value.

-Katie Maltais, Buick Communications

Which vehicle (or vehicles) did you bring to represent your company?

Mitsubishi 2012 Outlander GT

This is a compact SUV often considered for those researching dynamic stability control (DSC). In this segment, Mitsubishi Motors’ All-Wheel Control is highly regarded as the best in its class. For a lot of people, it’s important that this system has cultivated buyers through its Mitsubishi Motors’ motorsports activities and long history in rally racing. For ideal driving every time a driver corners, turns or stops, this technology brings out the utmost performance in all 4 tires and enables the driver to experience dynamic acceleration while clinging to the road.
Plenty of women will appreciate the performance aspect (as well as their husbands or partners), but also important to female buyers is the AWC system’s contribution to safety. Safety and performance – which leads to another reason we came with the Outlander GT. The Outlander GT starts at $27,895.00 with a long list of no-cost standard features and convenient amenities that help to make this crossover utility vehicle live up to the term “a lot of car for the money.”

-Amanda Savercool, Mitsubishi Motors North America

Mazda 2013 CX-5

I brought along the all-new 2013 CX-5 compact crossover SUV. It’s the first Mazda vehicle to fully embrace our SKYACTIV TECHNOLOGY philosophy that vehicles can be both highly fuel efficient and incessantly fun. The CX-5 also has best-in-class fuel economy – including the highest highway MPG of any SUV (hybrid or not) – and a number of awards including IIHS Top Safety Pick.

-Beverly Braga, Product Communications Mazda USA

2012 Buick Verano

As the newest vehicle in the Buick showroom, the Verano is the latest example of the attention to detail, design, quality and technology Buick offers today in new modern, luxury vehicles. The Verano also demonstrates how Buick is expanding the portfolio into new segments and appealing to a broader array of customers, resulting in two consecutive years of positive sales gains.

-Katie Maltais, Buick Communications

2012 Jaguar XJ

We wanted to offer a model that would exemplify the luxury and comfort of the Jaguar brand. The 2012 Jaguar XJ Sedan is our pinnacle luxury sedan, with six model variants including standard and long-wheelbase (XJL) versions, the latter adding an additional five inches of rear legroom. The XJ’s interior is among the most luxurious ever offered in a Jaguar, blending a wide choice of leather and wood finishes with the latest infotainment technology.

-Marine Prache, Product Planning Manager, Jaguar North America

2012 Range Rover Evoque

The Evoque is the newest vehicle in the Land Rover line-up and is extremely versatile and functional, which we felt would appeal to the female audience at the Heels and Wheels event. The 2012 Range Rover Evoque is the smallest, lightest, most fuel efficient Range Rover ever produced. It is available in two versions: a coupe and a five-door, equipped with all-wheel drive and features a 240-horsepower, turbocharged, direct fuel injected, four-cylinder engine coupled to a six-speed automatic transmission.

-Deborah Sandford, National Communications Events Manager, Jaguar Land Rover North America

2013 Kia Sorrento SX

Kia Motors brought the 2013 Kia Sorento SX, an award-winning CUV that has been named to Kelley Blue Book’s coveted “10 Best Family Cars” list for 2011 and 2012 and lauded for its outstanding drivability, functionality, refinement and comfort. We felt it was a perfect blend of style, function and refinement for women looking for the whole package when vehicle shopping.

-Kathleen Zimmerman, Manager, Brand Marketing Plans & Research, Kia Motors America

2013 Dodge Dart, Chrysler 300, Chrysler 200 Convertible

We brought three vehicles for different reasons. The first is the all-new 2013 Dodge Dart. It’s an all-new vehicle in a segment Dodge has not competed in for the past 7 years. The compact car segment is a very competitive segment in the marketplace, and women, in addition to influencing roughly 80 percent of all car-buying decisions, are a large part of the compact car buying public. The Dart also is the first vehicle resulting from Chrysler Group’s partnership with Fiat, so it is a very important launch for the company; it was important to us to have the journalists attending spend some time in the car. The second car we brought was the Chrysler 300 with the V-6 Pentastar engine mated to the new 8-speed automatic transmission. The 300 is a great car that has been made even better with the addition of the 8-speed transmission. Buyers can have all the benefits of a large car with luxury appointments, but get the fuel economy of a mid-size sedan. The 300 with the 8-speed transmission is rated at 31 miles per gallon highway so this event was a great opportunity for us to help spread the word.
Last, but not least, we brought the Chrysler 200 Convertible. May in San Diego is perfect convertible weather, and the Chrysler 200 Convertible is one of the few convertibles that seats four adults comfortably. We wanted to remind folks how fun a convertible can be to drive on a gorgeous sunny day and the great thing with the 200 Convertible is you don’t have to sacrifice cargo space or bring folks with you on the drive. We thought bringing the 200 convertible would add a little extra fun to the day of driving.

-Kathy Graham Product PR Manager – C and D Segment Vehicles
Chrysler Group Media Relations

Focus Daily News

Laugh on…

Wednesday, February 1st, 2012

Laughter is the closest distance between two people.

Victor Borge

New post about iphones that act like keyfobs

Tuesday, August 10th, 2010

Check it out! Uptown Magazine

Quote for the day

People of accomplishment rarely sat back and let things happen to them.

They went out and happened to things.

-Leonardo Da Vinci