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15 posts from May 2012

May 30, 2012

Has Your Vehicle Been Recalled?

Recalls-thinkstock-139910365Automotive recall alerts are familiar items in the news, but does that mean you should be alarmed if you discover that your vehicle is being recalled? In a nutshell: No. Unless your vehicle is actually exhibiting a serious safety problem, there’s no need to panic. In fact, you should feel relieved, because the dealer is going to repair your car so that it will be safer than it was before. However, if you’re considering buying a used car, you’ll want to ensure any recalls in its history have been repaired before you finalize your purchase.

Continue reading "Has Your Vehicle Been Recalled?" »

M2W Case Study: FIAT of Austin - 63.7% of Vehicles Sold to Women

Lisa-copeland-in-fiatMarketing to Women Case Study: FIAT of Austin Lisa Copeland, General Manager

FIAT of Austin sales numbers are still steadily rising with a startling 63.7% of vehicles sold to women car buyers.

FIAT of Austin sales numbers are still steadily rising with a startling 63.7% of vehicles sold to women car buyers. The FIAT of Austin studio experience is currently the #1 FIAT dealer in the US and opened their doors just last year in March of 2011. Lisa Copeland is the innovative GM who heads up this success, her passion is focused on improving the dealership experience for women, and gaining market-share by focusing on the women car buyer.

Half her dealers — and half her managers — are women, in a business where women often don’t like car shopping. One is not overwhelmed with choices. There are two models: A hatchback and a convertible. They come in six trims. Copeland’s store has sold more than 850 in just over a year.

“In all my years in the car business, I’ve never been so energized,” Lisa Copeland, GM says. “The No. 1 thing people say is they like the experience. No pressure. I don’t want someone to take a FIAT out of here if they don’t love it.”

Continue reading "M2W Case Study: FIAT of Austin - 63.7% of Vehicles Sold to Women " »

May 29, 2012

Ford Holds an "Open House": First Drive of Four Hot Cars

The invitation from Ford Motor Company promised automotive journalists a rare treat: an informal opportunity to just drop in and drive some of the company's hottest new vehicles. Of course, AskPatty was there!

One of the biggest draws was a chance to drive the Ford Focus Electric, which I've had my eye on since seeing it demonstrated at last year's Detroit Auto Show

Focus_Electric_ext
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Continue reading "Ford Holds an "Open House": First Drive of Four Hot Cars" »

May 25, 2012

Tips to Help Drivers Stay Safe on the Road this Memorial Day Weekend

Madd_logoAs families across the country get ready to kick off the summer and honor our military heroes this Memorial Day weekend, MADD urges motorists to stay safe on the road during a time of year when drunk driving deaths typically increase. Over Memorial Day weekend in 2010, 158 people were killed in drunk driving crashes nationwide.

Here are five tips for safe driving over the holiday weekend and year-round:

  1. Plan a safe way home. Arrange a sober ride home, or offer to be the sober designated driver.
  2. Wear a seat belt. Seat belt usage is one of the best ways to stay safe on our roadways.
  3. Don’t call or text. Any form of impaired driving poses a serious threat to those on the road.
  4. Slow down. Respect all posted speed limits.
  5. Be aware. Pay attention to other drivers on the road and avoid those driving erratically.

Law enforcement agencies across the country will be intensifying their efforts over the holiday weekend, so MADD encourages drivers to utilize these tips, which have the power to save lives and prevent injuries.

Get more information about how to spot a drunk driver and what to do, or learn more about MADD’s Campaign to Eliminate Drunk Driving®

 

May 23, 2012

Where Are You Most Likely to Get a Speeding Ticket This Holiday Weekend?

Speeding-ticket(National Motorists Association press release - Waunakee, WI (NMD Newswire) May 22, 2012)

Nothing says "welcome to summer" like an undeserved traffic ticket--especially when you're traveling in another state.

But how do you know which states and cities are most likely to ruin your Memorial Day vacation by issuing you that ticket? States don't track traffic ticket data for all of their jurisdictions. And most municipalities don't want to publicize their ticket-happy ways for fear of being labeled speed traps.

The NMA to the Rescue
Luckily, the National Motorists Association (NMA)--a motorists' rights group that has been helping drivers fight traffic tickets for 30 years--has updated its traffic ticket rankings to give holiday travelers some insight into which locales are most likely to ticket them.

Continue reading " Where Are You Most Likely to Get a Speeding Ticket This Holiday Weekend?" »

May 18, 2012

BMW Girls’ Weekend

BMW Grove ParkThe Grove Park Resort and Spa located in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of western North Carolina has been host to many U.S. presidents but during this past April it was host to a wonderful group of ladies who are passionate about their BMWs.

BMW Car Club of America offers this trip to its female members for a multi day event which includes a day of driving at the BMW Performance center in Greenville, SC, two nights at the Grove Park, lunch at the Biltmore Estate and then a drive back to Greenville through the twisty Blue Ridge Parkway while cruising in the latest luxury and performance BMW has to offer.

A close friend of mine who has participated in this girls trip several years in a row called me last minute and asked if I could join them at the Grove Park, since they had fewer ladies sign up than they did in past years. They have had as many as 72 women in previous years. I jumped at the opportunity. I always enjoy meeting other woman who share the same passion I do for automobiles.

Continue reading "BMW Girls’ Weekend" »

May 16, 2012

How the World Views Teen Drivers

A driver’s license is a big moment in a teen’s life. But it can be a tumultuous time for teen drivers too: lobbying parents for the keys to the family car, managing the distractions that come from sometimes-boisterous passengers and trying to earn respect from every other driver on the road. It certainly takes time and practice to learn how to be a good driver – and teens sometimes suffer from bad stereotypes. Here’s a fun take on how the world views them.

TeenDriver

Audia_net_Pamela__0042_WebSizePamela Reyhan is the manager of digital content strategy at Allstate Insurance Company.  She loves all thingsdigital, is the mother of twin girls and is a former Diet Coke addict.

Mitsubishi's i-MiEV: Living Life Electric

My teenage daughter was not impressed when I pulled up to her school in the Mitsubishi i-MiEV.

"It's kind of funny looking," she sniffed.

I agreed - but in a good way. The i's rounded snout, high domed top and tiny wheels give it a cartoon-y appearance -- but also translate into a comfortable, practical interior with plenty of headroom and cargo space.

I_front_400
I-back_400

But my daughter wasn't convinced. "The door is really light," she added. Of course, the all-electric vehicle weighs about 1,000 pounds less than our family Volvo -- it's been designed to squeeze more range out of a single charge. 

All About Range

Just hours before, Mitsubishi delivered the test vehicle to my home in a truck, which allowed me to begin driving with a full charge. The fleet driver showed me where to find the charging kit and how it works. He also demonstrated how to monitor my range, which was indicated on the dashboard display as 52 miles.

However, that figure was just an estimate. The car's actual range can be affected by driving habits: like which of its three modes you are using, whether or not you're running the air conditioning, radio, USB devices -- or even the outside temperature. Also, Mitsubishi equipped the i-MiEV with a regenerative braking system, which converts motion energy from deceleration into power -- thereby extending the range of the vehicle.

"Planning is key with this vehicle," he said. "Know your route and where you can go if you need a charge."

Obviously, those who switch to electric power are going to have to put a lot more planning into their driving routine. All-electric vehicles like the i-MiEV are not meant for everyone.

Like that of my husband, who was incredulous that the i's range on a single charge is only about 50-60 miles. "That's absolutely useless for me," he scoffed.

This is true. The i is not designed for someone like my husband, who must drive to job sites throughout Southern California. 

But it's not an unreasonable choice for someone like me, who typically drives just 30-40 miles per day (to and from school, running local errands, etc.) I still end up using about a tank of gas per week, which at current California prices runs me about $200 per month. The EPA estimates that the annual energy cost of the Mitsubishi i is just $550 - which in my case, would translate to $1850 per year in fuel savings. Not too shabby.

The initial cost of the car might be a larger hurdle to ownership. The base MSRP is $29,125 -- which is roughly twice the price of a comparable fuel-efficient economy car like Hyundai's Accent or the Nissan Versa. However, there's an available $7,500 Federal tax credit that applies to the purchase of the i-MiEV (which phases out after 200,000 are sold), and several states offer additional credits and rebates which can bring the cost down considerably. 

And of course, electric vehicle owners get the satisfaction of knowing they are helping to reduce carbon emissions.

Driving the Mitsubishi i

119_3045The first thing I noticed when I got the key to the i was that it was an actual key. There's No Prius-type button to push: You start the car the traditional way, by putting the key into the ignition and turning it.

However, you'll have to look at the dashboard display to confirm that the electric engine is on, because it is so unnervingly quiet. That silent engine is something I would have to get used to.

On the other hand, the vehicle's key fob is a technological wonder, which allows you to monitor the battery charging and even to pre-heat or cool the vehicle 30 minutes before you use it.

I found the Mitsubishi-i exceedingly fun to drive. It's responsive and handles well. It may be small, but the electric motor provides powerful torque that translates into quick acceleration for passing larger, slower vehicles or just getting onto the freeway. Its top speed is only 81 mph -- but that's more than I need for the kind of driving I do.

119_3046The model I tested came fully loaded with a rear-view camera, navigation system, bluetooth, and USB port.

But the car was not at all luxurious on the inside. When designing the i, Mitsubishi had to balance between functionality and power usage -- so it's low on features that might affect battery range or add to vehicle weight. There's no option for leather seats, although the higher priced SE trim will get you a leather-wrapped steering wheel and a driver's side seat heater.

The "i" also features just one cupholder in the entire vehicle, which could be an issue if you're driving around with kids.

Charging Issues

Mitsubishi lent me the i-MiEV for three days, and I neglected to carve out a spot for it in my garage prior to its delivery. So I never got a chance to try charging it at home. 

There are different levels of electric charging for the i-MiEV. Had I allowed the battery to drain, a full (level 1) charge using a standard 120 volt electrical outlet would have taken approximately 22 hours. However, if you drive just 20 or 30 miles in a day, you won't need as much time to top off the battery power. And Mitsubishi assures customers that frequent charging doesn't affect the performance of the i-MiEV's advanced lithium ion battery.

EV buyers may want to consider installing a 240-volt (level 2) home charging station that manufacturers recommend - this gets the re-charge time down to about 7 hours.

The vehicle I drove included a third ultra-efficient Level 3 option for delivering an 80% charge in just 30 minutes. Unfortunately, the infrastructure for this CHAdeMO protocol is still being built, and there are no such public charging stations in my area. 

In fact, the public station at my local mall turned out to have an old type of charger that is incompatible with new EV's (which thankfully, are now using a standard protocol).

I ended up taking the "i" on just two separate 20-mile drives (including a stretch on the freeway), with both the A/C and the radio on. The vehicle's display still showed an estimated 30-miles left on that initial charge. 

I think I could do very well with an EV lifestyle. As long as I remember to clean out the garage.

Donna Schwartz Mills is a Los Angeles-based writer who also contributes to CBS Digital Local Los Angeles and her personal site,SoCal Mom.

 
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May 14, 2012

Mary Lou Quinlan on the Automotive Advice for Women Radio Show

MaryLouHeadShotOn last week's Automotive Advice for Women Radio Show, Jody was joined by Mary Lou Quinlan, and they had a great and engaging conversation about marketing to women and Mary Lou's new book, The God Box.

Mary Lou Quinlan has built a highly-awarded career dedicated to women. From her start at Avon Products, through her years as ad agency CEO for major global corporations, and her decade plus advising leading brands through her firm, Just Ask a Woman, Mary Lou knows women like nobody else. Leading brands including Pfizer, WellsFargo, WalMart, KAO, Westin and Kraft have turned to her branding team for insights and answers that fuel success with women.

Mary Lou is a highly sought speaker who has keynoted hundreds of US and global conferences, sharing her provocative and high-energy take on women’s needs and lives.

Continue reading "Mary Lou Quinlan on the Automotive Advice for Women Radio Show" »

Graff Chevrolet Getting Facebook Right with Moms

Graff Chevrolet_LogoGraff Chevrolet is proud to serve the auto dealership needs of cities such as Bay City, Midland, Saginaw, Mount Pleasant, Essexville, Pinconning, Coleman, Sanford, Carrollton, Frankenmuth, St. Charles, Birch Run, and Zilwaukee. They provide exceptional customer service, a warm and friendly environment, are heavily involved in community events and recently completed their training to become AskPatty.com Certified Female Friendly®.

Note: The population of Bay City Michigan is 33,780.

Case Study

Graff Chevrolet Cutest BabyEvent: Facebook initiative aimed at reaching women and families to build stronger brand perception of Graff Chevrolet as a welcoming family friendly place to shop for and maintain their cars.

Event Name: Cutest Baby Photo Contest

Link to Contest Baby Photo's on Graff Chevrolet Facebook Page.

Launched: March 26, 2012 - April 2nd 2012

Promoted through Facebook, Twitter and Word of Mouth

Results

1. Facebook Fan Base grew from 960 to over 3600, a gain of 2600 during the 7 days of the initiative

2. Capture of over 2600 new opt-in new contacts for women to send follow up marketing and advertising

3. Sold 2 New Family oriented vehicles

4. Highest level achieved in interactions with women on Facebook

5. Low attrition rate of new Facebook fans gained during initiative (-70 in 30 days)

Quote from Lisa Kusey-Rechsteiner Graff Chevrolet, Inc. General Manager on the success of the initiative:

"We weren't really sure what to expect.  We knew that the Great Lakes Bay Region has many adorable babies, but weren't sure as to how many photos would be entered into the contest.  What a terrific community turn out!  We received over 560 baby photos to enter into the contest.  Many of these photos still receive daily visits and
comments on Facebook yet today, which is two weeks after the contest conclusion.  This couldn't have been facilitated without the help of our internal T.E.C. (text, email, call) Center and our website company Xspond out of Brighton, Michigan."

Congratulations to Graff Chevrolet!

Jody DeVere
CEO, AskPatty.com