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9 posts from January 2014

January 31, 2014

Ford Looks at the Female Frontier and Other Micro-Trends for 2014

“It takes three years to take a vehicle to market,” explained Sheryl Connelly, Global Consumer Trends and Futuring at Ford. ”What most of us don't know is that one of the tools we use to bring it to market is micro-trends.”

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“What’s a micro-trend?” we asked. Connelly explained that they have a shorter life than big trends and serve as a more accurate way of determining how people think, act, feel and …spend.

For instance, did you know that worldwide, the average cell phone user checks their phone 150 times a day? 

How about this? 62% of adults globally agree that, when people react positively to things they share on social media, they feel better about themselves.

These are just a couple of the hundreds of insights that Ford researched to create the 2nd annual edition of 10 Trends for 2014.

You may ask: what does this have to do with cars?  Everything from the way they are designed marketed and priced to (more obviously) the technology.

To follow, five of Ford’s future micro-trends:
1. Female Frontier: On a global basis, women are changing the dialogue around gender roles. With increasing prominence in politics and the work force, women are even changing the rules of marriage and having children. 66% of men and women agree that the world would be a better place if men thought more like women. As Obama said in his recent State of the Union speech, “When women succeed, America succeeds.”

Insights:
Take a look around Ford’s corporate structure and you will find women ruling in areas including; technology, marketing, strategy, design and engineering. Ford understands how important it is to have women behind the building of new vehicles. After all, women are over 85% of the buying decisions for cars in the US.

2. Micro-moments: The ADD of wanting to do it all in less time. Media snacking is the word for packing in as much as we can in 24 hours. From two minutes in the grocery store checkout to five minutes between meetings, downtime is disappearing.

Insights:
Innovations like Kickstarter ( fundraising), Groupons (deals on everything) and Rent the Runway (leasing designer clothes for as little as $20), are changing the business model.
Just six years after launching Ford SYNC, the company has delivered more than 10 million vehicles equipped with the hands-free, voice-activated command system. Among other things, the SYNC system controls mobile phones, digital music players, reads your incoming text messages and can provide audio versions of favorite articles from a host of magazines and newspapers.

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3. Old School: Romanticizing how things used to be, we find comfort and connection in brands, craftsmanship, products and experiences that evoke nostalgia. People are looking back to find meaning. 82% of Americans agree that vintage products have more character than new products.

Insights:
The Ford Mustang hits 50 in 2014!  Since the pony’s reveal in 1964, over 9 million Mustangs have been sold. From the racetrack to movies, music and toys, this popular car has become a noted part of pop culture. The nostalgic Mustang has created such a passionate following that more than 600 Mustang enthusiast clubs exist globally. 

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4. Sustainability Blues: While going green may protect 30% of the earth’s surface, the other 70% is water. The world is starting to pay more attention to water. For example, Levi launched their Water

Insights:
For over a decade, Ford has been committed to decreasing its water footprint by applying water-saving initiatives globally. The company has reduced water usage in everything from cooling towers to parts washing and paint operations, resulting in a 62 percent reduction in global water consumption. This has also saved 10.6 gallons of H2O – that’s enough to fill 16.000 Olympic pools!

5. Fomo/Jomo: The fear of missing out and the joy of missing out: We have unlimited choice of when, where and how we spend our time. Car technologies for connectivity obviously help us stay connected but, truthfully, are we getting too addicted?

Insights:
Phantom vibration: We are so accustomed to waiting for vibration (ring-xiety) that it has become a reality. Nearly 90 percent of college grads in a 2012 US study said they felt phantom vibrations.
Cell phone stacking (yes, piling your mobiles on the table) is becoming a way to help people ensure an environment free of distraction when they socialize at bars and restaurants. The gig—the first person to pick up their phone picks up the tab for the table!

To keep up with Ford’s Trends on twitter visit #fordtrends

January 27, 2014

Hyundai Offers Family Flexibility with 2014 Santa Fe and Santa Fe Sport

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2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Long Wheelbase

Moms shopping for a utility vehicle sometimes need help deciding whether they need two rows or three to accommodate their family. Sometimes two rows is sufficient, but other times, even a family of four may need three rows to bring along friends -- or just to keep feisty kids apart. Hyundai can accommodate both needs by offering families a choice between a long-wheelbase six/seven-passenger three-row Santa Fe sport utility vehicle or a slightly smaller five-passenger, two-row Santa Fe Sport crossover utility vehicle.

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2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport

Aside from the size difference inside and out (and the extra row in the larger vehicle), styling and design across both models is similar. Hyundai designers crafted Santa Fe Sport and three-row Santa Fe together, with the primary differentiating element being the side window shape: the larger Santa Fe side windows highlight the increased passenger and cargo room behind the third-row seat. Choosing between the two vehicles ultimately comes down to the buyer’s size and budget requirements.

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January 23, 2014

All-New Family Friendly 2014 Toyota Highlander Travels the High Road

2014_Toyota_Highlander_frontviewBy Sue Mead

I had a difficult choice to make recently: to travel to Detroit, Michigan, in the dead of winter to hear some new car news and attend a few holiday parties, or travel to sunny Carmel Valley, California, to try out the all-new 2014 Toyota Highlander

Hailing from a cold clime, of course the warmth of coastal California appealed to me, but I was also very excited to take a look at the third-generation Highlander, a mid-sized crossover SUV made by the Japanese brand that has become known for quality and dependability.

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January 20, 2014

Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. Day #kingday2014


Lorraine_MotelA media ride and drive event in Memphis several years ago left me with some free time in the afternoon before heading to the airport to return home. My colleague and I were wondering how to pass a few hours, when he suggested we visit the Lorraine Motel, the assassination site of Martin Luther King, Jr. which now houses the National Civil Rights Museum. It was an eye-opening afternoon for me: I was raised in Hawthorne, California, in the 1970s, and grew up with the understanding that all us kids were the same -- even though I was a white girl and I was the minority among my own diverse peer group. 

More than 40 years ago, on April 4, 1968, the Lorraine Motel was a small minority-owned business in the south end of downtown Memphis. The motel's owner, Walter Lane Bailey preserved two rooms of his hotel as a shrine to Dr. King as well as to his wife, Lorraine, who died of a brain hemorrhage several hours after King was shot. Ultimately, the hotel closed down, and group of prominent Memphians, concerned that the historic site would be destroyed through neglect and indifference, formed the Martin Luther King Memorial Foundation to save the Lorraine.

Ap-MartinLutherKingsite With support from the City of Memphis, Shelby County, the State of Tennessee, as well as many local banks, businesses, and community members, the National Civil Rights Museum opened its doors to visitors on September 29, 1991, and now houses a 12,800-square-foot exhibit titled "Exploring the Legacy." It also connects to the Main Street Rooming House across the street where James Earl Ray allegedly fired the fatal shot resulting in the death of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Each year, the National Civil Rights Museum provides a memorial program on Martin Luther King, Jr. day, with an entire day of programs and activities to inspire new generations of leaders to service.  

On this day each year, I'm challenged to consider how this holiday is relevant to a woman's automotive site, and I'm reminded of what things were like for black people during the 1960s. I didn't live through the Civil Rights era, so my understanding of racisim and segregation is guided largely by what I learned in history classes, by what I experienced during the Los Angeles Riots of 1992, and by considering the moving exhibits at the museum.

Ap_boarding_house The civil rights laws of the 1960s were intended to prohibit race and gender discrimination in the handful of markets -- employment, housing, and public accommodations -- in which discrimination was perceived to be particularly acute. According to Thomas J. Sugure in his Case Study titled "Driving While Black: The Car and Race Relations in Modern America" I am reminded that issues of transportation were especially significant.

Continue reading "Honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. Day #kingday2014" »

January 17, 2014

NAIAS Product Specialist Changes the Definition of “Booth Babe”

Jennifer_Parmenter_NAIAS_7255In addition to the cars themselves, auto shows are (in)famously known for the assortment of pretty women on demo stands, their presence intended to attract visitors to the vehicles on display.

The most popular product specialist at this year’s North American International Auto Show (NAIAS) is positioned in the smart booth -- and while she is certainly curvaceous, her loveliness is more apparent in her baby bump than in other physical attributes. In an atmosphere where slim and sexy “booth babes” help sell cars, this booth has its own attraction: a baby on board!

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January 14, 2014

Congratulations to Certified Female Friendly Fiat of Austin for Being the Number-One FIAT Retailer of all time!

2014-Fiat-500LxThe final sales numbers from 2013 are in, and Fiat of Austin is the Number One FIAT retailer of all time, selling more than 2100 cars since the brand’s return to North America in 2011. The number-two dealer (out of 210 dealerships nationwide) was almost 600 units behind! Lead by General Manager Lisa Copeland, FIAT of Austin has been the Top Selling dealership in the United States in both 2012 and 2011 as well. Fiat CEO, Sergio Marchionne recently praised the dealership for its accomplishment, saying “In the life of every major organization and its people, there are defining moments that go down in the history books.”

Continue reading "Congratulations to Certified Female Friendly Fiat of Austin for Being the Number-One FIAT Retailer of all time!" »

January 13, 2014

Cadillac’s Awesome Safety Secret: Rear-Seat Passenger Sensing System

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If you’ve got kids, this secret safety feature is one every parent should know about: Officially called the “second-row passenger belt reminder light,” this feature found in the Cadillac SRX tells the driver which rear seat belts are occupied and safely belted when the vehicle is moving; this means you can tell if your wiggly kidlet has unbuckled his seat belt without taking your eyes off the road to look.

Unofficially, it's like having eyes in the back of your head, Mom. It's an awesome safety feature, but not many parents know to look for it when shopping for a family car.

Continue reading "Cadillac’s Awesome Safety Secret: Rear-Seat Passenger Sensing System" »

January 10, 2014

Two Great Reasons To Try An Uber Private Driver

Uber-taxi-taxi-without-the-hassleNeed to get somewhere but don’t have a car? If you’ve got a smart phone, consider the ride sharing service from Uber as an alternative to a taxi or other forms of public transportation. The company, which has has labeled itself as “the most reliable ride in cities around the world,” brags about its inexpensive pricing and simple operation. Just “Push a button, and you know you're getting a ride.” And, here are two great reasons to give it a try. 

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January 08, 2014

The Future of Car Technology: 2014 Infiniti Q50 Sport Sedan

at the news briefThe 2014 Infiniti Q50 sports sedan is much more than a fast and agile performance car.  This fine-tuned machine incorporates futuristic innovations that women will both understand and appreciate.


For example, the available Direct Adaptive Steering, (a world’s first for automotive), was initially developed by NASA in the 1970s and perfected in the airline industry. Its purpose was to respond more quickly than a pilot could.

Continue reading "The Future of Car Technology: 2014 Infiniti Q50 Sport Sedan" »