I discovered a messy puddle of oil under my car last week.
This is where I confess that -- even though I’ve spent nearly 30 years in the automotive industry -- I didn’t know what to do next.
It’s okay: You can laugh and point at the “car girl” who doesn’t know how to repair her own car. I know about these things in theory. I know how to check my oil level and tire pressure and could jump a battery or change a tire if I had to, but when it comes to real life, I rely on mechanics (and Auto Club) for the practical application of most of my car’s care.
So, when I saw the brown splashes beneath my beloved 2011 Ford Fiesta -- which has just passed its fourth birthday and has barely 45,000 miles on the odometer -- I kinda panicked. I’m a writer, not a mechanic, and I’m okay with that.
Ladies, the DC Auto Show isn’t about glamour as much as it’s about policy making and the future of the car industry. In honor of Earth Month, we've collected information from the DC auto show to share more about the greening of automotive.
Front page: For the 2014 Washington Auto Show, Nissan rented an Amtrak train car and ferried a group of journalists from Penn Station, NYC to Washington, D.C. Since the show took place during an epic East Coast snowstorm, the train was both a pleasant and efficient way to arrive. And it’s consistent with Nissan’s push into the future of environmental changes. That objective encompasses Nissan’s NV200 vehicles (the taxicab of the future and NYC’s official taxicab) as well as some new initiatives they are rolling out with FedEx.
The scoop: The Washington Auto Show is known as the “Public Policy Show.” It is unique on the global industry circuit because of its proximity to the U.S. Congress, international diplomatic corps and federal agencies.
“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.”
“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.
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.
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
The 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.”
The 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.
Palm Springs is an oasis for mid-century modern homes designed by legendary architects like Neutra and Eichler for luminaries including Bob Hope, Frank Sinatra and Dinah Shore. The style emphasizes one-story structures with flat roofs, clean lines, walls of glass, ample windows and open floor plans. It was this type of design that inspired Cadillac’s Converj, the concept that the 2014 Cadillac ELR was based on.
BMW chose New York City for the world debut of their visionary vehicle, the i3. With 8,175,13 citizens, NYC fits the profile of a densely populated urban metropolis where electric cars are ideal for short commutes.
studies carried out as part of BMW’s Project i involved more than a thousand
participants travelling by car over 12.5 million miles. Results showed
that the average daily distance covered was around 30 miles.
“In 2025, 8 billion people will live on the planet; 4.5 billion will
live in cities. There will be 1.8 billion cars on the roads. In order
to address the personal mobility needs of people living within the
world’s most densely populated urban city centers, BMW created BMW i –
the sustainable new sub-brand whose mission is to develop visionary
vehicles and mobility services.” ~ BMW Project i
Having spent most of my life around race cars and collector
cars, I often wonder about the stories behind each car. Yeah I know they are
inanimate objects but I still like to use my imagination now and again... or
maybe I just watched movies like “Cars” and “Christine” one too many times.
Take an old race car for instance... Wouldn’t it be neat to
hear the stories about when it was in its heyday? About the characters who drove the car, about
its “injuries and burns,” about its “surgeries,” about its arch rivalries on
the track, about getting soaked in champagne in Victory Lane, about the day its
owner moved on to a newer and younger model… And what about the rest of the
story? Did it end up getting refurbished and reincarnated for a museum or did
it head to the graveyard like most? Or even worse: did it end up in the crusher?
Art mimics life in Kristin (MK) Ducote’s newly released book "Naked
Paddock." In this novel Ducote’s main character and the events surrounding the
lead's life are very similar to what Ducote herself has experienced. Throughout
"Naked Paddock" there are many ‘true tales’ regarding a woman’s insights (and juicy
behind-the-scenes drama) that occur within the fast and flashy world of motorsports,
and nobody can tell it better than the wife of Le Mans driver Chapman Ducote.
Although Kristin Ducote grew up riding horses on a little farm in Florida, her humble (and very grounded) childhood and later adulthood helped to
train and prepare her to be the amazingly successful 30-year-old she is today.
When you put a friend whose main ride is a fully loaded 2010 BMW X5 into the driver’s seat of a 2013 Ford Escape, you kind of hold your breath.
Then again, this Escape was all new: a delightful ginger metallic color with 19-inch painted aluminum wheels and silver roof rails. The charcoal black interior had leather-trimmed seats and a Sync activated voice system that Kathy quickly figured out. All in all, it was a pretty snazzy ride.
Kathy settled in and murmured, “Nice seats, much more comfortable than my car.” Hmmmm…