“If you do not know where you come from, then you don't know where you are, and if you don't know where you are, then you don't know where you're going. And if you don't know where you're going, you're probably going wrong.” Terry Terry Pratchett, Author of Discworld.
Saying goodbye to my GPS, turn-by-turn directions, and thoughts of self driving cars for a weekend, I accepted an invitation join the Rebelle Rally for a two-day Basic Navigation Class. Yes, the old-fashioned kind with a compass and map, a skill-set I found to be quite humbling -- yet empowering to learn.
What is the Rebelle Rally?
The Rebelle Rally is the first women’s off-road navigation rally raid in the United States, coming together in large part by the efforts of off-road pro Emily Miller, visionary and leader. Teams of two women, (driver/navigator), will spend seven days driving mostly off-road from Lake Tahoe to the sand dunes of Southern California. Best of all, you get to leave your cell phone, computer, GPS, & headaches behind. It’s all about YOU. And your endless abilities.
Rich Miller is chief product specialist of Nissan Product Planning for Titan and Armada and is a life-long truck enthusiast. Miller has been with Nissan trucks for over 18 years, and he has an inside view of what a customer wants and needs in the truck market segment.
Before joining the Titan full-size truck project in 1999, Miller had worked with Frontier and Xterra. His strategy was to test the capability of Nissan's first full-size truck with drivers who would take that vehicle to its limits. These early Titans were loaned to cowboys on his family ranch in Idaho, oil riggers, log cutters, and tradespeople in tough, physical work. Each group evaluated the truck in real-world driving and work scenarios, all of which played into the robust Titan pickup.
Lexus teamed up with Christine Overstreet of Heels & Wheels to bring 22 women journalists to experience the performance side of the brand in Palm Springs, California. We were welcomed to the luxurious Ritz-Carlton in Rancho Mirage. The Ritz-Carlton has a beautiful view overlooking the panoramic sights of Palm Springs along with fire pits with comfy chairs to relax on chilly desert winter evenings. We dined our first evening at The Edge Steakhouse, a cliff-side dining experience 650 feet above the desert floor with a breathtaking view with entertainment provided by @jonigray automotive journalist and soul singing diva.
The Lexus Difference
Peggy Turner, VP Customer Service and Leigh Anne Sessions of Lexus Communications introduced us over flutes of champagne about "The Lexus Difference". This newly launched effort in 2015 is intended to attract the three demographics whose spending power is accelerating: women and millennials. "We treat our customers as guests in our home," said Lexus Vice President of Customer Service Peggy Turner. Along these lines, Lexus is teaming up with a Japanese perfumery At-Aroma to develop a signature scent so every showroom a customer walks into always has the same, comforting smell. We had an opportunity to smell-test and vote on our favorites, the human sense of smell affects 75% of daily emotions and plays an important role in memory. They're also looking to be more fashion-forward, currently in negotiations with a major designer to create a sophisticated uniform for their female sales team. This is a two-fold effort to not only have their employees looking sharp to guests, but to also attract more females to a sales career with Lexus.
Lexus understands how critical it is to speak to a female audience without talking down to them and this is essential factor in making a sale. "The Lexus Difference" program is available to any of Lexus’s U.S. dealership to opt-into and participate in. It will be interesting to follow if they do gain market-share with women luxury buyers as the program continues to roll-out in 2016.
I was invited to Italy by Mazda to attend Milan Design Week. The show covers a wide range of design events around the city of Milan, including furniture and industrial product exhibits, performances, and lectures.
Mazda's exhibit, "The Car as Art" was also in central Milan, as part of Design Week 2015. Mazda designers hold to the tenet that the car is a work of art, and they strive to create cars that move people emotionally. Design Week is a fabulous way for automotive companies to show off their attributes.
My children have always been
Three strong anchors
When the hard winds of life blew
They always kept me grounded
My first child, a son, stirring in the womb
Love at first sight at your birth
Rocking you to sleep singing Blackbird
All blond curls and blue eyes
My second child, a son, born strong and fine
Brothers forever, sweet boys
Curtain climbers and sandwich grabbers
Fed my poor fishes Kool-Aid..RIP
We’re keeping our fingers crossed that Shea Holbrook will make history when she races this weekend. Currently second in the TCA championship, just 36 points behind point’s leader Jason Wolf; if she wins, she will be the first woman to win the Pirelli World Challenge Championship.
When Shea Holbrook hit the track at the SCCA World Challenge Pro Racing in 2010, she was one of the youngest female drivers in World Challenge history, finishing sixth in the series as a rookie driver.
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.”
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.”
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.
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.
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
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?
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 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.