Front Page News: The Volvo Car Group is undertaking an $11 billion strategy to boost the Swedish automaker’s position in the global marketplace.
New for 2014: The Swedish company just revealed a trio of 2015 Volvo 60-series models with the new Drive-E powertrains. The trio consists of the V60 station wagon, S60 sedan, and XC60 crossover.
The skinny? In what's noted as the largest refresh in the company’s history, the four-cylinder lightweight, low-emission engines were developed in Sweden and will be implemented on each new model that Volvo rolls out in the near future.
“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
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.
"It’s a rocket,” said Dave Barthmuss, GM’s Western Region PR Manager, when I took delivery of the new 2014 Chevy Spark EV for a four-day test drive in Southern California.
Able to reach 0 to 60 mph in less than 7.6 seconds, all on pure battery electric power, Barthmuss was right about the spritely performance of the electric Spark: That’s pretty good performance for an electric car. Based on the Beat, one of GM’s global triplet concept cars unveiled at the 2007 New York International Auto Show and designed at the automaker’s Korean design studio, the four-passenger Spark EV has a top speed of 90 mph and boasts 105 kilowatts (140 horsepower) of electric drive power. Not that speed was my primary interest when I took delivery however, but speed and quick pick-up did come in handy when I wanted to change lanes or merge in front of that driver talking on his cell phone while driving 75 mph in a gas-guzzling SUV on LA’s tightly packed 101 and 405 highways. But I digress.
The Los Angeles Auto show was a buzz with “Green Automobiles,” the alternatives to the gasoline-powered internal combustion engines (ICE) we are all so accustomed to driving. Seems to me that electric automobiles have been increasing in popularity for the last couple of years!
Manufacturers have made some great progress with plug-in electric automobiles: they’ve increased the distances the automobiles are able to go on a single charge, and there are more charging station outlets available for electric car drivers to use. Fisker and Tesla have also made sure that frumpy style is no longer an issue. Automakers have even made great strides to reduce cost and make the electric automobile much more affordable and appealing to mainstream public. However much to my surprise electric automobile reveals were not the only big thing at the Auto show this year: it was actually the hydrogen fuel cell automobile presented by Hyundai stealing the “green” show…
Nissan went after families when remaking the Pathfinderlast year. This somewhat trucky SUV morphed into a kinder, gentler crossover with an uplevel interior that can carry seven passengers and, at the same time, tote up to 16 cubic feet of cargo; there’s even way more room when you have fewer riders.
What could be better? Nissan realized that many women with children are also looking for the better fuel economy, so has now expanded its Pathfinder lineup, adding the 2014 Nissan Pathfinder Hybridto the list of 14 available models that include both front-wheel drive and all-wheel drive (4WD) versions.
Most people don’t think that a truck can be tough and green.
However, the 2014 Ford F-150 is proving everyone wrong when it comes to
reducing the truck’s environmental impact.
Ford now uses several sustainable
materials -- including rice hulls, and many others -- inside the vehicle to
make it more ecofriendly.
“Fuel economy is a top priority when it comes to Ford’s
environmental impact,” says Carrie Majeske, Ford product sustainability manager.
“But we also recognize the tremendous impact that can be made by using
sustainable materials inside our cars, utilities, and trucks.”
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…
With three names and three trim lines, the 2014 Nissan Versa
seems like a lot of car, at least on paper. But call it simply ‘the Note’ as
they do in non-U.S. automotive markets around the globe, and you’ve got a
straightforward, family-friendly small people-hauler with some nice features,
notable options, and helpful technology under the hood. The Note is a small car with lots of features for women to love. The
attractively-designed, five-door, five-passenger hatchback is especially “cargo
friendly” for its size, and has been value priced starting at $13,999 making it
the lowest-priced hatch in its segment.
“Your mileage may vary,” says the familiar disclaimer, and it’s not often a vehicle delivers better fuel economy than originally promised.
However, according to a recent release from Chevrolet, many Volt
owners are not only consistently achieving the published EPA-estimated mileage
of its 98 MPGe gasoline-free mile estimates, many are even exceeding it.