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
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.
In the “Fifty Shades of Grey,” book trilogy written by E L James, the number fifty describes Christian Grey, a man of many moods, talents, personalities, and vehicles (including jets and yachts).
With all the buzz in the media about the upcoming “Fifty Shades of Grey” movie adaptation, I thought it would be fun to list 25 shades of grays for 25 of my favorite cars. To be sure, most cars do look super sexy in certain shades of silver.
Dear Santa, I’ve been very good this year, and one of the elves working at the nearby dealership let it slip that you might be giving me a new sled for Christmas. If it’s true, I’d like to offer you a few hints to help make sure my new ride is appropriately decked out for safe, comfortable travels year-round.
Make sure to tag @CarCareCouncil and use #CarCare in your tweet!
The contest is open to individuals (not businesses) following the Car Care Council on Twitter and living in the United States. You do not have to be a new follower to participate. One eligible tweet is one entry and one entry per day will be accepted. Tweets will be accepted until 12:00am PST on December 19th, 2013 and the winner will be selected and announced on Friday, December 20th, 2013. The winner will be messaged directly for their mailing address.
When the Kia Soul came to market in 2010, the company was trying to reinvent itself to appeal to the children of baby boomers, aka Gen Y. At the time, Tom Loveless, VP of Sales for Kia Motors said, “This is the tip of a very big iceberg. It’s the direction Kia is going.”
And I wrote, “Could it be that, by next year, it will actually be cool to own a Kia?”
My prediction was spot on. Kia has certainly upped its cool factor, especially with the Soul, an urban hatchback that, like Gen Y, is not cut from the mold.
The ad campaign for Soul, which started out featuring hamsters on wheels, was different from the get-go. Over the years, Kia has grown the hamster theme to incorporate everything from rapping and hip-hop hamsters to this year’s edition, Lady Gaga.
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…
One of the most interesting aspects of being an automotive writer is discovering the back-story behind the technical, physical, and design elements of creating a better vehicle. Like fashion, electronics, and other industries, automakers update their products every year. But, how and why do they do it?