Andy Palmer: Beautiful Aston Martin to become luxury goods conglomerate, take on Bentley and Rolls-Royce

Andy Palmer: “Our brand purpose is ‘For the love of beautiful.’” (c) Bertel Schmitt

“We don’t want to be just a luxury brand like Chanel, or Tag Heuer. We go to the group level, we aim to be a little bit like Richemont, or LVMH,” Aston Martin CEO Andy Palmer told me yesterday in Tokyo.

Richemont is a Swiss-based luxury goods holding with brands such as Van Cleef & Arpels, Baume & Mercier, Cartier, and many more. Its French pendant is LVMH. Born out of the fusion of Louis Vuitton and Moet Hennessy, LVMH is known in affluent circles for brands like Dior, Fendi, Bulgari, Moët & Chandon, or Kenzo. [Continue Reading]

Toyota Gets Its Performance Brand

(c) Bertel Schmitt

Rumors that Toyota would turn its Gazoo Racing Team into a performance sub-brand had been floating around Tokyo for more than a year. Today, it became official.

“The decision was made to launch a new sports brand, the GR brand,” Shigeki Tomoyama, CEO of GR, said at an event at Toyota’s Megaweb in Tokyo.

As expected, GR becomes Toyota’s performance sub-brand, something like BMW’s M, Mercedes’s AMG, Volkswagen’s R or Lexus’s F. The GR brand is being launched with nine models, ranging from a souped-up GR 86, on the basis of Toyota’s 86 sports car, all the way to a hot-rod GR Sport Voxy minivan. [Continue Reading]

Shanghai Auto Show 2015: No babes, more chaos

Security worked flawlessy

Security worked flawlessly. Very little else did

I typed most of this in the lounge at the Seoul airport, flying back to Tokyo on the cheap from the Shanghai Auto Show. Serious work from Shanghai was impossible, due to a Chinese firewall that is higher and sturdier than ever. And that was just one of the problems. Be warned that that this review of the Shanghai Auto Show has a lot about the latest rice cookers, and very little about the latest cars. For a more serious version, click here. [Continue Reading]

Here is what change agent Julie Hamp will change at Toyota

A gaijin ninja, and the corporate samurai

A gaijin ninja, and the corporate samurai

On April 1, a dozen of new managing officers strengthened the ranks of Toyota. Two days later, they met with a small group of reporters in Nagoya. The center of interest was one of the newcomers, because she stood out. She was the only one not to wear a black suit. She was the only one who was not Japanese. She was the only she.

Julie Hamp, who had worked herself up the ladder at GM from giving factory tours and making videos to General Director of Communications, is the new Chief Communication Officer of Toyota, and she was put in this slot by Akio Toyoda to effect change. Here is what she will change – if the gaijin ninja manages to slip through the ranks of the blacksuited corporate samurai. [Continue Reading]

Don’t get gaga over the Apple Watch. It’s about to repeat 13 year old sins of Volkswagen

Don't get fobbed-off again

Don’t get fobbed-off again

According to overpowering on-line drone, the automotive world as we know it will come to an end on March 9, and it will be upended by an Apple watch. That watch, OMG, will open car doors, possibly even start the car. Keyless! Wow! Amazing! What will they think of next? I haven’t worn a watch for years, but I remember 2002, when the ill-phaeted Volkswagen Phaeton was launched. It had keyless entry, and it confused the heck out of people. [Continue Reading]

Zai jian China, we look back at the final years of Chinese auto shows with female characteristics

The working masses

The toiling masses

In one of its infamous “strike hard” campaigns, China has outlawed suggestively dressed models at car shows. Apparently in an effort to curb the onslaught of masses that had choked past shows, there won’t be those infamous “scantily clad” women at this year’s Shanghai Auto Show. Which gave us the opportunity for a nostalgic look back at a paradise lost. After re-visiting Beijing 2010 and Shanghai 2011, after traveling to Beijing again in 2012, we will revisit the past two years today, before closing the books on the sad affair. In the end, you will agree that future shows are not worth going to, and you are right. [Continue Reading]

China succumbs to capitalist running dogs, outlaws “scantily clad models” at car shows. Sex and cars with Chinese characteristics, a nostalgic look back

Beijing, 29012

Beijing, 2012

China is the world’s biggest car market, it has the world’s biggest car shows, and it suddenly developed the world’s biggest hang-up about pretty ladies. For years, they used to sex-up otherwise boring cars. No more. The auto fairs must do without the fair maidens, the models must remain dressed. “Attractive young women will no longer adorn cars at the Shanghai International Automobile Industry Exhibition in April,” the state-owned tabloid China Daily reports.

“Auto shows in other cities should also stop using models,” said Yang Xueliang, head of the public relations department of Zhejiang Geely. “Give a pure automobile show back to customers.” At past auto shows, his company, which also owns Sweden’s Volvo, competed lustily with other carmakers in the scantily clad department, this year, no more.

Fear not, the DailyKanban will bring you the lightly dressed car shows that the government banned. [Continue Reading]

America’s best-selling car brand is not American

What are we talking about?

What are we talking about?

For a few years, Ford has been calling itself “America’s best-selling brand,” and it is doing it again. Of course, it is not true. Best-selling auto brand, perhaps, depending on, to paraphrase Bill Clinton, what the definition of “auto” is. Best-selling brand, no way. Bud Light for instance sold 295,365,100 cases of beer last year, compared with Ford’s 2,376,841 cars and trucks. Ground coffee? Folgers, more than a billion. Cigarettes? Marlboro, 114.7 billion in 2013.


But then, of course everybody will understand that Ford is talking about being No. 1 among auto brands, not all brands. “It’s somewhat implicit,” Ford’s chief analyst Erich Merkle told Advertising Age in 2013. O.K., point taken. Then what about “best-selling car brand?” [Continue Reading]