Consistency is Key

For a long time, Chrysler/Stellantis products were considered laughable in both build quality and performance capability. Kia had the same reputation back in the 90’s as well. There was an unproven rumor for a number of years that cars built on Mondays and Fridays would be prone to more errors and problems than a car built midweek. While again, it was unproven, recently Tesla has had some trouble with the build quality of some of their cars, and many of the fixes came quickly, meaning a car built mid month was completely different than a car built at the end of the month.

I wrote a blog a year or so ago about how Dodge could do no wrong. One of the points I made, is that while their Charger and Challenger platforms are over a decade old, they have ironed out all the issues with it and have created a very reliable machine. Something they struggled to do for years. An article on Autoblog listed the best to worst automakers from Consumer Reports. From a very high level view, I want to sum up the top five and the bottom five. These are spoilers and if you want to read more details, you can click hear to go to the Autoblog article, which I believe has the Consumer Reports link in it for even further information.

The top 5 are:
1.) Tesla
2.) Lincoln
3.) Ram
4.) Chrysler
5.) Subaru

My quick analysis of this list is that these are pretty niche auto makers. They only produce a handful of models and what they do have, in some cases, have been around for a long time. They have capitalized on keeping what works and changing only what doesn’t. In some cases, Lincoln specifically, and even Tesla to some extent, they don’t sell a lot of product either. Their volumes compared to some of the bottom makers are only a fraction, meaning they have more time to focus and get it right. Because even with Tesla having as many issues as it does, they are still not pumping out the quantity to make it enough of a market impact. The buyers of theses vehicles are also very different than the bottom bunch as well.

The bottom 5 are:
23.) Mercedes-Benz
24.) Buick
25.) Cadillac
26.) Nissan
27.) Infiniti

The first few things that come to mind of that list are; these are same family vehicles, meaning they have the same parent companies and use the same parts; they are constantly changing up their vehicles and have a vast array of models to choose from; they can be expensive and complex and have a lot of things that can go wrong on them; and they are pumping out a lot of vehicles. Mercedes, Cadillac, Buick, and Infiniti are luxury machines with many technological aids that can fail. That leads to expensive repairs. They are also wildly different in model offerings. While Cadillac, Buick, and Infiniti are somewhat niche, having 22 models collectively offered, Mercedes has 29 different models on their American website alone. Nissan has 17 different models. Mercedes has more models offered than four of the top five manufacturers combined. When you are making that many different cars, at the volume that they are, it begins to paint the picture of why these brands are ending up towards the bottom of the list.

This shows that small, consistent things, done very well, are going to give you an edge over your competitors. Customers want reliable transportation. When a company takes the time to stick to a few models and iron them out over time, the customers will reward that with reviews and returning business. Even if they have issues, like Tesla, they are able to adapt quickly because scale is not at the capacity of the competitors. The fixes can happen almost instantly.

Information like this fascinates me. I’m always excited to look at the market from different perspectives and draw up new and different opinions, commentaries, and conclusions. Facts are facts. So it is fun to discuss the data and then think of ways to make it better. Consistency is the key.

For reference, here are the number of models made by each manufacturer according to their US website.
Tesla 4
Lincoln 6
Ram 14
Chrysler 4
Subaru 8

Mercedes-Benz 29
Buick 6
Cadillac 11
Nissan 17
Infiniti 5

Should Models be Brands?

 

The subject of should models become brands has been relevant and important lately. I have had conversations with family and friends about the subject since some have texted me wondering why certain car manufacturers are doing certain business decisions. So, here is my take on should car models become brands.

In 2009, Dodge/Chrysler/Daimler/FCA split off the Ram pickup truck from Dodge and created their own brand from that model. That has been a very successful decision. Hyundai has split Genesis off into its own luxury brand, copying a page from Lexus, Acura, and Infiniti recipe, but also making a brand from a model. Chevrolet has rumored that they might consider making the Corvette a brand in itself. Manufacturers have split models into brands in the past, some have success and some were a failure.

Now, Ford wants to make a Mustang a brand, starting with the all-electric SUV, the Mach E. There is also a rumor that they want to make the Bronco a brand as well. Although, what doesn’t make sense is how they use the Raptor nameplate. They utilize that name for the F-150 Raptor, and Ranger Raptor, but apparently that name will not be utilized to distinguish a more powerful Bronco. A beefy Bronco is rumored to be called a Warthog. Confusing, but whatever.

What Ford should learn though, is they have almost been in this situation before. They had Mercury, that they closed because they couldn’t seem to explain to buyers why they should pay more for a car that is identical to the Ford equivalent. Lincoln almost had the same fate. Hopefully, they have learned from those experiences and don’t mess up a new Mustang or Bronco brand. Toyota and Subaru are also the same boat. They had the Toyota 86, the Subaru BRZ, and the Scion FRS all on the market at one time. And now they are almost doing the same thing, but instead of the Scion available, the Supra has taken that slot. We will have to see how this goes. 

I wouldn’t be surprised if Nissan does this with their Z car. Especially with the launch of the new 400Z. The Z name is known by people both with and without automotive knowledge so that would be a good start for them.

What do you think? Should auto manufacturers start making separate brands from their successful models?

Panther Popularity

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My parents in law have recently purchased a 2004 Lincoln Town Car. In reality, that “recent” was actually back in May. That is how long it has taken me to get to finishing this blog. Since that time, I have been noticing the rise of the Panther platform popularity.

The Panther platform is a frame that the Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis, and Lincoln Town Car are all attached to. It has been around for a long time and has been produced in the millions. It is somewhat easy to work on and parts are plentiful. Since they are easily found for cheap at public auctions after their public service has come to an end, these cars are an inexpensive, reliable vehicle to add to your garage.

I recently watched one of Cleetus McFarlands YouTube about preparing for the 2.4 hours of LeMullets. They have over 20 Ford Crown Victorias competing and over 50 in inventory. They have even have a full time Crown Vic mechanic. The internet has complained to him that he is single handedly causing the prices of these cars to increase. Cleetus says he is not and I believe him. These cars are just becoming popular in general and finding really clean examples is becoming difficult. YouTubers are using these cars left and right. A long while back on Hot Rod Garage, they took an old F150 and put it on a panther platform Crown Victoria.

I have grown to really like these cars. Especially for the straight up utilitarian use that they were made for. Those raw, simple characteristics, along with the sheer amount of them that were produced at a current, relatively cheap price are what attract me to the Panther platform vehicles.

While they are cheap, I still can’t quite afford one. I have resorted buying diecast versions. They are cheap and fun. Maybe someday I’ll be able to afford a real one. Owning a big cat sounds fun. For the time being, I’ll just have to take my in-laws Town Car for a spin when I visit

Why Four Door?

sedans
These are two of the four sedans that I have owned.

Growing up I really liked the BMW 3 series, specifically the sedan. I also liked the 5 series and while walking home from school everyday in 7th grade, which was around 2001, I would pass a BMW M5 that was parked in front of a local furniture store. A Volvo S60 was also parked there on the days the M5 wasn’t there and I’ll have another blog with reference to that in the future. But, the styling of the BMW with the four headlights, muscular and toned panels, and accurate proportions appealed to me as the utmost perfection in sedan design. It was also and incredible performing vehicle and as their slogan said back then, it was the “ultimate driving machine.”

I have mentioned a few cars, sedans specifically, that I grew up with a keen eye for. Knowing I probably couldn’t afford a BMW, which I couldn’t, I tried to reason with myself that maybe I could get my parents to buy me something that looked like it. The Mitsubishi Diamante was one of those cars. It has the four headlights up front, stylish body work, and great proportions.

The second car around 2001 that fit the bill was a Lincoln LS. Again, four headlights, luxurious yet sporty looking, and it had a complementing stance with proper ratios. Someone who attended the church my family went to had one, and it was always a delight pulling into the parking lot on Sunday morning and seeing that awesome silver sedan.

I was never able to convince my parents to get me any of those cars by the time I was able to drive. I was never able to save up to buy anything myself either. But, it these cars were iconic to me and to this day, I believe they fit my personality very well. They are still some of the most wonderfully designed cars in my opinion.

Tidbits for Today

Tidbits for today…

I read this article earlier in the week about the GT-R. He was making decent sense…until, “I want the GT-R to be more like an NSX…” …WHAT?! Um, the GT-R should NEVER be like the NSX. It was never supposed to be like the NSX, nor is it, nor shall it ever be. Then to say “Think 560-horsepower AWD FR-S and you’re most of the way there.”  In what world is the FR-S like the NSX?! You don’t even make sense in your trippy logic! To my fellow car blogger, you are a few cylinders short of a GT-R.

I read this article about Lincoln the other day and how this author feels the company just needs to be laid to rest. I do agree. I see the whole Ford Motor Company as Apple; in a league of their own, I will leave it at that (although I’m not a big fan of Apple, so you can assume my feelings about Ford). However, with that said, I would love to take a shot at marketing a revival for Lincoln. They need to associate themselves with comebacks. Comebacks that a younger and well established customer would recognize and think to themselves, I want to be a part of that. That is just the surface of ideas that I would use to market a comeback for Lincoln. I would go so far to say that they don’t even need to do any restyling, they just need much better marketing. Image consulting is more the concept.

I was very happy that Kyle Busch swept the weekend at Texas Motor Speedway! I am a huge Joe Gibbs Racing fan and Kyle Busch fan! Super excited for all parties!

In relation to the NASCAR, I did not see any problem with the NRA sponsoring the race. It makes complete sense to me from exactly what this article states, “Eddie Gossage, the president of the Texas Motor Speedway, told CBS Sports he actually hasn’t heard much in the way of controversy over the race. He said the NRA’s sponsorship is “not about politics. It’s about sports marketing.” ITS ABOUT SPORTS MARKETING. Perfect sense in my book.

There are certainly more tidbits I have spinning around in my head, and hopefully I will be able to get more out later this week. But these ones have been swirling for a few days now and I want to make sure I am staying current and relevant. It’s what you deserve. Feel free to tell me what you think in the comments below!

We The People…who own cars

Dear Car Companies,

We the people realize that you design and build cars for a living. We highly appreciate your talent and dedication to your craft because without you, about 98 percent of us would still be walking to the Seven Eleven down the block.

We recognize that you have been in this business a long time and have a built some pretty incredible machines. However, times are changing and we would like to tell you something. May we ask you for your attention for just a moment.

You have done pretty well thus far feeding us vehicles that we think we need. Actually, it is more like vehicles you think we need. However, you would be lying to yourself if you think you are giving us what we want.

As a person myself, I am taking the role of ambassador to relay important information. I will give you things that we the people are looking for in a car. We want vehicles with incredibly, let me rephrase that, RIDICULOUSLY good gas mileage. But you can’t just give us that, because up until this point, the ones that have done so, have looked like crap. Sorry.

We want the cars to look good, like something you’d buy at Tiffany’s, not the jewelry center at as Wal-Mart. Cheap imitation isn’t going to cut it anymore. We are smart, and can pick out the imposter a mile away. I promise, if you can deliver, we will pay.

A third thing we want is practicality. Don’t give us a seven passenger vehicle if really the only people who could fit in the back seats are children. If you say seven adults comfortably, prove it. Pick-up trucks, vans, cars; get people to drive them to tell you what is practical so you don’t have to guess. If you are right the first time, you don’t have to come up with some lame excuse for a cheap imposter vehicle.

Lastly, we want performance. There are only 24 hours in a day, so the fastest way we can get to 60 miles an hour, or more, is important. A smooth ride and great handling are critical because roads and traffic are terrible now days and we have to be able to dodge a bump, or take one, and the car has to last. Here’s an idea. Start with a race car, add the previous elements of gas mileage, looks, and practicality, and still end up with a race car. Done, walk away.

And, as a side note, don’t name these wonderful machines absurd names. Really think about what it is you have created and name it appropriately. If you have any questions, consult us. You can reach us on Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, or any other online social network known to man. But listen to what we are saying back to you, seriously. We can easily start walking to the Seven Eleven down the street.

Sincerely,

We the People