A Vending Machine for Supercars?

The year is 2017, and seeing the advances technology has made over the past few decades, it’s hard to imagine where we might go from here.

For now, it appears we’ve reached a milestone. As far as vending machines go, this may be the greatest iteration. A Singapore dealer, Autobahn Motors, has created a 15-story vending machine – its sole purpose? Dispensing supercars. Continue reading “A Vending Machine for Supercars?”

2017 Precious Metal Gala

It’s not difficult to enjoy an evening of fine foods and entertainment, especially when it’s paired with a range of the best vehicles on offer. The Edmonton Motor Show’s 2017 Precious Metal Gala combined these things into a truly enjoyable evening.

The Edmonton Motor Show Precious Metal Gala

The Precious Metal Gala featured the best vehicles available by various manufacturers all in one place.  We were excited to explore the offerings. Here are some of the sights and highlights from the 2017 Gala: Continue reading “2017 Precious Metal Gala”

A Few Fun Facts About Car Brand Fans

Auto Brands & Demographics

Have you ever wondered where your favorite automotive brands fit within market niches? The Auto Insurance Centre has your answer; their study was conducted using over 114 million Facebook brand fans from across North America. Continue reading “A Few Fun Facts About Car Brand Fans”

A Future Without Passwords?

"My password 123456" written on a paper with marker.The idea may seem far-fetched, but Google has already begun testing an alternative to the traditional alpha-numeric password.

Imagine being able to unlock your devices, profiles, personal accounts and much more without ever having to touch a keyboard. As it stands, the average consumer now has an average of 100 passwords to remember, and this number is continually on the rise. Google began the project, “Abacus”, with the intention to develop new indicators for users to use as passwords.

Abacus plans to kill passwords off not with one “secure” replacement, but by mixing multiple weaker indicators into one solid piece of inventory which collectively work to prove your identity. Beyond the obvious biometric indicators, such as face shape, smile and voice recognition, the program also hopes to incorporate some lesser known measures of identification (the way you move, swipe the screen, and hold the device, for example).

As separate entities it would be foolish to rely on any of these factors as security measures, but when combined they collectively serve as a measure that is 10x more secure than a single fingerprint.

Soon these features will be made available to third parties for testing, and some Android devices will have this as a beta option by the end of the year!

Most Googled Car Brand by Country

Ever wondered what brands are most popular in other countries? The British based auto parts retailer ‘Quickco” analyzed the most searched car brands on Google throughout 2016.

The most Googled car brands

As we can see from the findings, nationalist tendencies seem to be more apparent in Europe than the anywhere else; with Sweden, Germany, France and Italy all remaining homegrown in their brand searches.  As always, a few nations failed to provide data for the study, it’s hard to imagine what brand North Korea might have made up for this study.

Perhaps for some, the biggest surprise was to see BMW (a relatively small company) take 2nd place overall. However, if you’re a follower of BMW on social media this global presence is something you likely comprehend wholeheartedly. For the past three years BMW has created dedicated social marketing campaigns (remember the ‘Drift Mob’ video?)  to assure brand reputation and user engagement. With over 19 million fans of BMW’s Facebook page, the online initiatives seem to be paying off both at home in Europe and abroad as BMW sits only below Toyota in Google searches across the globe.

Fanatics: Don’t fear the hybrid

Hear the word “hybrid’’ and you’ll likely conjure up images of dull, wedge shaped vehicles being driven by environmentalists (cue DiCaprio and his Prius). Yet it’s been nearly 20 years since the hybrid drivetrain was introduced to our automotive markets, and throughout the nearly two decades that we’ve had hybrids available in North America, the connotations surrounding these vehicles have remained unchanged. Beyond the stigma given to seemingly all hybrid vehicles, there is a reality that many car enthusiasts (myself included) have to face. The technological advancements made to not only electrical motors but also to small displacement internal combustion engines mean hybrids no longer have to be synonymous with the meek image of a Toyota Prius or the Honda Insight. These progressions now present uncharted potential territory for performance advancements.

On a sunny spring day a Toyota Prius hybrid car drives through a tree lined road in Montana while on a road trip. The bright sun casts and in camera lens flare across the scene.

As supercar manufacturers have proven with their most recent offerings, the electric motor isn’t merely there to meet emission regulations or boost fuel efficiency, they play a substantial role in acceleration, handling and braking. Beyond the obvious ecological benefits, the use of electronic motors presents an entirely new set of possibilities to nearly all areas of a vehicles performance metrics. Engineers would not spend extended periods laboring over heavy batteries and potential cooling issues within performance vehicles if the substantial benefits of hybridization were not present.

Look across a list of sports car manufacturers and it appears each brand has their own interpretation of performance-hybrid vehicles on offer: Ferrari LaFerrari, McLaren P1, Porsche 918, Honda/Acura NSX, Koenissegg Regera, BMW i8. Though they utilize diverse layouts and technologies, the idea surrounding the electric motor’s input and applications remain relatively unchanged: provide power to the drivetrain ‘where and when’ traditional combustion engines fall short.

The McLaren P1 has an electric motorIn the McLaren P1 for example, the electric motor fills the void in propulsion when waiting on the V8’s twin Turbo’s to spool up, much like the Kinetic Energy Recovery System on a formula one car the hybrid set up minimizes lag stemming from the traditional motor. The Ferrari on the other hand, uses two electric motors. One dedicated to onboard electronics while the other connects directly to the drivetrain, the outcome is an increase of 163hp coupled with a lower center of gravity due to battery placement and an engine whose power band is no longer subject to an A/C Compressor or any other cabin elements. The Porsche 918 went a different direction entirely, attaching one electric motor to the front axle to power the front wheels giving the 918 the surefooted-ness characteristic of AWD when coming out of corners, while another motor is attached to the rear axle providing additional torque output to boost to the vehicles already potent 4.6l V8 engine. The Honda NSX, employs a similar idea, attaching one electric motor to each front wheel, relying on each individual motor to deliver distinctive torque vectoring while cornering.

There’s talk of the upcoming BMW and Toyota’s jointly developed sports car also being powered by a hybrid system. Volkswagen (who has made it clear that they plan to produce 20 EV’s by 2020) has already begun working on a hybrid setup for one of their most beloved models, the GTI. The Mark VIII Golf GTI is slated to reach dealers in 2020, and is said to be adopting a 48-volt electrical assist system distributed between both axles much like the Porsche 918’s current layout. As the technologies implemented in today’s super cars (LaFerrari, McLaren P1, Porsche 918) slowly become increasingly affordable, we will begin to see a trickle-down effect as affordable hybrids begin adopting these substantial technical advancements. It won’t be long until these applications collectively transform the hybrid from its meek ecologically conscious-image, to the responsible sports car of the future.

DriveTribe: A New Network for Auto Enthusiasts

Imagine a social platform, dedicated entirely to motoring; a digital media platform balancing enthusiast and professionally provided content. The idea is far from revolutionary, however, if accomplished on a large scale it will certainly play an influential role in the online advertising of vehicles.

DriveTribe

Never has a startup received such substantial backing from such reputable individuals in its early formation. DriveTribe has received funding from not only notable entrepreneurs but also has backing by the ex-Top Gear trio, Clarkson, May and Hammond.

“The site plans to build an engine to send content that will specifically target the disparate communities that make up car fans — from petrol heads to classic car aficionados. A versioning engine and multi-variate testing system will trial ‘hundreds of different versions’ of content on different segments of users, defined by age, gender, location and interests, with ‘optimal matches’ pushed directly to peoples’ social timelines through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, etc. There will, of course, be iOS and Android apps, as well.”

After receiving my invite just prior to public launch, I spent some time poking around the app. What at first seemed to be little more than Instagram dedicated entirely to vehicles, soon led to a realization of the platforms marketing potential. Essentially, DriveTribe will allow a new sort of content targeting engine to emerge as individuals will be providing direct automotive related information. Information which will be aggregated much like Facebook and will allow automotive advertisers to target look-a-like crowds and distinct individuals according to group information and interests provided.

It seems fitting that this new site will segment users into separate tribes. As “Tribe” marketing has become a norm in the digital age, rapidly updated real time information provides the ability for advertisers to display highly pertinent ads to targeted online social communities.

A sleek red sports cardriving on an open road

To make money, the startup doesn’t plan to pursue traditional online display advertising. Instead, the object is to go after native advertising, or branded advertising, similar to what Vice Media does, said Mr. Schmitt.

“I think that is the way that advertising is going. I have a lot of car advertisers coming to us,” he said. “It allows them to target their advertising.”

To learn more about DriveTribe you can visit their website, and for more information on all things automotive marketing you can subscribe to our newsletter!

 

 

Audi Test Drive Cube

In the past, I’ve heard auto enthusiasts and journalists describe Audi’s as unresponsive luxury vehicles; painting them out to be simple point A to B vehicles, void of inspiration and personality. Personally, I’ve never thought that was the case, I’ve always been a fan. From a marketing perspective however, Audi’s recent “Test Drive Cube” program for their new flagship A8 is one of the more inspirational actions we’ve seen from a German Automaker in recent years. Audi described this as the first test drive that comes directly to the customer. The pilot program was first lunched in Holland with nearly 50 potential customers having packages from Audi delivered to their doors. The contents of these packages? A solitary black cube with the familiar “Engine Start/Stop” Button located on a single façade of the cube.

audi test drive

Once pressed, the button serves as a transmitter to the nearest Audi dealership. After the dealership receives the signal, an Audi A8 is delivered to the customer in precisely 90 minutes.

Audi called this program the “Audi Test Drive cube” as following its delivery, the customer received an exclusive 24-hour period with Audi’s new flagship A8.

With this pilot program, Audi saw a 100% response rate and a 24% conversion rate, meaning that nearly 1 out of 5 clients felt motivated enough either by the programs exclusive treatment or the vehicle itself. Following the remarkably good response of customers the program was expanded to numerous other countries. You can see the cube in action here.

Millennials’ Growing Purchasing Power

Good news for the auto industry!

Contrary to the popular belief that auto sales would dwindle with the rise of millennials, it turns out that they are actually longing for vehicle ownership. Turns out the selfie-generation is also the generation of self-transportation.

Happy millennials on vacation

Young people have moved beyond ride-sharing services. This is indicated in studies showing that companies like Uber and TappCar are used only for specific events and purposes, which suggests that ride-sharing services could become a means of replacing cabs, but not necessarily car ownership. In 2014, for the first time, millennials purchased more vehicles than generation X. As time goes on, we can expect further purchasing power from millennials to dictate automotive trends. In fact, the growing amount of choices in the sport-utility segment are a reflection of millennial trends.

You can read more about this study here!

Google’s Possum Update

Google's Possum UpdateHow significantly did the Possum update impact local search results in Google?

From the perspective of the local SEO results, Google’s most recent update was substantial.

Some major changes resulting from this update are:

1.  City Limits:
If a company’s brick and mortar location exists outside city limits, but most of its clients are within that city, it’s quite likely that search results have not been helpful to these businesses in the past. However, with the recent Possum Update, these issues have seemingly been fixed as city limits are playing a less prominent role in SERP. It is not yet confirmed whether or not Google Maps was given an update to accommodate this or if the search algorithm was tweaked. However, we do know progress is being seen.

2. Address Affiliation Filter:
In the past, the local algorithm filtered out local profiles that shared either a phone number or domain in order to weed out duplicates. In order for businesses to avoid being filtered out by Google in a situation like this, companies should provide a business license to Google, particularly if listings are negatively affecting their website rankings. This will distinguish the listing/domain from another business with the same address.

3. Location:
The new algorithm update is using IP address locations to ensure more detailed local results to nearby users. Further, Google has dedicated larger emphasis to location, which translates to the searcher’s location settings playing an increasingly large role in displaying and ranking which adds are viewable from which location.

For further information regarding Google’s Possum update, check out the link below!

http://searchengineland.com/everything-need-know-googles-possum-algorithm-update-258900

 

The Purpose of the Halo Car: What is it Used For?

In an age of “hybrid synergy drive”, CVT’s and FWD, you may be wondering what purpose an archaic, performance-focused flagship vehicle can serve?

2016 Audi RS7 4.0T
2016 Audi RS7 4.0T

Often complex, under produced and over-engineered, halo cars can be described as a figurehead of a brand. They act as a symbol of a brands research, ability and image. One could argue it to be so much more than a symbol to a manufacturer, a flagship vehicle serves one of two purposes. Primarily, drawing eyes both young and old to a distinct brand. Additionally, a flagship vehicle can enthrall and inspire buyers into purchasing a brands comparable models. In doing so, a halo car helps sell a large number of “mainstream” vehicles to consumers. Whether they’re as common as a Miata, or perhaps as rare as Mercedes’ Maybach series, each serve a purpose.

2017 Toyota 86
2017 Toyota 86

Take the Scion FR-S (now Toyota 86), for example. This small performance coupe served the purpose of bringing in young, upcoming buyers, buyers who might be searching for performance and aesthetic appeal at the moment, but will likely find themselves needing to trade into something larger and more utilitarian down the road. This buyer has spent the last number of years building a relationship with Toyota, and Toyota now has a particular advantage when it comes time for the buyer to make that upgrade and buy a new vehicle.

Further, buyers may feel inspired by a flagship vehicle’s performance metrics or luxury offerings to the level at which it will influence their next purchase. An example of this would be those seeking an Audi RS Model after being influenced by the acceleration, looks, and overall presence of an Audi RS7. The buyer decided to pursue the closest option he could achieve – the Audi A7. The A7’s 333hp 3.0-liter turbo engine may not enjoy the same potency as the RS7’s 605hp 4.0-liter turbo engine, however the buyer has achieved similar styling, luxury, engineering and presence.

2016 Audi 3.0T
2016 Audi 3.0T

So what are halo cars used for? These distinct luxury or performance oriented vehicles serve a much more prominent role than simply portraying a manufacturers potential. These figurehead models ensure similar vehicles are sold in large numbers so dealers can facilitate in generating lifelong customers.