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Thursday, September 15, 2005

My Life is Now Complete

I had a ride in a Rover 75 this morning while (or whilst?) on a trip to Cambridge. It was blue/grey colored with a petrol v6. Cambridge is a beautiful small city north of London with a population of around 100 thousand. One of my goals in life is to buy a Rover 75, either used, or perhaps in Chinese guise. It really is a great looking car, the size is just right, only eccentrics drive them, and the engineering is by BMW. And they're incredibly cheap right now as well. I guess the equivalent would be a British expat buying a Buick LaCrosse while living in America.

A few posts ago I commented on how luxury brands were viewed by the British and Europeans in general. "Big Ford Fan" asked how Ford was viewed by the British. It is actually viewed quite well, with the European spec Focus considered very highly by the public. Ford is the best selling brand in Britain, and as I said before, many Europeans don't even realize that Ford is an American company. And in a sense it isn't an American company, but a wholly owned subsidiary in Europe that develops its own cars. It undoubtedly borrows a lot of parts from the American part of the company, but the engineering and design are usually American. Other than the Ford GT, I can't think of an American engineered Ford currently on sale here. Well there is the Maverick, or what is known as the Escape in the US. I have not seen one since I've been here.

I was at a conference this past week that had nothing to do with cars, but in the midst of schmoozing with people at the conference, I inevitably brought up cars, and how people felt about them. Vauxhall, which is really Opel, which is really GM's subsidiary in Europe has a poor reputation, even though the new Astra has been well received. VW, Ford, Renault, Peugeot are the powerhouses for the middle and lower classes. There are many Peugeot 206s in London, including a few on my street. (I realize I photographed a while back a 206 and said it was a 307, my bad.) I've peeked into the cabin of a few, and they look decent. If something comes between my dream of owning a Rover 75 (like rationality), I would consider a Peugeot. As an ex-pat, I think owning a car I could get in America is a little silly. And my last car for the past four years was Japanese, so I think the odds are that I will purchase a European marque. Of the three French brands, Renault, Citroen, and Peugeot, the only one I find attractive is Peugeot. The other two are just too ugly. And if I had a little more money, I would love to own an Alfa. I really think for the money they are the best looking cars on the road. Though maybe not the best cars overall.

More in a couple days...

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Monday, September 12, 2005

Where are the Girls?

One thing I've noticed as a somewhat large difference between American and European autoshows, is the fact that European autoshows have the cars introduced by women in skirts and high heels, while American car shows either have the women dressed in pants, or no women at all and the car is introduced by pyrotechnics or a robot.

Quite frankly I think Americans should adopt the European strategy.

An autoshow is a male event. Yes there are women there, but most of the women were dragged to the event by their male counterparts. I've attended an autoshow with a woman before, and the show was definitely an outing for me. Not her.

That's not to say autoshows don't hold some excitement for women. There are vehicles that women are attracted to, and ones they would probably like to sit in and look at. But there is something in the male psyche, perhaps his DNA, that draws a man to an autoshow. Perhaps we are more visual creatures then women, or more tactile, I don't know. Regardless, the shows' primary audience is not female. And so the goal of the show should be to attract that demographic.

What about children? Won't they be offended? From the pictures I've seen of European autoshows, the women introducers could hardly be described as scantily clad. American corporations are most likely second guessing the morality of their market, and hoping that they don't offend anyone. Over in Europe, the thought doesn't even begin to cross the mind of European executives. Sex sells.

Obviously there is a fine line to walk when dealing with the American consumer as Janet Jackson can surely attest to. But there is also the end goal of generating profits, and a little pizazz to add to your product never hurt anyone.

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