What’s in a Name?

At the recent New York Auto Show, I had the opportunity to speak with Andrew Smith, Executive Director of Global Design at Cadillac about the new CT6.

Andrew said the design was deliberately polarizing.  Not everyone will like it, but those that do, will embrace the new sheet metal language.  I complimented him on the illusion of the short front overhang of the vehicle, giving it a racing, almost snub nose appearance in profile.  It was a deliberate attempt at making the vehicle look larger than it is, with the added benefit of maximizing the wheelbase for a more comfortable ride.  It’s a skillful illusion, as the nose protrudes as much as any vehicle’s, and the effect is taut and lean for a very large car.  I commented on the homage to the late 1970s Seville with the suggestion of a bustle-back (which dates back to the 1930’s, and has been seen in a number of GM vehicles over the years) and it adds to the visual interest of the rear.  Andrew smiled at the reference, and we compared notes on the success of the BMW 750’s bustle back on sales (it was the biggest selling 7 series in BMW’s history at that time).

 

Like a number of luxury manufacturers, Cadillac is changing the formula for naming its vehicles.  In the past, this car would have been know as the XTS, the flagship of the line.  Its replacement, the CT6, borrows from its slightly smaller sibling, the CTS, with the S changing to a ‘6’.  When the CTS is replaced in a few years (it was pretty much all new last year), it will undergo a re-naming, and the ATS will come to a similar fate.  We’ll see if the naming scheme confuses buyers or positions the vehicles in their minds the way Cadillac intends.

 

Category Busters

As a new year begins, and the automotive press works through its “best of” lists to close out 2013, I can’t help but wonder about the year that wasn’t.  We don’t have an affordable electric vehicle that will travel more than 200km on a single charge.  We don’t have a charging system that will top up that battery in the same time as it takes to fill up an internal combustion engine powered vehicle. Continue reading

The city that never sleeps

I love New York.  Go to New York to get lost in the crowd, or be found by 10,000,000 other souls.

Like Frank Sinatra, I like to wake up in the city that never sleeps, especially to go for a run around 7:30 in the morning. Sundays are particularly quiet on the roads, which I share mainly with taxis, black cars and police cars.  Dog walkers wrangle their charges around the various poles and obstacles.  Shop keepers scrub the sidewalks outside of their establishments. The city gradually awakens to a new day. Continue reading

Best and worst: weird, wacky and wonderful car names – The Globe and Mail

Best and worst: weird, wacky and wonderful car names – The Globe and Mail.

In the Thursday May 30, 2013 edition of Globe and Mail, a wonderful article by Peter Cheney outlines his position on vehicle names. He chooses what he views as the best and worst vehicle names of all time.

Now, let’s see if we can take this a step further. Continue reading

TV ads are bad, research doesn’t work: Ad legend – The Globe and Mail

TV ads are bad, research doesn’t work: Ad legend – The Globe and Mail.

Marketing legend Sir John Hegarty is interviewed in the Friday, May 17/2013 edition of Globe and Mail.  In a few short paragraphs, he identifies what he feels is right and wrong with today’s marketing.

What strikes me the most about his article is this: “Persuasion is taking a nonbeliever and turning them into a believer. Christ stood on the rock and he talked to the masses. He did not talk to 18- to 25-year-olds with a disposable income of 25 shekels and a preponderance to change. He persuaded – because of what he believed in.” Continue reading

Separated at Birth

I’ve always had trouble with the word ‘separate’.  My grade 12 English teacher, Ms. Lowry, (yes, she was a Ms., even back then) used to give us spelling tests.  No other English teachers at my high school gave spelling tests, especially not in grade 12.  We had to take them seriously; they accounted for twenty percent of our final mark.

One particular test irked me.  I received a mark of 49 out of 50 on one test, having incorrectly spelled ‘separate’ (I had put ‘seperate’, which even today, appears correct to me).  I also remember the person behind me marking my test, as I was marking the test of the person in front of me, etc. Every time I had another correct answer, I could hear him curse under his breath.  When it came to ‘separate’, he shouted out in glee that I finally had one wrong. People around us wondered what the fuss was about.

Getting it wrong is far more difficult for auto manufacturers. (See, there was a point to all of this.) Witness the false start of the 2012 Honda Civic, resulting in a hasty remake for the 2013 model year.  Designers must serve many masters; their design head, accountants, production managers, engineers, among others, balancing their desire for unique, personal statements in automotive rolling sculpture with the constraints placed on them by their masters.

For this reason, designers will play it safe.  Sometimes, it’s to pay homage to another designer’s fine work, other times, they climb aboard the style trend train.  No matter what the reason, like changing hemlines and the colour of kitchen appliances, everything goes in cycles.

In this spirit, I’d like to present a few examples of what I’d like to call, ‘Separated at Birth’, where I see some similar trends in designs from marque to marque.  Enjoy.

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The rear 'boomerang' tailight of Altima is reflected in..
The rear 'boomerang' tailight of Altima is reflected in..
the Ford Focus,
the Ford Focus,
from a suggestion by the 2009 Maxima.
from a suggestion by the 2009 Maxima.
The new Fiesta shares its grille design with...
The new Fiesta shares its grille design with...
Aston Martin.
Aston Martin.
The Avalon uses an Aston grille, but upside down.
The Avalon uses an Aston grille, but upside down.
Audi's grille is substantial,
Audi's grille is substantial,
and cribbed by the Chevy Sonic.
and cribbed by the Chevy Sonic.
The Hyundai Genesis Sedan is referenced by...
The Hyundai Genesis Sedan is referenced by...
the all new Honda Accord.
the all new Honda Accord.
The taillights of the new Kia Cadenza mimic...
The taillights of the new Kia Cadenza mimic...
the Audi A7.
the Audi A7.
The Acura MDX's teardrop tail light is reflected in...
The Acura MDX's teardrop tail light is reflected in...
the new Santa Fe.
the new Santa Fe.