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VehicleVoice: Mini Takes the States Kickoff Party

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Welcome to VehicleVoice Episode #34

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For the last two weeks, you might have noticed an inordinate number of Minis driving through your town. They were probably traveling in groups, and they were probably loaded with luggage, and snacks and very happy people. Those folks you saw were some of the 7,000 Mini owners taking part in “Mini Takes the States” – a 3,000-mile, two-week, cross-country extravaganza brought to you by the cutest little car in the world.

Mini Marketers are a very clever bunch. Of course, it helps to have as your sole product, one of the most loved brands in the automotive marketplace. But Mini has spent their limited marketing resources on lifting their brand to the height of cool while giving their customers infinite ways to individualize their cars. Hence the saying, “no two Minis are alike.”

The VehicleVoice crew certainly found that to be true at the kickoff party for “Mini Takes the States.” With more than 400 Minis neatly packed into the parking lot at Pirate’s Cove at Monterey Beach in California, the party got underway with limbo contests, good eats, Carribean music, and even Mini Corporate Bigwigs leading the marching band that started this cross country drive. See and hear it all here!

Show Features
Andrew Cutler, Mini USA Marketing Director
Jim McDowell, Mini’s Vice President of Marketing


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MINI Cooper Wins AutoPacific 2006 Vehicle Satisfaction Award for Image Compact Cars

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Mini Cooper.jpg

Car makers continuously strive to produce a small car that people actually want to buy – an Image Compact Car – a car people aspire to. MINI has certainly achieved that goal. A car coveted by young and old drivers alike, the MINI has an attitude unmatched in today’s car market. Distinctive, cute, fun to drive, MINI is a delight that clearly satisfies its owners placing it at the top of the segment in the AutoPacific 2006 Vehicle Satisfaction Awards.


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MINI Traveler Concept: Laughing All the Way to the Bank

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If I hear another auto executive say that the B Segment is about explode I think I’m going to climb into the clock tower. The business plan goes like this. Exploding fuel prices will force all right thinking individuals to jettison their gluttonous SUVs and sprint down to the auto dealership to purchase more economical vehicles. Further increasing the prospects for success is a waiting herd of Gen Y new car buyers who are dying to drive a brand new cramped penalty box. The reasons that neither of these will happen are obvious. The former group needs utility and the later group needs cash.
While we will certainly get an increase of offerings in the segment, fuel prices and a demographic subset will not be the reasons for success for any entry into this segment. Unlike Europe, the US is not dominated by six-dollar gallons of gas and streets designed for horses. VehicleVoice (http://www.vehiclevoice.com) and AutoPacific (http://www.autopacific.com) research indicate the B Segment will only grow if a large portion of its entries fit the bill for US consumer acceptance.
The success of MINI in the US has led many to think that the segment is ripe, and that recent spikes in fuel prices are bound to give it stellar growth. The evidence is clear, however, MINI has succeeded with product. Product that inspires passion. Go figure. You only need to look at the Toyota Echo to understand why even B Segment buyers want some passion.
MINI has also identified that fact that there are only so many middle aged buyers who will pay 40% more for a vehicle that lacks the basic utility needed for everyday use. Passion starts the fire. The mind then takes over.
What will add to the prospects for this segment are vehicles that squeeze as much utility as possible into the sheet metal of a vehicle that inspires passion. Enter, the MINI Traveler Concept.


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Automotive Lease Guide Releases Residual Value Awards

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Automotive Lease Guide is an influential and closely watched barometer of the value of brands and vehicles in the USA. ALG’s data are used by leasing companies to set the values for vehicles two and three years in the future and are critical in determining what lease rates a lessee will pay.
While ALG’s Residual Value Awards are not of the ilk of Motor Trend, Automobile, Car & Driver enthusiast awards, they provide an interesting counterpoint to awards based test track measurements, zero to 60 times and seat of the pants opinions. Here is the text of the ALG release…

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ALG’s annual Residual Value Awards honor those vehicles in each automotive segment predicted to retain the highest percentage of their original price. For the third consecutive year, American Honda Motor Company, Inc. heads the list with the Honda Brand winning the Industry Brand Residual Value Award. Honda also received two individual segment awards: the Odyssey for the Minivan Segment and the Accord for the Midsize Car Segment. This is the fifth consecutive win for the Honda Odyssey and the second win for the Accord.
Acura, a division of American Honda Motor Company, Inc., is the winner of the Near Luxury Car Segment for the TL.
BMW of North America, LLC has once again made a strong showing by winning the Luxury Brand Residual Value Award for the third consecutive year. MINI USA, a division of BMW of North America, has won the Compact Car Segment for the MINI Cooper for the fourth time.
Toyota Motor Sales, USA, Inc. took home the most Residual Value Awards this year by winning six individual segment awards: the Avalon for the Fullsize Car Segment, Tacoma Pick-up for the Compact Truck Segment, Tundra for the Fullsize Truck Segment, RAV4 for the Compact SUV Segment, 4Runner for the Midsize SUV Segment, and the Sequoia for the Fullsize SUV Segment. This is the fifth consecutive win for the Toyota Tacoma, Tundra and Sequoia; and the third consecutive win for the 4Runner.
Mercedes-Benz USA LLC is the winner of this year’s Luxury Car Segment award for the CLS Class.
The Sports Car Segment award this year goes to Porsche Cars North America, Inc. for the 911 Carrera.
And last but not least, the CUV (Crossover Utility Vehicle) award goes to Land Rover North America, Inc. for the Range Rover Sport.
“In an era of negative pricing and overcapacity, Residual Value excellence is increasingly difficult to achieve,” said Raj Sundaram, President of Automotive Lease Guide. “Both the segment and brand winners clearly demonstrate that quality products combined with effective pricing strategies will rise to the top.” Sundaram added that, “While the top rankings did not change, several brands have shown significant improvement over last year, highlighting the importance manufacturers are placing on residual value as a long-term objective.”
This year’s awards are based on 2006 model year vehicles. For the fourth year, ALG has also included awards for the brand with the highest predicted resale value of all industry and luxury vehicles. The awards are derived after careful study of segment competition, historical vehicle performance and
industry trends. Award winners are featured on http://www.alg.com, The Wall Street Journal, Automotive News, and other automotive publications and websites dedicated to bringing the industry’s best performing models into the
public eye.


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