On second thought, it’s probably just reverse-sexism. I hope compliments count towards reparations…
Nonetheless, what could only have been a very smart, careful, and ingenious woman at GM has done what Steve Jobs did with the music player – borrowed a bunch of other people’s good ideas and brought them together into an elegant and user-friendly form. The result is not only lovingly crafted but is also the best upgrade to the facelifted 2013 Buick Enclave, GMC Acadia, and Chevy Traverse. If you’ve driven these triplets, you’ll find the refreshed to be remarkably familiar, with the exceptional exception of 3 very expensive knobs.
This isn’t faint praise. It’s more like reverse-faint-praise.
“To the mountains!” I proclaimed to myself, not quietly enough. The office paused momentarily before key taps and paper shuffling resumed.
My friend Conal had just asked a dozen of his closest friends, myself included, to join him at his family’s Canmore home for the weekend! Just like that, the stage was set for a weekend road trip to the ever-imposing Rockies. Our chariot for the 900 kilometer (555 mile) round-trip? The all-new, niche-defying (but quasi-Prius-fighting) Ford C-MAX, an all-new vehicle for 2013. Then…
Just like that, 50 hours after we left Edmonton, we were home again. In between, we skied, hiked, died of laughter playing Cards Against Humanity, baked oatmeal cookies from scratch, teased each other about budding romances, relieved hundreds of glass bottles of their contents, and used only 58L of gas.
The weekend was a perfect opportunity for us to let off some steam, grow closer, and enjoy Ford’s foray into the growing market of family-oriented green vehicles.
Ah yes. The very embodiment of the Obama Administration’s public appeasement after GM’s bailout in 2008. For years thereafter, the Volt wrapped itself in the untouchable US flag and became a symbol of innovation, risk-taking, and taxpayer dollars. But now the dust has settled and the car is here: for sale at your local dealership, miles away from the world of partisan bickering, if not public relations spin. It’s been four long years since we were promised a revolution. Has the wait been worth it?
Much like the President, I had high, but not foolishly untempered expectations of this American. With its 16-kWh battery and 60km all-EV range, Chevy claims the Volt will ferry 78% of us to work and back without a single drop of Alberta’s famous bitumen. Of course, since it only seats four people, each family will need their own, but you get the idea. General Motors, the profligate statue of American excess, couldn’t (or wouldn’t) offer us complete freedom from oil. Not quite. For those “once-in-a-whiles” – those fishing trips, those trips to the farm, and those trips to the mountains – there’s an 83hp 1.4L “range-extender” (read: engine).
As an igloo-dwelling urbanite with no plug-in at home or office, the Volt isn’t for me. But that just makes its forbidden fruit that much sweeter. While in Vancouver recently, accompanying my fiancée on a “continuing education” getaway (not as miserable as it sounds), I sipped the extended-range-electric nectar and indulged in a “once-in-a-while”. But enough quotation marks.
There are 31-year-olds who live in their parents’ basement and volunteer at the soup kitchen. There are 42-year-old single mothers who work from home as angel investors. There are 88-year-old snow birds who drive to Phoenix every winter, not to golf, but to run in the marathon. Everyone has a story. Some more unusual than others.
These stories, and generalizations thereof, are what marketers zero in on like Obama on Osama, and vice versa.
Marketers, like politicians and terrorists, want to know all about us. They want to be our pen pals but they don’t want to write back. That sounds a bit like stalking because it is. But the goal of marketing isn’t just to creep, it’s to sell.
Obviously, marketers can’t talk to every single potential buyer – asking them what they like and don’t like – that’s too time consuming and too expensive. Fortunately for them, there are terabytes of cheap personal data at the ready. As buyers have opened themselves to the world of the web, giving away their innermost desires as a means of “sharing”, marketers are now able to peg us with alarming accuracy. That’s part of the reason why, even though finding one without corn starch is nearly impossible, we have 145 kinds of yogurt at the grocery store. It’s also why Google Ads assaults my father with “Collector’s WW2 Uniforms” ads whether he’s checking out CarEnvy or IDF.il. It’s also why we have cars like the Mercedes CLS63 AMG and its simply sultry Shooting Brake sister. Specificity of both supply and demand are on the up and up. Differentiating ourselves from the masses has undeniable appeal.
As a result, as any marketer worth his square glasses will tell you, there are infinite and one niches. Due to the abundance of data now available, these segments of the population are often diced so finely that the greater whole to which they belong is lost entirely. Marketers are effectively staring at Georges Seurat’s A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte so closely that they’re unable to see even a single parasol.
In marketing today, a man who likes fast cars, cold beer, and high-impact sports is as invisible as the parasol. He’s too big to notice. And yet he exists, defiant of their ignorance.
As our neighbours to the south head to the polls for the most important election in the world this November, it’s time again for members of the international community to think about who we might vote for, given the opportunity.
To help guide us in this very theoretical debate, CarEnvy has invited two proud American sedans that provide speed, luxury, and most importantly, exceptional value. Because other than childhood obesity and technological innovation, what’s more American that bang for your buck? We’ve matched each of the political candidates with their nearest automotive parallel to help shed some light on what is sure to be a nasty and narrowly won fight to the finish. Republican Candidate Mitt Romney will be represented by the 2012 Buick Regal GS and Democratic Candidate Barack Obama will be represented by the 2013 Ford Taurus SHO. It’s Romney GS vs. SHObama!
You have but one vote, dear friends, and the fate of the world depends on it.
There are untold scores of new cars for sale in Canada, but the list of two-door cars that you’d want to drive year-round in Alberta is seriously limited. For those of us who live in this winter wonderland, the AWD Coupé is Automotive Nirvana: the place where a single car can drift us through knee-deep snow while maintaining the youthful irreverence of two-door transport. If you’re even pickier than that, if you also want eye-widening style and one of the finest engines for sale, well, you’re about to find yourself behind the wheel of the 2013 Audi RS5.
Last week, when I was presented the opportunity to drive what is arguably the hottest new car from Germany’s hottest luxury automaker, I leapt like Jesse Owens when he found out the 1936 Olympics were in Berlin. I wouldn’t have more than a few hours with the car, but I was intent on translating this condensed experience into thousands of individual packets – each completely satisfying in its own right – in an effort to find out if the RS5 is really as exceptional behind the wheel as it is on paper.