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.
Today is “The Day” i.e. The Day of Atonement on the Jewish Calendar. There’s no holier day for The Chosen People. It’s also the first live day of coverage for journalists at the 2012 Paris Motor Show, the first show of the rambunctious Auto Show Season. How do these fit together?
Since we didn’t win the Kia Canada Photography Contest and Twitter gives a more interactive glimpse of the proceedings anyways, let’s see how the world’s largest and most influential automakers fared in Paris today and what they have to atone for as a result. Even with more guilt-assuaging plug-in hybrids than sexy booth babes, you’d better believe they’re still guilty beyond reproach.
As we look out our collective windows and bask in the fading glow of autumn, magnificent though it is, we sense the inevitability of the coming winter season. Now, then, is the perfect time to warm our souls with thoughts of endless summer days. Long-standing Friend of CarEnvy, Kathleen Zenith, spent several weeks touring the Pacific Northwest in her family’s Volvo XC70 this summer just so we could look through her lens in times of need. Or so I’m led to believe.
In pictures, and with a keen eye for composition, this is her journey.
Beneath miserably heavy clouds on an drizzly Sunday afternoon, I found myself listening to XM Radio’s live coverage of Electric Zoo, one of the world’s premiere electronic dance music festivals.
Having already completed my chores for the morning, I was driving aimlessly through the city. With scattered light pouring into the cabin from the twin sunroofs, Axwell’s now famous set was playing on the 15-speaker Bose Cabin Surround sound system. Axwell was giving New York, and yours truly, a musical treasure.
Having attended the Electric Daisy Carnival this summer, I had a new appreciation for super-scale music festivals. On top of mind-bending lights and sounds, having tens and even hundreds of thousandsof people singing and dancing together is an unmatchable experience. With EDC fresh in my mind, the 2013 Infiniti JX35 was my festival on wheels with everything but the lasers.