AD #1164 – Renault-Nissan Alliance Pays Off, Soon-to-be Taxi of Today, All-New Mazda3

June 27th, 2013 at 11:51am

Runtime: 6:45

Due to a few key factors, the alliance between Renault and Nissan saved more than half the amount it did in 2011. Nissan’s head of commercial vehicles for North America gives us the latest on the company’s effort to upgrade New York City’s fleet of more than 13,000 taxis. Mazda pulls the wraps off the all-new version of its best-selling compact car. All that and more, plus the Autoextremist, Peter De Lorenzo shares his thoughts on Acura’s new “Made for Mankind” tagline.

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Hello and welcome to another edition of Autoline Daily. I’m Peter De Lorenzo, the Autoextremist, filling in for John today. In the second half of the show, I’ll share my thoughts on Acura’s new tagline “Made for Mankind.” But now the news.

The partnership between Renault and Nissan really paid off last year. The companies saved about $3.5 billion in 2012, which is a 54 percent improvement compared to 2011. The biggest contributors to the savings were in purchasing, powertrain and vehicle engineering but the alliance expects non-engineering areas to contribute more to the bottom line in the future. More integration in parts sharing and manufacturing, especially in emerging markets also helped improve cost savings.

We’ve got more changes in management to report. GM announced that Opel’s chief strategist, Thomas Sedran will replace Susan Docherty as the head of Chevy and Cadillac in Europe. And speaking of Opel, it also announced that Tina Mueller will take over marketing duties for the company. And in other personnel moves, the Original Equipment Suppliers Association announced that Julie Fream will take over as president and CEO of the organization starting October 1st. She will replace Neil De Koker who is retiring.

If you’re planning a fall trip to the Big Apple be prepared to see the streets filled with Nissans — specifically the Taxi of Tomorrow. While shooting an upcoming story on Nissan’s new cargo van, the Autoline team talked with the head of commercial vehicles for North America who gave us the latest on the company’s effort to upgrade the city’s fleet of more than 13,000 cabs.

(Interview with Nissan’s head of commercial vehicles for North America can only be viewed in the video version of today’s show.)

New York City replaces around 2,500 cabs a year and since Nissan has a ten year contract with the city, by 2023 we can expect the streets of Manhattan to be flooded with these Mexican-built taxis of today.

The first Mazda3 came out ten years ago and the car now accounts for nearly one third of the company’s annual global sales. To help continue that success, Mazda pulled the wraps off the all-new 3rd generation of the compact car. It now features the company’s KODO design language, several all-new safety systems and an all-new infotainment system that the company says was designed for ease of use and safety. The car will have the option of two gasoline engines, either a 2.0 liter or a 2.5 liter. The all-new 2014 Mazda3 goes on sale this fall in the U.S.

Drayson Racing, which is a British company that develops alternative powered racecars, just broke a 39 year old FIA World Land Speed Record. The electric LeMans prototype called the Drayson B12 69/EV hit a top speed of 204.185 miles per hour at an airfield in England. That’s over 29 miles per hour faster than the previous record set in 1974. The 2,200 pound racecar is powered by a 30 kilowatt battery that cranks out 850 horsepower. Also assisting Drayson in the feat were Michelin and Cosworth.

Coming up, Acura takes aim at “the enlightened” – and leaves everyone else scratching their heads…

Next week Acura marketers are debuting an all-new advertising push in conjunction with the launch of its new MDX crossover. It will be the biggest launch in the brand’s history in terms of money spent, akin to a Hail Mary pass for the Japanese automaker. And the launch will revolve around the theme line, “Made for mankind.”

Now, let me be the first to say that this isn’t the first advertising campaign that’s so totally self-absorbed that it leaves you breathless. And it certainly won’t be the last. But, really? This new Acura spot hits it out of the park when it comes to self-absorption.

I’ll spare you the gory details and the rationales, but suffice to say, Acura and Mullen – their L.A.-based ad agency responsible for the work – are taking aim at consumers they call “the enlightened” – tech-savvy risk-takers who play by their own rules, such as Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg.

Oh, joy.

Let me get this straight – Acura, the brand that has been in a perpetual struggle for credibility while aspiring to be like Audi, BMW, Lexus and Mercedes, is now going to aim its entire raison d’etre at “the enlightened”?

How perfect is that?

Listen, I’m all for high-concept advertising, because when it works it’s memorable and inspiring.

But when it doesn’t it leaves a trail of confusion and head scratching in its wake that is very difficult to overcome.

This is Acura’s moonshot, so to speak. I get that. It’s nice to have goals and believe that you can do whatever you want, in a Stuart Smalley sort of way.

But they aimed for the moon and crashed somewhere west of Laramie.

And that’s the High-Octane Truth for this week.

But before I go, don’t forget to join us tonight for Autoline After Hours. Our guest is Chris Preuss from Team Detroit, Ford’s advertising agency. But Chris also ran OnStar and GM public relations, so he has some great insights on what’s going on in the car biz. So join me, John and Gary Vasilash from Automotive Design & Production for Autoline After Hours tonight.

And that’s it for today. Once again I’m Peter De Lorenzo, the Autoextremist. Thanks for watching and I will see tonight and tomorrow.

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34 Comments to “AD #1164 – Renault-Nissan Alliance Pays Off, Soon-to-be Taxi of Today, All-New Mazda3”

  1. Neil MS Says:

    Nice reference to the classic automotive ad “Somewhere west of Laramie,” Peter!

  2. Kit Gerhart Says:

    John, are you saying that Acura will soon join the Jordan Motor Car Company who did the famous “Somewhere West of Laramie” ad many, many years ago?

    Jordan ad of 1923:

    “SOMEWHERE west of Laramie there’s a bronco-busting, steer roping girl who knows what I’m talking about. She can tell what a sassy pony, that’s a cross between greased lighting and the place where it hits, can do with eleven hundred pounds of steel and action when he’s going high, wide and handsome. The truth is – the Playboy was built for her. Built for the lass whose, face is brown with the sun when the day is done of revel and romp and race. She loves the cross of the wild and the tame. There’s a savor of links about that car – of laughter and lilt and light – a hint of old loves – and saddle and quirt. It’s a brawny thing – yet a graceful thing for the sweep o’ the Avenue. Step into the Playboy when the hour grows dull with things gone dead and stale. Then start for the land of real living with the spirit of the lass who rides, lean and rangy, into the red horizon of a Wyoming twilight.”

  3. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Sorry, I meant Peter, not John.

  4. W L Simpson Says:

    Auto biz is homogenizing —-management too.

  5. RS Says:

    Now I can’t wait to check out the ads for Acura. Maybe that is already a success indicator for them???

  6. Richard Tait Says:

    “Made for mankind”. . Nonsense.

  7. GM Veteran Says:

    The best ad campaign Acura had was their debut campaign, “Precision Crafted Performance”. It was memorable and gave them a high-tech image in the 80′s when the brand was launched. The Legend quickly became a big success and Acura was the top-selling Japanese luxury maker for several years. Then a marketing genius decided that the Legend and Integra names had too much brand awareness and overshadowed the Acura brand. So, they ditched the ad campaign and renamed the cars with innocuous badges like RL and TL. That killed their brand awareness and sales and the rest is history, and pretty sad.

    Perhaps they should go back to the future instead of trying to sell another “lifestyle” bag of crap campaign.

  8. Frank Nelson Says:

    I think Honda’s demise started when they took the names from their Acura cars, Legend, Vigor, Integra, and gave them the alpha-numeric nomenclature, RL, TL, CL, RDX ad nauseum. So what if Legend was more recognizable than Honda? If it sold cars, why would that matter? Now, they killed the NSX, S2000, CRX, and there really is no halo vehicle for the Honda/Acura family. They still make efficient, dependable transportation. But so do a lot of companies. And this really surprises me about Honda, in that I felt that they were more connected to the pulse of America than any of the other Japanese and most of the European car companies.

  9. Kit Gerhart Says:

    That first Integra was kind of cool, a sporty, smallish hatchback, with powerful-for-their-size 4 cyl engines.

  10. Lex Says:

    @ GM Veteran #6,

    I agree with you! That Acura Tag Line “Precision Crafted Performance” was great.
    I just wish Honda / Acura would get their act together regarding world wide namesplates and models. Aren’t Acura styled vehicles being sold as Honda’s in the UK under there former Acura nameplates. This makes no sense to me for an OEM. An Accord should be the same whether sold in the US, Europe, Asia or anywhere in the world. I rather liked those Acura nameplates Legend and Integra.

  11. Lex Says:

    The Chevy Cruze is a fine example of real automotive globalization. This must saved GM a ton on R&D, manuafacturing and advertising costs the world over. I do prefer the front grill on the Holden Cruze over the Chevy split grill. I hope Chevy will give the Cruze a new single grill similar to the Impala next year.

  12. Lex Says:

    Carlos Ghoen of Nissan / Renault should get a raise based upon the saving gained by the Nissan / Renault programs of sharing platforms and parts.

  13. pedro fernandez Says:

    Acura’s new tag line sucks! why not made for the world or some other crap like that, made for mankind?? does that mean the others are made for aliens? or animals?

  14. Kit Gerhart Says:

    ….and getting the contract to build that Benz CLA in Mexico.

  15. Wayne M. Brehob Says:

    You got something wrong in your discussion of the electric car speed record. You say that it has a 30 kilowatt battery. That would limit the car to about 40 horsepower. Maybe you meant to say 30 kilowatt hour.

  16. pedro fernandez Says:

    #14 why do you suppose MB gave Nissan the contract to build the CLA, was it just cost or also that Nissan builds Infinity, a luxury car as well, so they figure they can do alright?

  17. Kit Gerhart Says:

    #16, Probably price and they probably expect as good of quality as they get from the plant in Hungary.

    Isn’t there going to be an Infinity that will be similar? I think I heard that, but not sure.

  18. pedro fernandez Says:

    Yep! in May MT wrote a piece on how Infinity may build a small CUV based on the CLA platform, one big happy family!

  19. Tex Says:

    It is my understanding that the World Electric Land Speed Record was set at Bonneville in 2010 by The Ohio State University in the Buckeye Bullet 2.5 at a speed of 307.67 mph.

  20. C-Tech Says:

    Will someone help me with this: New York City taxi companies are being FORCED to buy only Nissan NV200 Vans as taxi vehicles? If this is so, how can this be allowed in the U.S.? There is no lawsuit coming?

  21. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Here is some info on how the NYC taxi business works:

    I still don’t know how the city can legally require operators to buy the Datsuns. Maybe HtG would have some insight.

  22. pedro fernandez Says:

    It must be Bedbug Bloomberg and his dictatorship style of govt that has forced this, I recall when you had those Marathon cabs along with Chevy and Ford as well as vans, These Nissans are too large for the tight NY streets and heavy traffic.

  23. Kit Gerhart Says:

    The Nissans are shorter than the Crown Vics that now make up most of the NYC taxi fleet, but still, I don’t know how Mr. Bloomberg can mandate their replacements. When I was there a little over a year ago, there were some Priuses, Escapes, and various “minivans” as taxis. I don’t know how they fit into the system.

  24. C-Tech Says:

    I understand setting certain standards for cabs, but specifying you can only purchase from a single manufacturer (unless it is a hybrid) is ludacris to me.

  25. pedro fernandez Says:

    #22 isn’t he also mandating how much salt they can put on your food and what size soda you can buy and so on and so forth, he must be a big fan of 1984.

  26. HtG Says:


    I guess Bloomberg doesn’t have much patience for the political system’s ability to solve problems. If you look at his programs they’re soundly based, though callous to opposing interests. He knows better.

  27. HtG Says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I think his usurpation of the election process in NYC was breathtakingly high handed.

    But then, money

  28. HtG Says:


    Here’s a piece in NY Daily News on the Nissan cabs.

    Even thought John McE. thinks they’re hideous looking, to my eye they’re going to fit in well in NYC. Of course, there’s plenty of mingers in the world that I fancy.(too embarrassed to mention)

  29. Kit Gerhart Says:

    Once there are a lot of them on the streets, they will just “look like taxis,” as Crown Vics do now.

    From that article, it looks like there will still be some Prius, Camry and Fusion hybrids, etc. as taxis. It seemed that the most common hybrid taxis were Escapes when I was in NY a year ago, but those will fade away, unless Ford comes up with a new Escape hybrid.

  30. pedro fernandez Says:

    TTAC just released a piece about GM plant in Korea and referred to it as Daewoo, TB is gonna have a fit, he might even punch Mickey in the nose if he reads that over at Disney.

  31. Kit Gerhart Says:

    It will be aong time before people quit using the name Daewoo, regardless of what GM officially calls it. Heck, I still use the name Datsun occasionally, like with those new Datsun taxis in New York.

  32. pedro fernandez Says:

    They plan to go on strike on July 4th. They sure love us over there!! Don’t they realize WE are the reason the Mighty Midget Maniac from the north does not wipe them off the face of the earth? They sure don’t spend all the money they should of the military

  33. cwolf Says:

    TTAC doesn’t like GM in the first place, so why should the author,Bertel Schmitt, not follow the tradition. But note the information provided was from Reuters and “Daewoo” was never mentioned. None of the other auto sites shared TTAC’s bias.

  34. pedro fernandez Says:

    cwolf, but GM Korea IS Daewoo, same plants, same workers, same engineers, different name, and to most observers, better products so far, only time will tell if they remain good after years of use and abuse.