March 22nd, 2010 at 12:29pm
Company shareholders are going to sue Toyota because the price of its stock has gone down. General Motors is suing a company that’s building replicas of the 1963 Corvette Grand Sport. Could auctions at Amelia Island be a signal the recession is ending? All that and more, plus a look at Infiniti’s latest marketing push.
Transcript and Story Links after the jump . . .
Here are today’s top headlines. Now Toyota faces shareholder lawsuits. GM sues a company building replica Corvettes. And could auctions at Amelia Island be a signal the recession is ending?
Up next, we’ll be back with the news behind the headlines.
This is Autoline Daily for Monday, March 22, 2010. And now, the news.
And the lawsuits keep piling up against Toyota. Now company shareholders are going to sue the company because the price of its stock has gone down. The Associated Press reports that three different class-action lawsuits are being filed. They accuse Toyota of knowing for a decade that its electronic throttle control has a defect that will cause a car to accelerate wildly out of control, but covered it up. So are these angry Japanese investors who are suing Toyota? Of course not, they’re Americans. Don’t look for these lawsuits to succeed. Stockholders also sued Ford for the same sort of thing with the rollover Explorers. But Ford won that lawsuit.
Chrysler is now offering television in vehicles (subscription required), as an aftermarket package. Chrysler had been offering three different TV channels through Sirius radio. But this new system offers live, mobile TV in 100 different markets in the United States. It is now offering 10 different stations, according to Ward’s, but is capable of showing 200 channels. It’s a dealer option that costs $629 plus installation. It is available in most truck products, but not any passenger cars. The system is from FLO TV of San Diego, California, a subsidiary of Qualcomm.
General Motors is suing Mongoose Motorsports of Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio, over trademark infringement the Detroit News reports. The company is producing replicas of the 1963 Corvette Grand Sport. It’s one of the rarest models in existence, only five were built, and it sells for millions at auctions. The replicas are being sold for $90,000. GM wants the company to stop making and selling the models, destroy all labels, signs and ads bearing Corvette trademarks, and also wants unspecified financial damages.
Just to prove that we cover everything going on in the automotive world, Tata announced a deal to build a heavy truck plant in Myanmar, the country which used to be known as Burma and is one of the most closed societies in the world. According to the AFP, the plant will open next year and have a capacity of 1,000 units. No financial numbers were disclosed but it’s being funded by credit from the Indian government.
Chrysler and German supplier ZF are working together to produce truck and SUV axles, but Ward’s reports that the relationship between the two companies is not all smiles and handshakes (subscription required). Part of the problem is that Chrysler’s bankruptcy pushed production back. The first axle was supposed to be delivered in April, but that milestone is not expected to happen until later in the summer. Production is also expected to be some 30 percent lower than initially estimated because of the weak economy. And the UAW isn’t happy, either. Some of the 350 employees that were supposed to transfer from Chrysler’s axle plant in Detroit to the new facility aren’t needed.
Could the auction-price of exotic automobiles be a bellwether for the U.S. economy? Autoblog reports that three classic Ferraris sold for more than $1 million at the Amelia Island Auction in Florida. The 40 year-old cars include a Daytona Spyder once owned by Edsel Ford II. It went for nearly $1.1 million. Next up, a copper-colored 275 GTB/4 brought in almost $1.3 million – a little less than its estimate. Lastly, a meticulously restored, concourse-winning 275 greatly exceeded its estimated value with a $1,650,000 winning bid. Overall, the auction accounted for more than $19 million in sales.
Coming up next, a look at Infiniti’s latest marketing push.
There was a time not too long ago when marketing a car seemed pretty simple. With snappy ads saturating the media, you could sell nearly anything on wheels. Of course, it was never quite that easy, but compared to the complexity of today it seemed like Shangri-La. Just ask the folks at Infiniti.
This 20 year-old company has produced some terrific products, but its middle-of-the-pack sales numbers show us a brand STILL trying to break into the luxury big leagues. One way to do that is to ramp up marketing — which — Infiniti has done recently with a “Back To The Future” type game plan.
And that’s an important key in this Internet age. Companies look for layers of marketing that touch the right audience, something Infiniti is already doing with the Sundance Channel and its hybrid show Spectacle with Elvis Costello.
But Infiniti isn’t just looking to score with well-heeled music lovers. The company’s turned to college basketball with ESPN blogs and “inspiration-themed” interviews with top tier coaches.
And right now as March Madness covers the county, Infiniti has turned to CBS Sports to promote its new flagship sedan. By sponsoring the network’s Bracket Challenge and OnDemand games at the website, the company is reaching an important male-dominated crowd which is the exact target for the M.
Of course, attracting customers and moving metal is the bottom line. And despite all the research and focus groups, sometimes selling just comes down to an elaborate game of chance … one that Infiniti Marketing chooses to spread, layer and integrate.
And that’s it for today’s top news in the global automotive industry. Thanks for watching, we’ll see you tomorrow.