See the Lancer Family at Mitsubishi Dealerships

Mitsubishi dealers around the world will be no doubt showing off their latest addition – the Lancer Sportback. You’ve no doubt seen the advert on television where a little boy asks his dad “where did I come from?” Unlike my dad, the on-screen one has the Sportback to help him explain the birds and the bees in graphic detail whilst showing off the curves of the car. “That’s so cool” replies his son. “My friend Tommy only comes from Scotland”. Oh the hilarity.

Yet the Sportback is most definitely part of the Lancer family and I reckon it sits somewhere in the middle. The Mitsubishi Lancer has been around the longest and has seen it all. It is subtly styled, drives sensibly and is reliable. It knows exactly what a customer that doesn’t agonise over torque steer and turbo-lag wants and delivers it impressively whilst being, well, unimpressive and unassuming. Without doubt it is the granddad of the family. 

Next up is the Sportback. Fittingly in the commercial a father is driving it and this is the role the car takes within the Lancer family. Everything is a bit sleeker, performance punchier and the ride sportier without ever being uncomfortable. Crucially it still retains the practicality of the Lancer and still does everything a family saloon should.   Finally there’s the snarling, raucous, fire-eating Lancer Evolution. Currently in its tenth incarnation, this car takes fuel economy, soft suspension and subtle styling and runs them over, reverses and dos it again just to make sure. This is the car that is worshiped by anyone will a large wallet and the inability to grow facial hair. Unfortunately I only fall into the second category. With 0-60mph coming up in 4.1 seconds, many a Ferrari has been left embarrassed and this is despite the Evolution having four doors and the same boot as its granddad. Yep, you’ve guessed it; the Evolution is the son that ran away from home, has some scrapes with the police for speeding and ended up mixing with the wrong crowd on the rally circuit. No wonder there’s no mother in my Mitsubishi Lancer family tree.  

So the Sportback is aimed squarely at ‘cool’ dads who would consider the basic Lancer ‘boring’ and the Evolution ‘thirsty’. Why’s it cool then? Well for a start Mitsubishi dealers’ will have been told to say the front end is styled on that of a fighter jet. After all who hasn’t wanted to be a fighter pilot at some stage? I certainly wouldn’t get into the Sportback by mistake, rather than my F16 parked next to it, but you can see where they’re coming from. Think of it more like the new front end of the Audi range and you’d be closer.    The rest of the car is sensibly styled but found favour with me, even though I love more vents than a skyscraper on my cars. The interior is typically Japanese so what it lacks in flair, it more than makes up for in usability and the quality of materials used. That said, the Sportback certainly takes things forward from previous incarnations with the dials neatly housed in pods, and an on-board computer within easy reach (and one that’s much easier to use than BMW’s infernal i-Drive system). Rear legroom is good as is the boot which thanks to the Sportback being a hatchback rather than saloon like its other family members helps add far more capacity for your shopping.  

On the performance front it’s not going to give you whiplash but is more than ample for the school run or motorway cruising. The 1.5 litre diesel takes you from standing to 60mph in 11.8 seconds and onto a top speed of 114mph. One thing that did worry me is that despite this sensible performance, fuel consumption isn’t great – 29.7mpg. Far more than an Evolution X I grant you, but only 4.7mpg better than the combined return a Mazda RX-8 gives you and that gives you whiplash AND rips your eyeballs out on acceleration. Yes it’s not anywhere near as practical so let’s move on.   If you have read this and are thinking “the Sportback is for me” then great, you’ll be pleasantly surprised with what you receive. If on the other hand you really like the Sportback, secretly want an Evolution but can’t afford it (that’ll be me definitely) then never fear as Mitsubishi are launching the Sportback Ralliart. Even sillier name, but it’ll essentially be a Sportback with rally pedigree that’ll fall nicely into the family between the Sportback and Evolution – step son? Cool uncle? Answers on a postcard please.

Automotive Advertising Agencies Use Social Networks and Search Engine Algorithms to Sell More Cars

Automotive advertising agencies are challenged to provide more for less to serve a consolidating auto industry and today’s Internet has provided them with the media and the methods to do it. Budget conscious consumers are firmly in the driving seat on the Internet Super Highway and auto dealers have directed their marketing messages to their online showrooms vs. their brick and mortar facilities to get their attention. More accurately, they are following their customers onto the World Wide Web and hoping that their past and pending customers will find them there.

The days of hard sell retail messages in conventional media like radio, T.V. and newspaper as well as dealer-centric banner ads and websites promoting daily dealer specials are numbered. Today’s car shoppers have been empowered by the search engines to filter out dealer messages in favor of information on exactly the new or pre-owned vehicle they are searching for. In addition, Social networking communities of online friends have rallied their support and opinions to help car shoppers decide what they should buy and from which dealership they should buy it from. After all, what are friends for!

The consumers’ new found source of information on the Internet to assist them in their car shopping process hasn’t replaced the need for automotive advertising agencies in the retail auto industry, but it certainly has changed their role in it and the methods that they must use to earn their agency fees. The first adjustment that an automotive advertising agency must make in their business model is to recognize that the internal profits that they used to realize in their radio, T.V. and print production departments can no longer be supported by their auto dealer clients. Reduced sales volume and profit margins on the auto dealers’ side of the table demand a better R.O.I. for every dollar and while these departments are still required to produce digital marketing material for online campaigns the production costs must be a fraction of previous pricing to remain competitive with the newly developing online resources that an auto dealer has access to.

The agency must still provide creative that is relevant to the market and they must define the target audience that would be most receptive to it, but once again the World Wide Web has changed the rules and automotive advertising agencies must learn what they are and follow them. Top of the mind awareness is still job one for automotive advertising agencies who understand that they can’t time the buying cycle for everyone on the Internet Super Highway and therefore they must maintain a consistent message across multiple channels to be on the short list when the customer is ready to purchase a vehicle. Diversification across multiple media and frequency of targeted messages to qualified buyers isn’t a new practice but the methods, media and skill sets required to get the job done have changed.

Networking and the related referrals and sales sourced from it has been an integral component of internal selling processes for auto dealers since the first vehicle was sold but it has had little to do with conventional advertising — until now that is. Social networking and the related Internet media channels that have grown to support it are now a primary target audience for automotive advertising agencies. Word of mouth advertising has grown exponentially as viral messages travel through social networking channels with the opinions of like minded car shoppers who use these online communities of friends to share their car shopping experiences before, during and after their buying cycle.

Initial attempts by automotive advertising agencies to market to these social networks from the outside through the use of banner ads or as wolves in sheep’s clothing trying to invade a network of friends were soundly rejected. Members valued each other’s opinions and shared experiences over a self serving auto dealer or their automotive advertising agency.

Monetizing social networking has been a challenge but new technologies that integrate established marketing channels with social networks from the inside out have provided the solution. ronsmap, for example, is a game changing consumer-centric online inventory marketing platform that embeds a social networking engine on their communal site as well as every vehicle posted on it by participating auto dealers. Their application, vBack, provides an Ask-a-Friend / Tell-a-Friend feature that solicits feedback from friends on the various social networks that an online car shopper trusts. These influences then act as agents of the auto dealer — without their knowledge — under the direction of a friend which allows the automotive advertising agency to market from the inside out vs. from the outside in. C2C marketing vs. B2C marketing is the key to monetizing social networking and ronsmap is a new technology based exit on the Internet Super Highway that has opened this new channel to auto dealers.

In addition, ronsmap enhances the value of the leads generated from within the social networks by accumulating the information gathered through their SellersVantage application. In addition to the anticipated name, IP address and vehicle information requests their new Intelli-Leads include the online shopping selection and vehicle preferences of the initiating car shopper and the comments accumulated by his online network of friends. These enhanced leads allow the auto dealer to anticipate the needs of their potential customers before they open negotiations with them. As a result, the consumer is provided a more relevant and transparent vehicle selection in response to their initial inquiry and the auto dealer has a competitive edge to quote the best price on the best vehicle for the consumer. This is a win-win scenario that increases closing ratios and profits for the auto dealer while offering the consumer the advantage of the information and referrals he gathered from his online car shopping experience.

The internet is far superior to conventional media on many levels and social networking is only one of the newest reasons. Automotive advertising agencies must be prepared to direct their clients beyond marketing through social media. They must also provide more than advice on search engine optimization, S.E.O., search engine marketing, S.E.M. and banner ad placements or transparent and relevant website designs. The search engines hold the key to the Internet and understanding the algorithms that determine the rules of the road on the Internet Super Highway that they control are the responsibility of the automotive advertising agency.

Google, for example, has clearly stated the weight that they place on video vs. copy or other means of online digital marketing. Today’s Internet consumer grew up watching television and the explosive growth of YouTube proves that their preference for video has survived onto the World Wide Web. One vendor that has listened to Google and their subsidiary YouTube is SiSTeR Technologies with their Video CarLot platform. SiSTer is able to take the existing pictures and vehicle information posted on an auto dealer’s website and convert them into professionally produced videos.

More importantly, their videos are fully index-able with multiple schema layers making them interactive and more transparent to the online car shopper. These videos are placed on the auto dealer’s website as well as any third party advertising sites that the auto dealer is linked to. In addition they are driven through a dedicated API to YouTube with individual URLs that extend the reach and frequency of the dealer’s inventory and marketing messages — a proven formula for success in conventional automotive advertising that also applies to Internet advertising.

Automotive advertising agencies are not reinventing the wheel by extending their reach and frequency with consistent messages across multiple channels by leveraging access to social networks or by manipulating the algorithms on the search engines. They are simply applying proven and established advertising wisdoms and best practices to an auto industry that has only one constant — change!

American Automotive Artists

Since automotive design is basically an artistic endeavor, art has always been a part of automotive life. However, for many years automotive art was the product of design studies, design departments of automobile manufacturers, or aligned with automotive advertising. Automotive fine art did not exist as a separate art genre. However there were a few car lovers who happened to be artists and enjoyed painting cars simply because they loved the subject matter. But for an artist to be successful, there must be a market. And there were automotive enthusiasts who were interested in buying art. So in 1983, a group of six artists received invitations to display their works at the Meadowbrook Concours in Detroit. During this exhibition, these artists decided to form an alliance devoted to exchanging ideas and keeping current on trends in automotive art and so the Automotive Fine Arts Society was born. The artist credited with founding this society is Ken Eberts who has been its president since that time. Ken is recognized as one of the world’s leading automotive fine artists. He originally worked in the design department at Ford Motor Company. Then in 1968 he embarked on a second career in automotive fine art. Since then, his works have appeared in magazines, on Christmas cards, posters, and book covers. Ken also has an interest in architecture and many of his automotive works include an automobile set against the backdrop of an interesting building. He has been a two-time winner of the Peter Helck Award and the Richard Teague Award for the ‘body of work that best exemplifies the spirit of the automobile.’

Bill Neale is also a member of the Automobile Fine Arts Society. In addition to automobiles, Bill paints the people associated with the industry such as drivers and owners. Bill has an aviation background and both cars and airplanes are often featured in his compositions. Bill’s work has appeared in all of the prestigious automotive magazines such as Road & Track, Car & Driver, and Automobile Magazine. He has done posters for many Automobile Concours d’Elegance and other automobile events such as the Monterey Historic Races, Houston Classi-Chassis and Carroll Shelby Nationals. He is the poster artist for the Colorado Grand Rally. He is also the recipient of numerous awards from Europe, the United States and South America including the prestigious Peter Helck and Athena awards.

Jim Dietz is another contemporary artist who paints automobiles. However, Jim is a historical artist who specializes in aviation and military subjects as well as automobiles. Jim is a graduate of the Art Center College of Design. He began his career in art as an illustrator doing automotive ads, movie posters and book covers. But in 1978 he changed from commercial illustration to historical art. In 1997, Dietz won the Stanley Wanlass Award for ‘excellence in strength of design and composition echoing the spirit of the automobile’ at the Meadow Brook Concours d’Elegance. He also won a Peter Helck Award in 1999 and 2,000 at the Pebble Beach Concours’ d’Elegance. In addition, he has received numerous other awards for his aviation and military art. Like Neale and Eberts, he represents the best of a new genre in art.

Used Rolls Royce – A Stunning Used Car

For the vast majority of people, a Rolls-Royce experience isn’t something that they’re going to be indulging in any time soon. Paying the mortgage is probably more important, although at a push a Rolls does look as if it could house a small family.

That imposing design and impassive profile combine to create a car that is sought after by those who have the disposable income to contend with a vehicle that costs as much as bricks and mortar. If you’ve accumulated the wealth to start considering a Rolls as your next ride, there’s no question that you’ve made your way to the top through hard work and aspiration, and what better reward than that iconic Spirit of Ecstasy emblem gracing the car that will change the way you drive?

Whilst the world is no longer such a majestic place, the Rolls-Royce legacy still retains an aura of a glorious era gone before, a turn of the century treasure that continues to delight. With melodramatic names that can’t help but inspire awe, the Rolls-Royce brand is one that has needed to change very little.

Regardless of whether you’ve attained success through creating your own business or rising to the top of an established firm, marking your achievement with a Rolls-Royce is something that shouldn’t be rushed into. Well, not when you consider that there are nearly new models available that can save you quite a considerable amount of money.

You may not be able to have bespoke features added on a whim, but you will profit from buying a used Rolls Royce in many other ways. The dreaded spectre of depreciation will have already passed, and you’ll find that if you’re willing to compromising on internal specs you’ll still get an utterly stunning car that’s simply one of the best and most respected models on the market.