Five takeaways from the Goodyear dealer conference

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Ulrich-bioOne of the great things about no longer being a member of the ‘working’ automotive industry is not having to attend a seemingly endless stream of meetings and seminars that after a time all sounded the same. Not everyone felt this way and undoubtedly some of the get togethers worked, if only to boost sagging moral. As a full time working journo, Bob Ulrich of Modern Tyre Dealer (USA) still has to attend the major events and does so with a professionalism and enthusiasm that shows through in his many articles. This is his take on the recent 2015 Goodyear Dealer Meeting held recently in Grapevine, Texas.

They’re many ‘takeaways’ from this meeting and if you asked the record 2140 attendees to list them, you could probably write a book. Here are five that I thought were particularly interesting.

Goodyear will sell tyres at goodyear.com. Not everyone at the convention was happy with this announcement. In a nutshell, Goodyear believes offering consumers the opportunity to buy and pay for tyres when they visit goodyear.com will be a win-win for both Goodyear and the dealer. Goodyear gets the sale, and the dealers get 1) a delivery fee from Goodyear, 2) all installation charges, and 3) the opportunity to generate additional service revenue from consumers they would not see normally. The company admits the number of consumers buying online is very small. Still, the online platform ‘shows growth potential,’ says Andy Traicoff, vice president of consumer sales and customer development. (For more information, check out “Goodyear will sell tyres at Goodyear.com.”)

Low-cost radials are being produced in the U.S. The timing of the re-re-launch of the Kelly brand couldn’t be better. Tariffs ranging from 30% to 109% have been assigned to every consumer tire imported from China, and these are many of the same tyres the new Kelly Edge A/S and AT tyres will compete against in the economy tier. Also, the tyres are being manufactured in the U.S. As part of the launch, Goodyear will consolidate Kelly lines. For example, the Untitled-1Charger GT, Safari Signature and Explorer Plus will be eliminated.

The company really relies on Assurance. According to Goodyear, 2.6 million more Assurance tyres were shipped in the U.S. and Canada in 2014 than in 2013. The increase alone represents 1% of all the units it shipped. There are four Assurance lines: the Tripletred All-Season, Comfortred Touring, Fuel Max and the newest member of the family, the All-Season. Made available to dealers beginning last July, the Assurance All-Season will reach 1 million in sales faster than any other Goodyear tire ever, said Ryan Patterson, president of consumer tyres in the U.S. and Canada.

Goodyear is taking on Michelin. Goodyear wants to be the leader in fuel-efficient truck tyres. Why? Because the number one concern of long haul fleets across America is fuel costs. One company executive said Michelin is the target. The new Fuel Max LHS joins the Fuel Max LHD in the lineup. A Fuel Max trailer tire, the LHT, will be available in the fourth quarter, as will the RSA regional all-position tire. And for those of you who noticed, the move away from number nomenclature is not an accident. “We’re trying to simplify the naming process,” said Brian Buckham, general manager of commercial product, marketing and future innovation.

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 Rich Kramer thinks millennials are critical to Goodyear’s success. Kramer, the chairman, CEO and president of Goodyear, talked about millennials in his speech at the 2014 dealer conference. He also addressed Generation Y — and its $1 trillion in buying power — at this year’s event. “Make no mistake, our future is going to be shaped by these new millennials,” he said. “Consumers are no longer captive. Consumers are buying on their own terms. Consumers are in control.” Kramer said to win in this environment, Goodyear and Goodyear dealers “have to make the tire-buying process easier.” And selling tyres on goodyear.com helps proactively accomplish that goal: “All we’re doing is enhancing the shift to buying online.”

McLaren-Honda unveil F1 car for 2015 with a call for patience from its fans

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Said to be a refined evolution of last year’s McLaren, the McLaren-Honda team has finally revealed its F1 MP4-30 complete with Honda’s RA615H Hybrid power unit and an ‘evolved color scheme’ that the company says identifies its brand in the 21st century.

It was thought that McLaren would change to its iconic orange that was first seen on the M6A Can-Am back in ’67 but it’s finished up with a red, white and silver color scheme close to that of the first McLaren-Honda era.

The car has been aerodynamically modified and is more elegant than last year’s model, with a refined nose-box solution, slimmed rear-end packaging, particularly around the gearbox and an all-new power unit under its tight-fitting bodywork.

The team says that it plans to maintain the momentum it achieved during the second half of 2014 with an intensive technical development program and Honda will obviously provide the expertise and the muscle to make rapid progress. But everyone is stressing patience as they move into the 2015 season.

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Fernando Alonso, who will begin on-track testing of the new MP4-30 at Jerez on Sunday February 1, says that a lot of effort and teamwork is required to take McLaren-Honda back to where it should be, at the front of the grid.

“Our first target will be to learn the maximum from the car at the pre-season tests, understand the package, and extract as much performance as possible.

“That won’t be easy or trouble-free, but we’re ready for that because our key focus will be on development and historically, McLaren has been characterised by its ability to bring updates to the car quickly and develop a strong package.”

Jenson Button is also under no illusion that it will be easy.

“There’s a huge challenge ahead of us to try to pull back the gap to our rivals, but we’re certainly up for it. We ended last season with great momentum and clear progress and I’m determined to carry that forward into 2015.”

 

Exotic car purchases chase the spotlight

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When you’ve just sold your business and pocketed a cool $40m the options for what you can now purchase are mind-boggling. But not for UK resident and long-time car nut Paul Baily, who already owned a McLaren P1 and a few other exotics.

But now was the time to really splash out big time and pick up a trifecta of dreams, all on the same day. First, Paul, his wife and a friend, squeezed into the P1 and drove down to the local Ferrari dealership-as you do-to pick up a custom-ordered LaFerrari.

His wife-who doesn’t seem to have a name-still in the P1 then followed Paul in his gleaming new toy to the Porche dealership, where, you’ve guessed it, he picked up a sparkling new Porsche 918 Spyder.

In a series of mind-boggling maneuvers, the friend got behind the wheel of the P1, Paul’s nameless wife into the Ferrari and the convoy set off for home. A good yarn, but obviously very staged managed for maximum publicity. But then Paul is a member of a group that raffles off rides in its exotic cars with the money going to charity. So far Paul is said to have raised over $40,000 just from offering rides in his P1.

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And talking about staged managed stunts involving expensive cars, Rolls Royce has just taken an order for 30 vehicles from Macau entrepreneur Stephen Hung (pictured with RR’sTorsten Mueller-Oetvoes…we’ll let you guess who’s who) will use the fleet of extended wheelbase Phantoms to transfer guests at his Louis XIII hotel in Macau when it opens in 2016.

In Australia, the EWB Phantoms start at $990,000, but Stephen hasn’t ordered a fleet of run-of-the-mill Rollers instead opting for custom designed, bespoke models that add to the exclusivity and price.

10513265_600x400Each one will be finished in Stephen’s chosen red but two of them will also get gold-plated finishes, inside and out, for the most pampered hotel guests. To ensure the world’s most expensive fleet of hotel runabouts stay in good condition, Rolls Royce has helped with the design of the hotel driveways and parking and will also train the chauffeurs.

An impressive collection without doubt, but Stephen still has a long way to go to catch up with the largest collections of Rollers that include the infamous Indian cult leader Bhagwan Shree Rajneesh, who amassed a fleet of 93 Rolls-Royces in the 1980s and the Sultan of Brunei, who could well be financing the new hotel, with around 500 models.

 

The 49th Super Bowl: How to play and pay

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This is probably not the sort of yarn one would expect to find on an automotive blog, but there is a tenuous link in that the Super Bowl does attract a fair amount of automotive advertising. This year, the 49th version is being stage in Arizona and will be screen in Australia from 10.30am (EST) on Monday, 2nd February, with the Seattle Seahawks defending its title against the New England Patriots.

The event has massive international following even though most people outside of the US haven’t a clue about what’s going on during the game other than when some player ‘crosses the line’ for a touch down, which doesn’t actually have to be a touch done. But more about that in a moment.

The massive advertising that surrounds the Super Bowl has always been of interest to those in the automotive/advertising and market industry, especially the massive figures involved. So who’s carrying the automotive banner this year?

Nissan, Mercedes and Lexus are the frontrunners along with a splattering of US-based companies. This year both companies are following a trend in the Super Bowl away from 30-second slots to a full minute. Like most TV advertising in the US, Super Bowl ads are sold in 30-second units with the average cost last year coming in at around $4.2 million per spot.

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This year the widely circulated sticker price is $4.5 million. The national trend is towards brevity, but as the only reliable opportunity to reach 100 million US viewers at the one time, Super Bowl is the exception. So, as we promised, back to the game with some basic rules that we hope will help you understand and enjoy the event that much more.

TIMING:-Games is divided into four, 15-minute quarters. At the end of the first and third quarters, the team with the ball retains possession heading into the following quarter. This is not the case before halftime and the second half starts with a kickoff in the same way as in rugby league or union. 

logoHOW IT WORKS:-Each team essentially has four tackles to try and make 10 yards (just over 9m). If a team manages 10 yards (or longer) it then gets the opportunity to try and make another 10 yards within four tackles, known as a ‘down’. So, if, for example, it is 2nd and 8, it means that the offensive team is on its 2nd tackle and it still needs to make a further 8 yards to reach 10 yards and receive its next set of 4 downs. On the 4th down, if the offensive team is too far away to kick a field goal, it will kick the ball for field position, similar to rugby league on the 5th tackle. The main difference between Australian codes of football and NFL is that after the ball is kicked, the kicking team isn’t allowed to re-gather the ball. Play begins at what is called the line of scrimmage. The offensive team is allowed to only throw the ball forward once behind this line of scrimmage. Each team, however, may pass the ball backwards as many times as it likes, which is termed ‘a lateral’.

THE TACKLE:-A player is tackled when one or both of his knees touch the ground. The play is then over, even if the ball comes loose. 

SCORING:-A touchdown, which is similar to a try in NRL or RU, is worth six points. To score a touchdown, a player carrying the ball and running towards the goal line, simply needs to cross the goal line into the ‘end zone’ or in-goal area. The ball does not have to be grounded in the end zone. A player catching the ball in the end zone needs, at some point in time, to have had both feet in-bounds (in the field of play). After a touch down, the offensive team takes a kick at goal from directly in front of the posts to convert the touch down and gain an extra point. A team can also attempt a two-point conversion by trying to score another touchdown from the opponent’s two-yard line. Field goals are worth three points and can be attempted from any position on the field.  

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OVERTIME:-In order to win the game, the team that wins the coin toss must score a touchdown on its first possession. If it only scores a field goal, the opposing team then gets a chance to score, but if it kicks a field goal, the game continues. If it scores a touchdown, the game ends. If the game is tied after both teams have had a possession, then the next score wins.

 

 

Win a trip to Monaco Historic Race and Italy’s motor valley

image118552_aShannons is offering motoring enthusiasts the chance to win an 11-day trip to Italy, France and Monaco, attending one of the world’s premier historic racing events, the Monaco Historic Race.

The trip begins in Venice then on to Bologna, in the heart of Italy’s motor valley region, for a visit to Ferrari, Lamborghini, Pagani and Ducati museums and factories plus a Lamborghini drive experience. Next it’s a drive to Nice, on the French Riviera, for five days, culminating with the tour highlight, a VIP tickets to the 2016 Monaco Historic Race.

The prize includes:

  • 2 adult economy class airfares from the winner’s nearest Australian capital city to Venice, Italy and return from Nice, France (5-17 May 2016)
  • 10 nights twin share accommodation. 2 nights in Venice, 3 nights in Bologna, and 5 nights in Nice
  • 5 days Mercedes-Benz C-Class (or similar) car hire including GPS

  • Tickets to the Italian Supercar Tour including the Ferrari museum, Lamborghini museum and factory, Ducati museum and factory and the Pagani showroom and factory
  • You-Drive Experience for one in a Lamborghini LP 570-4 Superleggera
  • Private escorted shopping trip to St Tropez
  • 2016 Monaco Historic Race Package
  • $A1000 spending money or $A5000 if you are an eligible Shannons Club member.

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According to Shannons’ Mark Behr, the Monaco Historic Races are only scheduled every two years on the famous Monaco circuit.

“It is considered to be the ‘must-see’ of all the world’s historic races with plenty of race action and first class hospitality, plus we’ve made the most of the time in Italy and France with stopovers in Venice, Bologna and Nice.

“So, if you’re a motoring enthusiast, make sure you call Shannons if you need insurance for your car, bike or home. To enter go to shannons.com.au/monaco or call 13 46 46 and obtain an eligible quote on your car, bike or home insurance by 10 April 2015. Take out a new policy to get even more chances.”

Shopping in St Tropez

Shopping in St Tropez

Land of the Free a captive to lobbyists for Luddites

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Awards to dealerships and car dealer groups are common and often both appreciated and promoted by their recipients. A new award nomination that recognises the work of state dealer lobbyists, however, is not likely to get that appreciation, or publicity, at least from dealers in those four states.

Instead, it’s likely to please Tesla owners and advocates, who do not have to buy or shop for their electric cars at a conventional franchised dealership. That’s because the award in question is called the ‘Luddite Award’, after the 19th-century British artisans who protested against industrial progress and the increased use of automated machinery.

The word luddite now generally refers to anyone who rejects progress and modernity, wishing instead to cling to the old ways. The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation 10 named 10 nominees for its 2014 ITIF Luddite Awards  this month, highlighting “a growing array of interests, some economic, some ideological, now stand resolutely in opposition to innovation.”

Tesla store that opened last year in London's Westfield Mall

Tesla store that opened last year in London’s Westfield Mall

Among them was the following, somewhat unwieldy entry: “Arizona, Michigan, New Jersey and Texas Take Action to Prevent Tesla From Opening Stores to Sell Cars Directly to Consumers.”

Those are the four states that passed laws last year restricting or banning the showroom and online sales model of electric carmaker Tesla Motors. Among the other nominees are entries as disparate as France banning Amazon’s offer of free shipping on books, the movement against utilities installing “smart meters,” a crackdown on AirBnB by New York State, and efforts to curtail or ban ride-sharing by Nevada and Virginia.

Many of the nominees take advantage of the commercial opportunities offered online and by smartphone apps, but disrupt conventional business models in the process. Lobbyists for the established businesses are often behind efforts to constrain or ban the new business models.

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AirBnB, for instance, lets individual or corporate owners and residents of apartments and homes rent out a place to sleep to strangers. But it also lets travellers circumvent the considerably more expensive, and far more regulated, hotel and motel industry.

Ride sharing similarly cuts into the commercial taxi business, as does Uber, another disruptive business. And that appears to be the concern of the lobbyists for state dealer groups: Any alternative to the franchised dealership model potentially threatens the now-legally-mandated insertion of a third-party business (the dealership) between a manufacturer (the carmaker) and a customer for its product (the car buyer).

This Tesla dealership in Los Angeles means that California won't be a candidate for the Luddite of the Year award

This Tesla dealership in Los Angeles means that California won’t be a candidate for the Luddite of the Year award

ITIF writes in its nomination: “It is clear that these state laws are designed to protect franchise dealers at the expense [of] innovation and competition. State lawmakers should look out for the best interests of consumers and overall productivity, not protect the business model of auto dealers.”

Any member of the public can vote for their choice of the single “most egregious anti-innovation action/proposal of the year.” The overall winner will be announced on February 5th.

The ITIF’s report concludes: “While we can’t stop the Luddites from engaging in their anti-progress, anti-innovation activities, we can recognize them for what they are: actions and ideas that are profoundly anti-progress, that if followed would mean our children will live lives as adults nowhere near as good as the lives they could live if we instead embraced, rather than fought, innovation.

This story comes from greencarreports.com. Click on video for full weekly round up of news concerning electric vehicles.

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Bentley Bentayga front runner in ausauto ‘autospeak’ 2015 awards

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It had to happen! A Bentley SUV? It’s no joke. According to the company, the all-new and ground-breaking luxury SUV is set to be revealed to the world later this year. And the name? No, it’s not the Bentley Sloanie, or the Bentley Taxdodger, but…wait for it…it is, in truly boring Anglo-German style, it’s the Bentley Bentayga.

And in true, traditional automotive manufacturer, convoluted, ubber-hype known as autospeak: “it’s the natural world, along with the company’s founder that inspired the name…”

“Crowning the northern hemisphere, to the north of Bentley’s birthplace in England, is the dramatic beauty of the Taiga, the world’s largest transcontinental snowforest. To the south, the rugged peak of the Roque Bentayga, in the subtropical Canary Islands draws attention from all directions and a challenging climb rewards with spectacular panoramic views of a rich and diverse landscape.”

Crewe to the Canary Islands is a bit of a stretch, but as we said, that’s autospeak for you. And so it goes on…”This sector-defining SUV will be able to introduce Bentley’s renowned modern British luxury to limitless destinations with an impressive combination of on and off road performance”.

“Bentayga is a name that reflects what we know our SUV will do better than any other car in the world, combine the best automotive luxury with outstanding performance to take the Bentley experience to new environments,” says chairman and CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer.

More info on the new Bentley Bentayga that will go on sale next year @ www.bentleybentayga.com.

New online training video from Monroe

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As a part of Monroe Australia’s major commitment to ride performance product checking and fitment training, a new video is now widely available online to suspension specialists, general automotive repairers and those that can do major repairs on their vehicles

The nine-minute training video provides important information relating to the design and function of Monroe shock absorbers along with detailed technical advice for repairers, fitters and re-sellers. All information is supported by detailed graphics and animation created by Monroe technical personnel.

According to Monroe Australia’s Brydon Tweddell, the company is dedicated to providing the best possible training support to the industry.

“Be that online, or through our organised personal training sessions, we hope that our trade customers will take the time to view this new training video as it provides some great technical information about our shock absorbers.”

CLICK HERE to view.

Second generation headlamp reflects new technology

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Narva and LED headlamp manufacturer Truck-Lite have launched what they claim is a ground-breaking new 7” H4 headlamp that has heaps of enhancements over the first generation lamp including stealth-styled reflectors that result in the superior white light of LED technology for park lights, low beam and high beam.

The complex reflector design accurately and evenly distributes light for the best visibility pattern possible, targeting the most important areas of the road where traditional projector systems can’t reach.

“As with other Narva lamps, the product is extremely shock and vibration-resistant and features a virtually unbreakable polycarbonate lens that has been treated with a special non-yellowing coating to ensure the lamp stays clear and well-protected.

“Encasing the solid state internals is a military-grade housing which employs die-cast aluminium construction, for corrosion and impact-resistant longevity,” said a company spokesperson.

The headlamp has ‘E’, ADR and IP68 approval and meets EMC-R10/CISPR 25 requirements; pre-wired H4 connector that is a direct fit for traditional headlamp wiring adaptors; low operating temperature and carries a three-year warranty.

Narva---Trucklite-7''-L.E.D-Headlamp-Insert-72102Originally designed for US military vehicles such as the Hummer, the 7” LED lamp is suitable for a wide range of vehicles including light, medium and heavy-duty trucks, off-road vehicles, classic cars and motorcycles.

Further details @ http://www.narva.com.au or @ www.facebook.com/narvaaustralia

Cats thrive among the desert dunes

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A lifetime living and working in some of Australia’s harshest and most isolated regions has taught Neil Dunn a simple, uncompromising principle about endurance. The way he sees it, you either have what it takes to survive and succeed in tough country, or you don’t.

He applies the same steadfast principle to machines of every sort and for the past couple of years he reckons that Cat trucks have been showing all the inherent strengths needed to endure a life lived hard midst the wild extremes of South Australia’s Strzelecki Desert.

image118540_bNeil is founder and managing director of Dunns Earthmoving, a remarkably resourceful and self-reliant company operating from a remote base roughly 100km west of Moomba in the rich oil and gas fields of the Cooper Basin. The scale of the operation forged by Neil and wife Sue is as surprising as it is isolated.

With two publicly listed oil and gas companies as its chief clients, Dunns Earthmoving has evolved dramatically in little more than a decade.

It started in 2003 as a simple two-man operation living rough in desert isolation with a few pieces of second-hand earthmoving plant. The business now employs more than 100 resilient and variously skilled people who maintain and operate an immense equipment inventory of trucks, service and support vehicles. Almost every form of earthmoving plant from bulldozers to scrapers, graders, excavators and skid-steers is involved on almost a day-to-day basis.

Sue Dunn claims it’s an enterprise built from the ground up by the resourcefulness and tenacious work ethic of her husband, born and raised in drought-ridden cattle country and ingrained with a natural affinity for remote and arid regions.

As Neil is quick to point out it’s not easy country with summer temperatures regularly at 50 degrees Celsius and winter nights well below freezing.

“We specialise in remote area earthmoving and road works, repairing existing roads and making new ones when we’re basically just given a GPS location after all the environmental studies and cultural heritage sites have been identified and then we carve a track through virgin country.

“On top of that we do the earthworks for drill rigs, tank farms and basically anything else that needs a machine or a truck to move dirt. It probably sounds simple enough but there’s a lot to it. You need to know what you’re doing. This country is very unforgiving.”

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With hundreds of oil and gas wells dotted across a massive expanse of the Cooper Basin, Dunn teams operate from self-contained mobile camps in a radius of several hundred kilometres in every direction from the main base where around 50 people are permanently stationed.

Equipment reliability is everything and Neil’s preferred brand in earthmoving equipment is Caterpillar despite the operation’s isolation and entrenched self-sufficiency, Neil points to the back-up of South Australia Cat dealer Cavpower and his high regard for Cat’s dependable C15 engine as the initial considerations in choosing to add Cat trucks to the fleet.

His first Cat truck, a CT630 day cab model, arrived in early 2013 and although there were initially “a few annoying little things”, three spacious CT630LS models have since joined the operation to haul a wide variety of trailers including heavily laden water tankers and low loaders.

image118539_aOn the ability of the Cat trucks to cope with such demanding conditions, a blunt Neil Dunn says the brand simply wouldn’t get a second chance if it weren’t already showing acceptable levels of endurance.

“There’s no doubt about it, they wouldn’t be here if they weren’t doing the job,” he concludes with absolute authority.