AH-HA

The AH-HA Challenge

25 posts in this topic

First off, how's everyone doing? I still hang around, but unfortunately don't participate anywhere near the levels I used to.

I'm sure I wasn't the only car geek out there that wanted to turn my life's passion into a full-time career. I've been fortunate enough to be involved in this business for quite sometime and have obtained all my auto related positions due mostly to my sheer enthusiasm and understanding vehicles and of the market.

Now's here you're chance. There is an opening to work with me (trust me, no big thrill hanging with me) as a forecast analyst for the North American market. If you're interested and preferably live in Michigan and have a strong desire to get into the auto industry as an analyst and have excellent computer skills, drop me a line and take the below AH-HA challenge.

1) You have $30,000, no more, to buy a new vehicle. What do you get and why?

2) What do you consider the most significant debut in the US market over the next 12 months?

3) You see the Saturn Aura is not taking off and doing as well as expected. Inventory levels and incentives are rising, what course of action would you envision GM take?

4) What do you see as a the next big trend?

Thanks guys!

:AH-HA_wink:

minimns@optonline.net

Edited by AH-HA
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Well first off, we miss you around here, and not just because of the inside info you provide. Please stick around, even if it's just to shoot the bull.

1) I could answer this question a million ways. If I were replacing the Cobalt tomorrow with 30K in hand, given my current state of mind, I'd probably spring for an Impala SS. There are times where I could use the utility of having a bigger car, and I'm just not willing to get a truck, van, SUV, or crossover. If adding to the fleet, a Solstice GXP. You can never have too many toys.

2) The Malibu. The Saturn Aura aside, the new Malibu is GM's best (and possibly last) chance to make serious inroads on the Camry/Accord/Altima bread-and-butter segment. They need this car to take off, sustain really good retail sales numbers, and be profitable.

3) I'll tell you that I would love an appearance package to make it look like the concept Aura on the outside, but that's just personal preference, as is the addition of a stick. I see GM fixing the niggling complaints about the car, mainly on the inside. The cheap bits need to go away. A change in marketing strategy is possible as well, since this really is not the car to go against the Japan Inc midsizers.

4) The search for a way to ease our dependence on oil will intensify. Gas engines will shrink and become even more efficient, with direct injection and possibly turbocharging leading the way. The race is on to build a better battery, increasing the efficiency of hybrids and making pruely electric cars more viable. Efforts will be made to iestablish an infrastructure for E85 distribution, but I have a really hard time seeing that happen while Captain Oil is in Washington.

One last question: define excellent computer skills.

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1) You have $30,000, no more, to buy a new vehicle. What do you get and why?

This is a hard question to answer unless you test drive them first. Unless you are like one of those jerks who simply reads Consumer Reports and just goes with last months copy down to the toyo dealer. I might pop for a basic Acadia/Outlook, a basic Edge....a larger crossover is most useful to me right now. Room, comfort, style that a sedan cannot provide for a flexible life. For some reason I have felt poisoned and thought I ought to look at an Odyssey and Quest again as well. Aside from that.....Maybe a G8 upon intro or heavily discounted carryover CTS at MY end would do in a pinch. There's a couple more I would have to think of here. I am waiting to also see how the 08 Taurus and Sable pan out in case I want to pull ahead from my underpowered 500.

2) What do you consider the most significant debut in the US market over the next 12 months?

Malibu...it'll likely get roasted still by the press, but this car should still buoy GM and support GM as it tries to keep pace. This will be the car that determines if USA inc. has any ability left to win over the snobbish public. The CTS and G8 also are important because both of those cars are absolutely crucial to define those two brands for a next couple years. The Lambdas story unfolding is huge as it grabs hold of the exploding crossover segment meets family values. The new Accord I assume will steal lots of press. New Highlanders and Pilots will make news. The next 12 months may actually not be as exciting as this last 12 months. Maybe the Hyundai RWD car will make a splash to taking on Lexus/BMW inc. Just about any crossover will get lots of attention. Nissan Rogue should do well. Ford's Edge will give something to Ford to at least have some happiness about.

3) You see the Saturn Aura is not taking off and doing as well as expected. Inventory levels and incentives are rising, what course of action would you envision GM take?

Simply put, production may need to be slowed. I do not feel the ad campaigns are doing squat. And they are decent ads....I just think the new perception of Saturn is hard to initiate......Saturn is essentially changing everything and there was nothing for them to fall back on in the first place. Right now, Saturn may just need to narrow their intended ad targets. The ads are so general and generic and goody two shoes. There is no sexiness to the brand. People love the Saturn experience but aren't familiar with the cars yet. At the auto show Saturn got great response, especially the Astra. But so many buyers use the Camry as a benchmark and against the Camry I think Aura fails on a couple things. It looks sportier than the Camry and looks smaller inside and not as nice inside.

The mass of folks looking sedan seem enomored with the bland vanilla quiet ride thing. The Aura has a bit more of an imitation German sedan feel to it, rather than the hushed japanese sedan feel all the mags tell you is the correct thing to have. So the Aura is not as inoffensive or mainstream looking. Personally I think this is ok.....but so many car buyers are so cautious these days. Personally I think Saturn did as well as they could have considering their limitations here. Saturn got stuck with the undersized Epsilon chassis and the car is too narrow. Also, the cabin and seating are a smidge too low. Makes the car feel racy to a point, but again it would lack the seat position and head room of the Camry. Also, even with a seemingly conscious effort to score interior stlye points with nice leather on the seats and cool gauges.....they gave the dash and doors nasty plastic, and some cheapness in the center stack, serving to reinforce the image of GM doing garbage interiors. GM still needs to buy a clue and gain real advancement in interiors.

Anyone who test drives the XR will be wowed with the powertrain. (I drove one last week) The v6 is awesome and 6 speed w/ paddle shifters is the same. No complaints at all......but what reared its ugly head was it was a bit noisy in the cabin and I was able to feel too much vibration and buzzing and too many impacts through the chassis. The ride was nice and firm but it seemed as though there was work to do yet in getting anywhere's close to a velvety feel. The steering also was ok, but didn't wow. Plus, the seats were narrow and cramped and not padded or shaped right.

The biggest loss with this car is failing on the sensory touch point and refinement stuff. Again, a lot of it is being stuck with the junky small and flimsy Epsilon and parts bin GM crap like the seats. The car is also missing keyless start, nav, bluetooth, and other stuff that would give it a technological image. All that said, in order to build the brand, they really need to get people to meet Saturn (1) and drive this car (2)...(because even though i didn't wow over it I know lots of folks would like the car). It is hard to be a media genius in this day and age because everything is so fragmented, but print, tv, internet, mail marketing..all of it needs to be out there. RADIO. I would venture to say Saturn may need to sacrifice some individual model promotions in return for promoting the whole line of cars. Build the brand as a whole.....rebuild that is. You might as well skip Toyota buyers. You might be able to lure some Honda buyers. Otherwise, you are trying to get the more educated domestic leaners, and people who want anything else from Mazda, Nissan, VW, Subaru. You might even snag some Volvo, Saab, or Audi wannabes. Someone who might be enticed by a VW brand car but wants better value and more for the dollar may like the Aura. You won't be trying to sell to bread and potatoes Chevy Impala and Ford Taurus types a lot, although these folks can afford the Saturns. You also should just bypass the boomers.....the 50+ generation. they are fixated on toyota and that so move on.

Try to start reaching the current college kids. Then the youngsters in the their late 20's and up through about age 40. You need to understand that these folks want to have an interaction with a brand and an affinity with a brand that defines them. It is a lifestyle statement nowadays, a car is. It's a fashion accessory. Saturn to me now says, "I am moving on and just getting started in the responsible and sensible part of my life, but I don't need to buy the 'store brand'. The Euro flair will appeal to these groups. People in these groups want to feel like that they are still a part of hip culture, are still a bit connected to it, understand some of it, and appreciate it, but are not slaves to it. They have not given up on youth nor succumbbed to the dead old mommy and poppy stereotype our parents had.

Ride and drives would be how I would do it. Saturn doesn't get their product out to be seen anymore. Malls....get the product and reps on display in malls and lifestyle shopping centers. Use Focused internet and direct mail campaigns. Tie in promotions to people's life events and lifestyles. Get connected into culture. Market directly through where professional people work and network. I guess if I had more time I could dissect my thoughts on this and really make some useful information. As far as the Aura goes, then since the car has some hard to ignore weaknesses....promotion will have to be exact and productive until the next gen comes out and hopefully GM doesn't botch the width and refinement things.

How bout some ads showing people travelling the world, or doing exciting things, ads showing people living their dreams and being ambitious and taking chances? Show that college kid who just graduated and just gave that first presentation at work and got a big adrenalin rush because of their success. Or that late 20's couple that met by chance and never believed they would meet the person of their dreams and now they are taking a european trip together (maybe they rented...an Astra?). Try to understand the things that people feel define their lives and experiences. Find the emotion in those achievements and take the flavor of those emotions into the car and ads.

There also needs to be part of the message there that touts On Star and the 100k warranty.

4) What do you see as a the next big trend?

Not enough mind power to tackle this just yet.

Edited by regfootball
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First off, how's everyone doing? I still hang around, but unfortunately don't participate anywhere near the levels I used to.

I'm sure I wasn't the only car geek out there that wanted to turn my life's passion into a full-time career. I've been fortunate enough to be involved in this business for quite sometime and have obtained all my auto related positions due mostly to my sheer enthusiasm and understanding vehicles and of the market.

Now's here you're chance. There is an opening to work with me (trust me, no big thrill hanging with me) as a forecast analyst for the North American market. If you're interested and preferably live in Michigan and have a strong desire to get into the auto industry as an analyst and have excellent computer skills, drop me a line and take the below AH-HA challenge.

1) You have $30,000, no more, to buy a new vehicle. What do you get and why?

2) What do you consider the most significant debut in the US market over the next 12 months?

3) You see the Saturn Aura is not taking off and doing as well as expected. Inventory levels and incentives are rising, what course of action would you envision GM take?

4) What do you see as a the next big trend?

Thanks guys!

:AH-HA_wink:

minimns@optonline.net

Aside from the last one, I don't see how any of these questions can help you narrow a search for such a position. Having worked in said positions, nobody in the industry has ever seriously asked any of these questions (excepting the last one).

First question: personal. Why would you care what the perspective analyst would buy? Are you planning on supplying said vehicle as part of the employment package? If so, let's talk.

Second question: too pinpoint. All vehicle introductions are significant for one reason or another. Perhaps "why is [insert particular vehicle name here] going to be a significant introduction?"

Third question: far too pinpoint. Is GM asking you how to correct the Aura's marketing or make the vehicle better?

Ah-ha, good luck finding someone. More power to you.

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Too bad it's based in Michigan, which is West from Portugal. I'm pointing Northeast from Portugal... I wish you the best in finding the right person for the position.
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Maybe its like the LSAT, where none of the questions have anything to do, directly, with law school, but they do show a person's critical thinking and problem solving skills.

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First off, how's everyone doing? I still hang around, but unfortunately don't participate anywhere near the levels I used to.

I'm sure I wasn't the only car geek out there that wanted to turn my life's passion into a full-time career. I've been fortunate enough to be involved in this business for quite sometime and have obtained all my auto related positions due mostly to my sheer enthusiasm and understanding vehicles and of the market.

Now's here you're chance. There is an opening to work with me (trust me, no big thrill hanging with me) as a forecast analyst for the North American market. If you're interested and preferably live in Michigan and have a strong desire to get into the auto industry as an analyst and have excellent computer skills, drop me a line and take the below AH-HA challenge.

1) You have $30,000, no more, to buy a new vehicle. What do you get and why?

A leftover '06 GTO because it offers the most bang for the buck in a package that suits me well.

2) What do you consider the most significant debut in the US market over the next 12 months?

The Chevy Lambda (assuming it is released in that time frame). Because the Lambdas are the closest thing to a new direction (bodystyle) designed for family transportation I see coming our way. And because this Lambda is for the volume division of GM at a very critical time for the company. It will be the real test to see if GM can get the job done.

3) You see the Saturn Aura is not taking off and doing as well as expected. Inventory levels and incentives are rising, what course of action would you envision GM take?

Marketing, Marketing, and more marketing. Especially non-traditional forms.

4) What do you see as a the next big trend?

Domestic vehicles using alternative fuel/propulsion.

Thanks guys!

:AH-HA_wink:

minimns@optonline.net

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I think my uncool choice of a Black Onyx LaCrosse CXS with Driver's Confidence Package, Moonroof, and Chrome Package would instantly eliminate me from being considered...

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i dont think i would be qualified for the position, but i am intrigued by your questions.

1) You have $30,000, no more, to buy a new vehicle. What do you get and why?

difficult question since, in light of a recent experience, my next car will bust the money limit. so, i will answer the question as if it were posed before i bought an aura and assuming i'm limited to what is on the market now, if that is OK. i would buy an aura. its the first credible competitor, in all areas, in its segment from GM since the japanese pulled ahead, imo. i purchased it to reward GM for the effort and encourage GM to continue. but mostly, i bought it beacuse its a damn good car at a good price, meets my needs and i like it.

2) What do you consider the most significant debut in the US market over the next 12 months?

the accord. simply because it is considered by most as the car that sets the bar. it also occupies the largest selling segment on the car side. the malibu cant be accurately evaluated against its competitors until this car arrives. imo, if the NuBu is as good as expected, only the accord has a chance at besting it.

3) You see the Saturn Aura is not taking off and doing as well as expected. Inventory levels and incentives are rising, what course of action would you envision GM take?

first of all, i wouldnt panic. it could be argued that nearly every aura sold is a sale saturn wouldnt recieve otherwise. since its been reported that most of these sales are conquests, it could also be argued that nearly all those sales are sales GM wouldnt recieve otherwise. a gain is a gain. i would research who bought the car and why. then, focus my traditional advertising spending on that type of buyer in the markets where it was doing well.

but i now realize im not answering your question, WWGMD? well, there was a time when my answer would be short and sweet: they'd screw it up. i think they will do a few things. first, keep production closer to demand. the impact should be negligible. i dont think they will invest heavily in reworking the current car on the eve of epsilon 2's debut. i think they will fix its few deficiencies with its replacement on EP2. i expect a 3 year cycle and view the current car simply as a foot in the door. a placeholder of sorts. instead, i think money will be spent on both traditional and non-traditional advertising focused on establishing the nameplate in the marketplace.

4) What do you see as a the next big trend?

this is the hardest question, isnt it? :) excluding technological innovations, i'd say more extensive ways for customers to customize/accessorize their cars either at the point of purchase or as a function of the cars content. i would say hybrids/fuel economy/alternative fuels is a current trend.

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I would take a stab... but seeing as how I have no chance what-so-ever and don't really meet the preferables, I won't. I do know that if I had $30k I wouldn't buy one new vehicle when I could buy a few used ones that would satisfy me much more than any one new car could. :P

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I felt like doing it just for fun...

1) You have $30,000, no more, to buy a new vehicle. What do you get and why?

Probably a 2006 GTO. I'm very happy with mine and don't see and reason to buy anything else unless gas reaches $5/gallon. I'd probably look at a G35 too and maybe other sport coupes but I don't see any reason why I'd buy anything else. Mustang is a bit too retro, the interior is below average (and incredibly inferior to the GTO), the Challenger is much too big and too retro, and I don't think I could live with the 350Z's interior.

2) What do you consider the most significant debut in the US market over the next 12 months?

This is hard because I feel there are many. The G8 is not very significant to GM as a whole, but Pontiac's life may rest on its success. Same goes for Buick and the Enclave, but again GM isn't going to make it or break it from either of those. The Malibu could be a choice, but again GM doesn't rely on it to line the coffers. Therefore, I'd probably have to go with the Accord. If it's a bust, Honda's profits will go down the drain, but if it's a hit it could probably overtake the Camry and the Malibu won't do too well if it's vastly superior. Not only does Honda's success rely on the Accord, but I would say pretty much every other manufacturer's success in the midsize segment will be based on what the Accord does or doesn't do.

3) You see the Saturn Aura is not taking off and doing as well as expected. Inventory levels and incentives are rising, what course of action would you envision GM take?

I think there are three very real problems with the Aura: marketing is poor, you can't get a "deal" on one, and it's V6 only. I think GM will re-launch their ad campaign, perhaps Saturn will up the incentives, start allowing people to use their GM Card credits on it (and other Saturns -- the Outlook is not starting off so hot either), and they'll stick the I4 in it (hopefully with the 6-speed at least optional).

4) What do you see as a the next big trend?

I see two trends:

1) SUVs that get good gas mileage. Whether it be from diesel or hybrid powertrains (or both) or some other breakthrough in technology. One way or another manufacturers are going to have to start vastly improving fuel economy in SUVs, and the first manufacturer to do so is going to reap huge profits from it.

2) I also think those "smart" polymers and alloys are going to be huge. They'll be the next thing that make people impulse buy cars, I think.

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Aside from the last one, I don't see how any of these questions can help you narrow a search for such a position. Having worked in said positions, nobody in the industry has ever seriously asked any of these questions (excepting the last one).

First question: personal. Why would you care what the perspective analyst would buy? Are you planning on supplying said vehicle as part of the employment package? If so, let's talk.

Second question: too pinpoint. All vehicle introductions are significant for one reason or another. Perhaps "why is [insert particular vehicle name here] going to be a significant introduction?"

Third question: far too pinpoint. Is GM asking you how to correct the Aura's marketing or make the vehicle better?

Ah-ha, good luck finding someone. More power to you.

Man.... you need to loosen up. I'm just putting this out there as a unique opportunity for people who might not even be aware of such career choices. The questions aren't the point, understanding people's response and logic is. :AH-HA_wink:

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1) You have $30,000, no more, to buy a new vehicle. What do you get and why?

SAAB 9-3 sedan. Bases at around $26K w/ 16" wheels and an auto it comes in just under $30K. It is a luxurious conservative small sedan that gets 'good' gas mileage, has decent power, and has a sport tuned suspension. I have a city commute and it would suit my needs perfectly. Though high priced, especially compared to the Malibu, G6, and Aura Epsilon cars its conservative yet attractive styling calls to me. If this car were styled as a Buick, with minor changes, and a 3.9 V6 I would be on it like stink on poop!

2) What do you consider the most significant debut in the US market over the next 12 months?

Though it won't be out w/in the next year the Camaro is probably THE debut of the early century. It represents the culmination of GM's new 'world' chassis system and the implimentation of the best of its resources and people. The car NEEDS to kick off the RWD cars w/ a BANG! If it comes to production w/ a cheap interior and starts to show rattles I may turn in my Pro-GM sticker, and I doubt I am alone. The Camaro signifies both GM's boldness AND GM's new commitment to quality moreso than any new car I can think of. While the Malibu will be the bread winner and it will show if GM can compete head to head against the best the Japanese have to offer, it isn't the lightning rod or symbol that the Camaro will be. The GMT900 trucks while they have great interiors are NOT 'no compromise' efforts. The 30+ year old 4.3 V6 and the 4 speed autos, while both reliable, are 'old school' GM looming its ugly head. It was the 'good enough' mentality, the 'it will do' mentality that brought down SO many of GMs promising programs. The bean counters won on those fronts because the 4.2 I6 and 6 speed autos would have made the GM trucks completely unbeatable. Instead they are saddled w/ the old tech because it was good enough.

3) You see the Saturn Aura is not taking off and doing as well as expected. Inventory levels and incentives are rising, what course of action would you envision GM take?

Well the first thing you need to do is make sure you don't go down GMs formerly traveled paths: rebates, fleeting, decontenting, and gimmicks (Red Tag sales et al). I say add in new equipment to the vehicle, even mid year (even if it costs more!). Keep the pricing the same but add content like Bluetooth, Ipod integration, standard SatNav. Introduce the Redline model when available. Offer new wheels every other year to make more unique combinations. But most of all Ensure that the dealers aren't screwing the pooch. They need to know that a powerful, well thought out, long term strategy is in effect that ensures their future success and the brands. Saturn dealers need to know that the long term is key and not the short term.

4) What do you see as a the next big trend?

Small will be Big. Lets be real: the US is facing conditions that it has NEVER seen before. Gas prices are rising at rates unheard of. The housing market went WILD and now is cooling faster than lava under the ocean. We have more 'consultants' and 'anyalysts', no offense, in this country than we do people actually doing the work (or so it seems). When I read that a company, like Best Buy, reports its earnings and they are under the anaylsts expectations so the stock falls it pisses me off! A company is devalued not because it didn't make money but because it didn't make enough to suit some else's idea of what it should have made.

Having gotten that out of my system let me continue. Small cars will continue to play a more important role in the US market. The Japanese import brands grew organically because they began with small cars which gradually grew up with the population's needs. As the Civic becomes to big to fit the original target it had, as a small good mileage economy on the cheap, Honda introduces the Fit. Same thing w/ the Camry->Corolla, Corolla->Yaris.

I also see the population becoming more accepting of non-traditional offerings, 5 doors and small crossovers. This is partly thanks to the SUV craze of the 90s.

AH-HA, while I could never accept the position (it is not in my plan for life) I would be interested in hearing your opinions on my response as well as varied topics. I know what happened in the past has caused you to be guarded and rightfully so. But I hope you continue to be a part of our little communitiy.

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Man.... you need to loosen up. I'm just putting this out there as a unique opportunity for people who might not even be aware of such career choices. The questions aren't the point, understanding people's response and logic is. :AH-HA_wink:

So this is the AH-HA version of the LSAT. Maybe I'll take a stab at it tomorrow.
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Man.... you need to loosen up. I'm just putting this out there as a unique opportunity for people who might not even be aware of such career choices. The questions aren't the point, understanding people's response and logic is. :AH-HA_wink:

Again, more power to you. As one who's worked in this area for quite some time, I would be embarrassed if a prospective employer asked me some of these questions.
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1) You have $30,000, no more, to buy a new vehicle. What do you get and why?

Solstice GXP, cause it's not oly Domestic but also GM and it kicks arse.

2) What do you consider the most significant debut in the US market over the next 12 months?

Zetas. Mainstream RWD is a beautiful thing.

3) You see the Saturn Aura is not taking off and doing as well as expected. Inventory levels and incentives are rising, what course of action would you envision GM take?

Redline & Greenline versions. Agressive marketing to the Camry & Accord crowd.

Play dirty if you have to.

4) What do you see as a the next big trend?

RWD. No doubt.

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Again, more power to you. As one who's worked in this area for quite some time, I would be embarrassed if a prospective employer asked me some of these questions.

As someone who's NEVER worked in this area... I wouldn't be embarrassed. Rather, I'd actually have to put in a fair amount of time to answer the questions.

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Great thread Ah-Ha!

1. I'd buy a Saturn Sky. I miss my Vette and since I once said Saturn should be discontinued, what better way to admit my error than to buy a Saturn.

2. Malibu. It's time for GM to get the title of "best selling car" by making the Malibu better than the competition in all categories (exterior, interior and performance). Make the Toyo generation want one. GM needs to make a profit and the Malibu could be the vehicle to turn the trick.

3. Start a Saturn traveling road show (Motorama). Travel the country offering test drives and a discount or reward to those who buy an Aura at the show.

4. The next big trend (Fad) will be diesel engines.

Some posters need to get a life. I don't care how long anyone has been in any business or how old you are, you can always learn something new. You can teach an old dog new tricks!

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First off, how's everyone doing? I still hang around, but unfortunately don't participate anywhere near the levels I used to.

I'm sure I wasn't the only car geek out there that wanted to turn my life's passion into a full-time career. I've been fortunate enough to be involved in this business for quite sometime and have obtained all my auto related positions due mostly to my sheer enthusiasm and understanding vehicles and of the market.

Now's here you're chance. There is an opening to work with me (trust me, no big thrill hanging with me) as a forecast analyst for the North American market. If you're interested and preferably live in Michigan and have a strong desire to get into the auto industry as an analyst and have excellent computer skills, drop me a line and take the below AH-HA challenge.

1) You have $30,000, no more, to buy a new vehicle. What do you get and why?

2) What do you consider the most significant debut in the US market over the next 12 months?

3) You see the Saturn Aura is not taking off and doing as well as expected. Inventory levels and incentives are rising, what course of action would you envision GM take?

4) What do you see as a the next big trend?

Thanks guys!

:AH-HA_wink:

minimns@optonline.net

1) Real car guy does the smart thing and gets a high-line CPO vehicle, which, if bought carefully, has a better warranty than new, has had someone else take the first depreciation hit and is much better than what you can buy new at $30K

2) Blue-tec diesels- either the US embraces the clean diesel or we continue to fool ourselves that Hybrids are the future

3) Trim production in anticipation of 'bu launch. Put some real marketing muscle behind the vehicle. Maybe find an ad agency with a set of balls?

4)Niche vehicles. Full line manufacturers taking a bit of Scion and a dash of Bentley/Aston/Ferrari with computing tech, manufacturing flexibility and 'merican obsession with individuality all converging to give small production batches of unique, mainstream vehicles an opportunity to make money for the respective producers. Ford actually may have hit upon a good idea (albeit poor execution) when they created the various Mustangs and the F-flex Expedition. Scion's personalization campaign, the Kappa roadsters & MB's AMG sub-brand are all pointing the way to the future of automotive retailing. The difference is that the personalization may be more practical in nature---perhaps dog-owners or the elderly driver may be the target, as examples of the micro-fracturing of the marketplace.

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1) You have $30,000, no more, to buy a new vehicle. What do you get and why?

Probably a Mazdaspeed3. It's real quick and the MPG doesn't kill you. The Sky RL would be in the running if it wasn't so impractical with a smaller driver/passenger area and almost no cargo space. The questionable soft top also puts it behind the Mazda. The Lancer Evo X would probably be first on the list if it was available right now. For now, the Mazda get its. Regular car when you need it to be. Smoking when you want it to be.

2) What do you consider the most significant debut in the US market over the next 12 months?

Ford Fairl...ugh...Flex. Obviously Ford is really hurting for sales lately. "Flexlane" is set to fill a large hole in Ford's portfolio vacated by the Freestar. With such a polarizing design, it seems like sales could go either way. If they get even half of Caravan's usual annual sales, it would be good step in Ford's recovery. If it flops, that mortgage they have with the blue oval as collateral might not be looking like such a good idea.

The new Malibu would probably come in 2nd, however, Ford has much more on the line with Flexlane.

3) You see the Saturn Aura is not taking off and doing as well as expected. Inventory levels and incentives are rising, what course of action would you envision GM take?

Well if we are talking about what I think GM would do, and not what I would do...

GM would probably run the usual incentive playbook. Probably get some crazy limited deals around Memorial Day or 4th of July. Idling the plant temporarily might not be out of the question. Perhaps they might actually start advertising it? I can't remember the last time I saw a TV for the Aura. A month or two ago, they ran that one ad about GM passing around the actual COTY award to Aura owner. That ran for 1 or 2 weeks? I haven't seen anything since.

4) What do you see as a the next big trend?

It almost has to be the next generation of hybrid cars (2 mode, etc.) while work continues on making fuel cells and other technologies more viable. I'd like to say the next big thing would be diesel-hybrids, but emissions regulations seem like it would hold that back for the time being. The same could be said for regular diesel motors. However I question whether it is actually the cost of meeting regulations holding back the OEM's, or if the OEM's just plain scared the U.S. won't accept diesel as Europe has? Regular diesel Jettas already get 50-60mpg after the motor is broken in. Mate it with a next gen hybrid powertrain and you could be looking at a 100mpg car. Talk about marketing power. Edited by Chris_Doane
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First off, how's everyone doing? I still hang around, but unfortunately don't participate anywhere near the levels I used to.

I'm sure I wasn't the only car geek out there that wanted to turn my life's passion into a full-time career. I've been fortunate enough to be involved in this business for quite sometime and have obtained all my auto related positions due mostly to my sheer enthusiasm and understanding vehicles and of the market.

Now's here you're chance. There is an opening to work with me (trust me, no big thrill hanging with me) as a forecast analyst for the North American market. If you're interested and preferably live in Michigan and have a strong desire to get into the auto industry as an analyst and have excellent computer skills, drop me a line and take the below AH-HA challenge.

1) You have $30,000, no more, to buy a new vehicle. What do you get and why?

2) What do you consider the most significant debut in the US market over the next 12 months?

3) You see the Saturn Aura is not taking off and doing as well as expected. Inventory levels and incentives are rising, what course of action would you envision GM take?

4) What do you see as a the next big trend?

Thanks guys!

:AH-HA_wink:

minimns@optonline.net

1) this pricing is limiting, my first choice for a new car were I to be in that price range would be to wait until I could afford a new BMW 3 coupe or cabrio, since in the flesh it is one of the most standout designs on the market, however under the 30k range, it would have to be my ultimate favorite flexible sporty small car, the Volkswagen GTI 4 door. Tie a surfboard to the top, take the dog for a walk in the park in the cargo area or in the rear passenger cabin, carry loads of goods in the ample cargo area, all at once looking hip and status-conscious in a fun to drive, fast compact car. Sure it isn't gas efficient, but if you're conscious doesn't lie in protecting the environment or saving money on gas, then this car is a little wonder. And it has arguably one of the better looking exteriors and interiors in the price range, for any car. runner-ups would be Saab 9-3 and Mazdaspeed 3

2)this is a tough one, especially not having a full list in front of me and being short on recollection. BUT, the Geely car or whatever Chinese car coming the next year, or any other marque that attempts an intro in the US will be significant at pointing to a trend for this decade for the US economy as a whole. We are reaching a fill point where the number of product intros, selection, and prowess of the products is so markedly different from anything ever seen before, but at the same time it is inundating us with choice and advancement. The US car industry is becoming a wasteland of a barrage of makes and cars all fighting for space and pushing each other towards the next big thing; I imagine for a car company like GM stuck in the netherworld apparently it is unbeleivably difficult to keep up with the changes. Furthermore, the changes to the societal landscape and how much we have to occupy our time with; it's unlike any time before.

3) Since your initial post there has been a repositioning of Saturn as an American brand. Attaching and identity and a lineage to Saturn is unlike anything before it since Saturn has always been sort of a flower power car and nothing more. If ever there was a car make that could get away with nothing but underpowered, solar-powered, or wood-based chassis or whatever it would be Saturn. Saturn had that image of being quirky but at the same time not a serious car make. GM built the EV1 that looked like a Saturn, and Saturn had such different styling that was fun and had funny expression and they had the plastic panels. But as a competitor to Honda, it was never looked at seriously.

$25,000 or the average transaction price of a car, is simply too much to spend to spend in a place that is unfamiliar. Giving Saturn a history rather than a 20 year abortion story, leads people to understand what a Saturn is. GM needs to move on to identify exact pinpoints at which Aura beats the competition, Camry and Accord, in significant categories. They need to give Aura a history, and not have people questioning the validity of Aura even existing. Aura hybrid needs to be a centerpoint of commercials, the mileage must be a focal point and revealed in the commercial and focused on, along with pricing and the attractive looks of the Aura. Aura is a good product, but it has shortcomings, focus on real benefits it offers with actual comparisons, and in the meantime try to rectify some or one of the shortcomings that is easier to rectify. We all know people will pay for the right car, so the hybrid must be a real hybrid, not one that sells on price like so many of GM's cars. It's still a good sell to have a hybrid, and some of the mileage benefits will be there, but not nearly as strong as GM should be shooting for. Whatever two mode or plug in hybrid systems are coming need to be injected into the most important cars stat, one of those being Aura.

4)more emotive/expressive design obviously has been a trend for some time, along with an emphasis on interior execution levels. This will only continue to rise, and competition will become extreme to only benefit the consumer. hybrid powertrains should rightfully be everywhere they can be, all the way up to muscle cars with V6 engines and a hybrid electric powerplant to attain a miraculous 40 mpg highway mark. the bigger trend over the next decade will be a proliferation of models, choices, brands that will lead everybody to look elsewhere from the mainline manufacturers who will lose share, while inevitably these choices will fade away into the background as the big companies increase the competitive quotient more than ever as they are already doing.

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I would reply, but 1) I'm sure I'm way past the point of you taking anything I say seriously. And 2) I don't feel the urge to move anywhere near Michigan.

Interesting thread though!

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I work at GM (contract) and my 5 year anniversary was today. I need to get hired full time to get an increase in pay...LOL. Does this eliminate me?

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