Archive for March, 2007

The Audi R8 – Born of powerful ideas

Thursday, March 29th, 2007

This is the first Audi R8 TV commercial we’ve seen. It features two Audi R8s in Ice Silver – not sure how that varies but “plain ole’ silver” but whatever.

According to Audi:

Filming in Mexico kicked off at the beginning of December last year. Gerhard Kiefer, responsible for the production of commercials at Audi, explained that, “We chose Mexico as the location for several reasons, the most important being that we had access to two racetracks at the same time for the filming work and that this location enabled us to obtain top-class technical equipment and props from nearby Hollywood.”

No less than three lorry loads of clothing including countless wigs, false moustaches and accessories from the different eras, not to mention kilos of make-up, were provided to ensure that the film’s five actors and 1,050 extras were authentically attired. It was extremely important that the clothing used in the film was in keeping with the different eras. Also fulfilling this requirement were remodelled historic backdrops, five original vehicles from the 1920s and 1930s, six original 1950s vehicles and the replica of an Auto Union Type C racing car dating from 1937, all of which were transported to the location especially.
Filming took place over six days at two different locations in Mexico. The huge team spent three days at Mexico City’s Autodromo track, situated at an altitude of 2,300 metres. Filming then moved for three more days to a private racetrack 2,600 metres above sea level in the vicinity of Tulancingo. Cameraman Ian Foster, who also worked on productions such as the James Bond movie “Tomorrow Never Dies” and “Alexander”, directed by Oliver Stone, shot no less than ten kilometres of film. During the post-production phase in London, the material was edited in HD quality, a process that lasted one and half months.

The TV commercial starts at a racetrack during the 1930s. Away from the track, racing cars are being prepared for their big moment; photographers and reporters are flocking around the crowd of excited onlookers when, suddenly, the Audi R8 drives through the scene. The new sports car makes a similar entrance in the 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s, leading up to the moment when the R8 finally takes up pole position on the grid at an ultra-modern circuit crowded with spectators. Meanwhile, a commentator has been listing Audi’s engineering achievements down the years. Then the starting lights at the racetrack are faded in and the commentator says, “70 years of preparation – for this start.” The lights flick off and the Audi R8 powers away. Next comes the tagline: “The Audi R8 – Born of powerful ideas”.

More factoids than you can throw a deck of flash cards at there!

In a future post we will discuss the Audi R8 and how it fits into the greater product strategy at VW Group.

In the meantime enjoy the commercial!

Renault F1 + Information Technology = Success

Wednesday, March 28th, 2007

You probably knew that Renault has been responsible for championships in F1 during the last two seasons. But did you know that Renault’s F1 team spends just one-fifth of other F1 teams?

Check out this link:

2007 Renault F1 Car

Rolls-Royce’s Special Fleet for the Peninsula Hotel Hong Kong

Thursday, March 22nd, 2007

It was only a few months ago that Rolls-Royce Motor Cars and the Peninsula Hotel Hong Kong unveiled the largest ever single order for Rolls-Royce Motor Cars: 14 Bespoke Rolls-Royce Phantoms in “Peninsula Green”.

We’ve take some footage provided by Rolls-Royce and edited to make an interesting an concise video about the event and the process of making the cars. The video provides some insight into the bespoke car business.

Check out the press release and vehicle details here:

See our video here:

Robert DeNiro Sells an Audi

Monday, March 19th, 2007

Thanks to our colleagues at


Where art Thou Mondeo?

Friday, March 16th, 2007

Our friends at Winding Road magazine recently spent the time and money to go to the Geneva Motor Show, one of the top motor shows in the world. Where there, they spotted the all-new Ford Mondeo.

We noted some months ago that Ford was opting not to sell their hot hatchback Ford Focus ST and Ford Focus RS in the USA, a market that craves large engines and fast cars. It is no wonder Ferrari’s number one market is the gas-guzzling American market. The Mondeo is no gas-guzzler. It is a well-designed and well-engineered family sedan, much like the Fusion in the American market. But make no mistake, it is most definitely not the Ford Fusion. What this represents is a poor marketing effort on the part of Ford Motor Company. It also signifies a synergy lost in a global company. Ford could save money by eliminating the Fusion and using the Mondeo in the USA. A smart move, but instead the company struggles and has to sell of its profitable Aston Martin division, and brand that did not fit into the streamlined strategy of the future Ford PAG.

The conclusion is that we should not be surprised about this ill-advised move considering they have brought back the Taurus name – a name synonymous with boring sedans.


Aston Martin: A Perfect Fit For Prodrive?

Wednesday, March 14th, 2007

On Monday, Ford announced that they sold their profitable brand Aston Martin to a consortium of buyers, including the owner of racing competitor Prodrive of the UK. This means that Aston now goes back to British ownership – at least partly. In addition, a well-known Aston Martin collector is investing in the buyout as well as two well-financed investment companies Adeem Investment Co. and Investment Dar, both of Kuwait. Ford will retain US$ 77 million (about 8.5% of the company). The whole deal is worth $925 in much needed cash for Ford Motor Company. Ford will still retain three brands in its Premier Auto Group: Volvo, Land Rover, and Jaguar. Ford has previously stated that Jaguar is losing money, and Land Rover (despite widespread quality problems) is said to be profitable. Both are known “British” companies.

As for Aston, we can expect to see some leverage on the buy-side of this deal. It is unclear if the two Kuwaiti investment companies are planning long-term investments, but a lot of leverage could mean a quick turn-around. Unlikely would be for David Richards, the chairman and founder of Prodrive, and John Sinders an Aston collector and racing backer, to resell the company in the short-term. Both seem to view this as a long-term investment.

Strategically, Ulrich Bez will remain the CEO of Aston Martin, and will continue to drive the product lineup in the future with the Rapide, a four-door Aston Martin, which will compete against the Maserati Quattroporte and the Porsche Panamera (due out in 2009). We should expect that plans for the Rapide will be accelerated to generate more revenue and better return on investment over the next few years.

On a final note, for those surprised by the Prodrive investment, we should note that Prodrive has considered investment in a production vehicle before. The well-known racing company commissioned a technologically advanced vehicle, the Prodrive P2. Prodrive couldn’t be bothered to put the sophisticated car into production, but we could view the purchase of Aston Martin as a foray into production sports cars. No doubt we could see Prodrive technology in future Aston Martins, thus giving Aston a specific product advantage.


Thoughts on Ford’s PAG

Thursday, March 1st, 2007

The Financial Times first reported in early January that Ford was considering selling the Jaguar unit of the Ford Premier Auto Group, the Ford Company’s luxury division. Jaguar has been in the Ford stable since the 1980s, the same decade that Ford began to assemble the PAG.

Alan Mulally told the FT, “All good businesses continually review their portfolio, and we will continue to evaluate ours going forward.” Good plan Alan! With that statement Ford is on the right track. But then again this statement comes weeks after Ford announced that they were looking for buyers of the Aston Martin name, PAG’s ultra luxury supercar division. Oddly, Ford’ Don LeClair told the FT just days later that Jaguar was NOT for sale. Clearly, Ford needs to get the corporate message packaged cohesively.

And that leads use to wonder if Ford is really taking its own advice. In evaluating the reasons for the sale, it is of no doubt that Ford is looking to sell the now profitable Aston Martin because it needs cash flow. A sale would generate short-term cash flow. This much is true. Still, Ford needs to consider the long-term ramifications of this decision. Aston gives Ford some degree of legitimacy in international racing, and no doubt Aston Martin in far more profitable than it has been in the past.

Ford has done an excellent job of turning around Aston Martin, which made only 43 cars in 1993. 2006 resulted in over 5000 Aston Martin sales. This is much contrasted with Ford’s 1989 purchase of Jaguar. Jaguar has struggled since its inception, and has yet to make any money for the PAG. It does however represent a Ford’s prestige motorcar presence in the auto industry. It is the only luxury auto unit that Ford runs outside of the USA, and the only one which is known and respected worldwide.

Regardless of what happens to Aston Martin and Jaguar, you can bet that Ford’s PAG will attempt to keep Volvo and Land Rover, both of which are profitable, in its portfolio. As we have said before, a sale of Aston Martin is mistake, and as likely is a sale of Jaguar.