Monday, September 26, 2011

Ad of the Day: Smart Car In a world of big, another auto brand wants you to think small

smart fortwo unbig tv ad
Noreen O'Leary
Remember the Smart car—that quirky European two-seater created by the auto world's most improbable partners, Swatch and Daimler-Benz? If you do, you're ahead of many other Americans, half of whom said in a recent J.D. Power survey that they have no awareness of the brand.
Back in 2008, however, there was great anticipation of the car's entry into the U.S. after its successful launch 10 years earlier in nine European countries. Cheap and fuel-efficient, a little city car with a big Daimler pedigree, the vehicle sold more than 24,000 units in the U.S. in 2008 with little ad support. With the beginning of the financial meltdown, sales plummeted, and this summer Daimler took control of the car's marketing and distribution, which had been handled by Penske Automotive Group. The German automaker hired Smart's first national partners for marketing, events, and PR, and is now launching the car's initial TV advertising.
The launch spot, via Merkley + Partners and Razorfish, is a pure awareness-building effort, underscoring the micro car's unique size in a country's whose national religion has always been "bigger is better." The agency uses lemming-like imagery showing the pervasiveness of Americans' love of that notion. The commercial ends with a lone young dissenter, who looks out his office window at a Smart vehicle and whose eyes light up as he discovers "small." The commercial uses the tagline, "Unbig. Uncar," which will evolve in future incarnations to other ideas like "Uncluttered" and "Unblah."

Read more here.
Watch video of new smart car ad here.

Daimler’s Smart Starts U.S. Marketing Campaign to Improve Model’s Image

Daimler AG (DAI)Daimler’s Smart plans to spend as much as $35 million on a new marketing campaign as the small- car brand seeks to remake its image in the U.S. after sales plummeted 76 percent over two years.
Smart, which had been distributed through Penske Automotive Group Inc. (PAG) in the U.S., switched to Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz U.S. operations on July 1 with Tracey Matura as the general manager. Sales of the brand fell to 5,927 last year from 24,622 in 2008, according to Mercedes.
“With the marketing activities that we’re going to have, we’ll see some positive momentum,” Ernst Lieb, head of Mercedes U.S. operation, said in an interview this week in Montvale, New Jersey. “The biggest problem the car has right now: Nobody knows it.”
Daimler’s attempt to reverse the Smart sales slide comes as competitors have introduced new small-car models in the U.S., including Ford Motor Co. (F)’s Fiesta subcompact, General Motors Co. (GM)’s Chevrolet Cruze and the Fiat 500, whose U.S. version is produced and sold by Chrysler Group LLC.
Read full article here.

Sunday, September 11, 2011

All plastic wheels for smart car

Automotive manufacturer Daimler has teamed up with BASF to develop all plastic wheels for use on its Smart car. The concept is driven by a desire to reduce weight.

The wheels use a high performance polyamide composite with long reinforcing fibres to improve mechanical properties and give thermal and chemical stability, dynamic strength, toughness and good continuous operating characteristics. Initial product tests show the potential for the wheels to be used in production, and the material is also suitable for high-volume manufacture.
The development is part of a wider design collaboration by the two to develop the Smart car for the future, called the Fortwo. With energy efficiency and lightweight design being the key design drivers, another concept that is being assessed is having solar cells embedded in the roof.
Even in diffused light and poor light conditions the transparent dyes of the solar cells can generate enough energy to power the multimedia components and assist with climate management of the vehicle interior.
Dr. Annette Winkler, head of Smart said: "With the clear objective of greatly increasing the zero-emission range we concerned ourselves with all factors that influence this on the vehicle. This resulted in completely new concepts and materials in the areas of insulation, reflection, lightweight design and energy management.
"In conjunction with smart's revolutionary DNA, we have designed a vehicle that is so unique that we can't wait to take it out of the research laboratory and onto the roads."

Author: Justin Cunningham
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Monday, September 05, 2011

Volkswagen to unveil oddest car at Frankfurt

Electric Nils city car concept makes smart fortwo look bulky

You can expect some weird concept cars to debut at the Frankfurt Auto Show next week, but this single-seater Volkswagen may take the cake for the least conventional. Green Car Reports just posted pictures of the Nils city car concept, an electric vehicle under 10 feet long (shorter than a smart fortwo) and four-and-a-half feet wide. It rides on 17-inch wheels, naturally. Scared the thin body and outboard wheels won't protect you at 128 km/h? It's got a full safety cell and hazard avoidance systems, so you can feel safe in the 450-kg (1,000-lb) car. The car should have a range of about 65 kilometres, and should debut alongside the similarly different Audi Urban Concept two-seater.

View source.

Saturday, September 03, 2011

Smart Forvision:a solar-powered roof with plastic wheels never looked so good

No, it's not a Micro Machine -- it's the Daimler Smart Forvision. Daimler paired up with chemicals giantBASF to improve Smart's flagship EV after being soundly trounced by the Nissan Leaf's longer range. With an emphasis on efficiency, the Forvision goes up to 20 percent further than the standard Fortwo. It has a transparent solar-panel roof which generates power to keep the cooling fans running even when stationary, see-through dashboard and clear OLEDs for internal lighting at night. BASF's wizardry helped in the development of all-plastic wheels, a super-thin heat shield and aluminum fiber paints that insulate the car but allow for GPS, WiFi and Bluetooth signals to pass through unimpeded. The concept will be unveiled properly at the Frankfurt Motor Show but check out the preview gallery and press release to learn more.

Read full article here.