Me-too, Innovation and Metrics

If you are going to make a claim like this, it is probably a good idea to at least try to back it up with some sort of evidence. I am not sure I totally agree with you and despite an overall lack of design-related metrics, here is why…

Here are the Automotive brands that made it into the
Interbrand / Business Week Top 100 Brand Equity Rankings (which, in my opinion, would be considered a barometer in measuring what is “top of the game”)

rank
2004 (2003)

9 (11) Toyota
11 (10) Mercedes Benz
17 (19) BMW
18 (18 ) Honda
19 (16) Ford
48 (42) VW
74 (NEW) Porsche
81 (NEW) Audi
90 (89) Nissan

For perspective, Microsoft and Coca Cola annually fight it out on this list for number 1. Complete rankings: http://www.interbrand.com/best_brands_2004.asp

Apart from Ford, and the big Japanese 3, the German brands still effectively dominate. Yes there are little digs and blurbs about each one’s difficulties or successes, but my point is the big picture. In fact the new presence of Porsche and Audi would indicate an effective entry into “the top of the game.” There is no GM here. And one notices that the Chrysler brand is conspicuously absent from Mercedes.

If on the other hand, one believes only subjective anecdotal evidence, then I would assert that even the highest-rated auto-maker, Toyota has not exactly delivered bug free technology either recently. http://hybridcars.about.com/od/ownership/a/2004PriusRecall.htm

But you raise an interesting point in that there are often quality trade-offs in pursuing a strategy of “innovation at all costs.” Products often take several generations to “evolve” into something close to their ideals.

??? :frowning:

Is this part of another thread?

When I was at the Chicago Auto Show this past march I was very disappointed at what many of the German auto makers had to offer and I’m German.

BMW seemed to be the only car maker that was still doing a really high level of craft both on the interiors and the exteriors. My only complaint was that I am pretty tall and when sitting in most BMWs the weird shaped dashboard/console hits me dead center in the kneecaps and doesn’t feel too good.

Mercedes has been starting to use more plastics and cheaper materials in their cars and it is starting to show. I’m not sure if its that they just dont have experience in using them properly or what, but the interiors especially seemed much cheaper than they used to be.

Volkswagen / Audi has been a real disapointment to me. I cannot even tell you all how many people Ive known recently who have bought VWs or Audis and just had one problem after another with them. One guy I know had his TT go into the shop so many times that under state law it was declared a lemon and the dealership had to buy it back from him at full cost. The weird thing is that it all seems to be electrical problems. My ex girlfriend had a Golf that was in and out of the shop all the time, same thing with two separate friends who bought new Jettas.

Porsche was also a disappointment at the show. Their cars are beautiful and fast but when I sat inside one of the new 911s and grabbed the wheel there were jagged edges on the plastic on each side of the wheel. It was really annoying. In contrast I can get into my friends Honda and the material is silky smooth.

In all the cars might still be fast and cool looking but besides whats under the hood there is really nothing there.

Oh glad you noticed. I started this thread to keep the other one about the XBOX and the focus group controversy. This one is wandering into car-land. Feel free to post to either one.

Edit

I think that any barometer of brand equity will be measuring where the brands were a year ago, and not a very good projection of where they will be.

The german car makes are all high on the brand scale because of the great cars they produced 5 years ago and the fact that the average person doesn’t keep up with the industry like car fans do.

My opinion is that BMW is keeping their position. Bangle has managed to prod BMW into making interesting and successful cars. Mercedes is, as always, playing it safe. They were never innovaters. Sure they developed technologies and sometimes introduced them, but only because the auto industry is typical slow to develop safety equipment. I’ve seen a few brand strategists already bemoaning the new Jetta as too vanilla. With styling that is a cross of old Jetta meets Corolla, it has successfully taken the refined and successful styling of VW and tossed it in the dust-bin. Interior wise, it has evolved…just. VW has fixed some of the bits underneath the Jetta, but I have to wonder if the switch to a gas guzzling 5 cylinder was the right choice for the America market as hybrids seem to be taking off with the rising fuel costs.

Of course, once Americans adjust to paying $4 a gallon like Canadians have, they will gladly hop back into SUV’s, or big engined imports…so maybe VW will have the last laugh.

To conclude, cordy is right about Bryce’s comment, back it up man! But also, back it up with a view from the street, not the ivory design tower.