Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

There’s something about Alfa Romeos that inspire a strange sense of pride in their owners. While the Italian manufacturer was once a bit of a marmite-like quality amongst dealers it’s really climbing in terms of popularity and car sales lately. Especially with the likes of the new MiTo taking it to a previously un-tapped market.

It’s a shame then, for us owners of Alfas, to find that two of the company’s models feature in Glass’s list of cars retaining the least of their original list value after 3 years. Top offender on the list was the executive contender that never really was, the doomed 166. Sadly, despite this vehicles many qualities it never really sold and dropped off forecorts in 2007. Which goes some way toward explaining why it’s top of the list, retaining just 14.4% of its original value. Given that this one used to go for around £30k… ouch.

For Just 15% of Original Price?

For Just 15% of Original Price?

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I get the impression now that board meetings at Fiat are starting to resemble a Pinky and the Brain cartoon with CEO Sergio Marchionne uttering the famous words “try to take over the world!”fiat

In motoring terms, Monday could see them get a whole lot closer as Machionne is set to meet German economic and foreign ministers in Berlin to go over Fiat’s offer for Opel/Vauxhall. It’s been less than a week since the Italian car company – who’s marques include Alfa Romeo and Ferrari (!) – confirmed it’s in talks to buy most of GM’s European operations in a deal that may yet include Saab too.

Given that they look to take huge chunk of Chrylser, and to do so without fronting any cash, thus putting them in  a perfect position to take their products State side, and if the deal to acquire Opel is given the go ahead then they’d create a company with a turnover of an estimated $105 billion in annual revenue and a whole lot of cars. 

When Chrysler emerges from the current dust it’s under,Sergio Marchionne has already announced that he’ll be the new CEO there too. Not only that, but it’s predicted they’ll be out of bankruptcy in less than 60 days. 

Here I have to wonder if it means there’ll be any significant changes. Whilst locally its certain to mean that we’ll see a lot more Chyrslers on the roads in Kent as they move from Fiat dealers, will the Opel takeover mean amalglamating Vauxhall and Fiat dealers into one giant forecourt or losing dealerships somewhere to cut costs?

Either way, I still find it amusing given that it’s only been 4 years since GM paid $2 billion to get out of a partnership with Fiat and are now looking to get a stake in the company as part of the deal for the European (and possibly Latin American) operations.

Or certainly the animal-lover.. this was sent around the office this morning as a playlist -though only the first will play in a frame here. However, if you fancy going “nooooo” while breathing in sharply… the link to the whole list is at the end.

Given my driving record of late in relation to pheasants on the way into work – the reason behind this compilation – it’s probably going to be best if I leave the race car driving to the xbox – dead kangaroos and rabbits aren’t the best accessories for a car.

 

( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rGJ0fJN10YY&feature=PlayList&p=6FC8DA21CD9FDB8F&playnext=1&playnext_from=PL&index=83 )

I spent a large chunk of yesterday evening online (yeah, big surprise) searching for a B&B or Hotel to stay in over the upcoming Bank Holiday weekend.

reviewsbnbSo how did I go about this. I followed what, after some time spent in SEO etc, the right search pattern. I searched for “B&B in xxxx” and “hotels in xxxx.” I was greeted by a long list and many of those wonderful compilation sites that offer lists on their own.

Having found what looked, from their site and the compilation sites, to be a decent looking one and a good price for its 3 Stars, I had a thought. Thanks to the changes in Google’s spider patterns (or whatever they want to call it) social media has a bigger role in serps and the way sites are optimised. So I decided to enter “xxxxx hotel reviews” and found even more listings for the hotel. None of them positive.

With my mind now firmly set against that hotel with reviews titled “threadbare furniture, poor service and staff theft” or “worst hotel in Kent” still emblazoned on my mind two thoughts occur.

One is the argument I’ve often used – is it merely a case that of their, presumably, thousands of customers in a year – only the disgruntled ones really bother with the whole tripadvisor approach and those that had an acceptable stay figured that, as nothing went terribly wrong there’s no point mentioning it. It’s like if I had an uneventful drive to work nobody would care to hear about it so there’s no need to write about it.

It also begs the question – why aren’t places like this aware of the power of social media on their business. So many other company’s are and either actively engage in online discussions around their brand or even host reviews on their site.

reviews

Take, one I often use myself: Lime XB. They clearly know the power of reviews and peer-opinion. Especially when it comes to dropping money on something like the Turtle Beach HPX – pc headphones for the price of an overnight stay at the aforementioned hotel – is something that you’d want to know about other people’s experience with.

If companies / sites selling something like headphones have awoken to the import of reviews, why haven’t hotels. There are some – the home-run jobs with a little 2-page site manage to reprint the praising letters they’ve had from guests and the big, swanky and pricey hotels carry press reviews too. But given the huge middle ground and level of competition within that market you’d think the others would wake up. How many bad reviews does it take before business drops off for a member of staff to stumble upon tripadvisor and go “ooohh?”

So let me ask you this: the official site makes everything look great, the reviews of it stink like a burst septic tank. With the wealth of review sites now gaining high serps, which do you now place your decision on?

It’s a Shocker

In motoring terms it’s shaping up to be one of surprises. Not only have Citroen become an exciting brand with the promise of a DS, Renault threw out a great looking coupe and now Kia have produced a  car that’s been named as a “Best In Show” pick.

Not only that, but it’s actually a great looking car:

kia forte koup

 

It’s the new Kia Forte Koup, the coupe version of the Forte a car that, from all the digging and rummaging I’ve done – seems destined solely for the US market at the moment as it’s one of the first products of Kia Motors in America. 

Reminiscent of the muscle-cars of old, the Forte Koup is set to pack a 290hp punch from a 2.0 litre engine, with a 2.4 litre also available. Which does the same to eliminate rumours of a European lunch as statistics like “1.2 litre diesel engine” does for any ideas of an American lunch.

While, clearly, it was designed with the US in mind (given it’s developers) it’s not too surprising, just as the fact that the European-aimed C’eed is unlikely to be taken stateside. Still, it’s a shame as this is yet another new Kia that looks the company is ready to start playing with the big boys and put some meat behind their product. I’m sure my local roads in Kent would look a lot better with a few of these on them.

So, to all the Americans – enjoy it. To the rest of us – wouldn’t this be the car to change Kia’s image here?

I always worry when I hear about things being designed by comitee or with too much influence from non-designers. I tend to remember the Simpsons episode where Homer’s long-lost brother lets him design a car and the result bankrupts the company. lotus evora

However, in one case, heeding to minds outside of the box seems to have worked. I’m talking about my current fascination: the Lotus Evora. It seems that Lotus’ staff themselves convinced the company to focus on the production of the Evora – a relatively affordable roadster – instead of spending more time and money developing a more pricey supercar.

They were planning on a mid-engined supercar, but their new chief – following chats to dealers – told the designers to scrap it and go for somrthing else. The Evora. Something that should help out the dealers, and, in turn, the company themselves. After all, if anyone knows the market it’s the dealers. Right?

If you ask me, they were spot on to do so. This is the first all-new Lotus since they dropped the Elise back in 1995 (think about it, that’s 14 years without an actual new car, you couldn’t see Ford doing that) and is likely to prove a good seller the British auto-maker. About time we had a credible car flying the English flag. With the economy and industry in the state it is, a fresh product as attractive as this could do wonders for Lotus.

Thankfully they also headed to common sense on the name too. Other names that were gestating when this was in development included the Eagle (good luck trademarking that) the Ethos and the Exira. Bit of a thing for the letter “E” in their car names. 

I really love the look of this car and it makes me think very fondly of the Espirit. I hope it proves as successful for them as that car did as I’m fed up of reading about car makers going belly-up and Lotus have a lot to offer in my mind.