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The Beginnings of Global Automotive Manufacturing – Gruppo Bertone of Italy

Posted on June 5, 2019 in Uncategorized

The Italian based “Bertone” or formally named “Gruppo Bertone” has had an outstanding and exceptional influence on the automotive industry far away from its native country of origin of Italy. Bertone’s influence on a stable of automotive extended over a whole different geographic and company automotive manufactures across the globe – whether if be Italian cars such as Alfa Romeo, Lamborghini, Fiat or European cars such as Mercedes Benz or the Swedish Volvo vehicles. To some degree there are family similarities in the designs across the mix. This would be expected. On the other side of the coin each Bertone design project is a unique creation from inception to fruition.

With the death of Giuseppe “Nuccio” Bertone in 1997, at the age of 82 a glorious period of Italian car design came to an end. It can be said that before the end of the Second World War, and the period that followed in 1946, that Italian automotive design was plainly a regional event and nothing more. Even if vehicle designs had been downright brilliant little was ever noted or noticed outside of the immediate area and car community of Italy. The world looked to France for coachwork from 1919 to 1938, and might have continued to do so had Communist influenced governments after the war not punitively withheld raw materials from coachbuilders. Italy’s communists it seemed were more interested in jobs primarily. As a result, or as a direct initiative, they directly encouraged and nurtured a luxury car industry, in essence moving Italian automotive design to a center stage.

It can be best said that Bertone was one of the first carozzerie (coachbuilders_ to move into “series” production, with the construction of 200 Bertone MGs for Wacky Arnolt of Chicago starting in 1952. These orders then directly led to the production of some 350 Arnolt-Bristols and put Bertone in a position to manufacture a small series of coupes for Alfa Romeo, which was then in trouble with clients who had been promised a new car , whose release had been delayed by body tooling. That product – the Giulietta Sprint designed by Alfa’s Ferruccio Palamidessit, can be said to have put Bertone on the map forever. More than 40,000 of these classic vehicles were produced before replacement by the Bertone-styled Giulia GT.

Nuccio Bertone was not a designer himself, but he served first and foremost to discover, employ and guide some of the very best automotive designers known. An astute businessman, Bertone owned several anonymously titled companies in the Turin area .Thus as a result of splitting the work, and the pie across several enterprises and unconnected enterprises; he was able to persuade different automobile manufacturers across the board to let him produce automotive vehicles in series for them. Fiat 850 spiders and X-1/9s, Opel Cabriolets, Volvo coupes, and many others came from his factories. In addition his design center also created practical shapes for Japanese Mazda, French Citroen as well as Korean Daewoo among others. It could be said that this was the start of the globally integrated car industry. The country of origin of an automotive product no longer was distinct and mattered so much. The car might be designed in one country, engineered in another and yet be manufactured in yet another country and even be marketed from a different area. Where was the car made? Who knew? In the coming future the direct geographical origins of a car would be even less evident and distinct.

Time went on and with impeccable taste Bertone continued to issue audacious show cars, including several Chevrolets, the astonishing Lancia Stratos Zero and the Alfa Romeo Carabo. The production Lancia Stratos and the Lamborghini Miura and Countach brought that audacity to the automotive marketplace.

In the end it can be said that Nuccio Bertone himself was the last of the creators of the Italian automotive renaissance, a group whose names became magical talismans in the automotive world. By his ability to launch so many brilliant design careers as well as so many legendary as well as wonderful cars it can be said that this gentleman had a great influence which has left an impact not only then but even on the automotive market and styling even today.

Why Risk Poor Precision Metal Stamping Quality? Automotive Industry Averts Risk With APQP

Posted on June 3, 2019 in Uncategorized

Precision metal stampings are a critical component of so many products. Automotive components, medical devices, electronic parts – all contain metal stampings. For the part or the device to function properly, the stamping needs to be free of defects and of perfect quality.

We continue our metal stamping quality article series with a discussion on APQP.

Automotive industry refuses to take chances with precision metal stamping quality.

Poor quality is not an option with the automotive industry. That’s why the ‘Big Three’ (Ford, GM, and Chrysler) created Advanced Product Quality Planning, better known as APQP.

So what is APQP? Technically, “it’s a guide in the development process and also a standard way to share results between suppliers and automotive companies.” More simply put, it’s a way of making sure the automotive companies are involved in every step of the development and launch process with their suppliers – to ensure nothing goes wrong. Why? Ultimately, to ensure the ‘Big Three’s’ customers are satisfied with their automobiles.

APQP is typically deployed in 5 concurrent and collaborative phases:

  • Plan and Define Program
  • Product Design and Development
  • Process Design and Development
  • Product and Process Validation
  • Launch, Feedback, Assessment, and Corrective Action

Some of the questions that can be addressed through the APQP process are:

  • Can the product/process be error proofed?
  • Can the product/process achieve a higher level of capability through tolerance design and/or process variation reduction?
  • What controls must be developed to ensure that defects cannot reach a customer?

The APQP process actually monitors 23 topics before production is even started. Topics like design robustness, design testing, quality inspection standards, product packaging, and more.

Metal stamping companies need to be prepared.

There are a lot of suppliers wanting automotive business. Automotive manufacturers and the companies that represent them can demand that their suppliers abide by APQP processes.

And that requirement certainly applies to metal stamping companies as well. Automotive suppliers need to ensure the metal stamping companies they do business with are committed to APQP and should insist they:

  • Establish and continually monitor company-wide APQP processes
  • Utilize APQP tools such as Failure Mode Effect Analysis (FMEA) to ensure quality
  • Utilize advanced technology to verify stamping quality, thicknesses, and dimensions (sensors and gauges)
  • Implement sophisticated quality control plans and tools to ensure consistency and zero defect parts (i.e. Statistical Process Control (SPC)
  • Adhere to the Production Part Approval Process (PPAP)

With these controls in place, metal stamping companies can do their part to ensure the automotive manufacturers achieve their ultimate goal of customer satisfaction.

Want to know more about APQP?

For comprehensive details on the APQP process, refer to the AIAG APQP Manual available through AIAG (Automotive Industry Action Group).

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Automotive Advertising Agencies Use Internal Marketing Vs Conventional Or Digital Advertising Plans

Posted on June 1, 2019 in Uncategorized

Today’s automotive advertising agencies must be increasingly resourceful to provide more for less in a struggling economy. The dictate from their auto dealer clients is to sell more new or used vehicles and it isn’t limited to any particular media or creative message. In order to survive the consolidation in the auto industry automotive advertising agencies must acknowledge that automotive advertising is not limited to conventional media — like Radio, TV, Newspaper, Direct Mail, email campaigns or even Internet SEO/SEM marketing plans. It starts with the fact that we have to do business with our friends because our enemies will never call us!

Internal marketing efforts include networking to preferred vendors and area businesses — especially their employees in need of transportation and their company vehicles in need of service and or replacement. Also, point of purchase merchandising between departments designed to cross market to existing customers is more cost effective than conventional or digital advertising investments targeting strangers. Service sells cars, and vice-versa, so showroom boards offering inter-department promotions in all departments and areas of customer contact — like the cashier — is a staple of any internal automotive advertising plan.

In addition, incoming inquiries — specifically emails — and how they can be most effectively used as part of the auto dealer’s extended automotive advertising plan should also be considered by any full service automotive advertising agency who wants to earn their fees. Every contact should lead to the second, and of course to the eventual sale. Internet shoppers are looking for enough information to make a buying decision, much like showroom visitors. Human nature survives intact on the virtual showroom and it must be woven into the fabric of all communications, online or in person. A good salesperson recognizes that he can’t sell anything. The real goal of a professional salesperson is, or should be, to share enough information to help their customer’s make a buying decision.

Here are a few tools or best practices that I use to allow my dealer’s clients to discover additional information through their email replies:

1) Start with information overload in your initial reply. Avoid auto-responders and customize your first reply to answer not only the question that was asked, but also an offer to provide questions and answers that should have been asked. For example; Would you also like to look at a vehicle with more or less equipment and a certified pre-owned, (or new vehicle if they started with used), along with suggested down payments and various payment plans to fit your budget? Asking where they plan to service their vehicle and some value added service information is also good information; service sells cars!

2) Attach or embed video messages in your email reply featuring available product demonstrations, copies of your relevant advertisements, links to dedicated micro-sites or landing pages within your website, chat dialogues or click to call software applications, (yes, they are available to be added to your email as a link) and other conversion tools to elevate the email to a personal contact or appointment to gather additional information. A pen pal is nice, but the sooner you elevate the relationship to a person and a voice — online or in your showroom — the better your chances are to cut through the clutter of the two or three other dealers that your email pen pal is dealing with.

Building in a pro-active conversion tool to your emails, like Argistics AutoTransaXion that offers a two way video customer chat program, will help to direct your website visitors — who often initiate the email — to a more productive initial inquiry with more controlled results leading to a sale.

3) Initiate an automatic system to follow up all inquiries in a timely manner — usually less than five minutes to keep up with today’s fast paced Internet shopper. Do not use auto-responders! Initiate a contact that integrates into your CRM application — I assume that you have one if you are still in the auto business and reading this article — that will follow up with additional information that you just thought of or even an elevated email from the manager asking if they got all of the information that they were looking for.

4) Obviously, I believe in providing as much information as possible in my client’s email responses and price is an issue that should not be avoided. People like to do business with people that they like and if they recognize that you are trying to help them by answering their obvious and anticipated question regarding price — before you start pressing to sell them a car — they will be more likely to like you! Customers have unlimited access to pricing information on the World Wide Web and auto dealers must accept that they are not the only source for this information. Automotive advertising vendors like FirstLook, vAuto, eCarList and AAX offer applications that allow auto dealers to resource the Internet along with their customers in real time to insure that their initial quote is competitive so there is no excuse for the auto dealer to not go first.

In addition, new third party inventory based websites — like ronsmap scheduled to launch their platform in 2010 — will be offering auto dealers Internet leads that include comparative models and competitive pricing information that the customer has found on the Internet before they approached the dealer for a quote. These Intelli-Leads sourced from equally intelligent applications offered by ronsmap including their SellersVantage and vBack products exemplify the fact that price is not a problem for the educated auto dealer willing to do business with the newly empowered customer shopping on the Internet Super Highway.

Automotive advertising agencies that accept their new job descriptions and areas of responsibility to sell cars in a down market must turn to internal marketing plans integrated into comprehensive selling systems and processes that will maximize the R.O.I. for their auto dealer clients’ automotive advertising dollars. It is no longer enough for automotive advertising agencies to stop at the front door of the dealership. They must take responsibility to do whatever it takes to sell a vehicle and that includes their participation in developing selling processes that integrate their auto dealer client’s virtual online showroom with their brick and mortar facility. One way to accomplish that goal is through the use of new Internet based technologies that link the dealer’s existing customer data base to their ongoing marketing efforts.

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