Good Oil: Trumpchi: Alternative branding?
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Hmm, as far as unlikely marketing moves go, this one must rank highly. Guangzhou-headquartered GAC Group’s appearance at this year’s Detroit motor show with its — cough — Trumpchi line-up of innocuous-looking models must go down as either the most audacious zeitgeist tie-in attempt, or just a bad case of mistranslation gone awry.
It’s definitely the latter; the name is a rough anglicisation of the carmaker’s domestic Chinese model name, Chuanqi. And up until the start of last year, the name wasn’t an issue.
Even as the results of the US presidential election became clear, GAC Group bosses admit they thought it might make for a clever marketing coup and help with their concerted efforts to launch the brand in the United States by 2019.
Things seemed slightly off-kilter though, GAC design director Zhang Fan told Reuters reporters at this year’s Detroit show.
Instead of studied glances and chin-stroking, show attendees found much mirth in snapping selfies with the signage, rather than the vehicles.
For a large corporate (the GAC Group is the owner or several popular Chinese market brands, along with local Honda, Peugeot and Fiat subsidiaries), the manufacturer was remarkably honest in its observations following the experience at the North American International Auto Show.
“We saw people were laughing at this and took pictures looking only at this detail, and also put it on Facebook or other websites,” said Zhang Fan.
“When we read all that feedback, we realised it might not be very positive promotion for the brand.”
GAC has stated it still intends to launch its cars in the US (and further afield) in a couple of years, albeit probably under another nameplate.
As long as it is not about to release an MPV called the Cosby, that timing should be okay.
Racing game evolution in one handy clip
To say computer graphics have improved a lot since the early 1980s is right up the top of the Massively Obvious Statements list. Top five at least.
But to watch that evolution in one tidy YouTube clip is still a lot of fun.
An outfit called Donut Media has compiled action from most of the major racing titles of the past 34 years into a six-minute clip, taking extreme driving sim antics from the blocky 8-bit era right up to today’s hyper-realistic franchises that put Hollywood’s balance sheet to shame.
Okay, there are a few noticeable absences (no Colin McRae Rally for PS One?), but great leap forward moments are all ticked off: the first named circuit, the first realistic in-car telematics, the first game that allowed you to stray (slightly) off course and damage stuff, the first manual gearbox, the first “career mode” and ability to modify your car ... right through to the jaw-dropping realism and every-car-available licencing of the still breath-taking Gran Turismo series.
Search the Tube for Evolution of Sim Racing to see how far we’ve come.
We’d trade our scooter for this electric bike ...
Here at The Good Oil we’re a little suspicious of those pedal-to-go electric bikes.
They seem like a good idea in essence, but you’re neither able to go fast in ’leccy mode, nor zip past with an air of Lambretta cool while you’re fiendishly pedalling away like a maniac to gather up enough stored-energy gusto to tackle that slight incline ahead.
Then we stumbled on the Outlaw Tracker. Its styling sets it apart so much, we’d consider dumping that Vespa T-shirt in favour of a fabric salute to this thing.
It’s a swept-back retro-styled electric bike that escapes being twee by aping the low-handlebar look of an old motorcycle mixed with a mountain bike.
However, the designer took inspiration from the curvy Porsche 356 silhouette — of all things.
The Outlaw Tracker features a 3000W hub motor and the maker, Emory Motorsports, says it will hit speeds up to a commuter-tastic 57km/h in ”race mode”.
Unfortunately, like-all-things-that-look-too-good-to-be-orderable-online, it isn’t an easy buy.
Only 50 are being produced. They’re selling for around US$7000, if you’re quick, though.