Father's Day Car Colognes
Father's Day is this Sunday, June 17, so if you haven't already hit the internet in search of the perfect gift, you'll likely be shopping locally or paying dearly for expedited delivery.
When it comes to choosing the right gift, there are a few absolutes. Even if dad still wears a tie to work, giving him a tie is a really, really bad idea. First, he's probably got enough ties already and few gifts say "I've given up after running out of ideas" quite like a new necktie.
The other gift that falls into this category is aftershave or cologne. If dad is one of the few remaining guys who still wear aftershave on a regular basis, chances are he has his own brand that he's been wearing for years.
For those of you who are going to buy dad a new aftershave anyway, here's my guide to automotive-themed men's fragrances, complete with scent descriptions. They are all easily ordered online and found through a simple google search.
Mustang Cologne: You don't have to have a barn to smell like one, or so we gather. Not for Camaro fans, Mustang allegedly smells of ginger, patchouli, lemon, tobacco, amber, lavender, balsam and cedar.
Corvette Cologne: Called "woody," as if it were a good thing to smell like a logging site, Corvette smells like a blend of aromatic woods, which I suppose is better than smelling of burning rubber and fiberglass resin--or the crushed hopes and dreams of cocktail waitresses everywhere.
Cadillac Cologne: Another "woody" fragrance, Cadillac smells of ebony, cloves and incense, followed by grapefruit and chamomile. At the heart of the scent are notes of geranium, tarragon and cinnamon. Call me narrow-minded, but that's way more complexity than we want to splash on our face.
Jaguar Cologne: In a perfect world, Jaguar cologne would smell like old leather, unspent hydrocarbons and hot castor oil, and maybe the blood of smaller mammals. Instead, it's a spicy blend of lavender, grapefruit, gardenia, cedar, spruce, leather and fern.
Lamborghini Cologne: "Refreshing and fruity," oddly like an umbrella drink, Lamborghini Cologne smells of fresh citrus, blended with spice and aromatic woods. What that has to do with Italian supercars, I have absolutely no idea.
Ferrari Black Cologne: Probably the best seller of all the automotive-themed fragrances, Ferrari Black has a sharp note that blends aromatic woods with a mossy undernote--because no one wants to smell like a stable, even if it is Italian.
Maserati Cologne: Called "virile and sportive" by the manufacturer, Maserati smells of leather, vetiver (an Indian grass - we had to look it up as well) and cedar. There's no truth to the rumor that it's simple a more distilled version of Ferrari cologne.
HUMMER Cologne: The SUV may be gone, but the fragrance it inspired lives on. Meant for "rugged, masculine" wearers, HUMMER blends cardamom, thyme, tonka bean, leather, amber and sandalwood to create an "invigorating" and "fresh" scent.
Porsche Design Cologne: Dubbed "contemporary" and "chic", Porsche Design Essence starts with a base of balsam, incense and patchouli before adding pine, pepper and coriander, finishing with juniper and blueberry.
Carrera Cologne: We'll avoid the cynicism on this fragrance, since members of the High Gear Media staff are known to have bottles of this in their own bathrooms. The manufacturer says it has a spicy smell, mixing aromatic citrus with hints of wood and spice. All we know is that it's not strong enough to singe our nostril hair, and isn't all that common.
Honda is Limiting Exports to U.S.
Honda is limiting exports to the U.S. of some Japan-made cars because it's losing money on them, Honda CFO Fumihiko Ike told Automotive News.
The weekly trade journal reports Ike's comments and says this is the first admission by a Japanese car company that it's losing money on exports to the U.S. The issue is the dollar's weakness vs. the yen, which cuts the value of a U.S. sale.
"Under the current exchange rate of 80 yen per dollar, our export business doesn't make any profit," Ike told Automotive News. "Definitely, the absolute number of exports to the United States will be decreasing."
The exchange issue is why foreign automakers, including Honda, have aggressively expanded production plants in the U.S. in recent years, as well as other operations, from design studios to proving grounds. Vehicles built where they are sold escape the foreign-exchange trap, because the costs and sales revenue are in the same currency.
Honda already makes almost 90% of the vehicles it sells here at North American plants. It's building another one in Mexico and expanding production in other U.S. factories.
U.S.-market Hondas made in Japan and possibly in low supply include the Fit subcompact, Insight hybrid, CR-Z hybrid, Civic hybrid and Acura TSX.
Ike said Honda will move more hybrid production to North America "within a few years."
Toyota and Nissan wouldn't say if they, too, lose money on cars shipped to the U.S., but both noted they are shifting production to North America.
"We're focused on localizing," producing here 85% of vehicles sold here by the end of next year, up from 70%, said Nissan's U.S. spokesman, David Reuter. The Rogue SUV, for example, now is made in Japan but will be built at Smyrna, Tenn., next summer.
Toyota builds in North America 72.5% of the vehicles it sells here. "Our executives say we don't want knee-jerk reactions, but the long-term goal is to build them where we sell them," said U.S. spokesman Mike Michels. "That insulates us to a greater extent" from currency issues.
Honda will continue to ship some money-losers to the U.S. because, "We need to keep our customer base," Ike said, and "for the sake of our dealers. At least they have something."
Honda's U.S. officials hinted at the problem recently in explaining low sales of the redone Insight hybrid, saying it was due to fewer to sell, not low appeal. There are more profitable markets elsewhere for Insight, Honda said.
Car Buyers Don't Want Social Media
Consumers are not very interested in using social media like Facebook and Twitter in their cars, according to previously unpublished research.
Thilo Koslowski, an influential "connected-vehicle" analyst for technology consultancy Gartner, offered an early glimpse at new research into consumer preferences in an address at the Telematics Detroit 2012 conference.
Koslowski said his latest survey showed that using a vehicle system to tweet or use Facebook are among the lowest priorities for drivers.
"This is again reminding you that you have to be careful not to confuse the car with your mobile phone or your laptop," Koslowski told a crowd of telematics leaders at the conference, which is expected to draw about 1,800 attendees. "The car is very different in terms of what it has to provide."
Many users would prefer to use their smartphones to monitor their Facebook feeds, for example, but that raises driver-distraction concerns.
Some automakers are straddling the line between demand for apps and shifting consumer electronics preferences. Germany luxury maker Mercedes-Benz, for example, has introduced a new system called mbrace2, which can be operated only by voice while the vehicle is moving.
"It allows the user to efficiently and safely post to her Facebook wall," said Sascha Simon, department manager of advanced product planning for Mercedes-Benz USA, at the conference. "We believe that telematics will allow people to be both connected and protected at the same time."
When it comes to mobile applications in the vehicle, consumers are most interested in "specific applications that make sense when they're driving," Koslowski said. That includes real-time weather forecasts and information about parking availability, for example.
The top three consumer priorities for telematics are voice recognition commands, built-in vehicle navigation systems and automated crash notification systems.
Koslowski said consumer preferences don't "sound very sexy" but underscore that automakers must be careful not to waste resources on superfluous technologies.
Steve Bridgeland, senior product manager for Microsoft's Windows automotive embedded applications, said drivers are not very interested in a large "apps marketplace" for the vehicle.
"I think there are scores of apps that can be created, but they are going to be focused on drive specific needs" he said.
The average U.S. driver spends 47.6 minutes per day commuting, and carmakers want to boost profits and win over young consumers by creating high-tech infotainment systems.
Some 82% of vehicle owners are willing to pay service fees for connected vehicle options like Internet radio and safety systems, according to Gartner. That's up from 20% a few years ago. In China, 99% of drivers are willing to pay.
Among the challenges for the auto industry is its long product development cycle, which lasts about three to five years
"It's amazing how the consumer electronics market moves so quickly, and the automotive market moves so slowly," said Gary Streelman, telematics program manager for Magneti Marelli.
Koslowski said "quite a few" of the current players in the telematics industry will not succeed -- including some automakers that may be forced to partner with outside companies.
"I just think some companies will not be in a position to be successful on that on their own," he said. "In some cases, that may be OK. It will actually require too much of an investment burden to do that on their own."