Tag Archive | "Google"

Last Chance: Podium to Present Webinar on Online Review Management

TORRANCE, Calif. — On Thursday, February 16, 2017, at 11:00 PT/2:00 p.m. ET, Podium will host a free webinar “7 Quick ways to drive purchase decisions with online reviews,” with Director of Automotive Sales Dan Wright and Vice President of Marketing Nico Dato.

We all know that selling cars is a competitive business, so standing out among your peers can be difficult. You spend thousands of dollars on advertising and billboards. But what happens when they research you online? If you have a bad rating, odds are they’ll keep looking because a vast majority of car buyers now trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations. But reviews do more than just enhance your online reputation. They can also help you get noticed on sites like Google, Cars.com, DealerRater, and Edmunds and drive purchase decisions from customers.

Join us for this webinar to learn how online reviews can help you build a loyal customer base and sell more cars. Key takeaways include:

  • Why online reviews are important for your business
  • How online reviews influence buying behavior
  • Tips for building your online reputation on the sites that matter most

To sign up for the webinar, click here.

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Ford and Google to Partner on Self-Driving Cars

DETROIT, MI – In a strategic partnership between a tech giant and an automaker, Google and Ford Motor Co. will pair on an autonomous vehicle-building project, according to a report in Yahoo Autos.

Citing sources familiar with the plans, the report says that the joint venture will be announced by Ford at the Consumer Electronics Show in January.

For autonomous vehicles, the two companies are complimentary in that Google has been developing self-driving car software for years, and already has 53 test vehicles on roads in California and Texas, according to mlive.com.

Partnering with Ford – which has also been developing autonomous vehicle technology – gives Google immediate access to the 102-year-old company’s sizable vehicle-building infrastructure and network.

“Tech companies have an advantage when it comes to rapidly developing advanced autonomous features, but building an entire vehicle goes far beyond high-tech engineering,” Karl Brauer, senior analyst with Kelley Blue Book, said in an email Monday night. “Car companies will struggle to keep up with the pace of autonomous technology, while tech companies will face a daunting task in setting up the full production and distribution of an automobile line. An alliance between the two industries could make everything happen much quicker, giving the advantage to tech and car companies that align first.”

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Google Can Disrupt Car Industry But is No Automaker, Daimler Says

Technology companies such as Google are unlikely to become mass car manufacturers, even if they have the potential to disrupt an industry increasingly focused on software and automated driving, the head of German carmaker Daimler said on Friday, reported Reuters.

In recent years, automakers and Silicon Valley companies have grown increasingly inter-dependent because next-generation cars need advanced software and sensors, shaking up the traditional pecking order among carmakers and their suppliers.

While Google unveiled an advanced self-driving car last year, Daimler chief executive Dieter Zetsche said the U.S. company’s objective was probably to better understand how cars are used, rather than to become a manufacturer in its own right.

“Google and the likes want to get involved, I don’t think in the first place to build vehicles,” Zetsche told analysts, adding that Google was studying the home, the office and the car as places where people spend time.

“We have to understand that, and then to find our roles, to which extent they are complementary, to which extent we become dependent, to which extent we are competitors,” he added.

Daimler, which owns the Mercedes-Benz brand, will put great emphasis on controlling data from self-driving and other cars.

“When we talk about high safety with Mercedes, it does not apply specifically for protection from accidents, but this means safety of their personal data as well. To be able to provide that, we have to keep control, and we can’t do that when it is collected by Google,” Zetsche said.

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GM Open to Working With Google on Self-Driving Car Technology

General Motors Co is open to working with Google Inc on developing self-driving car technology, the chief technology officer for the U.S. automaker said on Monday, reported Reuters.

“I’m not in charge of deciding what we will and won’t do, but I’d say we’d certainly be open to having a discussion with them,” Jon Lauckner said in an interview at the Detroit auto show.

Lauckner made his comments two days before the head of Google’s self-driving car project, Chris Urmson, is scheduled to speak at a conference held annually in conjunction with the auto show. Urmson is expected to announce his company’s plans to seek partnerships within the auto industry.

Car makers including GM are racing to develop features that will make cars safer to drive. The longer-term vision includes cars that will largely drive themselves.

Lauckner said any automaker teaming up with Google would need to establish how the relationship would work.

“You have to figure out how would something like that actually work,” he said. “Would it be something where it would be an opportunity to work together in a joint development agreement?”

“I’d say probably anybody who’s interested ought to at least go over and kick the tires,” Lauckner said.

He said GM has worked with many of the people who are now in Google’s self-driving car program. Urmson was at Carnegie Mellon when the university worked with GM on a self-driving SUV that won a DARPA challenge in 2007.

“I’d be completely surprised if Google doesn’t have something to offer,” Lauckner said.

“We know they have talented people and we know they have capability.”

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Nissan, Chrysler Lead in Beating Estimates for May Sales

General Motors Co. (GM), Ford Motor Co., Chrysler Group LLC and Nissan Motor Co. all reported U.S. sales that exceeded analysts’ estimates in May. GM and Chrysler said industrywide sales were stronger than projected, reported Bloomberg.

GM’s deliveries, helped by Chevrolet Cruze sedans and Silverado pickups, rose 13 percent to 284,694, the Detroit-based automaker said today in an e-mailed statement. That beats a 6.4 percent increase projected by the average of analyst estimates.

“The momentum we generated in April carried into May, with all four brands performing well in a growing economy,” Kurt McNeil, GM’s U.S. vice president of sales operations, said in the statement. The month marked GM’s best May in seven years and best since August 2008, the company said. Gains by GM suggest consumers are separating new models on the lot from the older small cars that make up the company’s 2.59 million recalled vehicles linked to at least 13 deaths.

GM with its new pickups, Ford with sport-utility vehicles and Chrysler with its Jeep brand were able to take advantage of a rising market buoyed by improved housing starts. The pace of U.S. home construction jumped in April to its highest level since November. Housing starts climbed 13.2 percent to a 1.07 million annualized rate following March’s 947,000 pace, the Commerce Department reported on May 16. Permits for future projects increased, a sign activity might accelerate in coming months.

Ford, Nissan

Ford’s light-duty vehicle sales rose 3 percent to 253,346 last month, the Dearborn, Michigan-based company said in an e-mailed statement. The automaker’s sales were projected to decline 0.2 percent according to the average of 10 analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Nissan reported sales jumped 19 percent in May, beating estimates for an 11 percent increase.

Chrysler sales rose 17 percent to 194,421 vehicles in May, Auburn Hills, Michigan-based automaker said in a statement. The third-largest U.S. automaker was projected to report a gain of 14 percent, the average of eight analyst estimates.

“Our Jeep sport-utility vehicles and Ram pickups continued to do well in May as our dealers reported brisk May sales over five weekends and the Memorial Day holiday,” Reid Bigland, Chrysler Group’s U.S. sales chief, said in a statement. The Auburn Hills, Michigan-based automaker’s Jeep brand gained 58 percent while its Ram pickups rose 17 percent increase, the company said.

Industry Outlook

Both automakers forecast an annualized sales pace higher than the average pace of analysts surveyed by Bloomberg who projected a 16.1 million selling rate pace, in line with full-year projections.

GM forecast an annualized light-vehicle sales pace of 16.5 million while Chrysler forecast an annualized sales pace of 16.9 million, including medium-duty and heavy trucks, which typically account for at least 200,000 sales a year.

While U.S. auto sales exceeded 16 million from 1999 through 2007, domestic automakers weren’t consistently profitable. This time, pricing discipline and lower costs are producing steady income for Chrysler and GM, five years after their bankruptcies, and Ford, which financed its own restructuring.

Other Gains

Vehicle deliveries in the U.S. may have risen 6.5 percent to 1.54 million, the average of estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Toyota Motor Corp. may see a jump of 8.1 percent, analysts said.
Honda Motor Co. may report a 4.5 percent increase.

The gains continue the resurgence of the U.S. auto market, half a decade after the near-death of the U.S. auto industry forced restructurings that led to fewer brands and factories and more flexibility in labor contracts. The automakers’ margins also reflect the financial impact of increased U.S. energy output, widely available credit and management’s resistance to the heavy discounting car companies long used to prop up sales at the expense of profit.

The result is a lineup of U.S.-made cars and trucks that compare favorably with vehicles made by Toyota, Honda and other foreign manufacturers — showing how far the industry has come since June 2009, when GM filed a government-backed bankruptcy one month after Chrysler’s Chapter 11 filing.

‘Different Time’

“Short of calling 2009 and bankruptcy a lucky break, it’s two different companies, different management, different products,” said Kevin Tynan, auto analyst for Bloomberg Industries. “It’s very easy for the consumer to look at it and say, ‘This is different; it was a different time and these cars are at least worthy of my consideration.’”

Testament to Detroit’s comeback is GM, which is growing even as it moves this year to recall 14 million vehicles in the U.S., including 2.59 million small cars no longer in production for a faulty ignition switch linked to 13 deaths — suggesting buyers see the flaws as a legacy of the past company, rather than a defining moment of today’s GM.

“There’s some risk associated with the recalls, but it hasn’t been evident in GM’s sales numbers so far,” said Jeff Schuster, senior vice president of forecasting for researcher LMC Automotive of Troy, Michigan. “The jury is still out, but at this stage, it’s not derailing their momentum.”

Now Detroit is producing some of the most competitive vehicles in a generation. Ford’s Fusion has been a critical favorite, closing the gap against top Japanese models in the competitive family-sedan segment. Chrysler’s Jeep, with its updated Grand Cherokee and smaller Cherokee, is outpacing the robust growth of the market for sports-utility vehicles. Grand Cherokee deliveries rose 13 percent to 18,068 and Chrysler sold 15,992 of its Cherokee, which debuted last fall. Chrysler’s Town & Country minivan rose 37 percent to 14,799 and the Dodge Grand Caravan, rose 10 percent to 14,232 deliveries in May.

Chrysler’s strength was its trucks and SUVS, as car sales fell 27 percent, hurt by the older version of the 200 and the outgoing Avenger. The 200 is being replaced by a thoroughly revamped model which began reaching dealers last month. Sales of the compact Dodge Dart rose 16 percent to 8,644.

Challenges Ahead

Plenty of challenges remain, including the arrival of upstarts like Tesla Motors Inc.’s sleek, electric Model S and Google Inc.’s steering-wheel-free driverless car.

More immediately, Detroit must navigate the rising tide of recalls that could threaten freshly rebuilt reputations. Total recalls in the U.S. have reached almost 23 million, the most since 2004’s 30.8 million. And June has just begun.

Even with recall-related risks and growing competition from the likes of South Korea’s Hyundai Motor Co. and Kia Motors Corp., the Detroit Three automakers are as capable as they’ve ever been in one of the world’s most fiercely contested industries, said Harry J. Wilson, a member of President Barack Obama’s Automotive Task Force that led GM and Chrysler through bankruptcy in 2009.

“The Big Three are holding their own and actually increasing share,” Wilson, now CEO of restructuring adviser Maeva Group LLC, said May 22 at a Brookings Institute forum in Washington, D.C.

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Google Study Reveals Opportunities for Dealer Service Departments

Mountain View, Calif. — Eighty-one percent of drivers agree that quality service is more important than price, Google found in its recent study, “The Road to Winning Drivers: What Drivers Want in Automotive Aftermarket Service.”

Among other goals, Google set out to discover if digital influences drivers in their automotive maintenance decisions, and the search engine giant concluded that “drivers are yours to win. Drivers tend to stay with one shop due to lack of differentiation among service providers rather than high satisfaction,” Google stated in its research.

Survey respondents were asked to name which chains come to mind when they think of vehicle service. While 7 percent responded “Ford” and “Midas,” and 10 percent answered “Jiffy Lube,” 59 percent of customers could not recall a brand name at all. Honda, Pep Boys, Firestone, AAMCO, Toyota, AAA and Goodyear each received two percent of respondents’ recalls.

Google also found that one in three drivers is uncommitted to a particular auto service provider. Even the committed drivers can be converted, the company added, with 36 percent of survey respondents indicated that they don’t favor a specific mechanic. “I go wherever is affordable/convenient,” respondents answered.

The study also found that each month, 70 million searches on Google are for aftermarket services. Drivers are also looking online for help on changing oil filters and brake fluid, as well as fixing fuel pumps. “These topics alone represent one year of video content,” according to Google’s internal data on YouTube site visits. Because 43 percent of drivers perform a search online or on a smartphone when considering where to service their vehicle, Google said, “It’s critical to connect with drivers whenever and wherever they are searching for their next service.”

Despite the potential opportunities its finding present for dealers, Google noted that 62 percent of consumers will research a service technician’s recommendation. The company added that 51 percent of service customers are watching online videos for that research, while 15 percent contacted another shop. Additionally, 13 percent of respondents said they visited another shop’s website and searched on phone or tablet, while 8 percent said they searched on a computer.

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