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Auto blogSat, 19 Oct 2013 11:00:00 EST
Kurt Busch will channel Ricky Bobby for another NASCAR race, this time driving a Wonder-sponsored Chevrolet SS, in this weekend's Camping World RV Sales 500 at the Talladega Motor Speedway. Unlike past tie-ins, though, there's actually an element of sponsorship here (the "Me" car was done when Busch was running on a team without sponsorship).
It was arranged by Flower Foods, the new owner of the Wonder brand. Wonder was part of the bankrupt Hostess company, which temporarily exited the US market 2012, and set off the Great Twinkie Shortage.
Busch has made something of a habit of channeling characters from famous racing movies, most recently running Tom Cruise's City Chevrolet livery from Days of Thunder in a Nationwide Series race earlier this year. Busch kicked off his movie-inspired antics, though, at Talladega in 2012, when he raced El Diablo's ("It's like... Spanish for like a fighting chicken") "Me" car complete with a cougar on the hood. He even went so far as to channel the lovable idiot that is Ricky Bobby during the race, dropping a few catchphrases about macchiatos and slingshots.
Kenneth Feinberg, the man in charge of the General Motors compensation fund dealing with the its widespread ignition switch woes, has issued an informal, two-letter response to the plaintiffs in more than 70 lawsuits seeking redress for lost resale value of their Cobalts: "No." The cases were recently combined into one, but Feinberg told The Detroit News that the fund will deal "only with death and physical injury claims," and that "perceived diminished value" will get no consideration.
ALG, the firm specializing in establishing residual values, determined that Cobalt owners had lost $300 compared to the segment competition and doesn't envision any long-term effects from the recall situation. Feinberg's statement comes in advance of public details on how the compensation fund will work and adheres to GM's long-held position on the matter. The company has already asked a judge to throw out such suits using the pre-bankruptcy defense, even as it stopped using that defense in cases of injury and death.
With plenty of potential gain from the GM suit, however, don't expect the plaintiffs to give up yet. When Toyota was sued for the same reason during the unintended acceleration debacle, it eventually settled the case for between $1 billion and $1.4 billion just to get it over with. Since the 85 law firms involved in the Toyota litigation took home more than $250 million of that total, we shouldn't expect the attorneys to give up on a GM payout, either.
What's in a name? This cliched phrase probably gets tossed out at every marketing meeting that happens when a new car gets its nomenclature. We know the answer, though: everything. The name of a car has all the potential to make or break it with fickle customers that are more conscious than ever about what their purchases say about them.
That's giving headaches to marketing folks across the automotive industry. "It's tough. In 1985 there were about 75,000 names trademarked in the automotive space. Today there are 800,000," Chevrolet's head of marketing, Russ Clark, told Automotive News. Infiniti's president, Johan de Nysschen, echoed Clark's sentiment, saying, "The truth of the matter is, across the world, there is hardly a name or a letter that hasn't already been claimed by one car manufacturer or another. You can go through the alphabet - A, B, C and so forth - and you will quickly see that almost all available letters are taken."
What has that left automakers to do? Get creative. In the case of Infiniti, it made the controversial move to bring all of its cars' names into a new scheme, classifying them as Q#0 for cars and QX#0 for SUVs and crossovers. So the Infiniti G, which was available as the G25 and G37, is now the Q50. The FX37 and FX50 are now the QX70.