Automotive: December 2006 Archives

Diesel's Greener Claim with BLUETEC Brand Name

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2007_mercedes_benz_e320_bluetec.jpgThe diesel engine brand name “BLUETEC” will now be officially registered and shared between German automakers Audi, DaimlerChrysler and VW. Read about it here. This news has got me thinking about the name “diesel.”

In an article on the Diesel Technology Forum entitled Has Diesel Grown in the United States, it is reported that in Europe, 50% of car sales are diesels. In the U.S., sales are small but will be growing thanks to recent EPA legislation.

New calls for cleaner diesel technology and a rising concern over gas prices have breathed new life into diesel, but as a US Mercedes Benz engineer points out on the post “the diesel name is damaged” thanks to the smoky, non starting, slow diesel cars of the Reagan era.

Those cars are a thing of the past, and upcoming models offered by Audi, Honda and VW are getting rave reviews. There’s now even a diesel motorcycle for sale.

Enter the new generation of names for a new generation of diesel vehicles: BLUETEC.

BLUETEC is a brand name that completely distances itself from the d-word. Another hybrid, greener name is Biodiesel, a biodegradable diesel alternative that Julia Roberts was promoting on Oprah. PetroSun has a BioFuels division that makes biodiesel out of algae, and Georgia has a means of using soy.

At least one trucking company, Blue Sky, has added equity to its brand name by being the first to offer biodiesel trucks - shippers who choose them are choosing the green option. And because Blue Sky brews its own fuel, they get it for 70 cents per gallon. Of course, the fuel is not called biodiesel. It's called B100, which stands for “100% biodiesel.”

I suppose any name with the word “diesel” in it is going to be phased out as technology progresses. But it should be noted that even a much abused name like diesel is better than what biodiesel fuel usually is: used vegetable grease.

By the way, it seems BMW might have something up their sleeve. According to Leftlane News, BMW is opposed to using the BLUETEC brand name that Chrysler/Mercedes and Volkswagen/Audi are using, and has not yet given a timeframe for an entry into the diesel vehicle market.

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hybrid_saturn.jpgGM Chairman Rick Wagoner just announced at the LA auto show that his company plans on getting serious about hybrid vehicles. They plan on producing traditional cars with better fuel efficiency as well as working on partial fuel substitutes, like biofuels and synthetics. They are also pushing forward on electrically driven vehicles. He introduced GM’s first hybrid car, the Saturn Aura Green Line. They also emphasized the VUE brand name further with the introduction of the new Saturn 2008 VUE.

As GM makes these breathless announcements, I cannot help but be reminded of a great documentary called “Who Killed the Electric Car” that describes the mysterious demise of the ill fated GM EV1, a brand name that must be turning in its grave.

hybrid_toyota.jpgThis must also be interesting news for Toyota, who is busy building up the mighty Prius brand name with a focus on creating a full line of vehicles - Relly Brennan wonders if the Prius name is actually a stronger brand name than Toyota when it comes to hybrid cars.

The IRS has made things easier for people considering making the switch from guzzler to green by offering tax credit eligibility for hybrid and natural gas vehicles including the Honda Civic GX and its very well named home refueling appliance called, charmingly, “Phil”.

hybrid_honda.jpgI have been thinking a great deal about hybrids lately and the various automotive names and acronyms attached to them. It seems that stand alone brand names, rather than appended alphanumeric monikers, are more appropriate for signaling a different kind of vehicle. Toyota Prius is far easier to remember than the Lexus RX 400h or for that matter the Honda Civic GX. These cars are very popular, true, but I really believe a new brand name sweeps clean.

I think the Saturn brand name is fun and edgy enough to be the means through which GM breaks into this Asian dominated market (Prius accounts for 70%+ of hybrid car sales) and the name “VUE” is a good one, as it works well to connote visibility and a view into the future.

hybrid_vw.jpgTaking a funky niche brand and making it the hybrid brand may be the way forward and I agree with the blogger at Oh Futura! that the VW Beetle brand name could easily be the means through which the German carmaker gets into the game.

Seriously, how cool would the tagline, "Fueled by Flower Power" be?

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