cars

The problem with Lexus is while they created great products they know people want, they have no consistent company vision of their own

A business, especially a luxury-car business, should stand for something more than just best practices and profit taking. A great car company needs its own animating idea, expressed through the entire product line—a spirit that holds the enterprise together. Even the BMW X6 has a little 2002 in it.

Such robust longevity requires a clear heading. But Lexus’s compass is being driven berserk by the magnetism of other people’s concepts. The very principle that made Lexus a household name now looks, to me, like its undoing.

If Lexus wants to keep that No. 1 spot, beating back BMW and Infiniti and Audi and Hyundai and whatever else gets in line, it needs more RXs and fewer LFAs. It better stop trying to be all things to all people. It better figure out what it wants to be.

You might find temporary success by following, copying, chasing other products. But for long term success, you need to define your own products and company vision. Product research can only go so far.

We deal with this everyday at Posterous. We’ve never been ones to do what other companies are doing. Or, sometimes, even to do what our users think they want. We know what our vision for Posterous is, and we follow that 100%.

BMW and Apple do this very well. Sometimes you might disgree with particular choices, but they are following their corporate vision consistently.

Who knew you could get product advice from Car and Driver? 🙂

BMW and Audi: you guys are going to fight for my money for years to come. Thanks to your great products and marketing

There have been some great commercials during the Olympics, particularly from car companies. The BMW and Audi ones especially struck me. First, BMW:

“What you make people feel is just as important as what you make. At BMW, we don’t just make cars, we make joy.”

This is so true. There is something about the joy of driving a BMW that is unmatched by any other car out there, except my Miata. Both are perfectly balanced, front engine, rear wheel drive beasts designed to bring a smile to your face.

But as much as I’m a BMW fanboy, I also love Audi and love rooting for the underdog.

I love how they directly attack the other car companies. Audi has done incredible things since the A4 came out in 1996 (I bought an A4 in 2000). Now they’re on the offensive, educating people that there are better options out there.

I’m cheering for Audi here, would love to see them pass BMW in a few years. They have much better product design, but not quite as good vehicle technology underneath. If they can add more powerful engines, reduce weight, improve balance, I’ll be an Audi owner for life.

If GM had developed technology like Microsoft, we would all be driving cars with the following characteristics

1. For no reason whatsoever, your car would crash……..Twice a day.

2.. Every time they repainted the lines in the road, you would have to buy a new car.

3. Occasionally your car would die on the freeway for no reason.   You would have to pull to the side of the road,close all of the windows, shut off the car, restart it, and reopen the windows before you could continue. For some reason you would simply accept this.

4. Occasionally, executing a maneuver such as a left turn would cause your car to shut down and refuse to
restart, in which case you would have to reinstall the engine.

5. Macintosh would make a car that was powered by the sun, was reliable, five times as fast and twice as easy to drive – but would run on only five percent of the roads.

6. The oil, water temperature, and alternator warning lights would all be replaced by a single  ’This Car Has Performed An Illegal Operation’ warning light.

7. The airbag system would ask ‘Are you sure?’ before deploying.

8. Occasionally, for no reason whatsoever, your car would lock you out and refuse to let you in until you simultaneously lifted the door handle, turned the key and grabbed hold of the radio antenna.

9. Every time a new car was introduced car buyers would have to learn how to drive all over again because
none of the controls would operate in the same manner as the old car.

10. You’d have to press the ‘Start’ button to turn the engine off.

The Mazda Miata turned 20 years old. A game changer. Even now, it’s one of the best cars on the road

The Miata started life as a concept born in Mazda’s California design center by North Americans Bob Hall (formerly of Motor Trend magazine) and Mark Jordan. It was largely a ground-up design with few components shared with other Mazda models. The target design specifications were clear and simple: make it as compact and light as possible with room for two adults to sit comfortably, make it handle as tightly as possible, and have a responsive and reasonably stout powerplant. I guess the whole “reliable and functional” thing was just assumed. Several options were tried out, including a mid-engine design, but a fairly straightforward front-engine rear-drive design won out, and thus the Miata MX-5 was born.

I love my Mazda Miata. It cost me less than $3000 but it’s one of the best cars I have ever driven. It was built with a simple purpose: to be a great sports car. Front engine, rear wheel drive, light, no frills. It brings a smile to my face every time I drive it.

Yes, it’s a “cute” car. But it’s also totally raw. Amazing transmission. Perfect steering. You feel EVERYTHING on the road.

It’s yet another example of how building a simple, focused product can lead to success.

Check out this hilarious commercial for the original model:

Any other Miata owners out there?