Crazy media kits: USB drives from automakers

Putting media kits for their cars on USB drives lets automakers to get very creative. We've collected some of the wilder USB drive media kits we've recieve over the course of many auto shows and new model launches.

Antuan Goodwin, Wayne Cunningham
1 of 12 Josh Miller/CNET


This switchblade design is the most common type of media kit USB drive we've seen. It is a convenient size and shape, the metal bracket offers a little protection for the chip.

Lasting impression: Easy to forget where it came from, we typically copy the contents on a computer then hand the drives out at Halloween.

2 of 12 Josh Miller/CNET

Ford capsule

Still a pretty basic design, Ford has given us a few of this style of media kit drives in different colors. It looks waterproof, but it isn't.

Lasting impression: The Ford logo looks good, and the slight bulkiness of the drive makes us less likely to reuse it, keeping Ford's media materials intact.

3 of 12 Josh Miller/CNET

Chrysler chip

There's almost nothing to this media kit from Chrysler. It's just a chip with a plastic sheathe. The big tag chained to it is the only way to give it a logo.

Lasting impression: Chrysler was in dire economic straits when we got this kit, so we couldn't help thinking this stripped chip was one way to save money. Its minimalist nature does seem to highlight the electric car materials it holds.

4 of 12 Josh Miller/CNET

Ferrari stick

Although traditional in shape, this is the most luxurious kit we've seen. Leather wrapped with a metal casing, the cap snicks neatly into place, echoing Ferrari engineering.

Lasting impression: The fine materials around this drive serve as a reminder of the beautifully built cockpits of Ferrari cars. No reuse for this one, it goes in a display case with all other Ferrari paraphernalia we've acquired.

5 of 12 Josh Miller/CNET

Lexus card

A big business card-size slab of black metal, we had trouble believing it was a USB drive at first. The actual chip slides out of one side, the rest is just window dressing.

Lasting impression: This says to us that Lexus is all about the well-accoutered businessman. We'll put it next to our cuff links and bottle of Drakar Noir.

6 of 12 Josh Miller/CNET

Bentley stick

At first, we thought this simple black USB key was plain and a little boring. Closer inspection revealed that this little drive is actually rather well-constructed with slim profile design with a sturdy integrated strap loop, a simple chrome band, and a rubberized finish.

Lasting impression: It seems that Bentley is attempting to depict understated luxury, which would make sense if this were an Audi promo item. We'd expect more chrome, wood, and leather from the brand that just unveiled a $300k ultra luxury land yacht.

7 of 12 Josh Miller/CNET

Audi key

Although we typically associate LaCie with Porsche (the automaker has collaborated with LaCie in the past), this LaCie iamakey came tied to a kite as part of a promo for Audi's Electricity Untamed campaign. It's made almost entirely of aluminum and uses a low profile design that makes its total thickness half as deep as most USB ports.

Lasting impression: Like most Audis, this key is so well engineered that it's actually a little dull. However, there's no mistaking the quality. It feels like it was machined out of a solid hunk of metal. Put this one on your keychain and use it on a daily basis.

8 of 12 Josh Miller/CNET

Mercedes-Benz key

A big, bulky kit that nicely resembles a modern car key, a cap comes off to reveal the USB drive. Amusingly enough, this kit for the E-class didn't actually match the real E-class key.

Lasting impression: While we would expect a little luxury in Mercedes-Benz's kit, the company took a different tack, clearly putting the car first to mind. Picking up this kit makes us think we are about to go out for a drive, with all the attendant Pavlovian drool.

9 of 12 Josh Miller/CNET

Toyota car

This cute car shaped leaf contained information about--you guessed it--the Toyota Prius. It's sort of cute and sort of dumpy looking, much like--you guessed it--the Prius.

Lasting impression: Making a car-shaped leaf will go down in history as the most overt green car metaphor of all time. If you lose the cap, you're stuck with an abstract shape that says, "TOYO." But that shouldn't be a problem, as this USB key is way too thick to be carried daily.

10 of 12 Josh Miller/CNET

Lexus bamboo folder

This folding USB key features a shell made of bamboo and contained information about the Lexus HS250h hybrid. Random fact: Bamboo is a grass, not a tree. As the fastest growing woody plant in the world, bamboo is an excellent wood for sustainable timber harvesting.

Lasting impression: Lexus wanted to draw parallels between the "sustainable luxury" of its hybrid models and the eco-friendliness of this bamboo used in this peripheral. Unfortunately, all we can think of is how incredibly fragile this thing feels.

11 of 12 Josh Miller/CNET

Kia wristband

Hearkening to the Live Strong rubber bracelet and all its attendant variants, this USB version doesn't espouse a cause, but does contain memory. For people who constantly lose their keys, and their keychain flash drives, this wristband presents a more secure alternative.

Lasting impression: As a representative of the Kia Soul, this wristband is clever, evoking that car's youthful character. But we just can't bring ourselves to go out in public with it on our wrist.

12 of 12 Josh Miller/CNET

Caterpillar stick

This media kit was handed out when we went to see the Caterpillar hybrid dozer. It has a thick metal casing and is embossed with a glossy caterpillar picture.

Lasting impression: Its sheer weight makes it feel solid, and therefore a good representative for Caterpillar. But where's the safety yellow paint job? Chrome makes us think Cadillac rather than Caterpillar.

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