Launching a new car is expensive and complicated to how to car companies do it when they can't bring journalists to the cars because nobody can travel thanks to the Covid 19 quarantine.
That's the subject of this episode of autocomplete where I talk to Steven Ewing roadshows managing editor and veteran automotive journalists.
Beginning with the Geneva Motor shows cancellation automakers have started to shift vehicle debuts online.
But what are they doing in place of their typical vehicle launch programs where they fly waves of journalists into experienced the car and a very sort of curated and controlled setting So I've seen a couple of different things happen.
The biggest example has been the launch of the Hyundai Sonata Hybrid, which took place in March.
The event was scheduled to take place in Los Angeles.
The cars had already been shipped out there, but it got canceled last minute because of obvious reasons.
So instead, the good thing about our current media situation is that we have a lot of people scattered all over the place.
So if you take a big hub like Los Angeles, you're gonna get a lot of different people from a lot of different outlets.
So Hyundai instead just loaned cars to all the media.
I got one to do the review for us at roadshow.
And held a presentation online where they went from Through the whole sort of power point duct that we normally would get at the presentation.
Which is fine because we still get the same information.
We still get the access to the vehicle but it's actually kind of Better because I get o test the car on my own time and my own terms and my own tough.
So it's familiar world at my pace but this is an exclusive to how I drive now had three different cars come to me over the past.
Couple of weeks that we're supposed to go out on press drives in curated spaces, but instead we're just brought to my home.
Okay, in what ways is this new way of doing things better or worse?
for members of the press, and you know, same question for the manufacturers like is it are you getting something different out of it?
Or are they getting something more or less out of it than they would have otherwise?
So the manufacturers are definitely losing that element of it.
Control and captivity where, you know, they fly all the media to one location you're there, you're with them, you're not really able to go do other things they can put you in, you know, the test roads that they want you to be on.
They can have you talk to all the people and have you hear from all the people that they want you to hear from, you know, there are lots of little things that go into all those events that are, We only think about a lot of the time but they're all very carefully curated to make sure that you have a specific experience as a journalist with a car with the automaker wants you to have.
So by getting rid of all that and just setting the car to your house or your office or whatever, they're sort of dependent that you're gonna still Look at it in the same way that you would, had you had access to all of the executives and designers or product planners.
But in a way that's almost a little bit better for me because, I get to determine how much drive time I have with the car.
There's far more time for things like photography and social media.
And you know, in the case of what I usually do by testing cars in Los Angeles is I have a set test route that I always use for just about everything.
So I can take a car on that same, that same drive loop and I can evaluate it in the same way that I do everything else.
So it's a lot more Context for me when it actually comes time to write the story.
I think a really good example is when I did have that Sonata Hybrid, I was able to take several hours just doing a fuel economy run, which I think is important for a story like that because it showed that I was actually very easily able to beat the EPA numbers for For this extremely efficient car, but the amount of driving it took just to do that probably would have been the amount of driving that I would get in total on a normal car launch.
I mean, so I guess to kind of wrap things up a little bit Do you think that vehicle manufacturers are going to change the way that they do launches kind of going forward?
If and or when this whole pandemic quarantine.
Are they gonna do more of these
Very quiet one on one like just send the card of the journalist type things for lunches or do you think it's just gonna back to how things were
So I think it could kind of happen both ways at the the benefit for the manufacturer again doing these events.
programs is not only being able to control the time and the message and all that, but it's actually because, you know, as as we've said, numerous times throughout the pages of roadshow, it's far more economical for a company to ship people to cars than to ship cars to people.
If you want to get all the right Media outlets to get into the car especially if it's a big national launch, you realistically have to make sure you have cars shipped to Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Portland, Chicago, Detroit, New York, Miami, Dallas, there's, we're shipping cars all over the country.
Then you've got to pay for the additional services of the companies that prep and deliver the cars which is not very cheap.
And you have to remember that this will then take up much longer period of time where was considered being able to get 30 journalists into 15 cars in six hours.
You're giving each of them a car for you know, as much as a week.
Do their own testing on their own terms.
So it just it makes the whole process a lot longer.
I think that for things like debuts of vehicles, this could be beneficial because we can all just kind of log into a zoom conference and have a q&a at the end.
I think that there are ways to integrate this, this virtual remote situation into you know the world as we knew it, but I don't think that once this is all over suddenly everything's gonna shift and now we're not gonna have car launches or programs like that anymore, but I will be very interested to see.
How it affects things from here on out.
That's it for this episode of roadshows Autocomplete I've been Kyle Hiatt, you've been delightful, and I'd ask you to not only hit the subscribe and notification buttons if you dig what we're doing here, but maybe chime in in the comment section and let us know what you want us to cover next.
Stay safe, stay healthy and wash your hands.