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Audi’s Godfather-themed Super Bowl commercial

Audi AG is revving up its image as the new luxury auto brand through a high-budgeted Super Bowl commercial.

The first Big Game ad of the Volkswagen-owned automaker in two decades will be featuring the new R8. The said ad utilizes a send-up iconic scene from The Godfather to poke fun, without naming names, at luxury auto rivals, reported USA Today.

The German automaker will be competing with several rivals in the auto industry for attention in the game. General Motors Corp., Toyota Motor Corp. and Hyundai Motors are in the game. Additionally, Nissan Motor Corp. and other automakers are acquiring ‘spot’ ads in individual markets.

Venables Bell & Partners in San Francisco, the advertising company behind Audi’s ad, took that into account. “The fact that people don’t pay attention to auto ads unless they are in the market for a car is exactly the ammunition we used to do something different and provocative,” said Paul Venables, the agency founder and co-creative director. “We have this slow, methodical open; it’s eerie and not a gag a minute. The light bulb is going to go off that it’s The Godfather. All those things contribute to a pause that’s going to deliver an entertaining story and brand message.”

Audi paid Paramount Pictures a licensing fee that it would describe only as ranging from $500,000 to $1.5 million.

Who will get to see Audi’s ad first? According to reports, the lucky ones are the registered users of the automaker’s official Web site. The ad will be e-mailed to approximately 35,000 registered users of audi.com on Super Bowl morning.

Audi, to note, is already etching a positive standing in the industry. In 2007, global sales of the automakers surged 6.5 percent from the previous year to 964,000. Additionally, the limited production of the R8 for this year is already sold out. Moreover, the automaker hopes its Super Bowl ad will make its image shine even brighter at the same time drive more gains to its coffers.

 “Boss”, a Chevrolet Tahoe SUV

Vehicles which can drive by themselves gathered for the 2007 DARPA Challenge. Eighty-nine teams took to the field but the team from Carnegie Mellon University took home the bacon after the team’s entry upstaged all entries. The Tartan Racing Team of the aforementioned university went into the former George Air Force Base in Victorville, California as one of the hopefuls and went home as the victors.

The DARPA Urban Challenge is organized and sponsored by the United States Military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA. Vehicles entered into the competition should have the ability to navigate busy city streets without any interference or control from humans. They should rely on sensors and software used by different teams.

In the finals, eleven teams met for the final battle and one of them is the eventual winner which is called the “Boss” – a Chevy Tahoe. The vehicles are asked to park, and merge into moving traffic. They should be able to make decisions based on the reading of their sensors. The vehicles navigated through a 60-mile urban course and waiting at the finish line is one year worth of bragging rights and a $2 million-filled purse.

The key to the Boss’ victory is the CarSim, a vehicle dynamics simulation software developed by Mechanical Simulation and used by Tartan Racing Team of Carnegie. Said software uses sensors to predict the behavior of vehicles regarding various road conditions. With that in place, the vehicle can safely navigate urban streets, stop on red lights, merge into traffic, and pass intersections safely. These are attributes that the US military is looking for in a vehicle which can be used on theaters across the world especially on urban grounds.

“We’re honored to be able to participate in the type of leading-edge technology demonstrated in the DARPA Challenge,” said Thomas D. Gillespie, Ph.D., the director of product planning and co-founder of Mechanical Simulation based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. “The work being done by Carnegie Mellon – and all these teams – is reflected in the advancements in active safety systems within the automotive industry and in countless other programs in the future,” he added further.

Terence Rhoades, president of Mechanical Simulation, had this to add: “We have participated in the DARPA Challenge with Carnegie Mellon for the past three years. The team has brought an impressive level of skill and creativity to this competition, and it’s gratifying to see them achieve the highest honors. The competitions challenge us as much as they do the teams to produce vehicles that will respond to road hazards.”

 

Some of the Detroit automakers have started their endeavor of producing plug-in hybrids to contribute to a cleaner and greener environment. With the increasing demand for fuel-efficient cars, automakers are given no wider leeway but to build more hybrids and flex-fuel vehicles.

“Spiteful” fuel legislations, rising gasoline prices, and costly plug-ins production costs are deemed major obstacles in the industry.

Additionally, the researchers factored in a period of time for plug-in sales to ramp up. Chevrolet, Saturn and Toyota are among the automakers experimenting with plug-in hybrids.

The General Motors Corp. is on top of the list of automakers engaged in plug-in hybrids. Saturn might well be the first one to sell a plug-in. Plug-ins do have some big problems to overcome: the added cost, weight and cargo space of the batteries they must house; the limited range of the batteries when charged; and the impact on the power grid from millions of people plugging in their cars, reported MSNBC.

Mike Omotoso, a senior manager at the market research firm J.D. Power and Associates, said that he thinks widespread electricity demand for cars has the potential to be an issue. “We haven’t looked at that sort of extreme scenario in terms of that level of volume for plug-ins, but the increased demand would possibly put a strain on the grid, especially in places like California that are already under strain some times of the year, like in peak summer periods with everyone using their air-conditioning,” he said.