Toyota troubles, emergence of electric cars among top 2010 stories

(January 1, 2011) What are the most memorable automotive marketing issues of 2010? The economy, the environment and safety engineering were some — but not all — of the key auto industry topics in 2010.

The Top 10 automotive marketing stories for 2010 identified by Edmunds', in order of importance, were:

   1. Toyota's Struggles: After a major recall early in the year, Toyota launched the biggest incentive campaign in its history but still lost significant U.S. market share for the first time in history.

   2. Electric Cars: Electrics and hybrid electrics took center stage thanks to aggressive marketing campaigns for the Chevrolet Volt and Nissan Leaf.

   3. GM Reinvents: With the federal bailout behind it and a new initial public offering, General Motors spent the year reinventing itself with new corporate leadership and numerous new models.

   4. Ford Gains: Under the leadership of CEO Alan Mulally and CMO Jim Farley Ford released several spot-on new models and conducted marketing campaigns that resulted in its second consecutive year of significant market share gains, as well as's Marketer of the Year award.

  5. Upstarts Take Advantage: Thanks to the recession and challenges with some of the top brands, smaller automakers were able to gain market share. Hyundai had the biggest gain, while Kia, Mercedes-Benz, Subaru and Volkswagen also earned a bigger piece of the pie compared with last year.
  6. Automakers Use Social Media: This year the auto industry finally began to utilize the power of social media; some automakers conducted winning campaigns, while others simply opened themselves up for public criticism of new products.

   7. Technology Takes Hold: Convenience technology, such as hands-free cell phones devices, on-board infotainment and auxiliary jacks to operate handheld devices such as iPods, are now a top priority with the majority of new car buyers—and the auto industry has responded in full force by offering a wide array of these features.

   8. Chrysler Holds On: Chrysler gained about 0.5 percent market share thanks to good marketing campaigns, high incentives and the successful launch of the new Jeep Grand Cherokee.

   9. Demise of Classic American Brands: This year Ford killed its Mercury brand, while General Motors let go of Pontiac and Saturn, as well as Hummer and Saab.

  10. Hot Year-End Campaigns: Automakers spent heavily on advertising its year-end promotions, while BMW and Chevrolet, among others, scooped up 2011 Super Bowl ad spots.

For more details on these topics, see 2010: The Year In Marketing.