Kia thinks NFTs are the future, the new Corvette Z06 is a six-figure car, dealers are mad at an FTC proposal. All this and more in today’s issue of The Morning Dump.
Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.
Kia Goes All-In On NFTs
Are we seriously still doing this? Kia’s updated the Soul crossover and needed to put out a new commercial, so the South Korean brand has decided to go with NFTs on this one. Ugh. The new Kia Soul ad features characters from Dead Army Skeletons Klub, an unimaginative name with a horrid, played-out twist. I’ve found the commercial to be neither endearing nor memorable, especially considering how every hamster commercial was joyous and playful.
While Kia’s last NFT experiment at least produced some social good by aiming to raise funds for shelter animals, this latest drop just seems to be the product of aimlessly wandering around the metaverse. See, NFTs are mostly about manufactured scarcity, so there’s a certain degree of clout-chasing at play. This collection doesn’t seem terribly exclusive, so I’m not entirely sure about clout. Maybe Ben Purcell, chief creative officer of Kia’s ad agency David&Goliath, has an answer.
With Kia, we want the work to be as innovative as the vehicles. So we thought, what if we could be the first to take a few NFTs for a ride? Living, breathing and of course driving, like never before. And who better to capture the multi-hyphenate Soul driver than the DASK skeletons who embrace individuality. Because after all, whoever you are, or where you come from, all that matters is that you have a soul.
[Editor’s Note: I’m gonna funge those tokens, just out of contempt. – JT]
Well, that explains absolutely nothing. Honestly, where is the value add here? Is the Venn diagram overlap between people who like Kia and people who like NFTs big enough to hold 10,100 people? It seems like brands aren’t hopping on Web3 because it’s useful, brands are hopping on Web3 because it’s a buzzword. Do you work for Kia’s marketing team? If so, give me my hamsters back.
The “6” In Corvette Z06 Now Stands For Six Figures
When the mid-engined Corvette Z06 debuted, we were awestruck. A 670 horsepower naturally-aspirated flat-plane crank V8, available carbon fiber wheels, a wider body that mostly fixes the standard Corvette’s dorkiness, and a redline of 8,600 rpm are all very good, but also very expensive. While speculated list prices for the new Z06 models were up in the air, Chevrolet’s brought everyone firmly back to earth by releasing actual pricing for the 2023 Corvette Z06. Spoiler alert, it’s not cheap.
The new Z06 starts at $106,395 including a $1,395 freight charge. That’s roughly $40,000 or an entire Camaro SS more than a base Corvette Stingray. That’s encroaching on Porsche 911 territory, not bad but definitely not quite the bargain the old Z06 was. If more leather and gadgets are desired, the mid-range 2LZ trim level $115,595 and the 3LZ trim starts at $120,245. Want a cabriolet? Be prepared to pay $113,895 for the basic 1LZ cabriolet, $122,595 for the mid-range 2LZ cabriolet, and $127,245 for the top-level 3LZ cabriolet. Oh, and all of this is before we get into any big ticket options.
The high-performance Z07 package with Michelin Cup 2Rs, carbon ceramic brakes, and significant aero alterations starts at $8,995 and requires one of two aerodynamic packages – a dark gray painted package for $8,495 or a visible carbon fiber package for $10,495. Want carbon fiber wheels with that? Get ready to pay $9,995 for painted carbon fiber wheels or $11,995 for visible carbon fiber. Add in a litany of RPO options and available premium paints, and one could very likely option a Z06 up to $160,000. Ouch. Then again, what else is out there for this sort of money? A Porsche 911 GT3 is more money, and pricing on used Ferrari 458 Italias is still properly expensive. Can a six-figure car be a relative bargain? Quite possibly.
Car Dealerships Are Mad About FTC Proposal
Hey, remember the new proposal the Federal Trade Commission has regarding dealership practices? Surprise surprise, it’s not going down so well in the dealership world. Automotive News reports that the National Automobile Dealers Association sat down last week to challenge this FTC proposal. NADA CEO Mike Stanton told Automotive News that “the FTC absolutely needs to go back to the drawing board on this.”
Key NADA complaints focus around complaint proportions, the use of qualitative research, and previous inaction from the FTC. Let’s start with complaint proportions. Not only do more than 100,000 complaints over 42 million vehicle sales last year seem to be too many, those are only complaints formally lodged with the FTC. As for qualitative research, it can be a key tool for gaining nuanced consumer sentiment and details of prior experiences. Speaking from experience, qualitative research is definitely not something to be brushed aside. As for previous inaction, prior behavior isn’t indicative of present behavior, so inaction isn’t a valid excuse.
The truth is that dealerships had a chance to not screw people over and some of them absolutely blew it. Moreover, dealer bodies have largely failed on the concept of accountability. A few bad apples spoil the bunch, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the FTC wants to clamp down on dealer practices. Better dealerships are already largely compliant, bad dealerships and those protecting bad dealerships can cry harder about it.
NHTSA Investigates Another Fatal Tesla Crash
Little more than a week after announcing special investigations for two fatal Tesla crashes, NHTSA investigators are looking into another fatal crash involving a Tesla product. Reuters reports that this latest crash happened on July 7, when a motorcyclist was killed in a crash involving a 2021 Tesla Model Y. This crash reportedly happened on California’s Riverside Freeway, and investigators are looking into the possibility of Tesla’s Autopilot advanced driver assist system being involved.
It’s probably not a great sign when one manufacturer becomes the subject of so many special investigations in such a short time span, but here we are. While there’s currently no confirmation that this latest crash involved Autopilot, I can’t help but feel that almost all automation between Level 1 and Level 4 is fundamentally flawed technology. Humans are just plain bad at monitoring things, and removing too much control promotes complacency. Then there’s all the messaging around Level 2 driver assistance, from commercials that imply lane assistance will save your ass to flat-out lies that cars with Level 2 assist systems can drive themselves. Here’s to hoping that NHTSA regulators move swiftly and rationally to set proper standards governing driver assistance systems.
Whelp, time to drop the lid on today’s edition of The Morning Dump. It’s Monday again, which means it’s time to recap a weekend’s worth of automotive adventures. I did a bit of light painting outside of a vacant garage, picked up some detailing supplies, and went for a few night drives, so it was a solid no-wrenching weekend of fun. What sort of vehicular stuff did you get up to over the past few days?
Lead photo credit: Kia