The rodents return: Kia will launch another iteration of its well-received hamster ads, which have appeared in everything from urban centers to robot wars, to shill the popular Soul hatchback. Automotive News cited Korean executives last week saying the automaker will issue a redesigned Soul next year, though it's unclear whether the U.S. will immediately get it. The hamsters will be back, Automotive News reports, but originally, they weren't a sure thing. Marketing chief Michael Sprague told the newspaper that other potential concepts for the ad campaign included boars with backpacks. It's hard to see us grunting much approval, so we're glad Kia went with the furry guys.
In other news:
- The Detroit News reports BMW will directly sell its i sub-brand, whose initial lineup will comprise production versions of the plug-in i3 and i8, online as well as in specialized showrooms. Online sales will extend a more conventional internet approach that includes building your car; eliminating distribution costs could allow for lower prices, the Detroit News said.
- Chrysler will introduce a nine-speed automatic transmission for some of its front-wheel-drive cars next year, Bloomberg News reports. It could boost gas mileage on models like the Dodge Grand Caravan as much as 16%.
- The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has rejected an inquiry by Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) to reopen an investigation into Toyota over unintended acceleration, Automotive News reports. NHTSA closed the investigation in early 2011.
- GM marketing chief Joel Ewanick has stepped down, the Detroit News reports. Citing an unnamed source, the newspaper said Ewanick may have been under fire for GM's sponsorship of the U.K.'s Manchester United soccer team. It wasn't the automaker's only departure. The Detroit Free Press reports designer Dave Lyon, who had big plans for GMC before a promotion to GM's European studios, left the company last Thursday.