No Losers Here: the VW eGolf vs. the BMW i3

VW eGolf & BMW i3

Although the Volkswagen eGolf is currently sold only in limited markets – it should be available nationally once the updated 2017 eGolfs are released – my wife and I recently purchased a CPO 2015 eGolf SEL from Stone Mountain Volkswagen in Georgia. We’ve also had a BMW i3 BEV since late 2014, which provides fodder for this comparison.

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What MGM Exiting The Nevada Grid Means

The MGM Grand Hotel

Source: MGM Resorts International

MGM Resorts International created a stir late last month when it provided notice to the Nevada Public Utilities Commission that it would exit the grid and begin sourcing its own power in order to meet ambitious clean energy targets. The transaction involves a one-time $86.9M payment to offset Nevada Power’s “stranded costs” resulting from the decision (see Utility Dive’s story for more). But what does this decision say about MGM’s expectations for the clean energy future? Read more

Big Data and SMEs

data“Big data” is all over the news these days. At its core, it simply refers to a volume of data beyond what most people or organizations are used to. Having had the opportunity to delve into a couple of data projects lately with small and medium enterprises (SMEs), I wanted to offer some insights into the opportunities and chalenges unique to these organizations.

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Billboards & Marketing Context

A great post in Fast Company about the power of billboards to transform R&D combined with a recent road trip got me thinking about the power of context in marketing. Billboards are a great litmus test for this because the target audience shares a lot of contextual similarities: they’re travelling down the road at 70+ mph in a vehicle of some sort and are likely to have a fairly immediate need for food, gas, or a place to stay.

But audience context is likewise valuable in other marketing settings – whether one-to-one, print, or online. Let’s get the slam-dunk out of the way: if you have strong brand recognition and a known value proposition that your target audience likely has immediate need of, you’re done.


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EVs Facing a Thelma & Louise Moment

Environmentalists and foreign oil hawks alike have gnashed teeth over the apparent slow adoption of electric vehicles (EVs), lamenting that “if only people knew [fill in the blank]”, EV sales would quickly surpass those of conventional fossil fuel-powered cars. EV supporters point to the lack of a national charging network, ignoring the fact that you can plug in – though maybe not to a high-amperage socket – nearly anywhere in the US. Build the infrastructure, they claim, and EV sales will take off. Others point to the general slowdown in auto sales brought on by the Great Recession.

There is a current of truth to all of these explanations, but none tell the whole story. I’d like to offer an additional – and I think fundamental – explanation for why EVs are not yet mainstream.

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Reinvention Redux

My post several weeks ago on reinvention spurred a number of interesting offline conversations. The first of which was learning that Waste Management is undertaking a similar portfolio strategy to BMW in figuring out what their long-term sustainable business model is. Their blog discusses some of these businesses if you’re interested in reading more.

But the reason for revisiting the topic is that I told an incomplete story. The portfolio strategy I described works well for established businesses that are well-capitalized and have long-term time horizons. What about small and mid-sized businesses that live and die by their ability to generate current positive cash flow? Read more

Clean Energy Trends

Change is afoot in how the biggest energy consumers get their energy. Green power purchasing – primarily through renewable energy certificates (RECs) – has grown by over 300% since 2006, and is forecast by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory to grow anywhere from 50-400% over the next three years.

I’ve spent the past couple of days perusing data from the EPA on their Green Power Partnership program (GPP) to see what’s going on in the clean energy market. Why this data? For three reasons:

  1. Green Power Partnership participants constitute approximately 70% of the voluntary renewable power market.
  2. It’s the most granular data on buyers and suppliers that is publicly available.
  3. Historical data is available in a consistent format for over 5 years.
An increasing number of Fortune 500 companies are participating in the GPP – 65 in 2012, an increase of 33% since 2008. It may not come as a surprise that these companies are leading the charge on green energy purchasing, comprising 14.9 million MWh (73% of GPP purchasing) in 2012. Read more


Reinvention is hard. It’s an order of magnitude harder for companies successful in their industry, and exponentially harder for companies whose business depends on natural resources that are becoming scarcer and facing greater price volatility.

Nowhere is this more evident than in primary energy production – coal, petroleum, and natural gas. Exhibit A is BP. Despite an attempt, begun in the ’90s, to move “beyond petroleum”, BP quietly abandoned their attempts to reinvent their business by shutting down their flagship clean energy business, BP Solar, in 2011.

Yet energy companies need to reinvent their businesses with more urgency than most. I won’t make the full argument for why here, but in brief, it’s a combination of their “balance sheet” business model (i.e., their proven reserves are delivered to market, depleting their asset base) and increased pressure from many countries to de-carbonize their economy. Read more

You Get Luggage


Bankers are not marketers. This much should be obvious, but the point was driven home to me not too long ago as I was sitting in my local branch gazing at the POS collateral scattered around the lobby (see example at left).

Getting a new credit card isn’t typically a spur-of-the moment decision. Nor do most people regularly have luggage on their mind. Could the Venn diagram of customers who were thinking of opening a credit card and getting new luggage – and were spurred into action by this promotion – really be substantial enough to meaningfully drive customer acquisition? Frankly, I’d be surprised if this promotion drove any incremental business for my bank. Read more

Changing Reality

Yesterday’s election in the US offers some great lessons for those who want to change reality.  The first, and biggest, lesson is that it’s impossible to change reality just by ignoring it and inserting your own.

Indeed, many conservatives have expressed dismay at Romney’s loss when victory was inevitable, at least those firmly ensconced in the GOP echo chamber.  This despite signs that had long been pointing to a clear – though certainly not assured or overwhelming – victory for Obama.  Nate Silver deserves a lot of credit for using deep statistical analysis to show this reality, his FiveThirtyEight blog drawing strong readership along with conservative ire.

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