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Good and Bad PR: Good cars, bad cars

10th May 2018


Good PR

Uber and Nasa have been splashed all over the news this week following a partnership that was initially spoken about back in November 2017.

Let’s face it, Uber’s PR operation has hit a fair few potholes along the way with scandal and city bans making the road a bumpy old one, but this latest announcement is nothing short of genius.

Personally, I never thought I’d see Nasa and Uber working together… unless it was some kind of plan to send all Uber drivers to Mars because all faith in the brand had been lost. So, what’s this actually all about then?

Well, you may have seen back in November that Uber announced its “flying car” project called Elevate during a speech at the Web Summit in Lisbon and named some places where it hoped to pilot an aerial taxi service by 2020. The Space Act Agreement signed back then between NASA and Uber was to create a new air traffic control system that would effectively manage the air traffic control should these flying taxis (which could be self-flying) became a reality.

"Uber’s PR operation has hit a fair few potholes along the way"

Now, Uber’s second agreement with the space agency has been signed and the two companies will look into the logistics of making these flying taxis an actual real thing. The project will look at the possibilities of air transport of passengers and cargo within an urban area. Uber will share data it has collected with NASA for the development of the space company’s UAM program, which stands for urban air mobility.

It seems that both Uber and NASA share the dream of getting traffic off the ground and into the air, but could this really be as close to happening as 2020? In the latest Elevate Summit, which has become an annual thing now, Uber said it also had big plans to work with the US Army on some quiet aircraft rotor tech that could be used in flying cars (or military aircraft) for vertical take-off and landing. A programme to develop and test prototypes for this is expected to cost $1 million, so Uber is either really series about this or it’s just an excellently executed PR move.

Either way, a quick Google search of ‘NASA’ and ‘Google’ will show you how far the story has travelled so far, so Uber Technologies Inc. has the right idea.

Bad PR

BMW has this week announced a recall of more than 300,000 cars, due to an electrical fault that has caused some of its vehicles to cut out.

Last year, the German car manufacturer recalled around 36,000 petrol vehicles over the same fault, but having since acknowledged that more cars could be affected by the fault, it has drastically increased the number of vehicles it wants to recall.

It will have to go about directly contacting the hundreds of thousands of customers that will be affected, which will include those with the BMW 1 Series, 3 Series, X1 and Z4 models (both petrol and diesel) that were made between March 2007 and August 2011.

A BBC Watchdog Live investigation is at the heart of the latest recall, after it discovered that the number of vehicles that could cut out whilst being driven was much higher than first thought. An inquest heard that BMW failed to recall potentially dangerous cars despite lots of complaints from customers over this loss-of-power issue (which is thought to have started as early as 2011) until the fault led to the death of a 66-year-old man who swerved in his vehicle to avoid a broken down BMW in Surrey. The broken down car was said to have an electrical fault that meant the brake lights failed and the car stalled on a dark road.

Reading into the story, there are all sorts of questions raised; none of which show BMW in a favourable light.

Recalls on this scale cause major trust issues for consumers, particularly when they involve something as potentially dangerous as a faulty vehicle can be. Even before the episode of BBC Watchdog Live was aired on Wednesday evening, the story had already been run by titles such as The Guardian, FT, The Independent, Telegraph, Sky News and more.

Written by Shannon Peerless, 10 Yetis @ShazzaYeti on Twitter. Seen any good or bad PR lately?
You know what to do @10Yetis on Twitter or andy@10Yetis.co.uk on email



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