FCA’s sweater-in-chief Sergio Marchionne has a plan to turn around the debt-laden and ailing automaker: stop building cars that lose money. That sounds like common sense, so long as oil prices stay low and the demand for trucks, SUVs and crossovers remains high.
But that plan introduces a new set of problems, chief among them the fact that ditching the car market leaves FCA exceptionally exposed to future volatility in oil prices. Crude prices affect prices at the pump, which affects the demand for certain types of vehicles. Sergio is betting oil prices will stay low by focusing on vehicles with ever-increasing price tags and ever-growing gas tanks.
Still, there will always be some demand for small cars. It was true in 1950 and it is true today. So what will Mr. Sweater do to meet that demand? Simple: he’ll buy those vehicles from another automaker and badge engineer them the old-fashioned way.
Automotive startup Qoros Auto Company has an interesting business model. Backed with the manufacturing know how of China’s Chery corporation, and the funds of the Israel Corp. holding company, controlled by the Israeli Ofer family, Qoros is designing cars in Europe to be sold in Europe, but built in China.
According the the China Automobile Dealers Association, despite efforts by car makers to reduce inventories, Chinese domestic brand dealers still had 49 days worth of supply in June, a figure that would be considered decent in North America, where two months is the norm. But it’s a matter of concern in China, where normal dealer inventories are 24 to 36 days. That figure is an improvement over the 61 days of supply at the end of May. (Read More…)
Visionary Vehicles’ envisioned dealership
Malcolm Bricklin’s company, V Cars (formerly Visionary Vehicles), was awarded $2 million by a Detroit jury in U.S. District court. The lawsuit was filed after Bricklin’s failed effort to set up a joint venture with Chery to produce Chinese made cars for the North American market. The jury ruled that KCA Engineering, a company founded by former Visionary executive Dennis Gore while he was still an employee of Bricklin’s startup, had committed fraud as well as a number of other misdeeds. When Gore was first hired by Visionary, Bricklin said it was because of his expertise with Asian car manufacturers.
Max Warburton and his team. Warburton, of Bernstein Research, assembled a team to interview over 40 auto executives in China (both Chinese and foreign-born) and even bought two Chinese vehicles from Geely and Great Wall. Warburton had them shipped to Europe, where they were taken to a test track, driven extensively and then taken apart by engineers and automotive consultants. And it was far from pretty.
Qoros 3 Sedan
At the Geneva auto show, the long awaited Chinese attack on the embattled European auto market will finally get started in earnest – with the help of German and Austrian engineers, and money from Israel. Qoros is a joint venture partnership between China’s Chery and the Israel Corporation. Qoros wants to be to Chery what Lexus is to Toyota and Acura to Honda. It also wants to be the key that unlocks foreign volume markets.
A year ago, we wrote about China’s suicidal brand binge:
“If Chinese carmakers will do what they say – and they appear to be utterly committed – then China will soon wallow in a sea of car brands nobody has ever heard of, and nobody will ever be able to remember. Sometimes, it feels as if it is the long-term goal to give each and every of the 1.3 billion Chinese his or her individual car brand.”
A year later, the brand disease claims its first victim, and it is Chery. (Read More…)
Being at odds with its number one trading partner Japan at the moment, China shows that it doesn’t have to be the big bully, and that it can make nice with other former enemies if it feels like it. China gave a surprising regulatory nod to a joint venture between Tata-owned Jaguar Land Rover and Chery. If you think they were long married, then you are right. They said yes a while ago. However, in China, a joint venture is not really a joint venture unless the National Development and Reform Commission (and sundry other bureaucracies) have given their nod, and did put their chop on the contract. (Read More…)
Chery has asked the Chinese government for its blessing regarding a joint venture with Jaguar Land Rover worth $1.9 billion.
With a planned Chinese joint-venture between Chery and Subaru now really, honestly dead in the water, Subaru will look to the United States for sales growth, while importing cars to China for the next few years.