Maybe the answer’s a no-brainer, but perhaps it’s more complicated than that. We’re living in an era where traditional norms no longer apply to the auto industry.
Yesterday, we told you how ex-General Motors product man Bob Lutz is totally open to the idea of turning Corvette into its own brand — a progression of an opinion he’s held for years. Corvette needn’t offer just two-seat hardtops and convertibles, at least not in this day and age, he claims. SUVs are simply too big to ignore, and everybody’s doing it, don’t you know?
Maybe Corvette aficionados don’t want to leave those checkered flags in the garage when they pick up the kids at soccer practice. And what about those times when Home Depot is closing in 14 minutes and you really need that slab of particle board?
They’re on a little break right now, but Volkswagen plans to saunter back to America’s door, flowers and chocolates in hand.
Volkswagen brand chief Herbert Diess told reporters in Germany last week that the U.S. was still a target market primed for growth, but first the company must convince those buyers that it has changed its ways, and that it’s ready for commitment.
According to Cadillac CEO Johan de Nysschen, it probably could.
According to Automotive News, de Nysschen told analysts that Cadillac would have a “a far higher degree of autonomy and self sufficiency” within two years, and the company could report its own profits and losses, separate from GM.
Already, Cadillac contributes “a very sizeable contribution to the overall profit at General Motors” de Nysschen said, so let’s cut the dead weight already and keep the ugly sorority sisters in the basement?
Over the last two years, attacking Lincoln has become tremendously “in.” This is because doing so will cause everyone to agree with you, which is sort of like when people complain about drivers in their hometown. Seriously: no matter what major city you visit, the drivers there are “the worst,” according to local residents who have obviously never visited Italy.
The latest industry observer to attack Lincoln is David Kiley, who wrote an editorial yesterday for Autoblog entitled “ Lincoln needs a farewell address, not a new marketing plan.” This received a generally warm welcome, which mirrors the one Kiley will get in tomorrow’s Detroit Free Press for writing an op-ed piece called “Detroit Drivers Are The Worst.” The latter story would probably win him a Pulitzer, except the committee is in New York and they are absolutely certain Manhattan drivers are the worst.
The only problem is that all of the Lincoln doubters are wrong.
Before you say it, I’m well aware of what you’re thinking: I must be crazy. Regular readers already know this to be true, since I owned a Range Rover Classic. But for those who need more proof, here it is: I have absolutely no idea how Lincoln will come back. I won’t lay out a marketing plan as Kiley did, despite announcing in his title that Lincoln doesn’t need one. I just know they will.
When the automotive historians look back at GM they will point to many factors as to why they fell. Some might point to the Unions, some may point to their lack of reliable products, others may even point to their shoddy dealer service. But one factor which undeniably led to GM’s bankruptcy is lack of brand management. If anyone questions the harm poor brand management can do, then, may I point you in the direction of the Cadillac Cimarron? Muddled brands leave people confused and wondering why should I stay loyal to this brand? Your brand is your stamp of a promise to your customer. Safe cars? Volvo or Renault. Reliability? Toyota or Honda. Driving dynamics? BMW. Now I raise this point, because people said that this problem was endemic to GM only. It was a GM-centric problem. But is it, really? Was it really a GM-only problem? Or did GM suffer from “big company” syndrome? Well it seem there’s evidence that poor brand management isn’t just for American auto companies.
Der Spiegel reports that Volkswagen CEO, Martin Winterkorn, is utterly fuming at Skoda. What could the reason be? Profits? Well, they are down, but we’ll come to that later. No, the main reason why Herr Winterkorn is seething at Skoda is because Skoda is doing well. So, well, in fact, that their cars are now creating problems for VW cars, their main brand.
It’s been a looooong wait and lots of nail biting for Saab employees and Saab enthusiasts around the world, but GM and Spyker have reached a preliminary agreement on a Saab sale. The deal includes amongst other things the rights to the Saab brand of course, the Trollhättan production facilities (which was important to Spyker – more on that in a bit), the rights to produce and sell the existing 9-3’s, the new 9-5 and 9-4x models. Former Saab CEO Jan-Åke Jonsson, who was let go when the liqudation of Saab started, will be reinstated as CEO. He, and Spykers CEO Victor Muller have been named the heroes of this deal – Jonsson for his endurance and stamina “He didn’t walk out the back-door as liquidation started – instead he started nightly negotiations, writes Aftonbladet.se in a tribute to Jonssons’ role. And Spyker’s Muller’s charm and persistence have also been mentioned as a crucial part in securing Saab from GM.
Despite the flood of clumsy eulogies and “don’t worry about the Saab dealer, he owns a Porsche shop” stories making their way into the local media (usually a good sign of a sure thing), Saab may still have some kind of chance at survival (in some form). According to Spyker spokesfolks [via AFP],
Spyker has been in contact with GM today and continues to develop its proposal for the purchase of Saab. Spyker has extended the validity of its proposal therefore until further notice
Merbanco claims to have a new offer as well, as Saabsunited.com reports that they are working with a Swedish consortium that “does not wish to be identified unless they are successful in the bidding.” GM has not issued a statement about Saab today, perhaps because the release writers were too busy with the announcements of a new CFO and the Chevy Equinox’s victory in an “Urban Truck Of The Year” competition.
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- Lorenzo As long as Grenadier is just a name, and it doesn't actually grenade like Chrysler UltraDrive transmissions. Still, how big is the market for grossly overpriced vehicles? A name like INEOS doesn't have the snobbobile cachet yet. The bulk of the auto market is people who need a reliable, economical car to get to work, and they're not going to pay these prices.
- Lorenzo They may as well put a conventional key ignition in a steel box with a padlock. Anything electronic is more likely to lock out the owner than someone trying to steal the car.
- Lorenzo Another misleading article. If they're giving away Chargers, people can drive that when they need longer range, and leave the EV for grocery runs and zipping around town. But they're not giving away Chargers, thy're giving away chargers. What a letdown. What good are chargers in California or Nashville when the power goes out?
- Luke42 I'm only buying EVs from here on out (when I have the option), so whoever backs off on their EV plans loses a shot at my business.
- Dusterdude When there is a strike the union leadership talk about “brothers and sisters “ . They should give up that charade . Bottom line is they are trying to wring out every last penny they can and could care less ( putting it politely) about the future of the industry 5 - 10 years+ down the road