By on April 3, 2011

From the sounds of a story at the Freep, both GM and Ford appear to get ready for bigger losses from Europe. Led by fanfares inflated by their hometown paper, Ford and GM seem to embark on a PR campaign to soften the blow at home:

“Europe was GM’s only unprofitable global region in 2010, extending the company’s streak of years in the red there to 11, with a $1.8-billion European operating loss. GM is hoping to break even in Europe this year before restructuring charges.”

(It’s the restructuring charges that will be the humdinger. Even if kept as non-recurring items, they will hit the bottom line in a big way.)

“Ford unexpectedly lost money in the fourth quarter in Europe, losing market share because it refused to match competitors’ incentives. It made a profit on European operations for all of 2010, albeit just $182 million of its $6.6-billion companywide profit for the year.”

And who’s to blame? The customer of course. The Freep’s informers see a gaping perception gap that is widening every day: (Read More…)

By on October 21, 2010

Toyota, king of the hybrids, won’t sell their first plug-in hybrid before 2012. But they already have their kind of a perception gap. The car will be able to go 23km (14.29 miles) on battery alone, then, the ICE engine will kick in and start making electricity. However, research shows that only a few people know about the electric-only feature. Or do they care at all? (Read More…)

By on October 13, 2010

According to our latest sales data, the Detroit Three have enjoyed something of a comeback relative to the “foreign” competition this year. And though it’s not clear how long that trend will last, the media is catching the Detroit-boosting bug again.  The NYT’s Bill Vlasic epitomizes the mood, focusing on improvements in GM and Ford’s products in a piece titled American Cars Are Getting Another Look. Between IQS score improvements and anecdotal evidence of consumer interest in Ford and GM’s “gadgets” and “value,” Vlasic’s sidekick, Art Spinella of CNW Research, forwards an interesting theory for the death of the “perception gap” (a construct he helped create, by the way):

Ford has become almost the ‘halo brand’ for G.M. and Chrysler. Because of Ford’s success, people are less resistant in general to considering all of Detroit’s products.

Well, that’s not the dumbest thing ever said about the destruction of the perception gap… but it sure is a head-scratcher. Did Nissan and Honda just spend the last several decades skating by on Toyota’s sterling reputation (RIP)? Still, it might be interesting to hear Ford’s perspective on all this.

(Read More…)

By on September 12, 2010

If cars have DNA, as it is being repeatedly claimed, then perception gap must be running in the family at GM. Now, Opel has admitted that they are afflicted by the syndrome. “I agree with you that the brand has great potential to be hipper and younger,” said Alain Visser, chief marketing officer of Opel in Automobilwoche [sub]. And they are trying real hard. They engaged German songstress Lena as an advertising icon. Not the “99 Luftballons” Nena. It#s a sound-alike, Lena Meyer-Landrut of dubious Eurovision fame. Further forays are imminent.  Says Visser: “After the music, we will occupy the themes of sport, art and science.” (Read More…)

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