In this section of the blog, you can find opinions about all kinds of matters related to the automotive industry. Corporate strategies, future technologies, past, current and future models, you name it.
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What should General Motors do with Opel and Vauxhall in Europe?

Opel-logoGeneral Motors has a problem in Europe. The world’s second largest automaker European Opel brand (named Vauxhall in the UK) is losing money faster than drunk guy in a strip club.

For decades, Opel has been GMs European bread-and-butter brand, competing with Ford, Peugeot, and Volkswagen for the likes of families looking for safe and comfortable, non-pretentious transportation. But the European car market has shifted away from the middle-of-the-road brands, and unless you’re a premium or low-cost brand, you’re in trouble, especially without any chance of growing your volume outside of Europe. Several competitors have come up with different strategies to cope with this reality.

Should Opel follow any of these strategies?

Volkswagen strategy

Volkswagen reacted to the rise of (mostly South-Korean) budget competition by moving its core VW brand more upmarket by introducing more advanced technology, better individualization options and more luxurious interiors, with some help from its premium Audi brand, meanwhile re-introducing Skoda as a budget competitor for price sensitive customers.

But it’s extremely difficult to move a mainstream brand like Opel upmarket into (semi)premium territory, and it will take huge investments into technology, design and marketing. Money that GM is not willing to spend on a “local brand” like Opel, especially one that has already lost an unimaginable $ 18 Billion in the past 12 years. And it will also take a lot of time, at least a few decades, to get the new, higher-end image into the minds of consumers. Time the brand doesn’t have, with stockholders breathing down GMs neck, looking for it to focus on high-growth markets and brands, offering a quick return on investment. Arguably, VW isn’t quite there yet either.… Continue Reading …

Mitsubishi’s fate in the US is sealed

In 2011, Mitsubishi announced Jump 2013, a three-year business plan that focused its attention to building SUVs, pick-up trucks and minicars for emerging and fast-growing markets in Asia, markets that have yet to mature, like Thailand and Indonesia. To put this in perspective: in its last fiscal year, Mitsubishi sold 357.000 vehicles in Southeast and Northern Asia, about 36% of its worldwide sales.

However, in the US market, Mitsubishi is like the kid that never seems to be getting it right.

Mitsubishi-US-sales* In 2002, Mitsubishi’s US sales peaked at 345.111 vehicles, with a market share of 2%, almost twice as many as Subaru, ahead of Volkswagen and Kia, and within 30.000 units of Hyundai.

* Ten years later, Mitsubishi sales in the United States had dropped 83% on 2002 to just 57.790 vehicles, with a market share of less than 0,4%, a drop in the ocean compared to 703.007 Hyundai, 557.599 Kia, 438.133 Volkswagen and 336.441 Subaru sales. In the first ten months of 2013, sales are off another 1,5% in a market up 8%. Mitsubishi transaction prices are among the lowest of all brands, and its brand value has virtually evaporated, resulting in North American operating losses every year since 2007.

Since Suzuki dropped out of the US market last year, Mitsubishi is the smallest Japanese automaker in the continent, and it has promised its dealers and their last few customers that it is here to stay. But no new models were planned for a couple of years, despite already having an aging line-up. But that’s changed, but not for the better: the latest product plans are the final nail in the coffin. It’s over. There’s No More Hope.… Continue Reading …

What are VW’s intentions with Seat?

Seat-vs-Skoda-1999-2012

VW has been a stockholder of Seat since 1986 and full owner since 1990, with the Spanish brand supposedly being the sporty brand of the now 11-brand group. However, the model strategy did not always support this. And after sales peaked at over 520.000 units in 2000, the brand has seen sales drop to just over 300.000 units in 2009 and 2012, the lowest number since at least 1998. It’s sister brand Skoda meanwhile, has seen sales rise every year since 2002, passing Seat in 2005 and peaking in 2012 at almost 950.000 units, more than triple those of Seat. In 1999, Seat was ahead of Skoda by 134.000 units.

With VW Group boss Ferdinand Piech openly courting Alfa Romeo, another troubled Mediterranean sporty brand, the future of Seat seems to hang by a thread, even though Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne has taken every opportunity to deny Alfa Romeo is for sale or will be in the near future. But what if struggling Fiat needs some of those billions of Euros in VW Groups war chest to buy the remaining stake of Chrysler or just to pay off some of its huge debt? With Alfa Romeo in the hands of the Germans, what value would Seat hold in the Group’s brand portfolio? Especially with the brand reporting operating losses since 2008, adding up to over € 1 billion.

Continue Reading …

Tesla vs. Fisker: 6-0

Tesla-Fisker

Tesla Model S & Fisker Karma

 

Aremote-control-cars a toddler we all played with a remote controlled toy car, always bumping into the newly painted living room wall or against your father’s toes. Believe it or not, these cars could have been your first introduction to the battery electric car. Now that we have grown older and have become accustomed to the pleasures of the internal combustion engine, some people argue that the world is ready for a true battery electric car. Tesla Motors and Fisker Automotive are the small heroes trying to kick the establishment of their feet for failing to react quickly enough. But why does Tesla succeed while Fisker hasn’t?

Continue Reading …