start your engines
Posted by Dale Buss on September 21, 2011 12:05 PM
They aren't exactly hurling bratwursts at one another yet, but the Big Three auto makers of Germany — Volkswagen, Daimler and BMW — certainly are ratcheting up the world-domination rhetoric these days. From their rosy projections and concomitant saber-rattling, you wouldn't know that these companies will be challenged as their German taxes help to bail out a bankrupt Greece for the next several years, or as the global economy continues to teeter on the precipice of a double-dip recession.
Volkswagen — with hopes high for the 2012 VW Beetle — plans to sink $86 billion over the next five years into plants, vehicles and R&D to bolster its much-discussed bid to overtake Toyota in global sales volume by 2018. Those projected outlays are up a tad from what VW previously was planning. The company "is investing a record amount in forward-looking projects to achieve its goal of becoming the world's best automobile manufacturer," CEO Martin Winterkorn stated in an announcement timed to last week's Frankfurt Auto Show.
One likely landing spot for an increase is its new U.S. manufacturing operations in Tennesee. Getting a much bigger share of the American market — despite its maturity and how highly competitive it is — is considered key to VW's plans for global domination. And Volkswagen of America CEO Jonathan Browning told brandchannel that the U.S. arm of the company is doing its part. "We can make sure we're offering vehicles and services that represent great values in the marketplace and really biuld on inherent strengths that consumers recognize" in the VW brand, he said.Continue reading...
Posted by Mark J. Miller on September 19, 2011 12:01 PM
The smog was so bad in Hong Kong last month that “people with heart or respiratory illnesses (were) advised to reduce physical and outdoor activities,” according to Radio Television Hong Kong.
Daimler AG is looking to help ease matters by bringing a trial version of its Smart electric car (which won't be produced until next year) to the city, according to Bloomberg. The German car manufacturer has partnered with the Hong Kong Jockey Club, Swire Coca-Cola Hong Kong, and four other HK-based organizations to provide two-seater Smart cars in a trial that will last six to 12 months, as part of a bigger four-year trial for the EV.
There are currently 300 charging stations for the 170 electric vehicles in Hong Kong, but the plan is to increase the number of stations to 1,000 in the next year. Nissan and Mitsubishi are also pushing “to introduce electric vehicles in Hong Kong,” Bloomberg reports, “where pollution reached ‘very high’ levels on a record one in four days in 2010.”Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on September 16, 2011 09:55 AM
If you're BMW and Mercedes-Benz, you're taking lots of sideways glances at the other brand these days, because the German luxury leaders are locked in a tight competition for the crown of best-selling upscale brand in the U.S. market for 2011. A flurry of new-product introductions by each brand during the last few months of the year promises to make the finish even more exciting than the start.
But another place their brand executives are looking is the rear-view mirror. That's where they'll find Lexus, last year's segment champ in the last of a long string of annual victories. And while the Toyota luxury marque most likely won't be able to make up sales of the tens of thousands of extra units in the United States that it would take to pull off a stunning, come-from-behind victory in the second-half and nip Mercedes-Benz and BMW, Lexus is definitely making German executives nervous again at the Frankfurt Auto Show this week.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on September 14, 2011 12:03 PM
When Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne tossed around the idea of an American-built Maserati at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit last January, the notion had an odd ring to it.
Even for a group of companies, operations and brands that the peripatetic Italian was still trying to organize into a cohesive global whole, the possibility of Chrysler workers in Detroit — a few miles down the street from the auto show — building a true luxury vehicle for export seemed too far-fetched even for him.
But half a world away, in Germany this week, Marchionne showed just how serious he was when he unveiled the vehicle in question at the Frankfurt Auto Show.Continue reading...
Posted by Shirley Brady on September 13, 2011 07:02 PM
BMW, Audi, Mercedes-Benz and Porsche hit Frankfurt Auto Show with luxury cars retooled for younger generation, while Maserati brings Jeep-based SUV to Frankfurt.
ConAgra sets deadline for Ralcorp.
Cracker Barrel's new CEO outlines her plan amidst shareholder battle.
Dr. Oz shakes apple juice industry to the core.
eBay hit by criminal probe over use of Craigslist information.
Heineken-sponsored private concert in Brooklyn by Kanye West released by Vevo.
Ikea dispels death of Billy (bookcase) rumors.
KFC Australia pulls campaign claiming free range chickens.
Lady Gaga releases second in series of "fashion films" on YouTube.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on September 13, 2011 05:06 PM
If you think you've heard all about German engineering in the car industry before — well, you have, from BMW. But Volkswagen executives believe they can leverage the company's own legacy and legitimacy in German engineering into an important aspect of their brand's long-term positioning in the U.S. market.
"I'm not sure BMW has that position wrapped up," Tim Mahoney, CMO of Volkswagen of America, told brandchannel from the Frankfurt Auto Show on Tuesday. "With our desire to be the largest brand in the world, the way to do that is to be who we are in the best possible way. And German engineering is clearly part of who we are." Plus, Mahoney noted, there is no other main-market European brand in the United States that can adopt such an identity.
That's why the tagline at the end of "High Five," Volkswagen's new 2012 Beetle commercial, is, "That's the Power of German Engineering." Mahoney calls it "a sustainable position that we can deliver on, based on our products and technologies. And it's an emotional brand that allows us to look forward also with a nod to the past."Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on September 12, 2011 04:03 PM
When the Frankfurt Auto Show officially opens to the international press on Tuesday before it opens to the general public later in the week, there will be lots of buzz about the huge variety of new production models and concept cars that all are meant to demonstrate essentially one thing: driving fuel-efficiently doesn't have to be boring.
New offerings especially from the home teams of Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes-Benz are aimed at capturing the imagination of the industry and of future car buyers in a way that the most recent Frankfurt show — two years ago, in the teeth of the Great Recession — couldn't.Continue reading...
Posted by Shirley Brady on September 8, 2011 04:39 PM
In a charming nod to its design and manufacturing process, Volvo is teasing "Concept You" ahead of the Frankfurt Auto Show on Sept. 13. It's keeping mum about its new model, which will feature a new scaleable production process and more efficient "downsized" engine, highlighted below:Continue reading...