Posted by Dale Buss on November 9, 2012 02:02 PM
Sales of "certified pre-owned" cars have been climbing so steadily over the last several years that a program like Volkswagen's new WorldAuto initiative may have become inevitable. It refines VW's "CPO" program and, more significantly, also applies similar certification and quality guarantees to other manufacturers' late-model used cars that VW already has been willing to vouch for in its own CPO used cars.
VW has stepped up apparently to become the first brand to introduce this kind of program on such a vast scale. "We are strong in the used-car market, and if you want to grow, you need to attract new customers that will trade other brands," Scott Weitzman, general manager of VW's used-car programs in the U.S., said in a statement. "We're not growing with the market, but above the market."
Growing "above the market" is something Volkswagen of America certainly has figured out how to do lately, given its market-outperforming new-car sales increases in the U.S. the last few years. It's had 26 months of year-over-year growth in the U.S.Continue reading...
Posted by Abe Sauer on November 8, 2012 05:32 PM
Last weekend, the latest leg of MINI's "The Chinese Job" contest was broadcast live on China's video sharing site Youku. The winner of the ongoing driving contest wins the use of a special-edition MINI for a year.
The third annual "Chinese Job" — a spoof of The Italian Job, the film that made the Mini famous, of course — comes as more and more of the distinctive cars are seen on China's roads. BMW, Mini's parent, hopes that the trend will continue, opening China's first ever Mini dealership in Beijing just weeks ago.
But with VW's Beetle going hard for the same China millennials market, and its own BMW parent pushing its 1 Series, will MINI be able to find a market beyond a small niche of quirk?Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on November 1, 2012 04:44 PM
Automakers still hold their breath each year when Consumer Reports comes out with its vehicle-reliability ratings. The annual assessment — based on the publication's own research and a survey of its subscribers — traditionally have carried weight with car brands and with many Americans who've always looked to CR as a sort of bible for smart consumption.
But do the ratings have the clout they used to? Maybe not. As Bloomberg points out, several of the nameplates that were dinged worst by Consumer Reports lately are doing quite well, thank you. For instance, the Volkswagen Passat, built in Tennessee, and the new Honda Civic, introduced last year, initially lost the magazine's coveted "Recommended" rating. This year, in the magazine's just-released new ratings, Passat returned to "Recommended" status — but Civic didn't.
Last year, Consumer Reports said that the new Passat had lost "some of the sharpness" of its predecessors and that the overhauled Civic had introduced too many cheaper materials to the interior. Both VW and Honda are crying all the way to the bank over the dissing. Sales of the new Passat in October, for example, were up by 66 percent over a year earlier, when the new model was just coming into volume production.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on October 31, 2012 04:12 PM
Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has been busy this week denying what he won't do and sharing what he wants to do. And everything he has said has implications for the company, its brands and consumers on four continents.
Of most immediate importance, Marchionne was compelled to inject himself into the U.S. presidential campaign this week after a Romney TV commercial and radio spot in battleground Ohio highlighted his plan to build Jeeps in China.
It could be inferred from the Republican nominee's spot that Jeep jobs might leave Ohio and Michigan in such an endeavor — a suggestion that Marchionne swiftly rejected. Republican vice presidential candidate Paul Ryan also said in a statement released by Romney's campaign: "GM and Chrysler are expanding their production overseas. These are facts that voters deserve to know as they listen to the claims President Obama and his campaign are making."
An irked Marchionne released a statement to assure Chrysler employees and the public that the company's commitment to U.S. production of Jeeps, which has been expanding lately, was secure, stating "I feel obliged to unambiguously restate our position: Jeep production will not be moved from the United States to China." GM also refuted the Romney campaign claims.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on October 26, 2012 12:55 PM
Ford is experiencing a case of deja vu, and it doesn't like what it is seeing (again). Ford and Renault executives this week voiced concerns about the competitive effects of a French-government rescue deal for PSA/Peugeot-Citroen.
As the only one of the U.S. Big Three that didn't accept the offer of a federal-government bailout in 2009, Ford to rely instead on its own huge bet on its future financed by private capital and led by CEO Alan Mulally. But neither did Ford at the time object to the U.S.-taxpayer bailouts of GM and Ford.
This time around, however, Ford sees things differently, for at least two reasons. First, the European auto market seems to be headed on a further downward trajectory, whereas industry hopes in the U.S. in 2009 were for a turnaround that, in fact, soon materialized.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on October 25, 2012 05:51 PM
With major automotive markets in China cooling and in Europe crumbling, it's going to be tougher for the world's leading car makers to change places. But during the third quarter, Volkswagen still moved closer to its goal of nabbing the worldwide sales-leadership mantle because it outperformed the current title holder, General Motors, in China.
After trailing GM in China for eight years, Volkswagen edged ahead in third-quarter sales, with the automaker's deliveries jumping by 21 percent during the period -- almost triple GM's growth, according to Automotive News Europe. China is already the biggest market for both companies.
Both companies apparently gained from the fact that Chinese buyers have turned away from Japanese brands because of geopolitical tensions between China and Japan. But Volkswagen also benefited from one major advantage over GM.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on October 25, 2012 09:03 AM
P&G sees profit soar and revenue drop in latest earnings report.
Kimberly-Clark pulls back in Europe.
Twitter encourages brands to find and use their authentic voice.
Apple earnings report on Thursday will be closely watched.
AT&T sees slowing in wireless-subscriber growth.
Barbie CMO looks to Royal Caribbean cruise experience launch in new year.
Best Buy shakes up management.Continue reading...
Posted by Dale Buss on October 22, 2012 04:04 PM
At this point, automakers are just trying to keep ahead of the cratering of the European market, like some Indiana Jones character who's attempting to leap to the other side of a chasm before his footing completely gives away.
Just about every carmaker selling in Europe is offering deep price discounts, slashing costs, planning to close plants, reducing sales forecasts, redirecting domestic output to export markets, posting losses, appealing for more government aid — or some combination thereof. And they are far from achieving an equilibrium in their scaleback as they cope with the steady worsening of a five-year sales slump that isn't forecasted to end before 2015.
"It is unclear if all carmakers will survive without government help," Volkswagen Group CFO Hans Dieter Poetsch said recently, according to Automotive News Europe.Continue reading...