Thursday, June 09, 2005
A brief little article from Autoweek details how GM is doing extremely well with its purchase of Daewoo, as opposed to its purchase of FIAT which was disastrous. Daewoo has given Chevrolet new platforms and abilities to make cheap reliable transportation. A GM official is even quoted as saying GM now has their own Hyundai.
Well then let's see it. So far GM has given us the Aveo, which is a competent small car, but it has saved the Daewoo lineup for other markets. The cheap small car market is dominated by the other Korean conglomerate, Hyundai and Kia. A mid-sized sedan that is larger than the Aveo, but smaller than the Malibu or Impala that is very inexpensive could be a big seller. Or perhaps a complete replacement of the lower half of the Chevrolet lineup with the Daewoo lineup might be in order.
Volkswagen: Let go of the Luxury
Volkswagen's sales in the US have not been the strongest as of late. Why? Is it a poor series of new products? Have they been slumping across the world? No to both questions. Volkswagen's leadership in America has released to its US dealers versions of its new Jetta filled with options, and not priced competitively. Consequently, VW's American arm, and its American dealerships have gone beserk.
Volkswagen still isn't getting over the corporate-think which saw its brand as something upscale in America. VW is in an enviable market position. They sell inexpensive to make cars at premium prices. However, what they didn't realize was that once a brand has cemented its reputation in a certain market niche, it's very difficult to go beyond that. The ill-advised Phaeton and v8 versions of the Touraeg are evidence of that. Why compete with Audi? Volkswagen didn't listen to its dealers, and gave them cars that they could not and should not have been selling.
And where's the new Golf? The Golf has never sold as well as the Jetta, but to release a vehicle in Europe, publicize it heavily there, and hope that Americans would be blissfully unaware of its existence is silly.
It's good to see that the American corporate arm of VW has executives that are in touch with the marketplace. Hopefully in the future they'll be given greater powers over the release and distribution of product in the geographic areas under their control.
Monday, June 06, 2005
An article in the Detroit News tells us that in the current energy bill making its way through the House, there is a provision that allows "[automakers] to take credit for producing vehicles that run on ethanol even if owners are using regular gas." This will raise the average fuel mileage of an automaker's fleet, which allows the automaker to avoid fines that they incur if their fleet is below a certain level.
I'm actually for this provision. Yes, on the face of it, it allows automakers to make more gas guzzling vehicles. But guess what? People aren't going to buy those gas guzzling vehicles when they can't afford to fill them up. The demographic of the v6 Explorer described in the article is hardly a rich man's demographic. Allowing car companies this incentive will convince them to make most or all of their vehicles ethanol ready. An enthanol engine is very similar to a regular gasoline burning engine.
Many believe, and I am one of them, that an intermediate fuel the country uses before we jump to hyrdrogen will be ethanol. Or at least ethanol will be an option for consumers, along with battery powered cars, and super fuel efficient small cars. This option enables car companies to be more prepared for the future, especially with the future holding a volatile change in fuel usage.