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  #151  
Old 06-29-2012, 01:54 PM
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I think that it's actually interesting to see the figures to put a bit of perspective into it. The Autoblog article says that Ford is the second best-selling car maker in Europe but, at least this year, it isn't. See page four of the attached PDF.

If we consider standalone brands then Ford is indeed the second best selling manufacturer, but I think this is short sighted and that groups should be considered as a whole. On that basis, even GME outsells Ford and Ford itself is placed fifth overall behind VW Group, PSA, Renault and GME. So perhaps if we only looked at sales figures they aren't that strong of a position, altough it isn't bad at all. Of the european heavyweights, only Fiat is behind in terms of sales figures.

Furthermore if they were to really exit the market their reputations would be probably heavily damaged making a future reentry very difficult and expensive for their respective parent companies. Let's not forget that despite the crisis and everything, Europe as a whole is still a pretty large market (3rd biggest in the world if I'm not mistaken).

However a very different story is unfolded if we look at the cars they make. Or, in other words, can GM and Ford really afford to lose all the engineering expertise derived from the R+D conducted in their European facilities? Both Buick and Chevrolet use Opel derived vehicles in both US and Chinese markets and Fords global Fiesta and Focus are basically European developped cars.

The good thing about the European market is that being one of the most demanding in the world it forces car makers to produce high quality cars which are sometimes easier to sell than cars from other parts of the world to Europe. However this can arguably also bring "desnaturalisation" of European GM and Ford products to Europe causing in reaction a less favourable opinion of the products in the original markets they were created for.

Another different question is the actual production process of these cars. Can this still be carried out in Europe? Possibly yes, but factories need to undergo adjustments to make the profitable again as they were sized for a market that no longer exists, and that maybe will never exist again in terms of volume. This aspect is probably the ones than needs the greatest changes and almost surely the ones that will be the most painful to Europeans.
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  #152  
Old 06-29-2012, 04:30 PM
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Interestin video. Thanks for sharing.

I think they are right in many aspects. I'm personally not against technology per se, especially if it can improve safety, performance or economy, but I'm most definitely against technology that takes away the enjoyment of driving a car.

The problem is that car enthusiasts are small minority of the car buying public (and in fact not all of them are actually in the car buying market at all), but even worse than that is that many of those enthusiasts think that an Audi S/RS model complete with dual clutch gearbox and everything is good performance car.

So we are in the minority of the minority and that makes it very difficult. I'm afraid it's becoming a lost battle.

On an unrelated note, it seems like there are those who think that US car manufacturers should pull the plug completely on their European operations, what's the general opinion here?

Should GM and Ford give up on selling cars in Europe?
I also agree with the points they have made. Forget about driving dynamics, I feel like cars haven't gotten better looking at all- look at Acura and BMW.

On a side note, I alarmingly see more drivers on the phone or texting. I feel like cars these days are too disconnected from the road. Drivers don't feel like they're a massive projectile anymore. They don't see driving as a privilege, they see it more as a right.

I'm not sure if it's because cars are boring, or driving exams are too easy, but it scares me that drivers are distracted and I feel like they don't respect the fact that they could cause a massive accident. It's a different mentality than drinking and driving I feel, and there's no easy way to address it.

Honestly, if more cars were manual transmission cars, there would be no chance for drivers to text and drive because they're more involved.

And on the idea of Ford pulling out of Europe, I think that's stupid. I haven't read the article, but that's like saying Ferrari should pull out of selling cars in the Americas and stay in Europe only.

Ford as a company is way more healthy than GM is. GM just has too much sprawl and unfortunately I feel like they could close Opel and Vauxhaul. It's a shame as both companies have great histories, but for the company to survive as a whole there's just too much overlap and not enough distinction. Either that or stop selling Chevy and Cadillacs in Europe.

Ford on the other hand isn't completely out of the woods- they have no idea how to make Lincoln a distinct brand from Ford even after closing Mercury and if they think badge engineering Fords into Lincolns is going to work they'll be in for a big surprise.

But then again, Ford was always the most healthy of the 3 American car companies, so I still hope they'll be around for some time being.

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  #153  
Old 06-29-2012, 04:52 PM
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I also agree with the points they have made. Forget about driving dynamics, I feel like cars haven't gotten better looking at all- look at Acura and BMW.
I donít think they look particularly bad but they are increasingly samey. If that is possible.






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On a side note, I alarmingly see more drivers on the phone or texting. I feel like cars these days are too disconnected from the road. Drivers don't feel like they're a massive projectile anymore. They don't see driving as a privilege, they see it more as a right. I'm not sure if it's because cars are boring, or driving exams are too easy, but it scares me that drivers are distracted and I feel like they don't respect the fact that they could cause a massive accident. It's a different mentality than drinking and driving I feel, and there's no easy way to address it.
I donít see driving as a privilege either but I do see it as a serious responsibility. Too many ďdriversĒ perform the task as though it was nothing more than writing a text message. It is the most dangerous thing most of us do each day and too many do not treat it as such. I donít think it is the cars fault as much as the familiarity we get with it. Most of us do it every day and with familiarity comes contempt. Only since I have become older and been involved in near misses and seen others not so lucky and had my mortality presented to me have I also come to respect just how serious driving a car can be. We all need the wakeup call as early as we can get it.

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And on the idea of Ford pulling out of Europe, I think that's stupid. I haven't read the article, but that's like saying Ferrari should pull out of selling cars in the Americas and stay in Europe only.

Ford as a company is way more healthy than GM is. GM just has too much sprawl and unfortunately I feel like they could close Opel and Vauxhaul. It's a shame as both companies have great histories, but for the company to survive as a whole there's just too much overlap and not enough distinction. Either that or stop selling Chevy and Cadillacs in Europe.

Ford on the other hand isn't completely out of the woods- they have no idea how to make Lincoln a distinct brand from Ford even after closing Mercury and if they think badge engineering Fords into Lincolns is going to work they'll be in for a big surprise.

But then again, Ford was always the most healthy of the 3 American car companies, so I still hope they'll be around for some time being.
10 years and probably 90% of vehicle manufacturing will be done in China and probably India anyway.
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  #154  
Old 06-29-2012, 07:26 PM
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I donít see driving as a privilege either but I do see it as a serious responsibility. Too many ďdriversĒ perform the task as though it was nothing more than writing a text message. It is the most dangerous thing most of us do each day and too many do not treat it as such. I donít think it is the cars fault as much as the familiarity we get with it. Most of us do it every day and with familiarity comes contempt. Only since I have become older and been involved in near misses and seen others not so lucky and had my mortality presented to me have I also come to respect just how serious driving a car can be. We all need the wakeup call as early as we can get it.

10 years and probably 90% of vehicle manufacturing will be done in China and probably India anyway.
It's odd that you don't see it as a privilege because the ultimate deciding factor on whether or not you have a license or not is the government. Obviously you need to be caught doing something wrong in order to get it revoked, but just because you seem to get away with it all the time (texting and talking while on the phone) doesn't make it any more legitimate.

You're probably right, manufacturing probably will move to India. China already has a growing middle class and they're already demanding higher wages. I'm curious about one thing however- what happens when there's an established middle class around the world? Does the economy implode?

In the future cars will probably be made in Vietnam or the Philippines.
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Old 06-30-2012, 01:34 AM
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It's odd that you don't see it as a privilege because the ultimate deciding factor on whether or not you have a license or not is the government.
I have a philosophical problem with someone else being given the right to decide what a right is for me and what a privilege is. I canít think of anything else we do that regardless of what laws apply that is considered a privilege. We live in what are supposed to be free societies. We are governed by laws but in no case that I can think of is anything we do considered a privilege other than driving.
We buy the car as we would buy a TV. It is not considered a privilege to own a TV. We pay for the roads indirectly through all manner of taxes. We pay for registration and a license. It is not considered a privilege to be able to ride a bike on the roads even though they use the roads motorists pay for.
Basically I believe we a cajoled into accepting driving as a privilege so governments can issue and revoke licenses as they see fit, make the laws as they see fit and administer the regulations and conditions in which we drive with utter impunity. And they donít do it very well but as long as it is a privilege to drive they donít have to,
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You're probably right, manufacturing probably will move to India. China already has a growing middle class and they're already demanding higher wages. I'm curious about one thing however- what happens when there's an established middle class around the world? Does the economy implode?

In the future cars will probably be made in Vietnam or the Philippines.
Ha ha. Maybe China will get bypassed altogether. Maybe there will be a point where the middle class of the third world is as well of as the rest. That would be cool. Then we might see manufacturing back in this country again!
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  #156  
Old 06-30-2012, 03:19 AM
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I also agree with the points they have made. Forget about driving dynamics, I feel like cars haven't gotten better looking at all- look at Acura and BMW.
I think the lately BMW have been on an improving path. Not quite as good looking as they used to be, but better than the Bangle cars. I even like the 3er, it lloks like it has some of the presence of the 80's BMWs and the 6er Grand Coupe, while not as good looking as it could've been, exudes charisma and presence.
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And on the idea of Ford pulling out of Europe, I think that's stupid. I haven't read the article, but that's like saying Ferrari should pull out of selling cars in the Americas and stay in Europe only.
There's a crucial difference though, Ford (and GM) are losing money in Europe, while Ferrari isn't losing money in the US (or anywhere else, for that matter).
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You're probably right, manufacturing probably will move to India. China already has a growing middle class and they're already demanding higher wages. I'm curious about one thing however- what happens when there's an established middle class around the world? Does the economy implode?

In the future cars will probably be made in Vietnam or the Philippines.
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Ha ha. Maybe China will get bypassed altogether. Maybe there will be a point where the middle class of the third world is as well of as the rest. That would be cool. Then we might see manufacturing back in this country again!
One of the important points to decide where to put a car factory is a strong internal demand. So if a certain country buys cars they will increase their chances of getting a car factory.
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  #157  
Old 06-30-2012, 06:33 AM
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I have a philosophical problem with someone else being given the right to decide what a right is for me and what a privilege is. I canít think of anything else we do that regardless of what laws apply that is considered a privilege. We live in what are supposed to be free societies. We are governed by laws but in no case that I can think of is anything we do considered a privilege other than driving.
We buy the car as we would buy a TV. It is not considered a privilege to own a TV. We pay for the roads indirectly through all manner of taxes. We pay for registration and a license. It is not considered a privilege to be able to ride a bike on the roads even though they use the roads motorists pay for.
Basically I believe we a cajoled into accepting driving as a privilege so governments can issue and revoke licenses as they see fit, make the laws as they see fit and administer the regulations and conditions in which we drive with utter impunity. And they donít do it very well but as long as it is a privilege to drive they donít have to,

Ha ha. Maybe China will get bypassed altogether. Maybe there will be a point where the middle class of the third world is as well of as the rest. That would be cool. Then we might see manufacturing back in this country again!
There's a big difference between a TV and a car and a bike (I'm assuming bicycle). You can't seriously hurt anyone with a bicycle or a TV, unless you drop a plugged in TV into a bathtub while someone's in it. A car is different and there are certain rules and regulations and procedures that you need to follow and learn in order to operate it safely. That's why you don't need to apply for a license to operate a TV. I'm not exactly sure why, but CB radio is also controlled by licenses as well, probably because it's specialised machinery.

Indirectly, the roads a bike uses is already paid for through the taxes on your property you live on and other things, like income taxes. That's why there's no additional fee for registration. Also, the taxes pay for repair maintenance of the roads around your country. Admittedly the repairs can be of poor quality, but I'm sure it's not feasible for you to repair all the roads by yourself.

The growing middle class has caused quite a large demand on oil. I'm not saying that they don't deserve oil, as we certainly have used more than our fair share, but it has caused strains in production and pricing for sure. Here's hoping that they find a good replacement. Algae seems to be the next good biofuel.

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I think the lately BMW have been on an improving path. Not quite as good looking as they used to be, but better than the Bangle cars. I even like the 3er, it lloks like it has some of the presence of the 80's BMWs and the 6er Grand Coupe, while not as good looking as it could've been, exudes charisma and presence.

There's a crucial difference though, Ford (and GM) are losing money in Europe, while Ferrari isn't losing money in the US (or anywhere else, for that matter).



One of the important points to decide where to put a car factory is a strong internal demand. So if a certain country buys cars they will increase their chances of getting a car factory.
Although Ford is losing money in Europe, it's probably not the first time they've lost money in Europe. I'm not aware of their sales trends, is this a particularly bad slide? Some of their best products are designed and sold in Europe, it would be a shame to lose that creative side that the American side seems to lack, even though it's an American company.

Just because they have a bad day doesn't mean they should pull out completely on a whim.

That's a good point, I think Honda was one of the first Japanese manufacturers to build a bespoke plant in America to get around importation laws.
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Old 06-30-2012, 07:19 AM
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Although Ford is losing money in Europe, it's probably not the first time they've lost money in Europe. I'm not aware of their sales trends, is this a particularly bad slide? Some of their best products are designed and sold in Europe, it would be a shame to lose that creative side that the American side seems to lack, even though it's an American company.

Just because they have a bad day doesn't mean they should pull out completely on a whim.
Indeed, and I would even say that despite the sales decrease and the lost money, Ford is still a very big player in Europe and Europe is an important market for them. GM is a different story, even though as we said they sell more as a group than Ford does in Europe. Let me explain.

Ford's strategy in Europe has also been very clear, all they sold and produce were "Fords", and has been this way through pretty much the world for all their mainstream cars at least. This has helped them market cars and make it more understanable for the general public. Furthermore except for some experiments (the early Mercury Capri and the Merkurs) EDM Fords have been sold in other parts of the world as Fords themselves right from the original Mondeo to the latest Focus (even more so after the demise of Mercury some years ago).

General Motors' strategy has always been much more confusing, starting from the division/class system in the US and continuing with the different brands with which they stablished themselves in overseas markets (by buying them, Opel in Germany/continental Europe, Vauxhall in the UK, Holden in Australia, Daewoo in Korea/Asia,...). This has made marketing much more difficult across different geographies because a car that was sold under certain brand in a particular are was sold as a different one in another area.

But if we speak about General Motors problems, and particularly about their European operations, there's another more important problem to be considered than the ones mentioned above. This problem is that ever since GM decided to introduce Chevrolet in Europe in a full on assault (more than importing a few SUVs, muscle cars and sports cars as they used to do in the olden days that is) Opel and Chevrolet have started going after what basically is the same customer. Arguably the idea is that Chevrolet should cater for the lower end of the market while Opel goes for the middle-class demography, but while this class system may work/have worked for them in the US, the differences are simply negligible in the European market. Quite possibly Opels are slitghly better products than EDM Chevrolets (altough it remains to be seen if the new Malibu will shrink this gap even more) but the fact of the matter is that at the end day the differences are too small to justify the price difference that there is between them (By the way, this is also a problem that could affect Hyundai/Kia in the long term, but that's another story).

So basically Chevrolet has come to compete basically on Opel's playground, and due to the brand/geography structure we discussed earlier Opel has little elsewhere to go to expand their sales volume. On that basis I can certainly see the concerns that Opel poses to GM corporate altough it could be argued that they actually shoot themselves in the foot in the first place.
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Old 06-30-2012, 08:04 AM
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Ferrer, I agree- add in Saab, Monaro and Cadillac and you get a very big mess in Europe. Saab and Opel probably go for the same customer base. I remember Cadillac was introduced to Europe, but I don't remember if they are still "around". Even if Saab isn't a GM owned entity anymore, it doesn't mean they don't compete with GM products.

In Europe GM seems to have way too many brands available to buy. With the economic downturn, I don't think it's smart to keep so many brands around.

GMC is a stupid brand in America too- they used to be a distinct brand, but now they're just badge engineered Chevys.

GM started acquiring lots of brands very early on in its existance- Pontiac was one of their early acquisitions but I think owning a large number of marques is now a very large liability.
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Old 06-30-2012, 08:47 AM
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In Europe USDM GM cars are pretty much inexistent, despite their insistence on trying to sell them to us. Even Cadillac fares poorly despite the CTS being competent (if unsuited to Europe) and the preposterous attempt at a rebadged Saab called the BLS. Maybe the ATS will change things, but that is still to be seen.

As for Saab I think it plays(ed) in a different league. If the job had been done properly Saab could have become a proper premium brand, perhaps not in the German way, but certainly like Volvo, and Volvo sort of works. We already discussed it in the Saab thread, but I'd say that GM simply failed to grasp the potential Saab had.
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Old 06-30-2012, 09:50 AM
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SAAB was probably going to fail any way you slice it. It was just a mater of time. The same is quite possibly true for Volvo. The volumes aren't high enough to be a really premium brand. Unlike the past, mainstream brands deliver much of what made Volvo's reputation. Volvo's big selling points in the US were they were entry level luxury at a time when the Japanese weren't and the domestics were falling flat. At the same time MB (Who is this Audi company?) was VERY expensive and BMW was great if you liked to drive, junk if you liked comforts such as air conditioning. Volvo also got a reputation for quality.

OK, so what about today. The luxury brands have closed the price gap between main stream (up to around $30-35k in the US). In the old days' the entry level Cadillac was a Buick. The entry level Euro-lux car was a SAAB, Peugeot or Volvo. Now the entry level Euro-lux is a C-class or A4 or 325 etc. There really isn't that in between market. The safety features of Volvo can be had on most cars. The reliability is now a given and Volvo is no longer a leader. Really, even unreliable cars can see 200k miles these days. The market for cars like SAAB was never that big. The same is true of Volvo. The difference is Volvo was in better shape but really I'm not sure if Volvo 10-15 years from now will be anything like it is today. It's either going to have to shrink away, grow a lot or become a rebadge brand (or conversely have many of it's cars rebadged by others).
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Old 06-30-2012, 02:01 PM
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SAAB was probably going to fail any way you slice it. It was just a mater of time. The same is quite possibly true for Volvo. The volumes aren't high enough to be a really premium brand. Unlike the past, mainstream brands deliver much of what made Volvo's reputation. Volvo's big selling points in the US were they were entry level luxury at a time when the Japanese weren't and the domestics were falling flat. At the same time MB (Who is this Audi company?) was VERY expensive and BMW was great if you liked to drive, junk if you liked comforts such as air conditioning. Volvo also got a reputation for quality.

OK, so what about today. The luxury brands have closed the price gap between main stream (up to around $30-35k in the US). In the old days' the entry level Cadillac was a Buick. The entry level Euro-lux car was a SAAB, Peugeot or Volvo. Now the entry level Euro-lux is a C-class or A4 or 325 etc. There really isn't that in between market. The safety features of Volvo can be had on most cars. The reliability is now a given and Volvo is no longer a leader. Really, even unreliable cars can see 200k miles these days. The market for cars like SAAB was never that big. The same is true of Volvo. The difference is Volvo was in better shape but really I'm not sure if Volvo 10-15 years from now will be anything like it is today. It's either going to have to shrink away, grow a lot or become a rebadge brand (or conversely have many of it's cars rebadged by others).
I'm sorry but I have to disagree.

First Peugeot has never been euro-lux as far as I'm aware, at most a good generalist manufacturer. Saab (and Volvo, and Rover, and Alfa Romeo, and Lancia, and the list could go on and on) played in a completely different league, maybe not fully with Daimler but certainly with BMW. The thing is that unlike all of the others the Germans found a way of capitalising on those quality attributes you mentioned, they converted them into something intangible: image.

Saab had this image (and the Top Gear tribute does give more than a hint to that) but somehow GM failed to capitalise it. These days premium cars hardly sell on their tangible attributes (even if they have them) they sell pretty much only because of thier image - Audi is a clear example of that.

Concerning Volvo, it's all up to their owners. If they can capitalise on this image they will be ok, but if they can't they will likely follow they same path Saab has followed. Not being owned by one of the traditional heavy-weights of the sector isn't necessarily a problem - look at JLR, they were in trouble under Ford ownership but now they seem to be stronger than ever.
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Old 06-30-2012, 05:43 PM
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One of the important points to decide where to put a car factory is a strong internal demand. So if a certain country buys cars they will increase their chances of getting a car factory.
For sure but the other driver is low production costs. And in any cars the demand for cars domestically in China is growing at a high rate.

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There's a big difference between a TV and a car and a bike (I'm assuming bicycle). You can't seriously hurt anyone with a bicycle or a TV, unless you drop a plugged in TV into a bathtub while someone's in it. A car is different and there are certain rules and regulations and procedures that you need to follow and learn in order to operate it safely. That's why you don't need to apply for a license to operate a TV. I'm not exactly sure why, but CB radio is also controlled by licenses as well, probably because it's specialised machinery.
I understand all of this but a license to drive a car is unique in as much it is considered a privilege. Is a gun license considered so? In any case the fact that driving has the potential to injure people does not ipso facto follow that it should be a privilege. Who said?

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Indirectly, the roads a bike uses is already paid for through the taxes on your property you live on and other things, like income taxes. That's why there's no additional fee for registration. Also, the taxes pay for repair maintenance of the roads around your country. Admittedly the repairs can be of poor quality, but I'm sure it's not feasible for you to repair all the roads by yourself.
In that case drivers should not be slugged so relentlessly for the ďprivilegeĒ as they similarly have already pain in the same way.
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Old 06-30-2012, 06:00 PM
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I'm sorry but I have to disagree.

First Peugeot has never been euro-lux as far as I'm aware, at most a good generalist manufacturer. Saab (and Volvo, and Rover, and Alfa Romeo, and Lancia, and the list could go on and on) played in a completely different league, maybe not fully with Daimler but certainly with BMW. The thing is that unlike all of the others the Germans found a way of capitalising on those quality attributes you mentioned, they converted them into something intangible: image.

Saab had this image (and the Top Gear tribute does give more than a hint to that) but somehow GM failed to capitalise it. These days premium cars hardly sell on their tangible attributes (even if they have them) they sell pretty much only because of thier image - Audi is a clear example of that.

Concerning Volvo, it's all up to their owners. If they can capitalise on this image they will be ok, but if they can't they will likely follow they same path Saab has followed. Not being owned by one of the traditional heavy-weights of the sector isn't necessarily a problem - look at JLR, they were in trouble under Ford ownership but now they seem to be stronger than ever.
They weren't luxury in Europe but that is how they were pushed on US buyers. To be fair, the European cars we got typically were deluxe models and they would be about what people would consider entry level luxury in terms of equipment and features.
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It used to shock Americans when we would see Mercedes sedans being used as Taxis and coming with features and trim levels that were no higher than a Malibu or Camry. Mind you the Mercedes importers only ever brought over the nicest versions. Still, the thought of using a luxury car for anything other than a Limousine was crazy! Of course that was yet another difference between the markets. I suspect Europe, lacking as many larger cars basically had to use things like E-class Mercedes when a larger sedan was needed because they didn't have a large VW. Of course the US had plenty of large cars.

Anyway, the fact is SAAB was a bit stuck. They either had to go main stream and get the numbers way up or they had to go way up in price. They couldn't remain semi-premium and semi-expensive. The economics of making cars just doesn't allow that anymore. To make maters worse, the only way to increase volume would be to go mainstream with a larger host company. Audi-VW could pull that off. They were both German so both had that "German car" cachet. They also had long since been sharing parts. SAAB didn't want to fully embrace GM (not without good cause) but they had also misstepped with other makes first. Kind of a bad deal all around. GM wasn't good enough to save SAAB and SAAB wasn't smart enough to save it's self given all the resources GM threw at it.

I'm going to take a wait and see on JLR. They might live. They have an upside in that the brands fit nicely together. They also were in decent shape when Ford left. Tata is likely to value the premium brands and perhaps is willing to handle some loss for a bit. Shedding them might be goof for Ford in the long term since they can finally really concentrate on fixing Lincoln (a very sad shadow of it's former self). Still, volume means a lot in this business.

Avoidable Contact: Lexus killed Saab, but GM let Saab die. | The Truth About Cars
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Old 06-30-2012, 06:34 PM
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NSXType-R NSXType-R is offline
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I'm still not sure why Ford decided to sell Jaguar and Range Rover.

It's not like they were losing money or anything.

I have a feeling that the XF and XJ were both developed well before Ford sold them off, so it's not like they didn't have direction, but I could be wrong.
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