By Peter M. DeLorenzo
Detroit. Every time this business appears to be to be lulling itself into a wearisome keeping sample of waiting for “The Grand Transition” (or is it Waiting around for Godot?) to EVs – with the intellect-numbing cadence, predictability and yrs this will entail – blundering controversy usually seems to be never significantly away. This week, it’s those rumbling, bumbling and stumbling executives from Volkswagen AG who have arrive to the front of the line, broadcasting their imagined balloons out loud considerably to the consternation of everyone, specially their extensive-suffering U.S. dealers.
What have individuals preening – “we’re geniuses, just inquire us” – VW executives unleashed on their unsuspecting U.S. sellers this time? VW dropped the information – totally out of the blue, of study course – that the organization would produce a pickup and off-road-oriented SUV for the U.S. marketplace below the Scout title, not VW, starting in the year 2026.
There was pretty small compound to the announcement beyond that, which built VW dealers mad and really suspicious as to what VW’s CEO, Herbert Diess, was really up to. Was Diess aiming to lower U.S. VW sellers out of the equation and sell instantly to buyers? That is a distinctive risk, as it is typically identified that Diess is a substantial, unabashed supporter of St. Elon. And the simple fact that there ended up generally no other specifics – as in zero – about the system forthcoming rather much confirmed those suspicions. No plant specifics, no initial promoting approach, no nothin’. Just, “Ya, we’re gonna have them in-market place by 2026.”
Do the U.S. VW sellers have very good reason to be suspicious? Absolutely. The German-primarily based VW executives have a extended background of abusing U.S. sellers. The abuses contain: 1. Failing to receive even a modicum of understanding of the U.S. current market, let by itself care. 2. Dim-bulb marketing and strategic conclusions based mostly on these very same executives’ “gut feel” for what the U.S. market place essential, alternatively than listening to immediate feedback from the folks who actually knew the marketplace, aka the VW dealers. I could include various extra factors, like shoving unpronounceable (and nonsensical) names on VW motor vehicles certain for the U.S., based mostly on the fundamental assumption designed by individuals same German VW executives that they understood what was finest, and besides, the dealers would make it function someway. And the Germans’ steadfast refusal to listen to their U.S. sellers about the require for a bigger, aggressive SUV for this marketplace to the position that it was virtually much too late by the time the Atlas arrived on the scene. (The Atlas has proved to be a financially rewarding lifesaver for the brand name right here.)
You are damn right VW dealers in this article in the U.S. have each and every purpose to be wary of Herbert Diess and his longing to be regarded a futurist and an EV visionary when it will come to cementing VW’s future status in the “Grand Changeover.” Diess’ delusional thinking is no true shock, possibly, looking at it has been a trademark of just about every German auto executive about the past 40 years, at minimum (see Dieter Zetsche’s “Smart car” folly, for just 1 glaring instance).
The teach of imagined for these German auto executives goes some thing like this:
“I am a genius, and it will be improved for all of us if you just settle for that truth.” (To be reasonable, this applies to certain notorious U.S. automobile executives too.)
“My intestine thoughts are significantly far better and extra correct than any exploration, in-industry dealer enter or other reasoned advice, specially from the denizens of our U.S. market outposts.” (Ditto, see above.)
“Anyone who questions my directives or orders will be exiled to an inconsequential posture, hardly ever to be heard from yet again.”
But then once more, none of this is stunning to any German brand name supplier here in the U.S. It’s all the exact same refrain irrespective of whether it’s Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz or Porsche. The horror tales from these sellers are eerily similar, and they all revolve close to the simple fact that there has by no means been a far more depressing whole lot of so-named “executives” who have finished fewer with a lot more than your standard German vehicle govt. Paraphrasing what Joe Pesci famously stated in On line casino: “These guys could fuck-up a cup of espresso.”
I’ll give you a pair of examples. Recall when BMW’s German executives adopted the simple word “Joy” for a world-wide redirect of its marketing? And then they proceeded to consider to shove it down the throats of its U.S. dealers? The exact dealers who experienced been dwelling, breathing and nurturing “The Supreme Driving Machine” – 1 of the most iconic car advertising themes of all time – for about 30 yrs? Indeed, BMW executives in Germany essentially tried using to get the U.S. dealers to adopt “Joy.” And useless to say, it did not go perfectly. BMW’s German overlords backed down, and “Joy” was under no circumstances listened to from or witnessed again here in the U.S., and “The Greatest Driving Machine” life on.
And then there’s Mercedes-Benz. M-B executives are the acknowledged Kings and Queens of performing a lot less with more. They have botched design launches, tried to pawn-off fake Mercedes as serious Mercedes, experimented with to encourage the American buyer that the Sensible motor vehicle was truly worth thinking about, squandered decades of a when-wonderful model history by unleashing countless advertising and marketing screwups, unloaded far too lots of models in this market place by developing niches upon niches that only served to confuse customers, while conveniently ignoring the truth that their dealers weren’t asking for them. I could go on, but you get the concept.
Which is why this most recent Diess-led VW initiative has all the indicators of nevertheless a different German vehicle executive directive dependent on “We know what’s ideal for you, even while you are much too stupid to figure it out for yourselves” sort of a enjoy. Except this initiative stinks to substantial heaven, and if I had been a VW vendor, I would not allow Diess and his minions get away with it.
And that is the Higher-Octane Truth of the matter for this 7 days.
The Scout renderings launched by VW last 7 days.
Editor’s Be aware: You can entry preceding challenges of AE by clicking on “Upcoming 1 Entries” below. – WG