By Peter M. DeLorenzo
Detroit. Each time this enterprise appears to be lulling itself right into a tedious holding sample of ready for “The Grand Transition” (or is it Ready for Godot?) to EVs – with the mind-numbing cadence, predictability and years this may entail – blundering controversy at all times appears to be by no means far-off. This week, it’s these rumbling, bumbling and stumbling executives from Volkswagen AG who’ve come to the entrance of the road, broadcasting their thought balloons out loud a lot to the consternation of everybody, particularly their long-suffering U.S. sellers.
What have these preening – “we’re geniuses, simply ask us” – VW executives unleashed on their unsuspecting U.S. sellers this time? VW dropped the information – completely out of the blue, after all – that the corporate would produce a pickup and off-road-oriented SUV for the U.S. market beneath the Scout identify, not VW, starting within the 12 months 2026.
There was little or no substance to the announcement past that, which made VW sellers loopy and extremely suspicious as to what VW’s CEO, Herbert Diess, was actually as much as. Was Diess aiming to chop U.S. VW sellers out of the equation and promote on to shoppers? That may be a distinct chance, because it’s generally identified that Diess is a big, unabashed fan of St. Elon. And the very fact that there have been principally no different particulars – as in zero – in regards to the plan forthcoming just about confirmed these suspicions. No plant particulars, no preliminary advertising and marketing technique, no nothin’. Simply, “Ya, we’re gonna have them in-market by 2026.”
Do the U.S. VW sellers have good purpose to be suspicious? Completely. The German-based VW executives have a protracted historical past of abusing U.S. sellers. The abuses embrace: 1. Failing to amass even a modicum of understanding of the U.S. market, not to mention care. 2. Dim-bulb advertising and marketing and strategic choices based mostly on these identical executives’ “intestine really feel” for what the U.S. market wanted, somewhat than listening to direct suggestions from the individuals who truly knew the market, aka the VW sellers. I may add a number of extra factors, like shoving unpronounceable (and nonsensical) names on VW automobiles certain for the U.S., based mostly on the elemental assumption made by those self same German VW executives that they knew what was greatest, and apart from, the sellers would make it work someway. And the Germans’ steadfast refusal to hearken to their U.S. sellers in regards to the want for a bigger, aggressive SUV for this market to the purpose that it was nearly too late by the point the Atlas arrived on the scene. (The Atlas has proved to be a worthwhile lifesaver for the model right here.)
You’re rattling proper VW sellers right here within the U.S. have each purpose to be cautious of Herbert Diess and his longing to be thought-about a futurist and an EV visionary on the subject of cementing VW’s future standing within the “Grand Transition.” Diess’ delusional considering is not any actual shock, both, contemplating it has been a trademark of each German auto government over the past 40 years, at the least (see Dieter Zetsche’s “Sensible automotive” folly, for only one evident instance).
The prepare of thought for these German auto executives goes one thing like this:
“I’m a genius, and it will likely be higher for all of us in case you simply settle for that reality.” (To be truthful, this is applicable to sure infamous U.S. auto executives too.)
“My intestine emotions are much better and extra correct than any analysis, in-market vendor enter or different reasoned recommendation, particularly from the denizens of our U.S. market outposts.” (Ditto, see above.)
“Anybody who questions my directives or orders will probably be exiled to an inconsequential place, by no means to be heard from once more.”
However then once more, none of that is shocking to any German model vendor right here within the U.S. It’s all the identical chorus whether or not it’s Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz or Porsche. The horror tales from these sellers are eerily related, and so they all revolve round the truth that there has by no means been a extra depressing lot of so-called “executives” who’ve achieved much less with greater than your typical German auto government. Paraphrasing what Joe Pesci famously mentioned in On line casino: “These guys may fuck-up a cup of espresso.”
I’ll provide you with a few examples. Keep in mind when BMW’s German executives adopted the easy phrase “Pleasure” for a worldwide redirect of its promoting? After which they proceeded to attempt to shove it down the throats of its U.S. sellers? The identical sellers who had been dwelling, respiration and nurturing “The Final Driving Machine” – one of the crucial iconic auto promoting themes of all time – for over 30 years? Sure, BMW executives in Germany truly tried to get the U.S. sellers to undertake “Pleasure.” And for sure, it didn’t go properly. BMW’s German overlords backed down, and “Pleasure” was by no means heard from or seen once more right here within the U.S., and “The Final Driving Machine” lives on.
After which there’s Mercedes-Benz. M-B executives are the acknowledged Kings and Queens of doing much less with extra. They’ve botched mannequin launches, tried to pawn-off fake Mercedes as actual Mercedes, tried to persuade the American shopper that the Sensible automotive was truly price contemplating, squandered a long time of a once-glorious model historical past by unleashing innumerable advertising and marketing screwups, unloaded too many fashions on this market by creating niches upon niches that solely served to confuse consumers, whereas conveniently ignoring the truth that their sellers weren’t asking for them. I may go on, however you get the concept.
That’s why this newest Diess-led VW initiative has all of the indicators of yet one more German auto government directive based mostly on “We all know what’s greatest for you, regardless that you’re too silly to determine it out for yourselves” form of a play. Besides this initiative stinks to excessive heaven, and if I had been a VW vendor, I wouldn’t let Diess and his minions get away with it.
And that’s the Excessive-Octane Fact for this week.
The Scout renderings launched by VW final week.
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