Archive for the 'VW' Category

2012 European Automotive Recap

Monday, January 14th, 2013

The "all-new" MINI for 2014?

Well, it’s mid-January 2013, and partly because automakers have just announced 2012 whole year sales figures, and those at the bottom of the pile will no doubt be slashing prices to make up for a lackluster year of sales. That means it is a pretty good month to buy a car.

So how good/bad were those sales figures?

Let’s start with Lotus. Thanks to Dany Bahar, the company has set its sights on selling 4000-5000 cars annually by 2015. That is a drop in the bucket for a giant like German Volkswagen or even sports car maker Porsche, but Lotus has a long way to go, and will need to expand their sales five-fold over the 1043 cars sold in 2012. Incidentally, the company sold significantly more cars previously, 1457 in 2011, but the company had a delay on the Exige S production, forcing a huge drop. No doubt some Exige customers are a bit miffed about the extra wait, though they will rest easier knowing that it was reportedly a delay due to a quality overhaul.

Autocar is reporting that the generation-three MINI is about 12 months away, and that figure couldn’t come sooner. Apparently, the car will feature serious improvements from the ground up. As a driver of the 2009 MINI Cooper S, all I can say is that they ought to focus on the interior or I won’t be buying a second one. The third generation is the perfect opportunity to go through the cabin, and reduce the number of plastic pieces which cause the excessive rumbling and rattling and squeaking that my and many other MINIs suffer from. The solution is a combination of more leather, fewer hard plastic pieces, and fewer number of parts overall on the interior. The attached photo seems to indicate some serious design changes as well, but let’s hope we see less black plastic trim outside, rather than MORE, as the picture would indicate. Incidentally, MINI and BMW combined hope to sell near 1,000,000 per year by 2020. Currently MINI is selling about 300,000 cars per year, but they do hope to increase that figure by 50% in the not-so-distant future.

BMW Group as a whole did record business. 1,845,186 BMW, MINI and Rolls-Royce vehicles were delivered worldwide. This was an increase of 10.6% over the previous record year in 2011 (1,668,982). BMW brand sales rose 11.6% in 2012 to reach 1,540,085 vehicles, again, a record (2011 totals reached 1,380,384).

  • BMW Group member Rolls-Royce saw another record (the third straight year!). 3,575 cars were delivered to customers in 2012, the highest annual sales in the 108-year history of the marque and the third consecutive record year.
  • Expansion into new markets – Rolls-Royce motor cars are now sold in more than 40 countries worldwide.
  • United States overtakes China to regain number one regional position.

VW’s U.S. numbers were really quite good for 2012, 438,000 units, and worldwide deliveries in 2012 rose 11 percent to 9.07 million vehicles, the Wolfsburg, Germany-based company said in a statement today. With last year’s gains, the maker of VW, Audi and Porsche vehicles has increased annual deliveries 44 percent since 2009.

DECEMBER 2012 SALES

VW US SNAPSHOT –YTD–
Model Line Dec. ’12 Actual Dec. ’11 Actual Yr/Yr % change Dec. ’12 YTD Actual Dec. ’11 YTD Actual Yr/Yr % change
Golf 1,477 1,411 4.7% 20,677 17,839 15.9%
GTI 1,085 1,332 -18.5% 16,314 16,867 -3.3%
Golf R 292 N/A N/A 3,894 N/A N/A
Total Golf/GTI 2,854 2,743 4.0% 40,885 34,706 17.8%
Jetta 13,102 12,422 5.5% 146,478 150,515 -2.7%
SportWagen 2,559 2,000 28% 23,946 26,845 -10.8%
Total Jetta 15,661 14,422 8.6% 170,424 177,360 -3.9%
Beetle 2,666 1,530 74.2 28,654 5,626 409.3%
NBC 516 1 51,5000.0% 520 842 -38.2%
Total New Beetle 3,182 1,531 107.8% 29,174 6,468 351.1%
Eos 372 419 -11.2% 6,214 7,533 -17.5%
Passat 14,462 6,884 110.1% 117,023 22,779 413.7%
Passat Wagon N/A N/A N/A N/A 56 -100.0%
Total Passat 14,462 6,884 110.1% 117,023 22,835 412.5%
CC 2,196 2,450 -10.4% 21,646 29,502 -26.6%
Tiguan 3,310 2,403 37.7% 31,731 25,990 22.1%
Touareg 1,408 1,117 26.1% 10,553 7,535 40.1%
Routan 560 533 5.1% 10,483 12,473 -16.0%
Total Sales 44,005 32,502 35.4% 438,133 324,402 35.1%

Sister company Audi reached U.S. sales of 140,000 for 2012. Interestingly highline imports to the U.S. market accounted for approximately 1.4million cars out of 14.4 million sold overall. Worldwide, however, Audi did quite well with 1.455m units shifted in 2012.

Porsche had a stellar 2012. We’ve seen conflicting reports from Porsche, first saying they were hiring, then saying they were putting a halt, so it’s not quite clear what the internal dynamics of the company are at this time, but the 918 supercar remains on track and Porsche reports it added 30 percent staff in the last year (bringing the total to 17,000). Record worldwide sales of 141,075 were an 18.7% increase over the 2011 record year of 118,868 vehicles. No doubt, China is fueling a large percentage of these records as it sold a record 31,205. Somewhat surprisingly, the largest Porsche market remains the U.S. with 35,043 sales. Due to the new 911 seeing the showroom, 911 series model sales shot up 31.4% and the Boxster, which also received a refresh, saw sales up 29.1%. On the downside, the father of the 911, the Ferdinand Porsche died in 2012, and Dr. Wolfgang Porsche took over as Chairman of the Supervisory board.

Porsche Deliveries December Fiscal year
2012 2011 Variance (%) 2012 2011 Variance (%)
World 12,097 9,159 32.1 141,075 118,868 18.7
Europe 4,674 4,149 12.7 49,639 43,748 13.5
Germany 1,387 1,102 25.9 17,487 14,959 16.9
America 3,479 2,061 68.8 41,060 34,350 19.5
USA 2,952 1,834 61.0 35,043 29,023 20.7
Asia-Pacific 3,944 2,949 33.7 50,376 40,770 23.6
China 1,937 1,867 3.7 31,205 24,340 28.2

Bentley saw worldwide growth of 22% in 2012 to 8,510. 2011 saw 7,003 sales.

Bentley:

The Americas finished 2012 as Bentley’s largest global market, with 2,457 cars delivered to customers in the region, a 22% increase on 2011 (2,021 cars). China followed closely with 2,253 cars delivered, Bentley’s largest ever volume in the region and a 23% increase on 2011 (1,839 cars).

In Europe, deliveries grew by 12% with 1,333 cars delivered to customers (1,187 in 2011). The increasing popularity of the Bentley brand in growing markets like Russia, where deliveries were up 37%, contributed to the strong performance of the region. In the UK, 1,104 cars were delivered to customers, a 7% increase on the previous year (1,031 cars).

The Middle East region performed very well with deliveries up 44% to 815 cars (566 in 2011). Asia Pacific also increased its deliveries by 44% to 358 cars (249 in 2011). Finally Japan saw exceptional growth of 73% with 190 deliveries (110 in 2011).”

Following record sales in the previous year, Mercedes-Benz Cars has once again posted an annual record in 2012 as well as the highest December sales to date. Over the past twelve months, 1,423,835 customers chose a vehicle of the brands Mercedes-Benz, smart and Maybach. The previous year’s sales volumes were thus exceeded by 4.5% or 60,901 units. Also Mercedes-Benz achieved a new sales record in 2012. From January through December, a total of 1,320,097 vehicles of the core brand (Mercedes-Benz) were sold.

Overview of sales by Mercedes-Benz Cars

December 2012 Change in % as of December 2012 Change in %
Mercedes-Benz 125,234 +0.7 1,320,097 +4.7
smart 7,355 -4.0 103,738 +1.7
Mercedes-Benz Cars 132,589 +0.4 1,423,835 +4.5
Mercedes-Benz sales by market
Western Europe 47,195 -3.8 554,797 +0.6
- thereof Germany 22,691 -10.3 261,084 -0.4
NAFTA region 31,872 +10.1 311,547 +11.3
- thereof USA 28,145 +9.5 274,134 +11.8
Asia/Pacific region 33,805 -6.6 337,102 +5.1
- thereof Japan 5,234 +33.3 40,488 +24.9
- thereof China 18,910 -18.6 196,211 +1.5

In Europe, Renault had a tough year. It looked something like this:

Full year 2012 VOLUMES Var vs 2011

(in %)

MS %
RENAULT GROUP PC+LCV 551 334 -19,8% 24,2%
RENAULT GROUP PC 424 147 -22,1% 22,3%
RENAULT GROUP LCV 127 187 -10,8% 33,1%
RENAULT PC 343 355 -24,7% 18,1%
RENAULT LCV 123 455 -10,1% 32,1%
DACIA PC 80 792 -9,2% 4,3%
DACIA LCV 3 732 -29,6% 1,0%

Note, PC=Cars

LCV=Light Commercial Vehicles

Peugeot’s sales were down, as was their media web site. I did find out from Bloomberg that their sales were down 17% to 2.97 million car sales. Twelve-month sales slid 6.1 percent to 1.56 million vehicles at the Peugeot brand and 12 percent to 1.27 million autos at the Citroen marque.

Jaguar Land Rover saw a great year with sales up 30%. Jaguar Land Rover sales totaled 357,773 vehicles in 2012. It plans to add 800 jobs to support development of new models. The brands sold 71,940 vehicles in China last year, up 71 percent, surpassing sales in the U.K. at 68,333 and the U.S. at 55,675. Land Rover global deliveries rose 36 percent last year, while Jaguar sales increased 6 percent. In the U.S., Land Rover sales climbed 15 percent to 43,664 while Jaguar fell 2.2 percent to 12,011, the company said Jan. 3.

Conclusion:

2012 looked good for many automakers. The French clearly need a kick in the pants, but everyone else seems to being playing the game well. Barring any economic issues like the Euro or dollar collapsing, we may continue to see sales increased in 2013 as consumers get more comfortable with the climate.

Sources:

http://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/industry/lotus-plans-five-fold-sales-increase

http://www.autocar.co.uk/car-news/new-cars/new-mini-set-2014-launch

http://www.autocar.co.uk/blogs/detroit-motor-show-2013/volkswagens-us-ambitions

Porsche

Bentley

BMW Group

Rolls-Royce

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-09/peugeot-2012-vehicle-sales-drop-17-on-europen-car-market.html

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-13/volkswagen-sees-tougher-competition-after-record-sales-in-2012.html

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2013-01-13/jaguar-land-rover-says-its-global-sales-rose-30-in-2012.html

2011 Super Bowl Adverts: a look at the good and the bad

Monday, February 14th, 2011

This year’s automotive ads during the Superbowl were a bit of a mixed bag. BMW for example had an interesting ad promoting its diesel lineup, but that ad should have been done last year to compete with Audi’s “green police.” BMW did, however, make an interesting statement by reminding us that though German by design, the SUVs we buy from them are made in South Carolina. I’m not even going to bother discussing the pickup truck ads as they all blow much in the same way that the vehicles themselves blow. The Kia Optima ad was also bizarre and left me wishing I had that minute of my life back…it felt like 10.

For me, though, the biggest disappointment at all comes from VW. VW had teased us earlier in the week that they were going to be airing an ad promoting the new VW Beetle. When I heard this I made the decision to watch the whole damned Super Bowl, which bores me to tears, just to see the new VW Beetle. You can imagine my disappointment and anger then when the age, while well done, lacked any photography of the new Beetle. So I ask, why toss their money away? Why wouldn’t VW use the occasion to announced what is probably the most iconic car in America? The answer: it beats the hell out of this reviewer.

VW’s Superbowl ad for the new VW Beetle:

On the bright side, while silly, the Audi ad did get me to go to their web site and check out the full-length ad, so I guess that’s money well spent.

They actually had several, but the two I’ve chosen were pre-game, unless I am mistaken:

The second comes to us featuring the smooth saxy sounds of Kenny G, aka the Riot Suppressor:

But the big winner is a toss-up for me. Chrysler came up with a surprisingly good commercial – the best “buy America” auto ad I have ever seen. Meanwhile, VW’s new Passat commercial took a hilarious page out of Star Wars. See below.

Chrysler’s ad

The Force ad for the VW Passat:

And the “making of” the Passat ad:

In-home auto sales: the next “big thing” in automotives?

Tuesday, August 24th, 2010

Hyundai's Equus and VW's Phaeton

If we had a dollar for every customer that had a negative dealership experience, we’d have retired ages ago, example story a la the Chicago Tribune. Anecdotally, auto OEMs would be wise to put great amounts of resources into improving the dealer-customer relationship. The U.S. market is still in credit crisis recovery mode. The rich-poor gap in the country continues to increase. Status quo of the 2000s is no longer tenable and we are paying the price in the industry.

One such change recently proposed by Hyundai is the way in which its dealers interact with customers. Beginning with its new flagship Equus car, Hyundai will have sales specialists show the US$50,000-US$60,000 base price car to potential customers. One has to admit that a car company selling US$60,000 sedans requires more than a little imagination and polish to also sell US$10,000 hatchbacks, and vice versa. The real question is can the new experience lead Hyundai to sales that eclipse the BMW, Cadillac, Lexus, and Mercedes brands. Hyundai claims they wish to achieve a modest 3,000 sales per year. Less clear is how Hyundai’s brand image will convince well-to-do, discerning Bimmer and Benz drivers to toss their keys into the wind and have a go with the Hyundai brand.

Source: http://www.leftlanenews.com/hyundai-equus.html

(more…)

Weekend Entertainment: PunchDub

Friday, April 16th, 2010

VW may have finally come up with an advertising “hit” to follow-up on a disappointing “Pimp ze Auto” campaign. This new campaign called PunchDub encourages you to hit your fellow passenger whenever you see a VW drive by you. Aside from being slightly humorous, this campaign is destined to be a hit with Americans who love a good bit of physical violence.

VW/Audi “UPs” the electric ante — Q1 2010 Update

Friday, April 2nd, 2010

No doubt that Audi started the year off with a bang. Audi with VW, Mercedes, and BMW have all been pushing diesel-powered cars lately, and even Porsche has joined in the party. But the Audi A3 has been a “slow seller” for Audi in America. It sells massively in Europe where petrol prices are sky-high but Audi has likely been looking for new ways to move the car on this side of the pond. That said, the A3 diesel seems like a good option – it’s relatively spacious and gets real-world gas mileage every bit as good as a Prius.

Observers were no doubt surprised to see Audi spending serious buck at the Super Bowl to promote the clean diesel technology. Indeed, Audi’s humorous “green police” commercial was well composed and sent the message that diesel is the new hybrid. Indeed, it is still cheaper technology as well. (more…)

Weekend Entertainment: the definition of Teutonics

Friday, December 18th, 2009

Ah, need we say more?

Bugatti sightings… why are we so interested?

Sunday, November 15th, 2009
Bugatti Veyron 16.4 in all its glory!

Bugatti Veyron 16.4 in all its glory!

If there was ever a doubt in the halo effect that accompanies a super car launch… if you ever thought Porsche’s Carrera GT, Lamborghini Reventón, Aston Martin’s One-77, VW’s Phaeton, Mercedes SLR, Acura’s NSX, Nissan’s GT-R, and Audi’s R8 were a waste of space and a money losing venture, you were wrong. VW Group’s crowning achievement is undoubtedly the venerable Bugatti Veyron 16.4.

Acquired in 1998 from Italian entrepreneur Romano Artioli, VW immediately set to work building a successor to the EB110. It was considered by many to be the most sophisticated car of its kind at the time, a trait that followed in VW’s iteration called the Veyron 16.4. Even at its introduction and production start in 2005, VW never intended the Veyron to surpass 300 units. Indeed, the company has said that after 300 are produced, the car will be discontinued. Interestingly, this has not resulted in a static design and the company has continued to pump out alterations including “special editions” and a Gran Sport, replete with a removable roof.

It has been said by many that the Bugatti is the ultimate supercar, not just of today, but also of all time. Those who make that argument point to the jaw-dropping 0-60 mph times under 2.5 seconds and a top speed in excess of 400 KM/hour (250+ mph). Others marvel at the 16-cylinder, 4-turbocharger engine or the 10 radiators onboard. Still others marvel that at full speed, the car runs out of full in 12 minutes and the tires burn to a crisp at 15 minutes. All of that in a rather un-dramatic, but stunning fashion.

It is the combination of those factors, the styling, and the EURO1,000,000+ price tag that make the Bugatti the ultimate halo product for VW Group. What is the halo effect, and why is it so important that VW stands to lose millions of euros for each Veyron produced? Halo products in general are the über-expensive, lower volume, highly publicized products that companies produce to create buzz for the company and the other products sold by that company. Even a low volume company like Porsche can benefit from a halo product because these products do so much to bring status and media coverage. A company that produces a rather low quality product can be perceived as one that more generally produces very high-end products. The company may actually lose money selling the halo product, but these halo products are often considered a marketing cost anyway. Ideally, a company would save massive amounts of money on advertising by introducing a product that is constantly covered by the media.

So it is with the Bugatti Veyron. Associating Bugatti with VW Group and providing otherwise sound business strategy has meant that VW has pushed past Toyota (IN A WEAK MARKET!) to become the number one producer of automobiles in not just Europe, but the entire world with 4.4 million units for the year according to IHS Global Insight.

http://www.autoobserver.com/2009/11/vw-pushes-past-toyota-as-global-production-leader.html

For an example of the aforementioned press coverage, see the following irrelevant, but positive pieces of new coverage:

Early Fall auto news round-up

Saturday, November 7th, 2009

scirocco_cup_cng

Volkswagen

VW in an effort to promote the tons of eco-friendlier cars launched at IAA in Frankfurt in September has decided to pursue eco-sales with a new eco-friendly racing series. The company is starting a single-make racing series where all of the cars run on bio-produced compressed natural gas. The model used in the series is the new Scirocco and should reduce racetrack CO2 output by 80 per cent over today’s racing fuels. The 2.0-liter 4-cylinder cars will have 220 horsepower on tap. Not bad for an alt fuel car!

Source: http://www.wired.com/autopia/2009/10/volkswagen-cng/

On other green fronts, VW Group is working with Stanford University in California in a US$5.75 million project to make VW the largest carmaker with R&D in Silicon Valley. Already the two companies have produced autonomous (read self-driving) versions of the VW Passat and now the Audi TT-S. The Audi TT-S will attempt to drive itself up the 14,110-foot Pike’s Peak next year, according Wired.

vail_01

Source: http://www.wired.com/autopia/2009/10/vw-vail/

Audi’s Johan de Nysschen, critical of the Chevy Volt, took an interview with Time recently to express his views on the state of the luxury auto industry. He stated that Audi’s goal is to be the “top” German luxury manufacturer, but not necessarily in terms of sales. He also reiterated the push for more fuel-efficient vehicles leading to Zero emissions cars in the not so distant future.

Source: http://www.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,1933906,00.html

Bugatti

Bugatti has unleashed a new concept car the 4-seat, 4-door (can you believe it???) Galibier 16C. Autocar magazine claims the production will start in 2013 at £900,000. We will believe it when we see it! Interestingly, the car’s engine will be the same as in the Veyron but will only sport 800BHP. Apparently, 200 get lost when adding 2 doors.

http://www.autocar.co.uk/News/NewsArticle.aspx?AR=244753

Caterham

Rarely does Caterham make the news, except when they unleash new, wildly fun lightweight roadster, but unfortunately, Caterham’s found Graham Nearn died in late October. Nearn has been selling the then-titled Lotus 7 since its introduction in 1959, and then when the car was discontinued in 1973, Nearn bought the rights and has been producing the car ever since and in more exciting, evolving versions. You can even buy a kit and put a Caterham 7 together yourself. If you are not familiar with this brand, you should be!

Top Gear featured it in a segment awhile back:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cOxHV6QfJkg

Source: http://www.autocar.co.uk/News/NewsArticle.aspx?AR=244398

Ferrari

Beyond the KM has previously marveled at the sales resiliency of the Ferrari nameplate. But even THIS economy has the prancing stallion kow-towing to the bear market of Wall Street.

Its third quarter results for 2009 showed revenues of 396 million euros (£359m) – down from 450m euros (£408m) in the same period last year. It sold 1454 cars, down 4.3 per cent year on year.

However, Ferrari announced that it has grown its market share in every market it monitors, against a drop in supercar sales of around 40 per cent.

(more…)

June 2009 sales abysmal for Europe’s automakers

Tuesday, July 28th, 2009

Gathered, in part from LeftLane:

Volkswagen says its diesel TDI vehicles are selling well. An impressive 81 percent of Jetta SportWagens were equipped with the TDI, as were 40 percent of Jetta sedans and 29 percent of Touaregs last month. Volkswagen, sales were down 18 percent to 19,027.

Volvo saw a 0.6 percent increase in sales compared to June 2008, though the Swedish marque is still off 35.6 percent for the first six months of the year. The all-new XC60 sold 1,032 units.

Porsche had a disastrous June; just 902 of the automaker’s sports cars left dealer lots, a 66 percent decrease that brought the automaker’s year-to-date sales down 36 percent for the year.

BMW, down 20.1 percent to 16,744.

Maserati, down 47.9 percent to 111.

Mercedes-Benz, down 22.6 percent to 15,155.

Mini, down 21.2 percent to 4,105.

Saab, down 58.4 percent to 779.

VW sports great numbers with the new CC and Porsche’s profits go ballistic!

Monday, April 13th, 2009
Ok, it’s true, sales for VW’s American unit are down to 2008, but that’s hardly a surprise since almost every automaker is struggling in this economy. Porsche, however, is making money hand over fist, even in an economy where sales stink. Check out the gallery for VW’s saviour, the CC, the Porsche Panamera and the official sales figures for both VW and the production figures for Porsche.
HERNDON, Va.—Volkswagen of America, Inc. today announced March 2009 sales of 15,720 units, a 19.7 percent decrease over March 2008 sale of 19,587 units.  
Volkswagen’s stylish new CC, designed to blend sports car dynamics and dimensions with sedan comfort, posted its best sales month ever with more than 2,300 units sold.
“Volkswagen is encouraged by how well our new products sold in March” said Mark Barnes, Chief Operating Officer, Volkswagen of America, Inc. “Our stylish CC posted its best sales month ever for the third month in a row, and our seven passenger minivan, Routan, doubled its sales over last month. Our 50-state compliant clean diesel Jetta and Jetta SportWagen continue to sell well. Next month our clean diesel luxury SUV, Touareg TDI, will be available in dealer showrooms across the U.S. We’re also eagerly awaiting the arrival of our all-new Golf later this year, which will also be available with our innovative clean diesel engine,” added Barnes.
In other news, Porsche, the parent company of VW (by way of it’s recently acquired majority stock ownership) [post="231"]
  

Porsche has posted spectacular pre-tax profits of €7.34bn (£6.82bn) for the first half of the German financial year, which runs from August to the end of January.

The profits for the period between 1 August 2008 and 31 January 2009 compare very favourably with the €1.6bn (£1.48bn) profit that Porsche recorded for the same period the previous year.

Porsche is at pains to point out, however, that the bulk of these profits have been driven by Porsche’s cash-settled share options in VW. The contribution of these to Porsche’s balance sheets increased from €850m (£790m) in the first half of the 2007/2008 German financial year to a whopping €6.84bn (£6.36bn) for the same period a year later.

Since this contribution depends on the price of VW shares, Porsche has warned that its profits could yet evaporate by the end of the business year if VW’s share price fails to perform well.

Elsewhere Porsche’s balance sheet doesn’t look quite so rosy. Sales fell by more than a quarter in the first half year. Surprisingly, the Porsche Cayman took the biggest hit, with sales falling by more than 60 per cent to just 3950 units.

(Source: Autocar/Porsche)

 

 

Weekend entertainment: the Barbie Bug

Friday, March 13th, 2009

The sky must be falling. The gallery of photos above is real. Heidi Klum is real – really in that photo, it is NOT photoshopped. I am not even sure that Heidi Klum is such a great substitute for Barbie. She is not even blonde! Cindy McCain would have been a far more discerning choice. It is not clear what will happen with this car, perhaps a world tour? We do know that more than a few woman out there will be driving one, at least the least looks nice, if not a bit girly. But hey, women buy cars too!

From VW:

Volkswagen Helps Barbie® Celebrate Fifty Years with a Customized New Beetle convertible, Fully Equipped with Rhinestones, Sparkling Pink Paint and Motorized Vanity in Trunk

HERNDON, VA—Volkswagen of America, Inc. helped Mattel celebrate Barbie® doll’s 50th Birthday by transforming a New Beetle convertible into the ultimate Barbie® dream car. The life-size pink Malibu Barbie™ New Beetle convertible made its debut at Barbie® doll’s Malibu Dream House® exclusive birthday celebration. Customization artists ABD Racing Werks, Katzkin Leather and Interiors and FoamMolders fully transformed the iconic New Beetle convertible into the perfect Barbie® ride.

“We are extremely proud to partner with Mattel and create a customized New Beetle convertible to celebrate Barbie’s landmark birthday,” said Laura Soave, General Manager of Marketing, Volkswagen of America, Inc. “Like the New Beetle, Barbie has made a remarkable impact on pop culture history, and still remains a cultural icon today.”

From top to bottom and interior to exterior, Barbie® doll’s New Beetle convertible has left no detail unfinished. From the white custom leather interior and convertible top to the hand stitched floor mats and pink quilted leather lined door pockets and arm rests, even the dipstick is painted to resemble her favorite lipstick. The New Beetle convertible is equipped with a motorized vanity in the trunk and plenty of rhinestone accents and vanity mirrors. Over five shades of paint were mixed together to create the perfect pink color for Barbie® doll’s car.

The customized pink New Beetle convertible was prominently on display as the pink carpet was rolled out for the Barbie® celebration at her real-life Malibu Dream House®. Barbie® doll’s house is a 3,500-square-foot home in Malibu, CA, decorated by famed “Happy Chic” interior designer Jonathan Adler. The Barbie® birthday festivities were complete with 1,800 pairs of Barbie® sunglasses, 3,500 pairs of tiny shoes, 3,500 mini handbags and numerous Hollywood celebrity guests.

Last year, Volkswagen celebrated the 10th anniversary of the introduction of the New Beetle convertible. With its distinct shape, the iconic New Beetle convertible is one of the most recognized models in the world.

January sales figures… as slow as our post…

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Yes, it is the end of February, so it is a bit late for all of this, but Beyond the KM will start trying to post sales figures. The move seems timely since every car sale seems to count a lot more than ever. In fact, we just got an advert from one of the 25 largest US Porsche dealers advertising a “first-time ever” special sale program:

 

Even Porsche of North Scottsdale is promoting "Big Sales"

Even Porsche of North Scottsdale is promoting "Big Sales"

 

 

BTKM is also working to compile European auto numbers by company over time. We have been actively cataloging sales figures for the last few months courtesy of Newspress.

 

The ugly
The following manufacturers have reported January 2009 sales figures posted on Leftlane News:

(Note that these seem to be U.S. sales only…December 2008 and overall 2008  sales can be found here.

Audi, down 26.4 percent to 4,722
Mercedes-Benz, down 42.9 percent to 10,433
Saab, down 46.1 percent to 955
Smart, up 177.1 percent to 1,776
Volkswagen, down 11.6 percent to 12,744
Volvo, down 63.8 percent to 2,910

UPDATED: VW Company Overview

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

Just added: the 2007/2008 VW environmental sustainability report

Enjoy!

Economic failures = new car models for European automakers. Month in review.

Tuesday, January 13th, 2009

Audi R8

The economy is hurting and more and more carmakers are suffering. Not all are doing poorly, though. Audi, as an example reported record sales for 2008, with over 1,000,000 vehicles sold. Lamborghini, owned by the VW/Audi Group, also posted record sales for 2008. Both companies produce sports cars that retail at over US$100,000.

Let us examine the developments of the last month by automaker:

Porsche. There is no substitute for a strong economy. A poor economy negatively impacted sales at the sports car maker, and even a significantly revised 911 model did not save it from a virtual sales slump. Porsche is tighter with numbers than most companies, but while sales were slowing, the company hopes that new models in 2009 will help it combat slumping sales. A four-door car, the Panamera should hit showroom floors in the first half of 2009, while you can expect to drive a 2009 Boxster/Cayman with revised powertrain as soon as March.

In financial news the company announced the first week of January that they had bought an additional 8.16 per cent stake in VW worth 6.1bn Euro/US$8.2bn. Porsche now owns 50.76 per cent of VW Group but may gain further stake in VW, rising to 75 per cent in coming months (if all goes as planned).  In November, news came out that Germany’s upper house of parliament passed new laws regarding ownership of VW, despite European Commission rulings that such laws were illegal.

In November, the high profit-maker in the world gobbled up a stake, which sent hedge funds scrambled to recover from trading, which briefly left VW as the most valuable company in the world. Porsche’s finance team effectively practiced something called “cornering”. Let us not forget that Porsche is better as an investor than as a carmaker – though they are a damned good carmaker. In 2007, the company made 3.6 billion Euros on investments, and only a paltry 1 billion Euros on cars. At a 12 per cent profit margin, the decision to invest in VW stands financial positioning, and partly seeking a partner with whom to share technology development costs.

Still, everyone is watching the dollars and cents these days. Even Porsche has announced that is it pulling out of the American LeMans series for 2009 – in part. It is pulling the P2 team, but not pulling support for the 911 GT3 RSRs in the GT2 category.

Mercedes-Benz. Mercedes has finally announced the much-anticipated E-class for 2009. The new car replaces the round headlights with more rectangular ones, perhaps in the style of the C-class or a Lexus.

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Porsche produces a diesel? Really?

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Porsche’s communications department has release information indicating that the company will in fact sell a diesel-powered version of the Cayenne SUV.

The benefit to Porsche? The obvious benefit is that consumer demand has finally forced even the sportiest of automakers to consider satisfying consumer demand for large vehicles that get 30 miles per gallon or more. As fuel prices increase over time, demand for vehicles that hit the wallet less, will increase. It’s simple economics.

Another benefit to Porsche is that a 30mpg car reduces the company’s overall emissions output. For the Cayenne, Porsche will source VW/Audi’s 3.0 litre TDI engine. This engine apparently produces 240bhp while creating 244g/km of carbon dioxide. Still not super environmental, but it’s a fair start for a sports car maker.

What’s not clear yet is if the car is coming to the USA. Imagine that with the US as the largest buyer of Porsche’s the company is considering this as an option, but American acceptance of diesel-powered cars has never been too great. Rest assured petrol prices will increase again in the not-so-distant future, at which time the case will be re-made for the fuel efficiency that diesel offers.

If it does come to the USA, imagine a price around $50,000. That is a $6K+ premium over the petrol Cayenne. At present, the UK edition will start at £40,250 and will be out in February 2009, just in time to get your wife a nice Valentine’s Day gift!

Lamborghini struggling?

Monday, November 10th, 2008

 

Well, the world’s largest Lamborghini dealership has closed this year as well as the largest Chevy dealer.

Orange County Lamborghini apparently closed its doors, though the site remains: LAMBORGHINI ORANGE COUNTY

According to Leftlane New the company’s management struggled, despite the dealership being quite successful with some exclusive clientele for which most luxury goods makers would kill. It’s unclear which part of the family business is failing, however, as Vik is the property owner, but the dealership owners are actually Nora, Sossi, and Astrid, his sisters. One possibility is that cash flow is weak following the 2007 purchase of an Audi-VW dealership in Santa Ana. Either way, the business lesson to be learned is that cash flow is not safe in the down economy.

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How a reverse VW-Porsche takeover might work

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

Unless you have been living in a cave the last two years, you know that Porsche’s strong financial position has allowed them to make a gradual play for VW’s shares. In fact it is just the latest in what has been a long-time partnership between the two + Audi. You may recall that many years ago Audi+Porsche dealerships often shared the same building.

But what we really didn’t know until recently was how Porsche might use VW in their product portfolio. Remember that the VW Touareg , Audi Q7, and Porsche Cayenne share the same platform. The benefit being significantly cheaper development costs. Bear in mind that Porsche has had a benefit in this partnership of releasing their Cayenne before VW and Audi have released their products. Ironically, it is the smashing success of the Cayenne product line that has given Porsche the ability to launch a takeover of VW.

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Weekend reading: Porsche strikes at hedge funds.

Friday, October 31st, 2008

Porsche has been increasing its stake in VW through a complex set of derivatives trades. This in turn has negatively affected hedge funds to the tune of $20billion (£12.6bn). Those hedge funds had been shorting the stock, and now it has bit them in the butt.

Jeremy Warner of the Independent explains.

Porsche buys more into VW; Economy Tough!

Wednesday, October 29th, 2008


Just about every automaker today is suffering from a poor economy. Most are wistful that they didn’t start producing small, fuel-efficient cars sooner, but the auto industry was caught off-guard before – anyone remember the late 1970s/early 1980s? Perhaps a read of Steve Miller’s The Turnaround Kid would be require reading for current auto industry execs. Granted most are not in as dire need to assistance as Chrysler was, but they could be if the downturn continues.

But this downturn could prove much more difficult than ever before because we see three issues at work. First, most consumers rely on financing and leasing to purchase vehicles. Even with a huge government investment, banks are using the money to cover themselves for past mistakes, rather than using the monies to start new auto loans. Second, the price of oil remains high and has effectively ended the “we love SUVs” craze. Spending $500 per month on petrol has certainly dried up that part of the auto industry. Third, and finally, government regulation is coupling with the second factor to require significant reduction in CO2 emission and greater gas efficiency. Some automakers have been successful in making changes to drive trains to comply to 130g/km regulations, but even Porsche, which makes among the most efficient sports cars is far from the target.
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Busy Times at Porsche, VW Gets Gobbled Up

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

Pac-Man

It’s been absolutely a hectic time in Germany these days. Recent weeks have seen a remarkable number of events coming out of the Stuttgart, with Porsche announcing an increased stake in Volkswagen. Currently Porsche owns around 31 percent of VW, but will move to bring their control to over 50% by year’s end. Strategically, Porsche stands to benefit from increased sharing with VW/Audi’s research and development departments. Additionally, they will be able to secure long-term projects with suppliers. Recently, the Porsche Cayenne has shared a platform with the VW Toureg and Audi Q-series vehicles. VW in turn has managed to clear a path to integration between it’s stakes in Scania and MAN.

Former CEO of Porsche NA

Porsche North America’s Peter Schwarzenbauer has announced that he is leaving to pursue an executive opportunity with Audi of America/Canada. Schwarzenbauer is known for having pushed Porsche NA into an enviable position as the worlds top sportscar maker. He noted some time ago that Porsche NA would never offer incentives (source: http://wardsauto.com/ar/stupid_incentives_porsche/). Key will be to see if Porsche is able to maintain that stance in a severe market downturn such as that currently unfolding in the North American market. 2008 may prove especially tough for the 911 first because of the recession and second because there is a new model due out for 2009.

Some dealers, however, have indicated incentives. Porsche of North Scottsdale in Scottsdale, AZ had offered the Cayman at a near $3,000 discount during April.  This come as something of a surprise as Porsche had announced in March that sales were strong:

“In the first six months of the current financial year 2007/08 (August 1, 2007 to January 31, 2008), a pretax Group profit of 1.658 billion Euros was achieved. The prior year result on a comparable basis was 1.341 billion Euros. This includes the proportional VW result for the fourth quarter of 2006 of about 272 million Euros and it is adjusted for the one-off effect of the revaluation of VW stake that resulted in an appreciation of 521 million Euros. Calculated on a comparable basis the Group result after taxes increased from 0.897 billion Euros in the previous period to 1.295 billion Euros in the reporting period.

Operating result before taxes grew in line with the increase in the turnover and sales figures. Turnover grew by 14 percent to 3.49 (prior year: 3.07) billion Euros and sales reached 46,736 vehicles versus 39,265 units in the comparable period for the prior year. The expansion of the dealer network, in particular into the new markets, and also the increased attractiveness of Porsche’s product range contributed to these successes. The new top models of the successful 911 sports car series introduced during the reporting period, the 911 Turbo Cabriolet and the 911 GT2 were received with great enthusiasm by customers. And the Cayenne series was successfully expanded with the especially sporty Cayenne GTS which Porsche showed at the 2007 International Automobile Exhibition in Frankfurt.

However, the reporting period was once again affected by special factors, first and foremost the contribution to the result provided by hedging transactions in connection with the acquisition of VW shares. This rose from 791 million Euros to 850 million Euros. In line with the 22.5 percent holding in VW’s equity, the VW result attributable to Porsche reached 484 million Euros versus the prior year figure of 275 million Euros. The prior year figure was revised and increased by the proportional VW result for the fourth quarter of 2006 so as to ensure comparability.”

Porsche found out at the beginning of April that demand was indeed, falling. Porsche stock stumbled, and the company released this information:

“Porsche’s stock fell by as much as 5 percent in German trading after the company reported its U.S. sales dropped 24 percent in March, Bloomberg News reported Wednesday. The value of Porsche’s stock is down 17 percent for the year so far.

Porsche’s sales decline showed luxury buyers are now being affected by the economic slump and are bargain hunting, according to Edmunds.com’s analysis of March and first-quarter sales.

Sales of Porsche’s expensive 911 models plummeted by 76 percent in March and were sliced in half for the quarter compared with the same period a year ago. Similarly, sales of its less-expensive Boxster and Cayman sports cars were halved as well.

Sales of the reduced-price Cayenne GTS kept Porsche afloat. The German sports-car maker introduced an upgraded version of the standard Cayenne SUV but at a lesser price in February, which proved to be a smart move as Cayenne sales were the only Porsche models to see an increase. Also up were sales of certified pre-owned Porsches.

Worldwide, Porsche’s sports car sales are down as well.

Porsche had expected slower U.S. sales and announced in January plans to pare back inventories.”

Despite the dislike of the Cayenne by many enthusiasts, the SUV does seem to be keeping Porsche in the black. That car alone is probably most responsible for the takeover of VW Group, and bringing Porsche into the mainstream of the automotive industry.

Sources: IHT article
Porsche