February 10, 2012 at 2:57 pm #38240
I was talking to a friend of mine the other day. He said that American cars are only popular in America and aren’t sold in huge numbers in Europe because they are worse than European cars. I was taken aback and didn’t know what to say… but this made me thing if its true?
February 10, 2012 at 3:21 pm #39080
Probably would need to do some research for some owner satisfaction surveys and cost of ownership comparisons to reach any factual assessment.
Without that info handy, my opinion is that perception is based on two things: National Pride and “you-get-what-you-pay-for”.
Many European vehicles are priced higher than American vehicles. Some of that is due to labor rates, raw material availability, etc, but pricing is also demand driven. Europeans generally have a stronger sense of nationalism than Americans.
It also depends on which cars we’re talking about.
German premium vehicles have been viewed higher than Cadillac, until only recently.
VW’s have a hit or miss reputation.
I don’t think Fiats rate better than American cars. (Ironically, I’ve compared Fiat as the European Chrysler, before all the bankruptcy issues.)
I think European sales of American brands have as much to do with the ‘peans desire to purchase local, than the quality perception of the vehicles.
But, that’s just my two cents. Maybe someone could post some links with factual information on European owner quality surveys or something to that effect.
February 11, 2012 at 2:12 pm #39083
Man this is a sticky subject… but in short, @gogm — your friend is dead wrong.
For starters, there isn’t such a thing any more as an “American car” or a “German car” or a “Japanese car”. Most vehicles today are designed globally, by teams of engineers, designers, and product planners all over the world.
For instance, the Buick Verano is sold as the Opel Astra in Europe; the Astra has something like 16 percent of compact car market share in Germany. It was developed globally by GM.
Another example is the new Buick Encore that will be sold as the Opel Mokka in Europe. This car’s development was headed up by engineers in Michigan, but a significant amount of input was made from GM’s engineers around the world.
Now, one thing to consider is that Chevy was not a truly global brand under the old GM. In Europe, Chevys were rebadged Daewoos and Suzukis — terrible vehicles for the most part. With the new GM, the same Chevy cars and crossovers are sold all over the world. In 10-15 years, I predict Chevy will match Opel in sales in Europe. In other words, whoever you were talking to was referring to “how it was”… not “how it is” — old school vs. new school.
And don’t even get me started on VW. They do great on their home turf but don’t even hold a candle in sales or popularity to mainstream brands like Chevy or Ford in the States.
Other than that, what @Brian_E said 😀
March 3, 2012 at 7:58 pm #39174
Alex nailed it GM and Ford have been legitimate in Europe for a while, I think your friend needs to check his facts. GM is rebooting with the Chevy brand, in my opinion Opel/Vauxhaul will revive if given the opportunity, the challenge is competition is unlike anything in modern history with Kia/Hyundai comming on strong adding to the over saturated market. But looking at Opels offering I find it very unique and legitimate as a middle market offering. They need to go upscale, and create a legitimate flagship and an ATS based sports car.
March 3, 2012 at 8:52 pm #39176
@yabadabadoo Whatever Opel/Vauxhall end up doing, they need to figure it out quickly. They can’t continue to go after similar buyers as Chevrolet — which now has mostly the same vehicles in Europe.
Now, I do see a significant opportunity of being a full-scale luxury player that doesn’t offer performance. Something that Lexus’ HS, ES, and LS do very well.
April 17, 2012 at 10:15 am #39583
I am a fan of “Top Gear” the UK version. The American car’s all of them have a terrible reputation for handling. The point is not whether it is true or not, that’s what the reputation is and that makes the cars boring to drive and that’s what GM has to over come.
April 18, 2012 at 9:27 pm #39590
You’re right, perception is everything. And even though current market perception may not adequately reflect the truth, it’s still what matters. Consumer perception, in other words, is king.
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