Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Mercedes has to be smoking crack.

Perhaps is a reflection of the fact the DaimlerChrysler 100% a German company with no idea of the American market place dynamics but regardless I was stunned to read that DC honestly thought they could move the Chrysler brand up market in 3-5 years. What kind of crack are they smoking in Frankfurt? DC now states that they may have to double the time table for moving the up in the market. What?

The Germans seem to have a knack for great achievement and spectacular failure and boy are they working on a whopper of a failure with this plan. I imagine that it's the German engineer mind thinking that if you improve a product the market place (i.e. consumers) will instantly recognize the improvement and give the proper respect. That's fine for Germany but there are two major problems with this tactic in the US. Cars aren't machines in the US, they are living breathing members of the family that get named, loved and lamented when their soul passes on. When you start to mess with a cars image and place in the pantheon you're in for trouble. Can it be done? Yes but it takes a complete commitment to change. Second you have to improve the product and quality which they have failed to do. Their new products are poor in design and quality. The Crossfire is a horrible "halo" vehicle. It's performance is run of the mill. It's styling is hit and miss, love or hate which is fine for a niche car but is bad news for a "halo" car. Goofy niche cars hide in the corners but a halo car like the Crossfire is on TV 47 times an hour appearing on any and all Chrysler commercials. And that make the millions that find it's styling awful wince each time. As for the Porkcifica it's just a big fat under powered station wagon. Its newest will attract for a while but it won't hold those sales unless it eats into the high end of the minivan market.

What new products are in the pipe? Big giant fat odd looking hemi powered boats? It took GM 15 years and 5 billion dollars to get Cadillac to where the CTS-V can best an M3 on the N├╝renburgring, a XLR sports car that can hang with the worlds best and a SRX that can beat Porsche and those where Americans bringing back the car brand that represents America a brand that was once the undisputed "Standard of the World". Can a bunch of soulless Germans do the same in less time with a brand so good at being a lousy #3 that they got bought out?

The Germans are about to lose again.

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