By Peter M. DeLorenzo
Detroit. Every time this company appears to be to be lulling itself into a cumbersome keeping pattern of waiting for “The Grand Transition” (or is it Waiting around for Godot?) to EVs – with the mind-numbing cadence, predictability and a long time this will entail – blundering controversy constantly looks to be never far absent. This week, it’s those rumbling, bumbling and stumbling executives from Volkswagen AG who have appear to the front of the line, broadcasting their considered balloons out loud a lot to the consternation of anyone, especially their prolonged-suffering U.S. sellers.
What have all those preening – “we’re geniuses, just check with us” – VW executives unleashed on their unsuspecting U.S. dealers this time? VW dropped the news – entirely out of the blue, of training course – that the firm would create a pickup and off-highway-oriented SUV for the U.S. market place underneath the Scout name, not VW, commencing in the yr 2026.
There was pretty little substance to the announcement over and above that, which produced VW sellers insane and hugely suspicious as to what VW’s CEO, Herbert Diess, was definitely up to. Was Diess aiming to lower U.S. VW sellers out of the equation and promote straight to individuals? That is a distinctive chance, as it is usually acknowledged that Diess is a massive, unabashed fan of St. Elon. And the truth that there have been mainly no other aspects – as in zero – about the plan forthcoming very substantially confirmed those suspicions. No plant specifics, no original marketing strategy, no nothin’. Just, “Ya, we’re gonna have them in-industry by 2026.”
Do the U.S. VW dealers have very good cause to be suspicious? Totally. The German-primarily based VW executives have a extensive historical past of abusing U.S. sellers. The abuses contain: 1. Failing to purchase even a modicum of knowing of the U.S. sector, permit on your own care. 2. Dim-bulb promoting and strategic conclusions based on these exact executives’ “gut feel” for what the U.S. sector desired, instead than listening to direct opinions from the persons who essentially realized the market, aka the VW dealers. I could incorporate quite a few more factors, like shoving unpronounceable (and nonsensical) names on VW cars bound for the U.S., based mostly on the basic assumption produced by those people very same German VW executives that they understood what was best, and other than, the sellers would make it do the job someway. And the Germans’ steadfast refusal to listen to their U.S. sellers about the want for a larger, aggressive SUV for this market to the level that it was pretty much as well late by the time the Atlas arrived on the scene. (The Atlas has proved to be a worthwhile lifesaver for the brand below.)
You’re damn ideal VW dealers right here in the U.S. have just about every purpose to be wary of Herbert Diess and his longing to be regarded as a futurist and an EV visionary when it arrives to cementing VW’s upcoming standing in the “Grand Transition.” Diess’ delusional pondering is no real surprise, possibly, looking at it has been a trademark of every single German car executive more than the previous 40 several years, at the very least (see Dieter Zetsche’s “Smart car” folly, for just just one obtrusive example).
The train of thought for these German auto executives goes a 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 fair, this applies to specific notorious U.S. vehicle executives as well.)
“My gut feelings are far far better and much more precise than any investigation, in-current market dealer input or other reasoned advice, specifically from the denizens of our U.S. marketplace outposts.” (Ditto, see above.)
“Anyone who inquiries my directives or orders will be exiled to an inconsequential posture, hardly ever to be read from yet again.”
But then once again, none of this is shocking to any German model vendor below in the U.S. It is all the exact same refrain no matter whether it’s Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz or Porsche. The horror tales from these sellers are eerily very similar, and they all revolve all around the truth that there has by no means been a much more depressing good deal of so-known as “executives” who have carried out a lot less with much more than your normal German automobile government. Paraphrasing what Joe Pesci famously claimed in Casino: “These guys could fuck-up a cup of espresso.”
I’ll give you a couple of illustrations. Keep in mind when BMW’s German executives adopted the simple word “Joy” for a world wide redirect of its marketing? And then they proceeded to try to shove it down the throats of its U.S. sellers? The similar sellers who had been dwelling, breathing and nurturing “The Final Driving Machine” – 1 of the most legendary automobile promoting themes of all time – for over 30 decades? Certainly, BMW executives in Germany basically experimented with to get the U.S. dealers to adopt “Joy.” And pointless to say, it did not go perfectly. BMW’s German overlords backed down, and “Joy” was hardly ever listened to from or seen all over again in this article in the U.S., and “The Ultimate Driving Machine” lives on.
And then there is Mercedes-Benz. M-B executives are the acknowledged Kings and Queens of executing considerably less with much more. They have botched design launches, tried using to pawn-off faux Mercedes as actual Mercedes, tried out to encourage the American buyer that the Smart car was really well worth looking at, squandered a long time of a when-wonderful model history by unleashing innumerable promoting screwups, unloaded much too lots of styles in this industry by building niches upon niches that only served to confuse purchasers, when conveniently ignoring the reality that their dealers weren’t inquiring for them. I could go on, but you get the plan.
That’s why this most current Diess-led VW initiative has all the indicators of nevertheless a further German auto govt directive based on “We know what’s very best for you, even however you’re too stupid to determine it out for yourselves” kind of a enjoy. Except this initiative stinks to higher heaven, and if I were being a VW supplier, I would not let Diess and his minions get absent with it.
And that is the Higher-Octane Truth of the matter for this week.
The Scout renderings launched by VW past 7 days.
Editor’s Take note: You can access earlier problems of AE by clicking on “Future 1 Entries” underneath. – WG