GM, Ford Struck by Europe Setbacks

Although Ford lost $404 million in the 2nd quarter in Europe, it managed to earn $1 billion overall as profit fell to $2.4 billion from the same period a year ago. The European auto market has fallen dramatically for both domestic and import players, affecting GM’s European unit and French producer PSA Peugeot/Citroen (GM’s new partner).

GM’s European unit, mainly Germany’s Opel market and plants, reported that its loss over the past decade shrunk to $14 billion. Automaker GM plans to reduce capacity in Europe to benefit North America and Europe, have been shaken up in Germany and France. GM, acting in consort with the 26 percent equity held by the federal government, replaced the head of its Opel and European operations three weeks ago and GM made purchase of 7 percent of PSA stock as an operations-sharing strategy.

Still staying above the sequence of setbacks faced by other European automakers, Fiat said it was tapping partner Chrysler Group’s revenues to stay a viable producer. Fiat has lifted the curtain on several new 500 models it plans to sell at Chrysler stores in North America, plus the sporty Alfa Romeo Giulietta 2+2 body style. The base-model Fiat 500 has suffered a sales slow-up in the U.S. Fiat plans a big push on 500 sales with debut of 2013 models.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally, 6-year chief at Ford, 66, who oversaw a big retrenchment with Mercury erasure preps for growth in China with expansion of models like Escape SUV via one-Ford platform strategy (Fusion no illusion).

GM CEO Akerson braces for aftershock of closing another Opel plant in France in 2014. UAW offers support for helping Europe plants as is and adding capacity in Latin America and China.

‘Volkswagen NO. 1’ rides big wave of acceptance as global hotshot-now mapping plans to accelerate production on four-volume models. VW links plans to strive for Numero One with cementing first sales rankings in top markets, putting pressure on VW dealers in VW/Audi strongholds like New York, New England, southern California, Mexico and China. Dedicated Audi plant coming in North America to handle demand surge.

Diesel and turbo engines are key to VW’s first-place drives. Hybrid still a nein-nein at VW.

VWWerk chairman, Ferdinand Piech, stands pat behind VW’s drive to exceed one million mark in U.S. sales by 2018. (200,000 Audi’s and 800,000 VW’s). Globally, VW is looking at surpassing Toyota and GM sales marks of eight million units by the end of the decade! Where will VW carve out at least two million more sales by the next Olympic year.?

That’s the three million-Euro question for the auto industry, made more complicated by demographic and geographic trends-i.e. increased birthrates and middle-income populations in Latin America, Africa and the BRIC countries, not to mention VW’s growing charisma as an affordable brand appealing to teen drivers the world over.

Beetles now have all they will need to dominate the world’s markets for classy small cars over and above Focus, Spark, Leaf, 500, Versa, Venza, Fit, Cruze, Jazz and whatever!