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商业 - 汽车

汽车巨头大事盘点

Alex Taylor III 2011年08月25日

近期汽车公司的最新动态

本田营销乱象

    业界一直对本田汽车公司(Honda)对美国市场明显缺乏理解颇有微词。最近,这种不足被放大了,因为权威消费杂志《消费者报告》(Consumer Reports)多年来首次没有推荐市场热销的“思域”(Civic)车型。8月初,我本人也曾对本田汽车明显对消费者需求缺乏敏感发表过评论。

    现在,本田汽车公司已作出一个让人惊讶但又在情理之中的决定:聘请一位前克莱斯勒汽车公司(Chrysler)高管出任市场营销总裁。之所以说它让人惊讶,是因为本田是最为封闭的公司之一,很少从外部聘请高管;而所谓可以理解,是因为还有谁能比一位美国营销高管更能理解美国消费者呢?

    在报道这一任命公告时,《汽车新闻》(Automotive News)杂志也对本田汽车公司的内部管理混乱有所涉及。这家日本汽车制造商将产品研发、产品规划和营销与汽车销售隔绝了开来。换言之,最接近消费者的人居然在规划桌前没有一席之地。

V8引擎凋零

    最近,基于飞涨的油价和对人们气候变化日益关注这两点,我曾经宣告大多数V-8引擎即将退出历史舞台。这一观点本来是直指底特律汽车厂商的,但对V-8最新的讣告则来自丰田汽车公司。

    丰田宣布,它正考虑停止在其2013版的旗舰运动轿车雷克萨斯GS上采用V-8引擎。丰田声称搭载V-8的车仅占GS总销量的10%。但留意一下就会发现,唯一用来替代标准V-6引擎的是一款V-6混合动力引擎,可见汽车业的发展方向是:更高的燃油经济性,更小的扭矩。

出租车业乱局

    日产汽车公司(Nissan)的改款面包车赢得竞争,从2013年开始将成为纽约市出租车的指定车型时,这家公司曾经兴奋不已。但是,正如我在今年5月所写,这类备受瞩目的公共交通项目的历程往往曲折多变,因此日产有理由保持谨慎。

    果然,随后不久传来了消息,福特汽车公司(Ford)的交通连接面包车(Transit Connect van)也已获准在同一时间用作出租车。福特可谓出租车行业的巨无霸。其维多利亚皇冠(Crown Victoria)多年来一直是纽约黄色出租车队的中流砥柱,而其交通连接面包车也获准在其他大城市如波士顿、费城和芝加哥投入使用。基于其雄霸一方的规模经济优势,这款车可能会在纽约获得足够多的公众支持,推翻日产的独家经营方案。毕竟,不久前纽约在远为重要的:任期限制问题上也曾改变主意。

萨博土崩瓦解

    萨博汽车公司(Saab)的新主人没能顺利加速“起飞”并不让人意外,但这着实让世界各地的车迷痛心不已,他们深爱萨博的个性和鲜明外形。现在有传言说,部分萨博的经销商已经打算洗手不干了。而首席执行官维克多•穆勒还希望为公司注资,撑到10月中旬,期待届时中国的一桩经销交易能够雪中送炭,但在如今这种经济环境中,没人会抱太大希望。

    译者:清远

Honda's marketing mess

    The auto industry has been buzzing about Honda's apparent loss of understanding of the U.S. market, a failure dramatized by Consumer Reports' failure to recommend the best-selling Civic for the first time in years. Earlier in August, I commented on Honda's apparent insensitivity to customer needs.

    Now Honda has made the surprising but understandable decision to hire a former Chrysler executive as its marketing officer. It's surprising because Honda is one of the most insular companies and rarely goes outside to hire top executives; understandable because who better to understand the American customer than an American marketing executive?

    In reporting on the announcement, Automotive News shed some light on the disarray at Honda. The Japanese carmaker separates product development, product planning and marketing from auto sales. In other words, the people who are closest to the customer don't get a seat at the planning table.

V-8 engines: Decline and fall

    Recently I posted a death notice for most V-8 engines on the grounds of rising gasoline prices and growing concerns about climate change. The comment was directed at Detroit, but the latest obituary comes from Toyota.

    The company revealed that it is dropping the V-8 option from the 2013 version of its flagship sport sedan, the Lexus GS. The stated reason was that V-8s represented only 10% of all GS sales. But when you discover that the only alternative to the standard V-6 is a V-6 hybrid, you understand in which direction the industry is headed: better fuel economy and less torque.

Taxi turmoil

    Nissan was pumped when its modified van won a competition to be named New York City's official taxi beginning in 2013. But as I wrote in May, the checkered history of other high-visibility transit projects should give it cause for concern.

    Then came news that Ford's Transit Connect van has been certified for taxi use in the meantime. Ford (F, Fortune 500) is the 800-pound gorilla of the taxi business. Its Crown Victoria was a stalwart of the city's yellow cab fleets for years, and the Transit Connect is approved in other big cities like Boston, Philadelphia, and Chicago. With scale economies on its side, Transit Connect might generate enough public support in New York to overturn Nissan's exclusive arrangement. After all, the city not long ago changed its mind on a far more important issue to its citizenry: term limits.

Saab's crack-up

    The failure of Saab's new owners to gain take-off speed isn't unexpected, but it pains car lovers everywhere who admired Saabs for their individuality and pluckiness. Now comes word that some of its dealers are ready to throw in the towel. CEO Victor Muller still hopes to finance the company until mid-October when a Chinese distribution deal kicks in, but in today's economic environment nobody is holding their breath.

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