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通用汽车与福特之间的百年战争

通用汽车与福特之间的百年战争

Alex Taylor III 2011年03月30日
这二者之间的竞争,可谓一切企业竞争的鼻祖。

    与之相比,可口可乐(Coke)与百事可乐(Pepsi)之争算不上什么,耐克(Nike)与锐步(Reebok)之争显得幼稚,而帮宝适(Pampers)与好奇(Huggies)之争则不够引人注目。为赢得这场竞赛,二者在新车研发和营销方面的预算均高达几十亿美元;这场竞赛中的起伏跌宕,也多得令股票市场相形见绌。

    尽管眼下日本汽车厂商由于自然灾害而陷入重重麻烦之中,成为世人关注的热点,抢了通用汽车(GM)与福特(Ford)之争的风头;而且,由于油价不断攀升,这场竞争长期来看有可能陷于危险境地;但是,在底特律有一点亘古不变:通用汽车与福特之间的竞争。1908年,通用汽车公司创建于密歇根州的弗林特;此前5年,福特在底特律的迪尔伯恩郊区建厂。几乎从通用汽车成立伊始,这两家公司就开始了竞赛,它们为了利润、市场份额以及谁的故乡更有名望等等,争得难解难分。

    竞赛的胜负取决于以下三个主要指标:年利润、总市值以及美国市场份额——面向个人客户的零售份额以及含团队采购者在内的总体份额。

    眼下,这两个汽车巨人为争夺市场份额正在展开一场激战。尽管综合来看,通用汽车目前处于领先位置,但究竟鹿死谁手,分析师分成两派,各持己见。同时,他们也警告说,由于用于营销激励计划的开支过度,还有可能造成附带损害。

    这样的小范围竞争尽管本身无关紧要,但却能够预示长期发展趋势中的拐点。过去一个世纪,这两家公司的竞争态势鲜有改变。竞争伊始,福特一马当先,直到20世纪20年代末,其T型车渐失市场发展动力为止;后来,阿尔弗雷德•斯隆(通用汽车的第八任总裁——译注)执掌通用汽车,其缔造的强大的公司开始在市场占有绝对优势,在它面前,福特只能永远俯首称臣。接下来的几十年里,福特只在20世纪80年代末以及90年代,短暂重温昔日辉煌;而在余下的绝大多数时间里,通用汽车都占据着领先位置,直到2009年破产为止。

    自那以后,通用汽车变得“身形小巧”,反应迅速,并脱胎换骨,成了一台“战斗车”。在新任首席执行官丹•艾克森的领导下,该公司一直坚持聘用年轻有为、积极进取的年轻人,取代相对年长者担任公司高管;同时,他们亦不遗余力地加速推进生产计划和产品项目的执行过程;并且,门市销售人员也更加积极努力地工作。

    艾克森采取上述改革时,福特由于提高了产品质量,合理使用全球资源,以及首席执行官艾伦•穆拉利实行集中化管理,而颇得公众好评。

    眼下,福特在年度利润方面略占优势,2010年其年度利润为66亿美元,而通用汽车为62亿美元;由于今年股价猛增了20%,福特的市值也大于通用汽车:550亿美元对500亿美元。

    但是,二者在美国市场份额方面的争夺,却从来都是一场难分伯仲的混战。2010年末,通用汽车保持着绝对领先优势,市场份额为19.6%,福特为16.6%。今年1月,通用汽车扩大了领先优势,市场份额上升至21.8%,而福特则降到了15.5%。2月份,通用汽车的份额稍有下降,为20.8%,福特则无甚变化,为15.7%。

    3月份,重要的春季销售拉开了战幕,分析师们也纷纷推出了不同的预测结果。目前,多数分析均集中在通用汽车的营销激励措施上。据Edmunds.com数据,1、2两月,通用汽车用于营销激励计划的单位成本是1,000多美元/辆车。上个月,该公司进一步加大了筹码,凡原通用客户,只要购买通用新车,便给予1,000美元的优惠。

    分析师们表示,3月份,通用汽车停止推行营销激励措施,其市场份额随之下降。德意志银行(Deutsche Bank)的老牌分析师罗德•拉什认为,3月份,由于通用汽车砍掉了1,000多美元的单位营销激励成本,其市场份额跌到了17%左右。同时,拉什还介绍说,福特由于继续执行有力的定价措施,市场份额逐渐逼近通用汽车,3月份,达到16%~17%。零售份额由于不包括面向团队购买者的销量,也显得更为重要。拉什认为,福特的零售份额已经超过通用汽车,达到15.5%,而后者为14.4~14.6%。

    福特庆功在即。“通用汽车为了吸引现有用户购买通用新车,增加了营销激励成本,以致首次公开募股后,通用汽车的市场份额大增。”福特销售分析师乔治•皮帕斯表示。“不过,历史记录显示,通用汽车的促销计划一结束,其市场份额就急剧下降。”但是,他同时也补充说:“我个人认为,现在就预测3月份的市场份额,还为时过早。”

    如果3月份福特的零售份额果真能以微弱优势胜出的话,那迪尔伯恩必将到处是一片载歌载舞欢庆胜利的景象。但是,并非所有分析师都认为福特能够在3月的竞赛中赢得胜利。Edmunds.com的资深分析师雷•周(音)也认为,本月迄今为止,福特的零售份额保持着上升之势,提高了9%,而通用汽车的零售份额下降了18%。但即便如此,他认为,到本月末,通用汽车的零售份额将为17%,而福特仅为14%。

    多数观察家均预期,到年末为止,通用汽车能在总体份额方面继续领先于福特。无论是轿车方面的雪佛兰科鲁兹(Chevrolet Cruze),还是跨界车方面的Chevy Equinox,都为该公司贡献了大量的市场份额。独立分析师沃伦•布朗尼认为,与2010年一样,2011年的后9个月,通用汽车的市场份额会进一步提高;而在福特方面,由于油价的不断攀升,其皮卡销售将陷入困境。

    但是,如果新推出的福特福克斯(Ford Focus)能够在市场上引起轰动,那事情就有可能朝着有利于福特的方向发展。而通用汽车也会因此更加“热闹”,过去半年里,该公司高级管理层的人员流动率之高,已创下历史记录。不管发生什么事,尽管外部事件不断,这两个老对手之间的竞争,将会一如既往地激烈,这点是再清楚不过了。

    译者:大海

    It's the mother of all corporate rivalries, bigger than Coke vs. Pepsi, older than Nike vs. Reebok, and more compelling than Pampers vs. Huggies. It's fought with billion-dollar budgets for new models and marketing, and it is subject to more ups and downs than the stock market.

    While it may be temporarily overshadowed by the troubles of Japanese auto makers, and imperiled long-term by the rise in oil prices, one constant remains in Detroit: General Motors vs. Ford. The two companies have been battling it out for profits, market share, and hometown bragging rights almost from the time GM (GM) was founded in Flint, Michigan in 1908, five years after Ford (F, Fortune 500) got started in the Detroit suburb of Dearborn.

    Keeping score means watching three major indicators: annual profit, market capitalization, and U.S. market share -- both retail share to private customers and overall share that includes fleet buyers.

    At the moment, the two auto giants are fighting a pitched battle over market share. GM is currently the overall leader, but analysts are divided on who the real winner is. They also warn about the collateral damage that comes from excessive spending on marketing incentives.

    Of little significance by themselves, skirmishes like this one can herald inflection points in long-term trends. Over the last century, the two companies have rarely changed position. Ford held the lead until the late 1920s when the Model T ran out of gas, and then fell permanently behind the market-dominating GM machine created by Alfred P. Sloan. In the ensuing decades, Ford enjoyed brief periods of leadership in the late 1980s and again in the 1990s, but GM stayed in front until it began to skid into its 2009 bankruptcy.

    Since then, leaner and swifter GM has been transformed into a fighting machine. Behind new CEO Dan Akerson, it has been swapping out older executives for more aggressive younger ones, accelerating production plans and product programs, and working harder on the salesroom floor.

    Akerson's moves have come as Ford rides a wave of public esteem resulting from improved product quality, smart use of global resources, and the focused leadership of CEO Alan Mulally.

    At the moment, Ford holds a small edge in annual profits -- $6.6 billion in 2010 to $6.2 billion for GM -- and a larger one in market cap -- $55 billion to GM's $50 billion -- thanks to a 20% run-up in share price this year.

    U.S. market share, however, has been a dogfight. GM held a commanding lead at the end of 2010 with 19.6% of the market vs. Ford's 16.6%. GM widened its lead in January with 21.8% to Ford's 15.5%, but fell back a bit in February to 20.8% while Ford held on to 15.7%.

    March marks the opening of the important spring selling and analysts are forecasting a different outcome. Much of the current analysis centers on GM's use of marketing incentives. GM was spending $1,000 more per vehicle in January and February, according to Edmunds.com. Last month, it also sweetened the pot with $1,000 for GM owners if they bought a new GM car.

    Analysts say GM has backed off on incentives in March and taken a resulting hit in market share. Veteran analyst Rod Lache of Deutsche Bank figures that GM cut incentives by more than $1,000 in March, and its share fell to the 17% range. Meanwhile, he says Ford continues to show strong pricing discipline and it is closing in on GM, with March share of 16%-17%. In more valuable retail share, which doesn't include sales to fleet buyers, Lache believes Ford has passed GM, notching 15.5% to GM's mid-14% range.

    Ford is ready to break out the champagne. "GM share spiked post-IPO based on higher incentives, designed to attract current owners of GM models," says Ford's sales analyst George Pipas. "History shows that when GM's program ends, share falls dramatically." But he adds, "Personally I think it is too early to predict how the month will unfold."

    If Ford does nose out GM in retail share in March, it would be the occasion for attaboys all around in Dearborn but not every analyst believes Ford can pull it off. Edmunds.com senior analyst Ray Zhou also sees Ford's retail share improving, up 9% so far this month, while GM's has fallen 18%. Even so, he believes GM will end the month at 17% retail versus 14% for Ford.

    Most observers expect GM to stay ahead of Ford in overall share for the rest of the year. It is getting a big lift from the Chevrolet Cruze on the car side, as well as the Chevy Equinox crossover. Independent analyst Warren Browne believes that GM is due to get better share for the last nine months of 2011, just as it did in 2010, while higher oil prices will mean trouble for pickup sales at Ford.

    But if the new Ford Focus catches fire, it could swing events in Ford's favor. That could set off more fireworks at GM, which has had more turnover in senior management in the last six months than at any time in memory. Whatever happens, it's clear that despite outside events, the competition between these two rivals remains as fierce as ever.

 

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