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商业 - 汽车

福特借新林肯继续发力进军豪华品牌

Doron Levin 2014年01月26日

2015款林肯领航员让福特有了一款能和路虎揽胜及凯雷德相抗衡的车型,但是打造一个豪华品牌肯定是一条漫漫征途,可能需要10到20年的时间以及不计其数的资金。不过,福特下一代的高管们或许就能够率先品尝到这一代高管艰苦奋斗培育出来的胜利果实。

    
2015款林肯领航员

    全新林肯领航员(LincolnNavigator)是福特汽车公司(Ford Motor Co.)产品阵容中一位精心改款的新成员。更重要的是,这辆霸气的大型SUV表明福特并没有放弃重新把林肯打造成豪华品牌的决心。

    单独来看,这辆将于今年年末投产的2015款领航员多少表明,福特在把林肯打造成豪华品牌的道路上已经“打破常规”。原因是,这辆车上看不出明显的家族符号,也没什么一眼能认出的设计模式。打造一个豪华品牌是一条艰难曲折、代价高昂的漫漫征途。问问日产汽车(Nissan)就知道了,它为了打造英菲尼迪(Infiniti)已奋斗了将近30年。也可以问问通用汽车公司(General Motors),它为了让凯迪拉克(Cadillac)重振雄风已经投入了不计其数的资金。

    全新领航员最重要的两处改款在于经过重新设计的外观和内部,外观是极富个性的“双翼格栅”,内部则是用涡轮增压、马力更为强劲的V6引擎取代了V8引擎。

    任何一款车型,不管它是多么让人过目难忘,都不可能一夜之间打造出宝马(BMW)、奔驰(Mercedes)或雷克萨斯(Lexus)这样的豪华品牌。它需要无数工程师、营销人员和设计师投入10到20年的心血,还得砸上上百亿美元。而这些汽车厂商之所以舍得如此投入的原因也很简单:没有一个豪华品牌就意味着和巨额利润绝缘。英菲尼迪的全球总裁约翰•德•尼琛是这样描述这个定理的:“豪华品牌的销量仅占全球汽车销量的11%,但却赚走了50%的利润。”

    也许两辆车的外形和性能都相去无几。但如果在其中一辆上贴上宝马标志,客户立刻就会准备多掏上万美元。

    日产汽车和丰田汽车(Toyota)都是在20世纪80年代末创立了自己的豪华品牌。但当丰田的雷克萨斯已经变成一棵巨大的摇钱树时,日产的英菲尼迪却始终不温不火。因此,日产的首席执行官卡洛斯•戈恩去年才把德•尼琛从奥迪公司(Audi)挖来,让他开始承担把英菲尼迪打造成世界豪华品牌这个漫长艰苦且花费巨大的重任。

    福特汽车首席执行官艾伦•穆拉利和首席营销官吉姆•法雷两人共同负责指导林肯的复兴使命。这辆改款领航员不会让很多路虎揽胜(Range Rover)车主移情别恋。但它会给美国的林肯经销商们提供一款重磅武器,与凯迪拉克凯雷德、路虎揽胜及梅赛德斯奔驰的GL一争高低。让经销商这个群体保持财务状况良好并充满激情对重塑一个品牌来说至关重要。

    ALG公司是一家专门评估新车被租用不同时间后所剩残值的企业。公司总裁拉里•多米尼克称:“对福特的管理层来说,耐心非常关键。”汽车厂商必须做好对新车型和品牌推广进行长期投入的准备,哪怕因此带来的利润增长和品牌影响力提高微乎其微。

    将现在的领航员与一些名气更大的对手做个对比就能看出利润的差别。根据汽车网站Edmunds.com的数据,2014款领航员的起价是54,400美元。而2014款凯迪拉克凯雷德起价为61,800美元,2014款路虎揽胜的起价更是高达85,700美元。尽管这三款车并不完全一样,但其实它们在尺寸、动力和性能上相差无几——但是它们给自己东家带来的收入就差别很大了。这种差异也反映出了客户对几个品牌的看法。

    长期以来,奥迪一直在追求着成为豪华品牌这个梦想。20世纪80年代末,它因为车辆突然加速问题而受到指控。尽管这个问题从未获得证实,但也因此掀起了轩然大波。这之后,它花了20年的时间和无数的金钱才得以成功跻身豪华品牌之列。

    福特、通用、日产、丰田和其他厂商的高管们最终目标就是要让自己的豪华品牌能与宝马、奔驰和奥迪比肩,正是这三个德国巨头在全球汽车市场上牢牢占据着最高价的席位。

    福特的林肯可能最终能跻身全球最受推崇、同时价格也最高的豪车之列,但这一天绝不可能很快到来。不过福特下一代的高管们可能有机会首先品尝到这一代高管艰苦奋斗培育出来的硕果。(财富中文网)

    译者:清远

    

    The new Lincoln Navigator signifies a spruced-up addition to Ford Motor Co.'s vehicle lineup. More importantly, the big and fancy SUV proves that Ford hasn't lost its determination to recreate the Lincoln luxury brand.

    Taken alone, the 2015 Navigator, which will go into production later this year, gives few hints that Ford (F) has "broken the code" on making Lincoln mean luxury. That's because there is no code, no instant formula. Creating a luxury brand is a long, hard, expensive slog. Ask Nissan, which has struggled for nearly 30 years with Infiniti. Or General Motors (GM), which has spent prodigiously in the quest to fix Cadillac.

    The new Navigator's two most important improvements are a restyled exterior and interior, featuring the characteristic "twin-wing grille," as well as a turbocharged V6 engine that's more powerful than the V8 it replaces.

    No single model, no matter how impressive, can overnight create a luxury brand like BMW or Mercedes or Lexus. It takes 10 to 20 years of determined work by engineers, marketers, and designers, juiced with multiple billions of dollars. The answer as to why any automaker would undertake such a mission is simple: Lacking a luxury brand means forgoing huge profits. The global head of Infiniti, Johan de Nysschen described the propostion this way: "Premium luxury cars account for only 11% of global sales, but 50% of profit."

    Two vehicles may look and perform similarly. Slap a BMW badge on one of them, suddenly customers are prepared to pay tens of thousands of dollars more.

    Nissan and Toyota (TM) created their luxury brands in the late 1980s. While Toyota's Lexus turned into a big moneymaker, Nissan's Infiniti languished. Carlos Ghosn, Nissan's chief executive officer, lured de Nysschen from Audi last year to begin the long, arduous, and costly job of revitalizing Infiniti into a global luxury brand.

    Ford Motor chief executive officer Alan Mulally and chief marketing officer Jim Farley are overseeing Lincoln's renovation. The refreshed Navigator won't tempt many Range Rover owners to switch. But the new model will sustain U.S. Lincoln dealers with a vehicle they can sell against Cadillac Escalade, Range Rover, and the Mercedes-Benz GL. Keeping the dealer body financially healthy and enthusiastic is an important element to repairing the brand.

    "Patience is critical for Ford management," said Larry Dominique, president of ALG, a service that estimates the value of new vehicles after they have been leased for varying amounts of time. Automakers must be prepared to invest in new models and brand promotion for long periods, even if the increase in profit and prestige is slow.

    A comparison of the current Navigator against more prestigious competitors illustrates the point about profit. The 2014 Navigator starts at about $54,400, according to Edmunds.com. The 2014 Cadillac Escalade starts at $61,800, and the 2014 Range Rover starts at $85,700. While not identical, the three vehicles are similar in size, power, capability -- while generating remarkably different amounts of revenue for their makers. The difference reflects how customers regard the brands.

    Audi, which has long aspired to be considered a luxury brand, spent 20 years and untold billions climbing toward the premium pinnacle following a controversy in the late 1980s over accusations -- never proven -- that its cars accelerated unintentionally.

    Ultimately, the goal of automotive top managements at Ford, GM, Nissan, Toyota, and others is for their luxury brands to be considered on a par with BMW, Mercedes-Benz, and Audi, the German triumvirate that commands top prices in all global vehicle markets.

    Ford Motor's Lincoln brand eventually may count itself among the world's most esteemed and pricey, though not anytime soon. A future generation of Ford management might be the first to enjoy the fruits of this one's labors.

    

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