COMMENT: Change at the top isn't always the answer

Volkswagen has fired sales director Robert Buechelhofer and Volvo Car Germany has parted company with its sales and marketing director.

Ford President Nick Scheele says Bernhard Mattes, chief executive officer at Ford of Germany in Cologne, does not yet need to worry about losing his job.

However, Mattes will probably be watched closely by his bosses during the coming months. Industry executives are becoming increasingly impatient: The days are numbered for those who don't reach sales targets or who spend a lot of money on marketing without achieving results.

It has become increasingly difficult to persuade Germans stricken with fears about their future to buy new cars. Neither price reductions nor cash rebates nor fuel vouchers seem to make much difference.

Consumers are delaying the acquisition of a car further and further in the hope of new special offers, which has a domino effect. Price reductions not only decrease the manufacturers' profits but also increase the pressure on suppliers and dealers. Automobile stocks have to be reassessed because with the new market conditions they have decreased in value. Businesses react by laying off workers and closing plants, which in turn further decreases consumers' desire to buy cars. That way deflation pushes the economy further and further into recession.

A few management changes don't seem to make much of a difference anymore.

Tags: Automakers

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