There are no premium brands any more, just rivals. That's the view of Ford of Europe's newly appointed head of quality, Gunnar Herrmann, who is working to try to close the gap against Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
"Take BMW. In the near term, they will have nine entries in the compact segment. This is basically our heartland," he told me on the sidelines of the Paris auto show. "With the brand reputation they have, you start to have a massive problem."
For example, in the UK the entry BMW 1-series five-door powered by a gasoline turbo engine costs just 400 pounds (500 euros) more than a mid-range Focus with a gasoline turbo engine with comparable power.
"The differentiation we had in the past of premium and non-premium brands is disappearing," Herrmann said.
That means any gaps in quality differentiation have to disappear as well.
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