A2 will earn money
Audi Chairman Franz-Josef Paefgen admitted that sales of the all-aluminum A2 small car are disappointing. But unlike its chief competitor, the Mercedes-Benz A-class, Paefgen insisted that the A2 would be profitable in its first generation.
Speaking at the annual Audi press conference earlier this month, Paefgen said A2 sales of 50,000 units are expected this year. Production capacity at Audi's Neckarsulm, Germany, plant is 60,000 a year. Last year, only 20,000 A2s were sold, compared with forecasts of 30,000.
Worrying times at Worthing
A further 90 jobs have been lost at Daewoo Motor's research and development center in Worthing, south England, ahead of a possible sale to British performance engineering specialist TWR Group.
Daewoo reportedly spent E20 million a year on its prestigious British research and development operation. TWR could get the facility for just E3 million - although this figure has not been confirmed.
In court receivership in Korea and with sales plummeting overseas, Daewoo is downsizing its research and development budget drastically. At its peak, Worthing employed 1,000 designers, engineers and technicians from all over the world. With the latest reductions, that number has dropped to around 200. Staff there have also been kept waiting on two occasions for wages to come through direct from Seoul.
Spokesman Mark Norton confirmed TWR was 'looking at the Daewoo business' but would add no further details.
Worthing had considerable input on all current Daewoo models including the tiny Matiz, which has proved popular in Europe. The facility also created the Mirae, Shiraz and Musiro concept cars.
Ford's marketing move
A new generation of sales and marketing executives, schooled at companies such as Procter & Gamble and General Electric, will lead Ford Motor Co. in the Internet age.
Earlier this month Ford lined up a fresh new marketing team, players marked by diversity of gender, ethnicity and career paths. Leading the group is Brian Kelley, 40, Ford's e-business expert, who two years ago was overseeing appliance sales at General Electric.
On March 9, Kelley was named Ford vice president of global consumer services, replacing Robert Rewey, 62, a 38-year Ford veteran and a powerful representative of the old guard.
Kelley will be a pivotal voice as Ford grapples with blending old-world retailing with electronic-age technology. But don't look for a retail revolution, Kelley said.
'You will continue to see evolution,' he said. 'The retail business in the automotive industry works as well as it does because it has been honed over 100 years. Of course, it can get better. But you won't see revolution, because the consumer today is generally pleased with how they are buying vehicles.'
Kelley inherits Rewey's portfolio, with one notable exception. Operations of the Ford brand in North America reported to Rewey. Now Martin Inglis, head of the Ford brand in North America, reports to CEO Jacques Nasser.
Kelley's responsibilities include global marketing, the automotive consumer service group, dealer development, worldwide direct markets, Ford racing technology and ConsumerConnect.
D/C shareholder revolt
Dissident shareholder groups in Germany have placed motions on the agenda of DaimlerChrysler's annual meeting calling for the ouster of board members and the rejection of a stock option plan.
The groups admit they don't have the votes to dethrone management at the annual shareholder meeting on April 11 in Berlin. But the point needs to be made that management has bungled the acquisition of the former Chrysler Corp., they say.
'Many shareholders are furious at what management has done. But the big shareholders will still be passive,' said Ekkehard Wenger, a shareholder activist and economics professor at the University of Wurzberg, Germany.
He said D/C isn't worried about the dissidents because it has the backing of Deutsche Bank, its biggest shareholder. Deutsche Bank owns 12 percent of D/C's stock.
In a six-page letter to shareholders that addresses all 26 motions on the meeting's agenda, D/C says that the dissidents' allegations are 'incorrect and without any basis.'