Travel is broadening because getting outside the good, old U.S.A. gives you a different perspective about many things, including the two automakers with global headquarters in Detroit.
Europe is a different world for Ford and General Motors.
Ford is still a powerhouse brand in Europe with popular family vehicles such as the Focus. And as Ford showed in Geneva, it also is moving into popular niches with the S-Max sport/minivan/crossover, new Galaxy seven-passenger minivan and Focus Coupe-Cabriolet model.
GM's Opel brand will turn up its image a notch with the Opel GT roadster, which is a sibling to the Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky roadsters. The GT makes three easy ways to go topless in an Opel, including the Tigra roadster and Astra Twin Top.
Cadillac is trying to build momentum with the new BLS, and Saab is trying to maintain traction. But the Chevy brand is on a tear with models derived from Daewoo, such as the Captiva wagon and Epica sedan.
The only problem with traveling is eventually you need to go home and face the problems in North America.
But why not learn from your travels abroad? Why not bring home souvenirs?
Why not bring a little pizazz to North America with some of the hot, new Euro models? For Ford, the S-Max could be a segment buster in North America, adding a certain secret ingredient missing in some of the products sold on this side of the Atlantic.
And for a gotta-have product, how about the sun-loving Focus? With its retractable hardtop, it could be a smash in the United States. The convertible/coupe split personality is similar to the Volkswagen Eos and Volvo C70 models.
The demand is there. Unfortunately, it's based on the "new" Focus sold in Europe but not North America.
But that could change too, couldn't it?
Even GM could compete in the retractable hardtop segment with a version of the Opel Astra Twin Top. And the Opel Zafira could be a little people/stuff hauler with appeal to younger buyers.
None of these European models is the basis of a full-blown recovery plan. But having enticing products in your dealership showrooms never hurts.
Besides, you have to start somewhere.
You may e-mail Edward Lapham at [email protected]