Scandals shake the foundations of the German auto industry. First Dieselgate, now alleged antitrust violations. The horror never ends, and one of our country's key industries is at a crossroads. But it started many years ago.
What we are now experiencing is a result of automotive monoculture. This development was foreseeable because it crept its way slowly. In the 80s and early 90s, the European auto world was still fine. There was diversity and competition. National manufacturers dominated the markets, even if signs of weakness were clearly visible.
The failure of others laid the foundation for automotive monoculture.
First, it had caught the British. Their big brands had been in decline for a long time, and they were an omen for what would come. Back in Italy a thriving grocery store flourished with Lancia, Innocenti, Fiat, Alfa, Maserati, De Tomaso, Lamborghini and Ferrari. They produced cars for every taste, every lifelong life and suitable for every budget. The result varied, depending on the brand, between genius and madness or sloppiness and precision. Italy could do it all, depending on the country and current mood.
Today the Italian auto industry is only a shadow of its former size. Innocenti no longer exists, Lancia has faded in beauty, De Tomaso is just a footnote in history. Fiat is working on small cars, Lamborghini is German, only Maserati and Ferrari score points in the luxury segment. Everything else is difficult, as Alfa Romeo proves. The comeback falls far short of expectations. Perhaps also because the brand is now trying to score with German virtues.
While Italy was slowly going under, German dominance grew. Porsche, Audi, VW, Mercedes and BMW dominate entire market segments today. With that came the great monoculture and competition no longer took place. Anyone who found it strange that innovations could also be found in other German brands after a few months received the explanation last Friday. The Mirrors revealed alleged antitrust violations. In workgroups, the big 5s discussed their innovations and made sure that no brand could move too far from the other technologically.
If the research of the mirror is correct, self-reports by VW and Daimler suggest that, then automobile progress was prevented and prevented for years. At the expense of the customer, in favor of the profits of the corporations. A first-rate scandal, but only made possible by dominance and monoculture.
Automobile monoculture, but hope for the future.
But there is hope. Small manufacturers like Lancia, Saab, Innocenti and the countless British brands will not be celebrating a rebirth anytime soon. And the many new suppliers from China will probably never bring back what was lost. Your vehicles are a collection of components from international suppliers. Nobody should expect an unmistakable character with this blend.
The light of hope flickers across the Rhine. The French are fighting, after all, and they do not want to leave the markets to monoculture. The PSA Group is trying that DS To establish the label as a new premium brand. A difficult, long and rocky road. Back to the size and meaning where you were with Citroen decades ago. In addition, there is the takeover of Opel. It could bring an enrichment - but more likely a cleanup if the PSA group will dispose of the ex-GM brand in the medium term.
Renault revives the brand Alpine. The first edition of the new edition of the A110 was sold out in no time, the 2018 vintage can be pre-ordered against a deposit. An SUV, similar to the Porsche Macan, is on the way. More car culture from France can only do the market good.
For Germany, a lot depends on the future of the auto industry. The antitrust violations and the diesel scandal will keep us busy for a long time. And he will leave traces. They will be reflected in balance sheets and market shares. At best, in small, homeopathic dosages. If it gets bad, then with a long-term decline.
Crises are opportunities and an opportunity to come back to life. On old strengths, brand values, character, innovation and real competition among each other. To the end of monoculture and boredom! Then there is an opportunity to emerge stronger than ever from the crisis.