A new definition of mobility and alternative forms of drive. Digitization and revolution in manufacturing. Everything announced and not far away. On the contrary, we are already in the middle of it, and the change accelerates more and more. An example of how fundamental the upheavals will be was delivered last Friday.
Actually a normal, unspectacular day. No big headlines, once you see the tweets of the 45. President of the United States. In the din, which can damage all world trade, other events went under. It is worthwhile to listen closer. Because every single person has potential for a drama.
Let's start with Wolfsburg. Volkswagen fully relies on the electric car. On the battery-electric. What could become a problem in the medium term, because the competitors in China also diversify and promote other concepts. In addition to battery electric drives, the fuel cell is accepted as what is ignored on the Mittelland Canal. VW started selling the ID 3 last week. The pre-production of 200 vehicles in Zwickau is already under way, and after the summer break it really starts. 10.000 Vehicles were reserved within 24 hours, and Volkswagen's IT infrastructure reached its limits. Interesting because for the first time the Niedersachsen address their customers directly. And the dealer remains out of the reservations for the first time.
More exciting than the success of the ID 3 is a Friday speculation that concerns VW. You could be different from the traditional brand Bentley disconnect, a relic of the piech era. And instead invest in a new brand, for a young, urban audience. Bentley outside? It would be possible. British luxury brands seem to be moving in heavy seas. There is the unexplained Brexit and the fact that one seems to have no real answers to the current issues of the time.
Jaguar Land Rover to the PSA Group?
Because, also on Friday, there was another speculation. Jaguar Land Rover is far from the former zenith of success. The diesel scandal plays badly with the company with its heavy off-road vehicles, and in China, the sales figures, due to lack of quality, under further ran. Owners Tata is fighting for survival in India, so the brand is once again on a potential sales list. The PSA group, which integrated only Opel, could also take over JLR, reported the trade press on Friday. Maybe for a more or less symbolic amount, because the uncertainties of the brands are high.
Bentley, Jaguar, Land Rover. Not enough for a single day. Because, as a Sweden-affine blog, the view always goes to the north. And there a storm is brewing. Not entirely unexpected, because whoever wanted to see the dark clouds could already discover them. Volvo, the flagship investment of the Chinese, is reaching its limits. The sales figures are excellent, but the profit collapsed by 19% in the past fiscal year. A few weeks ago Volvo therefore announced to the 1. May both a hiring stop, as well as a flat-rate reduction the fees of consultancy contracts for 5%.
Volvo pulls the handbrake
Volvo, the job and prosperity engine for Gothenburg is weakening. For the first time in years. Which also has to do with the problems of Volvo's mother Geely, which currently exists in China. In principle, the Geely Group is the only international success story that China has in the automotive world. So far, because even for the spoiled by success group, the sun no longer shines every day. After rapid growth over the years, the sales figures are falling dramatically. Alone in April almost 20% and thus stronger than the overall market.
The Geely group has to save, and the sweeping cuts in consultancy fees in Gothenburg do not seem to be enough. On Friday, Volvo released the storm and announced the dismissal by some 100 external consultants. Exact figures does not call the company, the assumptions in the Swedish press are speculation.
The party is over
If you just look a little closer, then one discovers almost every day messages such as the last Friday in the international press. The party of the car industry is over. International, and the new times will not come sometime. They are already here, and the industry is undergoing a major upheaval.
It is under fire from all sides. In terms of environmental policy, it has a difficult time; innovative startups question the status of the established. China is pushing power and money into the mobility business, and the next day's vehicles are nothing more than networked devices - which, incidentally, have 4 wheels.
Surviving becomes who has lean structures, the best software engineers, and is capable of fast adaptation. The industry is getting more uncomfortable, but also more exciting. Whether the fabulous returns of the major car manufacturers are finally past, is open. But probably.
Pre-production in Trollhättan
From Gothenburg and Volvo further north. To Trollhattan. The city, like no other, anticipated the transformation of the auto industry. The bankruptcy of GM left visible traces until today and ended in the end of Saab. What followed was the creation of smaller, innovative companies with state help. Trollhättan remained in business despite all the bad predictions.
Maybe because the industrial city has a talent for reinventing itself. Steam engines, turbines, diesel locomotives and airplanes. Everything was there once, big and important. And nothing lasted. There is a lot going on in this city, and not only in Zwickau a new time is breaking.
As it seems, the slumber of the former Saab plant can come to an end this year. After almost 8 years, one does not include the short-term production for the model year 2014. The pre-production of at least one OEM product will enliven 2019 the factory, from 2020 should then run two product lines from the tapes. And if things go well in this unpredictable change, then at the latest 2021 could already be three brands whose vehicles are produced in the former Saab factory.