Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

BMW keeping wary eye on rivals

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After a year of unprecedented turmoil in the auto industry, BMW’s U.S. head smells blood in the water.

Changes in ownership at some of its historic European rivals may present the German luxury automaker with a chance to grab market share. 

But even as Jim O’Donnell saw weaknesses to exploit, he raised the worry that one of Detroit’s most storied car brands, Cadillac, could take out of the market of the company that calls its vehicles “the ultimate driving machine.” 

As Cadillac’s parent company, General Motors Corp, went through a bankruptcy that forced it to cut thousands of jobs and shed brands, BMW picked up Cadillac customers and dealers. But a slimmed down GM could present a renewed threat, said the president of BMW’s North American unit. 

Sticks and Stones

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When General Motors rolled out its new “May the Best Car Win” ad campaign this fall, it turned its competitive fire on Toyota Motor Corp, rather than one of its Detroit competitors. 
Toyota, which last year displaced GM as the world’s largest carmarker, takes the ads — which compare the Chevy Malibu with the Toyota Camry — as something of a compliment. 
“When Ford names Toyota and not Chevrolet and when Chevrolet names Toyota and not Ford, that speaks to some consumers about our position in the market,” Toyota group vice president and general manager Bob Carter told the Reuters Autos Summit in Detroit. “So it’s not all bad.” 
But the Japanese automaker has no interest in getting drawn into an advertising tit-for-tat similar to Apple Inc’s “Get a Mac” ads, which compare a young, hip actor representing a Macintosh computer with a dowdy middle aged actor playing a PC run by Microsoft’s Windows operating system. 
“We think the most effective way to approach the market is to talk about our products and our brands,” Carter said.

Video – Busy week ahead for auto sector

The first week of November may provide more clues about the health of the U.S. auto industry.

On Monday, Ford reports third quarter results. On Tuesday, automakers release October sales figures. And, on Wednesday Chrysler’s new CEO Sergio Marchionne is expected to unveil his 5-year turnaround plan for the company. Auto industry veteran Michelle Krebs, Senior Analyst at Edmunds.com, joins us to preview the week ahead. Speaker: Michelle Krebs Sr. Analyst, Edmunds.com Presenter: Ruben Ramirez Dearborn, Michigan

Peugeot is far too small in China

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There is only one market really booming in the world and that is China, pity Peugeot only has a very small market share there.

Nicolas Wertans, deputy managing director of the Peugeot brand at Europe’s second-biggest carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen, recently went to Beijing.

Renault is too complex, COO says

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One of the big challenges for French carmaker Renault, which ranks third in the world with Japanese partner Nissan and Russian ally AvtoVAZ, is that it is too complex, chief operating officer Patrick Pelata told the Reuters Automotive Summit.

“Renault is a complicated company,” he said and explained how many carmakers had embraced a matrix organisation to deal with their international expansion. “We’re definitely more complicated than Nissan,” he said.

Dubai returns to fixed income sphere

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Dubai returns to the fixed-income sphere for the first time in more than a year after raising about $2 billion from dirham and dollar-denominated Islamic bonds.

Confidence in the emirate had run aground earlier this year as investors bet on Dubai’s state-linked entities not being able refinance debt. So far, this year it has met all its obligations and with the fresh issue booking about $6.5 billion from regional and international investors, Dubai’s doomsday scenario appears to be vanishing. 

from Chris Wickham:

Climate change is off the agenda in Dubai

The headline in the Gulf News English language daily reads 'UAE tops world on per capita carbon footprint'.

For a place so reliably bathed in sunlight, the Dubai property explosion seems to have generated enough construction noise to drown out the environmental debate raging elsewhere in the world.

from Raissa Kasolowsky:

Dubai is super enough, thanks

Dubai has sufficient superlatives – record-setting landmarks unique in their size, cost or concept -- to last it for the next decade – so enough already, says Deyaar CEO Markus Giebel.

“I endorse having the tallest building in the world, the first seven-star hotel in the world, the palm,” he says. “What I don’t endorse are attempts to now outdo these superlatives…they are going to last us the next 10 to 15 years.”

Green shoots and short attention spans

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Coming out of one of the darkest recessions, have we learned the lesson at all? Or are we going to repeat the mistakes of the past again?

 

 

Khuram Maqsood, managing director of boutique corporate financing advisory firm Emirates Capital, thinks we may well repeat them.

Being socially responsible investor in the Gulf

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Socially responsible investing, which takes into account social, environmental and governance risks, is arguably still in its infancy in the Gulf, where the enormous wealth created by hydrocarbons sometimes flows into extravagant projects like an indoor ski resort.

But Mustafa Abdel-Wadood, managing director of Abraaj Capital – the Middle East’s biggest private equity firm — sees SRI as enlightened self interest and the firm puts its own money where its mouth is.

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