2023 Author: Eric Donovan | [email protected]. Last modified: 2023-08-25 09:36
Volkswagen is fighting against Opel and Ford for dominance in the middle segments. Even if the models are technically at eye level, nothing beats image and positioning.
By Stefan Grundhoff and Stefan Zaumseil
Ford, Volkswagen and Opel have been the major German volume brands for years. From Agila against Fox and Ka to Passat against Vectra or Mondeo, Wolfsburg, Cologne and Rüsselsheim compete against each other in the German city championships. Who is in better shape? Who has the better chance?
All of the three German mega-manufacturers have made negative headlines in recent years. Layoffs, affairs and working time models have pushed many new models into the background. A lot has happened in Cologne, Wolfsburg and Rüsselsheim. A strong wind was blowing through the model pallets.
Volkswagen in particular has repositioned itself in the past few months and wants to bring more emotion to the brand with models such as the Eos or the future mid-size off-road vehicle. Group subsidiary Audi has shown how it could best work. Volkswagen is currently doing very well. After initial weaknesses, the Golf family is still very successful and is the undisputed number one on the German sales list. Around 22,500 vehicles were sold in March - significantly more than in the previous year.
Astra and Focus cannot shake the throne
Even if Opel and Ford brought two splendid competitors to the start with the Astra and Focus, the balance of power in the compact class has not changed. Although the Astra is hardly inferior to the Golf, around 50 percent fewer vehicles from the Rüsselheimer are sold, in March just 11,500. That is currently enough for third place. Opel is not dissatisfied with that, but not much has remained of the full-bodied announcement that it will finally attack Wolfsburg's number one with the “best Astra of all time”.
With the Cologne competitor Ford, at least the communicated hopes were not so great. He also shows no major weaknesses, but the design of the Focus ?? is not as suitable for the masses as that of the strong competition. After all, the dynamic Ford was able to improve recently to make it into the top six in Germany. But the difference in sales to the Astra and Golf is still clearly noticeable despite a comparable product range and similar discounts.
Opel relies on the new Corsa
That looks hardly any different in the likewise highly competitive small car class. 17,800 VW Polo vehicles were sold in the first quarter of 2006 - a safe place among the top ten. The aging Opel Corsa bobs around between 20th and 25th place. In summer the successor finally comes, which was developed together with the properly started Fiat Grande Punto. Then things should go up again and a place in the top ten should be awarded.
There seems to be little room for improvement in the former Ford figurehead Fiesta. In March 2006 it was on a disappointing 18th place in the sales statistics. Much more shouldn't be in there until a new model; but that is still not in sight.
In addition to the image-rich compact class, all three German manufacturers define themselves through their mid-range models. Although the Opel Vectra, with its four body variants and contemporary diesel units, has only recently been revised, it disappoints across the board with almost 6,800 models sold in the first three months of 2006.
The Ford Mondeo was able to improve significantly recently. But with 8,200 new registrations, the gap to the class favorite VW Passat with almost 30,000 vehicles is immense. Even the premium competition with the BMW 3 Series, Audi A4 or Mercedes C-Class is well ahead of the family all-purpose weapons from Cologne and Rüsselsheim.
Open focus in autumn
Once again a proof that image and positioning are paramount. Even if the cars are often at eye level, VW seems to have clear advantages over Ford and Opel at the moment. The popular coupe-convertibles are currently only offered by Opel and Volkswagen. The open focus will only come in autumn. Opel has high hopes for the new SUV called Antara, which is due to arrive this summer. At Ford, the S-Max and Galaxy brothers are particularly focused on, which are supposed to support the Focus C-Max.
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