Blog: Dave LeggettFrankfurt

Dave Leggett | 13 September 2005

It looks like a couple of themes are emerging from the pack in the media scrum and hullabaloo that is the opening press days at the Frankfurt Show or IAA. One is the tough times being faced by the industry generally right now. A couple of people have caught the headlines with some pretty straight talking. Delphi’s Steve Miller (busy guy - didn't he have a band once?) has certainly set the cat among the pigeons by saying that Delphi has another month to do a deal with GM and the UAW or it will be forced to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. He’s a wily customer and a turnaround specialist so he must understand the implications of saying something like that publicly. I guess the potential damage done to relationships with Delphi’s creditors (who will surely be looking to reduce their Delphi exposure, if they haven’t already done so) is outweighed by the need to put some serious pressure on GM and the UAW. I wonder what state the books are in lately...

GERMANY: Delphi says it needs rescue deal by Oct 17 or must file for bankruptcy

And Wolfgang Bernhard at Volkswagen has described VW as a ‘company in crisis’. Such talk, gobbled up by the German and international media because we’re hearing it for the first time from Volkswagen’s management, should strengthen his hand at VW as he presents his ‘radical’ ideas for change to some of the old guard. But the climate in Germany seems right for that sort of talk these days. Volkswagen could get away with not facing reality once, but those times seem to be gone now. Some substantial trimming of fat at Wolfsburg seems inevitable now.

GERMANY: Volkswagen’s Bernhard: VW is a ‘company in crisis’

The other emerging theme at the show, helped by the high oil price, seems to be gasoline-electric hybrids. It’s perhaps surprising that a major European show is going that way, as the European carmaker bosses have been lauding diesels as the acceptable green  (well, on CO2 anyway) powertrain in Europe. The ground seems to have shifted a bit lately in favour of hybrids and there seems to be a feeling that they’re not just for North America. But the Europeans seem to be getting on the bandwagon now and it’s increasingly looking like no-one wants to be left out: BMW working with GM and DCX on the technology; Ford looking at hybrids for PAG, with Fields mentioning Volvo; DCX saying that it will have a hybrid model at the next IAA; and Porsche saying that it is working with Volkswagen (Group, so there'll be an Audi hybrid(s) too) and will be doing a hybrid Cayenne.

I guess that hybrid Cayenne announcement clears up some of the confusion last week when it was reported that VW Group was ‘going it alone’ on hybrid technology but wants to work with SAIC in China. As I remarked earlier, VW and Porsche are almost family in automotive terms.

GERMANY: Porsche to build hybrid version of Cayenne


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