Blog: Dave LeggettGeneva leftovers

Dave Leggett | 8 March 2010

I have been going through my Geneva notes and there are a few nuggets picked up in interviews  that didn't make it into articles that might be worth sharing anyway. So here they are, in no particular order:

  • Toyota's Didier Leroy said that in Europe some 200,000 accelerator pedal recalls have been made out of 1.7m cars; also more than 16,000 of the Prius software changes have been made – out of 52,900.
  • Lexus is aiming for around 28,000 European sales in 2010 – versus 27,000 last year.
  • Bob Lutz pointed out that while General Motors the brand has attracted negative baggage, the brands underneath will often be viewed much more positively by the same people with negative views of GM. 'Hate the parents, don't blame the kids' was the phrase he used.
  • I asked Lutz about the chances of a GM IPO this year. 'It will be done at the appropriate time' was his straight bat response.
  • Should GM have kept Saab? Is there a danger that it will now be successful and GM will have sold something that it should have held on to? Lutz pointed out that GM was under strict instructions from the Obama task force to halve the number of brands and had little alternative but to divest loss-making Saab.
  • Lutz said that the US market has changed in the sense that the formerly 'impregnable membrane' that appeared to divide the market into import and domestic brands has opened up with owners of cars in both categories now prepared to consider cars in the other category in a way that was not the case a few years ago.
  • Nick Reilly thinks that alliances have more mileage in them.
  • Allan Rushforth  - who has worked in other OEMs - enjoys the speed and autonomy for Hyundai in Europe. 'It's not a culture based on endless committee meetings – we just get stuff done.' He also sees only a 'marginal business case' for hybrids in Europe, acknowledging the marketing benefit for companies with hybrids right now but questioning whether that advantage will be as strong in 18 months' time when there are many more hybrids around. He noted that there is still a lot to be done with clean diesel and improved performance of gasoline engines.

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