Blog: Smart disarray
Dave Leggett | 13 December 2005
As a carmaking group, there comes a time when a loss-making division has to be told that enough's enough. The losses cannot be borne indefinitely and a new business plan is needed because the current one is not working. The danger then is that a precipitant cost-cutting axe falls in a manner that makes things worse in the long run, even if it appeals to bean counters.
Take DaimlerChrysler's Smart. The brand is in danger of being left bereft of decent models, with the decidedly unexciting ForFour and quirky ForTwo solely supporting the brand (and the former vulnerable to cancellation). The ForMore Smart SUV cancellation has made US market entry problematic while the loss of the little Roadster has removed the one model that received enthusiastic reviews in the motoring press.
How many special editions can you do? Is the marketing spend needed to get volume up on Smart, without new product in prospect, worthwhile? If the vision that was behind Smart in the late 1990s has effectively gone, it might be better to recognise that and can the whole brand rather than soldier on piecemeal.
I'm starting to get a small idea of the scale of things here in China, but really, I'm only scratching the surface of this vast country....
Given the startling complexity of obtaining a journalist visa for China - the code 'J2' is now indelibly stamped on my mind - it was with some surprise how swiftly I managed to sail through airport im...