2011 Automotive News World Congress was held
during the media week at the North American International
Auto Show. Attendees heard from top-level executives
such as GM Chairman & CEO Dan Akerson, Nissan
Chairman of the Americas Carlos Tavares, Toyota Managing
Officer James Lentz, Volkswagen of America CEO Jonathan
Browning, Dodge Brand President Ralph Gilles and Ford
President of the Americas Mark Fields, among many
of their speeches had one thing in common -- not only
has the automotive industry turned around, but the
industry will be profitable this year and for many
years in the future.
Fields said that Ford Motor Company is just as much
a technology company as it is an automaker. In addition,
he said 80 percent of new Edge vehicles will be equipped
with MyFord Touch.
have a mobile app to help charge Ford electric vehicles,"
the president of the Americas for Ford Motor Co. explained.
"We've connected with the Geek Squad. We also
deliver technology to support their lifestyle while
keeping all eyes on the road and hands on the wheel.
Satisfaction with SYNC is very high. The Edge is the
fastest turning vehicle in dealers."
added: "The Ford brand became viewed as more
innovative. A whole new way of thinking. Ten thousand
people have downloaded the SYNC app in the first three
weeks. We worked with Pandora for our first app in
just 10 days. It provides you estimates of your commutes
on your smart phones. We are adding 750 salaried jobs
Sergio Marchionne became CEO of Chrysler, he gave
Ralph Gilles the power to redesign the entire Dodge
brand from the bottom up. Now, Dodge is offering 16
new interiors for its vehicles.
of us have revised, the consumer wins," the president
and the CEO of the Dodge Brand explained. "No
one makes a bad car. The change started a while ago.
We saw the train wreck coming. We have to be relevant
in every segment. Our dealers are profitable. I just
love the culture -- we have flattened out. No one
is on the 15th floor. Sergio's office is on the fourth
floor. Sergio invented the eighth day. Don't forget
to take care of yourself."
added: "Generation Y is aware of the future being
in the balance. I'm amazed how respectful they are.
We're forgetting to innovate. I'm not afraid of failure.
I wake up scared of the next disaster. I really liked
going to CCS. I like the young undiscovered. I mentor
eight different people at Chrysler. I'm surprised
by a great staff. Dodge will retreat from Europe.
Brands when managed properly can proliferate.
Lentz said that 50 percent of Toyota's sales are coming
from the internet. In addition, the automaker will
be launching 11 new or redesigned models by the end
of 2012. Toyota hopes to have a zero-emission vehicle
on the road by 2015.
all learned a lot and we're better for it," the
president and COO of Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. Inc.
explained. "We do see the U.S. economy improving.
We expect a better year in 2012 and beyond. We believe
our sales volume will grow. Demographics are in our
future. Every car is chockfull of electronics. Young
people don't seem to be interested in cars as previous
generations. We have to be flexible and prepared to
do business in non-traditional ways. You can run,
but you can't hide from Google."
added: "The Scion line is the youngest brand
in the industry. We're seeing a shift in consumer
values. Consumers are more willing to switch brands
to get what they want. We have to respect people's
times. Consumers expect a lot more fuel economy, environment.
We're launching several new hybrids. The Prius V will
have 60 percent more cargo room. We'll introduce a
Prius plug-in next year."
Browning said that Volkswagen is investing $69 billion
to become the world's leading car company. In addition,
he said the automaker is working to improve its quality
after a short drop in J.D. Power rankings.
VW group is leading in Europe, Brazil and China,"
the president and CEO of Volkswagen of America, Inc.
explained. "We need to respond to unique needs
of different markets. The Passat and Jetta were specifically
designed for the American consumer. The Passat has
more rear legroom in the U.S. Our Chattanooga, Tenn.
plant shows our commitment to the U.S. market. We
signed a new 10-year lease on our facility in Auburn
Hills. We are shifting our Rochester Hills office
to Auburn Hills, making it our second largest office
in the U.S."
added: "Our year-end sales finished with good
momentum. Over 60 percent of trade-ins are coming
from competition. We predict to sell 300,000 [units]
in the United States. The 2011 Passat and Jetta will
be our sales leaders. The all-new Beetle is making
better engineering more accessible. We were not pleased
when we saw our J.D. Power study decline. VW beat
the competition on products and dealer location. We
fell short on salesperson knowledge. An hour to sign
final paperwork. We will fix that."
CEO says consumers are changing their buying habits
Jackson said that today's customers prefer to make
all of their selections online and then come into
the dealer to sign the dotted line. In addition, he
said consumers are less patient than they have ever
been in the past.
have a new challenge -- they are time constrained
like never before," the chairman and CEO of AutoNation,
Inc. explained. "How do we eliminate all of the
hoops the customer has to go through? Can we move
at the pace they would like? We have to step up and
figure it out. There's going to be the temptation
to go back to production push. It is very difficult
to get back. Be thankful for our new chance. We are
opening six Fiat dealers. I think for small cars to
sell in the U.S. they will have a lot of flair. I
think Fiat will sell well."
discussed Chrysler: "I don't think they would
have made it without Sergio. It would have been swept
away. Ron Bloom led the relationship with Chrysler.
It was one of the most dramatic turnaround situations
I've ever seen. He [Sergio] faced reality and knew
what to do about it. He's one of the towering figures
in the industry. It's exciting to see what's happening
in this town. We try to price at market as quickly
as we can."
more information on the Automotive News World Congress,