Editorial: automakers have plans that go well with the real-world realities image

Before the latest worldwide crisis, carmakers were living in their own bubble – just as Wall Street did – and they paid dearly for their bluntness.

General Motors and Chrysler were on the brink of extinction and the US government had to lend a helping hand (choke full of billions of taxpayer money) while Ford narrowly escaped the same fate – albeit bruised and battered. Back in Europe one of the highest impacts of the sales slump could be observed on the second largest automaker in the region – PSA Peugeot Citroen. It limped for some time and eventually had to be rescued as well by the French government and its Chinese partner – Dongfeng Motors. We told you extensively all about these developments back in the day, but I reminded them because I’m going to discuss some of their current moves. And these are rooted deeply in the lessons learned through blood and sweat.

Let’s start with one of the GM brands – Cadillac, the pride and joy of the automaker. Actually, not so much anymore. The marquee is practically nonexistent in Europe and at home it has fallen to the fifth position in terms of sales, behind Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Lexus and now even Audi. But the carmaker plans to deliver plug-in hybrid versions of most of its models and is planning a strategic offensive to expand its SUV lineup. Intelligent moves – on the one hand deliver what the public wants (SUVs and crossovers) and on the other make sure you’ll be safe from regulators.

Next up is the Detroit competition – Ford and its own premium marquee – Lincoln. They’re even deeper in a hole than Cadillac, which at least sells really well (still) in China. Here the traits are clear – no niche models (coupe, sports cars) – just focus on the core lineup in a move to rebuild pride at home and conquer new territories overseas – mainly China.

And last, but not least is the Citroen brand from PSA. Under the careful direction of the new CEO Tavares (who learned the skill from rival CEO Carlos Ghosn), Citroen is going back to its roots – meaning more quirky and interesting designs are on the way. They nailed it right with the funky C4 Cactus crossover and now plan to capitalize on the success and finally change the boring line-up into something that would appeal to those young at heart.