Not that I blogged it at the time, but Geelyâs multi-brand strategy in 2009 felt doomed. Earlier this year, the company retreated, and brought everything from Englon, Gleagle and Emgrand back under its parent brand again.
It wasnât unlike Mazdaâs attempt to do the same in the early 1990s, when it began selling cars under marques such as Efini, Autozam and Eunos, as well as its own brand. The bursting of Japanâs bubble economy didnât help things, but the problems went deeper than that. Those who were used to buying a Mazda Capella from a certain outlet were surprised to find that it had become one of these new channels, and there was no Capella or equivalent to be seen. In fact, for those years, there was no Capellaâa nameplate Japanese buyers had become accustomed to for decadesâas Mazda decided to offer cars such as the Cronos, which went over the 1,700 mm width that landed it in a higher tax bracket.
We never noticed much of these issues outside Japan, as these cars were simply sold as Mazda 626, and there were fewer signs of the companyâs ambitious plans that landed it in such trouble then-shareholder Ford installed a Scot in charge. It was the first time a Caucasian wound up running a car maker there. Mazda felt embarrassed it wasn’t one of their own.
Geely might not have had the Chinese economy collapse on it, and it may have been buoyed through the 2000s as it went from being a manufacturer of recycled Daihatsus to a major Chinese automotive force, but there was the obvious problem of increasing its marketing costs dramatically. Could it also develop lines for four marques all of a sudden? Remember, too, it would swallow Volvo around this time, giving it a fifth marque.
The answer was no: Geely wound up shifting various models to different marques, badge-engineering others, and generally confusing the state of affairs for Chinese consumers. Thereâs a solid argument to be made for Geely at the time though: the automotive market was clearly segmenting, and there was a need to have budget and luxury brands. But it didnât seem organic, but dramatically forced. I take my hat off to Geely for carrying it out, nevertheless, even if some of the models were lacking: the Emgrand EC7, for instance, had rear torsion beam suspension, and it was supposedly a premium product for the well-to-do upper-middle-class Chinese buyer.
It all came crashing down earlier this year, when Geely realized that it lost economies of scale in marketing, and the most important player in all of thisâthe consumerâreally couldnât follow what was what. To top it off, these new brands had no goodwill, just as Mazdaâs didnât 20 years before. Unless youâre willing to push these brands like crazy, itâs a hard battle to win, especially in the most competitive market on earth. China, too, has had a downturn in car sales this year, and the heady days of thinking one can adopt multi-brand strategies without the numbers to support them are over.
Why has it come up? Today, Autocade has successfully recorded the entire current line of Geelys, and there are quite a few historical models in there, too. It was incredibly confusing, too, tracking the new identities of a lot of the modelsâdid the Englon SC5 get renamed? Which lines were dropped because there was a badge-engineered equivalent? And, as is particularly common among Chinese models we put on Autocade, how on earth shall we translate some of these model names? (The practice is to use the Chinese companyâs own translations, where available, and not succumb to using the export names to index them.)
While some pages had the new Geely names appended to the old Englon, Emgrand and Gleagle model pages, there were new entries for the Geely New Emgrand, the old King Kong line along with the Englon SC5-based King Kong hatchback, the two generations of Geely Vision, and the historical Geely Haoqing (an old car based around a 1980s Daihatsu Charade: to think, at the turn of the century, this described pretty much every car in the Geely range) as well as the new flagship SUV that now bears the name.
The reason for being a bit obsessive over the Geelys, as well as some other models (we added nearly all the current Cadillacs and a few more Changâans), is that with the demise of Auto Katalog, I believe more will go online. If we can present a credible new-car siteâalthough we have a long way to go before we get every current model line upâwe may go some way to filling the void with Autocade.
Posts tagged ‘history’
Not that I blogged it at the time, but Geelyâs multi-brand strategy in 2009 felt doomed. Earlier this year, the company retreated, and brought everything from Englon, Gleagle and Emgrand back under its parent brand again.
My friend Lou, who I enjoy winding up, just arrived in Belfast on holiday with her ïŹancĂ©. I wrote on her Facebook the following slice of forgotten Irish television and ïŹlm history.
If I was in Belfast, I would be rapping.
I pulled up to the house about seven or eight,
And I yelled to the cabby, âYo mucker, smell you later!â
Looked at my kingdom, I was there at last
To sit on my throne as the prince of Bel Fast.
This is from the famous Irish sitcom, The Fresh Prince of Bel Fast. Itâs set during the Troubles, about an Irish lad growing up in Bogside, a predominantly Catholic part of Derry City, being touted by gang elements. After getting into trouble playing football outside his school, his mother decides to send him to his uncle and aunt in a wealthy Protestant enclave in north Belfast. It was bittersweet, but entertaining nonetheless, and was later remade by the Americans as a vehicle for Will Smith.
The Irish came up with the best television series over the years. There was, of course, the RUC detective who was partial to OatïŹeldâs toffee, and drove around in a gold Vauxhall Victor, solving crimes on both sides of the divide, OâJack (later remade by the Americans as a vehicle for Telly Savalas). South of the border, in Ăire, the film industry was best known for the political romantic comedy, Taoiseachâs Pet, where a journalism student goes undercover in the highest ofïŹce in the land, initially to get a scoop, but winds up falling in love (later remade by the Americans as a vehicle for Doris Day and Clark Gable).
I’m waiting for her to tell her fiancĂ©’s family all about these.
The French came up with some good ones, too, over the years, and I believe these have appeared on this blog in a similar vein (they are for Stella Artois).
Apparently this is a reader survey but I agree with Antony: how on earth can a car that is not even produced, the Yamaha Motiv, wind up in the top 10? There are 100 in the full listâin other words, there are many more likely candidates of cars that readers have, well, seen and heard about. How strange that something previewed once at last year’s Tokyo Show can make it.
On Twitter, Autocar deputy digital editor Lewis Kingston tells me, ‘We’ve run a few big stories on it before’.
While I don’t know the methodology, I still find the odds of the Yamaha getting there very, very slim.
Incidentally, the Austin Metro didn’t make it.
I have to admit I get a bit bored of those crying foul now that MG will launch an SUV, one which seems to have some parallels with the Ssangyong Korando C (left).
They say that MG should have made sports cars as part of its revival, and that the brand should not adorn a bunch of Chinese-made saloons and an upcoming SUV.
Letâs look at a few hard facts.
MG did make a sports car when NAC, and later SAIC, took over. It was the British TF design. And they sold fewer than 100 cars per year in the 2007â11 period, despite it being the cheapest roadster on the market in China. It wasnât just Chinese buyers who ignored them: the TF was the first model revived at Longbridge, with very keen pricing, and hardly any Britons touched them, either.
So if you were a business and you were confronted with decent sales of your saloon cars and dismal sales of your sports car (after building a whole new factory for them), where do you place your efforts?
You give the people what they want.
Whatâs surprising is that this is hardly unprecedented in MG history. There have been MG saloons for a good part of its existence, but right now, there are parallels with the 1980s. Then, the MGB had died in 1980, and Austin Rover decided it would launch a range of sporting saloons based on the humble Metro, Maestro and Montego. Thatâs no different to todayâs MG range of the 3, 5 and 6âthereâs even a 7, based on the old MG ZT.
And globally, but more importantly, in MGâs domestic and key export markets, SUVs are selling strongly.
Again: you give the people what they want.
I was one of the very few people who wrote that I believed the Porsche Cayenne would be a huge hit at the turn of the century, and that the Porsche brand could survive such an extension. I was right.
MGâs brand can easily be extended, given that it has had a less focused history than Porsche. At two points during its British ownership, it sold estates, for goodnessâ sakeâonce in New Zealand, with the Montego-based MG 2Â·0 SL, and toward the end of the Phoenix Four era, with the MG ZT-T.
A good deal of estate buyers now eye up SUVs, and that is simply a trend that SAIC is following.
A sports car may follow in time. There will be a fastback based on the Auris-like MG 5, and not a moment too soon. A âproperâ sports car could come if the rest of the range does well. SAIC isnât run by mugs, and they know the heritage of the MG brand.
MG sister brand Roewe has been voted the best in service and customer satisfaction among car dealerships, beating even the foreign-branded competition in China, while the Roewe 350 topped its class for customer satisfaction, according to the China Quality Association. The MG 3 came second in its segment.
Weâre talking about the most competitive car market on earth, and the Chinese equivalent (as far as I can make out) of the J. D. Power survey.
Those accolades are things that BMC, BL, Austin Rover, Rover Group and MG Rover could only dream about, especially through the 1970s.
Iâd rather people give SAIC the acclaim it deserves for giving MG a decent go where the British and the Germans had failedâand for putting money where its mouth is.
This came up today at Victoria University where an old client of ours asked about my 2013 campaign. I remembered there was something about education that I wanted to address at the time.
One of the stranger emails during 2013 came from a former classmate of mine at Rongotai College. A brilliant guy at his sporting code, and from memory, a fair dinkum bloke. Unfortunately, he gave a fake return address, so I was unable to get my email to him (even though I wrote one of those ‘Hey, great to hear from you after all these years’ replies). He’s not on Facebook, either.
His message went along the lines of why I never mention Rongotai College in my biographies, and criticized me of snobbery and being ashamed of the place.
Those who know me know that I have little time for snobbery.
It was odd since in my publicity during both elections, Rongotai College is mentionedâno more and no less than the two private schools I attended. You only had to go as far as the third line in the bullet points in my bio to find Rongotai there. That was the case with all my 2010 brochures and in my 2013 Vote.co.nz profile. (My 2013 fliers had less room and my schoolingâanywhereâwas omitted.) And it regularly came up in speeches, especially at my fund-raisers, which were held at Soi, co-owned by an old boy.
I admit that sometimes I say, in conversation, that I was ‘Dux at St Mark’s and Proxime Accessit at Scots,’ simply because ‘School Certificate at Rongotai’ doesn’t say a heck of a lot about me. It’s normal just to talk about where you finished each stage of your education.
For the same reason, I skip my Bachelor of Commerce degree since I did honours and then a Master of Commerce and Administration. I also skip Man Kee Kindergarten in Kowloon, Hong Kong, where I won the tidiness award at age three.
I’m sure I wouldn’t find his fifth form sporting achievements on his CV.
I assume he didn’t check the footer to this website, under ‘Connected organizations’, since he didn’t make it to the third line in my bio. There, I only mention St Mark’s and Scotsâfor the simple reason that these are schools I still work with: I serve on the alumni associations of both. My hands are full now with two upcoming centenaries, but: Rongotai College has simply never asked me.
I’m wondering whether the writer himself has a bit of a chip on his shoulder about the place. Might he have reason to believe it was inferior if the other two were “Ă©lite”?
Rongotai College did, let’s face it, have some issues in those days.
On the plus side, the sporting record is decent. The fact that opera singer Ben Makisi came out of there during that time is another proud moment.
Rongotai College showed me the importance of being my own man, and understanding peer pressure, to which it is unnecessary to succumb. I never did.
The first guys to help me out in business were my mates at Rongotai, such as Matthew Breen and Andrew Bridgeâand Andrew and I have stayed in touch.
Rongotai College also showed that for every racist dickwad there was a rugby-playing Samoan or Tongan student capable of metering out justice.
However, and I hate to say this, it also demonstrated leadership dysfunction in those days. There were serious senior management problems that filtered down to the rest of the place, which I witnessed, though some teachers thankfully remained steadfast.
During that era, Rongotai was less than nurturing despite the best efforts of some of its teachers, such as Will Meehan (who helped shape my writing style in my fifth form when I began thinking about working in media, and endured my extra practice in my exercise books) and Dave Reynolds.
So when I was offered a half-scholarship on the strength of my School Certificate marks, I took it.
However, the Ă©litist tag, for either St Mark’s or Scots, is inaccurate.
While I enjoyed St Mark’s and Scots more than my time at Rongotai, it’s daft to call either Ă©lite. There were many parents, who did not come from money, who worked hard to send us there. At any of the private schools I attended, none of my contemporaries felt they were above the others. I did, interestingly, encounter this behaviour at Rongotai, where being in the A-stream went to a few lads’ heads.
My time at Scots was better for me, since there was a culture where each student should seek out his own path and excel at the things they loved the most. That’s not a function of money, it’s a function of leadership and education. There was also greater camaraderie,.
Headmaster Keith Laws may have his criticsâhe hinted as much at the leavers’ assembly to meâbut these aspects of Scots remained firm. Perhaps it was cultural, or perhaps he engendered them. Regardless, I thank him for his decisionâthe buck stopped at the head’s officeâfor granting me that scholarship.
Finally, if I was trying to bury my Rongotai connection, I certainly wouldn’t have been seeking out a lot of the lads on social networks over the years. Or attended the funeral of the father of one of the old boys in 2013.
So, for the record, no, I’m not ashamed of my past.
When I proposed free wifi as a campaign policy in 2009, it was seen as gimmicky by some. I wasnât a serious candidate, some thought. But those ideas that have demand, such as wifi, have a way of becoming mainstream. The gimmicky tag is lost.
Just as it was lost with the microwave oven, the compact disc, or the cellular phone.
Not that the wifi idea was anything that new. Nor was it that original. It was simply a logical thing to propose for anyone who had done a spot of travelling (perhaps I did more than my rivals that time?), and had seen the potential of having the internet on tap to those using mobile devices. (The irony of this is, of course, I was not a regular user of mobile devices, at least not till they got to the technology that I expected of them.) If by providing such infrastructure, others could benefit, then was there anything to lose?
Former Wellington mayor Mark Blumsky had a target to make our city the first capital in the world to be half-wired, that is, to have half its population on the internet. In the 1990s, when people were still wondering what on earth the internet was, that seemed an unnecessary goal. But leadership demands that one stays ahead of the curve, otherwise what point is there? If people wanted leaders to be reactive, then they may as well vote same-again politicians.
Iâm still pushing for extending wifi, especially in the places where library funding cuts have hurt resources for Wellingtonians. During a recent visit to the Johnsonville library, where staff could not discuss the impact of the cuts, I at least solicited the librariansâ belief that their places of work were used by all sectors of the community. Every age, every culture. And this library was particularly buzzing, as a community library should be.
Itâs going to take rebuilding our business sectorâwhich forms a good part of the only published mayoral campaign manifesto to dateâto at least get our economy moving and our ratesâ base less dependent on citizens. But on the library issues, extending wifi into certain suburbs can help, especially those hardest hit by the cuts. Provide an uncapped service for those accessing certain educational sites, for instanceâitâs technically not that hard to distinguish those from merely social ones.
Weâve seen how the waterfront system is used through the year, and how it helps people connect. But as with the original system, it sends a signal to others, including those wanting to invest in our city, that Wellington is open to high-value, high-tech businesses. Why should our suburbs not receive the same âopen for businessâ invitation?
Collaboration, after all, helps fuel the human mind, toward new ideas and innovations.
On that note, too, other things can be open. The 2010 campaign saw my support for open source. Itâs still there, since I work with both commercial and open-source platforms myself. Iâve seen first-hand, through a mash-up competition I helped on a few years back (I mentored one of the winners), how providing open data gets creative juices flowing.
So why not, in line with all of the above, make our bus and train data open to the public? Presently, Metlink wonât be releasing its real-time information (RTI) to the public, but if it did, potentially, an innovative Wellington company can use these data for live maps, for instance. Find out more information than the RTI that’s being delivered at bus stops. It is called public transport, after all, so why not public data? The most obvious app is a live map of buses that works much like the computer graphics in an Americaâs Cup raceâonce gimmicky, now also mainstream. In fact, itâs demanded by broadcasters. The New Zealand innovation of high-resolution, three-dimensional TV weather maps is now de rigueur around the world, too.
If I can think of something like that, imagine what our really creative, lateral thinkers can come up with.
While some city data are open, we should continue this trend, especially when it comes to data that innovations can stem from. At the risk of sounding trite, ‘It’s limited only by your imagination.’
And what if such technology became so highly demanded that another exporter, another high-growth firm, was created right here in Wellington?
The potential economic impact of âgimmicksâ is very serious indeed.
The last few times Autocade reached a milestone, I blogged about it, and since this one is a bit of a Duesy, it deserves to be recorded.
The car cyclopĂŠdia has reached 2,000 models, with the Opel Kadett D getting us there.
It also passed 2Âœ million page views during DecemberâI noticed it was about to cross 2 million back in March 2012. Not huge numbers if you break it down per day, but for something that was meant to be a hobby site, it’s not too bad. I also notice that it gets cited in Wikipedia from time to time.
The history has been noted here before, especially when I first started it in 2008. It was meant to be an editable wiki, but, sadly, in 2011, the bots became too uncontrollable, and I made the decision to lock down the registration process. A small handful of peopleâI count four, including myselfâhave contributed to the site with content and programming, among them Keith Adams of AROnline and Peter Jobes. A fourth contributor, whose name I have forgotten, provided some early info on Indian cars.
It’s still a bit light on American cars, mostly due to the issues of converting from cubic inches. Some of my references aren’t that accurate on this for the same reason, and I want to make sure that everything’s correct before it’s published. Most US sites just record cubic capacity in litres when metric measures are given, and we need to be more accurate. But we will get there.
Of course, over the years, we have recorded some oddball cars. So, as I did for its fourth birthday, here is a selection. My thanks to Keith and Pete, and to all our readers.
And since I blog less these daysâFacebook (including the fan page), Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr and the rest seem to take more of my attentionâI imagine this is my last entry for 2012. Have a wonderful 2013, everyone!
Rambler by Renault: after Renault bought IKAâs operations in Argentina in the mid-1970s, it inherited a design based on the Rambler American.
Renault Torino. 1975â81 (prod. 100,000 approx. all versions). 4-door sedan, 2-door coupĂ©. F/R, 2962, 3770 cmÂł (6 cyl. OHC). Continuation of Rambler American (1964â9)-based IKA Torino, rebadged Renault after it took over IKA in 1975. Facelift in 1978. Very subtle changes thereafter, with Renault logo eventually displacing the Torino prancing horse. Two versions at the end of its run, the Grand Routier sedan and ZX coupĂ©. A planned, more modern successor never saw the light of day.
Ford by Chrysler: Simca took over Fordâs operations in France in the 1950s, and the model it inherited, the Vedette, stayed in production long enough in Brazil for Chrysler to put its own badges on it when it bought Simca out.
Chrysler Esplanada. 1967â9 (prod. unknown). 4-door sedan. F/R, 2505 cmÂł (V8 OHV). As with Regente, rebadged when Chrysler took over Simca Brasil. Power reduced to 130 PS; comments for Regente apply here, with the principal outward difference being Esplanadaâs higher trim level. Slightly more powerful engine.
Chrysler by Volkswagen: this one is perhaps better known. Chrysler found itself in such a mess by the end of the 1970s that it sold its Brazilian operations to Volkswagen, which eventually rebadged the local edition of the Hillman Avenger.
Volkswagen 1500/Volkswagen 1500M. 1982â91 (prod. 262,668 all versions). 4-door sedan, 5-door wagon. F/R, 1498, 1798 cmÂł (4 cyl. OHV). Facelifted version of Dodge 1500, itself an Argentine version of the Hillman Avenger. Had a good history as a Dodge in the 1970s, and sold on that goodwill as well as robustness; but largely seen as an economy model for VW in the 1980s. Five-speed gearbox from 1988, with air conditioning on more models.
Volkswagen by Ford: as part of the Autolatina JV in Brazil, Volkswagen and Ford rebadged each otherâs models. A similar experiment was happening in Australia between Ford and Nissan, and Toyota and Holden, around this time.
Ford Versailles (B2). 1991â6 (prod. unknown). 2- and 4-door sedan, 3- and 5-door wagon. F/F, 1781, 1984 cmÂł (4 cyl. OHC). Volkswagen Santana (B2) with redone front and rear ends, and addition of two-door sedan and three-door wagon. Part of the Autolatina tie-up in South America between Ford and VW, replacing Corcel-based Del Rey. No different to Volkswagens in that market, with same engines. Wagons called Royale, but five-door only added in 1995. Fairly refined by early 1980sâ standards but ageing by time of launch, though better than Del Rey.
While weâre looking at South America, the Aero-Willys probably deserves a mention. Autocade doesnât have the Ford-badged versions there yet, but it will in due course. Thanks also to acquisitions, Ford wound up with Willys in Brazil, and built a Brooks Stevens-penned design till it was replaced by its own Maverick in the 1970s. Here is that car, with an old platform, but more modern (compared to the 1950sâ version) styling.
Aero Willys 2600 (213). 1963â8 (prod. unknown). 4-door sedan. F/R, 2638 cmÂł (6 cyl. OHV). Rebodied Aero, considered one of the first all-Brazilian cars, originally shown at the Paris Salon the year before. US platform as before, and modern styling by Brooks Stevens, but this shape was unique to Brazil. Engine now with 110 hp. Rear end altered in 1965, and spun off upmarket Itamaraty model in 1966.