Volkswagen Heads East Essay Research Paper Volkswagen

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Volkswagen Heads East Essay, Research Paper Volkswagen Heads East (or Skoda Heads West) Competition in the global auto industry has become increasingly fierce among the dozen surviving major manufacturers in the early 1990s. With the dramatic successes of the Japanese leaders (Toyota, Nissan, and Honda), both the North American and European industries have become subject to intense rivalry among U.S., Japanese, and European automakers. If we look at the Table 1, it shows the positions of major competitors in Western Europe during 1990. These conditions have led to calls for protection in the European Community against outside producers, as well as responses by the European car companies looking to solidify their positions. The increasing intensify of competition in Europe

appears to due to several factors. First and the most important, the Japanese firms expanded their local production aggressively in North America during the 1980s, and now they are looking to the European market as the last major target in the global industry where their positions are weak. The leading Japanese firms, with their high quality and low-cost cars, produced growing profits and market shares during the late 1980s at the same time as their U.S. and European rivals (broadly speaking) have faced declining shares, low profits and/or losses, and generally difficult conditions. Second, the opening of Eastern Europe that began with Soviet President Gorbachev s policy of perestroika has led to aggressive strategies by several firms to build business in Eastern Europe. And

third, the European Community s goal of achieving much greater economic integration by the end of 1992 has led to Japanese and U.S. automakers to pursue more extensive local production in Europe. These firms want both to benefit from region from region-wide economies of scale that the reduced commercial barriers will allow and to avoid being excluded by whatever protectionism may occur against non-European firms after 1992. One of the most active responses of the European firms has been to pursue business in Eastern Europe, in countries of the former communist bloc. Of course, the most rapid expansion has been into region that was formerly East Germany. There Volkswagen negotiated a joint production agreement with IFA Kombinat Personenkraftwagen to make Polos and Golfs (to

replace the infamous two-stroke East German Trabant), Opel (part of General Motors) agreed to build a new assembly plant in Eisenach (to replace the East German Wartburg), BMW invested in machine tools and parts manufacturing, and Ford established an extensive dealer network-all by the end of 1990. More than a dozen major investment contracts had been signed by the automakers by the end of 1990. This set of conditions provides the background to the decision of Czechoslovakia s Skoda auto works to sell part ownership to an outside automaker, so that Skoda could survive the opening of the Czechoslovak economy in the 1990s. Table 1. Western Europe s Auto Market in 1990 (Jan.-Oct.) Company Sales in Percent Change Market $US Millions vs. Year Earlier Share Volkswagen 1,739 +1.9% 15.2%

Fiat 1,684 -4.9% 14.2% Peugeot Citroen 1,483 +1.0% 13.0% General Motors 1,344 +2.7% 11.7% Ford 1.324 -3.7% 11.6% Renault 1,117 -5.0% 9.8% Mercedes-Benz 373 +2.8% 3.3% Rover 344 -5.8% 3.0% BMW 314 -5.4% 2.7% Volvo 204 -10.3% 1.8% Japanese 1.339 +6.1% 11.7% Others 235 -5.0% 2.0% Total 11,440 -0.9% 100.00% Skoda Automobile Company, Mlada, Boleslav Skoda has been the main automobile manufacturer in Czechoslovakia and in East Europe. It was spun off in 1945 from the Skoda Industrial Works, which has been established in 1859. Skoda works, a top-caliber engineering company, competed on level terms with the finest German and American companies of the day. Skoda cars were popular on European roads between the two world wars. Skoda s three assembly plants were producing about 185,000 cars