June 5, 2016
While most have been focusing on all of the deficits, what is most impressive to me are the automakers that have surpassed their own sales projections. Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA), Volkswagen Auto Group (VW AG) Volvo Car Group, Hyundai and Kia have all gotten more sales than even they expected. It should be mentioned, that recalls have been a ubiquitous presence in the automotive industry since 2014 when General Motors single handedly stupefied drivers with fear for their safety. Granted, the previous statement was both; biased with irrationality, and hyperbolic. But sadly, neither by enough for continued sales comfort. While the ignition switch recall was frightening; logically speaking, it was not as pervasive a problem it seemed at peak awareness. Chances are, even in affected vehicle, one would likely be safe, unless they kneed and/or had abnormally heavy keys. If that relatively small effect on others was not enough, GM opened the floodgates. After it dominated the headlines for so long all other recalls were inadvertently exaggerated in the minds of millions. After that, even the most obscure and innate of recalls gets media play. That is what made the Takata Recall all the more frightening. GM garnered a bigger body count, but Takata touches closer to more homes. Also, aside from other factors, the images of victims (which I will not post due to their graphic nature) are viscerally unnerving outside of reason. Again, as with the ignition switch issue, the odds are greatly in all passengers’ favor; to be posed with the problem, not only did one have to be in an affected car, but also already have had an accident to see the effects. Regardless, the number of affected cars is record breaking, and so is the number of affected brands. So it should be no surprise that the auto groups that dodged that claymore; surpassed the sales expectations of the major automakers that did not. Hyundai and Kia are the two sales figure fixated; as opposed to margin and/or prestige focused; automakers that remained entirely unscathed by the Takata Recall. That has yielded them an unprecedented trouncing of its projection. The expected 6.1 percent reduction, made the 6.3 point sales jump all the more dramatic. While the recall of it all is obvious, there are more considerations that helped the lesser knowns’ market share increase; in terms of sales. The automakers in question, have themselves helped their sales cause, beyond the mere avoidance of recalls. Take FCA; they have set recall records in their own right (23 separate rapid fire lapses in craftsmanship that have varied in severity). Volume wise, that is quite disconcerting, but not earth shattering. To some extent, the overwhelming number has helped them. Since there is no concentrated list of all the FCA recalls, a casual observer and/or researcher would only see the most recent recall in a Google search. That works in the Italian American automakers’ sales interest, because most of their recalls are (ostensibly) trivial (even when they are not entirely). Take the current confusing automatic gear shifter recall for illustration. However, what has helped the lesser knowns, over any other aspect, is aesthetics. Barring Hyundai (which falls under the Toyota category of hit or miss visual appeal), all automakers that have experienced gains have alluring models, especially new and improved Volvo Cars.