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119 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
The current issue of BusinessWeek reports the Peugeot 206 overtook and passed the VW Golf as Europe's best selling car last year.

Among other things BW said: "Europeans have fallen in love with Peugeot's sporty styling, peppy diesel motors, and improved quality -- all of which have narrowed the gap with German rivals."

The BW piece also says that Peugeot/Citroen is closing in on VW in overall market share in the European passenger car market as well as launching sizable efforts in Asia and Latin America.

Ya think the 206 winning the WRC last year had anything to do with it?

One of the things Nascar has always been good for is moving cars off the showroom floor. It obviously worked for Peugeot in Europe last year. I wonder how far off is the day when the same is true for U.S. rallying?

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36 Posts
be to blame for the rabidness of the Impreza cult over the last 3 years.

Rally in the US does not, will not, and cannot sell cars to the USDM. No TV coverage, poor marketing by SCCA, unfair professional series with obvious favortism. Our own sanctioning body can't even get sponsors.

Subaru/Mitsu are only here b/c WRC put them here. And no, USA will not get a WRC event for at least 6 years.

EDIT: vodka induced spelling

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228 Posts
it doesn't help that the only manufacturer using the sport as a marketing technique is subaru. ask anyone outside of rallying what the best rally cars are and 99% will say subaru. then ask who wins the wrc or scca titles --- subaru.

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438 Posts
Rallying is having an impact. Look at the latest WRX add
with Lance Armstrong, they don't even explain rallying.
The view of the WRC WRX jumping over crests is enough to
bring the concept of competition and reliability to the
viewer. That is good news for US rallying.

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296 Posts
>I wonder how far off is the day when
>the same is true for U.S. rallying?

One thing is perfectly clear....

No other form of motorsport uses a racecar that is closer to its production model than a rallycar:

-Just what does a Winston Cup Monte Carlo (ironic name, huh?) share with its roadgoing namesake?

-What do the Lemans-winning Audis share with your A4?

-What does Schuey's Ferrari share with a 360?

-Since when did a Ford dealer sell a Mustang like John Force's funny car?

I can't help but think that as rally gains more awareness in the US, carmakers will benefit from having involvement, at least at the WRC level. I can't say for sure about SCCA, especially as I saw few Elantras & Tiburons lurking at spectator areas during Hyundai's involvement here.

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581 Posts
Of course rally sells cars. It's marketing, and marketing works. But it's not going to sell crappy cars to modern consumers. And it's definitely not going to sell cars that Detroit isn't even building, to their continuing shame.

It's certainly not Subaru's fault that they're the only manufacturer willing to dump gobs of money into U.S. rally. I think we should all be grateful for their continuing efforts. And it's real hard to blame the SCCA for accepting their money. I'm not qualified to criticize what they do with that money, or their plans for the future.

But it's real clear that the problem with U.S. rally is Detroit. Detroit needs to get its collective head out of its arse, and build better small cars, and sporty well-designed cars which don't rely on gashog engines for performance.

The Focus is a step in the right direction, but frankly I think it's hideous. The Neon has its advantages too, but it's also got some serious shortcomings, and as a general rule Detroit is just off in la-la land when it comes to understanding that small doesn't have mean cheap, and shitty, and ugly.

(Think about what it means that in order for Tim O'Neill to campaign an American car for the Air Force Reserve, he's got to cobble together a frankenfocus out of European goodies, and at presumably obscene expense, and continuing hassle ... all because there is not a single American manufacturer selling an all-wheel sports car in North America? Tim's new Focus is a going to be great for the sport, and I'm glad he's built it. It's going to sell Ford Focii, for sure. But it's also an indictment of Detroit self-absorption, and misunderstanding.)

They seem to understand this well enough in Europe. What makes them think New England is any different? I don't want a chintzy extruded budget beater. I want a fun little American car, that's well-designed and well-built, on par with say... the Mini or VW GTI.

Anybody have any suggestions? I'm drawing a complete blank.

I certainly don't want a Detroit land yacht. I couldn't fit a land yacht into any driveway in my neighborhood -- even if I had a driveway, which I don't. Here in Boston, about 95% of the parking is on-street, parallel parking, where a foot of extra hood or trunk overhang makes all the difference when you're trolling the neighborhood at 6pm trying to find a parking spot within a half-mile of your house. Is it too much to ask Detroit to be able to buy their cars, and park them too? There's only 400,000 college students in the Boston area every year, buying cars. And another two million people under the age of 30, within 10 miles. What are we supposed to want... "Pontiac Sunfire America"? No. We want WRXs, and GTIs, and Mini Coopers. Detroit needs to get with the program and give us an alternative already.

The end result is that here where I live, with the exception of some SUVs there is not an American car newer than ten years old parked for a block in any direction. I am not kidding. I just walked down to the cornershop on Mass Ave, and counted along the way. There's about 15 VWs within 400 yards of my apartment building, and 10 Subarus. There's a half-dozen (or fewer) of each: Audi, Volvo, Saab, Honda, Toyota, Mazda and Nissan. The only American cars on the street have all got missing hubcaps and broken tail-lights.

And I can say -- in total honesty -- that no member of my nuclear family, and none of my friends drive American cars, with the exception of a Jeep here, and a pick-up there.

Detroit ought to be ashamed of itself.


Why aren't these cars available in the US? Or something like them? These are all "American" cars, which I can't even buy in America!

Ford Puma:
That's a hot little car! Get it over here already!!!

I'd even be happy with a Ford Ka, especially some kind of GT/SVT edition. Hello hot hatch!

Vauxhall has got some great cars. Not that I'll ever get to drive them.






Here's the new Ford Fiesta. Looks like a great little car.


Are these available in Peoria? (I don't know.)

The Mondeo?


What's up Civic? How you doing Jetta. These would sell like hotcakes.

But noooo... we get the ZX2?

Ford ZX2, US Market:
No, that's not a 1989 Probe Junior. That's a 2003 car, and it's enough to make me sick to my ass. The difference in build quality between the Mondeo and the ZX2 leaps off the page. Look at the fender flares, the mirrors, the trim, the way the body panels fit together (or don't, as the case may be).

Are those 13" wheels? In 2003? Good grief, with that wheel gap you could rent out quarters to a small family of Dutchmen.

Not that Chevy's not doing any better.

Behold! The power of Cavalier:


"We'll be there?" Hyuh... you'll be there, alright! You'll be there sitting on the lot while the people of America buy Subarus and Jettas. Disgraceful.

Pontiac -- that's a nice all-American (all-Native-American, anyway) name. At least there's no Saddam-loving frenchy "Chevrolet Cavalier" factor there... though sadly, it appears the Pontiac designers were overdosing on Quaaludes when they shat out the 2003 Sunfire. "

Pontiac: Fuel for the Soul". Fuel for Seoul, morelike. Hyundai's Tiburon humiliates the Pontiac Sunfire, by doing every last thing it tries to do, but better.


Sunfire America! Err... no thanks. I'd rather drive a Daewoo, thanks.


Ahh, but we do do luxury, right! I dunno. What the hell is Cadillac thinking with this monstrosity:


Buick? Good grief.


The new Ford 427? A car only Robocop could love:


The new Mustang is stunning, in my opinion. Great use of the Lincoln LS platform, which gives hope for the future. Would that they had an interesting platform on which to build cars 3/4 this size, with half the horsepower and twice the handling.

Still, stunning:


On the other hand, the Ford "Model U" MUST result in pink slips. Immediately. Many of them.


Lincoln Navicross? Sigh.


Meanwhile, what does Mitsubishi show up at Detroit with, but a cool little 4-seat droptop sports car... with all-wheel drive!


Personally, I think it's fugly, but I love the idea and you can see a great little product line in the making there. I could park two of those in the space it'd take to fit the new Ford Behemoth D'Annee, and I'd still spend half as much on gas.

To summarize:
Does rally sell cars? No doubt. Boston is filthy with WRX these days. And more power to them. Detroit should get their act together and make better small, and mid-sized cars. Not cheap cars -- little cars.

Hell, they already make them, and sell them all over the world. But not here? For shame.


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419 Posts
I think you are being too hard on Hyundai.

Aside from sharing the same basic body panels, their rally car was vastly different from their street car. Crossover marketing and sales is pretty hard in such a situation. Ever walk into a Hyundai dealer and ask to purchase the AWD Turbo Tiburon? ;-)

The WRX street and rally cars have enough in common (turbo, AWD) to make the sale more logical.

Mark's original point, I believe, was that Pro Rally has little to do with crossover sales. WRC, on the other hand, has a lot to do with these sales.

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2,120 Posts
To go back to the original question, rallying per se doesn't sell cars. Rallying CAN be used as a TOOL to sell cars...or widgets...or just about anything else. As a tool, it doesn't measure up to, say, NASCAR, but it does reach a particular demographic that CAN be useful to car manufacturers. How they USE that tool is largely up to them. Subaru clearly plays on its rally PARTICIPATION (not necessarily even WINS) to present an image and sell cars.


· 600 /CR !!! R2>
459 Posts
>Of course rally sells cars. It's marketing, and marketing
>works. But it's not going to sell crappy cars to modern
>consumers. And it's definitely not going to sell cars that
>Detroit isn't even building, to their continuing shame.

No way. Modern consumers are still idiots, in fact they're more stupid than in past generations.

Peugeot does not sell a 206 with AWD or a turbo.

How many V8 Taurus does Ford move every year because of NASCAR? They didn't even have one until a couple years ago, and now they've discontinued it. Did I mention it's only available in FWD? In fact, I know a guy, huge NASCAR fan and huge Ford fan, who bought a Taurus because of Ford's involvement in NASCAR. He didn't even know they made a V8 Taurus.

How about Chevy, what kind of quality does the Monte Carlo have? NASCAR sells a lot of these. GM/Pontiac's Grand Prix? The turbo Grand Prix is the best thing NASCAR can market, and my little Subaru station wagon could knock its socks off. And, I can probably count on one hand the number of my acquantainces (non-rally types) who know it.

All they need to do is have better marketing, and they'll sell cars because of American rallying. And yes, I believe Subaru has more than made up its investment in US (and probably world) rallying from all the young twenty-something computer professionals buying WRXes purely from its reputation in rallying.

JP Rowland jeremyrowland -at- mac.com
Visit my boring web page: http://homepage.mac.com/jeremyrowland
"Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else." -- Isaiah 45:22

· 600 /CR !!! R2>
459 Posts

I was curious because you specifically ragged on the Cavalier, saying that people buy Subarus instead. So, I pulled up some numbers for the month of March from the GM and Subaru web pages. Now, these are hard to compare since I could only get sales numbers for Subaru and production numbers for GM, but they give an idea of what the American population wants.

Subaru sales for March:
Legacy/Outback: 7,433
Forester: 5,448
Impreza: 3,543
Baja: 1,190
Total: 17614

GM production for March (Cavalier only):
Cavalier: 24845

Not trying to pick on you or anything, but the Cavalier is a popular car. More so than all the Subarus combined, since nearly all the Cavaliers are bound for the domestic market. Ok, so Jettas are popular too, but on the whole, Americans buy American, not because they think it's better but because it's American and thus it MUST be better.

People like you and me who know the difference are in the minority. Example: ask most people which is better, FWD or RWD, and they will answer FWD and not have a reason why.

JP Rowland jeremyrowland -at- mac.com
Visit my boring web page: http://homepage.mac.com/jeremyrowland

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1,194 Posts
Do not udnerestamte the complications of the Automobile market.

Car companies are very good at making money from selling cars they are not so good at pleasing enthusist like us.

Should GM see the vaule of a WRX type car for a nich market - well yes and they do, they are one of the major owners of Fuji aka Subaru. There is no reason for GM to build a WRX compeator as they would be compeating with them selves and messing up their core brand in the process.

What about DaimlerChrysler, same thing they own about 37% of Mitsubishi so again they do participate in the profit of the lancer EVO.

Ford may not have quite as direct a link to fun 4wd cars in the USA but then again they do own Volvo and Mazda, both popular cars with rally types.

So in realaity, world wide, I think it is only Toyota and Honda that are not involved in rallying in some major way, everyone else is and they sell the cars they think will sell best to the rally nich under the brand they think will do best marketing it to the same rally nich.

Ask Ford about how much fun it is to try and change your core brand to something else (Murkur) vs just buying a good brand in the market you wish to enter, Volvo & Jaguar. Or put anohter way GM executives know that if they came out with a WRX like Pontiac GrandAM (New GrandAm shares the platform with Opel and Saab) WRX fans like me would not buy it as... well it is a Pontiac, and Pontiac buyers would not buy it as it is starnge, not what they are use to in their Pontiacs. Sales go down GM makes less money...


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960 Posts
>I think you are being too hard on Hyundai.
>Aside from sharing the same basic body panels, their rally
>car was vastly different from their street car. Crossover
>marketing and sales is pretty hard in such a situation.
>Ever walk into a Hyundai dealer and ask to purchase the AWD
>Turbo Tiburon? ;-)

I did once. I said see the Good Twin/Evil Twin Poster over your desk (half regular tiberon/half Noel Lawler gravel throwing tiberon)? I wanna buy the Evil twin. Didn't even know that the evil twin was awd turbo.

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296 Posts
>Subaru sales for March:
>Legacy/Outback: 7,433
>Forester: 5,448
>Impreza: 3,543
>Baja: 1,190
>Total: 17614
>GM production for March (Cavalier only):
>Cavalier: 24845
>Not trying to pick on you or anything, but the Cavalier is a
>popular car.

Well taken! Lotsa rental car companies out there... Alamo, Hertz, Thrifty, Dollar:+

Honestly, I had a real wakeup call the past few months. I flew once to SoCal, to Las Vegas and again to Orlando Fl. I tried desperately to find ANY Subarus anywhere:

LA had just a few here & there. Vegas had a gazillion Hummer H2's, Vipers, Vettes, Town Cars, Escalades, and all manner of other HEY-LOOK-AT-ME-mobiles, but I saw only ONE old Scooby wagon (with Utah plates, even :7 )

Florida was home to the Impala, Monte Carlo, Blazer, Grand Cherokee, Expedition (why?.. snow?), and an absolute lack of Subarus.

This was a real shock coming from the NW, where Subaru's & their ilk abound at trailheads, kayak launch points, rallies, school employee parking lots, and at REI (local NW humor)

Subaru seems to have a much better lock on WHO its customer base is, and doesn't waste any effort marketing to those it doesn't expect to sell to anyway. ;)
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