American Car Companies Just Don’t Care Very Much About Europe

While I was being infused this morning, a couple of items caught my eye that I bookmarked for later research when I was back in front of my desktop computer. The first is American market share of the European auto market. Note that this has nothing to do with imports. Virtually all of the American cars listed here are manufactured in Europe itself:

For GM, I included the Opel badge that they sold to Peugeot last year. For Chrysler I pulled out the Jeep and Chrysler badges from Fiat/Chrysler.

Altogether, it adds up to 14 percent, nearly all of it from GM and Ford, which have been making and selling cars in Europe since before World War II. Despite this heritage, their European divisions have been disaster areas. Ford Europe has been rickety for long enough that selloff rumors are never far away; GM/Vauxhall was an enormous money pit for decades and finally did get sold off to Peugot, which then asked for half the purchase price back when they got a closer look at the books; and Chrysler has never had a presence at all (their current sales come almost exclusively from Jeeps).

So if you want to know why American car companies can’t seem to export cars to Europe, the first question to ask is why they can’t even sell cars that are made in Europe specifically for the European market. It’s not tariffs and it’s not regulations, since all EU carmakers operate on a level playing field. They just can’t seem to make good cars that Europeans want to buy. If they can’t do that, all the trade posturing in the world isn’t going to change things.

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