Automotive News - May 26, 2008 - (Page 4)
4 • MAY 26, 2008 VW Mexico exec will run North American purchasing Bettina Mayer email@example.com Purchasing boss VW will run North American purchasing from Mexico. Here’s a snapshot of the man in charge. Ruediger Koch, 50 Former job: Head of purchasing, Volkswagen China New position: Head of procurement, VW de Mexico, with responsibility for purchasing for all of North America VW Group China purchasing budget: $10.91 billion (2007) North America especially and to shift more production there to take advantage of the weak dollar. The new regional purchasing approach comes as the automaker prepares to choose the site for a North American assembly plant. VW named Ruediger Koch, 50, as head of procurement at VW de Mexico effective July 1 with responsibility WOLFSBURG, Germany — Volkswagen AG has named a purchasing chief at VW de Mexico with authority over North American parts procurement. The appointment is part of a VW plan to create powerful regional purchasing offices for North America and South America by upgrading operations in Mexico and Brazil. The offices would run regional purchasing autonomously and would buy parts for VW’s global operations. VW aims to step up purchasing in for purchasing in all of North America. Koch has been head of purchasing at Volkswagen China since 2004. VW AG, which increased its worldwide purchasing last year by 4.7 percent to 72 billion euros ($112.26 billion), said the changes are aimed at reducing costs by decentralizing procurement away from headquarters here in Wolfsburg and giving more authority to the regions. Until now, purchasing in important overseas markets has been conducted primarily for the local operation but has been overseen by VW’s central procurement office here. Underscoring how centralized VW’s purchasing is now, the automaker said half of its spending last year, or $56.13 billion, went to German suppliers. VW AG also named Alexander Seitz, 46, head of procurement at VW do Brasil effective Aug. 1 with responsibility for purchasing throughout South America. Seitz joined VW in 2005. “The appointments will turn procurement more into a global strategy,” a Volkswagen spokeswoman said. “This will allow VW to achieve better prices on raw materials and in negotiations with suppliers.” c Orbiting the blogosphere GM recruits Web loggers in hopes of influencing readers to consider vehicles Mary Connelly firstname.lastname@example.org Hyundai CEO Kim Dong-Jin: “We are going back to the basics and focus on small cars.” K risten Hammond writes about her two young sons and sells Tshirts on her Web log, “Mommy Needs A Cocktail.” She isn’t anyone’s idea of a gearhead. But last fall, Chevrolet flew Hammond from her home near Washington to Memphis, Tenn., so she could test drive the redesigned 2008 Malibu. Chevrolet hoped she would blog about the trip, bringing the car to the attention of Generation X mothers like herself. “General Motors understands we are living in a world where social media are extremely important,” says Hammond, whose blog attracts 5,000 unique visitors a month. “They knew I could represent a demographic they were interested in. This was a way for them to open up their audience.” Hammond, who drives a 2001 Volvo S80, says the trip gave her “a totally different view” of GM, especially on environmental matters. In a post on her blog, she called the Malibu Hybrid “an affordable hybrid that isn’t a Pious” — a dig at the segment-leading Toyota Prius. As the reach of print advertising and broadcast commercials declines, GM is working with hundreds of bloggers to tout its vehicles to targeted consumers. GM has its own highprofile blogger: Vice Chairman Bob Lutz, who writes an outspoken blog called “FastLane.” Other automakers, notably Ford and Volkswagen, are cultivating bloggers. But GM has penetrated the blogosphere more deeply than most other factories. GM declines to say what it spends on its blogging operation. Kia to build small cars in U.S. plant Kathy Jackson email@example.com Kristen Hammond, right, of the blog “Mommy Needs A Cocktail” and Kelly Wickham, who writes the blog “Mocha Momma,” meet inside the trunk of a 2008 Chevrolet Malibu at a General Motors event in Memphis, Tenn. Blog-o-rama GM regularly invites nonautomotive bloggers to test drive its vehicles. Here are some of their posted comments. Influence peddlers GM invites bloggers, automotive and nonautomotive, to global auto shows and on press trips once reserved for journalists. (Automotive News, like other publications, accepts automaker-funded travel to press events.) Bloggers test drive new GM cars and trucks, visit company test tracks and talk to GM executives and engineers. GM buys ad space on some blogs. Christopher Barger, GM’s director of global communications technology, executes the blog strategy. He supervises five full-time employees who work with “hundreds” of bloggers. Barger says bloggers exert a huge influence on consumer opinion. “Readers are paying more attention “Mommy Needs A Cocktail” On the 2008 Chevrolet Malibu: “It’s pretty. Oh, we’re all shallow here. Let’s be honest. We are all tired of the ‘family car’ looking like the ‘family car.’ No worries here. I think I looked ‘HOT’ driving it. I would definitely allow my husband to accost me on the hood.” “Hormone-colored Days” On the Malibu: “I was pleased with it, especially the smooth, quiet ride of the hybrid, but what do I know? I drive a 2000 Subaru with a steering wheel that vibrates so much I’m afraid it’s going to come right off in my hands one of these days. Even so, I left Memphis confident that the new Malibu is worth considering if you’re in the market for a sedan.” “The Bachelor Guy” On the 2008 Saturn Sky Red Line: “A definite chick magnet, drop the top and you’ll have no problem finding a riding partner who wants to feel the wind blowing through her hair. Or if you’ve already got someone, with just enough trunk space for a couple of overnight bags, you can take her on that trip to the country to see the leaves change she’s been nagging you about. And actually enjoy the ride.” to individual bloggers, frankly, than they are to us as a source of credible information,” Barger says. “It is our job to try to influence the influencers, not through advertising and marketing but through the relationships and affinities we can build.” Barger says GM works “across the spectrum” of blogs — automotive, environmental, entertainment, lifestyle. The automaker engages specific blogs based on the vehicle it wants to promote or the news it wants to spread. The effort isn’t limited to reaching young, tech-savvy consumers, Barger says. “I don’t think it is fair to say it is a play for Gen X or Gen Y. Boomers and seniors are far more connected than people give them credit for.” see BLOG, Page 56 SEOUL — Kia’s new Georgia assembly plant will produce a small car for Kia and might build one for the Hyundai brand, too. “Small cars are where we are headed,” said Kim Dong-Jin, CEO of Hyundai Motor Co., at a press event here. “We neglected the small-car segment the last few years.” Hyundai’s board canceled plans to build a pickup for both brands at the West Point, Ga., plant. Kim said the small Kia car will replace the pickup. He did not offer specifics about the vehicle, only that it would be a C-segment car — about the size of the Kia Spectra. “We focused on the mid-sized and large to upgrade the brands, but with fuel prices the way they are, we are going back to the mainstream of the business,” Kim said. “We may produce a Hyundai car at the Kia plant if the platform is compatible.” Kia’s Sorento SUV will be the first vehicle produced at the plant, beginning in November 2009. “We are going back to the basics and focus on small cars,” Kim said. “We are good at small cars.” Gary Micallef, chairman of the Hyundai National Dealer Council, called Kim’s comments “great news.” “We used to own the low-end segment,” said Micallef, dealer principal at Hyundai of Everett (Wash.) “Now Honda, Toyota and Nissan are in the small-car market. The Hyundai dealers need to make money. We can do that with high-volume, small cars.” John Krafcik, product development chief for Hyundai Motor America, says there will be more focus on smalldisplacement engines and on turbocharging. Hyundai’s Genesis coupe will get a turbocharged four when it goes on sale next spring. “That’s the first of many turbos we’re coming out with,” Krafcik told Automotive News in April. “We’re talking about six-cylinder performance with four-cylinder engines.” c
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