Speaker: Wolfgang Reitzle
Title: Group vice president, Ford Motor Co., and president, Premier Automotive Group
Theme: New global car conglomerates face complex challenges managing multiple brands
Managing multiple brands in a global company is tough. But the man who is juggling five luxury brands on two continents for Ford Motor Co. has some new ideas about how it can be done.
Wolfgang Reitzle, head of Ford's Premier Automotive Group, outlined the complexities global car companies will have to navigate to be successful.
'How do you run a car group with so many different brands in a way that it generates real synergies - and you don't lose the strength and uniqueness of these brands?' asked Reitzle, the 51-year-old former BMW executive now in charge of Volvo, Jaguar, Land Rover, Lincoln and Aston Martin.
'In these huge corporations, suddenly you need - two layers below top management - the same quality entrepreneurs you have at the top level,' he said.
'Otherwise everything gets pushed up to the top managers who then have to fight with a hopeless amount of paper, e-mails and decisions,' Reitzle said. 'I think it will be interesting to watch what happens. Sometimes companies are growing faster than the ability of management to cope with the new times.'
These new companies will have to become what Reitzle termed 'AND' companies.
'A car has to be compact outside AND big inside,' he said. 'It must have high performance AND low fuel consumption; no drag factor AND attractive design; sporty ride AND comfort; a lot of features AND a small price - and, and, and.'
The auto world has literally been turned upside down, Reitzle said. Distinctions between the mass-market and luxury sectors will be blurred as the rules of competition are rewritten.
Reitzle cited the mass-market brand Skoda. Made in the Czech Republic, Skoda cars have achieved quality some luxury manufacturers haven't attained.
Fortunately, Reitzle has the ability to laugh at himself and the task ahead. The Automotive News Europe Congress audience was able to laugh along with him as he showed a series of slides with humorous references to the various Premier brands.
He showed a picture of a Jaguar Formula One car sitting wrecked next to a racetrack. Since entering Formula One this season, Jaguar has managed to rack up a grand total of three points, he said.
A Land Rover was shown, broken down in the middle of the desert with a jack underneath, accompanied by the slogan: 'The best 4X4 by far.'
Aston Martin was the final target. 'With the 651 cars we produced last year, it is by definition even more exclusive than Rolls-Royce,' he said. 'With 221 working days, that means Aston Martin produced one car every morning, one around noon and one in the afternoon.
'We're thinking about adding a night shift,' Reitzle said, 'and that will give us a volume of 1,000 cars.'