An offer of a new Golf for €1,270 less than the previous model has been prompting conversation at the Paris Autosalon show. “The car is not even at the dealerships, but the reduction is already there,” Ferdinand Dudenhöffer, an industry analyst, told the Süddeutsche Zeitung.
He said other car makers would be asking themselves, if the beloved Golf cannot be moved without special offers, how can others sell their cars?
But VW said the offer only applied to online sales where the lower price could be compensated for in other areas.
Opel is also offering reductions, despite large losses, and the opposition in principle, of the company's head Alfred Rieck who told the specialist magazine Horizont recently, “One should not and cannot go along with everything.” He was not a friend of price wars as they “destroy the value of the brand and also of the car,” he said.
But the Süddeutsche Zeitung said car makers were fighting for a market in Europe that has already started to shrink – from an annual sale of around 15 million a few years ago to less than 12 million now.
Even Daimler recently announced a large savings programme, the paper said, which industry insiders say should save around €1 billion a year after CEO Dieter Zetsche said the €5 billion profit levels of two years ago were not feasible this year.
The producers face a dilemma, the paper said – if they sell their cars cheaply now, it will be difficult to increase prices when the economy picks up. Those firms which can afford it are not taking part in the price war – but some cannot avoid it, leading Fiat head Sergio Marchionne to speak of a bloodbath last summer.