It has been a while (understatement…) since my last post! Lots of things happened recently: we got a baby, we moved from New York City back to Finland and I got a new job. So, lot’s of excuses not to post anything but I intend to start ‘talking’ again!
Recently I had the pleasure to drive an Opel Astra station wagon as rental car. “The pleasure?” you might say? Yes! And I was totally surprised by it myself! Opel has had now for years issues in Europe with their sales numbers. To put it simply: the old Opel way of doing simply did not work anymore: the car business (except Opel) had moved on to more stylish cars, more standard equipment, more car for the money. And with that consumers had moved on as well to Peugeot, VW and Ford (1).
I still remember very well the stories of my father when he purchased in 1977 an Opel Ascona B: nothing came with that car as standard equipment… even the passegner door mirror had to be paid for! Eventhough the German quality was admired and respected he was happy to switch in the beginning of the 80’s to a Mitsubishi Galant. The Mitsubishi simply had a-lot of things inside the car standard (interior reading lamp!) and came with a powerful turbo diesel engine. Never since my father returned to Opel and ever since I have seen people around me slowely but surely switching from Opel to another brand.
So, why was I so suprised with the Astra? To put it simply: Opel put a well designed and high equiped product on the market! No wonder the Opel Astra is the European car of the year 2010! Think about it: a rental car (cheapest model!) that comes with color screen for radio, board computer and navigation (you do need a navigation CD), parking assistant, cruise control, electric windows (front only…) all wrapped in a well designed, good looking very very spacious wagon (more spacious than e.g. a Volvo V50!) for less than 20.000EUR! I am impressed and have only one remark that did put me a bit off guard and reminded me of the old Opel: with all those standard features how can you not include electric windows in the back? That simply puzzles me.
Nevertheless, Opel is doing great things these days. Take for example a look at the new Opel Meriva. It has innovative flex doors (rear-hinged rear doors) along with other great innovations. Opel is taking their new brand mantra “Wir leben Autos” serious:
We never stop thinking about new and sustainable ways in which we can positively influence – or energize – people’s lives through every contact with the Opel brand.
Indeed Opel, you got me energized! Thank you! And thank you for showing that the simple rules of “Great Brand = Great Product” and “Better Brand = Better Products than competition” simply keep on working. Of course “Better” being defined by the consumer aka me 🙂