Europe new battleground for U.S. and Asian automakers

From the West U.S. automakers are continuing their all-out assault for market share and a bigger piece of the European pie. Their weapons, according to Reuters (via Automotive News) are a slew of new products.
Daimler-Chrysler is debuting its Dodge Nitro and Caliber, configured for European tastes. General Motors is introducing its Captiva SUV and Epica sedan. And Ford has unveiled a new Focus coupe-cabriolet and a people mover called the S-Max (pictured).

While the Americans are bringing new products to European shores, Asian automakers such as Toyota and Hyundai are forcing the Continent’s automakers to change their manufacturing and management cultures. Volkswagen is expected to reduce its workforce by 20,000 sometime around 2009. And perks such as five-minute breaks every hour at a Mercedes-Benz plant have been eliminated.

"In the past, we found ways to produce win-win situations," said Wolfgang Bernhard, CEO of Volkswagen AG. "We have nothing to give anymore. The only thing we have to offer is the future of the company."

More detailed strategies by the European automakers, such as use of less expensive Eastern European labor, can be found at the link.

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