VW conquers the world
Germany’s biggest carmaker is leaving rivals in the dust
When Ferdinand Piech arrived as Volkswagen’s chief executive in 1993, things looked dire. The carmaker was overspending, overmanned and inefficient, and had lost its reputation for quality. How things have changed: last year the VW group’s profits more than doubled, to a record 18.9 billion ($23.8 billion). As other European volume carmakers seek to close factories and cut jobs, VW is seizing market share in Europe, booming in China and staging a comeback in America. It plans to spend 76 billion on new models and new factories by 2016. Its global workforce is more than half a million, and growing.
1993年，当费迪南德·皮耶希出任大众所首席执行官时，这家汽车制造公司的处境十分糟糕——公司不仅经费超资、人员冗杂、效率低下，还丢掉了产品质优的牌子 。如今时过境迁，大众集团去年利润翻了一番有余，以189亿欧元（238亿美元）创历史新高 。正当欧洲其他年产汽车制造商试图关厂裁员时，大众集团却在欧洲抢占市场份额，在中国迅速蓬勃发展，在美国卷土重来 。大众计划在2016年投入760亿欧元用于新车型的研发以及增设新工厂，公司现有全球劳动力逾50万，这一数字还在持续增长 。
It took years for Mr Piech—now chairman, but still with his hands firmly on the wheel—to tame VW’s menagerie of semi-independent brands and get to grips with its global empire of factories. He has been a ruthless hirer and firer of executives: only last month Karl-Thomas Neumann was removed as head of VW’s Chinese operations, supposedly for his disappointing performance, despite the juicy profits VW is making in China. Mr Neumann had been talked of as a possible successor to the chief executive, Martin Winterkorn.
皮耶希先生现在虽已退居集团主席一职，却依然紧握大全，他在驯服大众旗下一系列半独立品牌，把握全球工厂帝国上耗费数年 。他一直是冷酷无情雇主，也是执行官“杀手”——仅在上月，大众中国CEO倪凯明突遭撤换，尽管大众在中国的利润不菲，据猜测倪凯明是因其在华表现不佳而黯然离场 。倪凯明先生曾被认作是继任首席执行官马丁·文德恩的热门人选 。
Mr Piech is a grandson of Ferdinand Porsche, who founded VW after Hitler called in 1934 for the creation of a cheap “people’s car”, a Volkswagen. The Piech-Porsche clan controls both VW and Porsche, a sports-car maker that is now being folded into VW after the failure of an overambitious and highly leveraged reverse takeover. On July 4th VW agreed to buy the 50.1% of Porsche it does not yet own for 4.46 billion.
皮耶希先生是费迪南德·保时捷的孙子 。老费迪南德响应希特勒设计一款价格低廉，属于“人民大众的轿车”的号召，在1934年创立了大众公司 。如今，皮耶希-保时捷家族同时打理大众和保时捷两个品牌 。保时捷是跑车制造商，在一次雄心过大且高杠杆的反向收购失败后，被整合至大众麾下 。今年7月4日，大众同意以44.6亿欧元的价格吞下保时捷余下的50.1%的股份 。
VW is also buying Ducati, a maker of fancy motorbikes, and consolidating MAN and Scania, two lorrymakers, into its commercial-vehicles division. Yet still the firm remains hungry. It has long coveted Alfa Romeo, a premium-car division of Fiat; and is rumoured to be eyeing up Navistar, an American lorrymaker. Mr Winterkorn nevertheless dismisses the suggestion that the group is getting unmanageably big.
大众公司还买下顶级摩托制造商杜卡迪，并将曼恩和斯堪尼亚这两家卡车制造商合并至旗下的商务车系 。然而，大众依旧野心勃勃 。它对菲亚特旗下的高档车品牌阿尔法·罗密欧觊觎已久，有谣传称大众还盯上了美国卡车制造商纳威司达 。有人提议称大众集团正日趋壮大而变得难以管理，可是文德恩却对此不予理睬 。
Mr Piech’s plan was for VW to become the world’s biggest carmaker by volume by 2018. Last year, however, as Toyota struggled with the aftermath of Japan’s tsunami and GM floundered in Europe, VW reached its goal seven years early (see chart), if you do not count Subaru, Toyota’s distant affiliate, or GM’s Wuling joint venture in China, which mainly makes Chinese-branded cars.
皮耶希先生的计划是希望大众能在2018年坐上全球汽车销量头把交椅 。可在去年，丰田公司在日本海啸余波中苦苦挣扎，美国通用在欧洲步履艰辛，如果不将丰田的远房分支斯巴鲁，或是通用在华合资企业，主要以生产中国品牌汽车的五菱公司计算在内，大众公司已提前7年实现目标（见上图） 。
The 8.5m vehicles VW made last year cover all corners: Volkswagen, Skoda and SEAT in the mass market; Audi in premium cars; Porsche, Bugatti and Lamborghini in sports cars; Bentley at the luxury end; plus various commercial-vehicle brands. Most (SEAT excepted) are firing on all cylinders. IHS Automotive, a forecaster, expects VW easily to beat its target of 11m sales by 2018.
大众公司去年生产的850万辆汽车覆盖了所有市场类型——大众市场内有大众、斯柯达以及西亚特；高档车市场有奥迪；跑车领域有保时捷、布加迪和兰博基尼；高端豪车里有宾利，外加诸多商务车品牌 。除西亚特外，其余品牌销量大都一路领先 。预测机构思迈汽车信息咨询公司称，大众公司有望在2018年轻松突破年1100万辆车的销售目标 。
Fierce competition and regulatory pressure to develop alternative-fuel cars are forcing other makers to seek cost-sharing partnerships. Toyota and BMW are teaming up on low-carbon technologies. GM’s Opel division in Europe is joining Peugeot-Citroen to make smaller cars. Daimler is edging towards a threesome with the Renault-Nissan alliance. Sergio Marchionne, the boss of Fiat and Chrysler, recently suggested merging several European makers to create “another Volkswagen”.
在代用燃料型汽车的研发上，其他汽车制造商面临着激烈的竞争，以及来自监管部门的压力，使制造商们不得不寻求能分摊成本的合作伙伴 。丰田和宝马就正在低碳技术上进行合作 。美国通用欧洲子公司欧宝携手标致雪铁龙一同制造小型轿车 。戴姆勒则倾向于加入雷诺-尼桑联盟，玩三人行 。菲亚特和克莱斯勒总裁塞尔吉奥·马尔基翁近期提议，将几家欧洲汽车制造商合并，组建起“另一个大众” 。
Volkswagen has been better than its rivals at reducing the number of common “platforms” that its cars are built on. This allows it to offer a fabulous variety of brands and styles while slashing manufacturing costs. The next stage, launched this year, is a versatile platform codenamed MQB, which will underpin the VW Golf, Audi A3, Skoda Octavia and SEAT Leon, in all their variations.
在减少组装汽车的通用“平台”数量上，大众公司一直比竞争对手做的出色 。而这方面的优势也让大众能在大刀阔斧削减制造成本的同时，极大程度的丰富旗下的品牌和车型 。今年新发行的代码为MQB的多功能组装平台，将支持大众高尔夫系列，奥迪A3，斯柯达明锐系列，西亚特Leon以及上述系列衍生车型的组装 。
Wolfsburg’s lone wolf
VW’s size means it seldom needs partnerships with rivals, says Mr Winterkorn. Perhaps this is just as well. Judging by its botched hook-up with Suzuki, a mid-sized Japanese maker, VW is not much good at romance. Suzuki’s boss, Osamu Suzuki, has filed for divorce and is taking VW to arbitration to force it to sell its 19.9% stake in Suzuki. Among other things, he has complained of being treated like a subsidiary, rather than a partner. VW had hoped to develop cheap cars for emerging markets with Suzuki, which is big in India. Now it must do so alone, at considerable cost.
文德恩先生说，大众的规模决定了它几乎不需要同对手合作 。事实或也诚然如此 。从大众与日本中型汽车制造商铃木失败的联姻来看，大众实属不懂浪漫之辈 。铃木总裁铃木修已向仲裁法院递交了“离婚”申请，希望通过仲裁以迫使大众返回其持有铃木的19.9%的股份 。此外，铃木修还抱怨称，铃木更像是大众的子公司，而非合作伙伴 。铃木在印度占有大量市场份额，大众曾期望能携手铃木，共同为新兴市场生产廉价车 。如今，大众不得不以高昂的成本独自完成了 。
In many of the 26 countries where VW has factories, it has been around long enough to be seen as a domestic firm, so protectionists usually leave it alone. The founding family’s controlling shareholding, and a blocking stake held by the state of Lower Saxony, where VW is headquartered, allow it to resist short-term pressures to pull out of any market that turns difficult. Rivals envy the stability this brings, especially just now, says Mr Winterkorn.
在大众设厂的26个国家中，被看做国企，故不受保护主义分子的骚扰 。大众公司的股权受创始家族掌控，而拦截性股权又由总部所在的下萨克森州州政府持有，这便使公司在市场转难的时候可以抵御短期压力，及时抽身 。文德恩先生说，大众的对手们都羡慕这种关系所带来的稳定，尤其是现在 。
VW can cope with a collapse of the European car market. Others must make deep cuts—or perhaps even, in the case of GM (which has lost $16 billion in Europe since 1999) and Ford (which gave warning on June 28th of deepening losses there), pull out of the continent altogether.
如果欧洲汽车市场崩溃，大众可轻松应付 。其他汽车制造商则不得不大幅削减，甚至退出欧洲大陆市场，例如自1999年至今损失160亿美元的美国通用公司，以及在6月28日对欧洲损失预警的福特公司 。
1.cut jobs 裁员
例句:Better to spread the pain around through short-time working, he argued, than cut jobs.
2.pull out 离开；撤离
例句:You don't need to pull out your stationery.
3.leave alone 不管；不理
例句:He will leave alone things that might cause trouble.
4.as well 也；同样
例句:We might as well bunk down in this hotel.