Even before the U.S.-led war in Iraq, German auto makers worried that their government's resistance to participate in the assault would negatively impact U.S. sales of German-brand cars and trucks.
Executives from Germany's BMW AG, Mercedes-Benz AG and Audi AG recently urged German government officials to quickly build a bridge of peace with the U.S.
German auto industry leaders fear if the political impasse drags on, U.S. consumers may boycott German products, including cars. Recent media reports have cited a negative trend building toward German and French products (France also has protested the war). Some U.S. restaurants have stopped selling French wine and taken some German foods off their menus.
The trend worries BMW Chairman Helmut Panke. “The very solid, positive relationship between the U.S. and Germany, between the people behind that, should not be risked for short-term political points,” he tells reporters at the Geneva motor show. “I think this is short-term, however if it drags on for another year it will become substantial.”
Panke is quick to point out BMW has not yet felt any repercussions in its U.S. sales volumes.