World Cup of Automobiles

When you’re online, you’ll recognize that search engines can be quite intuitive.  Google adds a bit of ‘newsworthiness’ with a daily image above the search engine’s text window.  On Tuesday, I was wondering if Google was reading my mind.  Of course, the World Cup is big news across the globe, but how could I expect to see images of Brazilian and German-themed cars integrated into the Google logo? Yes, they both look like the VW Beetle…a German car…but I digress.  Cool factor?  A+.  Coincidence?  A+. 

 With the World Cup coming to a close, I considered taking a look at the automotive industries for the countries that reach the finals.  Brazil’s sound destruction via the feet of Germany spared me the task of investigating their comparatively-sparse automobile-building history.  Argentina kicked the Netherlands – and anything more than 1 mention of Spyker - to the curb.


Germany’s automotive industry, like their national soccer team, has a proud and distinguished history.  Currently, it sits at #4 in world production with iconic brands that we all know - Audi, BMW, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Volkswagen.  Relative newcomer, China, hit the gas about 10 years ago and they haven’t looked back, screaming by the U.S. and Japan for the top spot.  China’s power in numbers also has other countries salivating and Germany set alignments early and often.  Germany produces more automobiles in China than in all of the countries within the European Union combined - outside of Germany. 


On the pitch, Die Mannschaft is a big favorite to win the World Cup over La Albiceleste.  Its no surprise that Germany holds an even bigger edge at the industrial level.  While Argentina doesn’t have a major manufacturer that calls it home, it does rank 19th in the world in production.  Most models aren’t sold in the U.S. but Top Gear UK fans will recognize the Toyota Hilux as the truck that climbed an active volcano in Iceland.  There’s the Ford Focus and even the Mercedes-Benz Sprinter utility van.  In World Cup terms, maybe the Hilux is the brutish defender, the Sprinter carries the load as midfielder and the Focus is the nimble forward.  [Argentina’s Lionel Messi performs more like an Audi R8, BMW i8, Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG or a Porsche 918 but they play for the other team.] 


While Germany’s industry is on the rise, Argentina’s is headed in the other direction due to the declining economy in Brazil, the recipient of the majority of Argentina’s exported automobiles.  Operations at many plants are scaling back or being placed on hold, straining the Argentine economy.  The effects filter down to the national teams and its already decreasing the quality of Brazil’s development program.  Could the automotive industries in Germany and Argentina paint a symbolic picture of upcoming trends on the pitch?  Maybe the world will see an effect at the 2018 World Cup in Russia but Sunday’s match is expected to set the tone.

Richard Williams