Slice Of Warburton
By: Simon Warburton
just-auto business editor Simon Warburton offers up a wide range of views in his distinctive style, informed by daily contact with the global auto industry
Is there light at the end of a long, dark tunnel for Russia? After more than a year of catastrophically plummeting light vehicle sales, last month saw a real brake on the runaway falling numbers. Oil prices – on which Russia is so heavily dependent - are at last showing some real depth to their rise and have now surged 50% since January. The recent Russian Automotive Forum in Moscow provided a barometer of where the industry is – and where it might go. Here are some of the quotes which resonated.
It was a politician's remark delivered mid-speech at last week's Russian Automotive Forum (RAF) in Moscow, which struck me as indicative of just how parlous a state are The Kremlin's finances.
As I write this, the world could be just hours away from witnessing the end to one of its most extraordinary and long-running geopolitical sagas – the enduring conundrum that is Iran.
As winter starts to really take hold in Russia – both climatically through the advent of the first real cold of this time of year – and equally with the country finding itself in a state of political deep freeze – this vast territory finds itself beleaguered on almost all fronts.
If not exactly a stampede, there is certainly an orderly queue of suppliers beating a retreat to distance themselves from one of the greatest business scandals to rock Germany in decades.
As sharply falling oil prices which went below US$40 last week, continue to feed through to Russian exchange rates, with a plunging currency in turn putting pressure on disposable income available for automotive purchases, is there a silver lining in the depreciation cloud?
It's only natural to want to leave something behind, something tangible which indicates you've made a difference and which will endure for decades, perhaps even lifetimes.
It's been glacially slow in evolving, but could one of the longest-running sanctions sagas in modern times be about to draw to a close?
Sitting here in the West and listening to the litany of critics lined up against Russia, all aiming their formidable firepower firmly at Moscow, their collective hammering against the Kremlin walls is as persuasive as it is articulate.
It's been variously labelled as President Vladimir Putin's 'vanity summit' and those attending it as 'Kremlin lackeys,' but for the thousands throngingh this year's St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) on the shores of the Gulf of Finland, it was a chance to offer some defiance to a disappoving Western world.
Arguably Europe's most powerful politician made a surprise appearance at last week's St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) - and it wasn't Angela Merkel.
For all the chatter surrounding the brave new world of autonomous driving, there is one supplier at least which is broadening the debate beyond the physics and the chemistry.
Just when you thought things couldn't be any worse for the auto sector in Russia, up popped the AEB recently with its latest monthly instalment of doom that sets the situation in stark clarity, but will a stabilising rouble ride to the rescue?
UK satirical magazine, Private Eye's cover this week has the strapline: "New poll shows Miliband ahead" and its ironic micky-take of just how wrong British forecasting services were will have been noted with some alarm across the English Channel in Brussels.
It's unclear whether or not Cherie Blair attended yesterday's (30 April) Renault AGM in Paris at which the French State formalised its extraordinary shareholding move , but maybe the wife of the former British Prime Minister would have raised a quizzical eyebrow following her somewhat bizarre elevation to the executive floor of the automaker.
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