The Week That Was
By: Graeme Roberts
Deputy/news editor Graeme Roberts' Friday wrap on the important automotive news from the week just ending.
10 Feb 2017 | Graeme Roberts
The most-read story on just-auto this week is an embarrassing one for the automaker concerned - the theft of an unspecified number of engines from Tata Motors' Land Rover plant in Solihull, an event that was kept quiet about for several days until that pesky media got on the case. JLR did not value the engines but reports here in the UK suggested they could be worth in the region of GBP3m (US$3.7m) following their removal from the Damson site in Solihull near Birmingham at some point late at night between 31 January and 1 February. An articulated truck is believed to have entered the site twice, each time hooking up to trailers carrying the engines and then leaving again through the gate. Understandably, the automaker and the constabluary are tight-lipped but you'd have to think 'inside job' for the perps to know what to nab, and where from, and, reportedly, be able to show the right paperwork - twice - to get in and out. I would not want to be in charge of Solihull security right now.
3 Feb 2017 | Graeme Roberts
What must PSA Groupe do to turn the DS brand around? We asked. And answered this week with an in-depth exploration of future model strategy in the first in a series concerning the French automaker's passenger car brands. It's been a very popular read but it's lengthy so pull up a cup (or glass, it's Friday) of your favourite beverage and get comfortable first.
27 Jan 2017 | Graeme Roberts
This time last week, from a time zone five hours ahead of Washington, DC, I was writing last week's column, one eye on the tv, while awaiting the inauguration of US President Donald J Trump. As, no doubt, possibly in fear and trepidation, were many in the auto industry. What'll the new prez do? Will he really slap a 35% tariff on imports from Mexico. Will That Wall really go up? Will the shutters go down - big clampdown on immigration - at Fortress US? Etc.
20 Jan 2017 | Graeme Roberts
As the United States, or those that voted for him, prepared to say Hail to the New Chief at the inauguration today, an equally divisive issue got another airing this side of the Atlantic this week - Brexit. British prime minister Theresa May confirmed the UK would not remain a member of the EU trade bloc's single market but would seek access to it through a free trade agreement which she said could see the automotive sector trading using single market "arrangements." In a speech outlining 12 aspects of the intensely complex mechanism by which Britain would exit the European Union (EU), May also warned those opposed to the UK quitting the union: "This is not a game." London did want some form of customs agreement, however.
13 Jan 2017 | Graeme Roberts
The start of the year usually has a pleasant familiarity to it - CES and Detroit shows and, in my case just this morning, often the first taste of winter snow. Also, in my case, hopefully the last sprinkle (it melted by lunch o'clock) as neither I nor the UK does snow. I always watch with amazement as friends in the US north east and midwest dig themselves out from up to eight feet of the stuff and carry on. We'd come to a grinding halt till about March and I'd move to southern California.
6 Jan 2017 | Dave Leggett
The first week back after the holidays usually brings an interesting mix of news and this year was no exception.
16 Dec 2016 | Graeme Roberts
Our interview with Peter Moelgg, chief executive of GKN Driveline's eDrive and AWD business, attracted a lot of interest over the past week and I am not all surprised. There has been a steady flow of announcements from this supplier about its involvement in electrified vehicles such as the BMW i8 sportscar and Volvo's acclaimed new XC90 and there's clearly lots more to come.
9 Dec 2016 | Graeme Roberts
Our story about Renault's redesigned Scenic MPV (aka minivan, people carrier, etc, etc) with magic Faurecia seats drew a lot of just-auto readers' eyeballs this week. Having specialised for decades in trying to catch out PRs 'first in the auto world' claims, I was at first cynical.
2 Dec 2016 | Graeme Roberts
A busy week for the just-auto team, with editor Dave Leggett and business editor Simon Warburton both out at events while yours truly minded the shop. We heard, in fact, there were no fewer than eight new model launches for UK media this week, including an Audi event in New Mexico.
25 Nov 2016 | Dave Leggett
Quite naturally, fully electric cars are seen as a green choice. If we put aside the thorny question of how the electricity has actually been generated for the zero emission vehicle, it's a rather marvellous thing: A car being propelled by a propulsion system that isn't reliant on burning fossil fuels at the point of use.
18 Nov 2016 | Graeme Roberts
A certain president-elect Trump remained in the news this week, as you'd expect. First up, a couple of possible scenarios from LMC Automotive, one of which foresees the sales loss of a million units a year for the US. LMC's 'Adverse Trump' scenario assumes that many, though still not all, of the stated Trump policies are implemented. The resulting slowdown in the US economy, and declining trade flows between several of the world's largest economies, has far-reaching consequences around the globe, it says. It would also include more punitive tariffs on Mexican and Chinese goods, which is ultimately extended to other countries. A 'strong retaliatory response' would be expected.
11 Nov 2016 | Graeme Roberts
Big news on Wednesday as the US woke up to the news it wasn't going to be Good Morning, Madame President as the polls had confidently predicted. Instead, like it or not, it's Trump for president-elect. So we dived in early with a look at what the Trump victory could mean for the automotive industry? The end of NAFTA? Thirty-five percent duty on anything from Mexico. A million percent tariff on autos and steel from the much-maligned, job-hoovering China?
4 Nov 2016 | Graeme Roberts
Unusual story of the week - 'fire at Ford HQ' slows sales data reporting'. Conjured up visions of people throwing computers out the window of Dearborn HQ and jumping out after them. No, nothing as dramatic, merely a fire in a substation cutting the electricity for a bit and slowing dealer reporting and HQ collation. Hence our Man in the US sending a two-part report on (still slowing) US sales. Instalment one here; two here.
28 Oct 2016 | Dave Leggett
Brexit has been in the news again this week, its implications stretching far and wide, sometimes confounding expectations. On the plus side, the UK economy is performing relatively well according to the latest data. In the auto sector, there was also the welcome announcement from Nissan that it will invest in future new models at Sunderland.
21 Oct 2016 | Graeme Roberts
I doubt things are at the Panic Button stage but, as automakers and suppliers continue to pile into 'low cost' eastern Europe - this announcement of expanded output from Toyota just today is just one example - a question of labour availability and/or retention is beginning to surface.