The Week That Was
By: Graeme Roberts
Deputy/news editor Graeme Roberts' Friday wrap on the important automotive news from the week just ending.
News that Škoda is building a new, energy-efficient press shop at its main factory in Mladá Boleslav drew a lot of eyes to just-auto.com this week. Construction has now begun on the M4 hall and, next spring, the VW Group automaker will install a servo press line in the new hall that will be able to press aluminium body panels for the first time. The new facility is expected to go into operation in February 2017 at a cost of EUR86m (US$93.47m).
Continuing just-auto's series of interviews with tier one suppliers, this week Matthew Beecham talked with Detlef Jürss, group vice president and general manager Seating Components, Johnson Controls Automotive Seating. Well worth a look if you haven't enjoyed yet. He's also talked to Schaeffler about smarter repairs.
Volkswagen Group stayed very much in the news this week. The company posted a set of results that were dragged down by provision made for costs associated with ‘dieselgate’. I suspect it won’t be the last set of disappointing results to come out of Wolfsburg.
Volkswagen's diesel issues and some wider ramifications continued to make the news this week.
We'll permit ourselves a small 'told you so' this week after Jaguar Land Rover finally confirmed it would build the Range Rover Evoque in Brazil from early 2016, as well as the previously confirmed Land Rover Discovery Sport - which Our Man in Brazil first reported last May. JLR had said earlier it would only do 'new' models at the plant, but our sources said otherwise, and it makes sense to do the country's top selling JLR model locally as it (a) gets the price down, increases supply and frees up capacity at the Halewood, England, mother ship. And the high local content encouraged in Brazil allows local variation to suit market needs. JLR also now makes the Evoque at a joint venture in China (again, this gets the price down in a tax-protected market) and also assembles some models in India (ditto). All of which frees up UK capacity.
One guess what dominated just-auto's news, analysis and comment this week. VW, emissions, diesel and recalls, natch. Early in the week we asked: "Where will 'emissionsgate' end?" Well, for a start, some work with the slide rules by our own analysts swiftly concluded: "The expected decline of the popularity of diesel-fuelled vehicles in the European car market has been significantly accelerated."
I'm not unsympathetic to him at all but, as the Volkswagen emissions-test rigging scandal continued to erupt this week, after the EPA's shock Friday night recall order announcement a week ago, Volkswagen's CEO Martin Winterkorn took the honourable and brave course, obviously after considerable discussion and thought, and, finally, offered the supervisory board his head on a plate - and his resignation was accepted. It was a sad and ignomonious end to a long and successful career.
Frankfurt. Lots of new cars to read about. Lots of industry news to be told. So what did you ghouls read most? Natch, the report about the poor old BMW chief keeling over at their press conference, of course.
Lots happening in the autobiz this week and the excitement building as we head into Frankfurt show media week is palpable. Hence full pictures - at last - of Jaguar's F-Pace SUV, a story that attracted lots of attentions from just-auto readers this week.
Some of the news is just in today so, you may not have seen all of the stories yet but, after a slight rattling of investors' cages by the recent stock market shenanig..., er, 'correction' in China, this week we have seen automotive investment confidence in three key markets. From Mazda, in Russia, Daimler, in alliance with the Renault-Nissan Alliance, in Mexico and, Nissan again, right here in the UK, for Europe.
Our updates of the auto situation in Tianjin, following the massive explosions in the Chinese port city, have attracted a lot of reader interest this week. I was last week in the middle of a British 'staycation' (it rained, thank you for asking) when news of the disaster broke and watched, appalled, at the war zone-like TV news views of thousands of incinerated cars (many new VW Beetles as it happened; Tainjin being a key auto port of entry for imported models, VW was said to have lost some 2,750 cars) as TV news anchors regularly reported on the increasing, but surprisingly low number of people killed. Tragic.
Electric powertrain technology comes with a number of drawbacks - mainly surrounding battery performance issues - but it is interesting to see different OEM strategies emerging.
The big news this week was that Jaguar Land Rover announced a plan to build a 300,000-unit capacity plant in Slovakia. We knew that a plant in Central/Eastern Europe was under consideration as part of the Tata-owned premium firm's fairly ambitious growth plans.
Whenever I hear the word Flint I always think of a certain Michael Moore, native of that Michigan city, and his movie Roger & Me about the closure of a vast swathe of factories that once made up General Motors' Buick City.
The big news on just-auto this week was Mitsubishi Motors finally calling time on US manufacturing.
- THE WEEK THAT WAS - Connecting cars in Canada
- Volvo's engine and platform independence progress
- CEO says Citroen wants to be quirky again
- ANALYSIS: VW's self-defeating defeat devices
- Advanced tech previews from OEMs - PLDB
- Audi suspends two engineers over US diesel V6
- Takata manipulated test results back to 2000
- BMW launches fully online car buying process
- Honda postpones new Brazil plant opening
- Ferrari arranges loan facility
- Autonomous Vehicles: Divergent futures
- Global vehicle lightweighting - technology, trends and the future
- Global light vehicle OE wheels market- forecasts to 2030
- Global light vehicle instrumentation and cockpits market- forecasts to 2030
- Global light vehicle electric motors market- forecasts to 2030