THE WEEK THAT WAS: Cold winds blowing for some
There have been some cold winds blowing this week, literally and metaphorically. The metaphorical blasts are all too familiar and can be summed up in three words: problems in Europe. As Europe's leaders struggled to agree EU budgets in Brussels, the problems facing the European economy were laid bare by another set of grim looking monthly car sales figures.
If you can't sell 'em, you've no business making 'em. Europe's carmaking industry is facing a period of restructuring that will not be political plain sailing during these hard economic times. What is going to happen in France? With respect to PSA, there were signs this week that some pretty grim scenarios are being thought through.
Spain is another country that is facing severe economic headwinds. There was some welcome news last week though: Nissan said it would add a model (the one that was pushed out of the Sunderland plant to make way for the Infiniti) at its Barcelona plant.
My colleague Simon Warburton faced literally very severe cold winds in Russia this week, where he saw the start of Chevrolet Aveo production at the GAZ plant run by ex-GM's Bo Andersson. Russia remains an industry growth story, for the moment. I spoke to Simon earlier today. It was certainly an eventful week and a fascinating one. And he even got to sit in on one of Bo's meetings with his department heads.
There were more company financials last week. The Japanese are feeling the benefit of a rebound from 2011's bad year, better sales in North America and a softer yen. Toyota, MMC and Denso were among last week's notable results filers.
Thee premium makers are generally doing very well around the world. For them, it's a case of where to put additional capacity, rather than what to shut. They're off to strong starts in January – Mercedes, BMW, Audi. North America and Asia are the growth regions.
China is still looking pretty good, though the headline market growth figure for January is heavily distorted by the timing of the Lunar New Year.
Whatever the travails of Europe, we can at least look forward to the Geneva Motor Show and spring (Geneva falls in early March) when we get into February. Glenn Brooks is keeping us up to date with the new model info. Must say, I quite like the idea behind Opel/Vauxhall's Adam Rocks (does he?). The sketch looks good.
A couple of old stager names in the news last week are connected by a Swedish car company. Carl-Peter Forster was appointed to the board of Volvo Cars. Getting Volvo Cars back into profit will be a challenge. And I also found myself at a media lunch with Stefan Jacoby, who left his position as CEO of Volvo Cars in less than happy circumstances last year. He offered some interesting thoughts on the state of the industry and communicating with global consumers.
There was also the news that a woman - Cathy Clegg - is now heading up global manufacturing engineering at General Motors. This industry does not have too many women in very senior positions, especially on the engineering side. In the pile of industry news that went across my desk last week, some good some bad, that was something that seems unarguably a good thing.
Have a good weekend.
Dave Leggett, Editor, just-auto