THE WEEK THAT WAS: End in sight to economic gloom?
Hyundai has just doubled capacity in Turkey to build more cars for Europe locally
When you have the governor of the Bank of England quoted as saying "the recovery has strengthened and broadened", it's a positive sign that things are (finally) on the up after five or six years of economic gloom.
This is supported by some of the news we've had this week about automakers opening wallets and spending pretty big on plants and new model development. There was Hyundai, which, at a cost of US$677m, has just doubled the capacity of its Turkish plant and shifted output of the new i10 there, freeing up capacity at its Indian small car hub for other markets. Hyundai has also just spent EUR6.6m on a new test centre at the Nurburgring in Germany.
Then there's Tata Motors UK unit Jaguar Land Rover, riding the success of recent new Range Rover model launches in particular, finding enough change in its pockets to help fund a British education and training initiative to the tune of a not insubstantial GBP50m. That's half the GBP100m cost of the UK National Automotive Innovation Campus (NAIC).
JLR's growth and financial commitment in recent years is also substantial. Head of research Anton Harper told us: "Our total investment in production creation is GBP2.75bn, which makes us by far the biggest manufacturing investor in R&D in the UK. We employ 26,000 people - that has grown from mid-teens a few years ago. JLR accounts for 20% of UK exports to China."
Speaking of China, Volkswagen - with local partner FAW - has just opened another plant to make the new Golf. And, although output will be a modest 25,000, Renault has now got the builders in on its new JV plant in Algeria which will make the Symbol - a small sedan is mostly for lower income markets. It's based on the second generation Clio.
We heard the word 'stabilise' - as in European market - from PSA this week as it haggles with unions over plans to build about a 1m markets on the continent in 2016, provided the overall market gets back to at least 15m. The words 'no more factory closures' were also heard earlier in the week. And there's another report here. Still with PSA, editor Dave Leggett had lunch with Peugeot's managing director who was optimistic about the future and reported a substantial boost in the proportion of non-Europe sales.
Like PSA, General Motors' European unit Opel has had to axe plants but this week announced a EUR130m spend for its vast engine and parts plant in Kaiserlautern.
Even Mazda - a relative minnow amongst the mainstream brands in Europe - is bucking the trend with some decent growth in a still falling market. That - and a return to profitability worldwide after several bleak years - would explain the optimism of its UK and European chiefs as they launched the redesigned 3 this week.
Away from Europe, the auto industry strike in South Africa looks, at the time of writing, likely to extend into a fourth week. I wonder if deals like this are likely to be secured in the future after such long running industrial strife?
Have a nice weekend.
Graeme Roberts, Deputy Editor, just-auto.com