The vast Russian auto market is one to watch. So we are.

The vast Russian auto market is one to watch. So we are.

In a bit of a change from my usual weekly epistle, may I first draw your attention to some articles from Our (occasional) Man in Russia, Simon Warburton, fresh back from (deep breath) the St Petersburg International Economic Forum 2014. We've bundled up his articles, including the odd travelogue blog, here in one handy all-inclusive take-home pack. Well worth a read.

Simon has now done several trips east, to auto-related conferences and events, and the contacts he has made, such as motor industry veteran and current AvtoVAZ CEO Bo Andersson, have helped boost our coverage of Russia, an important and still growing, emerging market. And I surely don't have to explain why many eyes are focused on the region at the moment, for many more reasons than the autobiz.

In another key and still emerging market, a report from China today showed that Jaguar Land Rover's joint venture with Chery is apparently well on track for a production start at the end of the year. UK-based spokespeople are still a bit coy about exactly what will be made starting when but we are expecting a varied line of Land and Range Rover, Jaguar and various Chery brand models within just a few years as this key manufacturing, rather than just assembly, plant ramps up. Long wheelbase XF anyone?

Coincidentally, JLR's Gaydon facility neighbour, Aston Martin, this week announced a factory expansion adding 250 jobs - it's a sign of the times that around 500 applications were received for just 12 apprenticeship openings. Just a week earlier, SMMT CEO Mike Hawes implored UK motoring media to encourage young people to consider a motor industry career and it seems they're already listening. And with expansion like that, it looks like our industry will have plenty of new jobs to offer in coming years.

Other most-read stories on just-auto this week included Google's self-driving car (prompting a consumer colleague to start a lively 'would you want it?' debate on Facebook), new paint tech at Ford's Kansas City Transit plant, EU type approval for GAZ Group Gazelle vans and Hella's role in a new German government-sponsored adaptive headlamp project.

And we carried an interview with Ford chief Alan Mulally.  

Just another week in the just-auto 'office', then.

Have a nice weekend.

Graeme Roberts, Deputy Editor,