THE WEEK THAT WAS: Saab still with us - just
This time last week it looked that, by this time this week, Saab would be toast. But that deadline of Tuesday 15 November came and went and Saab is still with us.
Another long-running saga ended this week with a much happier ending. Toyota's Mississippi plant was officially opened as the home of most Corollas sold in the US, supplementing a plant in Canada. The company originally planned the factory to bring production of the Highlander SUV - Kluger in other markets - from Japan to the US and broke ground for it in 2007, and you know what happened in 2008...
So construction was finished in 2009 and the complete but unequipped building was mothballed, along with some planned supplier facilities nearby. Meantime, the Highlander was brought to an under-utilised plant in Indiana in October 2009 and thoughts turned to building the Prius - Toyota was by then planning the expanded family line it's now rolling out worldwide - in Mississippi. But GM's post-bankruptcy axing of the Pontiac brand and its half of the Fremont, California, NUMMI joint venture plant focused Toyota's mind; it closed the unionised west coast plant and decided to build the Corollas made there in Mississippi, starting work on fitting out the plant in mid-2010. Short term, cars from Canada and Japan filled demand until the new factory near Tupelo was ready.
Meanwhile, automakers and suppliers continue to focus on emerging markets as the west stagnates, specially here in Europe - ACEA's numbers for October were nothing to get excited about though car and engine output here in the UK rose and sales of VW's top models were up.
Magneti Marelli has inked a suspension JV in India, Suzuki plans another KD plant in Vietnam, Delphi's expanding in Morocco, Inteva's opened a closures factory in Brazil and Ford plans to roll out connected services in Asia-Pacific and Africa.
The industry and observers are also a bit more optimistic about the US these days. BMW's CFO is eyeing growth there as the automaker readies its redesigned mainstream 3-series for launch. Daimler's Trucks boss is also optimistic about America.
In the midst of Eurozone gloom and record high unemployment here in the UK, such things provide a glimmer of hope for the global auto industry.
Have a nice weekend.
Graeme Roberts, Deputy Editor, just-auto.com