THE WEEK THAT WAS: The South of France - in the rain
Toyota's ED2 European design centre is tucked away in the hills above Antibes; viewing courtyard is similar to one in Japan
"Come to the South of France and try our updated Verso," said Toyota. "Nice," I said. "Yes," they said, "Nice airport for Cannes and we'll show you our ED2 design studio which did the updates." A little southern Europe winter sun after British snow, I thought, you can guess the rest.
What I got, of course, was more like a bad Auckland winter day with driving rain and strong winds and a mere 6C, as well as a thunderclap at 5.30 that woke the whole hotel up and sounded like a 737 pilot had tried to land on top of us instead of at the airport some kilometres east. And it all cleared up and the sun started to peek out just as the plane headed back out to Blizzard Blighty.
I had not been to ED2 before and was impressed. The viewing courtyard with its white polished stones is very similar to one at Toyota City but that is not perched in the hills above Antibes with sea views and lovely wooden terraces on which employees can lunch while looking out over the Med - weather permitting. I can think of worse places in which to toil daily. And toil they do, now with full responsibility for A-, B- and C-segment Toyotas and the first all-in-house project, the Verso revamp. The new nose is nice but the changes wrought to the interior really do show just what you can do with cooperative suppliers and clever use of new materials.
Tarting up the Verso to make it more attractive to European buyers wasn't the only story we had this week on adapting a product to where it's sold. There was also news from Canada, where Mitsubishi was a relatively late Japanese entry, on how the Thai-built Mirage for that market will be longer with a different engine.
Industrial niggle in France has also been in the news this week with unions getting a better Aulnay redundancy deal from PSA while Renault refuted union claims it would close plants if better productivity was not achieved.
Oh, goody, it's snowing again - have a nice weekend.
Graeme Roberts, Deputy Editor, just-auto.com
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