A Volkswagen first: #PinkBeetle is the first car with a hashtag in its name
Volkswagen is obviously not having the best of times right now - the brand or the group. The brand is taking a bit of a battering due to the emissions scandal (we have some analysis on the costs). Nevertheless, the first quarter results for VW Group released this week were not too bad, all things considered. VW Group CEO Matthias Müller declared that they were "respectable results under difficult conditions." That's probably fair enough. Things will become clearer as the year unfolds, but VW is sticking to its previous guidance of 2016 group sales revenue down by up to 5%.
One bright spot for VW Group is the performance of its non-Volkswagen brands, which are largely unaffected by the Volkswagen furore. A case in point this week: Skoda. Skoda sales continue to be very strong, boosted by the very capable Superb model.
Still on VW, it announced a partnership with on-demand mobility provider Gett and also an interesting urban mobility partnership in Barcelona. And if that's not enough VW for you, there was also a green light for a new Beetle which is the first to have a hashtag in its name.
We also heard about Nissan's connectivity challenge – just how do you keep the platforms of smartphones and automotive hardware talking to each other? Ask the 'man with 40 phones' (loved the pic).
Over in North America, GKN recently increased its all-wheel drive (AWD) production footprint in Mexico. In an exclusive interview, for just-auto, GKN Driveline's senior director, global AWD, Ed Kwon, explained the reasons for this investment, market prospects for AWD and the opportunities that alternative powertrains bring.
We also got the US market results for May this week. It's obviously getting much tougher to grow sales now that the market is running close to peak and has been for a while. Transaction prices are still healthy because of product mix (loaded SUVs), but incentives are on the rise. Ford and GM both had bad months and it will be interesting to see how the market and incentive levels pan out over the summer months.
The global automotive pie keeps on growing, as I recently heard at an LMC Automotive event. While the US and Chinese vehicle markets are perhaps facing a period of much lower growth, Europe is finally becoming a brighter spot.
Have a good weekend.
Dave Leggett, Editor