THE WEEK THAT WAS: We launch QUBE; suppliers stop Saab
This regular column will begin right after this word from our sponsors... as we trust you've noted by now, just-auto has launched a new research product called QUBE. As editor Dave Leggett explains: "just-auto.com has launched a new online intelligence platform, providing information, insight and analysis on the global automotive manufacturing industry.
"The single online platform (QUBE) now delivers all just-auto’s component and market sector intelligence services, combining breaking news, interviews, expert opinion, updated analysis and forecasts for all key OE manufacturing component sectors, companies and markets.
"The QUBE intelligence services bring news and research together, with easy-to-use search and navigation, helping users find the information they need online, to be able to export data and build custom PDF reports – all in one place."
Although the shattered lives and buildings in the Japanese earthquake zone will take years to restore - isn't the bravery of the Daiichi nuclear plant workers, and the speed at which some infrastructure, like roads, has been restored, amazing? - there are signs that vehicle production, albeit at about half the usual rate, will be back from about the middle of the month. It ain't over yet, by a long way, but I do wonder how well and how fast other countries would have coped with such massive disruption.
Not so good has been a continuing flow of news about Saab which appears to have cashflow problems and has not been paying suppliers. Rightly so, said suppliers have stopped shipping parts and, after several temporary halts, the automaker has pulled the 'stop' cord on its assembly line. Our business editor Simon Warburton has been on the case since it began, to the extent of phone chats with the head of Saab's supplier group between Chinese restaurant meal courses, and we've grouped our coverage here.
I do hope we are not about to witness another MG Rover-like event, six years ago to the month, when the UK automaker finally went under having tried to raise cash from every possible source, including selling off and leasing back property. Then there was the controversy over the ingenious way the four directors had, quite legally, enriched themselves while the company was still in business - there has also been some discussion over an apparent six-figure bonus paid to Saab chairman Victor Muller, again quite legally, of course. But, if the cheque was indeed written, did he stop to think how it might look in the eyes of an unpaid supplier? Or those financing the renaissance?
Finally, hot on the heels of news of the upcoming global Malibu, comes news of another 'foreign' Chevrolet for the US, though this has not been confirmed. With former Holden execs now in key roles in Detroit, the Commodore - nee Pontiac G8 - has friends in high places.
Have a good weekend.
Graeme Roberts, Deputy Editor, just-auto.com