Blog: Back from Turin
Dave Leggett | 22 May 2008
I am back from the Automotive News Europe Congress - an annual event that was held in Turin this year - now. All in all, it was rather an intense few days. There is the formal conference agenda to sift through of course (long days), there are the many coach transfers to various venues, people to try and contact, there are interviews to be done and - in my case - copy to write and attempt to file online (the online part not quite as easy as it sounds, but let's not go there - I managed it in the end).
Add in the regular hikes to the hotel where I was staying (a cheapo one, not the official event ones), lack of sleep due to late nights and early starts and it becomes quite a physical ordeal, too. I'm not looking for sympathy, it's fun, but I seem to have strained some muscles in my shoulder - I had a heavy rucksack containing laptop to lug around for most of the time - and I've got a stiff and slightly painful neck today.
Fiat did a great job as hosts but I just wish there had been a little more time at some of the exhibition/museum places we visited. Did I learn anything I didn't know? No, not really, but it is good to get the lowdown from people at the heart of things and talk informally with people at the sharp end. There are always the anecdotes and bits of interesting detail you pick up along the way. Sometimes it's hearing the way people say things that's at least as important as what they actually say.
As you might expect, Sergio Marchionne was on top form and delivered an excellent after dinner speech on Tuesday. He goes in for some interesting intellectualising with references to philosophers, historical figures - but was also good value in the Q&A (and I must admit Keith Crain did a good job as questioner).
The main themes coming through were pressures on suppliers from their OEM customers, ongoing problems with rising material costs all along the supply chain, the still growing volume and profitability contribution of emerging markets (Adam Jonas from Morgan Stanley neatly distilled that one in terms of European OEMs - they'd be stuffed without the EMs).
Today I'm out again - it's the annual SMMT Test Day at Millbrook. There are loads of cars for journalists to drive and plenty of people to see there. Just hope my neck/shoulder stiffness eases up a bit. I know, I know - I should stop complaining.
By the way, top two pictures below are entrance and interior shot from Torino Esposizioni which is currently home to the car collection from the Turin Automobile Museum and that's Ford's Jim Tetreault speaking during his ANE Congress session - I met him later on for some more detail on the St Petersburg plant (above link).
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