Blog: Dave LeggettIn solitary confinement

Dave Leggett | 9 December 2003

I've been a virtual recluse today, going through the news of 2003 for the purpose of writing the upcoming just-auto members' management briefing that reviews the year that has just passed. I've been going through it all - worries over the effects of the Iraq war, worries over SARS, incentives that just keep on coming, the impact of dollar weakness on European exporters to the US, the OEMs' relentless stampede into China. You certainly get a different perspective when you wade through the lot, although I think I'm going to take a break from looking at screens in a bit.

I'd almost forgotten how serious SARS looked back in the summer. How quickly we forget. You may recall that global pandemic scenarios were being widely tossed around back then and in the automotive industry there was a lot of anxiety about what the implications for operations in China and SE Asia  generally may be as economic growth collapsed. All in all, the outcomes appeared a lot better than many predicted - although I understand another SARS outbreak sometime cannot be ruled out, so let's not get too complacent.

But one thing no-one forecasted was that car sales in China would actually accelerate as SARS took hold. Remember that startling development? People were racing to bring forward their car purchases so that they wouldn't have to use mass transit and could reduce the time spent walking in the street and risking SARS infection. A salutory reminder of how actual events can easily depart from the best prepared forecasts and scenarios.


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