Blog: Dave Leggettjust-auto in South America

Dave Leggett | 11 December 2007

We had a presence in South America last week, courtesy of a PSA-organised trip taking European journalists for a poke around down there, along with PSA's top management. just-auto guys Mark Bursa and Rob Golding were both there (with slightly different assignment briefs from me) and Mark's articles have already appeared. He got quite a bit out of it.

I spoke to Rob also and he said the trip was a massive learning experience on several levels. With these sorts of 'two-centre' visits (it was a few days in Brazil and a few days in Argentina) it's always interesting to get the impressions - industry, culture, the lot. So, I eventually asked Rob, what was Rio like? (I had images in my head, naturally, of Sugar Loaf mountain, the white sandy palm-fringed beaches, scantily clad beautiful people playing beach volleyball etc).

Rob actually wasn't taken with the place and described it as unkempt, stressful - even the word 'trashy' was used. That, he emphasised, was his initial take on the place from the bit he saw - fair or otherwise.

And Buenos Aires? He proceeded to wax lyrical for at least ten minutes on how utterly wonderful the place was - the architecture, city layout, wide boulevards, street ambience, restaurants, mountains, surrounding countryside, the proximity of the cooling ocean  - even the trees were special. I think he has found himself a new northern winter break destination.

Mr Bursa sent through a whole load of photos. There's even one of Christian Streiff doing an actionman style arrival in a helicopter and something the Coolbear says he particularly enjoyed - ice cream and baked bananas. Rob also said that Buenos Aires is maybe not the best place for vegetarians - fine cuts of beef and salad all the way.

To get back to the automotive subject, the contrast in operations between PSA's two Mercosur plants is an intriguing one, perhaps illustrating the advantages that can result from a certain degree of operational flexibility and local autonomy, rather than sticking to a rigid plant template. And sometimes we have to deal with the world as it is, rather than as we'd like it to be. A car plant's history and geographic position deals a certain hand.

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