Blog: The sails are billowing (a bit)
Dave Leggett | 26 June 2008
Myself and j-a's news man Graeme Roberts yesterday found ourselves discussing how quiet things are on the news front at this time of the year. We're approaching the doldrums. The big auto shows are bunched around the first and fourth quarters of the year. Product news is thin on the ground. There will be Q2 financials to look forward to, but it's a slow drift into August when vacations kick in and automotive plants wind down for annual maintenance and retooling for the new model year.
But there was some relief yesterday when the winds picked up and the sails flapped into life. We got some scoop pics of the new Volkswagen Gol in Brazil.
Then there was a flurry of other interesting product stuff from our man in Brazil.
Over here, Julian Rendell had also just given us some product intelligence on Land Rover.
Then, news broke that things are happening at Ford's Volvo Car unit. The loss-making brand is taking a cost hit.
But Ford's still committed to Volvo, right? It has said so, quite clearly hasn't it?
Alan Mulally is also committed to a leaner and more focussed Ford. Two PAG brands have gone already and there's been a strong suspicion that Ford would talk to prospective buyers of Volvo. But it's not exactly a seller's market is it? Precisely. The thought that it might go relatively cheaply might interest one or two interested parties out there. That Volvo brand and what's underneath has plenty of value and is currently attached to a distressed owner.
Ford is publicly sticking to its line that Volvo is not for sale and that it is focussed on improving its results. It can hardly say anything else at this early stage.
But the ground has recently shifted. The situation in the US has worsened in terms of the market outlook. Gas prices are wreaking havoc on top of the credit crunch. The axe has had to be taken to costs again.
Maybe Jerry York's public comments in early May were prescient?
And there was that recent meeting in Vegas to discuss Ford's turnaround strategy:
Our Rob Golding put his inimitable spin on it:
And now there are noises in the Swedish media and elsewhere that there may well be dicussions going on between Ford and possible buyers - a Chinese suitor in the frame. All I'd say is that it's not exectly beyond the bounds of possibility is it? The Swedish newspaper that broke the story - Dagens Industri - is a highly respected business journal, a kind of Swedish FT.
Yes, the wind is in the sails now.
Although any sale by Ford of Volvo would be complicated, it is looking increasingly likely despite denials, Global Insight auto analyst Rebecca Wright said in a research note on Thursday....
I'm starting to get a small idea of the scale of things here in China, but really, I'm only scratching the surface of this vast country....