Blog: Dave LeggettWhat are you doing for lunch?

Dave Leggett | 27 July 2004

I was flicking through the latest edition of Automotive News Europe over coffee and toast this morning. Several things jumped out. 1. China’s market and industry. The Chinese have got Italian design houses working on product that is now coming to market; Volkswagen is now pumping the VW brand there. Things are moving fast there. 2. A computer-enhanced picture of the upcoming new Ford Focus leaves me unmoved. You know how important that first impression is. It looks like the current design has been tinkered with, principally in the area of the C-pillar and a more steeply raked rear window. The overall effect isn’t too impressive, but we’ll see the real thing soon enough. All credit to the current design though. It still looks contemporary to me. How do you freshen up or replace something that was that good? 3. BMW Z4 production is already heading sharply south – down 39% in the first half over the same period last year. In the midst of BMW’s stellar performance, something has gone wrong there surely?

And in answer to the question, what’s your favourite restaurant, Hyundai’s European boss names the Hyundai cafeteria at Hyundai Europe’s HQ. That comment had me thinking about the DaimlerChrysler food court at its Auburn Hills site. Such choice and all enjoyed in a lovely airy building. And there was the time I enjoyed a very nice lunch at a cafeteria in Turin when I interviewed Giancarlo Boschetti for the EIU in his Iveco days (basically a top-class Italian meal, with wine – not at all cafeteria like). Also, I recall a company cafeteria in Taiwan that had a Buddhist temple and basketball court next door (taking up valuable space, but the management was about as enlightened in terms of workforce welfare as I’ve seen). And the cafeteria at Iran Khodro’s Tehran plant was pretty good – serve yourself soup, yoghurt, rice and lamb kebab – top quality. Worst that springs to mind? It was at a facility in China. The food was passable if bland (rice with indeterminate meat in a glutinous gravy), but it was an austere setting and it was not a relaxed situation, for me or those around me. I’d rather have skipped eating and just had a glass of water - that wasn’t an option of course. But I really can’t remember the name of the company concerned, he said diplomatically.

To be serious for a moment, I’ve observed how much interaction generally goes on in these places, wherever they are – in a big company they perform a vital role as a facilitator of communication. Get the cafeteria wrong and you’ve got problems.

Incidentally, the Farnborough Air Show was excellent value on Saturday. Stealth, B52, Harrier, Lancaster, Spitfire, Eurofighter Typhoon, Gripen, something Brazilian that looked frighteningly good (short-haul twin-engined airliner by Embraer - they don't just make cars down there) and a South African Airways Boeing 747-400 flew over from Heathrow to put on a bit of a display. Awesome what airliners can do when they're not loaded with passengers, luggage and fuel. I missed the Red Arrows (RAF display team) though.


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