There's plenty going on in the automotive industry and markets this month. On Friday, news broke of Ford and Volkswagen's deepening alliance. It's not easy to agree where the cooperation boundaries are when it comes to important and emerging advanced technologies - but the two are getting there.
Ford and VW expand alliance to EVs; both to invest in Argo AI
Volkswagen, let's remember, sees electrification as at the heart of its long-term strategy. It was interesting then, to get some visibility on how it foresees in-house component supply for EV systems.
VW details group EV parts production ahead of ID.3 launch
VW Group has always presented something of a masterclass when it comes to industrial consolidation (scale, platform sharing) and associated brand management for the market - much of the strategy developed over decades by Ferdinand Piech. But the Spanish SEAT brand was always the poor performer and provided a contrast with success and much higher volumes achieved at Skoda - also a 'value-driven' brand in the VW Group stable. Now though, there are signs that SEAT is finding a viable strategic path under Luca de Meo.
The SEAT brand's time has come - Comment
And there's this positive news on SEAT's Spanish component operations, too:
SEAT Components making new gearbox for VW Group brands
Looking at developments in major car markets, it is clear that China has become a much more difficult market environment in which to make money over the past year. The premium players, in particular, have had their bottom lines squeezed.
Daimler swings to loss and adjusts earnings guidance down
But not only the premium players: Ford China sales plunge 21.7% in Q2
There was some cheer, at least, in the June car sales numbers for China - although discounting was reported as very heavy.
China passenger vehicle sales bounce 5% in June
It will be interesting to see how the second half market in China fares. The latest news on the Chinese economy
seems to confirm that demand is sluggish and higher economic growth won't be easy to achieve. An easing of trade tensions with the US would certainly help.
Car companies faced with lower sales in China will also find other major markets around the world offer limited succour at present.
West European car market down 8.4% in June
Brazil H1 sales and production up despite Argentina
As deputy editor Graeme Roberts reminded me last week, it's now ten years since I drove a not-for-sale electric Mini involved in field trials. Finally, an electric Mini is going into series production. I look forward to driving that one, too.
BMW sparks up the Mini Electric
As we have noted recently, electric light commercial vehicles are starting to make it to market in Europe. Toyota is also joining the party.
Toyota Europe launching electric van
I attended a conference in London last week and got some insight into how Toyota sees the long-term when electric and autonomous tech comes together for a new suite of mobility services, targeted at distinct market needs.
Toyota outlines future as a 'mobility services provider'
A little bit like the big transition from horses to motorised transport at the beginning of the last century, we're going to have to increasingly think beyond the constraints and structures of current transport patterns to something potentially very, very different. And - as the shift from horses to motorised vehicles illustrated in the 1900s - once such a fundamental societal transition really gets going, it will accelerate. Mindsets must change to keep up, adaptability vital. As a university lecturer once put it to me and a classroom of wide-eyed students of economics and politics: Brother can you paradigm?
Until next time...
FCA proposes transformative merger with Renault
FCA (Fiat-Chrysler) has proposed a 'transformative merger' with Renault to create a combined business that produces and sells 8.7m vehicles a year.