The sad news today is that Ferdinand Piech has died
, suddenly and unexpectedly it seems, aged 82. Like many who make it in their field and achieve much during the course of their lives, he had talent allied to a pretty forceful character. His passing will perhaps reinforce the sense of a Volkswagen Group now entering a new era, the global corporate juggernaut he created taking a slightly different path post-dieselgate and, in particular, embracing e-mobility in a big way.
Last week we heard from the company on its plans to revamp its image.
Volkswagen's iconic corporate logo is one of the best in the business. You'd want to be very careful if updating it as part of a broader brand makeover. Well, after dieselgate perhaps, maybe it is not such a bad idea to have a break of sorts with the past, all hail to the e-mobility driven future. It will be interesting to see what VW announces next month at the IAA. And a 'sound logo'? Wow. (Alas, I guess the opening ICE engine notes in Kraftwerk's Autobahn
is not quite how they are thinking; it might well be more like this: 'Canto' from Nissan
Volkswagen to show new logo at IAA
There is, undeniably, some impressive work going on with things like stereoscopic displays and augmented reality. These technologies hold out the hope of an improved and safer experience - for the driver and passengers. Just imagine. Passengers could stream 3D movies and I seem to recall there has also been progress on creating sound bubbles or zones inside cabins
. And I loved the image that came with this article about an initiative at JLR.
Jaguar Land Rover developing next-gen 3D cockpit displays
JLR was also in the news last week over a proposed parts distribution facility
. It's a major investment - if it gets approved by the planning authority.
China is not an easy place for automotive firms to do business
as the economy slows and people wonder where the US-China trade spat is heading. Ford, among others, has not had an easy time there and has been looking to change things for a while, but progress has been slow. The pressure is on to get China operations right-sized and in line with demand (but flexible and able to grow), with the right products, the right local manufacturing set-up and the right distribution network. The upcoming Ford chief there - Steven Armstrong - will have quite a job to do (he did pretty well in Europe, which explains why he is going).
Ford's Armstrong moves to Changan Ford JV
Ford also caught my eye over an intriguing esports initiative
. The crossover between gaming and future mobility scenarios/modelling is something Ford has flagged before, but the main driver to this looks to be product placement with a big audience.
Something to keep an eye on is FCA-Renault merger talks. I have little doubt that conversations may have or may well be taking place, but getting all the ducks in a row - particularly so that Nissan/Tokyo/Paris are all happy - won't be straightforward after the last FCA-proposed deal's rapid collapse. The industrial logic remains strong, however.
Further Fiat-Renault merger talks rumoured
Do you associate Suzuki with lunar exploration? Me neither. But Suzuki is clearly lifting its horizons.
'By supporting the design of the HAKUTO-R spacecraft, Suzuki will contribute to the lunar economy, in alignment with ispace's vision of expanding the Earth's economy to the Moon and, ultimately, expanding human presence into outer space.' Fifty years after Apollo 11, a still noble ambition.
Suzuki to help with lunar exploration tech
Until next time...
Q2 2019 company results
Second quarter, half year, first fiscal quarter - financial results for the period ended June 30 are in. We have covered the ones we think you should know about. All here in one handy pack.