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Issue 609

January 30, 2012

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EV Battery Tech: 5th Global Cost Reduction Initiative
Kazuo Yajima, Head of Nissan's Global Battery Business and Thierry Koskas, Programme Director for Renault's Electric Vehicles Strategic Project will be leading the latest discussions on cost reduction for electric vehicle battery systems in London, 28-29 February, 2012.

Full Programme and Speaker Line Up



Dave Leggett

There were some contrasts in the auto industry last week. On the plus side, last week saw another good set of financial results for Ford, helped by a massive tax gain one-off. Putting that one-off to one side, the results were still pretty good, though weaker demand in Europe and flooding in Asia dented the fourth quarter. CFO Lewis Booth also admitted that Ford spent more on raw materials than it had expected to, as raw material prices rose during 2011.

The Q4 loss in Europe for Ford widened to USD190m compared with USD51m a year ago. With the European car market expected to fall in 2012 (even on relatively benign economic assumptions) and carmakers generally boosting incentives across the region, avoiding a further serious deterioration to results in Europe this year will be no mean feat. And where Europe exposure is concerned, Ford is one of the better placed OEMs...

US: One-off Q4 item boosts Ford 2011 results

Still on Ford, have you heard of kenaf? It's a renewable plant material related to cotton and a little bit like bambo that Ford is using in the door bolsters on the new Escape. Interesting development I thought.

US: Ford uses kenaf plant inside Escape doors

On the more negative side last week, Fiat was facing problems with parts shipments in Italy as a result of disruption caused by striking Italian freight truckers. It hasn't been good timing for Fiat with the all-new Panda ramping up at Pomilgliani d'Arco. It sounds like the truckers' strike is over for now, but that sudden action is certainly a sign of some of the underlying tensions in Europe that are simmering as governments initiate austerity packages.

ITALY: Fiat haemorrhaging 4,000 cars a day as truck blockade continues to bite

Oh, and in case you haven't seen this, we're conducting a survey of the industry on the outlook for the year ahead. Go on, have your say...

UK: just-auto surveys the global auto industry

Don't forget to check the blog

Until next time...

Dave Leggett
Managing Editor
Web: http://www.just-auto.com
Email: editor@just-auto.com
Twitter: http://twitter.com/justauto



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