The Week That Was

The Week That Was

By: Graeme Roberts

Deputy/news editor Graeme Roberts' Friday wrap on the important automotive news from the week just ending.

Magnesium flares in Ford's face - the week

11 May 2018 | Graeme Roberts

A seemingly minor incident (though not for those involved directly) made more public this week shows the fragility of the global supply chain should just one link fail.

Will any senior VW execs ever serve time over dieselgate? The week

4 May 2018 | Graeme Roberts

Will any top level Volkswagen executives ever go to prison, as happened to a couple of sacrificial lambs thrown early on to US prosecutors? It's a question which comes to mind following the unexpected revelation last night that the US Justice Department has filed criminal charges against former VW CEO Martin Winterkorn, accusing him of conspiring to cover up diesel emissions cheating. Filing charges is one thing - getting the good Herr Winterkorn across the Atlantic to a US court room is the tricky bit.

Will diesel finally get a break? The week

27 Apr 2018 | Graeme Roberts

Thanks largely to Volkswagen, diesel's had a bad rap the last couple of years. When you add in sway-in-the-currently-fashionable-breeze politicians, such as the UK government which has laid out only vague details of its next tax-the-diesels assault, it's little wonder potential buyers are adopting a wait-and-see approach and sales are down.

They're changing the guard at Avtovaz - the week

20 Apr 2018 | Graeme Roberts

News Avtovaz had named Yves Caracatzanis CEO, replacing Nicolas Maure from 1 June this year, rated highly with just-auto readers this week.

VW's Mueller gets the axe - the week

13 Apr 2018 | Graeme Roberts

An extraordinary week that culminated last night with the expected news that Volkswagen was restructuring the group and tossing out the long-serving chairman and CEO Matthias Mueller, a company 'lifer' who was handed the task of steering the company through the diesel crisis and setting it on a new path.

PSA makes a UK van decision - the week

6 Apr 2018 | Graeme Roberts

Great news this week for the Vauxhall vans operation at Luton here in England this week. Despite Brexit, new Opel/Vauxhall owner PSA is to raise manufacturing capacity and add the production of Peugeot- and Citroen-badged panel vans at the factory. The plant, which started building Vauxhall badged Isuzu and Suzuki designed LCVs, more recently has been a JV with the Renault-Nissan alliance and built models for four brands but the technical agreement with Renault for the current Opel/Vauxhall Vivaro panel van - based on the Renault Trafic - will end and production will shift to right-hand drive versions of Peugeot and Citroen panel vans plus future Vivaro models on a PSA platform. Nice to hear, too, the decision was a major vote of confidence in a UK plant and reflected its core competitive strengths. Not to mention giving PSA a handy LCV plant inside a hefty UK market whose future trading relationship with the EU is still not clear.

Spring ain't sprung yet - the week

29 Mar 2018 | Graeme Roberts

The end of March and Easter are both nigh (we have Friday and Monday off, by the way) but no one seems to have told our local weathergods - the UK Met Office has just issued a snow warning for my region for Monday. No wonder the daffs might be out but the tree blossom is struggling. As we head into the first long weekend, or, in UK-speak, bank holiday weekend, of 2018, our eyes have been on the Melrose v Dana battle playing out today for GKN's juicy automotive bits (think e-Axle, and how many vehicles it's under) and Melrose won.

An electrifying experience - the week

23 Mar 2018 | Graeme Roberts

As an electric car nut, I'd been itching for a go at Nissan's redesigned 2018 Leaf. The UK unit couldn't fit us in to the pre-launch European media event in January so I had to wait for this week's UK launch in Scotland. It was worth it. The car has been thoroughly reworked, with much more mainstream styling and an upgraded interior and it also goes faster and further. There's some great new technology and it introduces e-Pedal which means you'll hardly ever use a brake pedal again in one of these.

Out 'n' about - the week

16 Mar 2018 | Graeme Roberts

It's been a busy week for the entire just-auto team with a Russian conference to attend, new product to catch up with, a key new automaker appointee to interview, plus our usual analysis.

Geneva, mostly - the week

9 Mar 2018 | Graeme Roberts

If I may borrow, and slightly adapt, a phrase from my usual US nightly newscast (obligingly screened live here in Olde England at 11.30pm): "breaking news as we go on air, today - Dana and GKN Driveline are to merge".

Geely nibbles at Daimler - the week

2 Mar 2018 | Graeme Roberts

Normally, someone buying a minor slice of someone else doesn't attract much interest but when it's Geely, owner or significant stakeholder of the Volvo Cars (and Polestar), Geely Auto, Lynk & Co, Proton, Lotus, the London EV Company (traditional 'black cab' maker) and Yuan Cheng New Energy Commercial Vehicle brands, well, you lot sit up and take notice.

Tesla prospects, wannabe SUVs and stinky bugs - the week

16 Feb 2018 | Graeme Roberts

Tesla seems always to be in the headlines, notably recently for its biggest ever quarterly loss, US$657m ("not much if you say it quickly", as a friend of mine used to opine on such red ink), but we've delved a bit beyond the attention grabbing stuff, concluding the automaker should be pouring engineering resources into not only additional cars such as the much hyped Model 3 but also the replacement for the original hit Tesla, the Model S. As we note, "this company must be running flat out just to try to comply with what its CEO has already announced is planned. Launching all of these vehicles plus a facelift for the Model X before 2021 is going to be an especially tall order". There's lots more.

New models, tech and a power cut - the week

9 Feb 2018 | Graeme Roberts

As the organisers of the CES show in Las Vegas found out last month, there's nothing like a power cut to bring a swift, temporary end to the digital age, at least that plugged into the mains. We had our own local edition today so apologies for the few hours of site outage and related delays today. Wonder if a hydro-electric dam across the local canal is feasible for backup?

What was VW smoking? The week

2 Feb 2018 | Graeme Roberts

"Volkswagen's supervisory board has reportedly called for an immediate inquiry into who within VW ordered scientific tests in which monkeys were exposed to harmful diesel fumes as reports in Germany say that humans have also been subject to tailpipe emissions testing." Quote unquote. Hardly an original joke but 'what were they smoking?' comes to mind. 'Or were they breathing the same 'clean' diesel fumes?' As a certain UK tabloid columnist is fond of writing: "You couldn't make it up."

Ford delays financials announcement - the week

26 Jan 2018 | Graeme Roberts

A slightly unusual change of plan this week - Ford Q4 results, eagerly awaited as always, were held back until after US markets closed, rather than coming out before the first ding of the NYSE bell on Wednesday. Which meant it would be well into UK beer o'clock before we could get them to you.

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