Latest automotive comment

The best views and opinions in automotive industry publishing, all in one place, from just-auto's monthly columnists and in-house experts.

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".

Sorento shows why Kia is outselling Nissan in Britain and Germany

7 Mar 2018 | Glenn Brooks

Has the Qashqai, which was once well supported by the Juke and Micra, lost its way? In February, Nissan UK saw brand deliveries crash by 54%, while rivals made gains. Kia was one of those, its monthly registrations being strong enough to surpass the long-time Asian number one brand in Britain. In Germany too, it's a similar story.

GENEVA SHOW - Changes are a'coming

7 Mar 2018 | Mike Vousden

The Geneva show has traditionally been seen as the European motoring industry's foremost new car showcase. While the 2018 event is similar to previous years – the rotating car platforms and strobe-lit press conferences remain – there's a growing sense that great changes are afoot. As Ken Ramirez, Nissan's head of sales and marketing observed – the kinds of questions being asked now simply didn't exist 10 years ago.

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.

Is Jaguar now an SUV oriented brand too?

27 Feb 2018 | Calum MacRae

This piece was initially prompted by the appearance of the new Volvo V60, to universal acclaim, which brought a wistful thought from me that it was a shame that Jaguar doesn’t have a wagon version of its XE as a competitor. From the initial pictures the V60 appears to be a fantastic looking car with all the usual virtues that Volvo-ness brings to the estate (wagon) genre. It looks unmistakably like its V90 sibling or as colleague Glenn Brooks put it in the office last week, "Honey, I’ve shrunk the V90."

Electric and driverless visions - THE WEEK

23 Feb 2018 | Dave Leggett

The future for vehicles is electric, but it's fair to say the roadmap to that inevitable end-point is far from fixed.

Investors beware, EVs are a slow train coming - COMMENT

19 Feb 2018 | Dave Leggett

Tesla is a fascinating company to watch. It's a start-up (not exactly new though), is still losing money, but is making cars that serve a segment of the market set for major growth - battery electric vehicles. There is much to admire about Elon Musk's vision and execution, but let's not get too carried away.

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?

Oh no, it's FOMO!

8 Feb 2018 | Calum MacRae

I'm probably not alone in thinking that all OEMs are pretty much following the same strategic and tactical path at the moment. Nearly every major OEM has an ACES (autonomous, connected, electric and shared) strategy or, as Daimler's Britta Seeger put it during a presentation at January's Automotive News World Congress, a CASE strategy.

Financial market 'corrections' - should we worry? 

6 Feb 2018 | Dave Leggett

The last 24 hours have seen a wave of sell-offs on global stock markets. Is there cause for concern? Yes, but there is also a need for some perspective and there is no reason to believe that a global economic recession is imminent or inevitable. 

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.

The guardians of globalisation prepare to welcome Trump - Comment

26 Jan 2018 | Ben Cooper

At a press conference last week to launch the World Economic Forum's Global Risks Report 2018, the organisation's assembled panel of experts was asked whether the ideas of "a group of millionaires" on reforming capitalism would carry much weight with ordinary people. The question alluded to the launch at the WEF annual general meeting this week in Davos of a two-year global dialogue aimed at exploring how market capitalism can be reformed to allow more people to benefit from economic growth.

Eyes on Detroit - the week

19 Jan 2018 | Graeme Roberts

Our analysis of future Fiat and Abarth models was the most popular article on just-auto this week, followed closely by the Detroit revelation of Ford's long awaited, revived US market Ranger, now a mid-size pickup rather than its predecessor's 'small'. Ford has adapted the Australian-designed (so its local unit claims) model built mostly for other markets in Thailand and South Africa, rather than going it alone as it did for the last Ranger. Compare the latest Ranger with its ancestor, the late 1970s Courier, a rebadged Mazda B-series, and you can see how much these once-small trucks have grown over the generations.

From Vegas to Tatarstan - The Week

12 Jan 2018 | Simon Warburton

There's really only one place to start this week and it has to be in the Nevada desert where the annual tech-fest of the Consumer Electronics Show 2018 kicked off the year in a technological blitz which was high on AI.

Review of the automotive year, 2017 (part two)

22 Dec 2017 | Dave Leggett

Editor Dave Leggett offers a personal take and review of the year with a look at selected highlights. This instalment takes in the second half of 2017.

Review of the automotive year, 2017

18 Dec 2017 | Dave Leggett

Editor Dave Leggett offers a personal take and review of the year with a look at selected highlights. This instalment takes in the first half of 2017.

EVs in US not such a Smart move - the week

15 Dec 2017 | Graeme Roberts

Going all-electric in the US does not appear to have worked too well for Smart, as we noted in this article. "Might the initial results of a strategy which has been Smart US dropping its petrol-powered Fortwo range hold a warning for others? In November, the brand was not only outsold by Lamborghini but Rolls-Royce was the only make which delivered fewer cars." As automakers dive headlong into 'e-mobility', does a cautionary tale lie therein?

Time to end the era of homogeneous design?

15 Dec 2017 | Calum MacRae

Has the world gone mad? We've all been there - looking at the supernumerated types on the late train back home. We'll take a surreptitious glance at them working away on their laptop or iPad. We see them open a few spreadsheets. They'll spend a cursory few seconds ostentatiously scrolling through a few figures. Another corporate lamp post marked.

COMMENT - US sales plummet as Smart goes electric

11 Dec 2017 | Glenn Brooks

Might the initial results of a strategy which has been smart USA dropping its petrol-powered fortwo range hold a warning for others? In November, the brand was not only outsold by Lamborghini, but Rolls-Royce was the only make which delivered fewer cars.

Land Rover Defender mini-me planned - the week

8 Dec 2017 | Graeme Roberts

A story about an upcoming new model for a much loved brand drew a lot of readership this week. Such interest in the Home Team (just up the road from us) was no surprise, of course.

Re-imagining the gas station and battery charge times - COMMENT

6 Dec 2017 | Dave Leggett

Fully electric vehicles come with a number of challenges, of course.

NAFTA, diesels, Los Angeles - the week

1 Dec 2017 | Graeme Roberts

The renegotiation of the NAFTA free trade deal between the US, Canada and Mexico is attracting some automaker attention and they're not too happy, it seems.

Uber and Volvo are a sign of the times - COMMENT

27 Nov 2017 | Dave Leggett

Uber loses money, lots of it. Although ride-hailing is seen as a sunrise industry, Uber has struggled with high costs even as it has grown revenues. Nevertheless, the privately held start-up has attracted investors who see a bright future in ride-hailing and are reassured by its dominant share (over 70%) of the US ride-hail market.

Why indeed Norway is an EV case study - the week

24 Nov 2017 | Graeme Roberts

Go to Oslo, which I did once with Nissan, purveyor of an electrified vehicle named after tree foliage, and, if you don't get killed (a) because you, British tourist from a country that drives on the right side of the road, forgot to look left instead of right when stepping off the kerb and (b) because you didn't hear one coming, you'll notice that electric vehicles (henceforth EVs) are rather common thereabouts.

Struggling Chery calls in local help in Brazil - the week

17 Nov 2017 | Graeme Roberts

Our Man in Brazil, Fernando Calmon, reported this week on an interesting development that sees seasoned local importer, assembler and distributor CAOA Group join with Chery to manage Chery's factory in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The deal is valued at around US$60m for CAOA to acquire 50% of the Chinese brand's Brazilian operations including the Jacarei plant, in the Greater Sao Paulo area; importation and sales are included.

PSA reveals Opel-Vauxhall plans - the week

10 Nov 2017 | Graeme Roberts

The big question this week was what would PSA do with its newly acquired Opel/Vauxhall unit? Came 9 November, came the answer: a business plan that avoids plant closures and aims to put the company on a path to profitability by 2020.

Meet Ford's Robutt, view your truck from on high - the week

3 Nov 2017 | Graeme Roberts

Ever parked a truck? Me neither. But I have enormous respect for those who daily thread huge delivery trailers, hauled by prime movers bearing such names as Scania, DAF and Mercedes-Benz, through the chaos that is most European city roads and jammed motorways. And then line the business end up against a loading dock with the same sort of precision I can just about manage parking a small Kia at the supermarket. As with cars, numerous electronic aids now make truck driving a little easier (but no less skilled) and I was intrigued to see that 3D surround multi view camera systems for trucks are now on offer. Nissan Birdview scaled up, if you will.

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