Like any year in the auto industry, 2012 saw its fair share of company ups and downs, industrial comings and goings, and a fair old sprinkling of corporate drama. It was also a year of economic uncertainty hovering over automotive markets. We covered it all on just-auto. Editor Dave Leggett sifts through the lot and picks out a few highlights from the year just gone, month by month. Part one covers the first half of the year, part two the second. This is part two (July-December).

Link to: Part 1 – January-June

Part 2


Down in Brazil, GM launches the Spin. It will also go to Indonesia. Interesting vehicle.

BRAZIL: Spin repositions Chevrolet in minivan sector

The Porsche-VW saga appears to finally have reached a conclusion.

GERMANY: VW-Porsche deal moves to the end game

And Dacia continues to edge into ‘mature’ markets with its low-cost offerings. The Duster also gets some pretty good reviews.

UK: Renault starts taking Dacia orders online

The phoney war on European overcapacity appears to be over as Psa announces that Aulnay is to be shuttered.

FRANCE: PSA closing Aulnay, cutting jobs at Rennes

LMC gave us the low-down on some scary looking plant capacity utilisation rates.

ANALYSIS: Aulnay a victim of Europe’s deepening crisis

France’s new prime minister isn’t very pleased with the news. He’ll commission a report (that will blame the company’s owners for past strategic errors that leave it with no choice) to get himself off the hook.

FRANCE: Prime Minister shocked at huge PSA job cuts

GM in Europe is having a rough time. Suddenly, someone is off. Looks political, whatever the spin put on it.

GERMANY: Opel chief Stracke ‘stepped down’ – GM

Some genuinely shocking and tragic news comes out of India. The rioting and violence is inexcusable, but it also seems that there is some pretty deep-rooted resentment among the contract workers at the Suzuki plant.

INDIA: HR manager dies in Maruti Manesar violence

And a final post-script to an extraordinary tale of intrigue and mismanagement appears to take place in Paris when Renault‘s Patrick Pelata decides to move on. Decent and very capable guy, by all accounts. Storms sometimes strike unexpectedly and do all sorts of damage.

FRANCE: Renault ‘spy’ scandal finally claims Pelata scalp


August is here. It’s a time for holidays and the London Olympics. This summer’s ‘English monsoon’ even held off for a few weeks.

Beach brothers plot return to fray

Something to look out for at the Olympics: the really mini MINI

This news bubbles up at the Traverse City event that takes place every August (one of these years, I’ll get over for it). This would be a big decision, so don’t expect Toyota to rush it. Lexus manufacturing in Mexico? I doubt it.

US: Toyota may build Lexus in US

If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. The model that time forgot. Interesting niche model down under.

AUSTRALIA: Toyota creates Land Cruiser LC79 for mining prospects

Ford Brazil’s EcoSport Mk2 finally breaks cover.

BRAZIL: After nine years, a new Ford EcoSport

Was there a ‘eureka moment’ when someone said: “Why don’t we remove the B-pillar and do coach doors?” “GM did coach on Meriva.” “Rear sliders it is.”

UK: Ford claims ‘undercover agents’ helped develop B-Max

First images of the new Range Rover. Check out the weight saving.

PARIS PREVIEW: New Range Rover loses 400kg [updated with engine details]

Land Rover on a roll with the Evoque.

UK: Land Rover starts Evoque night shift at Halewood

The Moscow Motor Show gives us something to write about and there’s a nice colour piece here.

MOSCOW REFLECTIVE: A show heading for global status

The Fiat Panda plant in Italy continues to endure tough times as demand falters in Europe.

ITALY: Fiat shuts Pomigliano yet again as economy stutters

I liked this item mainly for the curious name of the quango. Extreme circus?

UK: ‘High Value Manufacturing Catapult’ appoints Dick Elsy as CEO


Ford rolls out a product extravaganza and a new company mantra in Amsterdam. That new Mondeo though, won’t be coming quite as soon as Ford says because there are plant (Genk) capacity and model-mix issues playing out behind the scenes…

NETHERLANDS: Ford impresses with ‘Go Further’ product blitz

Honda in Europe puts on a brave face as it embarks on market recovery, helped by new product and a compact diesel engine that will be produced in Swindon.

UK: Honda aims to increase capacity at Swindon

Problem. You have a great CEO. He has led the company through choppy waters and effectively channelled company-wide resources into a corporate strategy that has brought clear and positive results. The problem is, what happens when he goes? Ford eventually produces a roadmap that gives Mark Fields, as the front runner among internal candidates for the Big Job, a great opportunity.

US: Ford CEO succession is talk of the town

The effects of this are still being felt and the diplomatic dispute between China and Japan remains far from being resolved.

JAPAN: Toyota’s concern over attacks on dealers in China

CHINA: Japanese auto JVs stay shut

It’s September, an even number year, and that means Paris Show (alternates with Frankfurt, which is odd numbered years). The Jaguar F-Type impresses.

PARIS SHOW: Jaguar wants F-TYPE to ‘do an Evoque’

Peugeot, meanwhile, opts to redesign the piano…

PARIS SHOW: Peugeot unveils (drum roll)… a piano

All our Paris Show coverage

Patrick Pelata left Renault earlier in the year. He pops up in a new role in a very different – to Renault – company. 

US: Ex-Renault Pelata joins US software firm

A report commissioned by the French government highlights the need for ‘inevitable’ job cuts at PSA Peugeot-Citroen and pointed to strategic errors in the past – especially maintaining independence at the cost of a strategic relationship with a partner. No surprises there. The politicians who said very loudly that they’d oppose Aulnay shutting may be able to gently ‘shift position’.

FRANCE: Government report highlights PSA failures, need for restructuring


We held a seminar in Swindon and the tables are turned as some of my spoken words are reported.

just-auto SEMINAR: ‘Growth paradox’ for the auto industry

Some perspective on Europe from LMC.

just-auto SEMINAR: More drastic measures needed for Europe over-capacity: LMC

just-auto SEMINAR: LMC cites Eurozone break-up and US ‘fiscal cliff’ as industry challenges

The month also brings more recall grief for Toyota.

JAPAN: Toyota recalls 7.43m vehicles globally

And Honda also had a window regulator issue.

US: Honda recalls 500,000 CR-Vs for switch check

JLR‘s China strategy takes a big step forward.

CHINA: Chery-Jaguar Land Rover assembly JV approved

And BMW confirmed that it will build a plant in Brazil.

BRAZIL: BMW confirms 30,000 unit car plant

European overcapacity crunches again as Ford confirms that Genk is to go. The clue was there with Mondeo delays tied to new tooling. Southampton (that was on borrowed time), maker of the ubiquitous Tranny (Transit) is axed also (Ford makes most Transits in Turkey these days, writing was on the wall). Ford also announces that it expects to lose $1.5bn in Europe in 2012, revised up from a previous estimate of $1bn. Scary biscuits.

GERMANY: Ford confirms plans to axe Genk plant in 2014

Genk coverage


Ford names Mark Fields as COO.

US: Mulally stays as CEO to “at least” 2014 as Mark Fields named COO

There’s a storm in the US at the end of October that dampens sales. But there will eventually be a fillip…

US: Sandy swamps sales

We learn that Mazda will make a Toyota model in Mexico. 

MEXICO: Mazda to build Toyotas for North America

And there’s an unlikely sounding collaboration: Renault and…wait for it…Caterham. Caterham, it seems, is advancing these days and has an ambitious management team.

FRANCE: Renault/Caterham JV to produce Alpine within four years

We hosted another industry seminar – this time in Swindon. 

just-auto Industry Intelligence Seminars

At the LA Show, Chevrolet showed its Spark EV.

LA SHOW: 2014 Chevrolet Spark EV shown

LA Show coverage


Get the geeks on it.

US: Ford updating software to quell EcoBoost fire risk

Nasty shipping incident in the North Sea.

NETHERLANDS: Six crew still missing after ship carrying 1,400 Mitsubishis sinks in North Sea

For the Japanese in China, 2012’s problems haven’t easily blown over.

CHINA: Toyota braced for further backlash over island dispute

Aston Martin attracts some considerable investment from an investor group. It should provide funds for new product development and frees the management to talk widely when considering technology brought in. That’s the theory anyway. What next for failed bidder Mahindra?

UK: Aston Martin sells stake to Investindustrial

Renault expanding with Dacia in Tangiers. Impressive facility, important to the Moroccan economy and for the R-N Alliance strategy. Labour intensive, low-cost. French government, though, might not like it while French carmakers rein themselves in at home. Just sayin’.

MOROCCO: Renault plans Dacia output boost

NedCar to BMW, deal done.

JAPAN: Mitsubishi completes EUR1 sale of Dutch plant

The Zoe is off and running to lead Renault’s EV charge.

FRANCE: First Zoe EV delivered to government minister

Toyota has to take this on the chin.

US: Toyota gets heavy fine for US safety report delay

This replaces something else, but is still good news for Sunderland.

UK: Infiniti’s Audi A3 rival to be built at Sunderland

Renault looks south for opportunities.

ALGERIA: Renault exclusivity deal will produce Symbol model from 2014

He can probably afford the legal bills. Don’t you just feel for those poor hedge-fund risk takers who lost out? It was a bit naughty though.

GERMANY: Wendelin Wiedeking charged over Porsche’s failed VW takeover

Coming together, for carmakers, is rarely easy.

Germany/France: Large cars project axed as Opel-Vauxhall & PSA revise alliance

Link to: Part 1 – January-June

Thanks for being with us in 2012. We wish you a happy and peaceful new year and look forward to seeing you with us again in 2013.