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November 9, 2018

Ford goes for a Spin – the week

When it comes to urban mobility, the stand-on electric scooter is vying to be a part of the picture, via an asset-sharing business model.

By Sam Duke

When it comes to urban mobility, the stand-on electric scooter is vying to be a part of the picture, via an asset-sharing business model. I remember the push powered ones as a kid; quite a fun way to complete short distances, perhaps. Will they have staying power and translate to urban environments beyond places like California? Clearly, some operating environments are more scooter friendly than others, but maybe a market niche will be created that is sustainable in some places. The choices for first- and last-mile mobility continue to grow and car companies realise that they can’t ignore changes to the way we move around urban areas – even if, perhaps especially if, the motor vehicle’s part or share in the whole picture is impacted.  

Ford has dived in to purchase scooter company Spin.

We also published analysis this week that looked at Ford’s product strategy – vehicles that is, not scooters or bicycles. While Ford is getting out of conventional cars in the US – and piling into SUVs and trucks – that’s definitely not the picture around the world. Horses for courses. For all the talk of a global market for consumer goods, including cars, there are still big differences between what consumers buy in London, Detroit, Shanghai and Tokyo. Car markets may have got closer, but they are far from identical in terms of segmentation and road vehicle operating conditions. I like the new Ford Focus, but I can see why it’s not exactly a priority to offer it in a US market that continues to shift towards trucks. That said, there is still money to be made for some in the traditional car segments…

Future plans show Ford isn’t exiting cars

ANALYSIS – Future Ford SUVs and pick-ups

We had some more market numbers to pore over this week, including the US light vehicle market, Western Europe’s car market and the ASEAN. There are still encouraging numbers for the industry in some places.

And if we’re looking a long way out to the future, Africa is a continent with plenty of demand potential. Nissan is notable for its strategy to explore opportunities in what might be termed ‘next wave’ emerging markets. And now, there is an opportunity being explored in Ghana.

Nearer to home, Brexit continues to be high up in the news bulletins. A deal between the UK government and the EU is still not done and time is running out to get everything in place for an ‘orderly’ UK exit in March of next year. Company investment plans are being put on hold or changed as risk assessments and risk mitigation strategies are adjusted and the calendar shows time running out. German components supplier Schaeffler admitted that Brexit was a factor in its decision to close two UK plants.

Schaeffler hints at Brexit as two UK sites due to close

Jaguar Land Rover is among the UK companies that have warned of the potentially highly adverse consequences of a so-called ‘no-deal’ Brexit. It also has a manufacturing facility coming on stream in Slovakia which will be making all Land Rover Discoverys from next year. Intriguing then, to see that it is stepping up efforts to develop supply lines in Eastern Europe.

Jaguar opening supplier liaison office in Hungary

The week also brought news of Michelin shutting a tyre plant in Scotland, Renault LCV investments in France and a very big investment by Bosch in a new semiconductor fabrication plant in Dresden. 

Have a good weekend.

Dave Leggett

Editor, just-auto

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