Brexit, long a word used on just-auto, finally began this week with the UK’s official triggering of the infamous Article 50; the first time a country has had the temerity to ask to leave the European Union. There sure were some rather surly Eurocrat faces being televised from Brussels but we took a balanced view.
We noted there are some very big uncertainties at work here, because an EU member state negotiating to leave the trade bloc is unprecedented. Countries normally apply to join and that is where negotiations naturally come in, for the terms of accession. The UK’s departure is, effectively, a reversal of the conventional negotiation with a nation-state.
The terms of the UK’s separation are governed by the two-year negotiation which will cover areas such as UK budget commitments to the EU, where the UK-EU lines of post-Brexit cooperation will be and reciprocity in areas like freedom of movement and citizens’ entitlements to things like health care, state benefits and visa-free travel. Officials will certainly be kept busy over some complex and arcane details over the next two years.
The auto industry, of course, wants to keep free movement of people and goods so the expected, oft-repeated, list of demands appeared again. We’ll have the last word: “The terms of the relationship may change, but the EU and the UK will still have to live together. A compromise Brexit trade deal that is liveable with in Brussels and in London is out there, somewhere. Finding it won’t be easy.”
In less contentious territory, I noted with interest Tesla had axed a relatively new, cheaper version of its Model S here in the UK. Clearly, range is more important than price. ‘No substitute for cubic inches’ reigned in the 50s and 60s; is it now ‘no substitute for kWH’ in the 2010s?
Our interview with Magna Steyr covering fuel cells and Slovenia plans drew a large number of readers this week and I took the chance to chat with BMW’s digitalisation chief, the man who casts a steely gaze over start-ups the automaker might be considering buying. Still in Germany, we took a look at VW’s work on future materials and the automaker also appointed a (brave) new brand compliance head.
Analysis of future models also continues – we have just published scrutiny of Nissan’s Infiniti plans. Break out a coffee and enjoy.
Have a nice weekend.
Graeme Roberts, Deputy Editor, just-auto.com