The obvious highlight of a very busy first-week-back-from-summer-hols was Ford's new product extravaganza in Amsterdam on Thursday (6 September) which was most interesting and had me thinking back to how much our industry and how we journalists cover it has changed in my 30 years (ye gods!) in the biz.

I reckon the most new models I have ever seen launched on one trip was Toyota New Zealand's 1984 event at which about five were launched - including the MR-2 and Tecel 4WD wagon. TNZ sure pushed the boat out - it took them, and us, three days away from base and highlights included being helicoptered up into the mountains for a multi-course gourmet lunch served by the five-star hotel's top chef and catering staff (themselves choppered up hours earlier) and then being choppered back down to ground level, passing choppered-into-place examples of the MR-2 and Tercel strategically parked straddling rocks in a mountain stream. Stunning.

I also recall being helicoptered - in a 1990s summer - from a top resort to the snow in the Alps high above the resort for a 15-minute break to throw snowballs before being lowered down the other side of the range to collect a new Ford Telstar (rebadged Mazda 626) for the drive back along a mountain tunnel route to base.

And, when working a few years earlier in Europe, the stunning Peugeot 405 diesel launch in Morocco where lunch was served in a Bedouin-style tent set up in a dried-up river bed after a scamper through the desert during which we drove through a literal plague of locusts. I still feel sorry for the support crews that had to try and clear the windscreens and grilles for the return trip to Agidir and the dozens of un-air conditioned 405s abandoned, engines still running and doors opened, as near-melted northern European journalists raced, fully clothed, to jump into the hotel pool to get some relief from the 45C heat. And I've also heard tales about spectacular events at locations such as South Africa's Sun City resort, an ideal spot to take northern Europeans for some southern hemisphere sun during their winter.

Them were the days.

In 2012, we all - media and industry executives alike - have fewer staff and lower budgets and headcount than we would like and most events that once took days are now achieved during a quick overnighter, or as was the case yesterday, day trip to Europe. And, boy, did Ford pack a lot in, with multiple new model reveals and a quick state-of-the-industry review in passing. So many new vehicles, so little time. I think I got most of it - our reports are here, here and here.

Another change. Back in the day you either wrote your stories and phoned them in to a copytaker, if you were lucky enough to have one back at base. Or you faxed. First thing Ford's presenter asked us to do yesterday was tweet (#gofurther) and we duly did - let us know if you (a) saw our tweets and (b) found this method of getting news to you fast, albeit in truncated 'soundbite' form, useful. Also worthy of note was the considerable banter on Twitter between journalists (an estimated 100,000 were also viewing online) and with the Ford media relations people globally as the event progressed and announcement after announcement was made. And, of course, thanks to the wi-fi that is now almost universal at industry media events, we can now start posting our stories on our websites even before the presentations are over. This, I like.

Elsewhere, European sales dipped for the 11th month in a row, a subject that did not escape comment at Ford's event. Executives made clear they were determined to deal with Europe, doing whatever it takes, which sadly may mean taking at least one factory out, even though they now describe their company as being "in "transition from surviving to growing". Nonetheless, there are automakers doing well, not least BMW, and we expect more good August sales news from its key luxury segment rivals.

New model news this week was not confined to Ford; rival and fellow struggler for profitability in Europe, GM, teased and named its new Opel/Vauxhall convertible, moving up a segment size from its Astra predecessor, and Volkswagen, at a huge event in Berlin similar to the blue oval's in Amsterdam, gave the world its first look at the 'Mark 7' Golf. More on that here and here.

Proving it's tough, but not all doom 'n' gloom out there, Honda announced a boost at its Swindon plant here in England, Land Rover announced a big spend to build the redesigned Range Rover it launched last night in London and Audi finally detailed its planned North American plant. However, niggle is looming over planned cuts at PSA in France.

Have a nice weekend.

Graeme Roberts, Deputy Editor,