The week was looking routine until Thursday. Then it all kicked off.

The day started with the shock announcment PSA was killing off up to 8,000 jobs in France, which may end up as 6,500 if 1,500 from the doomed Citroen C3 plant in Aulnay agree to move to Poissy where other small Citpugs are assembled. At Rennes, 1,400 of 5,600 will get the French equivalent of a P45, plus 3,600 corporate-wide pen pushers. Grim.

This is going to give the new anti-austerity, socialist government something of a headache and there could be worse to come. We got on the blower to some analysts who drink capacity for breakfast and they reckon PSA still needs to axe another European plant and they aren't the first to say that to us. PSA, however, insisted the moves would be enough for break-even by 2014.

The news reportedly shocked the new French PM and has also rattled unions at Renault who are wondering what will happen at their shop, now PSA has made such a drastic move. Which apparently doesn't worry parts unit Faurecia too much.

Then, just hours later, came another shocker - GM had booted Karl-Friedrich Stracke off his perch heading Europe and Opel/Vauxhall. The official line was he had "stepped down" to take on special assignments, reporting to GM chairman and CEO Dan Akerson, while vice chairman Steve Girsky, currently chairman of the Opel supervisory board, would serve as acting head of GM’s European operations as the company searched for a replacement and appointed an interim chairman of the management board.

I've worked in places where a struggling exec has been sidelined into 'special assignments' so it seems Detroit was unhappy at Stracke's achievements though I'd have thought relative industrial peace and a business plan agreed out to 2016 wasn't too bad an effort. Perhaps it was telling that our earlier story quoted Girsky and others and not Stracke? The unions, though cautious in how they put it, nonetheless seemed pleased Girsky would run things for a bit.

All this came only a day after Japanese automaker Mitsubishi Motors ran up the white flag on European automaking and sold its NedCar plant to a Dutch busmaker for a symbolic EUR1bn. It'll book a JPY28bn loss this fiscal year. Hopefully, though, the plant won't die; it looks like it will be reBorn (sorry) as a contract assembler churning out a variant or two of the next generation Mini. Let's hope, for the sake of 1,500 jobs, that deal gets done.

Elsewhere, it looked that, after several years of relative peace, Samsung excepted, we might again begin to see a bit of niggle in automaker/union relationships in Korea, the brothers are out on strike today.

Turmoil in Europe apart, new plants are still on the agenda in other markets. Honda's China JV opened a new one this week and Nissan started on its new Mexican factory, you'll recall Mazda is knocking up one there as well. Build it, and they (suppliers) will come. As Koito said it would do.

Have a nice weekend.

Graeme Roberts, Deputy Editor,

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