GM and Ford announcements this week suggest investors are wary of headwinds ahead for car companies

GM and Ford announcements this week suggest investors are wary of headwinds ahead for car companies

Signs are that GM, sometimes referred to as 'Global Motors', is having a strategic rethink and tactically withdrawing from markets where the chances of making a decent buck, and consequent return to investors, are slim. Only recently, The General finally threw in the European towel: after years of good effort but continuing losses, it announced in March - eve of the Geneva show, no less, it would sell the loss-making European Opel operations to PSA Group in an EUR2.2bn deal expected to close by the end of this year. This week, GM announced cuts to its international operations which it said would save it around US$100m a year.

Among the measures announced would be a withdrawal from selling Chevrolet vehicles in India (its manufacturing there moves to export only) and South Africa, two emerging markets widely viewed in the auto industry as having good growth potential. In South Africa, Isuzu Motors is to purchase GMSA light commercial vehicle manufacturing operations. Also this week, we learned rival Ford - pretty much equally widespread internationally - would offer voluntary retirement packages to cut around 10% of salaried workers in the North American and Asia Pacific regions. This followed an earlier report the automaker was planning a new cost cutting drive that would reduce its global workforce by around 10%, aimed at boosting profitability and reassuring investors.

Time for some just-auto analysis so editor Dave Leggett, an economist, did just that with an in-depth look at the decade since the 'credit crunch' of 2007 - that eventually brought us a much more serious banking crisis in late 2008 and then a pretty severe global recession in 2009 - and the current situation in global markets and the challenges ahead for automakers with feisty investors wanting to see good returns.

Continuing with the analysis theme, we asked 'Self-driving cars - are we nearly there yet?' in our latest research snapshot eyeing progress on autonomous cars, I took a look at Jaguar's 2018 model year line with the new, in-house-made Ingenium petrol engines and we continued our analysis of automakers' current and future model plans with a review of PSA's redesigned, EMP2 platform-based Peugeot 3008, and Daimler's Mercedes-Benz Cars as well as what's in store for performance arm AMG.

In the news, with Brexit now happening, the UK government has begun consulting further with the UK auto sector, the latest US supplier survey results were announced, Ford Europe kicked off redesigned Fiesta build in Cologne and Volvo announced it would start local assembly in India.

Have a good weekend.

Graeme Roberts, Deputy Editor,