The week began with two significant events: a completely new look for us (read-all-about-it here) and black quarterly ink for General Motors for the first time since 2007. Yay! Finally, the shame of bankruptcy, public support (Government Motors, anyone?), much restructuring and executive pack reshuffling are all starting to pay off. As are some excellent new products. But our resident analyst ran a practised eye over the results and suggested there is still work to do.

Only today we learned that unions have pretty much signed off on the massive restructure of the European operations (not in black ink in the first quarter); the sooner that is finalised, the sooner governments here can kick in some loan guarantees and they can get on with cracking new models like the new Astra.

There was also a bit of promising news from Vauxhall here in the UK: optimism the JV that builds vans with Renault may get extended into new model territory beyond 2013. There is growing comment in the media that commercial vehicles will help the autobiz comeback – as a European financial meltdown looms – buyers can put off that new car but a CV is a work tool that wears out and must be replaced if the work is to continue.

Another major development this week was the pricing of Nissan’s significant EV – the C segment, five-door Leaf for this part of the world. Concerned at our comment about the disparity in stickers between the US and Europe, the automaker was quick to explain, giving an insight into the complexity of setting local retail prices for a global model.

And, while EV proponents are optimistic, there was caution over how long it would take for this type of vehicle to become really accepted.

Another little piece of UK automotive history is up for sale – anyone want Jaguar’s famous Browns Lane facility? Looks like it will retain the auto links, though.

A major sea change at Land Rover, confirmed this week, will see the company build its first 2WD model. Shock, horror, admission at last that not all Land Rovers are needed to climb cliffs. Also change at Toyota where, for the first time, diesel and hybrid will coexist in a range, in this case the UK-built Auris Hybrid.

Meanwhile, having geared up for the voltswagen, the UK plant is hoping to lure in more hybrid building business.

The week ended with a little bit more good news for the US industry – Tesla has bought the former NUMMI plant in Fremont as previous owner Toyota takes a $50m stake in the up and coming EV maker. It looks a good fit – top quality plant, handy to Silicon Valley – but no mention yet of rehiring any UAW workers.

Have a nice weekend.

Graeme Roberts
Deputy/News Editor