BMW’s independent streak, Opel’s loan bid and extra shifts plus the effects of a certain chancellor’s ‘Austerity Budget’ on the UK autobiz drew the crowds to j-a this past week.

BMW may share the odd Mini engine with PSA but, as an analyst chatting with editor Dave Leggett pointed out this week, it is pretty independent minded and, despite cost and other challenges, looks like staying that way, the odd individual project collaboration aside.

Business editor Simon Warburton was at the ANE Congress in Bilbao this week and brought us news of Opel chief Nick Reilly’s bafflement at critics of his recent, now canned, loan guarantee bid.

Opel – and affiliate Vauxhall – also had some good news this week: rising demand for its nice new cars – Astra and Meriva come immediately to mind – means more shifts need slotting in to the output schedule ahead of the annual summer European shutdown.

Here in the UK, we had a reality-check, post-election emergency budget. Once the smoke of the slash ‘n’ burn – pensions, benefits, government capital spending, etc – had cleared the auto industry had a look and found a sales tax hike around GBP300-400 on the average car was the main thing the consumer would notice, albeit with the benefit, if you can call it that, of bringing forward a few 2011 sales into 2010.

Also in Bilbao, Ford’s European chief raised the thorny issue of regional over-capacity at the same time as his counterparts in Asia were announcing a new car assembly plant.

Speaking of Asia, we had an interesting report from India this week on how the components pie is sliced up, the details may surprise.

Enjoy your weekend.

Graeme Roberts
Deputy/News Editor