This week it was, for once, my turn to stay back and mind the shop while colleagues scurried hither and yon to bring you news and interviews from a number of events here in Olde Engerland and Europe, all the while enduring 35C ‘heatwaves’, rail delays due to the ‘wrong kind of heat’, missed plane connections and the usual summer chaos.

You might like to start with our chat with Volvo Cars’ technical director about the 90 Cluster, development of the XC90 and what’s coming for two VCC architectures: SPA and the smaller Geely-Volvo CMA.

Next, we spoke to ZF TRW’s Peter Lake – a regular just-auto interviewee – about how the newly merged Tier One supplier is looking to leverage the power of its combined operations. He insists there is relatively little duplication in the new company following the German supplier’s acquisition of its American rival.

Still talking to Lake in Berlin on that trip, we learned how ZF TRW plans to develop a common culture over time as it looks to capitalise on the overall worldwide recovery in the automotive sector.

Our supplier specialist, Simon Warburton, author of those ZF TRW reports, has also built up a solid network of contacts in the Russian OEM and supplier sectors to the point where, over the last couple of years, he has been invited to chair several panel discussions at industry events in the country. He’s not long back from his latest trip to Russia and this year’s St Petersburg International Economic Forum (SPIEF) on the shores of the Gulf of Finland; variously labelled as president Vladimir Putin’s ‘vanity summit’ and those attending it as ‘Kremlin lackeys’. But, as Warburton writes, for the thousands thronging in, it was a chance to offer some defiance to a disapproving western world. This is indeed an interesting insight into the current state of play there.

Also from that Russian trip: a brake supplier on why more global political will is required to see autonomous driving truly come to fruition.

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And from our new columnist Ray Hutton: the diminution of Fiat – well worth a read.

This week, as usual, we continued just-auto‘s series of research snapshots – pulled from our automotive research platform, Qube, as Matthew Beecham put front end modules under his microscope. And it looks like Daimler’s Mercedes-Benz and BMW are gearing up for a me-first, no, me-first, ding-dong over bringing self-parking cars to different top end car segments. I can’t wait to have a go at either’s kit.

In the news, Chinese electric vehicle maker BYD – a specialist in emissions-free buses – has secured a deal to trial its world first electric double decker on London roads (where double deck trams and then trolley buses once plied for trade). I rode several miles in one of these ‘pole-less trolley buses’ at the Shanghai Expo a few years ago, a single decker. Very impressive acceleration, a/c and refinement even with what felt like 300 Chinese and westerners crammed in.

From Our Man in Brazil: infrastructure and logistics are making vehicle and parts production too costly down there. And, from editor Dave Leggett at an event up in London – the SMMT on how Britain’s auto industry is delivering on growth and sustainability.

Finally, a sad story that drew many readers’ attention and, I trust, not a little sympathy, especially from those with experience of being transferred to an unfamiliar country and integrated into a vastly different culture (women are very rare in any Japanese executive suite and local customs can take some getting familar with): the resignation of Toyota’s first female managing officer following her arrest over allegations of prescription drug smuggling.

Have a nice weekend.

Graeme Roberts, Deputy Editor,