There are two long-running stories – or should that be sagas – on just-auto currently that just won’t go away, a bit like that annoying, half-dead, end-of-summer blow-fly that gets into your office and just won’t disappear again, despite numerous physical and/or chemical inducements.

I refer, of course, to Saab and the tragic Thai floods, both of which have taken up long-term residence in our home page Hot Topics section.

I’m not, for a moment, making light of either situation, both of which either have had, or will have, tragic human effects. Like you, I have seen the TV images of people, their homes and livelihoods in ruins, battling through floodwaters to beg soldiers not to dismantle (or open) a dam likely to cause even more misery to a residential section of Bangkok, or to try and re-open an office, factory, shop or market stall (no welfare benefit system in Thailand). The floods may be receding now but anyone who has ever seen the aftermath of a decent inundation will know how much heart-breaking and expensive repair and rebuilding lies ahead.

As, very well, does the Thai motor industry. Water round Honda’s Ayutthaya plant was high enough to float freshly-assembled City sedans seen, tail lights pointing to the sky in those amazing aerial photos. They’re now scrap (I hope); imagine the insurance claim, the damage to equipment, electrics, hydraulics and electronics in the plant. The task ahead of drying out, assessing damage, replacing irreparable parts and equipment will take months – we’ve seen estimates of six at least – but this is likely to be almost as mammoth a task as fitting out a new-build plant and could well take much longer.

Meanwhile, the effects overseas rumble on – we reported today on the near-disaster now affecting Honda Siel Cars India, whose plant is a ‘daughter’ of Honda Thailand’s Ayutthaya – the Indians have orders for 6,000 new Brios and 4,000 Jazz, should be busily cranking out 6,000 units a month, but will likely stitch together just a few hundred this month, if they’re lucky. Imagine the effect on Honda Motor’s fiscal third quarter results?

Toyota Thailand, at least, is getting back to some resemblance of normality and that should now crank up as parts supplies slowly return to normal – you gotta admire the ‘male worker, whose home was flooded, [who] said, ”I departed from home at 4am, coming here by various means of transport including a boat. Although coming here was tough, I’m rejoicing at returning to my place of employment”.’ How many western workers would do and say that?…..

Further afield, the floods are still crimping Toyota group complete vehicle output in Japan though things are now looking healthier in the US.

It ain’t over yet, not by a long shot.

Which is much the same summary that can be applied to Saab developments this week. The licensing wrangling with GM is still ongoing with no apparent resolution in sight, as I write, and it appears the long-suffering unions are getting ready, reluctantly, finally to put their members first and take the bankruptcy nuclear option in an effort to not let a bad situation get any worse.

Talk of what could be split up and sold off is unlikely to provide much comfort to thousands of workers looking down the barrel of a likely lengthy spell of unemployment – I hear there are few large employers in Trollhatten to absorb the laid-off Saab workforce in much the same way MG Rover workers had limited options here in central England back in 2005.

Speaking of Middle England, Toyota’s Derbyshire plant had good news to share this week. It’s been through a tough couple of years, hit by falling demand and quake-related parts shortages, laid off some hundreds and made some major efficiency changes such as consolidating two final lines into one flexi-line. But that’s all paid off in the form of the contract to build the next generation Auris (Corolla) hatchbacks for Europe.

We much prefer reporting that sort of news.

Have a nice weekend.

Graeme Roberts, Deputy Editor,