Wild weather and waves this week

Wild weather and waves this week

It has been a week of high winds and resultant waves. Extreme weather system Doris hit us here on the edge of the Atlantic and caused a little local disruption.

And then there were the considerable winds of change blowing in the auto industry. Opel/Vauxhall's seemingly soon transfer of ownership to PSA is still causing some waves. It raises a number of uncomfortable questions. The main one is simply this: How does PSA turn GM Europe's very long-running losses into profit? There may well be a plan emerging based on sound business principles, but the politics can get messy (though that may be more an issue for 3-5 years out, when a plant or two has to shut). 

Sounds like the transfer negotiations are in full pelt to get something formally announced ahead of Geneva. GM clearly wants rid (other priorities). Amazing to imagine GM without a European arm, but the bottom line would be lifted. See our consolidated PSA-Opel coverage here.

Still on the theme of industrial consolidation, it looks like Proton may be getting nearer to a new industrial partner. And PSA, again, is in the frame. Scale, scale, scale.

Oh, and if you are interested in PSA product cycles, we can help.

There was also a consolidation development in China that caught our eye.

Is Carlos Ghosn retiring? Not exactly, though some news reports gave that impression when it emerged he is standing down as Nissan CEO. He still has plenty on his plate and sorting out the absorption of Mitsubishi Motors into the Alliance has been a major recent addition to that plate of late. The new guy at the helm at Nissan surely knows that a certain dark haired chap will be keeping an eye...

SsangYong, part of Mahindra, is a brand that has been enjoying quite a renaissance. It's not all down to one model introduction, but the Tivoli is a major part of the story. It's a reminder of how important the right product is to enjoying success in the auto business. I recently spoke to the UK MD, Paul Williams, who explained how this hit model is acting as a catalyst for change in the company.  

Is Russia a mess? Yes. And no. It's not the market it was a few years ago and there are problems for the economy, for sure, but there are vehicle sales to be had. Long-term prospects remain pretty positive and the market appears to be stabilising. Daimler is one of the companies seeing a glass half-full and is investing in a manufacturing plant there. I suspect a few people beyond Germany (Dearborn maybe) will also be a little bit pleased that there is a big vote of confidence in Russia coming from Stuttgart.

How worried should we, here in UK, be about Brexit? I would not want to dismiss concerns, by any means, but it is good to hear about investments in the UK supply chain. Tata Steel's latest investment in Britain is a positive.

Finally, there was the sad news this week that auto industry guru Professor Garel Rhys has died. He'll be much missed.

Have a good weekend.

Dave Leggett

Editor, just-auto

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