There was good news and bad news from the giant emerging market that is China this week.

If you saw the TV news reports of the effects of the worst snowfalls in about 50 years, you know where this is heading. No, the automakers did not escape lightly but at least the doom 'n' gloom was countered by some good news from BMW's local JV which is expanding output by 45%.

It was not difficult to feel sorry for the millions of migrant factory workers trying to get home to families for Chinese New Year (this is usually their only annual holiday), especially the poor chap interviewed by CNN who had not been able to make it back to the countryside for three years. Make that four now.

In other news, the has-Toyota-beaten-GM-at-last? question was answered almost before the ink was dry, so to speak, on last week's TWTW. For the answer to the burning issue, click here.

Wacky story of the week had to be Ford of Britain commissioning two Hollywood composers to design instruments made from components from the latest Ford Focus, and then getting musicians to play them for a new TV ad. All very clever, and not dissimilar to Honda UK's Civic ad which had a choir mimicking most of the mechanical sounds the Honda makes, down to the sound of the windscreen wipers swishing across the 'screen.

Back in the more serious stuff, Hyundai-Kia finally committed to a big local plant in South America, Brazil to be precise. 100,000 units a year to be even more precise. A brave move that, in a market that slumped in the 1990s, just after a first round of massive foreign automaker investment. Most weathered that storm and Brazil has rewarded the stayers with such growth in the last few years that over capacity has quickly become under capacity again, and more investment, lots more, is coming.

Meanwhile, in the emerging eastern Europe markets of Romania and Poland, Mercedes is said to be eyeing sites for a new factory.

Finally, this Friday afternoon, never underestimate the ingenuity of plant maintenance engineers. We were intrigued to hear how those at Ford's Halewood Jaguar X-type and Land Rover Freelander plant have adapted a JCB - those famous yellow and black grown-ups' toys you usually see on a building site (or your local agricultural show) - to hoist uncooperative robots off the line for speedy repair and replacement.

Enjoy your weekend.

Graeme Roberts news editor

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