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THE WEEK THAT WAS: Maruti restarts, show updates, Japan H2 slowdown

By Simon Warburton | 24 August 2012

If any evidence were needed that 'summer's lease hath all too short a date,' the rash of motor show previews in tandem with the looming and gargantuan Mondial de l'Automobile in Paris, are proof indeed the northern hemisphere is starting to think about the autumn and the return from the beach.

Just-auto's product guru, Glenn Brooks, has been running his forensic rule over the raft of events coming up such as Moscow here and here, Chengdu well, twice, and not forgetting the mammoth, Paris, here, there and everywhere.

Meanwhile Glenn has also been digging into how the president of Volvo Cars' Brazilian operations has been speaking about the company's plans for a production plant in the country. As of today (24 August), we're waiting for any confirmation of that.

Mr Brooks has also exclusively secured information on how a mid-life update for Kia's Sorento can be claimed to include a 'completely new' platform.

"It [upgraded Sorento] is the new Santa Fe platform - which is significantly changed from the old platform though it is a development of it," Kia told Glen. "We want people to understand it will provide a new driving quality including revised towing, better ride and handling and a variety of minor improvements in body control, safety and other areas."

Kia Motors Europe will reveal the revised version of this SUV at the Paris motor show next month.

Meanwhile, as uncertainty continues to rock Opel in Europe, Volvo Car Corporation (VCC) has announced the appointment of Alain Visser as vice president of sales operations within its marketing, sales and customer service division.

Until earlier this year, Visser, 49, had been the vice president of sales, marketing and after sales for Opel and Vauxhall.

What has one of the longest-running sagas in the Indian car sector finally came to an end this week with the resumption of work at Maruti-Suzuki's Manesar plant near Delhi, although the factory appears to harbour such a simmering hotbed of resentment, maybe this is not the end of it. 

Closer to home, Opel also announced it has told staff they will face pay cuts as the automaker slashes production and supply manufacturing at its Russelsheim and Kaiserslautern plants by 20 days until the end of the year. It appears the German unions have been brought on side - for now at least.

Just-auto's automotive director, Dave Leggett, has also been looking at how the Japanese car industry is bracing for a second-half decline to the domestic market and a knock-on drop to light vehicle assembly as incentives for eco sales in the country end.

Dave has also cast his eye on the fact the ageing of the UK car parc caused by two recessions, is creating additional demand and opportunities for warranty sales, according to RAC Warranty.

Ian Simpson, sales and marketing director at RAC Warranty, said the rapid slowdown in new car sales that had been in effect for several years, meant the average car was getting older.

It's a bank holiday weekend here in the UK - the last sadly of the year - and you can tell it's nearly the end of summer as I'm off to see my newly-promoted football team Southampton play at  home for the first time this season.

We're also all just gently coming down from the euphoria of hosting - if we may be allowed to say so ourselves - a spectacularly successful Olympic Games in London which passed off seemingly without a hitch - despite the eye-watering bill. My advice to Rio in 2016 would be to start enjoying every single minute of the build-up right now, because it will be over in the blink of an eye. 

Have a peaceful weekend, 

Simon Warburton

Business editor

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