PSA makes a UK van decision - the week

By Graeme Roberts | 6 April 2018

Good news for the Vauxhall van plant at Luton this week. The adjacent former car plant  complex was demolished years ago

Good news for the Vauxhall van plant at Luton this week. The adjacent former car plant complex was demolished years ago

Great news this week for the Vauxhall vans operation at Luton here in England this week. Despite Brexit, new Opel/Vauxhall owner PSA is to raise manufacturing capacity and add the production of Peugeot- and Citroen-badged panel vans at the factory. The plant, which started building Vauxhall badged Isuzu and Suzuki designed LCVs, more recently has been a JV with the Renault-Nissan alliance and built models for four brands but the technical agreement with Renault for the current Opel/Vauxhall Vivaro panel van - based on the Renault Trafic - will end and production will shift to right-hand drive versions of Peugeot and Citroen panel vans plus future Vivaro models on a PSA platform. Nice to hear, too, the decision was a major vote of confidence in a UK plant and reflected its core competitive strengths. Not to mention giving PSA a handy LCV plant inside a hefty UK market whose future trading relationship with the EU is still not clear.

On the analysis side, our look at the interior design and technology of Kia's Stonic, which I rather liked at launch time, was the most-read article this week. We also took a look at a new, Qashqai chasing Skoda.

It looks like an emissions war may be breaking out in the US where president Trump is threatening to roll back relax federal fuel efficiency standards set up by the Obama administration, although no details were available yet. The statement of intent from EPA administrator Scott Pruitt (under scrutiny himself for lavish spending and demands) reflects views expressed by Trump and opens up the possibility of conflict between the US federal government and the state of California, a leading proponent of clean air standards.

Despite winter's persistence in parts of the US, March light vehicle sales blossomed, posting their best performance of the year. Deliveries totalled nearly 1.66m as volume grew by nearly 100,000. The 6.4% year on year increase was the biggest gain since February 2016. The seasonally adjusted annualised rate (SAAR) came in at 17.48m, 660,000 units ahead of March 2017 and the most robust reading so far in 2018. But reporting sales just got a bit more difficult as GM said it would now switch to quarterly reporting (apparently the US industry once used to report every 10 days).

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) announced it is to develop and implement a plan to separate the Magneti Marelli business and to distribute shares of a new holding company for Magneti Marelli to the shareholders of FCA. The divestment of Magneti Marelli has long been trailed by FCA, which is looking to raise capital to shore up investment in its core car business. The separation is expected to be completed by the end of 2018 or early 2019.

Have a nice weekend.

Graeme Roberts, Deputy Editor, just-auto.com