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From the Editor

  • A winning formula?

    November 21, 2017

    Like all new strategic plans announced by vehicle companies from time to time, the new Opel PACE! plan leaves many questions unanswered. It’s not clear yet what will happen to the enlarged manufacturing network which PSA-Opel/Vauxhall now has…

  • Editor’s note: High anxiety

    November 16, 2017

    We live in anxious times, if the headlines are to be believed. In the UK, Brexit has seemed to be less of a concern to the consuming public than it does to a nervous business community. But worries regarding what the future holds for the millions of diesel and petrol vehicles on the roads are now beginning to trouble their once-proud owners. The potential impact that the proposed ban on the sale of these vehicles might have on resale values, taxation and so on is now starting to weigh on the minds of motorists and potential new-car buyers, and certainly won’t help the recent slide in sales…

  • So strategic

    October 24, 2017

    That car companies periodically set out their strategies and plans in investor presentations is both welcome and unusual; few other industries are quite so explicit and generous in terms of their information outflows…

  • EVs abound, but where’s the power?

    September 22, 2017

    This year’s Frankfurt Motor Show was a little different from previous occasions, with some notable absentees – namely Nissan, Peugeot, Volvo and FCA. Something else I was struck (rather than surprised) by was the increasing focus on electric vehicles (EVs). The diesel scandal has led to a major shift in public opinion, the political mood and car companies’ strategies. The disruptive arrival of Tesla and others has also helped…

  • A crossroads for Germany’s car industry?

    August 24, 2017

    These are challenging times for the automotive industry, especially in Germany, where it is a bellwether for the country’s economic health. But, as the Eurozone slowly emerges from its torpor, Germany’s automotive industry faces several ‘mega-issues’ with uncertain outcomes, notably the continued fall-out from the emissions scandal; the move toward electrified and autonomous vehicles; increased robotics and manufacturing automation, with attendant implications for jobs; and imminent changes in how cars are owned, leased or shared. As if this was not enough…

  • Editor’s note: The politics of production

    August 14, 2017

    I hate to give more attention to an egotist, but when the leader of the most powerful nation on earth threatens to start trade wars with other global big-hitters you have to at least allow for the possibility that he might do what he says. Among others, the key countries covered in our Asia-Pacific 2017 supplement, China, Japan and South Korea, have all come under attack from President Donald Trump as he seeks to boost US industry, though his proposed trade barriers are as yet no more concrete than his infamous wall…

  • EVs: Is this the tipping point?

    August 4, 2017

    The momentum behind the move towards vehicle electrification continues unabated. Most recently, both the French and UK governments stated their intention to ban the sale of conventionally powered vehicles by 2040. Volvo also caused a stir when it announced that its all-new model launches from 2019 onwards will only be offered with some form of electric powertrain, be it hybrid, plug-in hybrid or full battery-electric. But to meet these ambitious aims, government and industry will need to address the need for battery-cell capacity and charging infrastructure….

  • UK political farce will hit production

    June 26, 2017

    In early May, UK prime minister Theresa May called a snap general election believing she could both pummel the opposition Labour Party and gain a stronger hand in the upcoming negotiations with the EU over Brexit. In the end, neither “objective” was achieved and the country has a hung parliament and may well face another election in a few months’ time…

  • Travel blog: Getting hands on in Japan

    June 9, 2017

    Are traffic lights in public toilets strictly necessary? I would suggest they are a little redundant when the possession of at least one functioning eye can alert you to an available cubicle just as easily. Japan, however, is a nation so fussy about functionality that it takes automation to extremes, as I discovered during my research trip for our upcoming Asia-Pacific supplement. But how much automation is truly ideal?

  • EVs: The end of the beginning?

    June 7, 2017

    For some years, mainstream vehicle companies have largely toyed with producing electric vehicles (EVs); Ford, with its now-ended Focus Electric, and Volkswagen, with its Golf Electric, tested the market using existing vehicles fitted with first-generation electric powertrains. Nissan and Renault co-developed a purpose-built urban runaround (the Leaf and the Zoe), but sales of both models have been well below expectations, especially in Europe, and certainly not in the volumes required to generate a return on the investment in both product development and new production lines. However, during 2016 and especially since the start of 2017, things have begun to change…