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From the Editor

  • EVs abound but where’s the power coming from?

    September 22, 2017

    This year’s Frankfurt Motor Show was a little different to past shows, with some notable brands absent, namely Nissan, Peugeot, Volvo and Fiat Chrysler. Press Day One also seemed less crowded than normal, with press office budgets probably not as big as they once were…

  • 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…

  • Travel blog: Pressing business in Skodaville

    May 5, 2017

    I got lost in Mladá Boleslav. There are worse places to wander than this northern Czech city; the crumbling old buildings are characterful, the Bohemian castle is picturesque and the mountain air is, well, a breath of fresh air to a visitor from London still trailing noxious fumes. But I was in town to see Skoda’s shiny new press line and in a rush to get to the factory…

  • Do national brands matter any more?

    April 26, 2017

    While most of the trade press at the recent Geneva Motor Show was focused on PSA’s takeover of GM Europe, some interesting comments by Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne went almost unreported: he confirmed that the next Fiat Panda will be made in Poland and that the company’s Italian factories will focus mainly on high-margin Alfa Romeos and Maseratis. Over three-quarters of Fiat vehicles sold in Europe will soon be made outside Italy…

  • After PSA and Opel, who’s next?

    March 23, 2017

    The acquisition of Opel/Vauxhall by PSA, which should be complete by the end of this year, took the industry by surprise. With Opel/Vauxhall still losing money in Q3 2016, most observers assumed that GM would simply close one or more plants, as on previous occasions, so the idea of the company actually withdrawing from European vehicle manufacturing after 90 years was a shock. As the industry absorbed the news and assessed its implications, it was not long before discussion turned to what might be the next move in terms of industry consolidation…