Automotive Manufacturing Solutions
  • Home
  • Archive for From the Editor

From the Editor

  • Travel blog: Pressing business in Skodaville

    May 5, 2017

    I got lost in Mladá Boleslav. Actually, 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…

  • It’s time to get personal

    March 14, 2017

    The advent of 3D printing has set the industry’s imagination racing with regard to how far this innovative technology could actually push technological boundaries, particularly concerning personalisation. We all love choosing the colour scheme, upholstery, wheels and trims for our new cars, so how great would it be if your local dealership could offer customised spoilers, consoles or dashboards? You won’t need to imagine for much longer, it seems…

  • PSA and Opel? Why, Carlos… why?

    February 15, 2017

    Periodically, the car industry goes through a burst of rationalisation, with companies closing plants and merging or creating alliances. This is typically accompanied by a flood of headlines and stories about the need for structural change, realignment in the industry and so forth. It has happened before and will happen again…

  • The Trump factor

    January 12, 2017

    Donald Trump has arguably had more impact on manufacturing strategy than any US president in a very long time; and that is even before he has taken office. During his election campaign he lambasted US vehicle-makers, especially Ford, for building cars in Mexico, threatening to rip up the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) and to impose “a big border tax” on Mexican-made vehicles being sold in the US. At the time, he was dismissed as not understanding the industry and the car companies continued expanding in Mexico. Although there was parallel investment in the US, this did not detract from the Trump narrative that American jobs were being lost to Mexico…

  • Reality check for tech

    January 5, 2017

    In 2015, Samsung Electronics set up a team specifically to look at ways of penetrating the automotive industry. The South Korean tech giant was seeking to gain a firm foothold in an automotive electronics market that it predicted would grow to more than $100 billion in the next decade. Towards the end of last year, Samsung began to act on those ambitions. The group announced a deal to buy the US car infotainment and audio company Harman, valued at about $8 billion. According to the Financial Times, this is Samsung’s biggest acquisition to date…

  • Carlos Ghosn – hungry for even more power?

    December 16, 2016

    As the end of the year approaches, news from Japan has emerged about what Nissan – or more specifically, Carlos Ghosn – intends to do with Mitsubishi. Japanese corporate law allowed Nissan to take control of its troubled compatriot by acquiring just 34% of the company for 237 billion yen ($2.3 billion). Although only ratified in December, this was announced earlier in the year when Mitsubishi admitting to falsifying various emissions results for a range of small kei cars which it sells only in Japan. Nissan’s immediate involvement was in large part due to the fact that Mitsubishi supplied some of the affected cars for sale as Nissans…

  • What might Trump have in store for OEMs?

    November 22, 2016

    During the recent presidential campaign, Donald Trump was severely critical of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) which allows Mexican-made vehicles to be imported tariff-free to the US. At various times, he threatened to rip it up, or at least renegotiate it to give US workers “a better deal”. Trump coruscated Ford and GM for switching production to Mexico, despite the US factories which lost this small car production generally seeing it replaced by larger and more profitable SUVs or crossovers…

  • Reflections on the Paris Motor Show

    November 1, 2016

    This year’s show was notable for a number of intriguing launches, corporate reinventions and absences – no Mazda, no Volvo, no Bentley, no Lamborghini and, most interestingly, no Ford. Mazda stated that the strength of PSA and Renault in France made it difficult for it to have much of an impact at the show. On this basis, the power of the German brands will presumably lead it to pull out of Frankfurt next year. However, what may be true for Mazda surely does not apply to Ford…