Automotive Intelligence Gathering
All the key industry news summarised and neatly organised
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Favourite stories of the past week…?
- I’m Outta Love -- Renault won’t pay Carlos Ghosn his fat severance package because he can’t fulfil his non-compete clause -- something about because he is in prison Renault can’t control him. But what happens if he is found innocent? Will he go wistfully into the sunset or pop up somewhere else, perhaps replacing some lacklustre recently-appointed CEO, and start giving Renault nightmares?
- Blame It On The Boogie -- Ford says it has made plans to build UK-sourced engines elsewhere and Honda is set on closing the Swindon plant. Is it to do with Brexit? Well.. yes and no. Whilst the economic impacts so far might be considered unclear (sterling depreciation aside), there is over capacity in Europe and companies are looking for headcount reductions. Brexit has provided the antidote to the sort of political intervention that car executives hate (and consider when closing plants). Compare the UK government’s response (“one of those things, probably death of diesel, I’m sure not Brexit”) with the French economy minister throwing his weight around PSA’s offices over the Hérimoncourt closure -- even though all employees are being offered transfers. What will happen to other under-utilised UK plants? Will there be a stampede to get more bad news out before the Brexit chaos ends?
- Always Late -- US banking regulators say seven million Americans are more than 90 days behind on their car payments. If people are struggling then several things happen: they try to stretch out the loan to reduce the monthly payment = lower new car sales; they look for cheaper options = lower mix, perhaps even (gasp!) cars; there are desperate used car sellers = lower residual values = OEM losses on vehicles coming off lease = more expensive leases on new vehicles = lower sales of new vehicles. In three years’ time, will the GM / Ford / FCA move to increase SUV capacity look smart or like awful timing?
Volkswagen plan to make the MEB platform upgradeable so that used vehicle buyers can get a car with a specification and functionality that is better than when it came out of the factory gate
GM’s Corporate line seems to be growing inexorably -- how much longer investors will agree to hundreds of millions of dollars per quarter being spent without any substantive explanation?