Category: Europe

By on July 8, 2019

Wary that China might have the battery market totally cornered by the time electric vehicles become mainstream, the European Union is trying to jumpstart the industry at home. This year, the EU has started working with manufacturers and financial institutions to develop a reliable supply chain of the lithium-ion packs that have been difficult to come by.

European Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic is targeting 100 billion euros ($113 billion) for the program, which Bloomberg said would help the EU “act like China.”  Read More >

By on June 27, 2019

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Back in January, Ford provided the preliminary details for its European restructuring plan. The company had been losing money there for years and didn’t want it to be remain a liability as it dumped cash into autonomous research and electric vehicle development. With aims to achieve a 6-percent operating margin within the region, the automaker’s plan to tidy up the business was put into motion.

Thus far, Ford has ceased production at three plants in Russia, cut shifts in Germany and Span (rest in peace, C-Max), and has earmarked additional facilities in France and the United Kingdom for closure. By the end of next year, the automaker expects to have cut 12,000 jobs related to its European operations.  Read More >

By on January 22, 2019

Cooperation is commonplace among automakers. Chrysler has worked with, or been purchased by, just about everyone at this point, but it’s far from the only manufacturer to get chummy with a rival company. Ford and Volkswagen are busy discussing their future together and Toyota tapped other brands to help it co-develop performance models like the 86 and Supra.

Despite their longstanding and occasionally bitter rivalry, Mercedes-Benz and BMW could be the next duo to cozy up to one another. According to German outlet Handelsblatt, BMW chairman Harald Krüger and Daimler management board member Ola Källenius are currently examining the possibility of an automotive alliance.  Read More >

By on January 16, 2019

british-leyland-mini

With Britain’s parliament rejecting Prime Minister Theresa May’s latest Brexit deal, European automakers stand to face some strong headwinds in the near future. As of now, no clear path lies ahead. Many believe the European Union will continue playing hardball, punishing Britain for leaving. But, even if it doesn’t, loads of regulatory and trade issues must be resolved in short order to avoid problems.

There’s also no shortage of hyperbole surrounding the issue. Just this morning I heard cable news call it “the largest crisis in Britain’s history,” as if World War II never happened. A channel away, another outlet proclaimed how splendid it would be for trade between the United Kingdom and United States.

Regardless of which side of the fence you fall, there’s more at stake here than Theresa May’s job. Automakers, who like consistency above all else, worry a no deal plan for “British independence” could be tantamount to flipping the industry table. They don’t like being caught up in the uncertainty surrounding Brexit, and there appears to be an endless list of issues to contend with.  Read More >

By on January 10, 2019

Ford Escape Titanium badge logo, Image: Ford Motor Company

On Thursday, Ford announced preliminary details of a plan that will ultimately erase thousands of European jobs in an attempt to return the business to profitability. The decision comes after several reports indicated the automaker’s restructuring program will be particularly hard on the region.

The plan now officially includes a slimmer product lineup, which is likely to result in the shuttering of several facilities. The manufacturer also announced a “leveraging” of existing relationships — specifically referencing a potential alliance with Volkswagen Group that would help support Ford in that market.

“We are taking decisive action to transform the Ford business in Europe,” explained Steven Armstrong, group vice president and president of Europe, Middle East and Africa. “We will invest in the vehicles, services, segments and markets that best support a long-term sustainably profitable business, creating value for all our stakeholders and delivering emotive vehicles to our customers.”

What does Ford think it needs to do to achieve a 6 percent operating margin in Europe? Read on.  Read More >

By on January 9, 2019

Brits have now been grappling with their Brexit situation for what now seems like an interminable amount of time, with no shortage of digital ink and political hot air spilled about the subject.

Looking past all the posturing, however, a disorderly departure from the EU could contain serious ramifications for companies making products in Britain, and fancy-pants Aston Martin has initiated a contingency plan to handle a “no deal” Brexit. Prepping for a worst-case scenario, the company is stockpiling cars in … Germany.

Read More >

By on December 13, 2018

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As part of Ford’s massive restructuring plan, which is said to focus primarily on its European assets, the automaker will end assembly at its Blanquefort transmission plant in France next year. Its 850 employees will now have to find gainful employment elsewhere by August.

However, there was a brief glimmer of hope after transmission supplier Punch Powerglide (encouraged by the French government) launched a bid to purchase the facility and rescue it from being shuttered.

“Despite thorough and rigorous talks over the past nine months, and the best efforts of both sides, the plan put forward by the potential buyer presents significant risks,” Ford said in a statement. “We do not believe that the prospective buyer’s plans offer the level of security or protection, or limit the risk of possible future job losses, that we would like for the employees.”  Read More >

By on December 7, 2018

Hyundai Kona EV

Hyundai’s front-drive Kona Electric began appearing on Norwegian streets back in August, slowly proliferating to other European countries ever since. Backing up the model was its enviable status as the longest-range EV on the market.

Using the new Worldwide Harmonised Light Vehicle Test Procedure (WLTP), testers rated the Kona EV’s range at 292 miles, more than enough to travel between tightly spaced European cities. Now, the vehicle faces a double blow of bad news. First, the testers got the test wrong, and second, a new Tesla his poised to arrive on the east side of the Atlantic. Read More >

By on November 16, 2018

It’s been a trade-heavy week. Earlier, the White House decided to postpone any major tariff decisions following a discussion with the Commerce Department over a draft report on the impact of auto imports, giving trade representatives from the United States and European Union room to talk.

Unfortunately, things don’t appear to have gone swimmingly. European Trade Commissioner Cecilia Malmström left her Wednesday meeting with U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer promising that the EU would have retaliatory tariffs at the ready if America pulls the trigger on auto import duties. However, she also said some progress was made during her talk with Lighthizer, but had nothing conclusive to announce

Negotiating with the EU has grown difficult and, frankly, the automotive aspects have become less important of late. The European Union is now discussing the possibility of creating its own army, leaving president Trump to tweet angrily about historical precedents.  Read More >

By on November 9, 2018

Volkswagen doesn’t want competitors unsurping its electric car efforts, so there’s a plan afoot to give buyers what they want at a much lower price, sources claim. Two reports, citing those with knowledge of a strategy not yet approved by the automaker’s supervisory board, state the company plans to go cheaper than its upcoming line of I.D.-badged EVs.

How cheap, you ask? How about $21,000? Read More >

By on November 2, 2018

General Motors vacated the continent in fine style last year, flushing the Vauxhall and Opel brand to Groupe PSA in a deal worth about 2.2 billion Euro. However, it turns out Ren Cen remains as a lingering presence in moving metal across the pond.

All this was spurred by a tweet by David Shepardson of Reuters revealing The General sold about 3,000 vehicles in the first nine months of 2018, compared to 684,000 during the same period one year ago. This makes sense, given the sloughing of Vauxhall/Opel.

Since the word “Europe” shows up exactly zero times in GM’s Q3 earnings report, it left your author wondering: what models comprised those sales? Not the ones I thought, as it turns out.

Read More >

By on October 26, 2018

Der neue Volkswagen T-Roc - Image: Volkswagen

Say the words “drop-top utility vehicle” and American minds desperately conjure up memories of Chevrolet, GMC, Ford, Dodge, and International Harvester models of the 1970s — anything to avoid visions of the defunct Nissan Murano CrossCabriolet and somehow still alive Range Rover Evoque Cabriolet. That latter model, it should be noted, is not for everyone.

In the Volkswagen stable, one convertible still exists in the North American market — the Beetle Cabriolet — but that model disappears after 2019. The retractable hardtop Eos left the scene a couple of years ago, hot on the heels of the long-running Golf Cabriolet. In Europe, VW dealers stock exactly zero convertibles, but that will soon change.

Right around the time Americans lose access to a drop-top VeeDub, Europeans will get a new one. And, naturally, it will be an SUV. Read More >

By on October 12, 2018

The European new car market is in a period of extreme flux. Once-dominant diesels are on the way out thanks to new regulations, looming bans, and cancelled tax incentives, with electrified vehicles poised to take over the high-MPG role.

But not everything’s rosy in the clean, green market on the other side of the Atlantic. A new, more accurate way of measuring fuel economy went into effect last month, and governments — as well as automakers — suddenly realized certain vehicles weren’t as clean as initially thought. Looking to buy a plug-in hybrid in the UK? Say goodbye to that juicy government incentive. Read More >

By on October 11, 2018

With California and the Trump administration squabbling over vehicle emissions, it’s easy to assume that Europe’s green initiatives are progressing trouble free. In truth, things are a little more complicated. Europe has come together to endorse tougher emissions rules but one of its member states appears to be reaching its breaking point. Unsurprisingly, it’s the one that builds the most automobiles.

Earlier in the week, EU environment ministers announced a need for countries to decide on reduction targets for the foreseeable future. Germany has endorsed a proposed target for a 30-percent reduction by 2030, compared to 2021 levels. However, France and several other nations are pushing for a stricter 40-percent limit while Austria wants to see 35-percent reductions. Although, the most interesting thing about this is how closely Deutschland’s arguments for softer standards are to America’s.  Read More >

By on September 15, 2018

It’s looking increasingly like the compression ignition engine won’t get an opportunity to redeem itself at Cadillac. After making diesel a dirty word in the early 1980s with the help of Oldsmobile’s cantankerous, oil-burning 5.7-liter V8, GM’s luxury arm dived back into diesel development towards the end of the last decade. A recession and bankruptcy put the kibosh on those outsourced plans.

Then, in 2014, happier economic times brought about a renewed interest in the pursuit of diesel. Cadillac hoped to woo MPG-loving Europeans by outfitting new sedan models with diesel powerplants developed in-house. Americans would get a taste, too.

Scratch that, says Cadillac president Steve Carlisle.  Read More >

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