Technical Problems Cut Short My France24 Contribution.
I was cut short on the France 24 discussion program Wednesday evening on the European Auto industry because of technical problems.
Here’s a summary of what I would have said –
The award of Car of the Year to the Jaguar I-Pace was ridiculous because it points the industry in the wrong direction. We need cheap cheerful solutions, (like the Citroen Ami One) with an improved golf cart, not an electrified and hugely expensive SUV behemoth; runabouts for urban use, hybrids for long-distance driving.
Brexit – this provides a great long-term opportunity to the British auto industry, as I explain in my contribution in “Keeping the wheels on the road” – starts at p47 (Bite Size Books). The reporting of more threats from BMW/Mini and Toyota out of Geneva that they might pullout of Britain if there’s “no-deal” was ridiculous because it assumes a long-term lack of agreement which suits nobody. These companies should keep out of British politics. Currently, more than 50% of Britain’s auto exports go out of the EU. More than 55% of current exports are outside the EU and use WTO rules with no problems.
Honda’s decision to pull out of the UK (and Nissan’s to pull the X-Trail) had nothing to do with Brexit. Honda has never taken Europe seriously – market share under 2% 30 years ago, less than that today – US – from 2% 20+ years ago to 10% now about 8.5%.
Tariffs – it’s no use moaning about President Trump’s protectionist tendencies. The European auto industry has been hiding behind its own unfair tariff barriers – 10% versus the U.S.’s 2.5% – and unless this is put right fast, the European industry will be devastated.
BMW’s CEO made a big speech in Geneva about how the company is embracing the electric revolution, nay, leading it, on the day JATO announced last year BMW’s (and the industry as a whole) CO2 output was the highest in 4 years.
VW and the European industry assume 25% of global sales will be battery electric by 2025, but best estimates put this at less than 10%. This is a recipe for disaster.
EU regulations forcing the industry into an average 90+ miles per US gallon by 2030 will ruin the industry and make autos too expensive for the average wage earner; a recipe for political disaster.
Autonomous – going nowhere fast, a least for the private, mass market motorist. This is an expensive cul-de-sac which is crippling the industry financially. Where is the demand for autonomous vehicles? When will there be payback? This is the action of a paranoid industry looking to protect itself against an enemy that doesn’t exist.
Carlos Ghosn – what outrageous, lawless treatment. Most of us thought Japan was a civilized country with the rule of law. After this treatment of Ghosn, that doesn’t appear to be the case.