THIS WEEK

I can pretend that the big news of the week has been Nissan’s decision to pull out of manufacturing the X-Trail in Sunderland, allegedly breaking an agreement with the government. But I won’t, even though its ramifications will be widespread. Because I suspect that the damage that has already been done by the Brexit debate has clearly signalled what is going to happen to car manufacturing in the UK over the next 10 years.
I could suggest that the investment by Amazon in Aurora, a self driving car start-up (notice how they really never invest in existing manufacturers, the technology is so new, the thinking so different that they seem to steer clear of our industry) with $530 million, no small sum, will be the one that will have the biggest impact. And in time, like everything else that Amazon has already done, it could well be.
But the big news so far today, at least, is the announcement that JLR made a thumping £3.4 billion loss in the last quarter of last year. Now okay, there were some technical reasons for this – they wrote down the value of their estate and their technology by most of that. However in trading terms they still lost nearly £300 million, which caused the write-down and everything else.
Obviously we are all hoping for a significant change in direction in markets over the next few years, because the current status quo is not sustainable. Global trade wars, trading blocs like the EU beginning to fracture, Chinese market beginning to plummet (still, at least that’s only a quarter of the world’s population) European neighbours falling out with each other over yellow vest protesters. You look anywhere and the news is not good. And if I look through the headlines of the major business papers, the only good news stories in our sector pretty only come from new entrants, not from the existing players. Headwinds pretty well everywhere.
Have a great weekend, be careful though, there are headwinds in the weather forecast too.
THIS WEEK’S JOBS

Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page
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QUOTE OF THE WEEK

For most men life is a search for the proper manila envelope in which to get themselves filed.
Clifton Fadiman (1904 – 1999)
If you make people think they’re thinking, they’ll love you; But if you really make them think, they’ll hate you.
Don Marquis (1878 – 1937)
Procrastination isn’t the problem, it’s the solution. So procrastinate now, don’t put it off.
Ellen DeGeneres

Have the courage to be ignorant of a great number of things, in order to avoid the calamity of being ignorant of everything.
Sydney Smith (1771 – 1845)

THIS WEEK

The global economic situation is worrying, but the UK is even worse. Whatever the outcome of the Brexit talks, one cannot get away from the fact that investment in car manufacturing in this country has fallen by 80% in the last three years. And while, to balance the argument, it fell by 50% in the two years before that, you could argue it should have gone up again. I’m not sure that this island of ours is being seen as a good place to invest in at present.

Our industry is fairly unique, in that it is one of the very few products that are produced in large numbers and that are counted accurately (even if there are some pre-registrations in there). When output and investment fall as spectacularly as they have done, we should all take notice.

It was announced this week that Go Vauxhall, the wholly owned subsidiary of the manufacturer, was being absorbed into Robins and Day. They are, of course, a wholly owned PSA subsidiary that represents Peugeot and Citroen. A significant move as the French owned group’s three brands align more closely. We wonder whether we will begin to see triple branded showrooms at some stage, and whether this represents the start of an important trend for the group.

Two widely diverging views of China this week. First of all, SoftBank and their $100 billion Vision Fund, (set up to invest in technology companies all over the globe) is set to invest heavily in Guazi, which is one of China’s largest used-car trading sites. The company is only five years old and is already valued at $8.5 billion. With the slowdown in new car sales in the Chinese market, peer-to-peer selling of used cars is seen as the next big thing. And Vision Fund wants to be right at the forefront of this investment.

This contrasts sharply with Ford’s experience this week which has seen its ambitious Chinese joint venture suffering a 54% fall in sales over the past year. Not surprisingly, US products are proving quite difficult to move in China at the moment with the ongoing trade war.

Have a great weekend, don’t forget to pack your Arctic clothing.
THIS WEEK’S JOBS

Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page
Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

Ninety-eight percent of the adults in this country are decent, hard-working, honest Americans. It’s the other lousy two percent that get all the publicity. But then–we elected them.
Lily Tomlin (1939 – )
Laws are like sausages. It’s better not to see them being made.
Otto von Bismarck (1815 – 1898)
Success didn’t spoil me, I’ve always been insufferable.
Fran Lebowitz (1950 – )

Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.
Leo Tolstoy (1828 – 1910), Anna Karenina, Chapter 1, first line

THIS WEEK

A story in AM online today caught my eye. Shares are starting to be traded in Pendragon as it was reported that a Swedish investment company had acquired nearly 10% of the group. This came seven days after another investment company, TCP, had increased its stake to 21%. Speculation is rife that the company is ready to be taken over, all of this coinciding with Trevor Finn’s decision to step down from his role as head of the group at the end of March this year. Given that they are the U.K.’s largest retailer by some way, this could send shockwaves through the retail sector.
It may not be big news over here, but in the US there is much talk about Tesla’s new Chinese venture. They have just “broken ground” on their new Giga-Factory, as they are calling it, which is set to produce 500,000 vehicles a year. They expect it to be in production by the end of this year. Now we know that the company has promised some ambitious figures before, and has then struggled to keep up, but the Chinese market for electric vehicles is already more than half the total UK market for cars, at 1.2 million. Grabbing a share of that is certainly tempting.
And China has recently relaxed its rules on local ownership, meaning that Tesla will be the first car manufacturer to open a wholly owned facility in China, giving it technological and financial protection from local interests. On the other hand it means that it will be a pioneer in working with local government and breaking through local bureaucracy to ensure things go as smoothly as they can.
Finally it seems that Renault and Nissan have both decided that their future lays beyond Carlos Ghosn. It has certainly been a rapid fall from grace for the world’s largest automotive superstar. If proven innocent then conspiracy theorists will point to a hidden agenda. In fact they already have, and many analysts are wondering whether the triple alliance of the Nissan, Renault and Mitsubishi can survive over the coming years. And whether this was ultimately what drove the crisis in the first place.
Finally, talking around my clients, the start of the year has not been quite as disastrous as they were expecting it to be. The retail market has been more buoyant than expected, stockpiling before a hard Brexit perhaps? Or merely that there are some fantastic deals on offer in the market? Time will tell whether we can maintain this momentum through the year, no doubt driven by events outside the influence of the motor industry.
Have a great weekend, at least the cricket back on.
THIS WEEK’S JOBS

Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page
Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

If nobody spoke unless he had something to say, the human race would very soon lose the use of speech.
W. Somerset Maugham (1874 – 1965), The Painted Veil, 1925
There are only two kinds of scholars; those who love ideas and those who hate them.
Emile Chartier
The case has, in some respects, been not entirely devoid of interest.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle (1859 – 1930), (Sherlock Holmes)

The fascination of shooting as a sport depends almost wholly on whether you are at the right or wrong end of the gun.
P. G. Wodehouse (1881 – 1975)

THIS WEEK

It is not going well for Carlos Ghosn. Just a few hours ago Nissan and Mitsubishi issued a statement saying that he improperly received nearly $9 million from a jointly owned Dutch company. In addition the Japanese courts have continued to deny him bail. He has now been held since 19 November and there are even rumours circulating that Renault is about to look for a new head. Nobody outside of this case can tell exactly the truth of the matter, and whether this is a particularly vicious political battle between the rival Japanese and French arms of their coalition, but the personal consequences for somebody who was considered probably the biggest star on the global automotive stage is enormous.
And talking around the industry at the moment, there is a fair amount of doom and gloom. Not least because many commercial decisions have stalled in view of the paralysis in the wake of the Brexit crisis. Given that almost anybody I have spoken to in business is not in favour of a no-deal Brexit, one wonders what the future is for the country. And whatever the solution, the majority of people just wish that it could be sorted. After all we were told before the vote that this would all be done relatively easily. I am not certain most of us believe that now.
Looking across the pond to the United States, I see that Ford (who have not exactly posted fantastic results over here recently) are in talks with VW about technology for pickup vehicles. Considering they are two of the largest manufacturers in the world, it shows the level of investment required to launch new products. And  for those of us who remain suspicious that in time car manufacturing will become less important, and car software and the bolting together of standard components will become the norm.
Have a great weekend, why not pop down to Paris while you still can.
THIS WEEK’S JOBS

Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page
Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

This paperback is very interesting, but I find it will never replace a hardcover book – it makes a very poor doorstop.
Alfred Hitchcock (1899 – 1980)
He who hesitates is not only lost, but miles from the next exit.
Unknown
I’m a great believer in luck, and I find the harder I work the more I have of it.
Thomas Jefferson (1743 – 1826), (attributed)

Don’t ever take a fence down until you know the reason it was put up.
G. K. Chesterton (1874 – 1936)

THIS WEEK

Well 2019 is only a few days old, but it is already looking like a particularly difficult year. So much for the hope that we could turn a corner this January.
Two stories clearly dominate UK news this week, first of all Jaguar Land Rover and Ford are preparing to cut thousands of jobs in the UK. Let us look at JLR first. With plans to cut up to 5,000 jobs, this is not very long after they announced cuts last April totalling 1,000 contractors to their manufacturing side. This time the emphasis will be more on distribution and marketing, though they have not guaranteed that factory positions will not go. It has been a pretty disastrous 18 months for the manufacturer, coming at a time when dealers have had to invest eye watering amounts in their new “Arch Concept” combined dealerships. With some groups still to put their hands in their pocket for some sites, you wonder what leverage the manufacturer will have to make sure this goes ahead.
Ford’s market share in Europe has slumped over the past couple of years, from 8% to around 6.5%. In a market as big as Europe, that is tough to recover from. Put alongside Vauxhalls well published problems (don’t forget they used to be part of GM until they were sold to Peugeot last year) the American manufacturers are having a tough time. Which is not surprising, as they have not been at the vanguard of the new technical revolution, and both (as well as JLR) have been slow to move away from diesel technology into electric and hybrid.
The other story to dominate is not really an automotive issue, but it is an automotive problem. And by this time next week it looks as if we will have a little more certainty, or uncertainty, over the future of the whole country. Because until Brexit is sorted out, car manufacturers will continue to desert the UK and move their production to mainland Europe. This is no longer “project fear”, it is the simple reality of being within or outside of the EU.
Have a great weekend. 2019 can only get better, we hope.
THIS WEEK’S JOBS

Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page
Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

If men could only know each other, they would neither idolize nor hate.
Elbert Hubbard (1856 – 1915)
My life has no purpose, no direction, no aim, no meaning, and yet I’m happy. I can’t figure it out. What am I doing right?
Charles M. Schulz (1922 – 2000)
In America, through pressure of conformity, there is freedom of choice, but nothing to choose from.
Peter Ustinov (1921 – 2004)

Everyone thinks of changing the world, but no one thinks of changing himself.
Leo Tolstoy (1828 – 1910)

THIS WEEK

Happy New Year to everybody. Hopefully 2019 will turn out to be more hopeful, more prosperous and more settled than we fear it might be. For a whole variety of reasons, not all linked to the U.K.’s exit from the EU, things will change dramatically this year. And the future of motor retailing in particular will crystallise, as technologies, distribution channels and ways of working move quickly to a new model. The problem is, we just don’t know what that model will be yet.
In the meantime, rather than get bogged down in domestic economic matters I have been reading the Wall Street Journal. The US has enjoyed its fourth record year of sales in a row. And at more than 17 million vehicles, a country that is about five times larger than the UK sells about seven times as many vehicles. But then the US is a big place.
And they cover a story that we have seen over here quite a bit, but have probably forgotten about during the Christmas break. The saga of Carlos Ghosn and his Japanese arrest. Apparently early next week he is challenging the basis upon which he has been detained, and in the meantime another senior director, Greg Kelly, has been released from jail, on bail. Something that happened on Christmas Day.
The paper also covers some of the Japanese prosecutors suspicions, things that I have not read about over here. It makes a fascinating read, and while Mr Ghosn looks to defend himself I am not going to repeat any of the allegations here. Partly because I have no idea whether they are true or not.
So it’s back to work, and probably back to reconsidering your own future. That is certainly been the case with many who have called us this week. Have a great weekend.
THIS WEEK’S JOBS

Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page
Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

An optimist stays up to see the New Year in. A pessimist waits to make sure the old one leaves.
Bill Vaughan
Cheers to a new year and another chance for us to get it right.
Oprah Winfrey (1954 – ), O Magazine
Each new day is a blank page in the diary of your life. The secret of success is in turning that diary into the best story you possibly can.
Douglas Pagels, A Wonderful Resolution For The New Year!
Now there are more overweight people in America than average-weight people. So overweight people are now average. Which means you’ve met your New Year’s resolution.
Jay Leno (1950 – )
THIS WEEK

For many people today is probably a quiet day of reflection before the madness of Christmas Day and beyond. Though that may not be the case for one or two franchises, whose manufacturers have just released a whole load of new cars. And guess what? They’ll want them registering before the end of the year. You finally sort out your supply problems caused by WLTP and a whole host of other commercial problems arrive instead. I suspect that December 31 this year may be rather busier than the normal New Year’s Eve.
Not so busy for former Nissan boss Carlos Ghoshn however. Newspaper reports late last week suggested that the courts had refused to extend his bail and were set to release him. However, yesterday we heard that he had been rearrested under different charges and will almost certainly spend the next few weeks continuing his stay in jail. All of which leaves the thorny problem for rudderless Renault at this moment, as they are without their guiding light and presumably have limited access to him.
Another big personality was in the news last week. Trevor Finn, who has been at the helm of Pendragon for the past 30 years, announced a well earned retirement. Life has not been easy for any of the bigger groups in the past year – while it is reported that he owns 16.9 million shares, at only 22p each in this morning’s market they certainly won’t go as far as they did a few years ago, when the shares topped 150p. On the other hand, he has probably got enough to live quite comfortably on.
It only remains for me to wish you all a very happy festive season, to thank all our candidates and clients for their custom this year and to look forward to a more successful 2019. One that is not blighted by debates about Europe (probably a forlorn hope), about the U.K.’s future in the global economy and about the future of the automotive industry in this country. But for a few days we can forget all about that.
Happy Brexmas everyone.
THIS WEEK’S JOBS

Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page
Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

The problem with the designated driver program, it’s not a desirable job, but if you ever get sucked into doing it, have fun with it. At the end of the night, drop them off at the wrong house.
Jeff Foxworthy
The smaller the mind the greater the conceit.
Aesop (620 BC – 560 BC)
Do give books – religious or otherwise – for Christmas. They’re never fattening, seldom sinful, and permanently personal.
Lenore HersheyA turkey never voted for an early Christmas.
Irish Proverb
THIS WEEK

I have searched high and low for another story bigger for our industry than the dramatic arrest in Japan this week of Carlos Ghosn, who until last week was one of the most important people in the global automotive industry. For those who have never heard his name, he was the man who was credited with sorting out a heavily indebted Nissan and returning it to be one of the most profitable automotive manufacturers for its size. He was then responsible for tying it very closely to Renault for he is also currently Chairman and CEO. More recently Mitsubishi has joined the fold. His arrest, for alleged misconduct in Japan, has shaken the automotive world and the three manufacturers under his care.
Say what you like about the Internet, but it does this type of rumour-mongering  very well. Conspiracy theories abound, was Nissan worried about ceding too much to Renault? Were the Japanese authorities worried about losing control of one of their most important manufacturers? Or has he simply been caught with his hand in the till? Nobody knows except those most closely involved, but they picture is certainly complicated, not least by the cross holdings of shares between the companies.
In the Times today they say that Renault cautioned against precipitous action, and that Nissan ignored them. It is also rumoured that as Nissan have effectively sacked their Chief Executive Renault has requested for a replacement on the board. And Nissan have turned round and said as he is still on the board there is no extra place available!
Whichever rumour you choose to believe, whichever side you take, it is a right mess for each of the manufacturers. If charges are proven in Japan, and let us not forget that Mr Ghosn is under arrest there, the newspaper reports suggest he could get up to 10 years in jail. Which certainly will not help him run Renault, where he is still very firmly employed. Renault themselves are going through a challenging time, not least with a contracting world market and a rapid move away from diesel technology in which they had become so proficient. With Nissan’s experience of electronic vehicles with the class leading Leaf, the sharing of technology and expertise would surely have benefited Renault. That looks less likely to happen now.
According to the Wall Street Journal he still has the back of the French Government in all of this. They own 15% of Renault and minister Bruno Le Maire has been quoted as saying that he has seen no evidence “justifying the accusations against Carlos Ghosn”. What a mess.
Have a great weekend, wherever you are.
THIS WEEK’S JOBS

Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page
Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

In these matters the only certainty is that nothing is certain.
Pliny the Elder (23 AD – 79 AD)
Seek simplicity, and distrust it.
Alfred North Whitehead (1861 – 1947)
An economist is a man who states the obvious in terms of the incomprehensible.
Alfred A. Knopf
One of the keys to happiness is a bad memory.
Rita Mae Brown
THIS WEEK

Whenever I start to write this newsletter, I always dial into the Financial Times for inspiration. They generally carry the most up-to-date news and articles about the automotive industry. None more so than this week.
To begin with, everybody is talking about the fall in sales in China. October is down 12% year on year. And while we have suffered similar drops in past years in the UK, one month of China’s sales equals approximately one year of UK sales. So it’s effect on the global market is massive. Last year they sold 28.8 million units. A pathetic sales penetration in the face of 1.5 billion inhabitants I will admit, but still very significant, and one that worries many European manufacturers, especially the Germans, who have up until now done extremely well over there.
Their second headline “Brexit isn’t the UK car industry’s biggest problem” is very appropriate. And in fact it ties in well with the launch of a new service called Turo which was announced in AM-online today. Because the gist of the FT article is that young urban dwellers are just not into car ownership any more, and consequently car sales are going to fall off a cliff over the next few years. Well Turo claims to have launched the “Airbnb of cars”. They claim that the average car spends just 9 hours a week being driven, sitting idle for the remaining 159. And if we could only rent the thing out for a fair proportion of those we could earn, on average, £6000 a year. And I am guessing, we could take another seven or eight cars off the road. They claim to have sorted out insurance issues and the technology platform, which is good news for car owners, consumers and the green lobby, but not great for car manufacturers. I suspect that many of us looked sceptically at Uber, Airbnb and even Amazon when they launched. Who knows how Turo will do, because we take the others very seriously now.
Their final headline highlights the new chairman of Tesla. The person who will finally rein  in their headstrong chief executive, Elon Musk. It has to be said that many are sceptical that Robyn Denholm will have the necessary toughness and authority to control her charge. Others, however, say that she has managed it successfully elsewhere, especially in the telecoms industry from where she originates. You have to say that the company needs it, and in fact the appointment of the chairman was at the insistence of the US authorities after recent controversies over their share price and production figures. But whatever the outcome, Tesla is here to stay, like many of the other new big players on the world stage.
Have a great weekend, at least you won’t be woken by fireworks this week.
THIS WEEK’S JOBS

Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page
Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

The aging process has you firmly in its grasp if you never get the urge to throw a snowball.
Doug Larson
Anybody can win unless there happens to be a second entry.
George Ade (1866 – 1944)
The older I grow, the less important the comma becomes. Let the reader catch his own breath.
Elizabeth Clarkson Zwart
You know that children are growing up when they start asking questions that have answers.
John J. Plomp
THIS WEEK

One of the biggest challenges facing dealers today is WLTP. But if you read AM-online this week, that will pale into insignificance compared to Brexit. Some, like Robert Forrester, CEO of Vertu, are quite sanguine about the problems – “The sun will still come up the next morning” and liken it to the hysteria surrounding the millennium bug. Others, on the other hand, are fearful of a no deal scenario, they reckon it will add 10-15% to the cost of a car and put thousands of suppliers out of business. The bad news is that the government only has a few months to sort it out, the good news is that we only have a few months to find out what’s going to happen.
And we only have a couple of months left in 2018. Which I am certain will come as a relief to a few people, not least Pendragon. Their report on Q3 was as downbeat as anything else this year, as revenues slipped a further 7.2%. Blaming most of it on WLTP, Trevor Finn nevertheless predicts that the rest of the year is going to remain challenging. He was encouraged, however, by used-car performance. And talking around the industry, it is clear that the lack of new car supply has forced a spike in demand for used, especially in fashionable franchises. However, this still makes used-car trading difficult, as you rarely outperform the market in terms of margin, unless you have the guts foresight to buy forward and stockpile used cars. And anyone in this business will tell you that is a very risky strategy. Predicting full-year 2018 profits of around £50 million, 2019 looks like it will be a crunch year for the group. Their move away from premium franchises means that a reliance on used cars will exaggerate any miscalculations in that sector.
If a continuing decline in the UK retail market was predictable, I bet many of you wished you had bought Tesla shares at the beginning of the week. Reporting their first quarterly profit in car manufacturing since they began, a healthy $377 million, meant their shares shot up by 11%. So I predict that Elon Musk, now chairman and no longer CEO, is not missing that extra bit of salary too much. And he is hopefully looking forward to continued growth for the rest of this year and into next. No WLTP considerations for electric vehicles.
Have a great weekend, winter is coming.
THIS WEEK’S JOBS

Here are some jobs from the past ten days. Check these out and see if there is anything tempting. Click on the link to apply immediately through our site. The situation is changing the whole time and if any link refuses to work, it is probably because it has already been filled and removed. Check out all our jobs at on our Jobs Page
Latest Jobs
QUOTE OF THE WEEK

The more original a discovery, the more obvious it seems afterwards.
Arthur Koestler (1905 – 1983)
An opinion should be the result of thought, not a substitute for it.
Jef Mallett, Frazz, 04-04-07
No one has ever had an idea in a dress suit.
Sir Frederick G. Banting (1891 – 1941)
Making duplicate copies and computer printouts of things no one wanted even one of in the first place is giving America a new sense of purpose.
Andy Rooney (1919 – )
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