So the World Cup has started, and customers around the world will no doubt be deserting showrooms and staying glued to their TV sets. Not least in Germany, who seem to always figure in the final stages, though VW will be hoping their customers keep on buying. Somehow they need to make up the €1bn fine that was levied on them by the German authorities this week. Not surprisingly, this is a record for the German state prosecutor, and reflects the seriousness with which they view VW’s transgressions. Having said that, it pales into insignificance compared to the $20bn that the US has levied on it so far. However, it does not seem to have harmed the manufacturer’s fortunes either in the UK or elsewhere, as they continue to report encouraging sales.
And encouraging sales is something that Elon Musk must be hoping for. As this week they announced a 9% cut in Tesla’s car company workforce. About 3,500 jobs are to go as he comes under intense pressure to show that the company can start producing 5,000 a week of his mass-market Model 3. So far they have spectacularly failed to do so, though recently they have been assured they will hit this production target by the end of June. There seems to be no doubt that once they do, with the rapid expansion in sales of electric vehicles, they will hit their sales targets.
US markets were rocked this morning by the announcement, not unexpected, the Trump was planning to impose a 25% tariff on $50 billion of Chinese imports. China has issued a statement confirming that it will retaliate. The worry for our industry is that this is a war that could escalate, and already there is talk of tension between the EU and the US. Particularly affected will be the German manufacturers, especially Audi and Porsche who export heavily to US markets. No trade war is a good war, and although certain manufacturers may benefit in the short term, denying themselves access to the largest and fastest-growing car market in the world could have damaging long-term effects. It is known that many Republicans are uncomfortable with this, as they are by nature a free trade party, so we will have to wait and see exactly how severe and how quickly this war escalates.
Have a great weekend – you can relax, England don’t play until next week.

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One has a greater sense of intellectual degradation after an interview with a doctor than from any human experience.
Alice James
Interestingly, according to modern astronomers, space is finite. This is a very comforting thought– particularly for people who can never remember where they have left things.
Woody Allen (1935 – )
Whenever I dwell for any length of time on my own shortcomings, they gradually begin to seem mild, harmless, rather engaging little things, not at all like the staring defects in other people’s characters.
Margaret Halsey
A hotel isn’t like a home, but it’s better than being a house guest.
William Feather (1908 – 1976)
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