There are all sorts of indicators that reflect the rise or fall in demand for vehicles. But as Michelin suffered its worst drop in its share price for seven years today, it might be time to reflect whether the car tyre market is one of those indicators. Obviously the sale of tyres that does not necessarily reflect the sale of vehicles, though logically the more cars there are on the road, the more tyres there are to sell. But you could still sell the same number of cars and have car usage fall. Or speed limits be applied more strictly so people didn’t drive like maniacs and wear their tyres out. So the relationship is complicated, but it is probably indicative of a problem in the motor industry in general.

This was borne out by highly respected industry analyst Arndt Ellinghorst, who was quoted in the FT today as saying that “80% of suppliers are likely to reduce their full-year 2018 guidance”. What does that mean exactly? Well probably most of them are not going to adjust their forecasts upwards, and he did say elsewhere that he expects to be this reporting season to be the ugliest ever. Certainly problems towards the end of this year with vehicle manufacturing, WLTP compliance and consumer demand have all combined.

Europe has had an energy problem for some time, being highly reliant upon places like Russia for its supplies of gas and for others for its supplies of fuel. So the EU has looked at our future power requirements, and decided to, as the headline says, jump-start its battery electric battery sector. With the emergence of the electric car an inevitable part of future transportation, it is obvious that we need something to power them. And batteries are the new power units. So Europe (and we have to presume presume the UK post Brexit) is looking at ways of promoting battery production.

They are sinking substantial funds and resources into the project partly because 80% of the current world’s production is in Asia. Compare China’s 69% market share with Europe’s 4%. Something needs doing and hopefully we will start to catch up. Though we had better be quick, our Asian rivals are already building plants in Europe to produce over here. European battery production may be a lost opportunity.

Have a great weekend, enjoy the weather. 

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