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.

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Charles M. Schulz (1922 – 2000)
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