Your weekly guide to all that’s rotten in the auto industry, plus some good bits
It was inevitable sooner rather than later one of the UK’s biggest car manufacturers would break ranks and scream ‘bollocks!’ at Theresa May. Jaguar-Land Rover stepped forward. Jaguar was among the first to warn of doom, or at least the parent company, the Indian steel conglomerate Tata, did the deed. Will we have to say ta ta tae Tata?
The company’s boss made a blistering criticism of Theresa May’s handling of Brexit, condemning the xenophobic utterances of Tory Party leading Euro-sceptics who claim there’s “nothing to fear” about tumbling out of the EU without a deal.
Ralf Speth, the chief executive, spelled it out in big turbo-charged letters. He told the prime minister that the company’s factories faced grinding to a halt and “tens of thousands” of jobs in the sector lost if she failed to reach an agreement with Brussels. Speth was reacting to various Tory ministers preparing the Brit public for a no deal Brexit exit.
Readers will remember Theresa May’s first reassurances over leaving the EU was not to us, the electorate, but to car makers. She stated there would be no tariffs, or if there were, the UK government would use your and my taxes to compensate car makers. (I don’t recall voting for that!) The manufacturers went home mildly mollified but grumbling. That was when the Tory Party were ultra-confident the smelly, nasty non-black pudding eating Europeans would cave in and offer merry England all the deals it wanted, free of charge.
Ralph Speth’s full name is, Dr Ralph Dieter Speth, KBE FREng, German born, previously a successful BMW executive, no lover of English racism. He is unconvinced by English good mannered diplomacy where you don’t say what you mean, preferring to speak his mind when his company’s future is at stake.
In a surprise intervention at a car industry summit organised by the government, (no summit for you Scotties!) he described the prospect of a cliff-edge break with the EU as “horrifying”. Insiders say he got very animated and didn’t waste words. He sees Brexit as the “worst of times” for the UK. Germans caring for British economic health. How times have changed.
I can imagine Speth banging the table with his fist as if the Russian army was at the gates. Job of a lifetime, living away from home, and a crazy, deadbeat government is putting his sacrifice at risk. Moreover, he will have to lay off workers. Who wants to preside over failure imposed by a dumbass government?
Speth warned that a hard Brexit would cost his company £1.2bn a year, wiping out profits. He argued that getting car parts from Europe was in jeopardy. “What decisions will we be forced to make if Brexit means not merely that costs go up, but that we cannot physically build cars on time and on budget in the UK?”
Speth’s anger follows similar outpourings from industry chiefs, including Airbus and BMW. They are concerned about the potentially damaging consequences of Britain’s decision to leave the EU. He told the conference that friction at the border could jeopardise production to the value of £60m a day. He warned speed of production and delivery to sales outlets was essential – “Put bluntly, we will not be able to build cars”.
Reminding May’s cabinet of their blindness to the obvious, Speth added: It is cheaper for the company to make cars in Slovakia than Britain. “Six months from Brexit and uncertainty means that many companies are being forced to make decisions about their businesses that will not be reversed, whatever the outcome, just to survive.”
Well done, Tory Party. The wrecking ball is all yours now.
PS: (Slovakia? That wee country? Whit’s wrang wi’ Sco’land, ya numptie? Oh aye. Ah furgoat. Wur still in the stewpit cawd Yookay fir oor sins. Aye, we-urr tha’ real bampots.)
GROUSEY’S FOOTWELL FINDS
Fifth Gear back on screen
For a long time Top Gear’s mix of banter, laddite chat, casual right-wing colonialism, celebrity interviews, and sneer dominated car issues on television to such an extent broadcasters were reluctant to give the green light to other types of car programmes. In my television executive days I managed to see four car programme ideas turned down: classic car renovation, the corrupt world of car lobbying, a history of car design, and a consumer series devoted to car and garage complaints. Car nuts and petrolheads will be pleased to see ITV’s rendition of lads in cars canter and banter back again. Fifth Gear, the thinking man’s Top Gear has a new series, and, contrary to Clarkson’s whine women are useless with cars, Fifth Gear actually has women drivers doing some of the presentation. Fab Four, Vicki Butler-Henderson, Tiff Needell, Jason Plato and Jonny Smith are joined by guest presenters such as snooker champion Ronnie O’Sullivan. The New series is shown on Quest freeview channel 37 in Central Scotland, and HD channel 114 Thursdays 9pm repeated Fridays. Enjoy.
The motor industry hates Tesla, and Elon Musk specifically for upsetting the their monopolistic lazy, pile ’em high, sell ’em quick, ways. His company has had rotten press coverage since Musk announced his ambitions to electrify the planet’s highways. No wonder Tesla doesn’t use press advertising. What with alleged problems on assembly lines, fallout with executives, poor staff morale, Musk smoking pot while interviewed, sending a car into space tied on a rocket, Tesla on and off the Stock Market, and now keyless entry that’s easy to decode. Security researchers at a mouthful of a company called Computer Security and Industrial Cryptography – phew! – claim they were able to attack and clone two Tesla S cars, and so able to drive off with the vehicles. To be fair, they did the same on other high-end brands but only Tesla gets the publicity. Months back Tesla previously released a ‘pin to drive’ in response to concerns but the news is just as valid now to print by a hostile press.
The farmer’s friend
The honest old Landie, that hen house on wheels with panel gaps seen from space, is no longer produced by Land Rover. The company has announced they will produce an entire family of the mud-plugging, pig pulling, chicken carrying, stump lugging, jumped up army jeep to the motoring market. There will be a basic one with rubbers carpets, a van, a four and a seven seater, a luxury version, and a shiny short-wheelbase one for the aspiring young couple who like to wear green wellies most of the day. Cars are all about advertising your lifestyle, very little about getting from A to B.