Car News: Brexit what dunnit

Your weekly look at all that sucks in the car world, plus some good bits


Man of surprises, Elon Musk, Tesla’s unstoppable boss, has said categorically -stressed here for the benefit of doubting union readers – Brexit uncertainty played a defining role in the firm’s decision to build its first European factory in Germany rather than the United Kingdom. The tear away entrepreneur also revealed the firm’s European battery plant would be built on the outskirts of Berlin.

Musk said: “Brexit made it too risky to put a giga-factory in the UK.”

Sounds sensible in more ways than one. Despite being up against the giant German brands, Mercedes, BMW and VW, now moving over to electric vehicles as fast as their savings allow, they are way behind Tesla – thus, there’s room for co-operation and not just competition.

The European market is best sold new cars from a place in Europe. Had Scotland been independent, a member of the EU in its own right, we could have been a contender.

Scotland is a perfect location to build safe modern, durable vehicles for export to England and beyond, a factory starting with a green field site. This is yet another example of how, tethered to Westminster’s regressive and repressive rule, we are only a fraction of the nation we could be, patronised when told we ‘punch above our weight’.

The US electric car maker also plans to locate a research and development base in the German capital. Musk announced the Berlin decision at a car industry awards ceremony on Wednesday night – [US time] hosted by the German tabloid Bild. 

“Some of the best cars in the world are made in Germany. Everyone knows that German engineering is outstanding, for sure, and that’s part of the reason why we are locating our giga-factory Europe in Germany. We are also going to create an engineering and design centre there.”

Two years ago Musk played down the effects of Brexit assuming the UK would get some of solid new relationship with the European Union, but insiders are saying he grew more and more alarmed as events progressed.

Musk had previously said that if there was sufficient demand a factory could be built in the UK. Tesla also planned to build an Research and development base in the UK and that too has been cancelled.

If anything is a warning to England’s suicidal isolationism – make England insignificant again – the rise of electric cars and production switching – excuse the pun – to Europe is one dramatic flashing red light alarm.

Like other small car start-ups, such as Tucker Cars, immortalised in the Francis Ford Coppola film Tucker – The Man and His Dream, Tesla has been the victim of massively sustained, one might conjecture co-ordinated, vicious attacks from traditional car makers in the USA scared stiff at what they say they welcome – competition. Their investment in companies making petrol and diesel engines shaken, catalytic converters and exhausts redundant, they have played as one expects from precedent, dirty.

Fake Twitter accounts dropping negative analysis and comment daily into social sites and car magazines, and paid auto journalists screeching anything from, nobody will buy the cars, through warnings of batteries just as pollutant as combustion engines, finishing with, the company will never last, have been the staple welcome since Tesla’s inception.

Tesla has survived this onslaught of mostly baseless negativity, this year rebounding from a rocky start to a reported surprise third-quarter profit of $143 million USD, sending its stock price soaring more than 17% in after-hours trading.

The electric automobile company’s revenues of $6.3 billion narrowly missed analyst expectations, but adjusted earnings per share of $1.86 far exceeded expectations of a supposed loss making entity. Tesla attributes the turnaround to cost control efforts, noting that “operating expenses are at the lowest level since Model 3 production started”. (Model 3 is illustrated above.) It also claimed to have “dramatically improved the pace of execution and capital efficiency of new production lines”.

Aside from batteries, Tesla will also build its Model 3 and Model Y vehicles in Berlin. Production is expected to start in 2021. Considering their exterior design is uncluttered and aerodynamic, there’s probably no need to adjust shapes for a few years yet.

Musk told the awards audience: “I come to Berlin a lot – Berlin rocks!”

He didn’t say, “Ich bin ein Berliner”.


Bus lanes forever

Edinburgh council is canvassing for views on its idea of extending bus lanes from rush hour peak times (twice daily but not weekends) to almost all day, 7am to 7pm, all week. This is meddling for no real benefit. Bus lanes are pretty well free of cars during the day and need no extension. Blocking off an entire lane, reducing roads to one lane, causes tailbacks, cars sitting engine running pouring into the air noxious exhaust fumes. By all means encourage drivers to trade up to compact electric cars, and fix road surfaces to stop people buying SUV’s to cope with a myriad potholes and washboard tarmac, but don’t alienate an entire section of ratepayers, some, like me, who use bus and taxi, and leave the car at home.

Eyes wide shut

That time of the year again when it gets dark at 4pm and drivers and cyclists continue on as if in brilliant sunshine, head and side lights off. I followed two young lads two miles who were driving a trendy new Citroen, boom box blaring, flashing my lights behind them and hitting the horn, finally pulling alongside to point out the absence of lights. Cyclists chance it. They’re everywhere, those with a death wish, and the smartest with two rear lights, one on the bicycle, and one on their hat or rucksack. Flashing lights are best from a driver’s point of view. My latest slogan is “Get a Life – Get a Light!”

Which SUV?

People who know of my other life as an auto journalist, ask for advice on car choice – SUV’s being the most frequent. I refer them to vehicles that suit their budget and driving needs. This one is new, a safe place to be. Brand new Mazda CX-30 – a niche car maker with a good record of innovation and low prices – has been awarded the highest-ever mark in Euro NCAP’s main crash-test, scoring an hitherto unknown 99 per cent in its adult occupancy assessment. The result means the CX-30 beats previous high scorers including the Alfa Romeo GiuliaMazda 3Volvo XC60 and Volvo V40, all of which were awarded 98 per cent. If only miles per gallon were 100 to the litre they’d be as good as an electric car.

Happy Motoring!



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