I will try my best to provide detailed info on various cars and what is like to live with them, I have already produced a few for Jaguar-car-forums, I will do my best to be unbiased, but it will be hard for some cars. I will re-produce press releases and copy from other motoring news.

Friday, 27 March 2015

Jeremy Clarkson, Love him or loathe him, you can't deny he is always good for a story !

It was bound to happen sooner or later, but i don't think that anyone would ever have thought that this would have been the reason for why Jeremy was to be given the boot by the BBC, and in such a huge media focussed way too.

It is without doubt the Clarkson, May and Hammond have moulded Top Gear into a worldwide phenomenon, that is watched by, a rough estimation of 350 million people all over the globe, and it is also without question that no matter what country tries to emulate that show, into it's own, has not been anywhere near as successful.

The British Top Gear, is a world beater, so what will the BBC do now ! the trio were all due to renew their contracts at the end of this month, meaning more Top Gear for us all for at least another year, but with the high profile loss of Jeremy, will Hammond and May want to continue without him ?

Or, will, as suspected all three up sticks and go somewhere where they will be more appreciated by their new employers, after all, if they can bring in half the profits that they did for the BBC, any company would be clamouring to get hold of them, and will pay handsomely.

The BBC has mishandled TG over the years, by cutting its budgets, cutting the shows, to as low as SIX in a year, knowing full well that they can milk more out of it, I am sure that, given decent budgets and more shows, the new show, if it ever happens, would be a massive hit, even on pay channels, so Murdoch, get your cheque book out and start waving !!!!

But lets go back to what happened that fateful day, well, for what we know, the team had been filming a very long day, and this was not the first, by all accounts, the arrived at the hotel, followed by JC later, only to find that the catering was not to his liking, fair enough, but the ranting that followed was heard by people all over the hotel, and the "Fracas" as theyhave called it, developed into something physical, not the all out fist fight that others would have you believe, but a slap in the face.

It was after all this that JC contacted the BBC and advised them of what had gone on, no one else, the other party, took themselves to hospital, for a slightly swollen lip, with a minor cut, now most normal people might well have just hit him back, or walked away to stop the fire in its tracks, but this never happened.

Was it really necessary to go to hospital, after ten years of working with JC, surely he would have been fully aware of what may or may not have set him off, apart from the fact that JC was going through a very personal issue at the time, and the stress and worry that, that incurred, so surely if you're aware that someone is quite possibly in a slightly "off" mental state, would you not be more aware and ensure that you did everything in your power to avoid friction ?

Now, please do not think i am actively saying that JC should have gotten away with it, i am not, far from it, but i do fear that the BBC has, decided to take action here, where in other cases of public outcry, they have not, Saville, Hall and Harris come to mind, it is reported that the BBC were aware of these accusations against at least one of these, and did NOTHING, i feel that, that is a far far worse incident than the "fracas".

The Jonathan Ross/Russell Brand Sachsgate incident also was brushed under the carpet, with Ross back at the Beeb, again, this was a far worse incident than the incident in Yorkshire a couple of weeks ago, so, please BBC, you need to be very careful, because your decisions are not even handed, you seem to be able to let some things go by with out doing anything.

What about the stars that have been to court for GBH or Drink Driving, there has been plenty of them recently, and yet they still work for the BBC, I would have though that a Drunk Driver would be a worse incident as they could well have killed someone, but hey, we must not do anything to hurt the BBC's Crown Jewel, but back to JC.

Did he deserve to be sacked, maybe, but should it have been judge, jury and executioner by media, definitely not, there has been too much written and said that could have had an effect on the outcome, and thats not right, fair or acceptable, if it happened.

Below is a transcript of the findings of the BBC.

Investigation findings – Ken MacQuarrie On 9 March 2015, 

Jeremy Clarkson reported to BBC management that he had been involved in a physical and verbal incident with Oisin Tymon, the producer of Top Gear, at the Simonstone Hall Hotel, North Yorkshire, whilst working on location. 

The incident had occurred on 4 March 2015 and Jeremy Clarkson was suspended on 10 March, pending investigation. I was asked to undertake an investigation to establish the facts of what occurred. In conducting my investigation, in line with the BBC’s usual practice, I interviewed a number of witnesses and others connected with the incident. 

Accounts were agreed, based on my interviews, with each participant. Having conducted these interviews and considered the evidence presented, I conclude the following: on 4 March 2015 Oisin Tymon was subject to an unprovoked physical and verbal attack by Jeremy Clarkson. 

During the physical attack Oisin Tymon was struck, resulting in swelling and bleeding to his lip. The verbal abuse was sustained over a longer period, both at the time of the physical attack and subsequently. Specific facts I have found as part of my investigation are as follows: 

  • earlier on 4 March, studio recording of Top Gear had taken place in Surrey and the presenters had travelled that same evening to the location shoot in North Yorkshire; 
  • the incident occurred on a patio area of the Simonstone Hall Hotel, where Oisin Tymon was working on location for Top Gear; 
  • the physical attack lasted around 30 seconds and was halted by the intervention of a witness; 
  • it is the case that Oisin Tymon offered no retaliation; 
  • the verbal abuse was directed at Oisin Tymon on more than one occasion – both during the attack and subsequently inside the hotel – and contained the strongest expletives and threats to sack him. The abuse was at such volume as to be heard in the dining room, and the shouting was audible in a hotel bedroom; 
  • derogatory and abusive language, relating to Oisin Tymon and other members of the Top Gear team, continued to be used by Jeremy Clarkson inside the hotel, in the presence of others, for a sustained period of time; 
  • it is clear that Oisin Tymon was shocked and distressed by the incident, and believed that he had lost his job; 
  • following the attack, I understand that Oisin Tymon drove to a nearby A&E department for examination; 
  • over the subsequent days, Jeremy Clarkson made a number of attempts to apologise to Oisin Tymon by way of text, email and in person; and 
  • it is the case that Jeremy Clarkson reported the incident to BBC management. 

It was not disputed by Jeremy Clarkson or any witness that Oisin Tymon was the victim of an unprovoked physical and verbal attack. It is also clear to me that Oisin Tymon is an important creative member of the Top Gear team who is well-valued and respected. He has suffered significant personal distress as a result of this incident, through no fault of his own. 

And below is the Outcome of these findings.

Tony Hall, the BBC Director-General, has today released the following statement regarding Jeremy Clarkson.
It is with great regret that I have told Jeremy Clarkson today that the BBC will not be renewing his contract. It is not a decision I have taken lightly. I have done so only after a very careful consideration of the facts and after personally meeting both Jeremy and Oisin Tymon.
I am grateful to Ken MacQuarrie for the thorough way he has conducted an investigation of the incident on 4th March. Given the obvious and very genuine public interest in this I am publishing the findings of his report. I take no pleasure in doing so. I am only making them public so people can better understand the background. I know how popular the programme is and I also know that this decision will divide opinion. The main facts are not disputed by those involved.
I want to make three points.
First – The BBC is a broad church. Our strength in many ways lies in that diversity. We need distinctive and different voices but they cannot come at any price. Common to all at the BBC have to be standards of decency and respect. I cannot condone what has happened on this occasion. A member of staff – who is a completely innocent party – took himself to Accident and Emergency after a physical altercation accompanied by sustained and prolonged verbal abuse of an extreme nature. For me a line has been crossed. There cannot be one rule for one and one rule for another dictated by either rank, or public relations and commercial considerations.
Second – This has obviously been difficult for everyone involved but in particular for Oisin. I want to make clear that no blame attaches to him for this incident. He has behaved with huge integrity throughout. As a senior producer at the BBC he will continue to have an important role within the organisation in the future.
Third – Obviously none of us wanted to find ourselves in this position. This decision should in no way detract from the extraordinary contribution that Jeremy Clarkson has made to the BBC. I have always personally been a great fan of his work and Top Gear. Jeremy is a huge talent. He may be leaving the BBC but I am sure he will continue to entertain, challenge and amuse audiences for many years to come.
The BBC must now look to renew Top Gear for 2016. This will be a big challenge and there is no point in pretending otherwise. I have asked Kim Shillinglaw to look at how best we might take this forward over the coming months. I have also asked her to look at how we put out the last programmes in the current series.

So, in conclusion, he got what he asked for, he should not have done what did, however, it tried on a number of occasions to apologies, and allegedly these were all knocked back by the injured party, possibly if he were more of a man and accepted the apology and talked it out with JC, none of this would have happened.
Now we have a TV show that will never be the same again, that means that millions of viewers in this country will lose out, and 350 million around the globe will too, no amount of tweaking and changing will take away the fact that JC made Tg what it is, and without him, and possibly the other two, it will be a ship that sinks, and sinks quickly.

Personally, I hope they all three, go to SKY, or Dave or whoever and get a decent budget and series length and give us back the fun, silliness and laughs that we all need these days, instead of what i fear the BBC will now give us, a drab Politically correct TV show that bores the arse of us.

Jon Mower

All Views are my own and not to be confused with the views of any other person, company or institution, comments are welcome on this post, but any foul language will be removed, and the poster blocked

Renault moves key staff to bolster customer satisfaction, and fix perceived quality issues.

Renault is strengthening its quality and customer satisfaction ratings by moving its Americas chief, Denis Barbier, to a new role overseeing those two areas.
Renault ranks low in ownership satisfaction surveys in key European markets and the automaker has made improving quality a key goal.

Barbier, 55, has led the company’s Americas region since 2009. During his 30-year career with the automaker he has been in charge of production plants in France and Russia.
Barbier will become deputy to the automaker’s quality and total customer chief, Christian Vandenhende, on April 1, Renault said in a statement. Olivier Murguet, currently head of Renault’s Brazilian operations, has been promoted to head of the Americas unit.
Renault ranked fourth from last out of over 24 other carmakers in Europe in J.D. Power’s Vehicle Ownership Satisfaction survey in Germany in 2014. The carmaker ranked sixth from last in J.D. Power’s UK Vehicle Ownership Satisfaction survey in 2014.

Tim Urquhart, an analyst for IHS Automotive, said Renault’s quality reputation took a hit about five years ago with the launch of the second-generation Laguna and other models that were seen as less-than-dependable in the eyes of many consumers
With the upcoming launches of latest generation Espace minivan and Megane compact range, the automaker is taking measures to become more competitive quality-wise, as the creation of this new role reflects,” he said

VW joins other brands in cutting shifts and laying of staff in Russian automotive crash.

Volkswagen said it will reduce shifts and lay off at least 150 workers at its Russian car plant in Kaluga.
The plant will work four days a week from April to July this year, while in May the number of shifts will decrease to two from three, VW said. Production will be suspended for two weeks on May 5-8 and May 12-15.
"In the first months of 2015 the Russian auto market continued to feel the impact of a weak economy, significant price increases and high interest rates. We don't expect that to change in coming months," VW said in a statement.

The company said its investment plans were intact, with the construction of a new engine plant and an auto parts warehouse on schedule. "The Russian market still has a significant growth potential long-term," it said in the statement.
Daniel Schwarz, a Frankfurt-based analyst for Commerzbank, said: "We are expecting another passenger-car market decline of about 25 percent in Russia this year. Adjusting capacity makes sense."
VW has already sent more than 100 workers from Russia to Germany for training programs and will transfer some employees from Kaluga to the nearby engine factory or the company's warehouse operation outside Moscow, company sources said.
Sales of VW Group vehicles in Russia dropped 27 percent to 27,527 in the first two months, according to data from the Moscow-based Association of European Businesses. The group's market share is 11.3 percent, making it the No. 2 group by sales after the Renault-Nissan-AvtoVAZ alliance, which had a 34.7 percent share.
VW started a five-year, 1 billion-euro ($1.08 billion) Russian investment plan in 2013, which included spending 250 million euros on the new engine factory. Russian regulations require carmakers to use locally manufactured engines in at least 30 percent of vehicles produced in the country by 2016. The Kaluga factory, about 170 km (105 miles) southwest of Moscow, employs 5,300 people and started production in 2007.
VW Group builds the Audi A6, A7, A8L, Q5, and Q7 together with the VW Polo and Tiguan and Skoda's Fabia and Octavia models in Kaluga, according to Automotive News Europe's European car assembly plant map.
VW is the latest western carmaker to change direction in Russia as economic sanctions hamper growth and consumer spending.
Before the ruble's collapse last year, the country had been forecast by analysts and industry executives to overtake Germany as Europe's largest sales region. As inflation surged to its fastest pace since 2002 in February, car sales dropped 38 percent in what Russia's Association of European Businesses said was "only the beginning."
General Motors said last week that it would idle a plant in St. Petersburg and halt sales of its Opel brand and most Chevrolet models, all but abandoning the market damaged by fallout from President Vladimir Putin's annexation of Crimea from Ukraine.

PSA may achieve targeted goals ahead of schedule after rejoining stock market CAC-40

PSA/Peugeot-Citroen could reach its main recovery goal early, its chief financial officer, Jean-Baptiste de Chatillon, said today, as the French carmaker's shares rejoined the benchmark CAC-40 index after a two-and-a-half-year absence.
PSA will "go after the 2 percent operating margin objective as soon as possible," de Chatillon said, before ringing the opening bell at the stock exchange in Paris.

A weaker euro and cheaper raw materials constitute "a more favorable alignment of the planets" than was assumed when PSA pledged last year to restore auto-division profitability to a 2 percent margin by 2018, the finance chief said.
CEO Carlos Tavares has since begun cutting inventory, production costs and the group's model lineup as part of his Back in the Race turnaround plan aimed at hitting the operating margin target.
Spiraling losses at the automaker led to a 3 billion euro ($3.31 billion) bailout last year, in which the French government and Chinese state-controlled carmaker Dongfeng took matching 14 percent stakes in the company.
Last month, PSA reported that in 2014 it posted an annual operating profit, its first in three years.
European sales at the automaker rose 1.1 percent in February to 107,992, according to industry body ACEA.
Greater ambition
But PSA’s shares sank 4.7 percent last week after a March 17 investor day at the company's main research and development center outside Paris, with some analysts saying the market expected greater ambition.
"In a bull market it seems people quickly come to expect bigger and bolder and faster and higher," Bernstein analyst Max Warburton said. "But we mustn't forget that PSA has only been out of intensive care for a short while."
The shares were down a further 1.6 percent at 15.54 euros less than three hours after PSA's return to the CAC-40, which had been announced on March 5

Land Rover makes swift recall of nearly 40,000 Evoques in China after TV show exposed issues.

Jaguar Land Rover has started to recall Range Rover Evoque SUVs in China four days after a report on state-run television said the company didn't handle quality problems properly.
The recall will cover 36,451 imported cars made between June 3 and Dec. 24 last year, the automaker said in a statement posted on its official microblog. The automaker also extended the warranty period for gearboxes in the recalled vehicles to seven years or 240,000 kilometers (150,000 miles), it said.

JLR opened a plant outside Shanghai in October to start producing vehicles such as the Evoque in China. The company plans to capture 10 percent of the country's premium SUV market, it said at the time.
Jaguar Land Rover's recall marks the latest victory by China Central Television in its push to force automakers to react to consumer complaints over quality. Volkswagen Group's record recalls in China in 2013, involving defective gearboxes, took place less than a week after the state broadcaster featured buyers' complaints about the problems.
A separate report by the TV station on March 18 this year said Volkswagen ignored complaints of oil leaks from engines in models including the Magotan sedan and the Tiguan SUV. Volkswagen China is conducting an investigation into the issue and apologized to customers, it said in an emailed statement on Thursday.
China's automotive safety regulator didn't respond to a fax sent Thursday seeking comments on what actions it would ask Volkswagen to take.

USA - General Motors to build next generation Cruze in Mexico.

General Motors Co will build its next-generation Chevrolet Cruze small car in Mexico, the company said on Monday, as automakers look to expand there to take advantage of low labor costs and free trade agreements.
GM will invest $350 million to produce the Cruze at its plant in Coahuila, as part of the $5 billion investment in its Mexican plants announced last year.
GM also said it will continue manufacturing the model at its factory in Lordstown, Ohio. GM so far has identified only three plants globally that will make the next-generation Cruze, including in China.

A GM spokesman in the United States said the company's assembly plant in Gunsan, South Korea, will continue to build the current Cruze model to meet demand in domestic and export markets. However, as part of a new wage deal last summer, GM agreed to build the next-generation Cruze in Korea starting in 2017, according to a GM proposal seen then by Reuters.
Automakers are looking to move to Mexico for its low labor costs and access to the U.S. market. Toyota is finalizing plans for its first passenger car assembly plant in Mexico, people familiar with the matter previously said. Volkswagen recently announced a $1 billion investment in its Puebla plant.
It is the first time the Cruze will be made in Mexico, a GM spokeswoman in Mexico said, and production will be mainly for the domestic market. The Cruze is currently imported to Mexico from GM's plant in South Korea, she said.
South Korean tensions
GM has encountered tensions with its South Korean workers.
In April 2013, then GM CEO Dan Akerson angered union workers in Korea ahead of annual labor talks when he warned the automaker could shift operations from South Korea in the longer term. Union activists in South Korea in the past have threatened "a war" if output was shifted from their plants.
The GM spokesman declined to say whether added Cruze production in Mexico meant that the Coahuila plant's capacity would expand or was simply shifting among models it builds.
Eleven plants globally make the current Cruze model but some, including a plant in Australia where GM is shutting down assembly operations, will not build the next generation model, he said.
GM's plant in Coahuila currently makes the Chevrolet Sonic car and Captiva Sport SUV, and Cadillac SRX SUV.

Latest MG dealership beats targets and opens new state of the art showroom.

MG has been celebrating at fantastic showrooms on one of Europe’s largest automotive retail parks. But 10 months ago a massive fire looked as if Hendy MG, on the vast Marsh Barton automotive retail park in Exeter, might have destroyed all hope of the dealership opening.
For months Hendy MG worked from a set of Portacabins while a huge £500,000 refurbishment of the fire ravaged showrooms got under way. Now the plush showrooms are a flagship on the Marsh Barton complex, where almost every major automotive brand has outlets.

Despite the problems caused by the showroom blaze, Hendy MG has met its quarter one target for 2015 and decided it was time to celebrate. At the official opening of the totally refurbished building, MG Motor UK’s Managing Director, William Wang, praised everyone at Hendy MG for their efforts to carry on selling cars.
He cut the official opening ribbon watched by the Hendy Group’s Managing Director, Paul Hendy. 
Hendy MG is part of the huge Hendy Group, one of Britain’s largest automotive companies. It has a turnover of £261-million and is ranked at 44 in the Motor Trader top 200 list of automotive groups.
The Hendy Group is a family-owned company which can trace its history back to a cycle repair shop in 1859. Today the group has 20 retail sites in the south of England and employs more than 590 people.
Craig Winton, Dealer Principal at Hendy MG, said: “It was heartbreaking to see the devastation the fire caused and it was really hard work trying to run the new business from the Portacabins.
“But as soon as the MG totem went up we had customers coming in. The brand has a terrific following in Exeter and we exceeded our initial targets. So that’s given us plenty to build on.” 
Paul Hendy, the Hendy Group’s Managing Director, said: “We are delighted to be representing the iconic MG brand. We have every confidence in the new MG brand and the MG6 and MG3 products – which are simply superb.”

Skoda wins yet again, The brand is definitely at the pinnacle of all things auto.

  • ŠKODA tops two categories at 2015 Fleet News Awards
  • ŠKODA Octavia Estate crowned ‘Best Estate Car’ for second year running and Fabia named 'Best Small Car'
ŠKODA UK has bagged two enviable accolades at this year’s Fleet News Awards which took place at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London.
The most prestigious event in the fleet calendar, the Fleet News Awards recongnises the best-performing businesses and individuals within the sector over the last 12 months.

For an unprecedented second year running the panel of judges, including members of the Fleet News editorial team as well as industry experts, voted ŠKODA Octavia Estate, ‘Best Estate Car’ for its unrivalled space, functionality, comfort and affordability, in addition to its range of efficient power plants. With exceptional value and high quality after care, the ŠKODA Octavia Estate has once again proven to be an essential for any fleet manager.  
It has already been a brilliant year for the new ŠKODA Fabia. The What Car? 'Car of the Year' swooped to victory in the Fleet News 'Best Small Car' category, beating off fierce competition from its rivals. The most economical Fabia ever was praised for its versatility, space and style.
Judge Stephen Briers, Editor of Fleet News commented: "Value-for-money, spacious and efficient, the Octavia Estate benefits from low running costs and strong customer support from the manufacturer and its retail network. It adds up to a compelling estate car for both business and personal use.
"The all-new Fabia offers an excellent choice of engines and bodystyles for fleets. High quality, competitively priced, low CO2 emissions and with a five-star EuroNCAP safety rating, the Fabia is an excellent all-round car – perfect for fleets in this category."
Patrick McGillycuddy, Head of Fleet for ŠKODA UK said: "We are extremely pleased that the Octavia Estate has been awarded the ‘Best Estate Car’ for the second year running; reaffirming that it is best in class for affordability, space and innovation."
He added: "ŠKODA's second winner, Fabia, is a versatile small car with the benefits of space and adaptability needed for business driving. These accolades mean a great deal to the ŠKODA Fleet team, and are testament to ŠKODA's core offering, which continues to offer class-leading C02 emissions and excellent whole life costs without compromising on style or efficiency.”