I’m not so sure that GM going into talks to sell Opel and Vauxhall to PSA (Peugeotâ€“CitroÃ«n) is that big a surprise.
We obviously hold a lot of nostalgia for these brands, and itâ€™s only right that we perceive GM as selling its family jewels. Opel has made some great cars over the years, and Buick in China and the US, Vauxhall in the UK, and Holden in Australia rely on this division to provide it with product.
But it wasnâ€™t long ago that I said I foresaw the next Holden Commodore being a four-door booted model based on a Chinese Buick Regal thatâ€™s on the same platform. While Iâ€™ve been proved wrong with scoop photos and inside information from journalists in the immediate term, longer-term this doesnâ€™t look so far-fetched, in a future where Peugeot owns Opelâ€“Vauxhall and GM has no choice but to consider Chinese sourcing seriously.
Therefore, GM isnâ€™t thinking that itâ€™s selling off the family jewels, at least the GM where Chinese partner SAIC is overwhelmingly calling the shots.
What they are thinking is this: â€˜We should be able to develop the whole lot in China.â€™ They werenâ€™t nostalgic over Holden, and they wonâ€™t be thrilled with the losses at Opel. Itâ€™s willing to sacrifice it to make its own position stronger. Weâ€™ve already seen that SAIC has called it quits when it comes to British assembly at Longbridgeâ€”thatâ€™s now all done back in China.
Thereâ€™s been such a massive technology transfer from the US to China over the last few years that Europe is seen as surplus by the folks in Shanghai. They have all the platforms on which they can make products globally. They may even, rightly or wrongly, think that the remaining brands can get them into Europe, even if GM had pulled its Korean-made Chevrolets out of there.
Holden can be used to westernize the product and the Australians have shown they can do it well.
Iâ€™m not saying I agree with this, as a long-time Opel fan. I was looking forward to the new Commodores coming out of RÃ¼sselsheim. The car looks the business, itâ€™s roughly the size of the recently deleted Ford Falcon (therefore, Iâ€™m not sure why people are so upset about its size), and the majority of buyers donâ€™t even know which set of wheels the powerâ€™s going to. Iâ€™ve got an Astra K coming in a few months at Lucire.
What youâ€™re going to see is GM basically being a Shanghai-run firm with China supplying global markets and the US operations kept going for their brand cachet.
In the meantime, a hypothetical PSA-run Opel will continue with the existing plans till the end of these modelsâ€™ life cycles, then China will become the manufacturing hub for numerous markets.
SAIC already makes a load of Cadillacs, Buicks and Chevrolets for the domestic market, and theyâ€™ll want to pump them out more widely.
Theyâ€™ve also shown that they can take new GM platforms and turn them into Roewesâ€”or old GM platforms and turn them into Baojuns.
PSA, meanwhile, with 14 per cent controlled by Chinese firm Dongfeng, will pursue a strategy of streamlining platforms and be focused more on Europe. It could pay off as cross-town rival Renault has done well with Nissan, Mitsubishi, Samsung, Dacia and AvtoVAZ, but it wonâ€™t nearly be as secure. The two French groups have been obsessed with one another for as long as I can remember, for years spending more time rivalling each other than actually coming up with what customers wanted.
Dongfeng may have to cough up more lolly and it could become a larger shareholder than the Peugeot family or the French government. But will it have the sort of geographical coverage that Renault has?
Thatâ€™ll be what PSA will be asking itself, knowing that itâ€™s reasonably strong in Chinaâ€”but also realizing that it hasnâ€™t been clever at creating models that can be sold globally (the current CitroÃ«n C6, DS 5LS and the DS 6 among them, sold exclusively in China). Nevertheless, there are savings to be had, though the most obvious fear is that Opel and Vauxhall will go the way of Panhard and Talbot, brands that fell into either Peugeot or CitroÃ«nâ€™s hands over the years and become defunct at the expense of the parent companiesâ€™. Is there a desire to extend the groupâ€™s brand portfolio beyond Peugeot, CitroÃ«n, DS, the various Dongfeng lines, and the ex-Hindustan Ambassador?
The official statement is non-committal enough and gives nothing away: â€˜PSA Group and General Motors confirm they are exploring numerous strategic initiatives aiming at improving profitability and operational efficiency, including a potential acquisition of Opel Vauxhall by PSA.
â€˜There can be no assurance that an agreement will be reached.â€™
In any case, we always said that SAIC was playing a long game. MG was a toe in the water. GM is the real deal.
Controlling GM means they can do as they please, and whatâ€™s good for China is good for General Motors.
Some time in the last couple of weeks, Autocade managed its 10,000,000th page view.
I was too busy to notice when it hit 9,000,000, but a quick calculation when views hovered around the 9,500,000 mark suggested it made the milestone some time around August 2016, keeping the growth rate at around 1,000,000 every five months.
February 2017 does mean the last million came about over six months since August 2016, so itâ€™s not heartening that the growth has slowed a little. When I last blogged about Autocadeâ€™s stats, in March 2016, I had hoped itâ€™d see in 10,000,000 before the Gregorian yearâ€™s end.
Nevertheless, Iâ€™m proud this little automotive encyclopÃ¦dia managed this feat, with a few banner ads scattered about the place, a very lately opened and seldom updated Facebook page, and some mentions on Drivetribe. But it’s had none of the support I would normally devote to a venture, such as doing newsworthy things that would involve the press. It’s an under-the-radar site to some degree, known by car aficionados. It is what it is, and I never felt there was any need to go beyond its original mission.
Last time I took a screen shot from the statsâ€™ page for this blog, the top cars being searched for were the Ford Fiesta Mk VII, the Nissan Bluebird (910), Nissan Sunny (B14), Toyota Corolla (E100) and Ford Focus (C307). Right now, the Ford Taunus TC has made it on to the leaderboard, pushing the Corolla down. These pages have been grandfathered though: they were some of the earliest on the site so of course they have been read more.
In the time Iâ€™ve taken to write these paragraphs, Autocade has logged another 102 page views. Here’s hoping the rate remains healthy and the site becomes a more decent earner. Not bad for a hobby.
How right Kalev Leetaru is on Wikipediaâ€™s decision to ban The Daily Mail as a source.
This decision, he concludes, was made by a cabal of 50 editors based on anecdotes. Iâ€™ve stated before on this blog how Wikipedia is broken, the abusive attitude of one of its editors, and how even luminaries like the late Aaron Swartz and Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger chose to depart. Itâ€™s just taken three years or more for some of these thoughts to get picked up in a more mainstream fashion.
I made sure I referred to a single editor as my experience with someone high up in Wikipedia, not all of its editors, but you canâ€™t ignore accusations of certain people gaming the system in light of the ban.
Leetaru wrote on the Forbes site, â€˜Out of the billions of Internet users who come into contact with Wikipedia content in some way shape or form, just 50 people voted to ban an entire news outlet from the platform. No public poll was taken, no public notice was granted, no communications of any kind were made to the outside world until everything was said and done and action was taken â€¦
â€˜What then was the incontrovertible evidence that those 50 Wikipedia editors found so convincing as to apply a “general prohibition” on links to the Daily Mail? Strangely, a review of the comments advocating for a prohibition of the Mail yields not a single data-driven analysis performed in the course of this discussion.â€™
Iâ€™m not defending the Mail because I see a good deal of the news site as clickbait, but itâ€™s probably no worse than some other news sources out there.
And itâ€™s great that Wikipedia kept its discussion public, unlike some other top sites on the web.
However, you canâ€™t escape the irony behind an unreliable website deeming a media outlet unreliable. Hereâ€™s a site that even frowns upon print journalism because its cabal cannot find online references to facts made in its articles. Now, I would like to see it trust print stuff more and the Mail less, but that, too, is based on my impressions rather than any data-driven analysis that Leetaru expects from such a big site with so many volunteers. Iâ€™ve made my arguments elsewhere on why Wikipedia will remain unreliable, and why those of us in the know just wonâ€™t bother with it for our specialist subjects.
By all means, use it, and it is good for a quick, cursory “pub chat” reference (though science ones tend to be better, according to friends in that world). But remember that there is an élite group of editors there and Wikipedia will reflect their biases, just as my sites reflect mine. To believe it is truly objective or, for that matter, accurate, would be foolhardy.