Too green, too fast
The Government is glowing 'green' by suggesting tougher car recycling laws than elsewhere in Europe. In a limp response, the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders said it was “disappointed to say the least”.
Few would dispute the logic of bringing order to the progress of a car from component suppliers to the end of its life so that environmental damage is limited. Exhaust emissions and the disposal of anything from damaged bumpers to used oil enter the equation.
However, governments - and especially the UK's - find it hard to understand that the nature of car design and manufacturing means it takes time for measures to be implemented. There should be encouragement for manufacturers to design easily recycled parts into models.
The EC wants carmakers to take responsibility for the recycling of all vehicles they make from 2002. Then, say commissioners, they have to do the same from 2007 for all their cars, whenever they were built.
The Department of Trade and Industry has suggested abandoning the five-year breathing space.
MG Rover has said such legislation could jeopardise its survival. Ford believes it is unfair (it has the largest parc, with many of the cars designed long before current thinking on recycling). The SMMT should oppose DTI rashness with much more vigour.
Sir Ian Gibson, who was the driving force behind Nissan's entry into UK car manufacturing, has outlined his ambitions for the Government's Automotive Innovation and Growth Team which he chairs.
The Government's existing relationship with the industry was designed for “a simpler industry and simpler ownership structures in less challenging times”.
In other words, Prime Minister Tony Blair and his team want to avoid a repeat of the political embarrassment over their unawareness of BMW's plans to sell Rover for £10.
Making of Mazda
Former Ford executive James Muir, as the new head of Mazda's options in the UK, faces a challenge, to put it mildly. He inherits a dealer network which endured more than six months without adequate stock after the relationship between deposed importer MCL and the manufacturer became strained.
Mr Muir describes the Mazda range as “quirky” but that is a triumph of marketing optimism over reality. He has already talked about encouraging Ford dealers to take some Mazda territories and retail integration seems destined to tighten.