Carmakers face up to political risks

Adel Murad
Updated 11 November 2017
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Carmakers face up to political risks

Political risks facing carmakers in the next decade could exceed environmental pressures and may lead to drastic strategic changes in the industry. There are several examples of future political risks faced by car companies in the immediate future.
In Britain, exit from the EU poses grave risks to car companies operating from the UK. Some executives have been vocal about this risk, calling on the UK government to give assurances it cannot give at this stage. Aston Martin’s CEO Andy Palmer called for more clarity on “Brexit” while Didier Leroy, VP of Toyota, said recently: “We cannot stay in this kind of fog when we don’t know what will be the output of the negotiations.” Toyota has a plant in Britain that employs 3,000 people and intends to invest $317 million when the “fog” clears.
Meanwhile, Dieter Zetsche, Daimler’s CEO, said from Stuttgart that the policies of US President Trump are a risk for German carmakers. Trump is championing the protection of US carmakers and has criticized import of German cars to the US as “unfair trade.”
VW’s Seat is preparing contingency plans to move its headquarters from Catalonia if the political standoff with Madrid gets worse. This will affect 14,000 workers in Martorell, near Barcelona. Development of a new Seat SUV has been put on hold.
China, too, is imposing restrictions on car imports in efforts to support its emerging car industry. One of the measures taken by China is imposing escalating quotas for electric cars starting in 2019. This has compelled companies to invest heavily in an expensive technical leap with slim profit margins. Large profit margins in the Chinese markets are a thing of the past.
There are other risks facing the industry including the need to cut costs; demands for wage rises of up to 6 percent by workers’ unions; the danger of investing in the wrong technology and the huge investment needed to develop electric vehicles and autonomous driving.
Leaders of car companies are to be commended for chartering a viable future in these turbulent times.
• Adel Murad is a senior motoring and business journalist, based in London.
Email: [email protected]


REVIEW: Porsche’s all-new Cayenne takes on desert terrain

Updated 31 October 2018
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REVIEW: Porsche’s all-new Cayenne takes on desert terrain

DUBAI: When Porsche first unveiled its Cayenne approximately 16 years ago, motoring fans thought it wouldn’t take off. After all, what does a sports car brand know about launching an SUV?
Turns out, a lot actually as funnily enough it’s now a top seller. In 2018 the Cayenne is one of the German giant’s most successful creations in the Middle East region and beyond. So much so, that this year marks its third generation of the beautiful beast. And with Porsche’s promise of the vehicle’s “outstanding handling on any terrain” where else to put it to the test than on our beautiful desert roads?
But first things first — what versions are available? The models we tried were a trio of specs: The Cayenne, Cayenne S and Cayenne Turbo. A Cayenne E-Hybrid is also now available.
The base model comprises a six-cylinder turbo engine, producing 340 hp. It achieves a 0-100km/h in just 6.2 seconds. The Sport version is powered by a 2.9-liter, 440 hp biturbo-charged V6 engine, reaching 100 km/h in 5.2 seconds. And finally, the tough Turbo — featuring a biturbo eight-cylinder engine putting out 550 hp — reaches an acceleration of 0-100 km/h in just 4.1 seconds.
We took all three out for a spin around Dubai, Fujairah and Dibba — different roads, different terrain. And the manufacturer is true to its word when it says the Cayenne can handle all types of ground (of course we didn’t try it on icy roads, but hey, what are the chances of needing to over here?).

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THE LIST

Cayenne starting prices

SR308,600 Cayenne

SR375,800 Cayenne S

SR573,700 Cayenne Turbo

SR392,167 Cayenne E-Hybrid

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The core components of the third generation are new. The more efficient engines combined with a new eight-speed Tiptronic S — along with new technology such as 4D chassis control, rear axle steering, three-chamber air suspension, and tungsten-carbide-coated Porsche Surface Coated Brake (PSCB) — result in a phenomenal performance. Meanwhile, the updated lightweight chassis delivers top class driving dynamics.
On normal roads, it offers the best steering experience along with great safety features, including parking assistance with reversing camera, surround view, and adaptive cruise control. There’s also an optional lane-keeping system that can monitor the vehicle’s position using a camera, responding by providing steering support if you leave your lane without indicating. Great for long drives.
While the spacious interior makes it ideal as the ultimate family car, it’s also one for adventure. You can choose between five different drive and chassis modes,
depending on the terrain. So going off-road is never a problem. In fact, we took one onto the mountains in Dibba and were very impressed by how safe the drive was. We just chose the mode that suited the terrain (between “gravel” and “rock”) and went for it. This adjusts the car to suit the environment ensuring a safe drive. An optional off-road package includes a menu offering additional displays for the steering angle, transverse gradient and longitudinal incline.
Inside the car, noise is kept to a minimum, while the technology in its infotainment system is second to none. While it’s great for your passenger, however, it sometimes can be a little too much for the driver. So make sure you set up your navigation, apps and music before setting out and avoid distractions on the road.
The Cayenne isn’t for the faint-hearted — it’s a big vehicle — but if you’re looking for a strong and sturdy family car, or something to take you on the greatest of outdoor adventures, then it doesn’t get any better than this.