Friday, May 29, 2020


Now we’re a few months past the Carlos Ghosn coup de grâce, it’s fascinating to hear the BS coming from the top management tier, as the Alliance's partners attempt to publicly patch up their differences, and project an air of consensus and co-operation. Don’t believe a word of it - it’s just for the cameras.

Because, given the challenges the Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Alliance was already facing due to the forced departure of its ‘spiritual leader’, along comes the COVID19 Pandemic and that’s really thrown the cat among the pigeons.

The world’s biggest automotive alliance is in BIG trouble. I could not help laughing out loud at the statement by the new Nissan CEO Machoto Uchida, that the Alliance was in trouble because of Carlos Ghosn’s ridiculously high sales targets, and his misguided forward planning. Never mind that Ghosn has not been running the joint for the last 18 months!

Now, Carlos ‘Le Cost Cutter’ may be an aggressive operator, but he is very astute and he would have had his finger on the pulse of both industry trends and the Alliance’s potential. I am certain, given the deterioration in market stability, Ghosn would have trimmed the sails, and the sales targets, to a level consistent with conditions.

As far as Nissan is concerned, its troubles began when Hiroto Saikawa took control. He spent most of his time concentrating on getting rid of Ghosn, rather than managing Nissan’s more fundamental problems.

Nissan has way too much manufacturing capacity, way too many employees, way too much in production costs, way too many models, and no plan to cure these ills. This was one of Ghosn’s main targets before he was thrown in jail.

Not only was Carlos conceptualising a merger of Renault and Nissan, but he had big plans for a big slash of Nissan’s excesses – and that was really worrying Saikawa and his cadre of ‘yes’ men. That’s what was behind the urgency of pushing him out.

Renault’s current Chairman Jean-Dominique Senard is simply not up to the job of managing the Alliance and the rather brutal attack on costs that it needs, and delivering the bad news to Nissan. Carlos Ghosn’s appointee as CEO, Thierry Bollore (who got shafted almost immediately after Carlos was put in a cell) was just the guy for the job. However, Saikawa feared Bollore almost as much as he hated Ghosn.

This chart shows the main reason Nissan is pissed. Renault owns 43.4% of Nissan, and Nissan owns a mere 15% of Renault, so under Ghosn's management, Renault called the shots.
Now we hear that Renault will slash almost 15,000 jobs, and that the French Government is going to ‘provide’ Renault with another five billion euros, to 'help it contend with the current situation'. To me, that should read as ‘life support’.

Running a multi-corporate, multi-national and multi-faceted alliance is a big challenge and Ghosn knew exactly what he needed to do, but the effects would have really rattled Renault’s and Nissan's cages.

When Clotilde Delbos was appointed interim Renault CEO recently, she issued the very fatuous comment that in her view, going forward, the Alliance demanded a strong leader! Well, hello!

Thanks to the Carlos coup de grâce, they got rid of the strong leader - now look at the shit they’re in.

Believe me, with the current lot in charge this is going to end in tears. I’m convinced the current Alliance management couldn’t organise a piss-up in a brewery. Pardon the Aussie vernacular, but that’s the only way to pitch it.


Thursday, May 28, 2020


After extensive research (basically a week with a new Audi A7 Sportback), I have decided that ‘Touch Screens’ are now one of the most potentially-dangerous ‘Driver Aids’ yet to be developed for today’s cars.

Mind you, Interior Designers ‘love them’, because they rid the IP (Instrument Panel) of all those icky, old fashioned, knobs and dials that for decades have adorned dashboards, instrument panels and centre consoles.

Yep, everything on the IP and console now looks ‘super smooth’ and ‘cool’.

However, I am finding that locating just the ‘right’ spot to touch the screen icon or function can be very challenging, especially if you are supposed to be concentrating on the task of ‘driving’.

Just imagine for a moment that you are a driver suffering from early-onset ‘Parkinson’s Disease’, where your precise touch on a small, intensely-focussed, icon is very difficult with just a single touch, never mind having to have a second or even third attempt - and this distracts you from the primary task of driving the car. This is especially important where the required action is to 'slide' your finger on the panel, rather than just pressing an icon.

Okay, you can say that as a 77-year-old I’m just complaining about tasks more easily accomplished by younger drivers. I would argue ‘No’ – it’s just as difficult for younger drivers. 

Age is no barrier (or benefit) to the difficulty of hitting the screen-based icon accurately the first time. And, every time you have to have another attempt, each fumbled attempt is a distraction from your primary task.

And to me that spells ‘unnecessarily dangerous’. Drivers need a range of analogue or rotary knobs to achieve simple functions like volume control for the audio system; or track changes; or radio tuning. Even HVAC controls.

These demands don’t just disappear, because designers and stylists want to ‘improve’ the look of the cabin.

I am hoping that common sense will prevail and car safety advocates will jump on this issue.

BTW, the A7 Sportback is a very nice ride.


Wednesday, May 20, 2020


A regular reader of DRIVING & LIFE just referred me back to a post I wrote on October 18, 2017 forecasting that perhaps it was probable we would see the end of the Holden brand in Australia.

Quite frankly I'm delighted to celebrate my prescience at the time, although not the sad outcome for Holden employees.

Being able to enjoy the experience of working at Board level posts over a 40 year career in the global automotive industry equipped me not only with a sense of cynicsm and skeptiscm, but also a native understanding of what sort of decisions flow from Boardrooms at critical moments in time.

I hope you've enjoyed following my prognostications on the car industry, because occasionally I have calls from industry friends saying: "You must be crazy to suggest that!" - and then, when the forecast proves correct, a lot of humble pie is consumed. Mind you, I've been wrong too, and I'm only too happy to admit mistakes.

However, being intimately involved in the business side of the industry, as well as having a passionate interest in the product side, gives me very clear insights into what may, or may not happen.

As always, in industry, Return on Investment (ROI) plays the biggest role in investment decisions, and possible new models. I am very fortunate to have fantastic (deep throat) contacts into many car companies, and my clear sight of  companies' financial stability and their potential, which provides me with a very clear crystal ball to forecast possible outcomes.

I hope we can enjoy the movements in the motor industry together for a long time to come. It's a fascinating industry, and right now we are on the slippery edge of a new paradigm - acclerated by COVID19.

Make no mistake, this pandemic will change our lives in so many ways, it's both fascinating and scary. 

Certainly, as far as the car business is concerned - in all its elements: design, manufacturing, retail and driving experience, the future is really a blur that no crystal ball can forecast.

John Crawford


A surprise announcement from Hyundai this week reveals that its Head of Design for Hyundai-Kia, Belgian Luc Donckerwolke left the company at the end of April, after four years of guiding design for the Genesis brand, as well as the entire Hyundai-Kia ranges.

Citing 'personal reasons' it is believed Luc wishes to return to live in Europe, at his home in Bavaria. A replacement has not been named, and SangYup Lee remains Head of Design for Genesis and Hyundai.

It's very sad when such a talented designer leaves the scene. In my mind Luc is one of 'big design stars' to emerge in the last 15 years and his input will be missed.

John Crawford

Tuesday, May 19, 2020


You could be forgiven for thinking this is ‘Get BMW month’, but the Munich-based luxo car company does it to itself. Sitting up in the lofty towers of the four-cylinder building, it assumed an almost typical Teutonic arrogance.

When BMW first offered Apple Car Play as an option, BMW charged its Australian customers a hefty $400 for a two year subscription! $80 a year for American buyers. What! Why, you say?

When this issue first arose, I decided to call three different BMW dealerships in three different states and ask them all the same question – when it’s standard on cars from the Suzuki Swift and the Kia Cerato, plus the Mercedes-Benz C200 and the Audi A4 – why do BMW customers get slugged with a subscription?

Needless to say the showroom floor staff were apparently not listening during the product education training, because I got three totally different, idiotic and incomprehensible explanations – none of which satisfactorily answered the question.

I owe it to my old friends at CAR AND DRIVER to reveal the real reason. Turns out when BMW were doing the product planning on new features like Apple CarPlay, it thought that if it offered a sophisticated form of integration with BMW iDrive, it would be able to get away with slugging the buyers – you want it, you pay for it!

Finally, common sense has prevailed and BMW has folded on the subscription charge, and will also make it available for existing owners. The company was simply unable to keep the wool pulled over the buyers’ eyes.

According to one explanation BMW decided to make its CarPlay application wireless, which as any auto electrical engineer knows is a hiding to nowhere, because the operation of CarPlay requires a cable connection, in order to move the massive amounts of data between the iPhone and the Head Unit.

BMW gave itself an almighty headache by attempting to wirelessly integrate it into iDrive, so it simply decided to keep passing the cost off on its customers.

The code used by Apple for CarPlay keeps changing with every iteration of the iOS operating system, so BMW had to keep assigning engineers to tweak iDrive – and the Boardroom decision was that we’d just keep pushing the extra cost onto the owners.

I love it when management arrogance gets its come-uppance. BMW AG actually recognised its error a long time ago, but decided to keep sucking the lemon – as long as the customers kept on paying!

Now, it's a no-cost option - just like every other car company.
John Crawford

Friday, May 15, 2020


I am very, very fortunate to be a member of a unique and very exclusive alumni – which now meets annually every January - to fraternize, relive old lies and stories, revive friendships, and pay respect to each other’s achievements.

This gathering goes by the name of the MEDIA MUSTER, and is made up of current and former automotive journalists, and by invitation, a group of former automotive public relations executives – whose lives were closely linked to each other in the performance of their work duties. We also enjoy the company of guests including racing drivers and motor sport personalities.

Just one half of the 2020 Media Muster

The Media Muster was conceived by one of Australia’s best known automotive reporters, in newspapers, radio and television, Will Hagon – who was best known perhaps as the long-serving motoring editor of the Sydney Sunday Telegraph. However, he is also a familiar voice to listeners to ABC radio, covering motor sport, motor cycles and new automobiles.

Left to right: Racer Colin Bond; Car industry veteran and racer, Bill Buckle (at 93 years young) and Will Hagon

Will decided a couple of years ago that as this group had such close ties, they should not lose touch with each other and retain the fraternity they enjoyed in their daily working lives.

The group does indeed form a pantheon of great Australian automotive journalists and we regularly see between 60 and 70 attendees, enjoying lunch and convivial drinks at the Moonee Moonee Club on the banks of the Hawksbury  River, about 70km north of Sydney.

I gain admittance as a former freelance automotive journalist; a Contributing Editor to RACING CAR NEWS; one-time Editor of MODERN MOTOR magazine; and a 40 year career as a global automotive public relations executive.

It is a highlight of my year as I am able to see friends I haven’t caught up with for many years, owing to serving overseas in a variety of public relations roles in the global car industry.

Max Stahl and JC
One man I was delighted to see this past January was Max Stahl who was the longtime owner, publisher and editor of RACING CAR NEWS with whom I shared a deep friendship, and a great working relationship. He has been in poor health and was warmly welcomed by the group.

I’m proud to belong to this group, and also proud of them and their achievements. It’s rare that both sides of an industry get to become close friends as well as interlocutors.

There are 'national associations' of journalists in other countries, but I do not believe there is anything quite like the Media Muster, and its welcome informality - so, thanks Will.

John Crawford

Thursday, May 14, 2020


Here’s an interesting twist on ‘demo registrations’ being used to inflate monthly sales numbers.

One of the European luxo-car companies, under a former CEO, had a very aggressive way of meeting year-end sales targets. In the last month of the year, those employees who drove company cars as part of their ‘package’, were told to leave their car keys ‘on their desk’ each morning.

During the day, the keys would be collected, and replaced with another set of keys for a new car – which would be parked ‘somewhere’ in the company parking lot, and the only way you knew what you would be driving home that night was to click the key remote and watch which car flashed its headlights!

This company would do this several times a week, during the last month, until it achieved the target HQ was expecting. My sources tell me that they are not sure the move was limited to ‘suits on a package’ – one says he saw members of the warehouse staff driving home in new cars!

The cars would be held in storage, and then metered out to dealers as ex-company demos at a rate which would not overwhelm the dealers’ financing limits.

Pretty sneaky, eh? Now one can see why the ’demo regos’ should be split out from genuine car sales data.

John Crawford

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

LEARNING TO DRIVE, IN THE 60s - by John Crawford

Things are sure different today. You only go to a Driving School after some poor member of the family, relative, family friend, dodgy mate, or total misfit is roped in to actually teach you the basics. And record their tuition time in a logbook.

When I started, back in 1958, I couldn’t afford a driving school (minimum 10 lessons), so I had to get creative. One of my best friends had just purchased a 1955 Morris Minor, which had the ‘Highlight’ front guards, and the tiny 840cc OHV motor.

I implored him to drive to the western outskirts of Sydney, to a deserted road, where I could learn that whole ‘clutch, gearshift, accelerator thing’. However, once you learned the basic synchronicity of the process, the rest was just remembering to keep to the speed limit. He was a trusting soul to let me crunch the occasional gear, or over-rev the engine.

Then I began a period of ‘farm stays’. My family used to ship me off to a dairy farm at Milton, about 200km south of Sydney, during the school holidays. The farm was run by Sid and Zelma, and I was ‘attached’ to their son John who was four years older than me.

After the milking was finished, John had to drive the farm's Ferguson tractor and trailer, loaded with the milk churns, down to the front gate, to be picked up by the Dairy Farmers’ contractor.

After about my third visit, John figured it was time for me to drive the ‘Fergie’. Music to my ears. As a budding car nut, interested in anything mechanical, I loved the experience. 

Mind you, it was nothing like driving a car. The Fergie had a four speed gearbox, but you never used it as you would in a car with a 1-2-3-4 progression. First gear was just for getting out of creeks. You started off in 2nd, and went straight to 4th.

This whole car-tractor process took about a year, but I became very competent, and ready to ‘legally’ get my ‘Learners Permit’ and take a couple of lessons with a Driving School which then scheduled my Driving Examination.

It was cheaper if you used your own car, so I managed to sweet talk my Uncle Keith into letting me do the test in his absolute pride and joy. First, he wanted to be sure that, number one I wouldn’t damage his mighty FB Holden, and second, that I really did have a chance of passing the test. Because if I failed, the family would no doubt blame him.

Thankfully, I passed first-time with flying colours, but the important thing was that I understood the entire process of driving a car – from a 4-speed, underpowered Morris Minor; to a Ferguson tractor; and lastly a ‘three-on-the-tree’ six cylinder Holden (a very powerful car, compared to the Morris Minor).

From there of course, it was a big step to my first car. My father helped me choose a well-used 1948 ('Lowlight') Side Valve Morris Minor, which was £100 (about AUD$200). It had been painted dark grey by the former owner, using a paint brush! However, I drove it with great enjoyment for two years.

I was a Bank Teller at that stage of my working life, and attached to the ‘Relief Staff’ (meaning I travelled around NSW filling in for Tellers on annual vacation), and the pay scale was pretty good, so I decided a new car was in my sights.

Once again, my father got involved in the choices, and as I felt like a BMC Loyalist, we eventually chose a 1963 Morris Mini Cooper in two tone green. I don’t have a photograph of my car, as I never owned a camera, but this one is pretty similar.

I purchased the car from a Sydney city BMC dealer called P & R Williams, whose sales staff included three of the funniest guys I ever met, who sold cars for a living. They were true Aussie characters.

Many readers as old as I am who were around the Sydney car scene in the 1960s will remember these guys – who raced, as well as sold cars. They were Brian Foley and Laurie Stewart (racers), and ‘Big Fred’ Hardingham, a well-known bon vivant.

Because I was just becoming known on the fringes of the Sydney motor sport scene, they were more than generous. They traded my ancient Morris Minor for £120 (around AUD$240), and I was the proudest 20 year old in Sydney, as my Dad and I drove home in what I think was one of the best cars I ever owned.

I did some Club racing on the short circuit at Warwick Farm, and a couple of Hillclimbs at Silverdale, but after I wore out the original Dunlop RS4 tyres, and hit my mother up for a full set of brand new tyres, my competition days came to an end.

However the wonderful world of automobiles opened up for me, going on to become an avid reader of WHEELS, a motor racing commentator, a freelance automotive journalist, a Contributing Editor to RACING CAR NEWS, the Editor of MODERN MOTOR magazine, and finally a 40-year career as a global automotive public relations executive.

And, what a life it has been, beginning with the joy and pleasure of getting my drivers' licence.

John Crawford

Sunday, May 10, 2020

MY FIRST RIDE by John Crawford

While Jaguar and MG are among my most vivid recollections of my early exposure to fast cars, the first car I ever rode in went much further back, and it was quite a stately automobile.

The house we lived in Sydney from 1945-1953 had a garage, which was empty as we could not afford to own a car, so my father agreed that our next door neighbour, who ran an engineering business, could park his 1928 La Salle Phaeton in our garage. It was a handsome open car, with high quality leather seats and a V8 engine.

My first ride - 1928 La Salle Phaeton
About every three months my young friend next door, Bruce, would harass his father to take us across town to a huge model railway exhibit which was set out in the back yard of a house, owned by a railway enthusiast.

We would sit in the back seat with the roof raised, but no side curtains and I was always very impressed with how quiet the car was, how powerful it was, and the comfort of the ride. Which leads nicely into the history of this little known brand.

As Alfred P. Sloan was putting together the General Motors company, and the catalogue of brands and models, he had pitched Cadillac at the top end, but felt that he could sell more cars if each brand had a ‘companion’ marque – and he chose La Salle to be Cadillac’s companion marque.

The first model, in 1927 was designed by a young Harley Earl, who agreed with Sloan to make the La Salle smaller and lighter, but still using the Cadillac V8 engine, a design inspired by the Hispano Suizas. Sloan and Earl wanted the La Salle to be more sprightly, and to handle in a more sporty manner.
1929 La Salle models - Fisher-bodied sedan and roadster

Its big sales year was 1929, selling 22,691 cars, which were mostly sedans, but that dropped to just over 3200 by 1932. In fact La Salles consistently outsold Cadillacs from 1933, but the introduction in 1935 of the cheaper Packard One Twenty, and the 1936 Lincoln Zephyr spelled the death of La Salle. Following the Wall Street crash, La Salle sales had begun a steady downward trend. There was a promising surge in 1936 to around 32,000, but it never recovered from the sharp downward sales spiral which had begun in 1937.
1927 Phaeton (top left); 1932 Sedan (top right); 1936 Roadster (centre); 1938 Sedan (bottom left); 1939 Sedan (bottom right)
The brand went through several design evolutions, until 1940 when GM decided to quietly drop the La Salle brand and fold it into Cadillac.

Harley Earl already had concept models built for the 1941 model year, but they went to the scrapheap, marking the end of an interesting marketing experiment.

John Crawford

Saturday, May 9, 2020


Like every auto market around the world the Australian car market is not immune to the devastating effects of COVID19 – with sales through the end of April down by 50%. This is the worst monthly sales number since the industry began keeping sales data in 1991.

The sales data is backed up by toll-road operators who reported a drop of 50% fall in traffic, and fuel prices falling to their lowest in almost two decades.

However, one company appears to have dodged a bullet – BMW. The luxury carmaker saw its March monthly sales fall just 5.7% - against the backdrop of a broader 50% fall across the market.

BMW outsold its major competitor, Mercedes-Benz, selling almost double its Stuttgart-based rival, which recorded a 54% sales drop.

However, as always there’s always a back story. Whilst the impact of COVID19 on car sales has been ‘immediate’, the car business runs on ‘the future’. New models are planned years ahead; imported cars are specced and ordered months in advance. Regardless of what’s happening in the marketplace, a carmaker may have a year’s supply ‘on the water’ and can’t exactly turn back the boats.

My moles in the retail side of the car industry have been feeding me somewhat disparate tidbits of information, which allows me to create a hazy, but logical background to the changes in the market status of the main brands, and BMW's apparent success.

A statement from BMW Australia’s CEO includes some pointers to why the brand fared better than its rivals. These words were very carefully crafted into a statement which actually says ‘not a lot’.

BMW Australia CEO Vickram Pawah
Vikram Pawah’s statement included the following: “Our current results reflect a focus on promoting our continually expanding line-up of vehicles.

“It also highlights our close collaboration with our dealer partners which have seen numerous measures implemented.”

Here’s the translation: BMW has a LOT of new models coming into the showrooms; and these cars were ordered a long time ago; have mostly just arrived; and need to be shifted quickly, otherwise the overstocking would drag BMW and its dealers down like a sinking ship. This emphasises on the word ‘collaboration’ means dealers get bigger bonuses and cash incentives to move cars.

Also, there’s another trick BMW (and to be fair, all car companies) indulge in.

Companies register a LOT of demo cars when sales are down, or the sales curve is threatened by either market conditions or competitors’ stimulus. When I worked in the USA, BMW North America was the standout, which religiously registered swathes of ‘demos’ in the last days of the month, to boost the month-end sales numbers. The US system allows companies to then ‘de-register’ the demos at the start of the next month.

Unfortunately, the Australian data capture does not allow de-registration, so the demo ‘sales’ stay in the data set. The Australian Auto Dealers Association has called for VFACTS (which compiles the data) to separate out demo registrations.

In addition, BMW’s main rival, Mercedes-Benz, appears to have stopped the aggressive trading and cash support for moving its most popular model, the C-Class sedan. 

One M-B salesman told me that his instructions were that:
“If a potential buyer merely touched the wing mirror on a C-Class, then you must make sure they leave the showroom with a new car – whatever it costs.”

In other words, Mercedes-Benz would go to any lengths to ‘buy’ market share, which had the effect of the C-Class often outselling cars much lower down in the price spectrum, and resulted in fantastic C-Class sales numbers for M-B. Maybe Mercedes-Benz Australia has now decided to conserve its cash, for a rainy day.

I’m sure most buyers don’t really understand the mysteries of new car selling. The dealer cannot LOWER the price of the basic car, however, when push comes to shove, you will often find that the ‘Manager’ has told the salesman that he can ‘throw in metallic paint, different wheels, and a variety of extras’ - at no charge. You end up with such a great deal, you can’t say NO.

However, this is all academic. Car sales go up and down like a yo-yo, often responding to immediate changes in the market (like COVID19), or an unwelcome re-supply of cars from overseas factories, just when the local company may be finding it hard to move its current stock.

The easiest, and most efficient way of moving cars in a down market, is to ask Head Office to throw more cash at the problem. No, discounts and bonuses are not the most effective way to get a good ROI (return on investment), but the cars have to keep coming out of the sausage machine, going on to boats, and they have to find a new garage to occupy. That’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Just watch the new car sales data for the next few months. BMW Australia may be enjoying its day in the sun, but after all: “Life’s what happens, when you’re making plans.” I’m sure the yo-yo’s will continue to influence outcomes.

John Crawford

Friday, May 8, 2020


As the realities of COVID19 strike at every element of our financial and capital sector, spare a thought for those companies holding massive debt on their books from borrowings made when times were better.

Funds borrowed for expansion, new investments and boosting sales to crack the mysteries of the right economy of scale – those plans are now yesterday’s news, and it’s simply not clear what tomorrow will bring.

I wrote recently about the financial turmoil at Aston Martin, and it’s a good example, to highlight both the fight to survive, and the folly of taking on debt in uncertain times. And it's not just Aston Martin, it's happening across the whole automotive industry regardless of the brand.

In a recent interview with my friend Steve Cropley at AUTOCAR, Aston Martin’s COO Andy Palmer talked about big changes needed to Aston Martin’s business model, especially in light of billionaire Lawrence Stroll moving into the Chairman’s role at the troubled sports car maker.

As Palmer pointed out, Stroll has been the Canadian Ferrari importer for a long time, and he understands Ferrari’s business model – which, effectively, means building cars to a specific order – not just churning out cars for dealer stock. You order and spec a Ferrari, then you wait until it’s built.

Palmer highlighted Aston Martin’s difficulties in moving to the Build-to-Order model, because there is simply too much unsold stock in the Aston Martin pipeline.

Whether it’s company inventory, or in dealer stock. That stock must be sold down, before moving on to a B-t-O model.

Herein lies Aston Martin’s dilemma. The company is knee deep in both debt and excess stock. It must generate revenue to pay down debt, and shift stock. Its current revenue flow is pathetic, and despite Stroll’s consortium pitching in £182million; and launching a rights issue valued at £318 million, current cars in inventory have to be moved by ‘dealing’ and that costs money; and then there’s the ‘sunk cost’ in investments like the Gaydon facility and the new St Athan factory to build the DBX.

Even if you're not an analyst, this Bloomberg graph says it all

It is almost a no-win situation for this great company, cash to survive (both its current stock problem, and COVID19) is in short supply, creditors to be pacified and satisfied, and its investors are looking for a return on every dollar they have sunk in the company.

Dream cars, or just dreams? Valkyrie and Valhalla
In Palmer’s own words, “We’ll have to swallow hard, change how we operate, get stock out of the system and make a good try at becoming the British Ferrari. It’s going to hurt.”

It sure is. The graphic reality is that when you become a public company, your shareholders want a return on the shares they’ve bought. They invested because it seemed like a good idea at the time, and they want to see the share price grow, and dividends paid – but when you’re in Aston Martin’s position that outcome is going to require a huge amount of patience from both creditors and shareholders – I wouldn’t like to be either Andy Palmer or Lawrence Stroll right now.

Could Aston Martin disappear? No, I don't think so. There is huge residual affection and support for the brand, and it's a valuable name. However, my only concern is that holding massive debt, and downgrading production from the dream of 7,000 cars a year, to around 5,000 takes a big chunk out of revenue flow and profit margins.

Aston Martin’s position is already fragile, before COVID19 burst in on the scene, and Aston Martin is unfortunately just a microcosm of what’s happening across the global automotive industry.

Times are tough, and they’re going to get tougher. Hang on!

John Crawford