While any economic risks remain, carmakers are entering a phase of aggressive product launch and expansion. This is especially true at Daimler, which has set its targets on Audi and BMW’s luxury crown by 2020 with a slew of new models, plants and product refreshes. What’s significant about this plan is that it’s not just about targeting emerging markets (although the company will play catch-up in China), but capacity will be ramped up globally from Europe to North America and east Asia.
Of course, lofty plans don’t always become reality, but for providers this global onslaught is significant. In our autumn run of features, Egon Christ explains how the company is looking for supply chain opportunities across the NAFTA region, global ro-ro shipping, European rail and providers of all kinds across markets like China. Christ, who has long bemoaned a lack of innovation among outbound providers, wants to see them rise to the occasion this time. [sam_ad id=6 codes='true']
Although the economic news has been better lately, it is also more baffling than ever. After some sustained strength in the US led the Federal Reserve Bank to consider ‘tapering’ its quantative-easing programme this summer, in which the Fed buys billions of dollars of assets, from the Midwest to Jakarta, just the suggestion of printing less money sent some markets into a tailspin, with the currencies and stock markets of India and Indonesia notable victims. The Fed has since recanted and said it would maintain its current purchase levels for now. However, this autumn's government shutdown has only highlighted the risks that come with government (in)action.
It may seem illogical that both US growth and political problems could lead to emerging market weakness, but supply chain managers need to be prepared. Caterpillar’s global revenue has dropped this year as commodity prices and mining demand in China decline, even while construction and energy demand grows in the US. This instability is even more reason to get outbound supply chains in order, which the company has done with a central command centre over its exports from North America.
For those of you who read our other title, please forgive the repetition, but I’d like to highlight again our newly designed website at www.automotivelogisticsmagazine.com, which has consolidated our editorial and conference output. Also, a new reporter, Zoë Apostolides, joined us this summer and has already covered many aspects of the outbound supply chain, from sulphur regulations to new plants in southeast Asia. I encourage all of you to get in touch with Zoë, news editor Marcus Williams and me with news and story ideas for our magazines and websites – we are, after all, here to investigate the things that are important to you.