In an industry reshaping at the speed of light, Automotive News Europe brings you reliable, relevant and unbiased coverage of the auto business. Now we have a special news item of our own: this year ANE is 20.
Automotive News Europe’s first issue was published on February 5, 1996 with this scoop as its main story: “Mercedes plans ultra-luxury car to fight Rolls.” The story heralded the revival of the Maybach brand.
During the past two decades the industry has gone through many changes. The European market reached a historical peak in 2007 with vehicle sales of 16 million. But this high point was followed by a six-year slump, the longest recession since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
In the past 20 years, we reported how marriages turned into divorces:
- BMW bought the UK’s biggest volume automaker, the Rover Group, but sold it to a management buyout team for just 10 pounds after a torrid six years of ownership
- Daimler touted its merger with Chrysler as a “marriage made in heaven” but it ended in a messy breakup
- GM took a 20 percent stake in Fiat with a put option to buy the rest of the Italian automaker. It cost GM $2 billion to rid itself of the deal. Fiat later merged with Chrysler.
Other tie-ups have, so far, not become a reality. Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne sought a merger with GM, whose chief Mary Barra rejected his advances.
One automotive relationship, however, has been a success. Renault rescued Nissan from looming bankruptcy to form a French-Japanese alliance that has become probably the most successful cooperation in the auto industry in the last 50 years. The alliance extended its reach into Russia by acquiring control of AvtoVAZ, the maker of the Lada cars, and Renault-Nissan have deepened an industrial partnership with Daimler.
Automotive News Europe highlighted new trends, such as sliding doors that are now quietly sliding into oblivion. We also covered the rise and the fall of the minivan, invented in Europe in the compact segment with the Renault Scenic and in subcompacts with the Renault Modus.
The newest product trend is the boom in high-riding SUVs and crossovers, replacing minivans and station wagons as the favorite vehicle for families. Even ultra-wealthy buyers want one -- Bentley has just launched the Bentayga and now Lamborghini and even Rolls-Royce are developing crossovers.
We cover new products as part of our brief to report on the auto business. But we also try to understand what the future holds as we talk extensively with auto executives, market researchers and financial analysts.
Autopia could be the next big thing. Autopia is a vision where on-demand individual mobility backed by a network of autonomously driven electric vehicles could force automakers to restructure their sales and production operations and cause customers to reassess their views on car ownership.
At ANE we try to look at the world we know well -- traditional automakers that build and sell vehicles as they have been doing since the first car was created 130 years ago -- but we also spotlight newcomers that could disrupt this business such as Apple and Google.
We have not -- and we would not -- pick a winner.
Our mantra is the one that has driven our publishing company -- Crain Communications -- in its first century of activity: The reader always comes first.
And the reader will continue to come first, no matter if a story upsets a company that we cover or an executive.