BMW

My first — and probably still my favourite — factory visit was to London Rubber Company’s Durex condom plant in Chingford, London. Mind you, the sight of a latex sheath being test-inflated to a metre or more in length does tend to stick in the memory.

This has not been a salutary week for European corporate governance. At Volkswagen in Germany and at Industrivärden in Sweden, a system intended to encourage stability and long-term growth has instead created self-indulgence.

John Gapper

 BMW M5 Sedan: Design

The news that sales of Rolls-Royce cars in China have overtaken those in the US, and that China now accounts for 31 per cent of Rolls-Royce’s sales, makes me wonder if we have reached a turning point for luxury design.

That sprung to mind when I saw a BMW M5 driving along a parkway in the US the other day. Although this is subjective, my first reaction to looking at its rear view and tail lights was that it would have looked more at home on the Bund in Shanghai. Read more

John Gapper

The speed at which global auto makers, particularly luxury car companies, are switching their focus of interest from the US to China continues to amaze.

BMW’s results on Tuesday, showing that its second quarter sales in China doubled from 22, 700 to 45,200, followed a declaration on Monday by Volvo’s new Chinese chairman that it will compete more directly with BMW, Mercedes and Audi.

China’s luxury car market is not only growing very rapidly but also has better margins than other markets, making it very attractive to global car companies. Read more