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US journalist Doug Larson once joked: 'If all the cars in the United States were placed end to end, it would probably be Labor Day weekend.' With public-spending reductions across western economies cutting deeply into road-building budgets and the number of vehicles on the road continuing to increase, the other 363 days of the year look set to resemble Larson's vision of Labor Day some time soon.
Few in the motor industry underestimate the potential of the Chinese and Indian markets. As increasing affluence enables more and more of their population to move from bicycles and motor-cycles to cars, they are likely to account for a quarter of the world's auto sales in five years' time.
Is the world entering the final years of an oil-based economy? The recent proliferation of nuclear-power stations, wind farms and solar panels is a visible (sometimes, far too visible) indication of major changes in energy supply. Nations across the planet are seeking to move away from oil, partly because many of the main sources are in politically unstable or unfriendly countries and partly because of fears over dwindling supplies.
Few sectors change as rapidly as information technology. Consider this. Five years ago, Dell was worth $100 billion - more than Hewlett-Packard and Apple combined. Dell's market value today is $30 billion, or less than a third of that of its rivals.
Make it, shake it and break it is the traditional way of predicting when the blades in a jet engine will fail. Aviation authorities like the FAA demand that manufacturers vibrate the blades on a 'shaker table' to mimic millions of pairs of take-offs and landings. The tests take months and are costly in terms of time and manpower.
There are seven buttons across the top of the website of European low-cost airline easyJet. The default is, of course, ‘Book flights’. No surprise there. But the second most prominent, reading left to right, is ‘Fly greener – the environment’.
Outstanding policies in research and development, design, and health and safety are paying rich dividends for three organizations that have built worldwide reputations for good practice in the areas of operations and production management.
With the price of oil sticking firmly above $100 a barrel, and taxation and congestion-charge systems being used to cajole people into driving smaller, more environmentally friendly vehicles, car makers across the world are battling to prove their green credentials. Nevertheless, few commentators were prepared for the announcement by General Motors, at the Detroit auto-show in January, that it would seek to diversify ‘away from petroleum’.
When it comes to grocery retailing, Spain's Canary Islands are like a throwback to the UK in the 1950s. Large supermarkets are virtually non-existent. Instead, groceries are mainly sold through Spar-type neighbourhood shops or family owned mini-markets. Almost all the main residential developments in the Canary Islands have at least one of these shops...