THE AUTO industry looks much different than it did when we launched Automotive News Europe five years ago.
In fact, nothing has really been the same since Jurgen Schrempp looked carnivorously at Bob Eaton in January 1998.
You know all about the mergers and acquisitions. But here are some trends you may have missed.
The Ford Focus is the first mid-market car in several years that is successful on both sides of the Atlantic.
Porsche has become the world's most profitable carmaker.
Skoda has one of the best quality records in Europe.
Common platform strategies are becoming passe.
The French - PSA/Peugeot-Citroen and Renault - have taken loads of market share from the Americans - Opel/Vauxhall and Ford.
Carmakers have all but stopped hiring brand managers from other consumer-product companies.
Virtual reality prototyping was a curiosity five years ago. Now almost everyone does it.
Louis Schweitzer is the longest-serving auto chief executive in the world after Osamu Suzuki.
The combined operating losses of Japanese carmakers in Europe last year approached $500 million (E535.5 million). Mitsubishi, Mazda, Daihatsu, Suzuki and Subaru all missed ambitious sales targets set five years ago. Despite success elsewhere, Honda is declining in Europe because it lacks state-of-the-art diesels.
Nissan, Europe's No. 1 Japanese brand for decades, was passed by Toyota. But strong Yaris and Lexus IS200 sales obscure the fact that Toyota's other models aren't doing well in Europe.
Korean car brands grew their share in Europe from 0.8 percent in 1994 to 3.4 percent last year.
Audi, Europe's fastest-growing brand a couple of years ago, is slipping.
BMW - in deep trouble a year ago - is in great shape today thanks to the sale of Rover and the strong dollar. Joachim Milberg - regarded as in over his head a year ago - is now seen as more shrewd than Schrempp.
PSA's long-frustrated efforts to build market share in Germany are finally paying off.
Peugeot's chassis engineers are now regarded as the best in the business
Analysts in Europe are beginning to like auto stocks. Some European carmaker shares did well in 2000 - a mostly terrible year for world stock markets. Even Volkswagen shares have lifted.
Europe has abandoned the principle of two-tier dealer networks. Thousands of sub-dealers, including large numbers of service-only outlets, have been terminated since 1996.
Carmakers plan to share more risks with suppliers. For example, Ford of Europe hopes to cut up to 8 percent from the cost of making cars by introducing a pay-on-production contract for suppliers of manufacturing equipment.
Bertrand Faure - as it was known in 1996 - is now a superpower. The French supplier was absorbed by PSA's Ecia parts subsidiary, though Bertrand Faure executives remained in control. Then, last year, the renamed Faurecia acquired the automotive operations of Sommer-Allibert.
US-based TRW became the No. 2 supplier in Europe after buying LucasVariety in 1999. But the rapid pace at which American suppliers bought Europeans five years ago has slowed considerably.
Carmakers are outsourcing cockpits for mainstream models at a tremendous rate. And the value is big -$400 to $1,500 (E430-E1,605) per car.
Suppliers such as Valeo are reorganizing to better fit the industry's shift to modules. Component branches are being grouped into larger entities.
American-sized minivans were ready to take off in Europe in 1996. Instead, they barely grew. Last year, the full-size passenger-van segment declined 11 percent. Neither have US-style 'light trucks' - sport-utilities and pickups - caught on in Europe.
Product development periods really are getting shorter. The first sketches of the new Opel Speedster/Vauxhall VX220 were done in summer 1998. The new Mondeo was developed in 24 months, a year less than Ford's previous average. Development time for the next Fiesta, due in late 2001, will be 21 months.
Citroen cut the development time for the Picasso compact minivan to 151 weeks - a record for the PSA group. Nissan wants to rush a new vehicle from design freeze to product launch in 15 months.
But engineers are grumbling. One told me: 'I don't see how they are going to be lean around here and get all that it takes to do a program from napkin to production - and they want us to do a program in 18 months down from 24. I just did a 24-month program and it was a blur and the design that was released suffered from it.'
Car sales on the Internet aren't happening. Executives now believe consumer online ordering won't be a factor until rapid order-to-delivery is a reality.
Many regard the 'three-day car' or 'five-day car' as laughable or at least a long, long way off. But this year, BMW aims to cut the delivery time for custom-ordered new cars in Europe from 30 days to 12 days.
Car prices have fallen in Europe.
The big gaps in pre-tax prices between European countries are getting smaller.
The End of Life Vehicle Directive - to be ratified by EU countries this year - has shifted the recycling burden from owners to vehicle makers. Carmakers will probably take a lump-sum charge in the next year or two to cover the future cost of recycling vehicles.
Brake-by-wire technology is progressing steadily and will debut in Europe first, probably in a Mercedes-Benz model in 2002.
Luxury brands are losing the technology, performance and quality edge that they have long enjoyed over other carmakers. The mass makes are adding features such as gasoline direct injection and keyless entry. In Germany, there is concern that Mercedes-Benz no longer has a big technological lead over others.
Real gains are being made in fuel economy. Germany's VDA says the average fuel economy of cars sold there last year improved by 3 percent, despite a richer sales mix. A lot of attention is focused on California standards and alternative fuels. But huge progress has already been made.
Carmakers are planning common-rail diesel engines with progressively smaller displacements.
Europeans are buying smaller cars. The supermini (Punto/Polo/Corsa/Fiesta) segment is closing the gap with the lower-medium (Golf/Astra/Focus) segment. The upper-medium (Passat/Vectra/Mondeo) segment continues to shrink.
The traditional supermini/lower-medium/upper-medium segmentation is breaking down.
European companies have made almost no major investments in emerging markets in the last two years.
Fiat's Juan Jose Diaz Ruiz (ex-Toyota, ex-Audi, ex-Ford) used to be the exception. Now senior executives frequently jump from one auto company to another.
Carmakers once raided Ford's executive talent. Now Ford raids other auto companies.
In the aftermath of DaimlerChrysler and Wolfgang Reitzle's hiring spree at Premier Automotive Group, Europe's top car executives are being paid more than ever.