A short overview of what happened in other parts of the world while you were in bed. TTAC provides round-the-clock coverage of everything that has wheels. Or has its wheels coming off. WAS is being filed from Beijing.
Toyota Motor Corp halts production at Japanese plants: They’ll do that for 11 days in February and March, Reuters reports. A 37 percent slump in December sales in Toyota’s biggest market U.S.A. was its sharpest fall in more than a quarter of a century and worse than General Motors and Ford Motor.
Porsche owns more than half of VW: Porsche has raised its stake in Volkswagen to more than 50 percent, and as a result they may end up with a truck company they do not want, writes Reuters. A Porsche spokesman confirmed that the sports car maker still planned to increase its stake in VW to 75 percent at some point this year, given a favorable market environment. As a result of its stake hike on Monday, Porsche now has indirect control of Swedish truck maker Scania, in which Volkswagen holds about 69 percent of the voting rights. Porsche is required by Swedish law to make a mandatory takeover offer, but the German sports car maker said it had no strategic interest in Scania and was not interested in acquiring Scania shares. It said it was not bound by pre-acquisition prices and was only obliged to offer the minimum price prescribed by law.
Japan‘s sales down for the 5th year: Japan’s domestic auto sales fell last year to their lowest level since the mid-1970s, the Nikkei (sub) reports. According to data released by the Japan Automobile Dealers’ Association, sales of new cars, trucks and buses slid 6.5 percent to 3.212m vehicles last year, down from 3.434m in 2007. That marked the fifth straight year of declines, taking sales to their lowest level since 1974’s 3.133m, officials at the association said.
Suzuki shelves a bigger one: Suzuki puts plans for a larger car on ice, writes the Nikkei (sub.) Suzuki wanted to develop a car with engines up to 3.6 liters. The auto was to debut in 2010. With a recovery not expected for several years, the carmaker has decided to freeze plans for the new vehicle.
Japan’s sales likely down for the 6th year also: Domestic Japanese sales of new automobiles are projected to drop further in 2009, not only because of the sluggish economy but also because of a declining population and the improved reliability of Japanese cars, the Nikkei (sub) writes. The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association forecasts that 4.86m new autos will be sold this year, a further decline of 4.3 percent from the 2008 figure, the lowest on record. “Auto industry officials have started to express concerns that sales will be worse,” writes the Nikkei.
Japan getting charged on batteries: Now that joint ventures are being forged left and right to produce lithium-ion batteries for cars, Japan is coming up with more ideas to put them to good use. The ideas go from hybrid-electric trains to hybrid electric ships and office buildings that use cheaper energy at night to charge batteries for the day. The Nikkei (sub) writes that “Li-ion prices will come down sharply once widespread mass production begins, and that usage might thus spread to nearly every industrial sector.”
China‘s Chery reports the unthinkable: Down sales. Chery said its car sales fell to 356,000 units in 2008 from 381,000 a year earlier, down around 6.6 percent. And they don’t even have the export market to blame: Chery’s exports rose to 135,000 units last year from 119,800 cars in 2007, Gasgoo writes. Reason given? Low demand.
China likes Japan’s Camry the most: 146,872 Camry sedans made by GAC Toyota were registered 2008 in China. The domestically produced Camry tops the sedan registration rankings again after gaining the title in 2007, Gasgoo writes.
GM China up 6.1 percent: GM China’s vehicle sales rose 6.1 percent in 2008, down sharply from 18.5 percent growth the previous year, Reuters reports. GM and its joint ventures sold 1.09m vehicles in China.
China has room to grow: According to China’s Public Security ministry, China reached 41.7m private cars in 2008, Gasgoo reports. Using 1.3b as the current Chinese population figure (it’s likely higher,) that comes out to 32 cars per 1000 population, a far cry from 776 in the U.S.A. (a number that is likely to fall.)
Aussie autos down further in 2009: Australian sales of cars and trucks are expected to fall 13 percent this year, Bloomberg writes. Sales will drop to 880,000 vehicles from 1.01 million in 2008, the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries said. Sales fell 3.6 percent in 2008 from the previous year.