Back from the dead after I’m back from Europe: An 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 Tokyo this week.
Itai: Japan’s domestic sales of new cars, trucks and buses dropped 27.9 percent year-on-year in January, declining for the sixth straight month, the Nikkei [sub] writes. Sales in January totaled 174,281 vehicles– the lowest for the month since 1976. The Nikkei: “Auto sales are closely monitored by economists since they are the first consumer spending numbers released each month.” And these figures don’t bode well.
Oichi: Honda downgraded its earnings forecast, but still expects to report an 80 billion yen group net profit for the year ending March 31, the Nikkei [sub] reports. Stalled sales in Japan, the U.S. and Europe, as well as the stronger yen, led the automaker to lower its projected profit by 105 billion yen. Strong motorcycle sales in Asia helped Honda skirt the losses seen by Toyota and Nissan.
Aua: Worldwide sales of all brands dropped 25 percent in January. Compared to that, VW’s January loss of 15 percent is not all that bad, says VeeDub’s Martin Winterkorn according to das Autohaus.
Itai, again: In an effort to lower costs, after the car maker last reported a 90 percent drop in its net profit for the October – December quarter, Honda will cut its managers’ monthly pay by five percent. The Nikkei [sub] reports that the cuts kick in in February. Japan’s second biggest car maker has already slashed board members’ pay by 10 percent. Toyota is considering reducing executive salaries, says the Nikkei [sub].
Charge it: According to Gasgoo, China will provide subsidies to companies and institutions that use hybrid vehicles like electric and fuel cell cars. The scheme is not yet extended to private car users. China’s Finance Ministry maintains that high price tags on hybrid vehicles place them of reach of the common people, anyway.
Return of double digit growth: Chinese carmaker Geely expects sales to grow by over 25 percent in January from a year earlier, Gasgoo says. The automaker, which focuses on small car models, saw daily sales exceed 1,000 units on average last month. Hyundai Kia China says January sales rose 35 percent from a year before. January sales of Dongfeng Yueda Kia increased 15 percent. Earlier last month, China unveiled a wide-ranging plan to boost the auto industry, including tax breaks for purchases of cars with engine sizes below 1.6 litres and cash for clunkers subsidies.
Return of triple digit growth: FAW-Toyota, the joint venture between China’s FAW Group and Japanese carmaker Toyota Motor, reported sales of 372,688 vehicles in 2008. That’s a 129 percent surge relative to the prior year, Gasgoo writes. Now FAW-Toyota ranks fourth among top 10 Chinese automakers by sales in 2008, just behind FAW-VW, Shanghai-VW and Shanghai-GM. Toyota’s hybrid Prius posted the best percentage achievement; sales increased by 217 percent– to 899 vehicles.
Clunker culling no life saver: Despite the hoopla over Germany’s clunker culling subsidy, the German auto industry group VDA doesn’t see a return to the good old times, says Automobilwoche [sub]. January sales, to be reported tomorrow, will likely be down 19 percent in Deutschland.
Porsche hit hard: In the August to January period, Porsche’s global sales dropped 27 percent, Automobilwoche [sub] says. Wendelin Wiedeking– the world’s highest-paid automobile executive ($157m in 2008)– announced austerity measures. Wendy opined that a repeat of last year’s miracle (more profits than sales) is unlikely. Porsche still wants 75 percent of VW.