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.
GM flirting with FAW: GM is holding discussions with major Chinese automaker FAW Group to form a partnership for light commercial vehicles, Reuters reports. The two parties have already registered a name with the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, which is the first step of Chinese joint venture courtship. GM already makes light commercial vehicles in China in a three-way tie-up with SAIC and Liuzhou Wuling. GM manufactures Buicks in Shanghai with SAIC, China’s largest auto maker. FAW, one China’s three biggest automakers, operates car manufacturing ventures with Volkswagen and Toyota. SAIC is also in a joint venture with VW. SAIC and FAW have been considered bitter rivals, although there are reports of a thawing. GM said its commercial vehicle venture in China sold 19.7 percent more vehicles in January than a year earlier, helped largely by sales of the Wuling Sunshine minivans.
Mitsubishi abandons Dakar: Mitsubishi Motors Corp will pull out the fabled Dakar Rally as part of steps to cope with worsening earnings, the Nikkei [sub] says. The move “is expected to cut costs by a few billion yen,” a company official said. Mitsubishi Motors won the rally 12 times, including a seven-year winning streak. Through a motor sports subsidiary, the firm will continue to support the rally by offering technological information and supplying parts to teams of individuals participating in various events.
Arigatou, but no arigatou: Mitsubishi Motors does not intend to seek government funds, the Nikkei [sub] reports. Mazda also said it “is not considering receiving public funds,” according to Nobuyoshi Tochio, general manager of the financial services division.
Honda’s new hybrid: Honda introduced an all-new Insight hybrid that the firm hopes will help it overtake rival Toyota in one of the few auto segments not yet affected by dismal sales, the Nikkei [sub] writes. Slated to hit dealerships Friday, the car will carry a starting price of 1.89 million yen, about 20 percent less than Toyota’s best-selling Prius hybrid. Honda’s proprietary new technology enabled it to make the vehicle lighter and more compact than its existing hybrids, thus pushing down production costs by about 40 percent.
Fiat tries again in China: Fiat has found new Chinese partners after its Nanjing fiasco . Its multiple tie-ups with Chery Auto, Guangzhou Auto and Changan Suzuki are awaiting the approval of China’s auto regulatory bodies, Gasgoo reports. The joint venture applications may have results next month. Changan Suzuki will make Fiat’s Sedici, a crossover model jointly developed by Fiat and Suzuki in Europe. Suzuki’s European facility has OEM operations for Fiat, and the Japanese carmaker’s Chinese venture said it could do the same job.
No foreign brands allowed: Volkswagen’s central parts depot is in Baunatal (in the district of Kassel, in Hesse, Germany). It’s a huge place. If you want to do business with them, you’d better drive a car made by VW (anything from a Seat to a Bugatti will do). If you arrive in a competing make, you will walk, Automobilwoche [sub] reports. Even if you deliver a truck full of parts.