Bloomberg is reporting that GM CEO Fritz Henderson will meet with Toyota President Akio Toyoda this August, and that a GM rebadge of the Prius could be on the agenda. “Two people familiar with the plan” confirm the Prius angle, and with the death of the Pontiac Vibe, GM certainly has to figure out what it will do with its NUMMI capacity which it shares with Toyota. “Having a stronger line-up is an urgent matter for GM,” says Yoshihiro Okumura of Chiba-gin Asset Management Co. “Demand will continue to shift to small cars.” But neither automaker will even confirm that plans for an executive meeting of the minds is on the table. Moreover, as Jim Hall of 2953 Analytics points out, “Toyota is not normally in the practice of giving away the crown jewels.” On the other hand, GM has recently canceled its only hybrid car, the Malibu Hybrid, and the sale of Saturn to Penske will further cut into its hybrid offerings.
UPDATE: Our Frank Williams points out a GM press release that just hit the wires which says “As part of its long-term viability plan, General Motors has decided that its ownership stake in the New United Motor Manufacturing Incorporated (NUMMI) joint venture with Toyota will not be a part of the ‘New GM.’” The plot thickens.
Speaking of Saturn and Penske, early rumors have the new Saturn selling Renault products (built by its Korean partner Samsung). Trading Markets has a press release denying a tie-up between Renault and China’s Great Wall Auto, that (in theory) would have created a joint venture in Venezuela. If the deal goes through, it will be with Great Wall’s Venezuelan dealer, so it doesn’t sound like this would have created a product opportunity for the Penske World Auto Market. Still, doesn’t a Venezuelan-built Dacia Logan (Rebadged as a Penske-Chavez?) sound like fun?