By on December 9, 2011

This is both an interesting and a strange article the The Nikkei [sub] has on GM. First, the interesting part.

While commenting on the fact that GM will jointly develop carbon fiber automobile components with Tokyo-based Teijin, The Nikkei detects a “radical shift in the U.S. auto giant’s business strategy.” The paper comments that GM was once known for its insistence on developing its own technologies. Which, says The Nikkei, played a part in the company’s downfall, because it drove up costs.

“But since emerging from bankruptcy in 2009, GM has shown a willingness to work with companies across industries to develop green technologies.

GM agreed with South Korea’s LG Group in August to jointly develop electric vehicles, expanding on previous agreements to procure batteries and work together on electrical systems.

In September, the U.S. automaker signed another electric-vehicle cooperation agreement, this time with China’s SAIC Motor Corp.

Furthermore, GM has a tie-up accord in battery technology with U.S. start-up A123 Systems Inc.”

So far, so good. Ok, so we get it that GM is getting over the “not invented here” thing and reaches out to other partners. This has been going for a while in the whole industry, and is picking up pace. The costs and challenges are simply too great to shoulder alone, the payback too far out.

What is slightly odd is The Nikkei’s conclusion:

“As it moves to tap the strengths of partners around the world, GM may become a major rival of Japanese automakers even in the field of green vehicles.”

Does that mean that Japan’s leading business daily is giving GM no green-cred for past and current work?  Does The Nikkei think that Japanese makers hold an exclusive on green cars?

 

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19 Comments on “Does GM Encroach On Japan’s Green Turf?...”


  • avatar
    newcarscostalot

    I think in this case only time will tell. It really depends on what GM will do in the future, and I think there will be a lot of debate, at least here, in regards to your last two questions Bertel.

    EDIT: I figure I better add to this so as not to confuse anyone lol. I think how each individual views GM and Japanese green vehicles now will depend on how they respond to your questions and the article in the Nikkei.

  • avatar
    rpol35

    “Does that mean that Japan’s leading business daily is giving GM no green-cred for past and current work? Does The Nikkei think that Japanese makers hold an exclusive on green cars?”

    Good question, The Nikkei must have been asleep at the switch regarding the Volt. Doesn’t matter how anyone feels about this controversial car, it is still a bold, green move on GM’s part.

  • avatar
    NormSV650

    And GM didn’t make the EV1.

    • 0 avatar
      BoredOOMM

      OR sell the batteries to someone else and then have to repurchase the technology.

      The VOLT was overpriced and sold what was expected – little.

      • 0 avatar
        Xeranar

        . . .It’s had limited supply and it’s a halo car. Did you expect 40K to fly off the shelf? Honestly, they could have badged it a Cadillac for an easy 10K in units a year. This whole Chevy badge thing is an argument about EV’s are for the masses not just the elite who can afford the R&D battery cost.

  • avatar
    LBJs Love Child

    Was that in the December 7th edition of the Nikkei?

  • avatar
    johnhowington

    i’m sure the tahoe’s with giant HYBRID stickers on the sides definitely threaten toyota on a daily basis that they will soon come out with a sequoia hybrid. *sarcasm*

  • avatar
    philadlj

    I’m unclear whether it makes this conclusion with an air of contempt or bemusement.

    After all, Toyota, and to a lesser extent Nissan, have been encroaching on America’s non-green turf for years with products like the Tundra, Titan, Sequoia and Armada.

  • avatar
    Robert.Walter

    Operative and correct element in Nikkei’s conclusion is “major rival” … Right now GM is far from a green rival and even farther from being a major one.

  • avatar
    L'avventura

    Wow, talk about twisting words around.

    Nikkei:
    “GM may become a major rival of Japanese automakers even in the field of green vehicles.”

    Not sure how that line can be sensationalized into inferring that Japan has an exclusivity in green cars, or that it somehow ignores GM’s green ventures (in fact, Nikkei mentions the Volt’s battery technology in the article).

    As it stands, the only ‘green vehicle’ that sells in any significant volume is the Prius, with 2 million+ in sales, and to a lesser extent the Insight. The Volt sells in very small volumes, ~5k units so far, and isn’t available globally; same can be said of the Leaf at the moment.

    In terms of sales, and in terms of diversity of models, GM doesn’t really rival the Japanese car makers in green cars. But with their new willingness to work with partners in technology, like the Volt’s LG battery, and its new carbon-fiber venture, “GM may become a major rival of Japanese automakers even in the field of green vehicles.”

    Not sure what the problem with this is…

    I know Bertel doesn’t like the Nikkei, even though he cites them all the time, he considers them the “B” word he hates to be called himself. But I don’t understand why such a manipulation of words are necessary here.

    • 0 avatar

      I think this requires a long-overdue statement: “Criticizing” doesn’t mean “not liking” or even “hating.” At least at TTAC. I bet your parents criticized you when you messed up. This didn’t mean that they didn’t love you.

      If we see a mistake, we call it. It’s in our job description.

      I like the Nikkei, because it provides a window into the thinking in the Japanese industry. Sometimes, this window is a big fogged, and we provide the Windex. We do that with the Nikkei just as we do it for other media.

      • 0 avatar
        L'avventura

        The fact of course what you describe here isn’t a “window of thinking of the Japanese industry”. This isn’t “criticizing” the Nikkei. You’ve created drama where there really wasn’t, you’ve created offense where it shouldn’t exist.

        Quite simply, you’ve manipulated words to incite nationalist sentiment.

        Think about this for moment, we have an individual above who is making a Pearl Harbor reference. This is not the intellectual discourse I expect from TTAC.

      • 0 avatar
        newcarscostalot

        I don’t see any of those things. At most, the headline and article might be sensationalist but since this is on opinion piece it hardly matters.

  • avatar
    Xeranar

    It’s a Japanese news service that is skewed towards Japanese readers. Nothing new there. Pick up the Times or WSJ for a similar interpretation. If anything though general populous consumers still see the Japanese and specifically Toyota as leading the green car market with the Prius. It’s a symbol like no other and while some cars are hybridized none have gone for a truly stand-alone hybrid model in their lineup which is interesting to say the least. Ford or GM could easily have tweaked the styling on the Focus/Malibu/Fusion/Cruze and issued a stand-alone model with a battery pack that retailed for 3-4K more and win a sizable chunk of the HEV market, they choose not to.

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    I’m not sure what they mean here. Sure the Japanese are leading in Green tech but I don’t think by much.

    I think that it’s too early in the game to really lay claim to being the foregone conclusion for green technologies.

    And considering the size of GM, shouldn’t they always be considered a competitor regardless of which market you are in? I’m a bit confused as to why this is an issue.

    ie, business is in business to make money, new markets related to core business are opening up, business invests in new markets. To me this is just logical on GM’s part.

  • avatar
    Pch101

    Does that mean that Japan’s leading business daily is giving GM no green-cred for past and current work? Does The Nikkei think that Japanese makers hold an exclusive on green cars?

    No, it means that the author believes that GM may do a better of job of bringing these cars to market. GM can focus on designing, assembling and marketing the cars, and rely upon specialized partners and suppliers for some of the components.

    If the relationships are with the right firms, then that isn’t necessarily a bad idea. It’s probably more important to have a product that can be retailed than to own 100% of the intellectual property for a product that never comes to market.


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