It was one of the worst-kept secrets: Two weeks ago, Reuters reporters had picked up the scent of Daimler planning a big investment into China’s BAIC. This week, rumors started flying around in Beijing that it is true. Today, Daimler announces, as expected, that “Daimler AG is going to invest in BAIC Motor, the passenger car unit of BAIC Group, one of the leading automotive companies in China.” (Read More…)
Now about those Benz-BAIC rumors: While Beijing is going gaga, Reuters has been suspiciously quiet about an upcoming deal between Daimler and its Chinese partner BAIC. Reuters, which has good ears and feet on the ground in China, had reported two weeks ago that something might be happening. Today, Reuters breaks its silence and says: (Read More…)
How do you beat the Dow? Occasionally, by reading TTAC. Yesterday, we wrote about Beijing rumors that Daimler and China’s BAIC are planning a big tie-up.
Hong Kong, and I speak from experience, is a great place to incorporate, to save taxes, and to throw a cloak of secrecy over financial operations which otherwise would be out in the open. In the case of GM, it is also a great place to save their Korean behinds. In December 2009, GM sold a 1% stake in its Shanghai-GM (SGM) joint venture to the Hong Kong part of its Chinese partner SAIC for the paltry sum of $85m. GM also put its India business into a Hong Kong based joint venture (HKJV). GM provided the India business, SAIC provided cash. As it turned out later, unearthed in Ed Niedermeyer’s seminal oeuvre about the mystery golden share, SAIC also underwrote a $400 million loan. In its darkest hour at the end of 2009, GM was kept afloat by the Chinese. Now, history seems to repeat itself in some convoluted way. (Read More…)
The excitement about battery electric vehicles seems to die down amidst disappointing uptake. Range, weight and cost are in the way. At the same time, dormant interest in fuel cell vehicles is being rekindled. A month ago, we had a new look at the technology from the perspective of the Toyota/BMW linkup. Today, The Nikkei [sub] takes a broader view and says that carmakers are in the final lap of the fuel cell race. Let’s have a look at the contestants and where they stand.
The intensified alliance between Toyota and BMW shines a new light on a technology that has been discussed for decades, but that never quite made it: Hydrogen fuel cells. BMW will get access to Toyota’s fuel cell technologies. This most likely spells the end of the fuel cell cooperation between BMW and GM. Let’s take another look. (Read More…)
Here some background on the GM/Isuzu tie-up. Japanese wire services such as The Nikkei [sub] and Jiji report that GM approached Isuzu and “informally proposed acquiring a stake” in the Japanese truck maker. The source is an unnamed executive of Isuzu.
According to The Nikkei [sub], GM and Isuzu will start negotiations in early May for a roughly 10 percent share. If the negotiations are successful, Isuzu President Susumu Hosoi and GM CEO Dan Akerson could meet this summer to sign the agreement. (Read More…)
Coda Automotive, a Southern California start-up that assembles EVs with Chinese components, announced at today’s Beijing Auto Show that it would partner with the Chinese OEM Great Wall to develop a new, lower-cost EV. Says Coda CEO Phil Murtaugh (who you might remember as a key character in American Wheels, Chinese Roads) explains in a press release
When I wrote that PSA and Toyota are exploring their sado-masochistic tendencies a tie-up of production in PSA’s ab- under-used Sevelnord plant in northern France, commenters said it will never happen. Others complained about the choice of choice illustrations.
France’s President Nicolas Sarkozy rode to the rescue of embattled TTAC, and confirmed the tie-up. (Read More…)
Following the many inter-company alliances and dalliances is becoming as cumbersome as covering the couplings in a swing club. PSA Peugeot Citroen is said to be in talks with Toyota. The same PSA that just hooked up with GM is reportedly talking tie-up with GM’s arch nemesis Toyota. They discuss sharing PSA’s Sevelnord plant in northern France, where PSA’s erstwhile partner Fiat pulls out. Still with me? (Read More…)
With the government still waiting to see how much it will get out of its equity in General Motors, The General seems to be attracting more of the media commentary than Chrysler these days. And not without good reason: GM saw the greatest drop in market share last month of any Detroit automaker, its government-hyped Volt is flopping, Opel continues to be an open sore and it can’t help but flaunt its cluelessness about youth marketing. But interest in GM’s shortcomings seems to be driven by little more than election-year political implications, which Chrysler was able to avoid by borrowing cash and misleadingly claiming to have squared up with the American taxpayer. After all, Chrysler is facing just as many challenges as GM, if not more. And despite having formally closed the bailout chapter of its history, Chrysler’s performance still bears on the decision to rescue America’s weakest major automaker.
Hear that chafing sound? It is analysts scratching their heads. They wonder why in the world would GM buy 7 percent of France’s PSA Peugeot Citroen. Bloomberg says this is about to happen. Neither GM nor PSA wants to confirm the deal. However, Bloomberg already has intricate details of the planned transaction, someone seems to be talking on deep dark background. Sounds like the odd couple is about to do it.
The question remains: Why? (Read More…)
It’s not that the cross-sharing of technologies between Renault-Nissan has been a well-kept secret. However, it is good to hear that loose alliances between unlikely partners work, while a marriages made in the automotive compatibility heaven (we are looking at you, Volkswagen & Suzuki) don’t even get to the consummation part.
Renault-Nissan announced today in Detroit that its Decherd, Tenn., plant will build Mercedes-Benz 4-cylinder engines for Infiniti and Mercedes-Benz starting in 2014.
Read this sentence carefully. (Read More…)
Lotus is one of those brands that every auto enthusiast loved to lionize, despite (or possibly because of) the fact that it hasn’t made a profit for its owner, Proton, in 15 years. But now things are changing. Lotus itself is in the midst of a makeover, seeking to transition from niche sports- and track-car company to a Ferrari and Porsche-rivaling aspirational brand. Meanwhile, back in Malaysia, its owner, Proton, is undergoing a few changes itself. Having been founded as a state-backed business, Proton may soon be privatized, reports Bloomberg. And as a result, Protons private investors could push for a quick divestment of the firm’s Lotus holdings. One such investor, Gan Eng Peng of HwangDBS Investment Management, tells Bloomberg
It will make sense for them to sell it. Proton and Lotus are not a good fit. They are in different market segments, both in terms of geography and product.
Fuelled by Nissan’s decision to move the HQ of it’s Infiniti brand to Hong Kong, rumors of an impending Chinese production of the upscale marque would not end. In November, while not denying the story out of hand, spokespeople in Yokohama indicated that announcements of Chinese production of Nissan’s luxury brand were premature. Today, China Daily has an interesting twist on the story: A trucks-for-luxury cars swap. (Read More…)