Against expectations that auto sales would rise by at least 7 percent, March 2016 volume in the United States increased just 3 percent. Modest growth at General Motors and noteworthy drops at Toyota, Volkswagen, BMW, and Mercedes-Benz didn’t stop auto sales from increasing by more than 50,000 units, year-over-year. But the possibility that auto sales in March would climb to one of the highest levels ever failed to materialize despite an additional two selling days compared with March 2015.
Indeed, the daily selling rate achieved by the auto industry decreased even as March 2016 hosted 27 official selling days on the auto sales calendar, up from 25 one year ago. (Read More…)
A “person familiar with the situation” tells the Wall Street Journal [sub] that GM is looking into two new offers for the HUMMER brand after a deal that would have sold the brand to China’s Sichuan Tengzhong collapsed. No word on who these two firms are, where they are located, or what they’re smoking to make them interested in the dinosaur brand. The rest of the WSJ piece bemoans the opacity of the Chinese Government’s deal approval system, and details how approval hurdles have scuttled deals in other industries, much to the frustration of American firms. Of course, if GM had listened to TTAC’s Bertel Schmitt, they’d know that:
All joint ventures need to get government approval. However, the Chinese government wants its car industry with more than 100 players to consolidate to a more manageable number. Beijing wants to see four big ones and four smaller ones. What Beijing definitely doesn’t want is more car manufacturers. So instead of saying outright “no,” Beijing is letting the deal get entangled in red tape.
Although the Chinese government takes much of February off for New Year festivities, GM’s deal to sell HUMMER to Sichuan Tengzhong has exactly one week left before a self-imposed deadline for completion arrives. The deal is being held up by China’s Commerce Ministry which has publicly said that it wants the Chinese auto industry to consolidate and become “greener,” two goals that are severely at odds with Sichuan Tengzhong’s HUMMER aspirations. Now, the Financial Times reports that Tengzhong may be trying to pull an end-around on the Chinese government by pursuing a purchase via an offshore investment vehicle. This would (in theory) evade the requirement for the Commerce Ministry’s approval. In reality … (Read More…)
Bård Eker, the Norwegian partner in Koenigsegg Automotive, and Koenigsegg Group, appeared as one of the guests on Friday night’s regular Swedish/Norwegian talk show “Skavland” this weekend (the following, translated conversation starts at 27:09). Mr Skavland, first talking a bit about Eker’s feelings about the broken deal, and how he felt visiting Trollhättan talking to Saab employees after the deal broke, he then asked Eker: “Is there a tiny chance you’ll try again? Saab isn’t sold yet…!” Eker smiles and answers “…we’ll see. Maybe!” laughing, shrugging his shoulders, audience cheering. Skavland: “how would you wanna do it?” Eker: “I don’t know…Seriously – we haven’t given it much thought. We’ll see…perhaps there’s a new opportunity. Maybe someone’ll give us a phonecall” Skavland: “So it’s not definitive that you’re out of the game?” Eker – laughing, glancing at his watch – “..err..how long is this show?” Skavland says: “So, you’ll still want a Saab?”, Eker: “yeah, sure” Skavland: “Alright….?” and shifts to another subject. All the while Eker has a cunning smile on his face.
The Wall Street Journal reports that the Crown group, which includes former Ford Executives Michael Dingman and Shamel Rushwin as well as former Volvo CEO Roger Holtback, are still in the hunt to buy Volvo Cars from Ford, or at least they like to think they are! Ford has been keeping these guys on the back burner behind Geely and told Crown to come back when they had money lined up. Guess what, Crown now says their “offer is fully funded and includes participation by Swedish investors … two adjustments aimed at making the offer more attractive to Ford in the sale of the Swedish operation.”