Even though the first-generation Chevrolet Volt has had its price slashed every year since its debut, the next-generation range-extended electric vehicle will be priced even lower. This aims GM’s offering squarely at a number of more traditional hybrids.
Japan’s carmakers are preparing for the next big one, and move to higher ground, says The Nikkei [sub]. Many Japanese car plants are near or next to the water, some on reclaimed land. Large level tracts are rare in Japan, and by building cars at the waterfront, the ship can come to your loading dock. After the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, perspectives changed. (Read More…)
Writers often like to equate the power released by the quake to the nuclear bombs that had been dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Depending on who you read and believe, it was anywhere between 31,700 and 600 million Hiroshima bombs. Large parts of the coastal areas are dotted with huge, neatly stacked piles of rubble which nobody wants to take and nobody knows what to do with. The devastation was so big that it turned into an attraction on Google Earth. Considering the immense damage, it is amazing how quickly the country did rebound. On Friday, I visited what was presented to me as an emblem of the amazing turn-around, Toyota’s plant in Kanegasaki, Iwate Prefecture. Here, 1,700 employees are working overtime to build Toyota’s Aqua / Prius c, for which everybody is screaming. (Read More…)
When the March 11 tsunami hit, observers thought that of Japan’s major automakers, Honda would be the least exposed. Most of its global production already is outside of Japan. Very few cars that are produced in Japan are exported. Toyota and Nissan looked much more vulnerable. Distrust predictions: Today, Honda presented the results for the last quarter of 2011. The numbers look uglier than the cars in the video. (Read More…)
The Japanese car market is in the midst of the worst crisis since 1978. The Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association expects auto sales in Japan to fall to a 34-year low in the current fiscal year that ends in March 2012. This as a result of the severe production drop, triggered by the March 11 earthquake and tsunami. (Read More…)
Pronounced near-dead in 1999, Nissan has made a remarkable, but often unnoticed turn-around ever since. With little fanfare, the Yokohama company passed Honda as Japan’s second largest auto maker. In China, the land of car growth, Nissan sold 1.3 million cars last year, became largest Japanese brand and has expansion plans for 2.3 million. Nissan is also the company that recovered fastest from the March 11 tsunami. With only 25 percent of its world output in Japan, Nissan had less exposure that Honda, and especially Toyota. It also was lucky: Nissan could duck the chip shortage that hit Toyota and Honda with full force. Nissan’s engine factory in Iwaki is 60 miles away from Fukushima. A little closer, and it would still be closed. Instead, it was back up and running two months after the disaster. One of the most horrific years for Japan and the Japanese auto industry is shaping up to be the defining year for Nissan. Nissan’s biggest problem: Not enough cars. (Read More…)
Now that the effects of the March 11 tsunami are behind the Japanese auto industry, carmakers are pulling out all stops to make up for lost volume. Only to run into new problems: “Shortages of tires and other autoparts are a growing concern,” reports The Nikkei [sub]. The new shortage is tsunami-unrelated. Its reason: Bad old supply and demand. (Read More…)
The race for bragging rights amongst the top three promises to stay interesting throughout the year. Toyota just issued new forecasts which pegs global production across all Toyota Motor Corp. brands at 8.04 million. This should worry Wolfsburg. Volkswagen was seen as the clear number 2 after GM in the 2011 race. Now matters are not so sure. (Read More…)