The Commission had to launch a formal investigation into aid for a large investment project by BMW for the manufacturing of electric cars. The formal investigation will allow the Commission to gain an insight into the emerging market of electric cars, a market for which it has not examined regional investment aid before.
A subsidy is a subsidy is a subsidy, right? Apparently not…
After Greenpeace attacked Volkswagen for opposing proposed increases in the EU’s emissions regulation, Ford is joining the opposition to tough EU proposals. Ford Europe CEO Stephen Odell railed against the EU’s recent White Paper On The Future Of Transport [PDF here], which calls for (among other things):
-”A higher share of travel by collective transport, combined with minimum service obligations”
-”The use of smaller, lighter and more specialised road passenger vehicles”
-”Road pricing and the removal of distortions in taxation [to] also assist in encouraging the use of public transport and the gradual introduction of alternative propulsion”
-All in the pursuit of the goal: “Halve the use of ‘conventionally-fuelled’ cars in urban transport by 2030; phase them out in cities by 2050; achieve essentially CO2-free city logistics in major urban centres by 203″
Now what about that plan might worry an auto executive? (Read More…)
I know, the sniping at Jalopnik is getting old, and I’m sure this article will receive a lot of complaints. But this is The Truth About Cars, and the truth must be told. Banking on the limited attention span of its readers, Gawker’s outlet for things remotely related to cars headlined yesterday: “European Union wants to ban gas, diesel cars by 2050.” A headline like that is sure to produce clicks. Too bad, clicking readers are being had.
Just for this occasion, we break the TTAC rule of not copypasting whole articles. Here is the Jalopnik article in full length:
George Orwell said it would happen in 1984, but better late than never. The European Commission decided that from 2013 on, every new car sold in the EU must have a system called eCall. What is eCall? Think of it as a government-mandated OnStar. If your car crashes, eCall will automatically send an S.O.S. to emergency centers. It will send your GPS-derived coordinates, the number of people on board, impact sensor data, airbag deployment and other data which probably only the EU and the carmakers know. (Read More…)
Toyota is probably feeling a little unloved right now. The US government has been trying to burn them at the stake, Chinese buyers are shunning them and even the Canadians are even saying “No, eh?” (My experience of Canadians is pretty much limited to “South Park” and “Due South”). But love and good news can come from the most unlikely of places. (Read More…)
Tata reiterated its threat to invest the the U.S. and Europe with their bargain-basement Nano car. At an event held today in Toyko, Tata’s Vice Chairman Ravi Kant said that “Tata Motors now plans to take it forward to the developed markets in Europe and in the U.S.,” The Nikkei [sub] reports. “Now plans?” (Read More…)
It’s been some time since since we had a “Trade War Watch” on mounting trade tensions in the auto industry, and thank goodness for that. In this economic climate of cuts, currency swings and bankruptcies, what we need are things which will make the situation worse, right? In May I reported about how the EU put a 20.6 percent tariff on aluminium wheels from China. The EU did this in response to complaints from domestic manufacturers. Naturally, this left a sour taste in China’s mouth. Well, over 5 months later, you’d think that the EU would have calmed down and this nasty business would be swept under the carpet, right? Erm, not quite….
Ford Europe will swallow a tried and trued antidote against flagging car sales: Heavy discounting. Yesterday, Ford had announced – in a rather roundabout way – that their European sales had dropped a breathtaking 17 percent in April. Putting cash on the hood is no surprising move. Wouldn’t there be another detail. (Read More…)
Now that the Conservatives (with the help of the Liberal Democrats) have come to power in the UK, the Conservatives are going to push forward their plans for a reduction in the UK deficit (i.e savage cuts). Now, while I agree in the long term, this will be good for the UK, in the short term, it will cause higher unemployment and severe “belt tightening”. The UK isn’t the only country with this frame of thinking. Only today, the Spanish government has announced deep budget cuts in order to reduce their deficit and to prevent markets from thinking of them as the next “Greece”. So, with the UK and Spain making these budget cuts, the Euro looking unsteady and Greece still not convincing markets, what else could make Europe stare at another recession? That’s right, a possible trade war. (Read More…)
It’s tough to be a European car maker with a governmental sugar daddy. First you have to make nice with your sugar daddy, and commit unspeakable acts until he shakes loose a few hundred million Euro. Then, the prudes from Brussels shoot the stipend down. Your sugar daddy can say: “Darling, I tried.” He then can go on with the business of bailing out Mediterranean states. So it happened with Renault. So it might happen with Opel. (Read More…)
News that the FBI had raided three Japanese supplier companies in the Detroit area came in the middle of yesterday’s epic Toyota hearings, adding to the day’s chaos and misinformation. The FBI said clearly at the time that Denso, Tokai Riko and Yazaki were raided as part of an antitrust investigation, which we now know [via Reuters] involves alleged cartel activities in the wiring harness supply market, and involves European firms like France’s Leoni as well. Despite the fact that Denso and Yazaki are cooperating with investigators, and that the US raids appear to be in support of an EU investigation, Rep Mark Souder (R-IN) took the opportunity to connect the Denso raid with the Toyota recall hearings in shameless style. And all to help clear the name of the US-based supplier CTS, which has been blamed for the sticky pedal recall, which just so happens to be in Rep. Souder’s district. Full, mind-blowing quote after the jump.
Opel’s Nick Reilly is casting worried glances towards Berlin and Brussels. What he hears from there makes him double his Maalox dosage. Or pop some local Rennies, if the heartburn meds are in short supply at the Apotheke in Rüsselsheim. Which they undoubtedly are. Nobody wants to help Reilly. Berlin doesn’t want to. Brussels doesn’t want to. Even Opel’s own auditors are no help. This tale would be better told by Kafka. He’s dead. I’ll try. (Read More…)
Imagine you’re a Belgian worker at GM’s plant in Antwerp. You’ve had to endure jokes about being the “sick man” of GM Europe’s family and had the sword of Damocles hanging over you. You then get told that you’re being shut down at a time when the economy is fragile, at best. How would you feel? Bad? Angry? Helpless? Well, GM’s just about you kick you while you’re down. The BBC reports that GM Europe are going to create an extra 700 jobs at their plant at Gilwice, Poland. But wait! There’s more! The reason these new jobs have come about is because they want to increase production of GM’s new Astra model, the very car which GM Antwerp made. The Gilwice plant will now operate 24 hours a day over three shifts. Ulrich Weber, Opel Spokesperson, told the BBC that “This has been planned for a long time, and will be in operation by the middle of the year,”. I’m sure that’ll come as some comfort for the Belgian employees. However, these new jobs in Poland don’t represent a change of heart from Vauxhall/Opel. They re-iterated their plans to cut 8,300 jobs across Europe. And by “across Europe” they mean those jobs in those expensive countries like Germany, Spain and The U.K.
The German magazine Der Spiegel got its hands on an internal document. In the paper, the German economy ministry gives an awful assessment of the business plan that Nick Reilly had circulated amongst interested parties. Interested parties being the countries where Opel has plants and where GM wants to collect €2.7b in government aid. The Spiegel’s article will appear in the printed issue on Monday. But there are some damning pre-releases.
Minister Rainer Brüderle has serious doubts about Opel’s restructuring plan. “The viability is questionable,” the internal memo says. The planned job cuts are “hard to understand.”
And once more, Germany’s all-time phobia when it comes to Opel aid emerges: (Read More…)
One more obstacle to the Spyker-Saab deal has been eliminated, as BusinessWeek reports that the EU has approved the Swedish government’s guarantee of a €400m ($547m) loan to the company from the European Investment Bank. EU competition commissioner Neelie Kroes approved the loan today, saying it would not cause “any undue distortions of competition,” and that Saab had offered “adequate remuneration” and collateral. The EIB still has to give the loan final approval, a prospect that Swedish government officials say is likely, despite the fact that €320m of the package was originally intended as an environmentally-friendly car development fund. As Bertel Schmitt put it, “keeping the lights on in Trollhättan while GM delivers parts doesn’t quite fit the purpose.” Unless of course you’re willing to justify anything to get your hands on the new 2010 9-3X “Cross-Combi,” which SaabHistory claims can now be pre-ordered from the remaining US Saab dealers. And if the sedated Swedes in this video are anything to go on, the 9-3X is sure to be, well, a Saab.