We did not believe that EU regulators would let France’s government bailout of GM’s alliance partner PSA skate through unchallenged. State aid to companies is against EU rules, and refinancing of Banque PSA Finance is state aid EU Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia wrote in a letter to the French government. This according to a report in the French daily Les Echos. (Read More…)
Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne repeated its pleas that European governments should do something about the overcapacity in the region. Being in Shanghai when he said that, he recommended that the Chinese government does the same. The governments likely won’t be enthusiastic about Sergio’s advice.
Europe’s second-largest automaker and GM alliance partner PSA Peugeot-Citroen is being saved from the brink for the time being. PSA is putting the final touches on an agreement with creditor banks on 11.5 billion euros ($14.9 billion) of refinancing, in addition to 7 billion euro ($9 billion) in government guarantees for its captive financing arm Banque PSA Finance, Reuters says. (Read More…)
The EU sent a warning shot across the bow of protectionist France. Brussels refused France’s request to monitor car imports from South Korea. According to the Wall Street Journal, import surveillance could have been Europe’s first step toward blocking or reversing tariff cuts instated by a free trade deal between the EU and Korea. (Read More…)
It looks like Fiat and Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne does not want to be head of the European automakers association ACEA much longer. Today, he called for a massive EU rescue package for the ailing European car industry, with coordinated capacity cuts as the centerpiece. He also called for a stop of free trade agreements. “Let the European car industry make its adjustments… This is not the time to embrace free trade,” Marchionne said while Reuters was taking notes.
Bailing out a European carmaker in need is sure to attract the attention and ire of a few EU Commissars. Once people are in the street, money can legally flow. (Read More…)
The most successful brands in our industry don’t have much meaning to them.
Toyota, Chevrolet, Ford, Hyundai, Kia, all of these are names that wouldn’t evoke much of any imagery had their manufacturers never existed.
Mercury and Saturn are popular planets that make you think of space and the futuristic pursuit of those faraway places. Acura should be quite accurate and precise. Rams are tough. Infiniti pays homage to the outer limits of capability and performance.
Yet all of these names experienced failure, or ultimately failed, due to the key essential ingredient within any brand’s reputation.
Porsche’s soon-to-be 100 percent owner Volkswagen is making money hand over fist. At the same time, the German tax payer is contributing 43.67 million euros to the expansion of Porsche’s plant in Leipzig, Germany, where the new Macan will be made starting in 2014. This has attracted the attention of EU competition regulators. (Read More…)
Brussels has bad news for Fiat and PSA, and by extension for Chrysler and GM. There will be no EU assistance for an orchestrated and painless capacity shedding, Financial Times Deutschland says. A report of an expert group puts European overcapacities at 25 to 30 percent. Fiat-Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne has been publicly lobbying for government support, PSA pressured the French government. As predicted here months ago, a lobby of German carmakers torpedoed any support from Brussels and is for Darwinian solutions instead. With carmakers at odds, European governments are happy that they don’t have to act. After all, there are more pressing problems in Europe. (Read More…)
If you have ever traveled through Europe, you know that electrical plugs are a mess. European carmakers want to avoid the same mess when you travel with your electric vehicle, say from Germany to Italy via Switzerland. It’s enough that you will have to charge early and often. It’s enough that places to plug in will be scarce in the beginning. But at least the plug should fit your car. To promote that noble cause, the European Automobile Manufacturer Association ACEA has defined “a comprehensive set of recommendations to standardize the charging of electrically chargeable vehicles. The joint industry proposal will enable the use of one type of plug independent of car make, electricity provider or country.” So what will they use? (Read More…)
The European Commission’s competition authority has a problem:
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?