The Truth About Cars » Forbes The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 22 Jul 2014 19:45:01 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » Forbes GM Deathwatch Part 1! This Time, It’s Forbes Doing The Countdown Fri, 17 Aug 2012 14:49:56 +0000

“President Obama is proud of his bailout of General Motors. That’s good, because, if he wins a second term, he is probably going to have to bail GM out again.” Sounds like our august founder, Robert Farago, sounding off about American Leyland the New GM. Nope, it’s Forbes this time, and they come to bury the General, not to praise him.

Louis Woodhill’s article pulls no punches. Using TTAC’s Winterkorn Meets The i30 article as evidence, combined with Car and Driver‘s decision to rank the 2012 Passat first in a family-sedan test (and the Malibu last), Woodhill states

Uh-oh. While Dan Akerson is busy rearranging the deck chairs on GM’s Titanic, Martin Winterkorn is leading VW to world domination via technical excellence.

Your humble author would suggest that it is Toyota, not Volkswagen, that has its foot on the General’s throat, but that’s a minor point.

The Forbes article rustled enough jimmies on Wednesday that the publication decided to run a counterpoint today, entitled “For GM, Bankruptcy Talk Is Its Own Fault”. The author, Micheline Maynard, argues that GM has a good cash position — sounds familiar — and plenty of ability to borrow more — which they’ve done in the past. When the best argument your defenders can make against bankruptcy is that you can borrow more money, you’re in bad shape. My AMEX is supposedly ready to charge a Lamborghini Aventador but that doesn’t mean I can pay for… hmm. Okay, I’m going to wrap this up. In unrelated news, TTAC may have a review tomorrow of the Lamborghini Aventador.

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At Forbes, Gordon Chang Lacks Adult Supervision Mon, 30 Apr 2012 01:38:14 +0000

Forbes predicts that the U.S. will bypass China this year as the world’s largest auto market. Forbes does that because it employs as its China expert one of the lousiest forecasters in the business.  Regular Forbes columnist Gordon G. Chang published a book in 2001, titled “The Coming Collapse of China.” In it, he predicted that China would implode by 2006, if not earlier, due to the mass of non-performing loans. China did not implode. Instead, non-performing loans brought the U.S. banking system and the world to the brink in 2008. In 2006, Chang wrote the book “Nuclear Showdown.” In it, he predicted that North Korea would rain nuclear missiles on Japan. Has not happened either. Now, Chang predicts that China will no longer be the world’s largest auto market when the year is over, and that the title will go back to the U.S.

By making this prediction, Chang shows that America is a land of opportunity: People who can’t count and aren’t really bright can become famous columnists at Forbes.

Says Chang:

“Last year, 14.5 million passenger cars were sold in China, outpacing America’s 12.8 million. In the first quarter of this year, however, the U.S. car market grew by an impressive 19.5% year-on-year, while the Chinese one, as noted, got smaller.

In fact, American car sales are projected to reach 13.9 million this year. If they hit that mark—likely, given the amazing first quarter—China at the end of this year may have to give back the crown of largest auto market to the recovering U.S.”

In 2009, Chang said that Chinese auto sales are a fraud and that the Chinese government stored cars in parking lots across the country. Now, Chang either commits fraud himself. Or, he is simply incompetent.

The 12.8 million automobiles sold last year in the U.S. were not “passenger vehicles.” They were “light vehicles,” comprised of 6.38 million passenger cars and 6.40 million light trucks (data according to Automotive News .)

The corresponding Chinese light vehicle number is not 14.5 million. According to Jenny Gu of J.D. Power, “China’s light vehicle market finished 2011 with 18 million new vehicles sold.”

If American car sales, well, light vehicle sales, reach 13.9 million this year, then they will be some 4 million short of taking the crown from China.

A competent columnist would either compare 6.38 million American passenger cars with 14.5 million Chinese passenger cars. Or more precisely, 12.8 million American light vehicles with 18 million Chinese light vehicles.

Chang does not do that, because he is an incompetent columnist.


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Yabe! Another Shitty Day At Toyota Thu, 22 Apr 2010 16:41:11 +0000

Yabe! (Oh shoot.) As the sun set over Toyota City and Tokyo, Toyota’s execs and Sararimen (salary men) alike were crying in their sake. Today was a sai aku (very bad) day. A day everybody at Toyota most likely would want to forget. No, no recall for a change. There isn’t much left to recall anyway, or so it seems.

The sai aku day started with Moody’s downgrading Toyota’s formerly stellar credit rating to “its lowest-ever level,” as The Nikkei [sub] laments. Moody’s came to the somewhat belated conclusion that “multi-million vehicle recalls and safety issues raise questions about its profitability and ability to stay ahead of rivals on pricing power until 2012 at the earliest.”

To make matters even more sai aku, Moody’s warned that its outlook for the rating remains negative. Why the pessimism?

“The rating action reflects the ongoing low level of profitability evident at Toyota, and which we expect to continue for an extended period,” Tadashi Usui, a Moody’s vice president and senior analyst, said. “Moreover, its product quality and recall challenges–largely centered in the U.S.–have created significant uncertainty over whether it can maintain the pricing power it has historically achieved over its rivals.”

Not sai aku enough? Wait, there is more:

“In coming years, further impacting profitability…will be the litigation costs associated with the recall; and while the size of such costs is hard to quantify, they could be material,” said Usui. “But, for now, its capital and liquidity reserves should be enough to deal with any problems.”

For now.

Minutes after the crummy news were out, Toyota’s shares headed South. The stronger Yen also didn’t help, says The Nikkei [sub].  The share opened at 3,635 Yen,  dropped to 3,580, and closed at 3,600. If anyone still thinks the Yen is undervalued, please buy some quickly and send them my way. I will spend two weeks in Tokyo in May and can use a donation, as my  holdings in dollars and Euros erode.

But wait, that wasn’t all.

To crown the sai aku Thursday, news reached Japan that Toyota nose-dived to 360th place on Forbes magazine’s annual ranking of the world’s leading companies. Last year, they were in third place.

The whole Forbes list is pretty kuso (shitty) as Japanese companies go. The highest-placed Japanese company was NTT, ranked 41st. Only two other Japanese made the top 100. Mitsubishi place 78th and Honda 86th. And the crowning kuso on a day that shall live in infamy?

China’s Industrial and Commercial Bank a fifth place. Yes, the bank with those non-performing loans. China Construction Bank Corp., the bank that sits on the real estate bubble, ranks 17th, right behind Berkshire Hathaway and Gazprom.

Ford is the top ranking car company at place 58, followed by Honda (86), Hyundai (188) and BMW (197)

US car makers General Motors and Chrysler, which are currently turning around their businesses after filing for bankruptcy protection last year, were absent from the list.

Germany’s Daimler was ranked 388th “and Volkswagen dropped off the list due to the complexity surrounding its 2009 merger with Porsche,” writes AFP.

In case you want to know, a bank, yes, a U.S. bank, JPMorgan Chase tops the list, removing GE from the top spot. 6 out of the top 10 companies are banks. Remember banks?

Japan’s executives consoled themselves with the fact that China’s SAIC landed on #734, and hit the futon.

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Forbes Lists “America’s Dirtiest Cars” Thu, 12 Nov 2009 17:25:44 +0000 Take that, Mother Nature!

There’s all kinds of controversy over what makes a car “green” and what doesn’t. Some point to size and efficiency, crucifying Hummers and full-size trucks as criminals against the planet. Others point to lifecycle greenhouse gas emissions, battery-component mining pollution and other less-obvious measures to excoriate hybrids. In any case, TTAC’s scientific department isn’t well-funded enough to issue a comprehensive report on the subject. Forbes may not have tested cars itself, or dug into true “dust-to-dust” footprints, but it’s gone ahead and published a list of “America’s Dirtiest Vehicles” anyway. Let’s take a look, shall we?

The article claims that to search out  “America’s Dirtiest Vehicle” by using air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions data from the EPA. The EPA air pollution data is ranked on a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the cleanest, 1 being dirty. “Air pollution” criteria are compounds like unburnt hydrocarbons, NOx fumes, particulate matter, carbon monoxide and formaldehyde. And you thought smoking was a dirty habit! Greenhouse gases are done on the same 1 to 10 scale and are evaluated by measuring, carbon dioxide, nitrous oxide and methane emissions, which means the car’s fuel economy comes into play here. Less miles, more fuel burnt. More fuel burnt, more greenhouse gases emitted. In the event of a tie, they used combined fuel consumption figures to break the deadlock.

The article then goes on to its small print, namely, the vehicles which were excluded. Vehicles which were classed as “heavy duty” were exempt from this report because these vehicles aren’t subject to federal fuel economy requirements. Also missing were “super cars”; the reason being that they sell in such small volumes, it’s not worth counting them in. Saabs sell in small numbers, but I bet you they got put in this report.

So after setting out the parameters and established who’s being evaluated and who isn’t, what’s the result?

Well, according to Forbes, America’s dirtiest is . . . the Jeep Grand Cherokee. Yes, for once, Chrysler comes top in a survey. It scored 3 out of 10 for air pollution ratings and 2 out of 10 for greenhouse gas emissions. But the report decided to stick the boot in further buy saying “Even had we included those supercars, though, the Jeep Grand Cherokee still would have topped the chart.” Ouch! Not content with giving the Cherokee a battering, the report then deals its killer blow. “The flex-fuel engine—prized because it uses a renewable resource that reduces dependency on traditional gasoline—on the Cherokee was even worse: three out of 10 and one out of 10 for the air pollution and gas emissions, respectively.” That’s gotta hurt!

It then gets even worse for Chrysler, because not only did they secure top spot by a mile (insert your own MPG joke here), they also got a further four places in top ten. The Dodge Durango came in 10th, the Dodge Ram 1500 came in 9th, the Dodge Dakota came in 8th and the Chrysler Aspen came in 7th.

“We continue to drive our fleet average even lower,” Chrysler spokesman Nick Cappa, who was given the unenviable job of putting a positive spin on this report, said. “Chrysler Group products are 99% cleaner than vehicles of 30 years ago and meet or exceed United States federal emission standards, the most stringent in the world.” Reports of whether Mr. Cappa went into another room and burst into tears are unfounded.

The report then goes on to mention the rest of the top ten. “60% of the entries on our list are from domestic automakers. The remainder are German”. The other “dirty domestic” was the Chevrolet Trailblazer, which came in 4th. The list in full can be seen here.

Chrysler can take some heart in the knowledge that at least their electric and hybrid car plans will give them some much needed green credent—oh. Never mind then.

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