While America Slept. Friday, November 21, 2008

while america slept friday november 21 2008
The sun never sets on TTAC’s devious empire. While America Slept (WAS) is a daily round-up of the news that happened in other continents and time-zones. TTAC provides round-the-clock coverage of everything that has wheels. Or that has its wheels coming off. Our pledge: No feelings will be hurt (except those of automobile execs, one copy-writer, and the gravitationally challenged.)

Opel’s ad attack: While other car companies slash ad budgets, GM’s Opel unleashes a Blitzkrieg on the German populace. “Opel Secures Future” blares the banner headline of full page ads appearing in national German newspapers. [NB: The line doesn’t say “Opel’s Future Secure”]. According to Bloomberg, the target of the ad-attack is to “reassure car buyers that may be spooked by the woes of its parent.” The copy-writer must have been high on something, hyperbole at the very least: “Opel is financially solid and as a brand and a company not at risk.” Boerse-Express says the true aim of the ads is Opel’s foot: “If they are doing so well, why loan guarantees?” Good question.

GM in denial: RenCen weighs in on the topic, says “Opel is not for sale.” Not because they wouldn’t want to. GM flak Tom Wilkinson tells AFP that brands like Opel “are so integrated into GM’s global operations, we would not or could not sell them.” Darn. Nothing works anymore.

Dealers ready to buy Opel: Opel’s German dealer council met last Tuesday and discussed to buy Opel themselves, before Opel goes under. “This is under serious consideration,” says Paul Schäfer, GM of Opel Staiger in Stuttgart, to Automobilwoche (sub.) The money could be raised. Despite (or because) of GM’s denials, the dealers are worried. In the meantime, non-essential expenses, such as a new CI for dealers or a revamped DMS have been put on ice.

Siamalaise for GM: Citing the usual reasons, GM will shut their Thai plant for up to two months, the International Herald Tribune writes. GM’s Rayong plant has an annual capacity of 130,000 vehicles, and cranked out 93,000 units so far this year.

Porsche dthumbs a diesel down: Porsche is holding their noses and will offer their Cayenne with a diesel motor, Automobilwoche (sub) learned. Launch in Feb ’09. A V10 TDI it is not. The rather puny 6-cylinder 240 hp oil-burner will come off VeeDub’s shelves. Good enough for me and Bobby McGhee.

Greening of the S-Class: Daimler Germany is launching the S 320 CDI BlueEFFICIENCY, greenest S-Class sibling of all times. Using Daimler’s BlueTEC diesel engine, the luxury limousine will use only 7.6 liters of oil for 100 km (31 MPG.) Autoversicherung-Online has it.

More Insight from Honda: The first Insight hybrid, launched 1999, was a dud. Next spring, Honda will try again with a new “drive support system.” Depending on the price on Brent Light Crude, the driver can switch to Econ mode to ease the burden on the gas tank. The switch extends the time of the “idling stop,” turns down the air conditioning, and boosts the efficiency of “regeneration,” reports The Nikkei (sub) without much enthusiasm.

Japanese doing ok in China: Japanese JVs in China revised their overly optimistic projections for 2008, but the year still looks bright. Dongfeng Honda sees 26 percent growth, Nissan 9 percent, Toyota guides to 20 percent growth, and Mazda expects a whopping 30 percent increase in China. That according to The Nikkei, which nonetheless kvetches about “unexpectedly slow sales.” Some guys can’t get enough …

GM denies idle talk: Also in China, GM saw it necessary to announce that they have no plans to halt production in its joint ventures in China, Gasgoo says. Who brought that up?

There goes another myth: Japan’s lifetime employment. Meanwhile, back home in Japan, thousands of workers at Mazda and Isuzu are (politely) told: “Kaiko shimasu.” You are fired, bow out. Mazda will shed 6 percent of their workers, Isuzu 18 percent, The Nikkei says. Earlier, Toyota already had announced 3000 cut jobs.

Help me, Honda: Stateside, Reuters reports that Honda will cut NA production by yet another 18000 units. No job cuts. “Workers have the option of coming to the plant and being paid, taking paid vacation or taking unpaid leave.” No need to get Honda out of their hearts.

The Maltese Foul-up: Malta’s Honda importer stopped ordering hybrid cars after a recent Maltese car tax reform made hybrids costlier than traditional CO2 generators. Times of Malta says the importer called the tax scheme “ridiculous” and suggested the government get a clue. A spokesman for the Finance Ministry said something may have been “overlooked.” However, Malta demands solid “proof of the cars’ effectiveness” before they make any changes.

Fat chance: In unrelated news, obese people have the right to two seats for the price of one on flights within Canada, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled on Thursday. Says Reuters. As word reached Detroit, three bloated Detroit automakers announced immediate plans to relocate to nearby Windsor, Ontario. Ok, I made the last sentence up. So sue me.

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  • Ronnie Schreiber Hydrocarbon based fuels have become unreliable? More expensive at the moment but I haven't seen any lines gathering around gas stations lately, have you? I'm old enough to remember actual gasoline shortages in 1973 and 1979 (of course, since then there have been many recoverable oil deposits discovered around the world plus the introduction of fracking). Consumers Power is still supplying me with natural gas. I recently went camping and had no problem buying propane.Texas had grid problems last winter because they replaced fossil fueled power plants with wind and solar, which didn't work in the cold weather. That's the definition of unreliable.I'm an "all of the above" guy when it comes to energy: fossil fuels, hydro, wind (where it makes sense), nuclear (including funding for fusion research), and possibly solar.Environmental activists, it seems to me, have no interest in energy diversity. Based on what's happened in Sri Lanka and the push against agriculture in Europe and Canada, I think it's safe to say that some folks want most of us to live like medieval peasants to save the planet for their own private jets.
  • Car65688392 thankyou for the information
  • Car65688392 Thankyou for your valuable information
  • MaintenanceCosts There's no mystery anymore about how the Japanese took over the prestige spot in the US mass market (especially on the west coast) when you realize that this thing was up against the likes of the Fairmont, Citation, and Volaré. A massacre.
  • MaintenanceCosts Chevy used to sell almost this exact color on the Sonic, Bolt, and Camaro, as "Shock." And I have a story about that.I bought my Bolt in 2019. Unsurprisingly the best deal came from the highest-volume Bolt dealer in my very EV-friendly area. They had huge inventory; I bought right when Chevy started offering major incentives, and the car had been priced too high to sell well until that point.Half the inventory had a nice mix of trims and colors, and I was able to find the exact dark-gray-on-white Premier I wanted. But the real mystery was the other half of the inventory. It was something like 40 cars, all Shock on black, split between LT and Premier. You could get an additional $2000 or so off the already low selling price if you bought one of them. (Neither my wife nor I thought the deal worth it.) The cars were real and in the flesh; a couple were out front, but behind the showroom, there was an entire row of them.When I took delivery, I asked the salesman how on earth they had ended up with so many. He told me in a low voice that a previous sales manager had screwed up order forms for a huge batch of cars that were supposed to be white, and that no one noticed until a couple transporters loaded with chartreuse Bolts actually showed up at the dealer. Long story short, there was no way to change the order. They eventually sold all the cars and you still see them more often than you'd expect in the area.