While America Slept. Monday, November 24, 2008

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
Hey, it’s Monday! Time to get back to work (if only to check that there still is a job.) Get a hustle on, most of the world got up much earlier. 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.

What are they smoking? To convince Congress that they mean action, GM wants to negotiate a cut in debt levels, wants to ask the UAW whether it’s ok to delay a $7 billion payment to a union retiree health fund, GM wants to drop brands, and get more funding from GMAC, Bloomberg reports. All that done before a “10-12 page report” will be submitted by 12/2? Don’t bogart that joint …

How to make a lot of money: Buy GM’s GM’s 8.375 percent bonds due in July 2033. Last Friday, that bond went for 17 cents on the dollar, Bloomberg writes, citing a report of Trace, the bond-price reporting system of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority. The bond with a rating lower than most GM cars will yield you 49 percent interest, and you can retire worry-free. Or not.

Chery pickins: China’s home-grown (non JV) Chery will expand up and down, Gasgoo says. On the up, they will continue their partnership with US-based Quantum LLC. Intent: A high-end brand for the export market. On the down, they will launch a low-end brand called “Karry.” Already, your basic Chery QQ3 can be bought for $4K in China. How low can you go?

Big savings in Japan: Thirteen of 17 manufacturing sectors plan to spend less than initially planned, according to a recent Nikkei (sub) survey. Leading the pack of spendthrifts: the autos. Nissan cuts outlays by $500m. Isuzu wipes $260m off their budget. Subaru maker Fuji Heavy Industries also plans to invest less.

Cash is king at Kia: While automakers worldwide are scrambling and begging for loans, Korea’s Kia bought $378m of their debt in cash today. Reuters has the story.

Bumps ahead but still flying high at VeeDub China: VeeDub’s Chinese honcho Winfried Vahland says that the fist six months of 2009 “will be difficult.” Undeterred, his company plans “for further growth.” More at Gasgoo. VW’s sales in China have risen 12.6 percent to 853,800 vehicles, almost catching up to the 881,500 sold in Germany, where growth amounted to just 1.8 percent in comparison. Some guys have all the luck …

Vultures circling over Opel: Despite Opel’s recent proclamations that everything is hunky-dory, nobody is buying it. Instead, the discussion is: Who will buy Opel? After Opel dealers talked about buying Opel, and a solar panel company made a low-ball offer, Automobilwoche reports that Opel’s union boss Klaus Franz is offering that the workers take over. Both Automobilwoche and Autohaus opine that the only serious buyers for Opel will be in Asia. “Opel needs an investor who knows cars,” says Autohaus, and that investor “can only come from China or India.” What makes them think of India?

Looking for a recession-proof business? Forget cars, have a look at Internet fraud instead. Citing a report by Symantec, the Financial Times reports that “the industry is worth a potential $7bn,” with stolen bank account information starting at $10 and credit card numbers selling for as little as a nickel each. Imagine: Your bank account number is worth more than three shares of GM.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href="http://www.tomokoandbertel.com"> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href="http://www.offshoresuperseries.com"> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Autonut Autonut on Nov 24, 2008

    Opel employees taking over? Oh my, that's has been done in Germany 1919. 14 years later that had Fuhrer. Is this such a good idea?

  • Jahmhug Jahmhug on Nov 24, 2008

    Its all a big game.. Citi moved to First Base and GM is on the verge of striking out!

  • Akear I just wish GM could produce a vehicle 80% as good as the crown.I sat in a Trax at a Chevrolet dealership this weekend and was shocked how cheap it felt. GM does not care.GM - what a disgrace!
  • Akear I like the grill treatment of all Mitsubishi products. It is an interesting and original design.
  • El scotto Some rambling thoughts; Elon is pulling billions in cash out of Tesla. Tesla will be around, Elon won't let them fail. Mitsubishi is an odd place, you can't sell vehicles if you don't have dealers. Out of all the "Automalls" near you, how many have a Mitsubishi dealership? The Agnellis owned Fiat, Fiat got sold to Stellantis. The Agnellis control Exor. How much of Stellantis does Exor own? I really should be drinking beer with Billy Ford and talking Big-10 trash with him. Ford and Lucid should work out a partnership. You want an electric Lincoln? Have Lucid build it and slap a Lincoln name plate on it. BTW, kick Farley's butt to the curb.
  • Akear US contentChevrolet Trax - 5%Honda Pilot - 52%What a disgrace!I glad Consumer Reports panned the Trax, and put it on its avoid list.
  • Akear This is similar to what lazy GM and Ford used to do.