While America Slept. Saturday, November 29, 2008

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
while america slept saturday november 29 2008
Thank God it’s the weekend-edition of While America Slept. That’s pretty much all we have reason to be thankful for. 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. If you hate bad news, don’t tread it.

Japanese car market commits seppuku: Japanese domestic new car sales are likely to drop by around one-third in November, “raising the odds that the full-year tally will be the lowest since 1974,” writes The Nikkei (sub.) Folks, Japan has it worse than back home, so cheer up! Full-year sales of all types of cars, including mini vehicles, are forecast at around 5.1 million units — the lowest total in 28 years. Japan gave up its rank as the world’s second largest auto market to China in 2007, but remained the world’s second largest producing nation. It is expected to relinquish that rank also to China in 2008. That spells major itai (pain) for Nippon. Soon they’ll complain about exporting all those jobs to gaijin America.

It’s all in the brand: To add insult to injury, China’s Guangzhou Automobile Industry Group (GAIG) announced that its two subsidiaries “Guangzhou Toyota” and “Guangzhou Honda” will be renamed as “GAIG Toyota” and “GAIG Honda.” Harmless so far. Here comes the unusual part: Toyota and Honda will be required to pay for the honor of carrying the GAIG trademark, Gasgoo reports. It used to be the other way. The two brands will be sold through one “GAIG” sales channel. GAIG’s chairman Zhang Fangyou said his focus will “shift to brand marketing.” Of the GAIG brand.

GM says bondage no fun: GM is trying to talk their debt holders into exchanging bonds for stock, the WSJ (sub) says. That would help GM avoid C11. The proposal, along with the daring assumption that doubtful investors will accept it, will make its way into the business plan due in DC on Tuesday.

GM BOD to sacrifice Wagoner? The WSJ (sub) also picked up indications from GM’s BOD that the directors may be increasingly inclined to serve Wagoner’s head on a platter to mollify the angry gods of the Beltway. More than one-fourth of the automaker’s 14 directors have already privately expressed frustration with Wagoner, the WSJ says. COO Fritz Henderson is being floated as a successor.

November U.S. sales down 28 percent. Or maybe 34 percent: The US November sales may come in a bit lower than optimistic Edmunds predicted it a few days ago. “November U.S. auto sales are expected to have dropped by some 30 percent from a year earlier,” Reuters reports. Some analysts (such as Edmunds) predict a 28 percent drop, others fear for the worst and say it will be 34 percent down. The definitive numbers will be announced Tuesday, the same day the Detroit plan is due in DC. Reuters quotes Honda’s Exec VP Koichi Kondo who said: “There’s a bottom somewhere but I’d like to know where it is.” And who’s to blame? “The high-profile debate about the risk of a bankruptcy by GM or Chrysler could have hurt their sales in November,” JPMorgan analyst Himanshu Patel said. Shut up and buy cars, y’all.

No cash, no building for GM Thailand: GM stopped construction of a diesel-engine factory in Rayong, Thailand for at least a year, Reuters reports. “The availability of cash is one of the problems for GM globally, and this is one of the reasons we have put on hold work at the site,” said Steve Carlisle, Prez. of GM Thailand.

The next best thing to owning a Porsche: After many fits, starts, and delays, the new Porsche Museum in Suttgart Zuffenhausen will finally and definitely open its doors to the flabbergasted public on January 31, 2009, says The Financial, “an US focused newspaper with offices in Tbilisi , Georgia and Kiev, Ukraine.” With attention from that far away, the opening is major news. During the long construction, Porsche insiders had blamed China for the delays, “because they buy all our steel.”

Red Maos for green cars: The 100 Yuan note is commonly known as “Red Mao.” It is China’s largest bill. Currently, it buys around $15. China will spend a lot of red Maos on green cars. The Chinese government proposed a package of more than $29 billion (Detroit, eat you heart out) for the development of new energy cars before 2012. Initially, the money will be used to subsidize new energy vehicles in public transportation and public services. Later, it will be expanded into the private car sector. The country has already decided to put 60,000 domestically made new-energy vehicles on trial run in 11 cities in the next few years, Gasgoo reports.

Porsche Panamera debuts in the Wild East. In what looks like a major snub to auto shows all over the world, especially to the snobbish Geneva Auto Show 2009, Porsche will debut its sports sedan Panamera at the April 2009 Shanghai Auto Show, Automobilwoche informs its aghast readership. Observers see that as a nod to the importance of the Asian market. Duh, it’s the only one with some life left in it. And the post-baroque styling is just up the alley of the Chinese.

Our children, our future: A misbehaving eight-year-old German schoolboy was sent out of class by his teacher. The boy went home to Mommy to complain. He took the teacher’s car. After going about 100 feet, boy and car crashed into a Volvo, a police spokesman in German city of Zwickau said to Reuters. The adjusters see $10,340 of damage. We’ve known it all along: Creating demand for new cars is child’s play.

Join the conversation
2 of 8 comments
  • Davekaybsc Davekaybsc on Nov 29, 2008

    How long before GAIG Toyota and GAIG Honda simply becomes GAIG. In other words, thanks for all the help, now get out.

  • Bertel Schmitt Bertel Schmitt on Nov 30, 2008

    @ronin: Would I dare to question the Nikkei? They write: "Full-year sales of all types of cars, including minivehicles, are forecast at around 5.1 million units -- the lowest total in 28 years." Just reporting the news ... Here's hoping they are not making mistakes when calculating the Nikkei index ....

  • Jpolicke Manufacturers put such little effort into making AM reception sound like anything tolerable to listen to, they may as well drop the pretense and eliminate it altogether. Maybe it's not coincidental that my last car that had decent reception also had a traditional metal stick for its antenna.
  • Kjhkjlhkjhkljh kljhjkhjklhkjh hideous
  • Irvingklaws Still listen to AM from time to time. Mostly just to find what's out there, often just after something has cleared all my presets. Lots of christian and rightwing politic talk shows, but there's still music, local news, traffic, and weather. I've found lots of non-English (as a primary language) stations as well. Kind of like local access cable. You can find more local content that can't get air time on the big stations. It can be fun to explore on trips just seek/scanning up and down the dial.
  • Oberkanone AM is choice for traffic reports, local news, and sports. FM is choice for music. I don't own a cell phone. How often is AM radio accessed? Over 90% of drives I use AM at some point.
  • Art Vandelay So half of them voted for the same people that were selling them out and taking bribes? Wow