While America Slept. Sunday, November 23, 2008

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
while america slept sunday november 23 2008
Never on Sunday? Not so at TTAC, a 24/7/365 world-class operation. 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. Disclosure: Mostly bad news today.

Let’s get small: VeeDub doesn’t want to leave the cars-for-lilliputians segment to the Smart 42, or the Toyota iQ. Based on a chopped version of their upcoming (2010) VW Up, Wolfsburg wants to launch a fuel-sipping 2seater. Target is 2 liter per 100km (118 MPG.) Unconfirmed rumor as per Automobilwoche (sub.) The oil-burning Smart ForTwo gets 71 MPG.

Let’s get cheap: Fiat plans low cost cars for the European market. Under a separate brand, says Automobilwoche (sub.) Fiat Group CEO Sergio Marchionne says he wants to be the “Wal-Mart for cars.” Chinese imports, anyone? “Ma no!” says FIAT. Together with their Brazilian subsidiary FIASA, FIAT works on two el cheapo cars under codenames Project 326 und 327. Then there’s another one of unknown provenance.

Nothing sacred anymore at Daimler: According to Daimler’s hometown paper Stuttgarter Zeitung, “all investments which don’t add to efficiencies and competitiveness are cancelled.” Travel, overtime, outsourcing, everything needs to be cut. The whole company is under review. Grim sales numbers. Even the green may see pruning: Investments in plug-ins, hybrids and fuel cell may get chopped. More bad news to follow …

Hush! Jaguar begs for government Pounds: “Jaguar Land Rover is in secret talks with the government for a £1 billion loan, just nine months after Tata, the Indian conglomerate, bought the luxury-car marquee,” London’s Sunday Times discloses. The UK government is studying the request. An answer could be made “in the next fortnight.” Likely that Gordon Brown will pick up the phone to their former colony and tell colleague Palaniappan Chidambaram: “You own it, you help it.”

Honda halts Swindon: Meanwhile in Swindon, UK, Honda plans what the Sunday Times calls “the biggest manufacturing shutdown seen so far in Britain in this economic slowdown.” No UK Hondas will be made during February and March. Honda says its 4,800 workers still have a job.

Yes, there is a God, and he moved to China: Sales of Volkswagen’s premium brand Audi in China have increased 19 percent to over 100,000 units so far this year, said Zhang Xiaojun, deputy managing director of the FAW-Volkswagen Audi Sales Division to Xinhua via Gasgoo. The good news encouraged Audi AG’s head of Marketing and Sales Peter Schwarzenbauer to say that Audi will most likely sell one million units this year. This would mark the 13th consecutive year of breaking the annual sales record.

Japan‘s loss is China’s gain at Detroit Auto Show: Suzuki, Rolls Royce, Ferrari and Land Rover backed out of the January Detroit Auto Show. Now, Mitsubishi also says sayonara. Booths won’t stay empty. Chinese auto makers are “lining up to take advantage of the now-available space,” the Detroit News says. Time to rub some shoulders with future owners?

Japan says “Hai, wakatta!” to plug-ins: “Yes! Got it!” will soon be the answer of all Japanese auto makers when asked for plug-in hybrids. Mitsubishi, Honda, Toyota and Nissan will all jump on the bandwagon, The Nikkei (sub) reports. Release dates? Anywhere between 2009 (Toyota,) 2015 (Mitsubishi,) and “no comment.”

Green initiative gets red light. 10 year old Sam O’Shea told his mother Angela that he wanted to take the ‘green’ option and ride the two miles to St Paul’s Primary School, in Portsmouth, Hampshire, UK, on his bicycle. The school said o.k., as long as the parents follow him by car, and pick up his bike because there was nowhere to store it. London’s Telegraph has the story.

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2 of 7 comments
  • Johnster Johnster on Nov 23, 2008

    I always wonder if they are talking about American gallons or larger British Imperial gallons when they give these kind of seemingly optimistic and unrealistic mpg figures. They aren't as specific as they should be and without better info you can't make a valid judgement about it.

  • Jared Jared on Nov 24, 2008

    "Amazing how the FourTwo can go from 71 MPG in Europe to 36 MPG here in the USA. WTF?" Chuck: Different countries use different standards for testing fuel economy. Testing methods in the US are far more representative of the mileage you will see on the road than those used in the EU. You will not get 71 MPG in a FourTwo -- not in the US nor in Europe.

  • SCE to AUX "Toyota has dropped a pic of the next Tacoma on Instagram."This is why the splashy auto show reveals are dead.
  • Sckid213 I feel like the Camry in Japan is what oddballs like the Kia K9 and Hyundai Eqqus felt here. Obviously those were higher-end vehicles than Camry, but they felt like they were in the wrong dimension here in the U.S.
  • FreedMike The Falcon was fast and temperamental. Is Ford sure this is what it wants to advertise?
  • Jalop1991 I'm sure they knew exactly who the modern Cherokee buyers were, and responded with the Hornet.
  • CoastieLenn I'm wanting the keen readers among us to pay attention to the comments in this article compared with the one that immediately followed it. They contain the exact same amount of usable information yet, because one is Ford and one is Toyota, we're seeing the Ford get chit on and the Toyota will be seeing praises. Toyota isn't exactly the shining star they once were and the newest generation of Tacoma was outdated 6 months after it began production... pertnear 10 years ago.