While America Slept. Tuesday, November 25, 2008

while america slept tuesday november 25 2008
Good morning! 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. This is Odd-Tuesday: All quiet internationally on the GM front. What’s going on? Stop press: We take it back.Porsche meets the press: Tomorrow, Wednesday, Über-Porsche Wendelin Wiedeking will present Porsche’s annual report to the press (an annual ritual followed by all important German companies, and usually an excess of euphemisms.) Apart from reporting about Porsche (“we’re doing great!”) “information about future plans regarding the take-over of Volkswagen” will be offered, says Automobilwoche (sub.) We’ll keep you posted.BMW axes 8600 jobs: Sad faces at the Beemer plants. BMW has cut more jobs than planned in their austerity program dubbed “Number One” (probably in reference to the P.O. workers.) 8600 jobs axed. Only one shift running in their Leipzig plant, all “temporary workers” gone. Automobilwoche (sub) has more.GM goes begging, even in Poland. GM is on a begging tour through Europe. “Informal approaches” are being made to governments in Poland, Belgium, Spain and the UK, Automotive News Europe (sub) has learned. Before, GM approached Germany, for €40b, was called names in Berlin, reduced their request to less, got something in Hessen, then said they don’t mean it. Germany is a state of confusion as far as GM goes. There have been contacts between GM and the UK government, even the government of Sweden, former home of Saab was approached. But begging Poland? A land with a GDP of $552b, less than the $700b tarp? There are places in Poland where they don’t have the money to put lights on the Christmas tree. Bad taste, GM, bad taste. Or just plain old ignorance?Pocket Roller for pocket change: In 2006, UK’s Manganese Bronze Holdings struck a $100m deal with Chinese Geely to continue producing the renowned London taxi TX4. They did. And now, Geely wants to use the platform for what Gasgoo calls “a small Rolls-Royce.” Positioned at lesser-heeled people who eye the premium BMW / Mercedes-Benz models, the luxury Geely sedan is expected to sell in the neighborhood of $44k when it comes to market by 2011. There is …French/German anti-bailout axis: France and Germany are determined to “prevent that the European auto industry will be penalized by a US bailout,” Automobilwoche reports, citing DPA. France’s Sarkozy says this would be “intolerable.” Germany’s Merkel: “We don’t want any distortions of competition.” Two options: Do as the Yankees do. Or go to the WTO. No telling which route they want to go. But Angela and Nicholaz are watching.European bailout? Forgetaboutit: As predicted by TTAC, Europe’s industry commissar Günter Verheugen gave a clear “nein” to any pan-European bailout. “Europe has retired subsidies as an instrument of fiscal policy long ago,” Verheugen said. There will be not a word about help specific to the auto industry in Europe’s stimulus package, due out this week, Automobilwoche (sub) writes, citing DPA. Loan guarantees may be a different thing, but the EU will scrutinize each one of them. No telling how they would decide.Rauchen Verboten: Last year, Germany’s diesel-loving drivers received $400 each from the government for retrofitting their smoke-belching oil-burners with a particle filter. 45000 filters turned out to be bogus. $16m in hand-outs for naught. Now, Germany’s Ministry of the Environment says the bogus filters should be deemed illegal. Meaning: They must come out of the car, government may get its money back, filter-free drivers will get slapped with punitive tax. Automobilwoche (sub) has the story.Chinese fuel tax? Mei you! China decided not to impose a fuel tax, much to the relief of China’s ever growing number of motorists, Gasgoo reports. However, some smell a rat in the year of the rat: China’s fuel prices are regulated. Gasgoo wonders: “China’s retail fuel prices have not changed since a hike in June, but world oil prices have slumped more than 60 percent from a record $147 a barrel hit in July.” Cheng me? (WTF?)Honda disses BYD, hell, all of EV: Honda President Takeo Fukui thinks BYD’s research and development of electric cars is not what it’s hopped up to be, Gasgoo reports. Even worse. Fukui said the whole EV technology is not there yet. The key point is the battery, battery cost and battery life. The existing electrics can go 60 miles before running out of juice, “reflecting a difficult situation for mass production and commercialization.” To put it charitably. Finally, someone’s got the guts to tell the truth.Fuel cellulite, Nippon style: Want to drive a Honda fuel cell auto? In Japan? Easy. Just two conditions: You must work for the Japanese government. And the government must lease, not buy. HoMoCo began leasing the FCX Clarity fuel cell vehicle in Japan, delivering the first vehicle to the Ministry of the Environment, Marketwatch reports. Other governmental agencies and certain corporate entities will follow. Tough luck if you are just a citizen-san. Why? For one, “the combined sales plan for Japan and U.S. calls for about 200 units within three years,” says Marketwatch. Fukui-Sama makes more sense by the minute.LED there be light: Equipped with a special permit issued by the EU, the Audi R8 will be the “first series model in the world” to sport LED beams. Until now, Xenon was the highest high (and low) beam. German Handelsblatt sees a trend: The next Lexus LS600h and the new Escalade (if it ever comes) will see LED lights. Makers of bulbs see eternal darkness: Those darned LEDs last forever.VeeDub may get longer vacations after all. More good news/bad news for VW’s Wolfsburg workers. Christmas vacations may take longer after all. Wolfsburg’s production lines may rest from December 18 through January 11, says das Autohaus. But nothing decided yet. Which frustrates the workers to no end. Skiing in Kitzbühl, or diving in the Maldedives? There will be a run on last minute trips if they don’t make up their minds at the Hochhaus. Flash: It’s a done deal! Holidays until Jan 11. Run to the travel agent!Detroit seen through German eyes: Automobilwoche is running one of their ever so popular polls. The question this time: “Which U.S. manufacturer stands the best chance for survival?” Results so far: Ford 79 percent, GM 14 percent, Chrysler 6 percent. Only 370 votes cast at this typing, but Mr.Trend’s direction appears to be clear.That’ll cheer ‘em auf: “German consumer confidence unexpectedly rose for a third month, defying the recession,” an astounded Bloomberg reports. Why that? Didn’t they get the memo? It’s the price of gas that has Germany (all avowed auto-addicts) see a bright future again. According to Benzinpreis.de, the liter of unleaded stands at €1.15 – that still works out to $5.64 a gallon, but in German eyes, it’s cheap. Woohoo! Back to the Autobahn!
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  • Banger Banger on Nov 25, 2008
    WhatTheHel: You're as classy as I figured you'd be. Thanks, and no harm done. Purely anecdotal, but most of the BMW riders I know around here are much more hardcore about riding than I am. I see a couple every morning on my commute. High teens/low 20s this morning, and they're motoring right along! I've long since parked the K75 and started taking the Ranger-- something I only do on rainy days when it's over 50 degrees on the morning commute. But since I don't take many of those long weekend rides my fellow area BMW riders take, I'm not racking up anywhere near the 30,000+ miles they do every year! At 22 years of age, my K75 has just north of 20,000 miles on it...so maybe in their view, the view of the hardcore BMW guys I know, I really am a "poser." But you're right, I appreciate the machine regardless of the blue-and-white propeller.

  • Bertel Schmitt Bertel Schmitt on Nov 25, 2008

    @wave54: Corrected. My bad. Hit the wrong key.

  • FreedMike Back in the '70s, the one thing keeping consumers from buying more Datsuns was styling - these guys were bringing over some of the ugliest product imaginable. Remember the F10? As hard as I try to blot that rolling aberration from my memory, it comes back. So the name change to Nissan made sense, and happened right as they started bringing over good-looking product (like the Maxima that will be featured in this series). They made a pretty clean break.
  • Flowerplough Liability - Autonomous vehicles must be programmed to make life-ending decisions, and who wants to risk that? Hit the moose or dive into the steep grassy ditch? Ram the sudden pile up that is occurring mere feet in front of the bumper or scan the oncoming lane and swing left? Ram the rogue machine that suddenly swung into my lane, head on, or hop up onto the sidewalk and maybe bump a pedestrian? With no driver involved, Ford/Volkswagen or GM or whomever will bear full responsibility and, in America, be ambulance-chaser sued into bankruptcy and extinction in well under a decade. Or maybe the yuge corporations will get special, good-faith, immunity laws, nation-wide? Yeah, that's the ticket.
  • FreedMike It's not that consumers wouldn't want this tech in theory - I think they would. Honestly, the idea of a car that can take over the truly tedious driving stuff that drives me bonkers - like sitting in traffic - appeals to me. But there's no way I'd put my property and my life in the hands of tech that's clearly not ready for prime time, and neither would the majority of other drivers. If they want this tech to sell, they need to get it right.
  • TitaniumZ Of course they are starting to "sour" on the idea. That's what happens when cars start to drive better than people. Humanpilots mostly suck and make bad decisions.
  • Inside Looking Out Why not buy Bronco and call it Defender? Who will notice?
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