While America Slept. Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
while america slept wednesday november 19 2008
While America Slept (WAS) is a daily round-up of the news that happened in other continents and time-zones while America suffers bailout-or-no-bailout-induced nightmares. Around the world, a network of bleary-eyed TTAC correspondents provides round-the-clock coverage of everything that has wheels. Or that has its wheels coming off. Today in TTAC’s morning zoo:

Renault in dire straits: “Will Renault be the next car-casualty?” asks the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. This after Renault guided its year-end prognosis way down. Renault’s troubles will be Nissan’s pain. Both are joined at the aching hip. In an interview with the WSJ, Carlos Ghosn, double-head of Renault and Nissan, said he would “push for Europe to offer a €40 billion ($50 billion) loan program targeted at retooling,” (the books, presumably.) He also said, Japan should follow suit. Gimme the money, s’il vous plait.

China pulling out of Russia: China’s largest SUV and truck maker Great Wall Motor Co said to Gasgoo that they will “terminate their joint venture in Russia because of hard industry protectionist measures in the country.” No Landwinds for the Russkies. Wait, there WAS more …

China‘s world flat for GM: GM’s joint venture with SAIC in China will likely sell roughly the same number of units in 2008 as it did in 2007, the venture’s executive vice president, Robert Socia, said. Gasgoo reports. In other words: They will perform sub-par to a still growing market. Shanghai General Motors Corp. sold 479,427 units in 2007. Socia spins a happy smile on it, remarking that the U.S. auto maker’s “liquidity woes at home haven’t affected” GM’s business in China.

China‘s drivers soaked by fuel tax: China will soon impose a fuel tax of 50 percent, reports their news agency Xinhua today. Instead, the “road tax” (which is the same for all cars) will be scrapped.

Chinese car sales almost back to their old glory: Estimates released by the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers show that October production of passenger vehicles in the world’s second-largest car market rose by almost 10 per cent year-on-year. JD Power, the global auto consultancy, said informal surveys of Chinese car dealers also indicated an unexpected sales recovery. Details at Gasgoo. Meanwhile, Toyota Motor Corp has cut its automobile sales forecast for China by 100,000 vehicles to 600,000 this year, Japan’s Nikkei financial daily reported.

Mazda fundamentally altered: With Ford having cashed in 20 percent of their stock in Mazda, and are down to a mere 13.4 percent, Mazda now has “more latitude to develop its strengths, including smaller cars and green vehicles,” Tokyo’s Nikkei (sub) reports. Mazda Chairman and President Hisakazu Imaki said they will still be playing nice with Ford, but Nikkei deduces that their partnership will be “fundamentally altered.” First management changes have already been made.

GM to Japan: “We’re outta here.” GM had sold all its Fuji Heavy Industries stock in 2005 and Isuzu Motors stock in 2006. On Monday, they let their last holdings in Suzuki go. “GM has now dissolved all of its capital alliances with Japanese automakers,” grins Nikkei. Suzuki wants to power further into India, where they hold a 50% market share.

That’s why they call them Aussie yobbos: A motorist crashed his car into a stationary police vehicle in Perth. Two officers were sitting in the cop car.A constable sustained whiplash, bruised ribs, and a fracture and dislocation of his shoulder. The yobo is in a world of trouble, says the down-under ABC News.

Even gas stations have the yobbos: Up to 18 cars were left stranded for almost three hours after gassing up at a Brisbane gas station. Rain had seeped into the underground tank. Australia’s Courier-Mail has more wet stuff.

Car takes revenge on mechanic: A red car, perhaps enraged by a botched repair job, jumped off its hoist at the Centenial Pontiac Buick GMC dealership in St. John, Canada, and killed the mechanic. St. Johns major crime unit is investigating, and The Telegraph-Journal has the story.

Mercedes in a cloud: Daimler is picking up on the “cloud computing” trend and will put all its navigation and infotainment functions on-line, via wireless access. Google is their partner. The Mitteldeutsche Zeitung has details (in German.)

Austrian yobbo: A 36 year old passed a car in Neumarkt, Austria (not Australia.) He crashed head-on in a car. The car was an ambulance. The 36 yo, the ambulance driver, a 76 year old lady on the ambulance’s stretcher, and two medics sustained heavy injuries. A fleet of ambulances was needed. More in Der Standard (in Austrian.)

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2 of 18 comments
  • Demetri Demetri on Nov 20, 2008
    Mazda now has “more latitude to develop its strengths, including smaller cars and green vehicles, Maybe this means that we'll see the 2 in North America? They don't have to worry about stepping on the Fiesta's toes anymore.

  • Bertel Schmitt Bertel Schmitt on Nov 20, 2008

    @50merc: Thank you for the support. If they want nannies, I'll give them nannies. Today's WAS will be cooked extra bland. Less work anyway....

  • FreedMike Looks sharp. But did they fix the hilariously bad torque steer on the N-Line model? The one I drove brought back memories of the Omni GLH Turbo.
  • Kendahl I might believe that, on a back road in a rural county, one might run into a cop who doesn't know the law he is paid to enforce. However, I-75 is the main route for snowbirds, of whom a sizeable fraction are Canadian, commuting to and from Florida. It was the cop's responsibility to know that Florida honors foreign licenses. Nield should have hired a lawyer to rub that in.
  • Arthur Dailey So they cut the roof off the hatch area of a Dodge Journey?
  • Desertwanderer Across Australia, from Sydney to Perth, via the Nullarbor Highway. Desolate, very impressed to pass a bicycle tourist somewhere in the middle, I think he'd have a story to tell. Oh, and the Cabot Trail, Cape Breton, NS, in my S4.
  • Cprescott Please stop production of all Camry's - they are hideous and vomit inducing ugly.