While America Slept. Friday, December 5, 2008

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
while america slept friday december 5 2008
Too much happening around the globe to let a business trip stop me from reporting it. TTAC provides round-the-clock coverage of everything that has wheels. Or has its wheels coming off. Who can sleep with news like that anyway?

Lutz loose cannon, shoots foot, “too good to die:” The folks at RecCen were so busy charging up the batteries for their trip to DC that they forgot to put a muzzle on Czarevitch Bob Lutz. GM selling brands? Fohgeddaboutit, said Bobbie in an interview to the Swiss business magazine Bilanz. It’s all over today’s press in Europe. GM off-loading brands like Saturn, Saab, and Opel? LOL-Lutz had never heard of it. “It’s as trying to remove single eggs from an omelet and put them on sale,” Lutz told the Swiss who choked on their Roesti. Shutting down some brands would be thinkable, but “it would cost one or two billion per brand.” Opel? Opel is too tightly integrated into GM, and besides, Opel “doesn’t have the critical mass to survive. The idea to separate Opel from GM is a pipe dream.” Comes from someone who said that global warming is a crock of excrement, and that the moon is made of green cheese. OK, made the last one up. The charitable assumption is that the magazine was in print while other announcements were made. On the other hand … Lutzie’s last words: “We are too good to die.”

Uh-oh. Japan to repatriate foreign investments, tax free: The Liberal Democratic Party’s tax panel decided Friday that dividends received by Japanese companies from overseas subsidiaries should be exempt from corporate taxes, “in a bid to encourage Japanese firms to repatriate more capital,” says the Nikkei (sub) this morning. It’s one of those things we usually won’t notice, but we do now.

Chrysler clueless in China. Chrysler has put most, if not all of its Chinese joint venture plans on hold, says Gasgoo. A deal with Chery has been put on ice. Which surprises nobody.

Chinese makers short on cash: Chinese auto makers Haima, Brilliance, and Changfeng said that they need cash urgently. “The listed automakers now have dropped the unrealistic hope of raising capital through the stock market; instead, they are turning to their parent companies or issuing corporate bonds to collect money,” says Gasgoo.

There is more …

Honda getting out of F1. Honda will withdraw from Formula One automobile racing at the end of this season, the Nikkei (sub) just learned. The team costs Honda approx $500m a year, and that “has been weighing heavily on its earnings at a time when carmakers are being pummeled by an industry wide slump.” They’ll try to sell the team or shut it down if no buyer is found. Honda had withdrawn from F1 racing in 1993. They returned in 2000 “as part of efforts to boost its brand value and train young engineers.” Yeah, sure.

Toyota starts Canadian plant, cuts output in half. Toyota launched operations at its second plant in Canada and seventh in North America, which brings Toyota’s NA annual output capacity to 2m units. The factory will produce the RAV4 sport utility, but will operate at about half its annual capacity of 150,000 units. “Production will be expanded when the market recovers,” says the Nikkei (sub) with not much conviction.

Honda UK has workers retire. Honda launched an early retirement program for its U.K. factory employees. This precedes a two-month production halt at its Wiltshire plant starting in February, as Tokyo’s Nikkei (sub) has it. Honda currently employs about 4,800 permanent staff in the U.K. The expected number of retirees has not been disclosed.

GM sales up – in China: Kevin Wale, president and general manager of General Motors in China said yesterday in Beijing that GM’s auto sales in China are up 8 percent so far. GM China has already sold 1 million units so far this year, said Wale, according to Gasgoo. GM sold about 1 million units in the whole of last year. With 8 percent growth, GM mirrors the Chinese industry trend.

Chinese will go German if America fails them: In China, German brand cars would be the big winner of a Detroit failure, says a survey quoted by Gasgoo. 56 percent said they will not buy a US brand car if the Big Three go bankrupt. Questioned what they would buy instead, 50 percent would take a German brand car, 22 percent would choose Chinese brand cars, another 21 percent would buy Japanese brand cars. The remaining buyers would go for South Korean and French brand cars.

A car is not a refrigerator: That’s what a number of Chinese appliance makers are finding out just now. China’s home appliances giant Midea has shut down its bus production and may totally drop out of the car business, reports Gasgoo. Appliance makers Chunlan, Ningbo AUX, Ningbo Bird, and Greencool Tech have all seen their auto-making dreams dashed. The only survivor in the car business is refrigerator maker Henan Xinfei Electric.

Skoda on target in Germany, makes Toyota eat dust. VW’s Czech brand Skoda will sell at least as many cars in Germany as last year (120K,) and will bypass Toyota in German sales, says Automobilwoche (sub.) This will make Skoda the second largest “import” brand in Germany, after Renault. In Germany, Toyota has lost some of its luster due to quality problems.

Law makers don’t let law makers vote drunk. Politicians in New South Wales, Australia’s could be breath-tested for alcohol before voting on laws, Reuters says. This was triggered by booze-induced excesses. State police minister Matt Brown for instance was dumped from his portfolio in September after allegedly “dirty” dancing in his underwear over the chest of a female colleague after a drunken post-budget office party. Depending on the outcome of the bailout debate, breath-testing could should be introduced to House and Senate also.

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2 of 9 comments
  • Potemkin Potemkin on Dec 05, 2008

    Listening to Lutz and to the CEOs before the Senate they remind me of coma patients who have been recently awakened. Duh!

  • Bertel Schmitt Bertel Schmitt on Dec 05, 2008

    @JohnThatcker: It don't know the Japanese tax code, and I don't want to try. I already signed a Japanese document without knowing what is in it, and was pronounced a husband. At least, that's what they told me. From a German standpoint: If a German company owns a subsidiary say in the US, the subsidiary can make all the profits they want. They will be taxed in the US, that's it. As long as they stay there. However, if they profits are being brought home to the Fatherland, it becomes a taxable event in Germany.

  • Alan The Prado shouldn't have the Landcruiser name attached. It isn't a Landcruiser as much as a Tacoma or 4 Runner or a FJ Cruiser. Toyota have used the Landcruiser name as a marketing exercise for years. In Australia the RAV4 even had Landcruiser attached years ago! The Toyota Landcruiser is the Landcruiser, not a tarted up Tacoma wagon.Here a GX Prado cost about $61k before on roads, this is about $41k USD. This is a 2.8 diesel 4x4 with all the off road tricky stuff, plus AC, power windows, etc. I'm wondering if Toyota will perform the Nissan Armada treatment on it and debase the Prado. The Patrol here is actually as capable and possibly more capable than the Landcruiser off road (according to some reviews). The Armada was 'muricanised and the off road ability was reduced a lot. Who ever heard of a 2 wheel drive Patrol.Does the US need the Prado? Why not. Another option to choose from built by Toyota that is overpriced and uses old tech.My sister had a Prado Grande, I didn't think much of it. It was narrow inside and not that comfortable. Her Grand Cherokee was more comfortable and now her Toureg is even more comfortable, but you can still feel the road in the seat of your pants and ears.
  • Jeffrey No tis vehicle doen't need to come to America. The market if flooded in this segment what we need are fun affordable vehicles.
  • Nrd515 I don't really see the point of annual inspections, especially when the car is under 3 years (warranty) old. Inspections should be safety related, ONLY, none of the nonsensical CA ARB rules that end up being something like, "Your air intake doesn't have an ARB sticker on it, so you have to remove it and buy one just like it that does have the ARB sticker on it!". If the car or whatever isn't puking smoke out of it, and it doesn't make your eyes water, like an old Chevy Bel-Air I was behind on Wed did, it's fine. I was stuck in traffic behind that old car, and wow, the gasoline smell was super potent. It was in nice shape, but man, it was choking me. I was amused by the 80 something old guy driving it, he even had a hat with a feather in it, THE sign of someone you don't want to be driving anywhere near you.
  • Lou_BC "15mpg EPA" The 2023 ZR2 Colorado is supposed to be 16 mpg
  • ToolGuy "The more aerodynamic, organic shape of the Mark VIII meant ride height was slightly lower than before at 53.6 inches, over 54.2” for the Mark VII."• I am not sure that ride height means what you think it means.Elaboration: There is some possible disagreement about what "ride height" refers to. Some say ground clearance, some say H point (without calling it that), some say something else. But none of those people would use a number of over 4 feet for a stock Mark anything.Then you go on to use it correctly ("A notable advancement in the Mark VIII’s suspension was programming to lower the ride height slightly at high speeds, which assisted fuel economy via improved aerodynamics.") so what do I know. Plus, I ended a sentence with a preposition. 🙂