While America Slept. Friday, December 5, 2008

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.

  • AndyinMA Well, will they actually make any? Wranglers appear to be black only at this point, but I do admit to seeing a few Gladiators in other colors. A few.
  • Garrett The only way to send a message is to pull out of the transaction when the fee is disclosed unless the dealer pays for it...or just walk out regardless.If this happens enough, eventually someone will get the message.
  • Sgeffe I pay for the Remote and Security HondaLink stuff (remote functions from a phone app; accident notification, etc.), at roughly $200/yr. That’s value-added stuff. (A nice addition is that I can enable the crash-notification on ANY Honda vehicle to which I pair my phone if I wish, as long as the vehicle supports it.) I can cancel this stuff at any time, though! It looks like you CAN’T with Mary’s Folly!Typical GM! 🙄
  • Jkross22 Just another reason to pick something other than a GM product. They'll be back at the government trough soon enough.
  • Corey Lewis I don't know a single GM owner who pays for OnStar. None.