While America Slept. Monday, December 22, 2008

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
while america slept monday december 22 2008
A short overview of what happened in other parts of the world while you were in bed. TTAC provides round-the-clock coverage of everything that has wheels. Or has its wheels coming off. For the next two weeks, WAS will be filed from Tokyo.

Toyota officially in the reds for 2008: Toyota announced today what we had reported a few days ago: “Toyota will make its first-ever operating loss in the fiscal year through March as recessions at home and abroad corral Japan’s biggest automobile maker into as tight a corner as it has ever known,” the Nikkei writes. The dark stars are in perfect alignment: The yen is too strong, the slump in vehicle sales in key markets like the U.S., Europe and Japan is too big. Toyota expects a consolidated operating loss of Y150 billion, or about $1.68 billion, in the fiscal year through March. Six weeks ago, the company still expected an operating profit of Y600 billion in the current fiscal year. Now, “it’s a kind of emergency that we’ve never experienced before,” said Toyota President Katsuaki Watanabe, speaking at a news conference in Nagoya. “The environment surrounding us is extremely harsh.” The Toyota stock went up on the news. The market had expected worse.

Daihatsu slimming also: In related news, Toyota’s small-car-making subsidiary Daihatsusaid it will cut domestic automobile production by a another 16,000 units, and will shed about 20% of its temporary work force, the Nikkei (sub) reports.

Suzuki likewise: Suzuki will lower domestic car output by an additional 29,000 units for the current fiscal year ending March as it adjusts to slumping sales in overseas markets. The auto maker, which specializes in compact cars and sports utility vehicles, said it will scale down domestic car output to 1.160 million units due to weak demand for compact cars for export, the Nikkei (sub) writes.

Hot pursuit: Mitsubishi is going after a niche market: Police with a need for speed to apprehend perps with a lot of bhp. A Lancer Evolution X high-performance sports car that has been specially modified for foreign police organizations has been delivered to the South Yorkshire county police in England. The car will join a Lancer Evolution VIII and Lancer Evolution IX already in use by the county’s Road Crime Unit, which targets speeders and reckless drivers, the Nikkei (sub) writes. The new vehicle is based on the carmaker’s FQ-360 GS, has 20% more power and acceleration than the civilian model and can do 248kph. For close-in combat, the car’s body has been made more durable to better withstand high-speed collisions.

Chrysler’s China CEO leaving: F. Murtaugh, the chief executive of Chrsyler’s Asia operations, will leave the company soon, Gasgoo writes. Murtaugh had spent ten years in directing General Motors’ expansion in China, and then joined Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) in June 2006. In September 2007 he was brought in to help Chrysler expand its China operations. Chrysler has just dropped cooperation talks with Chery Automobile to sell small cars in the United States. No progress has been made with Great Wall Motor since the two sides signed a memorandum of understanding in July. Earlier talks with SAIC and Guangzhou Automotive Group Co (GAC) all went nowhere.

Nissan China debuts Infiniti G37: Nissan China launched its new Infiniti G37, their first luxury Coupe car for the market, Gasgoo reports. According to Nissan China chief Yasuaki Hashimoto, China is Infiniti’s second largest l market after North America.

Aussie HOLDEN-handling a template for the U.S.? Australia’s GM-subsidiary Holden is expected to announce it will produce a fuel-efficient, four-cylinder car at its Adelaide plant – the first small vehicle to roll off the assembly line in South Australia in decades, Australia’s Age reports. The paper thinks the final commitment will be made today after financial backing under the Australian government’s new $AU6b car plan is announced. A TTAC mole in Australia says: “The Aussie gov’t is basically giving GM money as quid pro quo for build a specific model a car. I would not be shocked if this becomes the model for how the US bailout is ultimately handled, with taxpayer dollars exchanged for specific new vehicle launches.”

Opel needs money, but doesn’t ask for it: Klaus Franz, head of Opel’s workers council, calls the $17.4b “a drop in the bucket” and asked the German government for substantial help. He can ask as much as he wants. The official request must come from Opel, and must be accompanied by hard data and warranties. Opel hasn’t surrendered anything.

Tata sends some money to Jaguar: Tata, the Indian owner of Jaguar Land Rover, has agreed to inject “tens of millions” of pounds into the British car company to prevent an immediate cash flow crisis, while the British government continues to consider the case for a taxpayer-funded bail-out, the Financial Times reports. They also said that “Tata’s agreement to provide limited immediate support for Jaguar Land Rover will not prevent the Indian company from asking the (British) taxpayer for hundreds of millions of pounds in longer-term support for its UK subsidiary.” According to the FT, analysts question whether Tata Motors has the strength to support Jaguar and Land Rover when its own finances have been badly battered.

A smash hit: Business is booming for Japanese therapists who find clients for their dish-smashing stress therapy a hit in tough financial times. Begun only one month ago, stressed out passers-by dish out about two dollars to smash a cup or saucer and relieve their anxieties to the encouragement of staff, Reuters says.

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  • on Dec 22, 2008

    If the execs take a pay hit for an expected decrease in profit, what happens to them when Toyota actually reports a loss? Termination of employment? Worse?

  • Charly Charly on Dec 22, 2008

    Maybe it is the:"Do you really think you can outrun a lancer effect" that they are counting on

  • FreedMike Race car drivers are all alpha-types. Aggression is part of the deal. I think you see more of that stuff in NASCAR because crashes - the end result of said aggression - are far more survivable than they would be in F1 or IndyCar.
  • Analoggrotto Only allow Tesla drivers to race, we are the epitome of class and brilliance.
  • Wjtinfwb When my kids turned 16 and got their Operators, we spent $400 to send both (twins) to 2 driving schools. One held by the local Sherriff was pretty basic but a good starter on car control and dealing with police officers as they ran the school. Then they went to a full day class in N Atlanta on a racetrack, with the cars supplied by BMW. They learned evasive maneuvers, high speed braking, skid control on a wet skid pad and generally built a lot of confidence behind the wheel. Feeling better about their skills, we looked for cars. My son was adamant he wanted a manual, Halleluiah! Looking at used Civics and Golf's and concerned about reliability and safety, I got discouraged. Then noticed an AutoTrader adv. for a new leftover '16 Ford Focus ST six-speed. 25k MSRP advertised for $17,500. $2500 above my self-imposed limit. I went to look, a brand new car, 16 miles on it, black with just the sunroof. 3 year warranty and ABS, Airbags. One drive and the torquey turbo 2.0 convinced me and I bought it on the spot. 7 years and 66k miles later it still serves my son well with zero issues. My daughter was set on a Subaru, I easily found a year old Crosstrek with all the safety gear and only 3k miles. 21k but gave my wife and I lots of peace of mind. She still wheels the Subaru, loves it and it too has provided 7 years and 58k miles of low cost motoring. Buy what fits your budget but keep in mind total cost over the long haul and the peace of mind a reliable and safe car provides. Your kids are worth it.
  • Irvingklaws Here's something cheaper, non-german, and more intriguing...
  • Wjtinfwb Happy you're loving your Z4. Variety is the spice of life and an off-beat car like the Z4 intrigues me as well. More than anything, your article and pictures have me lusting for the dashboards of a decade ago. Big, round analog gauges. Knobs and buttons to dial up the A/C, Heat or Volume. Not a television screen in sight. Need to back up? Use the mirrors or look over your shoulder. If your Z4 had the six-speed manual, it would be about perfect. Today's electronified BMW's leave me ice cold, as do the new Mercedes and Audi's with their video game interiors. Even a lowly GTI cannot escape the glowing LED dashboard. I'm not a total luddite, Bluetooth streaming for the radio would be nice and I'd agree the cooled seats would be a bonus on a warm day with the top down. But the Atari dashboard is just a bridge too far for me.