While America Slept. Monday, December 8, 2008

while america slept monday december 8 2008
The BS has landed, and WAS is back. TTAC provides round-the-clock coverage of everything that has wheels. Or has its wheels coming off. Warning: If bad news give you heart or stomach conditions, refrain from reading.

Europe doubtful about bailout: Europe’s MSM says the fat lady hasn’t sung the aria of the bridge loan yet. Even if the Senate manages to finalize an agreement in principle on the $15b in short-term loans, it is “uncertain if it would become law,” Reuters says. “Skeptical Republicans could kill such a measure with a procedural hurdle that would need 60 votes to clear.” Germany’s Spiegel Magazine writes that bickering about the car czar is delaying a decision. The antichrist is in the details. In the meantime, the London Telegraph pours cold water on hopes of a quick turn-around. “The last recession, between 1989 and 1992, had a five-year impact on the car industry,” the Telegraph quotes Professor Garel Rhys of the Cardiff Business School.

Fiat too small to survive, enters dating game: Fiat CEO Sergio Marchionne said his company needs company. They are too small to survive alone, Reuters reports. Marchionne said that only six big players would be left following the crisis, and just one of those would be in the United States. After GM left Fiat in the dust and paid $2b to get out of their contract, there’s not much love left between Fiat and Detroit. As far as China goes, Fiat has made baby steps in joint ventures, but managed to step on toes big time with a commercial in which Richard Gere drove from Hollywood to Tibet in 30 seconds. Following that, Fiat had to “extend its apologies to the Government of the People’s Republic of China and to the Chinese people.”

European parts makers go under: Wagon, one of Britain’s largest car parts makers, “has gone into administration,” the Financial Times reports. That’s what the Brits call their bankruptcy. Wagon supplies car parts to Peugeot, Citroën, Mercedes Benz, Renault, Fiat and Audi. Meanwhile in Germany, TMD Friction went to bankruptcy court. “First large parts supplier goes bankrupt,” Manager Magazine writes. Obvious implication: First of many. As we shall see shortly …

Busted: Record numbers of companies will go bankrupt next year with 200,000 insolvencies in Europe and 62,000 in the US, predicts Euler Hermes, the world’s largest credit. The car sector is seen as especially exposed, writes de Financial Times.

Honda sends 400 F1 engineers to greener pastures: Honda had kept 400 engineers busy with their Formula One racing. What to do with them after Honda gives up their racing team? The engineers will do the politically correct thing: They will develop next-generation environmentally friendly vehicles, The Nikkei (sub) reports. Honda will repurpose technologies acquired through its involvement in F1, such as body design and drive control, in the development of midsize and large hybrid vehicles, small gasoline-powered cars, and small diesel engines. Now we know why they call it racing green.

F1 may be NSFW: In related news, BDSM-loving Max Mosley fears that Honda could trigger a domino effect of manufacturers unless costs are slashed dramatically, Wheels24 reports. Major car manufacturers own, either wholly or in part, six of the 10 teams that ended the season in November. They also supply the rest with engines. Toyota, BMW, Mercedes, Renault and FIAT (Ferrari) burned through more than $200m each a year. Very unpopular at the moment. Toyota has yet to win a race. Teams already demand a bigger share of the TV and licensing pie.

Toyota gives credit to India: Toyota is thinking about setting up an auto finance company in India The Nikkei (sub) reports. Toyota has been forced to consider the option because banks and finance institutions have become increasingly reluctant to lend to potential auto buyers.

Detroit’s China JVs: Us no worry: GM, Ford and Chrysler say that their Chinese divisions are gaining profitability on the back of a steady sales growth, and that their businesses are unlikely to be affected by their home market crisis, the Xinhua reports via Gasgoo. According to the latest numbers, GM’s auto sales in China are up 8 percent. Ford China was up 7.1 percent in the first nine months of the year. Chrysler boasts a gain of 217 percent – on sales of 20,655 units in the first then months.

Chery receives dough for bigger export pie: In the usually-we-don-report-stuff-like-this-but-now-we-do dept., China’s Export and Import Bank has given Chery a loan of $1.5b “to finance its overseas expansion,” the official Xinhua News Agency reports via Gasgoo. Chery, will use the money to increase exports as well as imports of technology.

Short time at Daimler: Reacting to cratering sales, Daimler will reduce its output in 2009. Workers received the bad news this Monday, Automobilwoche (sub) learned. Mercedes-Benz had lost 28 percent in sales in November.

Audi extends walk on water: From January to November, Audi sold 920,700 units, which is slightly above the previous year, Automobilwoche (sub) says. Under current market conditions, it’s a miracle. In China, Audi lost 5.9 percent in November, but for the year, they are a whopping 17.5 percent above what they sold to the Chinese in 2007.

All we can do is pray: “With sport-utility vehicles at the altar and auto workers in the pews, one of Detroit’s largest churches on Sunday offered up prayers for Congress to bail out the struggling auto industry” Reuters reports. Local car dealerships donated three hybrid SUVs to be displayed during the service, one from each of the Big Three. A Ford Escape, Chevy Tahoe from GM and a Chrysler Aspen were parked just in front of the choir and behind the pulpit. Holy God almighty. It is not true that pagan rites were held in Grosse Point where live chickens were slaughtered over the hoods of an Escalade, a Hummer, and an 8 cylinder Jeep Grand Cherokee. PETA had threatened to disrupt the event in order to save the chickens.

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  • Robert Schwartz Robert Schwartz on Dec 08, 2008

    Chrysler-Fiat? Drowning men clinging to each other.

  • Iamwho2k Iamwho2k on Dec 08, 2008

    I'm waiting for Max Mosley to finally piss off Ferrari enough for them to leave F1. I'll be sad, of course, when that happens as F1 is my favorite kind of racing and the Scuderia is my favorite team, but --like Honda-- this will allow Ferrari to build that 'green' Enzo successor it keeps talking about. (A 'green' Ferrari... what is the world coming to???) And it will torpedo F1 to the point where the FIA finally grows a pair and kicks Max out of office, which they should have a long time ago. Bernie should follow him shortly thereafter.

  • 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?