While America Slept. Saturday, December 6, 2008

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
while america slept saturday december 6 2008
Thank God that week is over! Any bets the next will be worse? TTAC provides round-the-clock coverage of everything that has wheels. Or has its wheels coming off. The night that WAS, week-end edition.

DC turns on drip for Detroit: Congressional Democrats and the White House have reached agreement on emergency aid for US carmakers of between $15bn and $17bn, two senior congressional aides said to Financial Times. “Congressional Democrats and the White House have reached an agreement,” a senior congressional aide said. Another source said negotiators had “agreed in principle to moving ahead but details have to be worked out.” The amount is far less than the $34bn requested this week by GM, Ford, and Chrysler, but it will keep them going into next year.

Going down? BMW and Daimler plummet: Both Daimler’s Zetsche and BMW’s Reithofer definitely said “it was nice having you” to their 2008 targets, Automobilwoche (sub) reports. BMW’s worldwide November sales dropped 25.4 percent. Mercedes-Banz did even worse: 28 percent down in November. BMW had been doing O.K. for most of the year, Jan-Nov they only lost 1.8 percent. Same at Daimler: Jan-Nov minus 4 percent, then the November shock. Worst markets for Daimler are Japan (minus 46 percent,) USA (minus 30 percent,) Europe West (minus 25 percent.) Even in the Chinese growth market Daimler lost more than 10 percent. The November numbers don’t bode well for 2009.

China’s November car sales dropped 10 percent: That’s the biggest decline in more than three years, the China Association of Automobile Manufacturers said via Gasgoo. A previous analysis by Nomura had the November fall by 15 percent. They were wrong. With the drop in China, one of the last straws for global auto makers goes down the toilet. CAAM says vehicle deliveries in China will fall short of a 10 million unit forecast this year. 2009 should see growth between 5 and 10 percent.

Wale: GM China not on the block: GM China’s Kevin Wale put on his most optimistic face and said General Motors will not sell its assets in China, the opposite is true: They will increase investment in its China operations, Gasgoo reports. From which money, he didn’t say.

Ghosn takes over at ACEA: ACEA, the club of Europe’s car makers, has a new president. Renault-chief Carlos Ghosn takes over from Peugeot-CEO Christian Streif, says Automobilwoche (sub)

Nipponese parts makers scared: Japan’s parts makers were glued to their TV sets following the DC follies. North American sales of Japanese auto parts firms totaled $36b 2006. GM, Ford and Chrysler alone bought roughly $5b of Japanese parts. Meanwhile, in America, more than one-third of the remaining parts makers are in danger of going down. “A string of bankruptcies among these firms would disrupt production at Japanese automakers, which also rely heavily on North American suppliers,” writes The Nikkei (sub.) Honda already stocks up on parts supplied by companies at risk of bankruptcy.

Keys don’t let friends drive drunk: Siemens developed a new car key that shows you whether you are good to drive or liable to be arrested. All you have to do is blow into your new key, Automobilwoche (sub) reports. If you had one too many, the car won’t start. If this catches on, inebriated drivers will refrain from breathing at their car keys. Actually, the mere act of blowing into your key should be grounds enough for calling a cab.

Movies good, economy bad: When movie theaters are seeing double-digit growth in box office revenue, then it’s the official confirmation that we are officially in a recession. During all the recessions in the past 50 years, movie theaters have done well. True to form and in keeping with past recessions, Americans are flocking to the movies, Reuters reports. If people start taking the bicycle to Sunday matinee, then you know it’s real, real bad.

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  • Gforce Gforce on Dec 06, 2008

    "Movies good, economy bad" - could it be that Americans want to escape the gruelling reality (economy) to plunge themselves into the virtual "great America" (the movies) that Hollywood dreams of?

  • SaabKid7 SaabKid7 on Dec 07, 2008

    Actually Saab invented the sobriety key back in the early 2000's

  • Rng65694730 All auto makers seem to be having problems ! Still supply chain issues !
  • MrIcky I'd go 2500 before I went 1500 with a 6.2. I watched an engineer interview on the 2.7l. I appreciate that their focus on the 2.7 was to make it perform like a diesel and all of their choices including being a relatively large i4 instead of an i6 were all based around it feeling diesel like in it's torque delivery. It's all marketing at the end of the day, but I appreciated hearing the rationale. Personally I wouldnt want to tow much more than 7-8k lbs with a light truck anyway so it seems to fit the 1500 application.
  • MaintenanceCosts If I didn't have to listen to it, I'd take the 2.7 over the 5.3 based both on low-end torque and reliability record (although it's still early). But the 5.3 does sound a lot nicer.
  • Arthur Dailey The Torino Bird which was relatively short lived (3 years), 'feasted' on the prestige originally associated with the T-Bird name. The Cordoba originally did the same as it had a Chrysler nameplate. The Torino 'Bird had modified 'opera' style middle windows, a large hood with a big chrome grill and hood ornament, pop-up headlights, and a 'plush' interior. It was for the time considered a 'good looking' car and could be ordered with a 400 cid engine (the first 2 years) and even a T-bar roof. You can see one just behind De Niro and Liotta in Goodfellas when they are standing in the diner's parking lot and have learned that Pesci has been 'whacked'.Although a basically a renaming/redesign of the (Gran Torino) Elite, the Elite was for a time available with Ford's 460 cid engine.I had both an Elite and a 'Torino Bird'. Although their wheelbases were the same, the 'Bird always seemed 'bigger' both inside and out. The Elite seemed 'faster' but it had the 460 opposed to the 400 in the 'Bird. But those are just subjective judgements/memories on my part. However the 'box Bird' which followed it was a dud. It sold Ok the first year based on the T-Bird name, (probably mostly leases) but it quickly lost any appeal/prestige. Back then, the management/executives of the Toronto Maple Leafs used to get leased T-Birds every year. After the first year of the 'box Bird' they changed to different vehicles.
  • Parkave231 Random question that -- in the interest of full disclosure -- I am too lazy to look up on my own.Back in the day, cars in my mostly-GM family had a hard lock on the steering wheel, such that unless the key was turned to the ACC position, the steering wheel was physically locked in place.I don't recall whether my 2002 Deville locked the wheel in place, but I want to say it didn't, even though it still had a physical key.And now, of course, most everything is push-button, and my current Cadillac doesn't physically lock the wheel.So was the movement away from a literal physical lock of the steering wheel back in the 80s driven solely by the transition to push-button start, or was there some other safety regulation that got rid of them, or just something else that a car manufacturer could omit for cost savings by running something else through software (I'm guessing this since the H/K issue is a thing).