While America Slept. Sunday, December 14, 2008

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
while america slept sunday december 14 2008
ToMoCo tightens belt hard: Toyota has put major capital investment projects on ice while sales tumble and the global economic condition looks grimmer by the day, the Nikkei (sub) says. Major projects affected: Chinese factory expansion delayed until sales recover. Capacity expansion in Brazil and India on halt. Mississippi plant opening delayed until 2011 or later. Revamping of production lines in Takaoka, Japan, pushed back to at least 2010. The Nikkei: “The recent postponements are likely to impact a wide range of entities, including part suppliers, materials makers and equipment manufacturers. Other automakers might follow Toyota’s lead in cutting capital expenditures amid the global sales downturn.”

VeeDub closes Chinese plants “for maintenance:” Volkswagen’s two Chinese joint ventures are planning to partly suspend production lines to “conduct maintenance work,” China Daily says, citing a Sunday report by state television. FAW-Volkswagen plans to suspend part of its production at their plant in Changchun at the end of the year. Shanghai Volkswagen will also suspend work at its production line for half a month from mid-December to early January. China Daily called Volkswagen’s office in Beijing and the two joint venture companies. The phones “rang unanswered on a Sunday,” writes China Daily.

Daimler cuts costs: Daimler aims to cut costs at its Mercedes-Benz Cars group by 10-15 percent in 2009, Reuters says. In the sales division, costs were to be reduced by up to 30 percent.

And it’s hitting the parts makers: Bosch plans to reduce costs in its automotive division by not renewing temporary workers’ contracts and possibly cutting jobs outside its German home market, a company spokesman said on Saturday to Reuters. Sales in October and November slumped by 20 percent.

BYD’s F3DM available: On Monday, Chinese cell phone battery maker BYD will begin selling its F3DM, China’s first mass-produced hybrid electric vehicle. The car is expected to retail for around $20,000 in China, and will make its way to the U.S. in 2011, the Los Angeles Times reports. Warren E. Buffett is convinced it will be a success: He bought a 9.9% stake in BYD for $230 million.

China goes green: China wants to have at least 30,000 clean-energy vehicles on their roads by 2012, an official with the Ministry of Science and Technology said according to a report by Gasgoo. The government is promoting a project to put 5,000 hybrid buses, 20,000 hybrid taxis and 5,000 electric vehicles on the streets in 10 cities by 2012. China is a signatory to the Kyoto Protocol. The U.S. did not sign.

At least, they signed a battery accord: China and the United States has agreed to collaborate on developing electric and hybrid vehicles, Gasgoo reports. The agreement between China’s Ministry of Science and Technology and the US Department of Energy, will see the two countries collaborate on battery performance, testing and evaluation methods, standards and codes, and lifecycle analyses. The Sino-US collaboration could benefit some Chinese companies such as BYD Co, which have been aggressively developing green cars.

Saab, Volvo, Opel – set them free: GM should sell its Swedish brand Saab, said Klaus Franz, head of the works council at GM’s German unit Opel, according to a Reuters report. “I am glad that the Swedish government has granted support for Volvo and Saab,” Franz said in an interview to be published on Thursday. “On that basis, Ford and GM could find new investors for their Swedish brands.” Roland Koch, premier of Opel’s home state Hesse, told Reuters: “By way of the intensive talks concerning a guarantee, we are in a position to help Opel here in Germany, if need be, if there is not a solution in America, which we are hoping for.”

Fiat sees tough 2009: Fiat’s Sergio Marchionne said 2009 would be the toughest year of his life and urged European government assistance for the auto sector, Reuters says. Although he did not refer directly to possible U.S. aid for its struggling automakers, Marchionne said public assistance for some companies would bring “enormous disparities in international competition.”

Kuwaitis lightening up on Aston Martin: Kuwait’s Investment Dar said it was studying offers to sell up to 20 percent of British carmaker Aston Martin, along with borrowing up to $1.1 billion from banks to refinance debt, Reuters says. The firm had bought half of Aston Martin in 2007. We admit total ignorance of what that could mean, except that Investment Dar is short of money.

I lose, I sue: An Australian gambler who lost millions in a $909m gaming spree is suing one of the country’s largest casinos, claiming he was targeted by managers despite a known gambling addiction, Reuters says. If this sets an example, expect a class-action suit by the D2.8 …

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  • Art Vandelay Dodge should bring this back. They could sell it as the classic classic classic model
  • Surferjoe Still have a 2013 RDX, naturally aspirated V6, just can't get behind a 4 banger turbo.Also gloriously absent, ESS, lane departure warnings, etc.
  • ToolGuy Is it a genuine Top Hand? Oh, I forgot, I don't care. 🙂
  • ToolGuy I did truck things with my truck this past week, twenty-odd miles from home (farther than usual). Recall that the interior bed space of my (modified) truck is 98" x 74". On the ride home yesterday the bed carried a 20 foot extension ladder (10 feet long, flagged 14 inches past the rear bumper), two other ladders, a smallish air compressor, a largish shop vac, three large bins, some materials, some scrap, and a slew of tool cases/bags. It was pretty full, is what I'm saying.The range of the Cybertruck would have been just fine. Nothing I carried had any substantial weight to it, in truck terms. The frunk would have been extremely useful (lock the tool cases there, out of the way of the Bed Stuff, away from prying eyes and grasping fingers -- you say I can charge my cordless tools there? bonus). Stainless steel plus no paint is a plus.Apparently the Cybertruck bed will be 78" long (but over 96" with the tailgate folded down) and 60-65" wide. And then Tesla promises "100 cubic feet of exterior, lockable storage — including the under-bed, frunk and sail pillars." Underbed storage requires the bed to be clear of other stuff, but bottom line everything would have fit, especially when we consider the second row of seats (tools and some materials out of the weather).Some days I was hauling mostly air on one leg of the trip. There were several store runs involved, some for 8-foot stock. One day I bummed a ride in a Roush Mustang. Three separate times other drivers tried to run into my truck (stainless steel panels, yes please). The fuel savings would be large enough for me to notice and to care.TL;DR: This truck would work for me, as a truck. Sample size = 1.
  • Ed That has to be a joke.