While America Slept. Thursday, December 25, 2008

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
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while america slept thursday december 25 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.

Japan’s auto production in the dumps: Production of cars, trucks and buses in Japan fell 20.4 percent on year in November, marking the second straight month of falls, the Nikkei (sub) writes, Vehicle output declined to 854,171 vehicles in the month from 1,072,519 vehicles a year earlier, the Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association said. Japanese domestic vehicle demand in November totaled 368,884 units, down 18.2 percent from a year earlier. Japanese exports of passenger cars contracted by 19.5 percent.

Joe Isuzu gets a haircut: Isuzu announced temporary pay cuts for all 8,000 domestic full-time employees in response to a steep decline in auto and truck sales, The Nikkei (sub) writes. Executives will get 30 percent less starting in January. Manager-level employees will see 10 percent less from spring. For rank-and-file workers, Isuzu will propose to its labor union as early as the beginning of next year a several-percent reduction in base wages that could begin as early as April. The Nikkei: “While the pay cuts would be temporary, they could last a year or longer.”

Parent infects children: Following Toyota’s announcement of an anticipated loss in fiscal 2008, Denso, Aisin Seiki and four other Toyota group firms have downgraded their earnings forecasts for the year ending March 31, the Nikkei (sub) reports. To offset the yen’s strength, Denso began discussing shipping products from the U.S. to Japan.

BYD delays foreign sales of hybrid: China’s BYD won’t sell its plug-in hybrids in European and U.S. markets before 2011, Gasgoo writes. No reason for the delay was given. BYD officially launched their F3DM on Dec. 15. It is available in 14 Chinese cities at $21,890. That’s double the price of a similar sized gasoline-powered car in China.

GM bets on China: GM Asia Pacific president Nick Reilly thinks that GM’s sales in China are expected to be “significantly” over 1 million units in 2009, Gasgoo reports. China is GM’s second-largest market outside the United States. GM and its joint ventures in China sold 1.03 million vehicles in 2007. GM’s sales in China reached 590,126 units in the first half of this year. Reilly: “I would expect us to do a little better than the market. As I said, I think the market will be flat to slightly up next year.”

At least something is up: Grins at Mercedes-Benz China. They announced that sales of Mercedes-Benz brand cars in China’s soared 52 percent in the first 11 months of this year to 35,200 units, reaching this year’s sales target one month in advance, Gasgoo says. Sales of the Mercedes-Benz S-Class rose 44 percent year on year to 13,000 units, and sales of the SUV line-up surged more than 100 percent.

4WD 7-series: BMW has an all wheel drive 7-series in a winter test in Finland, Automobilwoche (sub) learned. The prototypes have the 407 hp engine of the 750i. The all wheel luxury model may get a “Hill Descent Control.” If it assists the driver in getting down from a pile of debt, it would be really helpful.

Bertel Schmitt
Bertel Schmitt

Bertel Schmitt comes back to journalism after taking a 35 year break in advertising and marketing. He ran and owned advertising agencies in Duesseldorf, Germany, and New York City. Volkswagen A.G. was Bertel's most important corporate account. Schmitt's advertising and marketing career touched many corners of the industry with a special focus on automotive products and services. Since 2004, he lives in Japan and China with his wife <a href="http://www.tomokoandbertel.com"> Tomoko </a>. Bertel Schmitt is a founding board member of the <a href="http://www.offshoresuperseries.com"> Offshore Super Series </a>, an American offshore powerboat racing organization. He is co-owner of the racing team Typhoon.

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  • Mykeliam Mykeliam on Dec 25, 2008

    I'm confused as to why the executives at Chrysler and GM (the entire executive team that is) aren't doing the same thing that Caterpilar executives are doing. They aren't even getting a bail out and they're taking pay cuts. So what's the drop in Lutz's pay?? Or any of the other VP's

  • Charly Charly on Dec 25, 2008

    “ferrous”batteries = batteries with lithium and iron. Don't follow battery technology that much but they have the name to be the safest of the lithium batteries

  • MaintenanceCosts So there is no Sonata trim without some type of Theta engine.It seems like they've been doing a bit better when attached to a hybrid system, so that's probably the one to get, but they're going to have to go several years without further engine troubles before I'd trust a H/K ICE product again.
  • Lou_BC Full sized sort of autonomous RC's. Cute.
  • Art_Vandelay Autonomous capabilities are being deployed (or planned anyway) in multiple combat vehicles. Should be fun from my perspective
  • Drew8MR Interior is trivial now you can get repro everything in various levels of quality. Getting the top sorted will be a couple grand, but I'd drive it as it. I drove a $1500 67 GTO convertible for 20 years, not every old car needs to be like new.
  • John Not everyone pays that much for power. Mine is 10 cents per kw…..