By on December 31, 2008

For the last time this year, 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. Until Jan 4, 2009, WAS will be filed from Tokyo.

Toyota has the biggest: Bruises and all, Toyota still stands proud. ToMoCo still has “the highest market capitalization among firms listed on the first section of the Tokyo Stock Exchange as of the last trading day of 2008, even though its market value tumbled by more than half in the year,” reports a relieved Nikkei (sub.) The automaker’s market cap is 10.01 trillion yen ($111,110,999,987.77 at today’s rate,) down 54 percent from the end of 2007. The overall market, as measured by the Nikkei Stock Average closed at 8,859 on Tuesday, down 42 percent from a year earlier. GM, Ford, and Chrysler on the other hand – don’t even mention it.

Toyota has the biggest, again: Toyota could end up top shareholder Japan’s largest non-life insurance company. A holding company will be created if #2 Japanese nonlife insurer Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance Group, #4 Aioi Insurance Co. and #6 Nissay Dowa General Insurance integrate operations next year, The Nikkei (sub) says. Shares in the holding company would be allocated to shareholders of the three firms through a stock swap. Under this scenario, Toyota — which owns a 33.4% stake in Aioi — would become the new holding company’s largest shareholder, with a roughly 6% interest based on stock prices as of the end of November.

China‘s industry aid: China’s top economic planning agency has completed the layout of a stimulus package to prop up the automotive industry. They will implement the plan “soon after the cabinet approves it,” Gasgoo says. The often announced plan is expected to include cuts in car purchase tax and consumption tax, funds to support fuel efficient vehicles and new-energy vehicles, and incentives for car owners to scrap their old models in favor of new ones. Other steps such as facilitating mergers in the sector, encouraging banks to provide low-interest loans to automakers and government bodies to purchase more Chinese-brand cars are also included in the package.

The SAIC/ Ssangyong daily soap: Korea Development Bank (KDB), Ssangyong’s largest creditor, threatened to turn the key on Ssangyong Motor if SAIC pulls out, Gasgoo writes. 320 billion won ($249 million) are needed immediately from SAIC. The Korean SUV-maker will need 600 billion won of new financing next year, KDB says. A KDB official said his bank would be willing to consider extending new loans to Ssangyong, but only if SAIC first grants assistance to its Korean subsidiary.

Recalleria: China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, the country’s top quality regulator, announced that 54 global and domestic automakers recalled more than 1.84 million vehicles in China over the past four years the agency had conducted its work. Guangzhou Honda Automobile Co., Ltd. made the single largest recall, which involved more than 420,000 Accords in March 2007. Surprisingly, Mercedes-Benz conducted the most frequent recalls: 19 between February 2005 and December 2008, involving 38,657 vehicles. China has more than 100 domestic vehicle makers.

Screwy: China’s Ministry of Commerce has decided to carry out an anti-dumping investigation into certain imported iron or steel fasteners from the European Community, Gasgoo says. This is considered as a tit for tat against the EU’s vote to put import tariffs of up to 87 percent on screws and bolts from China. The row may further disrupt the supply lines of auto manufacturers.

Pininfarina on the block: Iconic car designer Pininfarina is up for sale, Reuters reports. The company has been employed by many automobile manufacturers, notably Ferrari, Maserati, Cadillac, Nash, Peugeot, Jaguar, Volvo, Alfa Romeo, MG, Volkswagen, Ford, Mitsubishi and Lancia. The company is shouldered with nearly 600 million Euros of debt. In August, chairman and chief executive, Andrea Pininfarina, died in a car crash. He was the grandson of the founder, Battista “Pinin” Farina.

1984 all over again: Cars will be fitted with satellite-guided speed controllers, if two U.K. transport advice bodies get their wish. U.K.’s Commission for Integrated Transport and its supposedly “advisory non-departmental public body,” the Motorists’ Forum told the British government to “move immediately” to provide the infrastructure for satellite-guided speed controllers. They said with 100 per cent penetration, ISA would cut road injuries 12 per cent in overridable form and 29 per cent if mandatory. The report found speed limiters would have a “not very significant” impact on carbon dioxide emissions except on motorways, where mandatory ISA would yield a 5.8 per cent reduction. The groups did not – yet – recommend compulsory use of Intelligent Speed Adaption (ISA.)

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2 Comments on “While America Slept. Wednesday, December 31, 2008...”


  • avatar
    RedStapler

    Its common knowledge amongst those who work in transportation that the satellite tracking systems can literally be foiled.

    3-4 layers of aluminum foil on top of the antenna and it’s a blind as Stevie Wonder

  • avatar
    ZoomZoom

    Pininfarina on the block: Iconic car designer Pininfarina is up for sale, Reuters reports. The company has been employed by many automobile manufacturers, notably Ferrari, Maserati, Cadillac, Nash, Peugeot, Jaguar, Volvo, Alfa Romeo, MG, Volkswagen, Ford, Mitsubishi and Lancia. The company is shouldered with nearly 600 million Euros of debt. In August, chairman and chief executive, Andrea Pininfarina, died in a car crash. He was the grandson of the founder, Battista “Pinin” Farina.

    I know that the death of a leader can be devastating, but I will always wonder when downfall truly began.

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