While America Slept. Friday, January 9, 2009

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
while america slept friday january 9 2009
An 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. WAS is being filed from Beijing this week, from Berlin next week.

Volkswagen makes its million in China: When Winfried Vahland, VW’s honcho in China, stuck to his guns and a 1m sales target months ago, people rolled their eyes. Well, he made it, Automobilwoche (sub) reports. VW sold 844,491 units in China, Audi contributed119,598, newcomer Skoda sold 59,284 – a total of 1,023,373 units. Growth for 2008 was 12.5 percent, above market trend. With this result, and the slight plus in the home market, VW could be the overall winner for 2008.

Audi sells a million worldwide: Audi defied gravity, motor malaise, and assorted other ailments, and closed out the year 2008 with a plus of 4.1 percent worldwide, for a total of 1,003,400 four-ringed units sold throughout the world. In Asia/Pacific, Audi sold 15.6 percent more for the year. Outlook for 2009 is even better, because in the disastrous December 2008, Audi sold 17.4 percent more than in the same month a year before.

SAIC lets Ssangyong fail: Ssangyong Motor Co. has filed for court receivership after if had failed to secure necessary funds to continue operations, the Nikkei (sub) reports. Ssangyong Motor is 51.3 percent owned by China’s SAIC. They only wanted to help if the unions would make significant concessions. Now they may have to. Ssangyong Motor’s board Friday called on management and the company’s union to closely cooperate on voluntary retirement, paid leave, wage cuts and a halt to certain benefits. Commenting on the filing, Ssangyong union spokesman Choi Hyung-gil said: “The decision is very disappointing. We will discuss how to react.”

Super rice racer: Nissan said that its limited-production sports car, the GT-R SpecV, which offers enhanced performance and modifications from the original model, will go on sale Feb. 2, the Nikkei (sub) reports. The $172K model will be targeted at drivers “who desire race-car-level performance in a street-legal vehicle,” according to Nissan. It is the highest-priced vehicle sold in the domestic market by a major Japanese automaker. Nissan will only sell the vehicle at seven dealerships nationwide, targeting monthly sales of 10 units.

Nissan cuts UK workforce: Nissan will eliminate 1.2K U.K. factory jobs, bringing its worldwide cutbacks to roughly 7.7K, the Nikkei (sub) writes. Nissan will not renew contracts with 400 nonpermanent employees at the end of this month, and is expected to shed 800 permanent jobs through an early retirement program.

Japan imports less: The strong Yen notwithstanding, Japan’s auto imports plunged 17.3 percent to a 15-year low of 219,231 vehicles in 2008, reports the Nikkei (sub.) This is the first decline in two years.

Family business: Executive Vice President Akio Toyoda will be Toyota’s President in June. This is the first time in 14 years that a member of the automaker’s founding family will hold the top job, the Nikkei (sub) writes. “The automaker’s decision to proceed with the appointment of founder Kiichiro Toyoda’s grandson to president is seen as an attempt to heighten a sense of crisis among group employees. The firm also aims to show those inside and outside the company that it intends to take such basic steps as cost reductions more seriously,” says the Nikkei.

China‘s car market alive and kicking: China’s passenger car sales rose 8.1 percent in December 2008 after seeing a big fall in November, Gasgoo reports, citing an announcement from the China Passenger Car Association. Full-year sales of passenger vehicles in China, excluding exports, rose 7.4 percent to 6.43m units in 2008. A significant fall from the double-digit growth rates seen in recent years, but other markets would trade-in their firstborns for these numbers.

China’s luxury segment unfazed: Mercedes-Benz China Ltd said that sales of their cars in China soared almost 45 percent in 2008 to 3,870 units, Gasgoo writes. China’s luxury car segment grew at a rate of 17 percent on average in 2008, while the market as a whole was rising by less than 10 percent.

Chinese hybrid: China’s SAIC will launch its first own-brand hybrid passenger car in 2010, Gasgoo writes. The vehicle will use a lithium-ion battery and cut fuel consumption by 20%.

BMW gets black eye: For the first time in 15 years, Germany’s BMW is closing out the year with a reduction in global sales. They sold 4.7 percent less Bimmers, MINIs and Rollers than in the prior year, Automobilwoche (sub) reports. It might get worse in 2009. In December, they sold 26.4 percent less.

GM Europe loses in Europe: General Motors Europe sold 140K less units in 2008 for a total of 2.04M. Opel/Vauxhall lost 10.5 percent for a total of 1.46M units sold, Autohaus writes.

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  • Strippo Strippo on Jan 09, 2009
    For the first time in 15 years, Germany’s BMW is closing out the year with a reduction in global sales. They sold 4.7 percent less Bimmers, MINIs and Rollers than in the prior year, Automobilwoche (sub) reports. It might get worse in 2009. In December, they sold 26.4 percent less. Since value for the dollar is paramount now, and since BMW doesn't build vehicles that are meant to be driven for more than four years without: a) losing their value as status symbols, and; b) becoming insatiable money pits, I'd say a bad 2009 for BMW is a pretty safe bet. Lexus may well have a "bad" year, too, but it's all relative.
  • No_slushbox No_slushbox on Jan 09, 2009

    The South Koreans let their smallest, worst automaker, that just happens to be partially foreign owned, fail. Maybe we can learn something from them.

  • Inside Looking Out The next 4Runner will be BEV.
  • The Oracle This is a proper Italian red sauce turd.
  • Carson D This isn't a notice of a wait time for 4Runner fans. This is a deadline for the opportunity to buy one new before they're gone. Whatever comes next, there is no possible way that it will be as good at doing 4Runner things as what is available today.
  • Bkojote There's a lot "just right" with the current 4Runner, and having spent time in more contemporary equivalents for road trips, I completely understand why they sell a ton of these.Here's some topics that aren't super common among 4runner owners - excessive carbon buildup in the engine after 40,000 miles (Audi/VW), bent valves (Bronco) , failed oil coolers (Jeep), cracked engine blocks (Jeep), dead vehicles from OTA updates (Chevy Colorado), being stranded due to opening the door too many times (Defender), malfunctioning engine sensors (Defender, VW), dead batteries due to electrical system malfunctions (Jeep), unusable defoggers (Jeep), waiting for seat heaters to boot up (Subaru), randomly catching fire (Kia/Hyundai), crappy build quality (Ford, Tesla).The interior feels solid and rattle free, and everything feels substantial in the way a Jeep Grand Cherokee or Kia Telluride does not. 14 year run means accessories are plentiful and well sorted. The control inputs from the radio to heated seats to climate control work better than 99% of the cars you can buy new at this point and are dead simple and ergonomically satisfying. Even dynamically (I drove a model with the KDSS system to be fair) it is a surprisingly composed vehicle on mountain roads- it's far more civilized than a Bronco or Wrangler, and hell, it was far more pleasant than the past two peastant-grade Benz crapmobiles I've been in.So I get it- car journalist rags whine about how overly complicated and tech-heavy modern vehicles are while their substance is cost cut, but here's the literal definition of 'don't fix it if it aint broken.' . It's a trusty Ford Econoline in a world of craptastic Ram ProMasters.
  • Frank Sounds like they dont want to debut it at the same time as the new Land Cruiser, which is probably smart. The new 'runner is ready to go I am told, so there's a reason for this delay.