While America Slept. Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
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while america slept wednesday january 7 2009
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. WAS is being filed from Beijing.

Toyota asking workers to forego pay: In an unusual move, Toyota has begun negotiating with labor to treat some of the 11 additional days during which the company plans to suspend domestic operations as vacation days without pay, the Nikkei (sub) writes. Toyota aims to close all 12 of its domestic factories for six more days than planned in February and for five additional days in March. Extra factory closure days used to be treated as paid days off. Toyota seeks to stop this practice from next month to cut costs. Toyota hopes to reach an agreement with labor this month. The unions already balk.

Germany looks like bottoming out: Germany’s car buyers bought 6.6 percent less in last December than in the prior year. This is nowhere near the disaster called America. Germany’s November sales had been down 18 percent. Germany closes out the year 2008 with a minus of just 1.8 percent, Automobilwoche (sub) reports. Still, “Germany notched up yet another post-reunification low for the year, with just 3.09 million vehicles registered throughout 2008,” Reuters writes. The big loser is Toyota with a loss of 27 percent for the year. Volkswagen sold 5.7 percent more than in 2007 and raised its market share to 19.9 percent. Opel lost 9.5 percent of sales, Porsche 8.2. The Smart gained 5.7 percent. Amazingly, SUVs gained 3 percent for the year, the high price of gas be damned. The share of diesel powered cars dropped 3.6 percent to now 44.1 percent.

GM increases dealer network in Japan. In Japan? GM is attempting to profit from the high yen and import more cars to Japan. GM is expanding its dealership network in a bid to lift Japanese passenger car sales, which dipped 8 percent on the year to just 2,600 vehicles in 2008, the Nikkei (sub) reports. GM had 73 dealerships in Japan in 2005. It had reduced that to 47 as of November after withdrawing from an ill fated attempt to sell German-made Opels in Japan. Now they think they need more dealers for the shrinking Japanese market.

Honda axes Argentinean plant: Honda has decided to delay the launch of a passenger car plant in Argentina by six months or more from the originally scheduled second half of this year as demand drops in South America, the Nikkei (sub) writes. The plant was slated to produce 30,000 subcompact cars a year, equivalent to about 7 percent of the entire Argentine passenger car market.

Taiwan‘s Yulon partners with China’s Geely: Taiwan’s Yulon, which just has been abandoned by its partner GM, is looking for another partner. They may have found one in mainland China. Yulon plans to team up with Geely Automobile to build budget cars priced below $10K, Gasgoo writes. The cars would be assembled at Yulon’s Sanyi plant in Taiwan. Geely sold an estimated 200,000 new cars last year, which was nearly equivalent to the total number of new cars sold in Taiwan during the same period.

Subsidy raises French market from the dead: France gives $1350 to each citizen who scraps an old car and buys a new, greener one. This was a shot in the arm of French car sales. In December, every third buyer dumped his or her old clunker and collected the government money. In December, Peugeot sold 20 percent more cars than in the month before. The subsidy makes a new car cheaper than a three year old used one, reports das Autohaus.

PSA interested in India: Peugeot Citroen is charting a quiet re-entry into India, India’s Economic Times reports. Peugeot Citroen is among the few global automobile companies that do not have a full-scale presence in India yet. PSA is interested in buying components as well as setting up a production base in India.

Lotus blossoms own hybrid: UK’s Lotus, which builds the plug-in for Tesla and has supplied cars for projects including the Dodge EV, and the Ecotricity, will debut a hybrid concept car at the Geneva Motor Show in March, says UK’s Channel 4 News. They say, the car is “capable of up to 400 miles on a single tank of petrol.”

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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  • Robert Schwartz Robert Schwartz on Jan 07, 2009

    "France gives $1350 to each citizen who scraps an old car and buys a new, greener one." Does that apply if your old car was destroyed in a fire set by some frolicsome "youths".

  • PeteMoran PeteMoran on Jan 07, 2009

    @ Bertel Thanks. 3.6% doesn't seem too bad given everything that is going on.

  • 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…..