While America Slept. Monday, February 16th 2009
German governments taking over Opel? The German states of Hesse and Thuringia are mulling plans for an engagement in an Opel company that has been separated from GM, Automobilwoche [sub] reports. The states are sites of major Opel factories. Both states would neither confirm nor deny the reports. “All we are saying is that we are engaged in a good discussion with the Berlin government and the other states that have Opel factories,” the speaker of the Hesse government said, somewhat sybillinicly.
Daimler and BMW to cooperate—whether they want to or not: The boards of both Daimler and BMW have issued clear directives to their rebellious troops to cooperate in alle areas which are invisible to the customers and which don’t touch the brand, Das Autohaus says. Until now, attempts to do same had been torpedoed by feuding engineers. Now “everything short of a merger or cross holdings is thinkable,” Autohaus says. Thinkable, yes. But will the piston heads in Stuttgart and Munich bury the hatchet?
Used car market waking up: Prices and volumes of used vehicles have been rising in the US and major western European markets since the end of last year, the Nikkei [sub] reports. “The used-car market has come roaring back,” Jim Farley, Ford Motor’s head of marketing, said last week. “That shows that there is some credit availability out there.”
The trend, if it continues, would be welcomed by both carmakers suffering massive drops in demand and financially endangered dealer groups, many of which have been selling new vehicles at little or no profit, but can earn better margins on used ones. “It’s a glimmer of hope for the industry,” says Jesse Toprak, senior analyst with Edmunds.com, who’s been busy glimmer spotting for quite some time.
China snaps up Ferraris: Ferrari sold 20 percent more cars in China in 2008 than in the year before, Gasgoo reports. Chinese buyers purchased a record 212 Ferrari-brand cars. China was the fastest growing market for the brand in the Asia Pacific region. The U.S continues to be the largest market for the brand with 1007 cars sold last year, comprising 26 percent of Ferrari’s total global sales.
Sweden and GM still talking about Saab: Sweden’s government dismissed a Swedish television report that negotiations between GM and Sweden over Saab have broken down, Reuters says. GM and the Swedish government were not able to agree on the terms for $599m in loan guarantees to create an independent company of Saab, public service broadcaster SVT had said. Lisa Warn, spokeswoman for Swedish Industry Minister Maud Olofsson, denied talks with GM had been halted.
Minimizing of the MINI: BMW is cutting around 850 jobs at its MINI plant in Oxford, central England, as it scales back production in the wake of falling demand, Reuters says. BMW produced 235k cars at the plant last year—its only MINI factory worldwide. The plant will now be operating five days a week instead of seven. BMW said sales of the MINI had slumped 34.5 percent in January to just over 10,100 worldwide.
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Given Daimler's past history of cooperation with others, I suggest BMW goes and finds some different friends.
"...the speaker of the Hesse government said, somewhat sybillinicly." That's a great way to put it, Bertel; I haven't seen that word used for years and enjoyed seeing it. Do you think the Länder will get together and buy the Opel operations or just end up putting some support money into the operations? Can you imagine that kind of cooperation being possible when each Land has its own interests and labour issues to protect?