By on February 23, 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 until further notice.

Interest in Saab: Jan-Åke Jonsson, managing director of Saab Automobile AB, said other carmakers were among the investors that had shown interest in the unit, Reuters reports. The Swedish carmaker, granted protection from creditors last week, has said it must quickly restructure to deal with losses, seen at 3 billion Swedish crowns ($347 million) this year, and find new funding from either private or public sources in order to launch new and more competitive models. Germany’s Autohaus reports that Sweden’s government again denied any financial help to Saab.

Opel will hand in homework: GM Europe and Opel finally got their acts together: they will present their long-awaited business plan to the German government in the coming days, Reuters says. The German government distanced itself on Monday from any commitment to Opel’s future.

Cash4clunkers works: Germany’s cash4clunker program (€2.5K if you retire old and buy new) will result in 400K additional sales, says the industry group Verband der Automobilindustrie (VDA) [via Das Autohaus]. That would be an increase of 13 percent. German car makers take about half of the additional sales, says the VDA.

Quick denial: This morning, China Business News reported that Chinese car maker Beijing Auto had initial talks with Chrysler to buy assets and technology while seeking to expand globally through acquisitions and to build its own brand model based on a global brand. “Not so,” said the purported purchaser, according to Gasgoo. Beijing Auto, is the Chinese partner of Hyundai Motor and Daimler AG. Chrysler LLC quit a joint venture between Beijing Auto and Daimler AG in late 2008, a year after Daimler sold its control to Cerberus (a.k.a. the smartest guys in the Kremlin). Chrysler’s 300C sedan is still made at the Beijing venture.

Toyota reduces output by 20 percent: Toyota plans to produce 6.5 million vehicles this year, down 20 percent from 8.21 million in 2008, the Nikkei [sub] says. Depending on how the industry fares, Toyota may be forced to slash output even further. Its February-April output will be only half the year-earlier level. The firm aims to wrap up its inventory adjustments in May, with production to rise month-to-month but still remain 40 percent below year-earlier levels. Toyota sees production picking up in or after the summer following the release of new models, including the redesigned Prius hybrid.

New Honda CEO: Honda appointed Takanobu Ito as new president and chief executive to replace Takeo Fukui, the Nikkei [sub] reports. Fukui, 64, has served in the top position since June 2003. Ito, 55, has been recently been engaged in production and research-and-development operations at home and overseas. Honda follows Toyota Motor Corp. and Mazda Motor Co. in handing over management responsibilities to new top executives.

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13 Comments on “While America Slept. Monday, February 23rd, 2009...”


  • avatar
    Brian E

    From the Honda announcement:

    Ito joined Honda in 1978, and began his career in its automobile research and development operations, principally as an engineer in the area of chassis design. Ito was in charge of developing the all-aluminum uni-body frame structure for the mid-engine NSX sports car that went on sale in 1990, a world’s first for a production vehicle of any volume.

    This is Honda, pure and simple.

  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    To be fair, I’m not quite sure why Toyota and Honda are changing their CEO’s.

    The downturn and resultant profit drops wasn’t a fault of their incompetence and bad management decisions. They were well run companies.

    I’m wondering whether changing CEO’s is just a smokescreen to show investors they are trying to do something….?

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    @ KatiePuckrik

    In Japan, presiding over “failure” is a considerable dishonor.

    (I’m sure I’ll be corrected – I think it’s more complex than that – but definitely cultural).

    Bertel, is this true?

  • avatar
    psarhjinian

    This is Honda, pure and simple.

    They have to be careful. Fukui was an engineer, too (on the CVCC, which is about as Honda has it gets, at least on four wheels) and you can see some of the Engineer’s Malaise (making products they think people want, rather than products people actually want) at Honda today.

    That said, Honda under Fukui was successful, but risking running into a rut. This might be good for them, just as Watanabe’s stepping down might shake up Toyota for the better.

    This also begs the following question of Rick Wagoner: will he leave if GM makes a profit?

  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    psarhjinian,

    If GM posted a profit, Rick Wagoner will do a handstand with a sparkler stuck in his anus!

    Apparently, GM posting a profit is one of the harbingers of the apocolypse!

    (Copyright Frankie Boyle).

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    @ KatiePuckrik

    How do you guys get Frankie Boyle??

  • avatar
    KatiePuckrik

    @Pete Moran

    I’m talking about Frankie Boyle, the Scottish comedian.

  • avatar

    Bertel, is this true?

    Yes, it used to be true. Now with so many JP companies in the reds, things may change. But in the past, management was usually changed when losses occurred.

    Beats seppuku …..

  • avatar
    Theodore

    I don’t know that it’s good public policy, but if the US had a cash for clunkers program that offered as much money as the German one, I’d think very seriously about buying a new car.

    Of course, there’s a pretty good chance it would be a Japanese car, which might not be the desired effect.

  • avatar
    Potemkin

    “The downturn and resultant profit drops wasn’t a fault of their incompetence and bad management decisions. They were well run companies.”
    Like Harry Truman said “the buck stops here”. If they were well run they would have seen the financial sunami coming, there were lots of warning signs and warnings by economists and acedemics. The problem was there was too much money to be had personally for the CEO’s to react. Regardless of circumstances the CEO is ultimately responsible for the sucess or failure of the company, that’s why he gets the big bucks. Unfortunately the Wagoner model, where you can mismanage the company into the ground and still keep your job, seems to be the norm.

  • avatar
    wsn

    KatiePuckrik said:
    To be fair, I’m not quite sure why Toyota and Honda are changing their CEO’s.

    The downturn and resultant profit drops wasn’t a fault of their incompetence and bad management decisions. They were well run companies.

    Why are the CEO’s paid millions per year? Why don’t Honda choose me to be their CEO?

    You got to have extraordinary ability (i.e. predict this downturn and make a big profit from it) to earn extraordinary salary. Otherwise, if they just blame it on the economy, they might as well just hire me instead and save 10 million per year.

  • avatar
    Robert Schwartz

    “To be fair, I’m not quite sure why Toyota and Honda are changing their CEO’s. … The downturn and resultant profit drops wasn’t a fault of their incompetence and bad management decisions. They were well run companies.”

    Yes, and because they are well run companies they have deep benches and willing to put in a fresh player when they run into trouble. They would never tolerate letting a f&^%$-up like Rick Waggoner run things into the ground for years on end.

  • avatar
    PeteMoran

    @ KatiePuckrik

    I’m talking about Frankie Boyle, the Scottish comedian.

    That’s the man. I was just curious as to how those of you in NA happened to know his name?

    Sorry, unless of course you’re actually in Europe somewhere, but I (mistakenly maybe) thought you were in Canada, or maybe an ex-pat.

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