By on February 26, 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.

And finally, the Nano: Tata’s Nano, slated to be the world’s cheapest car at under $2,000, will finally go on sale in April after months of delay caused by problems at its main production plant, Reuters reports. Tata said it would formally launch the Nano on March 23, and buyers could start ordering the model by the second week of April. “We expect only limited quantities to be produced now—maybe about 3,000 a month—so the waiting period could be long,” said Surjit Arora, auto analyst at Prabhudas Lilladher. Tata Motors’ new Nano plant in Gujarat, in western India, is not expected to be ready until the year-end. The company has said it would make the first Nanos at one of its two existing plants in Pune, about 170 km north of Mumbai, and at Pantnagar in northern India.

Aftermath: Japan’s eight passenger car manufacturers curbed their domestic output by 40 percent compared with a year earlier to 560,471 units in January as they stepped up efforts to correct inventory levels amid a sharp downturn in global demand, the Nikkei [sub] sums up yesterday’s reports. Toyota, Nissan, Mitsubishi Motors, and Mazda had embarked on their biggest cutbacks since they began releasing production data. Daihatsu was the only one to keep its domestic output reductions in the single digits, at 2.7 percent. Production cutbacks overseas also gained momentum, with carmakers lowering output by 41 percent to 602,502 units. Honda curtailed US output 50.1 percent in January. Exports sank more than 50 percent.

Yen drops: The bad news coming out of Japan have one positive effect: The yen continues to depreciate against major currencies, the Nikkei [sub] reports. Hedge funds and other speculative players are turning into major sellers. Over the past two weeks, the Japanese currency has slipped nearly 7 yen against the greenback. On Wednesday, it briefly hit 97 to the dollar during Tokyo trading, its weakest level in about three months. On Wednesday, the Finance Ministry released data showing that Japan suffered a record trade deficit of 952.6 billion yen in January due to plunging exports. With lackluster overseas demand eroding Japanese exporters’ foreign-currency income, dollar-selling driven by actual demand has declined, undermining the yen. A weaker yen will improve Japanese books closing on March 31, and will make exports more competitive. But the benefits for exporters are likely to be limited. “The earnings improvement impact resulting from a weak yen alone can’t offset steep declines in sales volumes,” says Yasuhide Yajima, a researcher at NLI Research Institute.

Can’t eat this: Honda plans to construct a bioethanol laboratory east of Tokyo, aiming to start R&D work there in November, the Nikkei [sub] says. Honda develops technology for turning nonedible plants auto fuel. They think they’ll be ready in three to four years.

Volkswagen wants to double Chinese sales—by 2018: Volkswagen AG announced in Beijing that it plans to double its annual vehicle sales in China to 2 million units by 2018, Gasgoo reports. “We are targeting to sell 2 million vehicles a year in China by 2018 with the earliest possible timeframe, from the current annual sales of 1 million,” said Winfried Vahland, executive vice-president of Volkswagen Group and president and CEO of Volkswagen’s China operations. The number of Volkswagen dealerships in China will also be doubled to 2,000 by 2018.

China bails out Jaguar, in a way: Chinese firms will agree to pay a combined $615 million for 3,000 Jaguar and 6,000 Land Rover automobiles during a government-led trip to the UK Gasgoo writes. Headed by Minister of Commerce Chen, 200 Chinese business executives will visit Germany, Switzerland, Spain and the UK. In total the delegation will agree to buy as much as $15 billion worth of machinery, automobiles and food products as Beijing seeks to cultivate goodwill and fend off protectionism.

VW crossover will cross over to China: Shanghai VW will launch a China-made Volkswagen Tiguan SUV in late 2009, Gasgoo says.

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