While America Slept. Wednesday, February 18th, 2009
GM/Opel ready to deal: As some kind of bankruptcy for GM becomes more likely by the minute, The General has signaled its readiness to consider some kind of a third party engagement in Opel. “If it makes sense and helps to make GM Europe and Opel successful, then the management is ready to entertain partnerships with or equity engagement of third parties,” GM Europe President, Carl-Peter Forster; Opel CEO, Hans Demant; and the Chairman of Opel’s Worker Council, Klaus Franz, said in a joint announcement, Automobilwoche [sub] reports. They did not elaborate whether this means an engagement by other manufacturers or an engagement by Germany’s state and central governments. In the meantime, Chancellor Angela Merkel is still waiting for Opel and GM to do their homework and hand in a viability plan: “Right now, the government cannot act because we don’t have the necessary concepts from Opel,” Frau Merkel said.
Toyota crawling back: Toyota will ramp up domestic production to around 200k units in May, up roughly 30 percent from the monthly output of the three preceding months, as its inventories are expected to drop to normal levels by then, the Nikkei [sub] says. May output will still be down around 40 percent on a year-on-year basis, with a full-scale recovery in production not expected soon. Inventories are expected to be at the desired levels, or 50-60 days, by the end of April.
Mitsubishi says sayonara to Chrysler: Mitsubishi Motors will end its original equipment manufacturer contract with Chrysler LLC in 2010, the Nikkei [sub] says. Mitsubishi said Wednesday that it won’t renew the contract under which the US car maker produces the Raider pickup truck for its Japanese partner.
China retrenching on auto exports: There are anywhere between 100 and 120 automakers in China. Most dream of export success. Dreams turned into nightmares, and 45 of them threw in the export towel in 2008, Gasgoo writes. Left standing: 21 auto companies with exports worth above $100M last year, accounting for 50.6 percent of China’s total automobile exports value in 2008. Chinese carmakers that achieved noteworthy exports in 2008 include Chery, Honda China, Sinotruk, Great Wall, China First Automobile Group, and King Long.
Let the consolidation begin: Beijing Auto will acquire Fujian Motor and Changfeng Motor, two Chinese carmakers related to Mitsubishi Motors, Gasgoo writes. The acquisitions should also help the Chinese partnerships of Daimler, Chrysler and Mitsubishi unite and focus on BAIC. BAIC wants to expand itself and become a Chinese auto giant like FAW, SAIC and Dongfeng, with annual sales revenue exceeding $14.7B.
Dongfeng down: One of the few Chinese car companies that reported lower January numbers: Dongfeng, China’s third-largest automaker. Their vehicle sales in January fell 19.46 percent from a year earlier. Dongfeng operates car manufacturing ventures with PSA Peugeot-Citroen and Honda Motor. It also makes cars and commercial vehicles with Nissan Motor.
Driving in China hazardous: China recorded 5.1 road accident deaths for every 10k motor vehicles in 2007, the highest rate in the world, Gasgoo writes. They aren’t kidding.
Capital traffic jam: Beijing has introduced regulations that take a fifth of private cars off the road according to license plate numbers each day. Despite, or because of that, Beijing’s new car registrations are booming. China’s capital has added nearly 1,500 new cars to its roads each day so far this year, Gasgoo says. Beijing registered 65,970 new vehicles in the first 45 days of the year.
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