By on February 18, 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.

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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8 Comments on “While America Slept. Wednesday, February 18th, 2009...”


  • avatar
    ex-gm

    Did you see the reply from the Swedish government re. Saab?

    They called a press conference this morning and said not only “fuggedaboutit” with emphasis. They also expressed how unimpressed they were with GM’s handling of the whole thing. How about this:

    “Sweden slams GM for plans to drop Saab”
    http://www.businessweek.com/ap/financialnews/D96E122G0.htm

    Some quotes by Enterprise and Energy Minister Maud Olofsson:

    “I’m deeply disappointed in General Motors,” Industry Minister Maud Olofsson said. “They have in practice removed their hand from Saab. …… Instead they are handing over responsibility to Swedish taxpayers.”

    “voters picked me because they wanted nursery schools, police and nurses, and not to buy loss-making car factories”

    “I am really disappointed in GM,” Olofsson said. “This is a big multinational corporation that two years ago knew that they faced an economic crisis but didn’t do anything.”

    “We are closing the door from the Swedish government side when it comes to taking over car factories.

    “In this situation, to promise to take over a car company which not even the world’s largest auto firm is prepared to invest in, is incredibly risky.”

    “GM says they will spin off (Saab) by January 2010 and in the meantime they will need about 8 to 10 billion Swedish crowns, and they think we should contribute with 5 billion.

    “If GM does not expect to be able to make this business profitable, what reason is there for us to say it can be made profitable?”

    Could it be more clear that the Swedish government is NOT footing the bill here, regardless of what Wagoner included in his fantasy proposal yesterday.

    (Sorry for cross posting. Already put this comment under another article, but maybe it fits better here…)

  • avatar
    Edward Niedermeyer

    No more Mitsu Raider? Oh Noes! I may never see one in person!

    And big ups to Sweden. If you’re gonna do socialism, do it right. “Voters picked me because they wanted nursery schools, police and nurses, and not to buy loss-making car factories.” Hell yes.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    Edward Niedermeyer:

    That is the automotive quote of the day.

    GM getting rebuffed by the Socialist Northern European Country will hopefully bring some sanity back to other governments considering GM bailouts.

  • avatar
    saabista63

    In fact, GM are leaving Saab in an extremely precarious situation.

    New models that are likely to improve the brand’s market performance are in the pipe, but GM are not willing to provide the resources needed to really launch the cars.
    The Swedish government is willing to help, but doesn’t want to take responsibility for Saab as a company.
    The Saab management has – so they say – worked out a business plan to make Saab profitable again. However, without funding it will be impossible to prove the plan’s viability.
    And without a proof Saab can be profitable, no other business will pay a single Öre to buy Saab, not now.

    In the end, someone will have to pick up some money.
    Who’ll be first?

  • avatar
    ex-gm

    Agree with saabista63. Very difficult position for Saab. Bills to pay, no money in the coffer and noone willing to help – even though there are some reasonably promising projects in pipeline (Well, sort of).

    Some type of Swedish equivalent to a Chapter 11 is likely (rekonstruktion).

    And Niedermeyer / no_slushbox – although Sweden is still pretty much socialist from a US perspective it is actually much less socialist than it used to be.

    The current centre-right government have their centre-right moments. This is one.

  • avatar
    Ingvar

    Truth be told, Maud Olofsson is the Secretary of Industry in the conservative/liberal four-party government. And obviously a believer in a true free market economy. If the largest automobile company in the world can’t do it, why should we? And so on… The point is, had the social democrats governed Sweden right now, the bailout money would have been flowing to GMs pockets as we speak.

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    If the Swedish people ever decide that Maud Olofsson is too conservative we have this woman named Pelosi that we will happily trade for her.

  • avatar
    bill h.

    no_slushbox:

    won’t work–Pelosi sounds too much like a Finnish name.

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