By on February 25, 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.

Paris backpedals after slap from Brussels: France struck a clause from its €6b bailout package. Recipients were prohibited from closing a plant in France and moving it elsewhere in Europe. Automobilwoche [sub] reports that the clause ran afoul of EU rules. Despite the cleaned-up clause, the French government claims there’s a “moral obligation” for the French to stay in France. Brussels will perform a thorough vetting of the French moral imperative.

Russian bailout: Reuters reports that Russia’s car sales have slumped by one-third. In an effort to save its nascent car industry, Russia will subsidize car loans for consumers buying any one of 30 foreign and domestic models. The car-loan subsidies, worth $55.45m, will compensate banks for charging lower rates on car loans. “The decision to help seven foreign brands along with two Russian ones is a surprise coming from a government that introduced sweeping measures in January to protect local car makers from foreign competition,” says a shocked Reuters. The Ruskies have earmarked another $347m to buy up unsold parts and commercial vehicles from local producers such as AvtoVAZ, as well as Fiat, Isuzu, and SsangYong. [For a full list of parts and vehicles eligible for the two aid programs, click on www.minprom.gov.ru] Russia began a 30 percent import duty on second-hand cars on January 1 to prop up the struggling domestic car industry. The move stirred concerns about protectionism from Russia’s trading partners, and led to large-scale protests in major Russian cities that rely on the second-hand car industry.

Anyone want a hefty share of Chrysler? Anyone? Daimler is open to any third party interested in its 19.9 percent Chrysler stake. Reuters reports the Germans are unlikely to buy back its shares in the medium term. “If an interesting offer were made to us, then we would not wait for our remaining stake to become valuable again. There is no right of first refusal for Cerberus,” Bodo Uebber told the German Boersen-Zeitung. A spokesman for Daimler said the company was currently negotiating only with the U.S. buyout firm CBS.UL and… “no one else.”

German grassroots effort to “Rescue Saab“: The German Saab Dealer Mobilforum in Dresden started a Rescue Saab initiative. Within three days of its existence, the site had 7500 registrations, mainly from Sweden, Germany and the US. As we went to net, 360 Swedish Saab-employees, 513 enthusiast clubs, 208 Saab dealers and more than 4.000 Saab-owners are members. Membership fees range from €50 to €500. If “Rescue Saab” makes a bid for the company, the memberships will be converted to shares. Rescue Saab now is courting celebrity Saab owners such as Bill Gates, Stephen King and the German TV bad boy Stefan Raab.

We’re outta here: Mitsubishi Motors and Nissan are stepping up efforts to transfer domestic manufacturing operations abroad ito bolster cost competitiveness. “By relocating production overseas, the automakers hope to take advantage of lower tariffs and counter the impact of a stronger yen,” the Nikkei [sub] says. Mitsubishi Motors plans to move some car assembly work from Japan to MMC Automotores do Brasil Ltda. in Sao Paulo in fiscal 2009.

Meanwhile, Nissan plans to move domestic production of 130k vehicles (10 percent of output) and 120k engines and transmissions overseas by the end of fiscal 2010. In the meantime, the Yen hast lost some of its unwelcome strength and traded at 97 Yen to the Dollar at the time of this typing. If it maintains the trend, the books of Japanese automakers won’t look as bad as feared when the 2008 fiscal ends on March 31.

Death more affordable: Japanese Mitsuoka Motor Co. “aims to liven up its sales with a compact hearse that is easier to drive and about 40 percent less expensive than its existing models,” the Nikkei [sub] says. The roughly 5.2-meter-long hearse is based on Toyota Corolla sedan. “Despite its size, it can accommodate even large caskets.” Despite the aging of the Japanese population, hearses are not volume sellers: “Mitsuoka expects to sell 20 or so of the custom-built funeral coaches this year and aims to capture 20 percent of the domestic market,” reports the Nikkei. Morosity is befalling the Land of the Rising Sun.

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5 Comments on “While America Slept. Wednesday, February 25th, 2009...”


  • avatar
    Stein X Leikanger

    Got a press release from Toyota in the mail.

    No wonder they had a shake-up at the top, if their January numbers are this bad, then help us all. (Keeping Daihatsu and Hino out of it).

    Worldwide production -42.6% in January. Exports from Japan of passenger cars, -58.2%.
    Sales in Japan, passenger cars, -23.8%
    And production in Japan tanking at -40,3%

    And to provide a bitter coating – Lexus sales in Japan down by 57.7%, though Lexus doesn’t move that many units (1,270 in January).

    It’s not a recession, anymore.

  • avatar

    See my second article ….

  • avatar
    Stein X Leikanger

    Ah, all wasabi, no fish or rice, in that Sushi.

  • avatar
    joeaverage

    So if auto sales continue to crash is there any reason to expect anything but additional woes in the economy? Trickle down disaster? Or – could it mean that people’s priorities will make a big shift away from purchasing cars to other things as the year progresses?

    Just trying to see the train wreck before it gets us all. The Great Depression had the starting point of the stock market crash. Wondering if we’ve heard the starting gun or if the trigger has yet to be pulled?

    Lastly – anybody looking at the tires on parked cars lately? A friend claims alot of the local TN “cowboys” are having trouble maintaining their trucks – fuel, repairs, and tires. They are letting tire replacement slide… My uncle sells tires for commerical vehicles and he reports customers are delaying tires purchases as long as possible – even parking park of their fleets and robbing the tires off of ’em.

    FWIW I saw a Kia the other day whose tires were so bald that there was just the faintest hint of tread long gone. The tires were like racing slicks with a random discoloration here and there to indicate tread was once there. Talk about getting the most out of a set of tires… They were so bald I worried that it might slide out of it’s parking spot and into my car if it rained… And that was on flat ground… VBG!

  • avatar
    no_slushbox

    Well, the hearse may be a Corolla, but at least it has ’90s Cadillac DeVille taillights.

    Still, I would hope to be upgraded to the M35.

    http://www.mitsuoka-tokuhan.com/lineup/hearse.html

    http://www.mitsuoka-tokuhan.com/lineup/type204/index.html

    For all of those that think Japan isn’t open they will also do Detroit style final destinations:

    http://www.mitsuoka-tokuhan.com/lineup/limousine.html

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