EU Carmakers Rattle Sabers, Want Money, Accept Hyundai

Bertel Schmitt
by Bertel Schmitt
eu carmakers rattle sabers want money accept hyundai

The heads of the European automobile industry are assembling in London for their annual European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association meeting. While they were there, they dropped in with UK’s Prime Minister David Cameron to talk a little politics. Norbert Reithofer of BMW, Sergio Marchionne of Fiat, Carlos Ghosn of Renault, Nick Reilly of GM Europe and their leader Dieter Zetsche, president of the association and chief of Daimler, asked for assistance with fair free trade with major economies such as India and Japan, government support for the swift introduction of breakthrough technologies and less bureaucracy through lean regulations. All noble goals. But the BBC found a fly in the ointment:

“The European motor industry has called for non-European governments to scale back assistance for their own automotive industries.

But at the same time, they say they want more government support at home.”

Government support for the swift introduction of breakthrough technologies” is a thinly veiled plea for government money to fund (allegedly) research into EVs. Zetsche told Cameron that Europe’s automakers invest over €30 billion into R&D each year. (His ACEA say it’s “over €26 billion, but who wants to quibble about a little change.) And what about a little government help?

“Fair free trade with major economies such as India and Japan,” is likewise easily breakable code. “The Indian market was effectively closed to European car makers due to high tariffs and excise duties,” the association’s Secretary General Ivan Hodac told the Wall Street Journal. The same day, BMW announced a GBP500 million ($812 million) investment into its Mini plant in Oxford. So it was a good time to ask for some reciprocity.

Complaining about trade barriers in Japan (where the custom duty on cars is zero) was a little mistimed, considering that the day before, Ghosn’s Nissan said it would invest GBP192 million in the U.K. to design, engineer and build the next version of the Qashqai.

China wasn’t mentioned. China charges 25 percent duty, but business with China doesn’t give European automakers reason to complain.

At the meeting, the General Assembly of the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association did at least on good deed: They accepted Hyundai as a card-carrying member. To qualify for association membership, one must have production in Europe. Hyundai has plants in Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Hyundai tried for years to get accepted to the exclusive club, but were repeatedly rebuffed. Now finally, the association welcomed “Hyundai in our midst and are convinced the company will make a valuable contribution to the work of our association”, said Ivan Hodac.

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7 of 11 comments
  • Tstag Tstag on Jun 11, 2011

    Bertel in general European car makers don't get much state aid do they? In France they certainly get lot's of help, but that's more the exception than the rule. During the financial crisis how much help did the UK government give the British car producers? JLR pleaded for cash and were rebuffed several times. In contrast GM, Chrysler and car makers all over the world got massive tax payer support/ bailouts. Really if we want to show our anger at bailouts we should all buy a Range Rover :-)

    • See 1 previous
    • Obruni Obruni on Jun 12, 2011

      several european countries had very generous "cash for clunkers" programs....even countries without manufacturing plants had them. the UK organized a massive bailout of the car industry in the 1970s, and it was painful for everybody.

  • Siuol11.2 Siuol11.2 on Jun 11, 2011

    How exactly are free trade agreements a noble goal?

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    • Eldard Eldard on Jun 11, 2011

      @eldard There's only so much taxes you can collect from your citizens. It's oppression, I say!

  • Sgeffe Why on Earth can’t you just get the torque specs and do it yourself if you’re so-inclined?!
  • Sgeffe As was stated in another comment, the FAA nominee went down in flames. But the NTSB chairwoman certainly didn’t, and she’s certainly not qualified either!Lots of this kind of stuff going on both sides of the aisle—Ben Carson would have arguably made a better Surgeon General than HUD Secretary under Trump, for example.
  • Art Vandelay Interesting, the Polestar 2 I had as a rental utilized Android Automotive which is what GM said it is going to exclusively, yet it still offers Apple CarPlay according to this. Wonder if GM will do the same.
  • Stuart de Baker EVs just aren't ready for prime time for those with a single car and who take road trips. Being able to charge as soon as you arrive at a charging station, and even the chargers working on your car is a crapshoot. In the former case, you could have to wait for nearly an hour while someone else is charging.I also don't find EVs particularly fun to drive (I've driven a Tesla Model S and an Ionic 5.) I LOVE driving my '08 Civic (stick). I love the handling, the feel and responsiveness of the engine, the precise steering (the Michelin Pilot Ultra Sport tires help, but even with the snows on, the car is a joy). I have 152k on the clock, and hopefully another 25 years or so of driving (I was born early in the Eisenhower Administration and I have exceptionally healthy habits), and I'm going to try to keep the Civic for the duration.My Civic causes a less global warming emissions than some of these humongous battery operated trucks.
  • FreedMike They should throw in a Lordstown pickup with every purchase. Make it the “vapor twofer.”