By on October 7, 2014

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I don’t normally post about vehicles themselves, but I am endlessly fascinated by the industry, and constantly surprised to learn of new niches. On the finance side, I’m amazed at the variety of vendors that show up at conferences such as those sponsored by Auto Finance News. One of these years I’ll make it to SEMA (the Speciality Equipment Market Association), which by reputation has both the credible and the incredible. But back to my topic: once in a while I do find products – or rather niches, I’m not a “car guy” – that intrigue.

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By on October 3, 2014

FEDERAL-MOGUL CORPORATION LOGO

ZF Friedrichshafen is buying TRW; JCI sold its automotive business to Gentex and Visteon. Are we in a new era of supplier M&A activity? The previous wave didn’t work out well – Dana, Tower, Dura, Lear and others ended up in Chapter 11.

So how about Federal-Mogul? They too went on an acquisition binge in the late 1990s, including the British firm T&N. In the process they took on debt, with a $2.75 billion package just for the T&N purchase. As with others, they bit off more than they could chew. Federal-Mogul’s downfall however wasn’t operational issues but one T&N factory that had used asbestos. The accompanying $1 billion-plus in costs tipped them into Chapter 11, and it took until 2007 – 6 years – for them to emerge. So where are they heading?

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By on August 28, 2014

Chevrolet_trio_2011_WTCC_Race_of_Japan_(Race_2)

Well, clearly racing does make money for someone, at least enough to be a mini-industry. Does it though make sense for the Fords and Hondas of the world? Two students staked out roughly opposite positions on racing’s value as a technology driver; I’ll leave my thoughts to the end.

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By on August 21, 2014

Autos3I’m an economist, and do more than think about the industrial organization (IO: “structure, strategy, conduct and performance”) of the auto industry. Here I present overall employment data and then focus on the automotive component. For a recent item on inflation and interest rates see here at my blogspot blog, Autos and Economics.
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By on August 12, 2014

1965_Rambler_Classic_660_Cross_Country

Discussions of GM’s “small” pickup touch on several deep issues. One is the nature of competition in the industry at the OEM level: to what extent is it an oligopoly, in the sense that each firm takes explicit account of the anticipated behavior of rivals in their product planning? The other is as murky, what is the cost structure of the industry? Neither is readily observed, even by executives at the Toyotas and GMs of the world.

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By on July 22, 2014

81EbHc-EfRL._SL1500_

TTAC’s had periodic posts about car theft, from a recent news item on a student project disappearing in the night (here) to hacking into a car (here and here). A recent book however provides a, well, book-length treatment.

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