Ford Sells Volvo To China

August 2, 2010

After months of protracted negotiations, Ford has officially sold Volvo to Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Company Limited – aka Geely – for $1.8 billion.

The Chinese automaker originally included a $200 million note and the balance in cash, and today, it paid the remaining $1.3 billion to wrap up the sale, although the final sale price won’t be released until later this year and could put more cash in the pockets of FoMoCo.

Under the terms of the sale, Ford will continue to supply Volvo with everything from power-trains to stamping systems and other vehicle components for differing periods of time. Additionally, Ford and Geely have come to an agreement on intellectual property usage, with Volvo allowed to grant sub-licenses to specific systems to third parties, including Geely.

Stefan Jacoby – formerly of Volkswagen – will take the helm as the new President and Chief Executive of Volvo Cars, and under the new ownership, the automaker will continue to keep it headquarters and manufacturing centers in Sweden and Belgium.

I wonder what the Swedes think?

Toyota: Doing Well Despite The Congressional Inqusition

February 25, 2010

Despite this Congressional kabuki theater, Consumer Reports ranked Toyota as the third best car manufacturer. Not a single American manufacturer cracked the top 10 of overall best manufacturers including Government Motors.

Congressional hearing, short form.

The New York Post reported:

Honda and Subaru were ranked the best overall car manufacturers in the new Consumer Reports auto survey released yesterday — but recall-battered Toyota did surprising well, too, coming in a close third.

Honda and Subaru tied for first place with a total score of 77 based on reliability, performance, comfort and utility — while Toyota was next with a score of 74, the report said…

Toyota : Car Maker’s Fixes May Not Solve Issue

February 24, 2010

WSJ: Toyota Motor Corp.’s top U.S. executive told Congress on Tuesday that the company’s recent safety recalls may not totally solve sudden unintended acceleration in its cars, as the transportation secretary said he would expand a federal probe to other auto makers.

The speculation is there is something still wrong in the computer controls, exposing another potential quality defect.

Gangster Government: “Nice car company ya got there”

February 4, 2010

Be a shame if anything happened to it.

What is it about the automotive industry that inspires such thuggish attitudes in the Obama administration? The Examiner’s Michael Barone coined the term “gangster government” to describe threats by the White House last spring against Chrysler creditors who had the temerity to insist that bankruptcy laws be followed in the bailout of the perennially ailing third member of the once-fabled Detroit Big Three. Now along comes Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood muttering darkly that “we’re not finished with Toyota” in the controversy over sticking gas pedals in vehicles made and sold in America by the Japanese automaker.


Top 10 Best-Selling Cars: September 2009

October 3, 2009

On to our best-sellers. The list is nearly the same as last month with lower overall sales and mostly the same players.

Top 10 Best-Sellers

  • Ford F -Series: 33,877
  • Toyota Camry: 25,745
  • Honda Accord: 20,826
  • Toyota Corolla; 20,741
  • Chevy Silverado: 19,401
  • Honda Civic: 16,093
  • Honda CR-V: 14,554
  • Dodge Ram: 13,452
  • Chevy Impala: 13,047
  • Nissan Altima: 12,149


2009 model year overall sales:

Auto sales tumbled 41 percent from August’s buoyant levels, to 745,997 cars and light trucks. Compared with last September, they were down 22.7 percent. On a seasonally adjusted, annual basis, the selling pace fell to 9.22 million vehicles last month, from 12.57 million a year earlier.

However, stripping out the effects of the “cash for clunkers program,” which pulled ahead some sales and depleted inventories, auto executives said underlying demand appeared to be increasing gradually, in line with the fragile economic recovery.

“We feel the economy (and) the ‘cash for clunkers’ stimulus is moving the industry in the right direction,” said Michael DiGiovanni, General Motors Co.’s director of global market analysis.

“We’re cautiously optimistic about the fourth quarter,” he added. “Clearly, the economy’s gaining momentum.”

But GM and Chrysler Group LLC, which have both been through bankruptcy this year, registered the steepest declines in the market last month. Chrysler’s sales fell 42.1 percent, while GM’s dropped 45 percent, from very high levels a year earlier.

Helped by rising demand for its passenger cars, including the new Taurus, Ford limited its sales decline to just 5.1 percent.

That was less than the declines registered by Japan’s leading automakers. Toyota Motor Corp.’s U.S. sales were down 12.6 percent, Honda Motor Co.’s were 20.1 percent lower and Nissan Motor Co.’s sales fell 7 percent.

Auto Sales and Cash For Clunkers

October 2, 2009

The government’s Cash For Clunkers party mess cleanup is getting uglier by the minute. From Citigroup:

September Auto Sales Currently Running at an 8.9 Million Unit SAAR (64.8% reporting)

With 64.8% of the industry now reporting, we are seeing a sales rate for September of 8.9 million units SAAR. This lower pace appears to be heavily influenced by the pay back from the cash-for-clunkers program as luxury brands do not appear to be having the same large drop as more utilitarian vehicle makers.

And this is what disastrous government policy looks like when charted — annual auto sales rate (SAAR):

September SAAR

The net appears to be it cannibalized future sales, just like most people in the know said it would. The transient nature of government intervention in markets becomes obvious. I wonder what GM will look like in a few years.

From Petroleum Shortage To Lithium Shortage

September 27, 2009

I wonder why they call Lithium a ‘rare earth element(REE)’?

Most of these miracle electric cars, which aren’t miracles at all once you read the fine print, or drive one — Use a rare earth metal “Lithium” for their batteries and other rare earth metals for their drive motors. Among the rare earths that would be most affected in a shortage is neodymium, the key component of an alloy used to make the high-power, lightweight magnets for electric motors of hybrid cars, such as the Prius, Honda Insight and Ford Focus, as well as in generators for wind turbines.

Dysprosium and terbium are also used to make very powerful but lightweight magnets; terbium is also used to make computer monitors. Ceramics and stainless steels are among the other ‘common materials’ that make use of REEs. Not just for motors and generators, REES are used in everything: glass polishing, ceramics, automotive catalytic converters, computer monitors, lighting, televisions and pharmaceuticals, to name a few products making use of REEs.

Most of the batteries for electric car use are either nickel-metal hydride, or lithium-ion batteries. Did you note the part about the windmill turbines? So it’s just not cars, it’s the windmill scam as well. The REE neodymium is used to make the rare earth magnets in motors and generators.

And all this to avoid the sticky issue of why not just build some nuclear power plants.

Wean vehicles off of one resource — petroleum — and get them hooked on other much more scarce resources, lithium and neodymium. That’s what some critics have raised about switching over to electric cars that use lithium-ion batteries, since the U.S. imports most of its lithium from Chile and Argentina, while Bolivia has enough deposits to become a major lithium provider. But amid all the hubbub about the looming lithium squeeze, another resource trend is taking shape that has the potential to drive some big changes in advanced battery and vehicle technology: a group of metals known as rare earth elements, or REE.

According to Lux Research analyst Jacob Grose, “Rare earths are used very much in nickel metal hydride batteries,” like the Toyota Prius and Honda Insight. “Even though…hybrids use only a fraction of the worldwide output of these metals, if there is a shortage and prices rise, it will definitely lead to cost increases in today’s hybrids.”

Currently China controls about 90+% of the world’s REE markets, and one of the techniques that China uses is to prevent the shipments of the materials, but allow the shipments of the finished goods. To avoid the bans, motor and generator manufacturers move their operations to China, and their jobs.

But isn’t that Obama’s goal, drive up costs so much that everyone has to walk or ride bicycles? In the George Orwell movie “1984” people had bicycle powered electric generators in their apartments, so they could lite up one light bulb to see, if they could get someone to pedal the stationary bicycle.

Did you know that pound for pound, batteries are about 1/20 the energy of a gallon of gasoline? And did you know that the world has sufficient uranium for 100’s of years of use?

The Things Diesels Do

September 3, 2009

Get very good mileage, something you don’t see in America because of congressional laws against ‘the dirty diesel engines. But not so fast, diesels aren’t ‘dirty’ anymore. In fact they can be very fuel efficient.

Volkswagen’s electric-free diesel offerings are putting hybrids to shame — New Volkswagen Polo, Golf, Passat Diesels to get 71.3, 61.9, 53.4 MPG respectively.

This week at a Automotive Press Association luncheon in Detroit, Jim O’Donnell, chairman and CEO of BMW’s U.S. operations reaffirmed his company’s strong commitment to pushing diesel in the U.S. as an alternative or supplement to hybrid vehicles. BMW is jumping into electrics as well with the electric MINI E and its new X6 and 7 ActiveHybrids. However, he says that diesel’s impressive performance is driving sales of the 335ds and X5s. He also hinted that a 5-Series diesel may be coming next year as well.

Among the ways Volkswagen has fine-tuned its diesel performance to sip fuel is its recalibration of these engines and reductions to their idle speed. To further reduce idle losses, it’s vehicles include an automatic start-stop system, low rolling resistance tires and reduced aerodynamic drag thanks to lower front air dams and rocker panel extensions.

More here:

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