Thursday, November 27, 2008

Hyundai diesel is coming

This is big news, and I am plenty excited.

For too long, Volkswagen has been allowed to play, virtually alone in the North American market, as pretty much the only diesel offering in a car under $25,000. With this near monopoly, they have been able to settle into a smug complacency as the only game in town. If you asked the average TDI owner (say, a member of the TDIClub), the majority would probably say they'd never own a gas VW, and only have a VW because they are diesel people.

One less opinion out there

The purpose of a blog is many-fold, not the least of which to capture, in real time, thoughts and reflections on the topic at hand.

In the auto industry, there's been no shortage of stuff upon which to reflect these days. And there's been no shortage of opinions out there.

Of course, I've got plenty as well. But, I shall refrain. I've kept draft entries here for my own sense of documentation - at some point I may or may not bother to post them. Perhaps what might be interesting is to see how things ultimately shake down and then post them - unedited - with the benefit of "after the fact hindsight", just for kicks.

Before I sign off for this entry, I must at least register where I stand on the bailout question - if you've been reading this blog at all, I'm sure you will have already guessed but, for the record, I am absolutely opposed to a bailout of the "Big 3". I share this position with J.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Hey Toyota, I hate to say "I told you so..."

Today, a headline screamed -  Toyota reports a 28-percent plunge in profit.

It reminds me of an entry I made to this blog back in February  - Toyota production down - no kidding.

There are far more numbers-oriented analyses available out there that may explain this story with much more detail. But one thing in the recent article that jumps out at me is the following statement: "Koji Endo, auto analyst at Credit Suisse in Tokyo, said the troubles at Toyota in maintaining profits and vehicle sales were worse than it looked on the surface because of what he characterized as some bookkeeping stunts that were boosting the numbers." Inordinate focusing on sales at the cost of integrity or just plain good-faith business practices is a harbinger of woe - if they cut corners on the reporting or the books, might they also cut corners on quality, fit and finish, value...?

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Some Love for the beleaguered motor car

Being mobile is a part of being human. Sure, we don't fly like birds or swim like fish, but we've managed to emulate and adapt beyond our physical limitations more than any other creature in the known universe - we get around.

Mobility is, however, about more than just getting around. It's also about independence, it's about freedom, it's about quality of life, and it's about privacy. What do I mean by that?

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Oil on the brain, and pretty much everywhere else

I am all for efficient vehicles that use less or, better yet, no petroleum whatsoever. However, I'd like to remind all those self-righteous people who do not drive that they are still a part of the problem, even if they think the price of gas is neither their fault nor their problem.

Here's a partial list of items that are made from oil. If you buy any of these items, you are a part of the demand for oil...

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Omelet opportunity for the Big 3

I just read Gas guzzlers a hit in China, where car sales are booming.

Why? Two primary reasons.

1. There are more billionaires in Hong Kong than any other city in the world. They've got lots of money. But forget about the billionaires - generally speaking, there's just so much demand in that area of the planet, period.

2. Environmental policy is relatively lax compared with Europe or even North America.

I would hate to see the Big 3 act irresponsibly and make a crash-grab out of the situation by continuing to build gas-guzzlers for the Asian market. BUT...the current inventory that's no longer selling here in North America should be wrapped up with ribbons and bows and shipped over there, and the revenue be invested in the future.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Why boycotting Gas Stations Won't Lower Prices

Believe me, I sympathize, but I've got to tell you - boycotting a gas station will not bring down the price of gas. Give me a few minutes to demonstrate why, as well as propose what we can do to lower gas prices (although it will not be a quick fix to remedy the current high price right now).

Why boycotting won't work
Picture an intersection that has two gas stations. We've all agreed to buy no gas for a set period of time (a particular day, weekend, week, month...doesn't matter). Company A owns x% market share, and it was being boycotted, people started buying their gas elsewhere, and the other companies would have to adjust their supply to meet all the new demand.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Flaherty's Flatulence

I can't stand it! Jim Flaherty says the Canadian Government has no intention of stepping in to do anything about the increased price of fuel. He says he has no position to do so because the price of gasoline is market driven. That is unbelievable! I don't know if its more unbelievable that he would have the nerve to say it, or that he believes it's that easy to pull the wool over the Canadian public's eyes! Is it that easy? Are we really that stupid?

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Canadian auto industry needs a major correction

The headlines scream, Queen's Park and Ottawa argue over who is more responsible to "support the auto industry" by reopening a Windsor Ford plant that has shut question is, why?

Yeah, yeah, I know that there is a trickle down to local economies surrounding auto manufacturing plants. If the assembly lines are humming, pay cheques are being sent out, and everything from rents and mortgages to pizza and the local bowling alley gets a piece. But, people work in retail, and other services. People work as small business owners. People work in trades. If a local mom'n'pop shop hits hard times, should the government gallop in to help them out? No, because they don't employ as many people, goes the logic. And "the auto industry" is in trouble. Really?

Monday, February 18, 2008

Toyota drops Canadian prices - but not enough?

Toyota Canada lowers prices on five models.

It has become well documented that it is significantly cheaper to buy a car in the United States than to buy a similar car in Canada. And Canadians will typically demand pricing north of the border to better match those found south of the border. After all, we have free trade, right? And the cars are not travelling any further to sell in Canada as they are to sell in America, right?

Whether it's prices on books, or food, or clothes, Canadians love to cross the border and shop till we drop, especially if we can get to a state like Pennsylvania where there is no sales tax.

Problem is, it's not quite possible to expect similar pricing in these two separate and distinct countries, once we think about it.

Toyota production down - no kidding.

Toyota Canada lowers prices on five models.

Let's talk about production, sales, volume - I don't like it (as a business model for a car manufacturer, that is).

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Hargrove does not speak for all Canadian auto workers

J, I totally agree with you that Mr. Hargrove is out of touch. Here's a recent article in The Toronto Star - Auto industry is death-bound: CAW

First of all, let's not confuse "unionized workers" with all auto workers in Canada. There are plenty of non-unionized auto manufacturing operations going on in Canada. For example, Honda of Canada Manufacturing has just brought online a new manufacturing facility in Alliston, ON alongside it's main plant, which has continued to win awards for quality in producing Honda's Odyssey, Ridgeline, and other trucks, as well as Honda's Civic, Canada's best selling car for nine straight years and counting.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Hargrove's Union

I do believe Hargrove has lost touch with reality when it comes to what is best for the Canadian people. I think somebody should start a rogue union to knock the CAW off its perch. The CAW is a big part of the reason the auto sector is in the position it's in. The manufacturers need to be more flexible, and with their high labour and benefit costs, it's impossible.

I feel like this is a classic case of "absolute power corrupts absolutely". Here is a man who feels he should be the one to advise the government in foreign policy and economics. How is he qualified to know what is best (not that Harper is qualified either, but that's another topic)? Sure the tax levy would be a short term fix, but what ramifications would it have down the road? Would Toyota and Honda invest in Canada in order to tap this country's massive marketplace? Probably not. Come on Buzz, there are cities in China with more population than our entire country.

GM Just Doesn't Get It

D here - I chuckled this morning at the contrast between the two following articles:

Man's '91 pickup passes the 1M-mile mark

GM Posts Biggest Annual US Auto Loss

Part of the reason I chuckled is that it reminded me of Married With Children episode 817, in which Al Bundy - that lovable loser - stands to win a brand new Dodge Viper if the company can be there to make a big PR story by witnessing him roll his old Dodge over the million mile mark.

As soon as I read about this Wisconsin fellow taking his Chevy Silverado over the mark, I remembered poor Al failing and not winning his new car. I was curious what GM would do with this real life dream situation (surely it's not often that someone keeps a vehicle in roadworthy condition long enough to do this...?) Yes, there was somewhat of a media countdown when the fellow had but 1,200 miles to go; media crews were buzzing as he closed in, and GM had PR people on hand when he finally did it...and then the last line in the article says that the vehicle "could" (not "woud"?) be headed back to the manufacturer, as there is "some interest" in it.