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Brazil Is Now Fiat’s Largest Market
Jan27

Brazil Is Now Fiat’s Largest Market

By Brendan Moore
 
01.27.2010
 
Fiat Group logo smallFiat has been making motor vehicles for 111 years, and in each one of those years, Italy has been Fiat’s largest market, but not any more.

The Italian automaker sold almost 750,000 vehicles in Brazil last year, a 12.6% gain from 2008’s numbers. Fiat’s sales in Italy grew only .5% to 722,000 units.

Fiat is the No. 1 auto manufacturer in Brazil, as it has been for the last eight years in a row, with VW and GM snapping at its heels in the No. 2 and No. 3 spots respectively.

Fenabrave, the national dealership association of Brazil, says that Brazil’s car and light commercial vehicle sales jumped 12.7% to a record of more than 3 million combined in 2009. Showing roughly equal increases by category, passenger-car sales in the country increased 12.6% to 2.52 million units as light commercial vehicle sales climbed 12.3% to 489,900 units.

Brazilian auto sales in 2009 were spurred by ever-increasing demand from Brazil’s rapidly-growing middle class, a good national economy compared to other parts of the world, and, importantly, federal tax cuts on the sale of new vehicles.

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Spyker Buys Saab
Jan26

Spyker Buys Saab

Tortured sale process finally over for Saab, Spyker and GM

By Brendan Moore

01.26.2010

Saab emblem blue backgroundSpyker Cars NV, the tiny Dutch supercar manufacturer, and the last potential buyer for Saab, has finally struck a deal with General Motors to buy Saab.

Rumors of a sale were rife Sunday night, with many different sources stating that the deal would be announced yesterday, but that didn’t happen. Later in the day yesterday, Ed Whitacre, new CEO of GM, said at a GM press conference that, “GM does not have a deal” and “has not changed direction” on shutting down its Swedish unit. 

He said yesterday that GM was still moving forward with the orderly shutdown of Saab. This, despite the fact that sources in Sweden were still reporting that a deal was imminent.

It is thought that the deal is structured as reported yesterday, but with a lower transaction amount, with Spyker paying GM a total of almost $400 million USD. The purchase price roughly breaks out as follows: $326 million in preferred shares in the next corporate iteration of Saab and $74 million in cash.

The European Investment Bank will provide a 400 million euro loan ($566 million), intended to secure the purchase and provide some operating capital, guaranteed by the Swedish government.

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Whitacre Picks Whitacre to Run GM
Jan26

Whitacre Picks Whitacre to Run GM

By Brendan Moore

01.26.2010

Ed Whitacre, Jr. - GM Media RelationsYes, Ed Whitacre pulled a Dick Cheney yesterday.

You will recall that when G.W. Bush asked Dick Cheney to find a vice-president for his administration, Cheney looked around and decided that Dick Cheney was the best choice.

Whitacre says that the General Motors board offered him the position, and, shucks, he was hardly ever thinking about being CEO to begin with, but that’s what the board wanted. So, he pretty much had to take the job.

Well, maybe.

Regardless of how it happened, it happened, and now Whitacre is leading GM as both chairman and CEO. He said in his press conference yesterday that he intends to keep both titles as long as he is at GM.

Apparently the board is unconcerned about the accountability issues from a corporate governance perspective that might rear their heads with Whitacre owning both titles. Many auto industry analysts feel that the board was keen to minimize any further disruptions to the GM management team, and thus Whitacre became the easy choice since he was already in the position as interim CEO.

Whitacre opined yesterday during the press conference that, “This place needs some stability. I guess that’s me.”

Whitacre is GM’s third CEO in only ten months.

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GM Sells Saab to Spyker, Sources Report
Jan25

GM Sells Saab to Spyker, Sources Report

By Brendan Moore

01.25.2010

Saab emblem blue background

UPDATE – 12:30 PM ET, Jan 25: GM Chairman and CEO Ed Whitacre stated during a press conference a short time ago that, “GM does not have a deal” and “has not changed direction” on shutting down its Swedish unit”.  He said the GM is still moving forward with the orderly shutdown of Saab.

Sources in Sweden are still reporting that a deal is imminent.

Original post follows:

Several sources are now reporting that a deal to sell Saab to the Dutch supercar maker Spyker Cars NV has been reached, and will be announced later today.

United Press International, Reuters, Sweden’s Dagens Industri and the Financial Times are all reporting that Spyker will hold a press conference today to make public the agreement, which take effect as soon as possible in order to minimize any business disruptions. It is expected that GM will either participate in the same press conference, or, issue their own public statement.

Bloomberg News is reporting that Spyker has offered GM approximately $500 million USD for Saab. The $500 million breaks out as follows: $325 million in preferred shares in the next corporate iteration of Saab, $75 million in cash and $100 million of Saab’s existing liquid assets.

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Toyota Recalls another 2.3 Million Vehicles
Jan22

Toyota Recalls another 2.3 Million Vehicles

By Brendan Moore

01.22.2010

Toyota logo-smallThe bad news concerning recalls keeps coming over at Toyota, with the company announcing yesterday that they intend to issue a recall for 2.3 million vehicles over possible sticking accelerators.

The action signals the second large recall of Toyota Motor Corp. vehicles in the last four months, following a recall of 4.2 million Toyota and Lexus vehicles for a faulty floormat issue, which potentially could jam a vehicle’s accelerator.

Toyota spokesman John Hanson said the previous recall has to do with pedal entrapment (by the floormat) and the current recall involves a faulty pedal design by a supplier.

Yesterday’s news accomplishes exactly what Toyota doesn’t want to occur; that is, forcing consumers to once again consider Toyota’s unintended acceleration problems. Toyota’s American customers are famously loyal to the company, but a steady drumbeat of recalls over serious safety issues will erode the strength of any brand, given enough time.

Toyota is certainly not in that situation yet. In 2009, Toyota recalled more vehicles (for various problems) than any other manufacturer in North America, yet, showed healthy gains in market share, and finished the year with a flourish, notching a unit sales gain of over 30% for the month of December.

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