Automotive News Europe - March 2, 2009 - 1

Automotive News Europe e TRW makes the Ford Fiesta leaner March 2, 2009 · Vol. 14 · No. 5 3 30 Brazil’s revival gives Fiat, VW, others a boost 39 © Crain Communications GmbH. All rights reserved Conti’s Neumann tackles powertrain problems www.autonewseurope.com News New VW Polo leads battle for low CO2 The BlueMotion version of Volkswagen’s redesigned small Polo will lead the battle for the lowest CO2-emitting car on the market. With a new three-cylinder 1.2-liter commonrail twin-turbo diesel engine, a stop-start system and brake energy regeneration, the BlueMotion Polo will emit 87 grams of CO2 per kilometer. That is 1 gram less than the Smart ForTwo diesel, and 2 grams fewer than the redesigned Toyota Prius hybrid. The existing Polo BlueMotion emits 99g/km. Wim Oude Weernink Computer illustration: Schulte Tough times for the alliance Renault and Nissan reassess their relationship as the global sales slump hits hard Lawrence J. Speer Automotive News Europe PARIS Renault and Nissan executives say ramping up their global partnership offers them the best chance to survive the current crisis. From an operational perspective, however, the 10-year-old FrancoJapanese alliance is heading in the other direction. The partners have retreated from plans to boost cooperation, and executives now admit the two companies won’t be building cars together any time soon. Tough times for the alliance – long considered the best example of carmaker cooperation to emerge in decades – offer a warning to other automakers that see new partnerships and consolidation as the only way to survive the market downturn. first loss since the early days of the alliance. That means Renault will not get its traditional cash infusion from its Japanese partner, further crimping strategic plans. Although Ghosn has alNew objectives ready slashed billions of euros in costs over the Like leaders at many aupast decade, he instructtomakers, Renault-Nissan Ghosn wants to ed executives in Paris and CEO Carlos Ghosn has save €1.5 billion. Tokyo to find an additiontossed out medium-term volal ¤1.5 billion in savings ume and profitability objectives, saying during 2009. that Renault’s top aims are to drive The first big change was a withdrawdown inventory and protect its cash. al from joint manufacturing plants in Ghosn’s change in priorities came af- Tangiers, Morocco, and Chennai, India. ter Renault announced a 7 percent drop Ghosn initially described the plans as a in revenues for 2008, a tripling of debt key strategic objective. But that has takand more than ¤3 billion in cash burn. en a back seat to conserving cash. Similarly, Nissan has forecast its “We’ve frozen our participation in Chennai, because it’s too much cash out,” Renault Chief Operating Officer Patrick Pelata told Automotive News Europe. “We can come back whenever we want, and Nissan can come back to Tangiers whenever they’re ready.” To pursue Ghosn’s cost targets, managers are seeking joint investments in products and technology, while reducing costs through purchasing and administrative cooperation. “There are a dozen cross-company teams working on new approaches for powertrains, platforms, internal sourcing, purchasing, supply chain management, logistics, and so on,” said Pelata, who was Ghosn’s chief lieutenant in Japan from 1999. Analysts have called the ¤1.5 billion cost objective “wishful thinking.” 3 See Page 2 ANE publishes Russian sales data Automotive News Europe is expanding its data service to include the Russian market. Every month, ANE will publish monthly unit-sales results by group and brand for domestic and foreign automakers competing in Russia. The data from the Association of European Businesses in Russia will be available in the regular print issue and for download on ANE’s Web site at autonews.com/RussiaSales. In January, Russian car sales collapsed by 33 percent, compared with the same month in 2008. 3 See Tables, Page 31 In Geneva, new hopes and new fears Opel executives will arrive at the Geneva auto show filled with a mixture of apprehension and anticipation. The German automaking arm of General Motors Europe is looking for ways to break away from its ailing US parent. Independence from GM would make it easier for Opel to get badly needed help from the German and other European governments. Without a cash injection of more than €3 billion, the automaker is unlikely to survive until the summer. (See story, Page 4) Opel’s fight for survival definitely will be a hot topic at the show, which starts Tuesday, March 3. However, the automaker hopes that it will make headlines for another reason: The world debut of the Ampera plug-in hybrid (shown). The car, which is Opel’s version of the Chevrolet Volt, is crucial to the company’s long-term future. It is one of more than 30 world debuts at the show. Quote “Today is the beginning of a new chapter in Saab’s history.” Jan Ake Jonsson, Saab managing director (See the Automotive News Europe Guide to the Geneva auto show, Pages 15-18.) Even today, profits can be made VW, Daimler and, maybe, BMW will make money in 2009, according to analysts Bettina Mayer Automotive News Europe 3 See Page 4 Wow! A profit Analysts believe VW, Daimler and, possibly, BMW will be in the black in 2009 VW group Daimler BMW group €2.3bn-€3.2bn €60mn €1.5bn Industry in crisis For the latest news on the uncertainty facing the automotive industry, log on to autonewseurope.com Also, coming this month: March 12 Volkswagen publishes 2008 financial results Register for ANE’s daily newsletter and news alerts autonews.com/anenewsletter Despite the economic crisis, Volkswagen group, Daimler, and possibly BMW, will post profits in 2009, analysts say. The results for all three will not be as good as in the past, but with sales slumping around the world, finishing this year in the black is expected to be a huge accomplishment. Goldman Sachs forecasts that VW’s operating profit in 2009 will be ¤2.3 billion, down from a forecast ¤6.1 billion in 2008. UniCredit says the German carmaker’s profit will fall by half to ¤3.2 billion for 2009 from Sources: Goldman Sachs, UniCredit, Credit Swiss ¤6.2 billion in the years 2008 and 2007. UniCredit equity analyst Christian Aust said VW is able to weather the global economic crisis partly because of efficiency improvements at its German factories. “VW group attained some structural improvements compared with the last cyclical downturn,” Aust said. Credit Suisse analyst Arndt Ellinghorst said VW’s record new-car sales in the past two years have helped the German carmaker to better handle the auto market’s collapse. “If VW had not had record car sales in 2007 and 2008, its profit would come down far more,” he said. In 2008, VW group sold 6.23 million cars, up from 6.20 million the year before. VW brand, Audi and Skoda set sales records. Meanwhile, Spanish unit Seat’s sales declined 14.6 percent. VW will report its 2008 financial results on March 12. Goldman Sachs said Daimler’s 2009 profit will fall to ¤60 million in 2009 from ¤2.7 billion in 2008. Credit Suisse predicts a slight increase of BMW’s profits to ¤1.5 billion for this year from a forecasted ¤1.46 billion in 2008 and ¤4.2 billion in 2007. Said Ellinghorst: “BMW will not be in the red because it was the first carmaker to react to the downturn by ANE slowing its production.” 16 European plants could be closed In response to fast-falling sales, European automakers started cutting production in the fourth quarter of last year. General Motors Europe cut fourthquarter production 53 percent to 214,000 units. Renault slashed output 45 percent in the fourth quarter, compared with the third quarter last year. Fiat built nearly 200,000 fewer units in the last four months of 2008 than it did during 2007. This may be just the beginning. As many as 16 plants could be shuttered outright during the next three years. Automotive News Europe Senior Writer Luca Ciferri investigates. 3 See Story, Page 7 Automotive News Europe, Postfach 1165, D-82230 Oberpfaffenhofen PVSt 64733 DPAG Entgelt bezahlt
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