Toyota prepares for sanctions in Russia. Other makers would be harder hit

Picture courtesty

“We have to be very careful about the developments in Russia,” warned Toyota’s Managing Officer Takuo Sasaki today during the Q1 earnings conference in Tokyo. “There may be some sanctions imposed.”

Russia and the West are both ratcheting up pressure. The EU passed a basket of sanctions. The first Russian accounts are frozen. Russia stopped imports of American chicken and Bourbon, along with Polish apples. This is just the beginning of a tit-for-tat that is beginning to have real bite. Russia threatens to increase gas prices, and to terminate overfly rights for foreign airlines. A Russian magazine figures this could cost Lufthansa, British Airways and Air France four billion euro a year. Western carmakers are heavily invested in Russia, and have quietly prepared for a Russian crisis. Toyota broke the silence today, and said it out loud. [Continue Reading]

Iran Auto industry Conference: France Goes Back Alone?

China goes where others fear to tread...

China goes where others fear to tread…

In the leadup to last weekend’s Auto Industry International Conference in Tehran, organizers boasted that nearly every nation would be represented, including “France, Japan, Germany, Italy, Turkey, Britain, China, India, Czech Republic, South Korea, Spain, Egypt, Switzerland and Denmark.” In the extended [sic] of one recent official press release, “US automakers are better not to miss the opportunity.”

But miss it they apparently have, along with all the non-French global majors.

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France: GM Officials Meeting With Iran


Iran so far away...

Iran so far away…

GM’s alliance with PSA Peugeot-Citroen is one of the bigger mysteries of recent automotive history, fusing two badly underperforming operations tied to a market that’s desperate for consolidation. And, sure enough, as time has passed the scope of the alliance has been reduced, GM’s investment has been written down, and even core platform-sharing aspects of the alliance are being left behind. Without a strong justification in the first place, the GM-PSA alliance has now drifted into pure incomprehensibility, leaving analysts scratching their heads and wondering what comes next.

In the absence of even a basic narrative with which to make sense of the GM-PSA dealings, analysis of the situation from France has turned towards anger at GM. Though it has gone totally uncovered in the US media (at least as far as I can tell), French journalists are now alleging that GM’s PSA maneuvers were all about Iran. The allegation, if true, is stunning: that GM’s alliance with PSA was an attempt to wedge the French automaker out of a market it has long dominated, and that with relations thawing between the US and Iran, GM officials have been meeting counterpoints at Iran Khodro to prepare for GM’s re-entry into that market.

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