01 October 2009

Saturn Deal Falls Through (And More)

First, General Motors was going to kill the Saturn brand. Then, a wealthy investor came along to rescue it. Now, according to National Public Radio, the deal has fallen through, for want of a manufacturer willing to build the cars in the long term, and the brand once again faces imminent demise. About 350 car dealers will close as a result.

Another big GM deal was also resolved last month. According to Wikipedia:

On 10th September 2009, it was announced that Magna, a Canadian automobile parts manufacturer, and Sberbank, a Russian bank, will buy a majority stake (55%) in its European Opel/Vauxhall operations. GM will own 35% of Opel; while Opel employees will own 10%. The agreement will keep Opel/Vauxhall a fully integrated part of GM’s global product development organization, allowing all parties to benefit from the exchange of technology and engineering resources.

A deal to sell GM's Saab division to a Swedish company was made in July 2009, and was further firmed up in August. A closing is expected before the end of the year.

GM's negotiations to sell its Hummer division to a Chinese company are ongoing.

The brands that GM will continue to produce in the long run are Chevrolet, GMC, Cadillac and Buick in North America, in addition to sales abroad under the brands Daewoo and Holden, and in addition to its minority stake in Opel, a European brand. The discontinuation of GM's Pontiac brand was previously announced.

Given that GM is mostly owned by the U.S. government, the Canadian government, and the United Auto Workers employee benefits trust, the U.S. private sector will have only a small percentage stake in Opel once the two layers of ownership are both considered (former bondholders own 9.8% of the main company, implying that they have a 3.3% interest, give or take, in Opel).

Plants and Plant Closings

The closing of the only automobile factory in California (NUMMI), in Fremont, CA, a joint venture of GM and Toyota since 1984, which GM dropped out of, was announced last month. More generally, the downturn in the automobile industry has concentrated it geographically. There are 136 plants in North America in all (including one scheduled to open in 2010 and excluding one scheduled to close in 2009), with 6 scheduled to close in the near future. Of them, 105 are located in the "Rust Belt" (Michigan, Ohio, Ontario, Indiana, Illinois and two of the three in New York State). The rest of the American plants are in Southern or border states.

The most Western automobile factories in the United States are two in Texas. None of the others are more than a few miles West of the Mississippi River. The only automobile factories remaining in the Northeastern United States are in New York State, two in greater Buffalo, and one in suburban New York City.

There is one automobile parts plant in British Columbia, with all others in Canada located in either Ontario or Quebec.

What automobile factories are left in North America (GM; Chrysler; Ford; Honda; Nissan; Mitsubishi; Toyota)?

Michigan: 50 (GM 26 (one to close in 2010); Chrysler 10; Ford 14)
Ohio: 21 (GM 9 (one to close in 2010); Chrysler 3; Ford 7; Honda 2)
Indiana: 12 (GM 6 (one to close in 2011); Chrysler 3; Honda 1; Toyota 1; 1 Subaru/Toyota)
Illinois: 4 (Chrysler 1; Ford 2; Mitsubishi 1)
Tennessee: 3 (GM 1; Nissan 2)
New York: 3 (GM 2; Ford 1)
Kentucky: 3 (GM 1; Ford 1; Toyota 1)
Alabama: 3 (Honda 1; Hyundai 1; Toyota 1)
Mississippi: 3 (BMW 1; Nissan 1; Toyota 1 (to open in 2010))
Missouri: 2 (GM 1; Ford 1)
Texas: 2 (GM 1; Toyota 1)
Virginia: 2 (GM 2 (one to close in 2010))
Maryland: 1 (GM 1)
South Carolina 1 (BMW 1)
Kansas (Fairfax): 1 (GM 1)
Louisiana: 1 (GM 1)
West Virginia 1 (Toyota 1)
Minnesota: 1 (Ford 1 (one to close in 2011))

Ontario: 16 (GM 6; Chrysler 3; Ford 4 (one to close in 2011); Honda 1; Toyota 2)
Quebec: 2 (GM 2)
British Columbia 1 (Toyota 1)
Mexico: 13 (GM 3; Chrysler 3; Ford 5; Nissan 1; Toyota 1)

Note that the Subaru plant in Indiana is actually a joint venture with Toyota.

Big Three Sales Down

Meanwhile, bankruptcy has not been kind to General Motors and Chrysler sales:

Percentage comparisons are to Sept 2008. . . .

Ford Motor Co. said Thursday that U.S. auto sales for September dropped 5.1% to 114,655 vehicles from 116,734 a year ago. . . .

GM U.S. Sept. sales drop 45% (compared to Sept 2008)

Chrysler sales off 42%.

Toyota U.S. Sept. sales off 12.7%

There may be some comparability issues in these numbers, given the reorganization of both GM and Chrysler. Over a two year period (even on a perfectly comparable basis), the numbers are probably worse a poor economy had started to kick in a year ago.

One reason that sales are so dismal is that the cash for clunkers program moved people who were going to buy vehicles anyone to buy them sooner, so they aren't buying them now. Since many people were going to buy vehicles anyway, the cash for clunkers program was thus far more expensive per additional purchase induced than it seems on its face. We will likely see a similar slump in home purchases from the expiration of the first time home buyer's credit.

1 comment:

Billll said...

Ford's sales drop looks more like 1.8% to me, although there could be more to the numbers than is showing here.