Summit Notebook

Exclusive outtakes from industry leaders

from Environment Forum:

A Nightmare on Auto Street: Big boxes

When it comes to competition in the auto business, it's the unknown that keeps the top U.S. Honda executive, John Mendel, up at night.

Mendel, speaking to the Reuters Auto Summit in Detroit, said he is always concerned about the conventional competitors. But what he is really afraid of is a company that "changes the game."

"What keeps me up regarding new competition is someone significantly changing the game," Mendel said.

People mention an autoseller taking up dealers dropped by General Motors, Chrysler or Saturn.

Toyota’s Arashima on Reuters Financial Television

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Toyota Motor Europe President and CEO Tadashi Arashima talked to Reuters Financial Television during the Auto Summit in Paris. See here.

Toyota will not freeze out Iceland, bets on Russia bounce

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The world’s biggest carmaker, Toyota, will not follow the road of McDonald’s and abandon Iceland even though it is selling ‘very few’ cars there at the moment and its distributor has been seized by the banks as its owner went belly-up, Toyota Motor Europe President and CEO Tadashi Arashima told the Reuters Auto Summit in Paris on Tuesday.
“We have a big market share there, of 25 percent, and it is good for our after-sales,” Arashima said.
The banks are trying to sell the distributor but Toyota does not plan to take ownership like it does in its key European markets of Germany, France, Italy, Spain and the United Kingdom, and some Scandinavian countries.
 

Arashima said he believes the Russian market will recover sooner than many think, after the west European markets but well before the rest of East Europe — in 2011 or 2012.

Investors do not realise Valeo’s Asian potential-CEO

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Valeo generates 18 percent of its sales in Asia, and 7 percent in China alone, and that percentage will increase due to fast organic growth in these booming markets, but investors still see Valeo as a company anchored in mature European markets.

“They still see us as mainly a west European company,” chief executive Jacques Aschenbroich told the Reuters Auto Summit in Paris. But despite a decline in turnover, Valeo is keeping up its research and development spending and is continuing to forge forward countries in China, Thailand, India, Turkey or Brazil.

Reports of the death of the car industry are premature-Valeo

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A glimmer of light in a world of darkness for stressed-out car industry managers. Jacques Aschenbroich (pronounce Ashenbrough), the new CEO at French car supplier Valeo has been visiting the Frankfurt and Tokyo motorshows, as well as travelling to places such as China.

“This is not a dying industry, this is an industry in strong mutation,” is the verdict of the man who joined Valeo in March after a career with construction materials group Saint-Gobain.

Peugeot is far too small in China

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There is only one market really booming in the world and that is China, pity Peugeot only has a very small market share there.

Nicolas Wertans, deputy managing director of the Peugeot brand at Europe’s second-biggest carmaker PSA Peugeot Citroen, recently went to Beijing.

Gassing about electric cars

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Would you buy a car that only goes 100 miles (160 km) on a tank of fuel?

That’s the range of Nissan’s 5-seater electric car planned for sale in the U.S. and Japan in 2010 – a similar size to Nissan’s Primera or VW’s Golf.

A full tank in a petrol-driven car will take you around twice that distance so the new technology that Nissan hopes will leapfrog current hybrids won’t be for those who disappear up the mountains each weekend.

AUDIO – What’s going on with the economy? Ask a trucker.

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That was the advice from truck manufacturer Navistar International Corp’s CEO Dan Ustian at this week’s Reuters Manufacturing and Transportation Summit in Chicago.

Ustian said the current slowdown has been worse and deeper than expected — even though the trucking industry had a sense that things were starting to go south as far back as 2007.

Ask a Car Maker …

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The U.S. autos sector has hit a wall like some kind of crash test dummy – record gas prices, rising supply costs and sales hitting a 15-year low. Can car makers ride it out?

Reuters journalists will interview car companies, including some from the Big 3 , next week as part of our Autos Summit 2008. We will ask why investors should hang on, and is the sector about to hit the wall?

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