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China is the world’s biggest auto market in the world, so it might not be so surprising that China is also Hyundai‘s new biggest market, after the automaker sold more cars in China than Korea for the second straight month. Buoyed by the success of the Yuedong (aka our Elantra) and the Tuscon crossover, Hyundai was able to move 57, 014 cars in China in May, versus 55, 339 in Korea.
The Yuedong was able to usurp the title of #1 selling compact car from the Chinese engineered and built BYD F3, a significant coup for the Korean automaker. Hyundai expects to move 670,000 cars in China for the year 2010.
[Source: Joon Gang Daily]
A report out of Europe claims that BMW and General Motors are collaborating on a system that will scan road signs, including speed limit warnings and relay the information to drivers. The system still has a few kinks being worked out, but the objective is for the system to be able to display warning signs as well as speed limits for any road the car is being driven on.
Technology like this might add a little pizazz to an otherwise unremarkable car, but there’s certainly the prospect of a slippery slope with this sort of system. Invasive speed limits mandated by the government might not be far off, and that could quickly spell an end to one of the greatest pleasures of driving, the complete autonomy one has when behind the wheel of a car.
Honda was forced to shut down all four of its Chinese car plants, after 1,850 workers at an auto parts plant went on strike over wages. The strike is reported to have crippled Honda’s production capability in what is now the world’s largest car market.
The lack of parts means that Honda is unable to assemble cars at any of its four Chinese plants. The employees at the parts plant want their wages increased to between 2,000 yuan ($293) and 2,500 yuan per month, from 1,500 yuan ($220). Workers at Honda’s car plants make a similar wage.
“China is experiencing a labor shortage that’s shifting the natural bargaining power to workers,” Chang-Hee Lee, a Beijing-based industrial relations specialist at the International Labor Organization told Bloomberg News. While much of China’s economy is owned by the state (and Honda’s own operations are jointly owned with the Chinese government), governmental authorities claim that Honda has done nothing wrong in the labor dispute. China account for about 17 percent of Honda’s global sales, making it a crucial market for its operations.
Despite record recalls and public humiliation over quality control scandals, Toyota announced that it expects to see a profit of $3.35 billion by the end of their fiscal year in March, a 48% increase.
Toyota sales rose 24 percent in April, as strong incentives helped Toyota move cars like the Corolla and Prius. Despite the strong performance, Toyota Senior Managing Director Takahiko Ijichi said that the recall of 8 million vehicles for unintended acceleration issues cost the company 50,000 sales and $1.94 billion.
Despite the setbacks, analysts are optimistic about Toyota’s prospects, especially in the crucial North American market. “Based on the recent sales numbers, the recalls aren’t posing a problem,” said Gentoku Kiyokawa, a fund manager at Fortis Investments in Tokyo, in an interview with Automotive News.
Still, Toyota faces tough competition from renewed competitors like Hyundai and Ford. Hyundai in particular poses a threat to Toyota’s dominance, as the Sonata sedan has seen sales skyrocket by 57 percent in April, while the Camry has only increased by 10 percent.
[Source: Automotive News]