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Following on from the announcement that it’s moving global headquarters from Yokohama to Hong Kong, Infiniti is now looking at moving other assets overseas, namely the production of vehicles.
This latest move is largely due to the record value of the yen against the US dollar which is making the marque’s vehicles increasingly less profitable in the North American market (the US remains a major source of revenue for the brand).
It’s a similar situation to that experienced by Japanese automakers in the 1990s, when the rising yen squeezed profitability on Nippon built vehicles sold in the United States (auto aficionados may recall the demise of the Nissan Z32 300ZX and Toyota Supra as particular examples).
Getting back to the present, Infiniti (despite assembling the goliath QX SUV in the US for a time) currently doesn’t build any vehicles outside Japan, though Andy Palmer, executive vice president for the brand said recently that, “as cars come up for renewal, generally they’re being relocated in a function of where the majority of sales are.”
Although deliberately vague, based on recent product introductions, that probably means more production will materialize in the US and Europe, likely with added capacity at Nissan’s Smyrna, Tennessee facility for SUV based models (the new JX, unveiled at the LA Auto Show will be built there) and possibly Nissan’s operations in Sunderland, UK as a source for smaller, hatchback based cars, like the production version of the Etherea concept.
Whatever happens, expect to see this shift in production to oversees markets as a continuing trend in the coming years as Infiniti, along with other Japanese automakers aims to limit the affect of global currency fluctuations and potential supply issues on vehicle production.
The little electric company that could has some bad news for its critics as its latest vehicle, the $50,000 electric four door sedan Model S, is sold out. According to CEO Elon Musk, Tesla has received orders for “more than 6,500″ Model S cars for next year.
Moreover, Musk claims that most orders of the Model S are from brand new buyers. “Only about 600 people who have ordered Roadsters have also bought the Model S.”
Aiming for a mid-2012 deliver date, Tesla is confident that the success of the Model S will reward them with the honor of becoming the first profitable maker of battery-powered automobiles by 2013. As of now, the company has yet to report an annual profit.
GALLERY: Tesla Model S
He’s only been in the job since March, but Rolls-Royce Chief-Executive Officer Torsten Muller-Oetvoes says that so far, the ultra luxury marque has weathered the current economic storm rather well.
In 2011, Rolls is projected to beat the record 2,711 cars, sold last year, with China poised to overtake the US as the largest single market.
In addition, during a recent interview with Automotive News, Muller-Oetvoes said that Rolls-Royce is planning to expand its factory at Goodwood, Sussex, in the UK, as well as possibly boosting the number of dealers world wide, from the current 85, to around 100. In addition, he spoke about possibly adding a Ghost coupe to compliment the sedan.
Since being launched, the Rolls-Royce Ghost sedan has attracted a new type of customer to the brand which tends to be younger and more in-tune with today’s technology. That said, Muller-Oetvoes believes that the key to success in the future is will be down to a steady growth strategy, though not necessarily a significant increase in volume.
“Like no other brand, Rolls-Royce stands for exclusivity, quality and individual style,” he said. ” We will continue to grow steadily, but ours is not a volume strategy. For example, we have no long-term plans for sales in five figures.”
Muller-Oetvoes also believes that former stablemate Bentley (now owned by rival VW) isn’t really a competitor for Rolls, though the Mulsanne might come close as a Ghost rival. He said “they [Bentley buyers] purchase models of both brands, their garages are like closets, equipped for all of life’s occassions. Rolls-Royce competes with other luxury goods such as real estate, yachts, fine art and jewelry.” So no SUV is likely for Rolls then, which is probably a good thing.
Muller-Oetoves also says that V12 engines will remain very much in Rolls’ future, despite current fads towards smaller engines, diesels and alternative fuel powertrains, though company is exploring other options. ”Our engines are highly efficient and our 102EX electric Phantom project is the first step in exploring the potential for alternative powertrains in the long-term,” he stated. In reference to diesels, he stated that while they might be popular in Europe, “a diesel could never deliver a true Rolls-Royce experience: effortless performance and, of course, silence.”
As for the possibility of introducing electric, hybrid or other such powertrains down the road, it will essentially hinge on buyer interest in such technologies, which among Rolls-Royce owners is currently, almost non-existent. ”Few clients who have driven 102EX are prepared to charge a battery for eight hours for a range of just 200km,” he stated.
[Source: Automotive News]
While General Motors seemed desperate to sell Opel back in 2009, GM CEO Dan Akerson now says that the terms of the sale were a “bad deal” and that Opel, along with GM’s other global divisions, are now profitable.
Nick Reilly, GM’s European president, said that GM Europe will be profitable – albeit not by much more than the break-even point – once the 2011 restructuring plan has finished at the end of the year. ”In 2012, we won’t have those restructuring charges,” Reilly said. “They’re mostly done. We’ll get the full 12 month benefit of the restructuring that we’ve done.”
[Source: Automotive News]