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30th December 2011

Ford brand’s U.S. sales top 2 million for first time since 2007

Ford Motor Co. said its namesake brand exceeded 2 million U.S. sales for the first year since 2007, led by gains for models such as the Fiesta small car and revamped Explorer sport-utility vehicle.

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30th December 2011

Fired Mercedes USA boss Lieb fights dismissal

The lawyer representing fired Mercedes-Benz USA boss Ernst Lieb says his client misused no company funds and will continue to fight his October dismissal in a German court.

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30th December 2011

Federal Appeals Court Embraces DC Speed Cameras

The US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit on Tuesday rejected a class action lawsuit filed against the speed camera program in the nation’s capital. Motorists Henry Dixon and Cuong Thanh Phung argued the city violated their constitutional guarantee to equal protection of law by treating drivers pulled over for speeding more harshly than drivers mailed photo tickets for speeding.

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30th December 2011

My Vintage Chinese Tin Toy Collection. Part One

Christmas resulted in a lot of toys under a lot of trees. That’s good. If they are Chinese, I will buy them a generation from now.  If you keep them in their original box, I will pay you more. I am a fanatic collector of Chinese tin toys. I will show you around in my collection. Today, part 1.

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29th December 2011

To France. To drive an English Toyota.



Toyota Motor Europe invited just-auto to Nice to sample the updated
Avensis. It’s cold, dark and windy in England so how could we say no?

This part of the Cote d’Azur is a popular place to be launching
D-segment cars this week, with Kia also holding a drive
event for its new to Europe Optima. Sadly Graeme our news editor had
to cancel that one at the last minute (he’s thankfully since recovered
from what sounded like a nasty stomach bug) but I’ll be getting behind
the wheel of the RHD car in a few weeks’ time so we’ll have some
impressions of that one in January.

But back to the Avensis, which I shall write more about tomorrow after
I’ve driven it and spoken to the engineering, sales and marketing
execs who’ve been charged with making sure its mid-life makeover is
just right. TME invited me to a dinner this evening and I was lucky
enough to sit beside Katsunori Kojima, the MD of Toyota Motor
Manufacturing (UK). A 30-year veteran of Toyota, he’s now in charge of
not only the Burnaston plant but also the powertrain operations in
Wales and the Corolla/Verso plant in Turkey.

I’ll hopefully get some time to publish a Q&A with Kojima-san later on
Friday so keep an eye out for that: I questioned him about building
the CT 200h or other future four-cylinder Lexus vehicles in the UK,
whether or not TME will make the Auris replacement a Qashqai rival and
what he thinks of the Korean competition in the C and D segments. He’s
a company man of course but still he gave me honest answers. He was
also keen to talk EVs – it seems TMC and TME are watching the roll out
of the Renault Nissan Alliance’s products closely.

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29th December 2011

Manufacturing Troubles Remain a Drag on Recovery, Trade & Jobs


via The Seattle Times

by Jon Talton

Top of the News: The Institute for Supply Management’s manufacturing index seems consistent with recovery, coming in at 53.6 for November; any number above 50 signifies expansion in the sector. Unfortunately, the reading sagged from 55.7 the month before, tripping up what economists had hoped would be a steady climb out of recession.

A deeper look shows that the index provides no relief for the biggest immediate problem facing Americans, unemployment. Only six of 18 manufacturing industries reported growth in employment. Only 11.7 million Americans worked manufacturing as of October. That compares with 17.3 million in October 1999.

Not only do manufacturing jobs pay better than their counterparts in service industries, they tend to add real value to economic activity (as opposed to selling mortgage swindles). They are also twined with our trade issues. Even fewer manufacturing jobs are now in industries that export, a key part of our huge manufacturing trade deficit.

Unfortunately, this phenomenon was happening even before the Great Recession. A report from the Economic Policy Institute shows that manufacturing employment between 1965 and 2000 never dipped below 16.5 million. This even as manufacturing shrank as a share of the economy (take out Boeing and it would be much smaller). This changed as imports surged after China joined the WTO and other Asian factory centers upped their game. By 2004, the number was lower than any time since 1950.

“It is often claimed that declines in manufacturing employment stem entirely from productivity growth,” according to EPI economist L. Josh Bivens. “However, rapid productivity growth is the norm, not the exception, in manufacturing. What is new about the manufacturing job crisis of the last four years is the sharp downturn in the ratio of domestic production to demand.”

Indeed, American steelmakers are shrinking yet again.

The Back Story: The official unemployment rate including discouraged workers and part-timers seeking full-time work is 17.5 percent. But Shadow Government Statistics, a provocative and reliable site, argues even this underestimates the problem. Try…22 percent.

Complete Article



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