Japan's automakers get edgy, Nardelli walks back and DC cuffs drivers

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1st Gear: Japan's automakers threaten to leave Imagine Detroit's Big Three marching in lockstep to Congress and warning that without government help they would move much of their domestic production to Mexico, Canada or China as fast as possible. That's essentially what's happening in Japan, where automakers have told the Japanese government they can no longer afford to export cars unless the value of the yen declines. Nissan chief Carlos Ghosn says the country's industrial base will be "hollowed out," adding "If Japan wants employment, you're going to have to do something about establishing a normal exchange rate." U.S. automakers have long accused Japanese automakers' of relying on a low yen-to-dollar exchange rate for much of their profits.

2nd Gear: Bob Nardelli asks how to unring this damn bell Former Chrysler chief and unloved Home Depot veteran Bob Nardelli emailed The Detroit News on Thursday to ask that they build a time machine and not accurately report some of the things he said last week about Chrysler and Fiat and the Obama administration. Like when he said "there was no reason for the government to give Chrysler away," what he really meant was "We fully understood and supported the government's decision to give Chrysler to Fiat."


3rd Gear: Maserati is on a boat. Because building cars is so 20th century, Maserati is joining Audi and BMW on the high seas, building a yacht in an attempt to break trans-Atlantic speed records. The company has targeted several runs, including Miami to New York, following old clipper ship routes, and will fly the pennant of the Yacht Club Italiano, which was founded in 1879. At least it can't catch on fire, right?


4th Gear: DC cops arresting drivers for expired registrations The phrase "license and registration" already means trouble, but in Washington, D.C., police are randomly arresting people for the non-crime of expired registrations. Despite outcries — including the arrest of a Maryland woman who was threatened with having her children riding with her sent to social service workers — the Metropolitan Police Department says it reserves the right to arrest people for not having registrations in order no matter what state they live in. he department continues to reserve and exercise the right to throw drivers in the clink for missing the DMV deadline, no matter where they're from. The practice has drawn the attention of AAA, the nation's largest motor club and travel organization, which is calling on the D.C. Council to review the policy.


5th Gear: South Korean free trade deal on track Sometime next week, the U.S. Congress is expected to approve a new trade deal with South Korea and two other countries. The South Korea deal, backed by U.S. and Korean automakers as well as the UAW, would lower tariffs on trucks imported from South Korea in return for U.S. automakers getting more access to Korean buyers. Other U.S. unions say the deal will cost the United States up to 150,000 jobs; in South Korea, protests against the deal include dairy farmers shaving their heads. All this just so we can get the Ssangyong SUT-1.


6th Gear: UAW campaigns for its Ford deal to members UAW leaders will fan out across the country to convince Ford hourly workers that the new four-year contract they negotiated was the best deal available. If approved, workers stand to receive signing bonuses of up to $6,000, an average $3,700 profit-sharing payment in November and four annual $1,500 payments. But many rank-and-file Ford employees wanted actual pay raises rather than annual bonuses that don't increase their base wages, and were upset by Ford's plans to expand the number of workers paid a lower hourly rate. Ford workers voted down a package of concessions in 2009.


⏎ Continental to build South Carolina plant [WSJ]

⏎ Hyundai boosts Alabama [Ward's Auto]

⏎ Neal Pollack drives the Bentley Continental GTC, meets auto reviewers henceforth known as "Kobe humans" [Yahoo! Autos]


⏎ Button leads in practice for Japan F1 [F1]

⏎ Toyota warns parts makers: Cut prices or we'll cut you. [AutoNews]

Today in Automotive History:

On October 7, 1960, the first episode of the one-hour television drama "Route 66" airs on CBS. The program had a simple premise: It followed two young men, Buz Murdock and Tod Stiles, as they drove across the country in an inherited Corvette (Chevrolet was one of the show's sponsors), doing odd jobs and looking for adventure.


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