Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Economic Downturn Hurting European Automakers, Too - Car News

Like North America, the Old World is in automotive crisis, and even premium carmakers are scrambling to reduce production and capacity.

While the U.S. auto industry is on the brink of collapse, things don't exactly look rosy on the other side of the pond, either. The fallout of the financial crisis is forcing cutbacks at most European automakers, including Porsche, BMW, and Daimler. Bentley and Aston Martin are scaling back production, a sign that even the super-rich are postponing car purchases.

BMW, Daimler Halting Production

BMW is closing several plants for several weeks this month and in January, including its Munich plant, where the 3-series is built. Altogether, BMW wants the stoppages to result in 40,000 units fewer than planned. "The situation on the main markets is very difficult," said Ian Robertson, board member for sales and marketing at the Bavarian carmaker. "We have reduced production and aim to keep supply and demand in a balance in the coming months as well." Much of BMW's 2009 launch plans seem patently unsuited to a market characterized by fuel-economy concerns and personal-income woes: Besides the next-gen Z4 roadster—expected to be priced $10,000 higher than its predecessor—BMW is also launching a smaller Rolls-Royce in the $200,000-plus range, a crossover model resembling a fastback 5-series, and an "M" high-performance version of its decidedly politically incorrect X6 SUV.



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