CURRENCY MANIPULATION IN ASIA CREAted the conditions that are shaking up the global auto industry's manufacturing footprint, Adam Opel GmbH's top executive charges.
Overcapacity has been inaccurately blamed for compelling auto makers to pull up stakes in well-established regions and set up shop in emerging markets, Supervisory Board Chairman Carl-Peter Forster tells attendees at a dinner during the Frankfurt auto show.
Overcapacity exists, he admits. But the industry is addressing the issue, evidenced by numerous plant closings around the world.
“The real pressure comes, ladies and gentlemen, whether you like it or not, from Asia. Our Asian competitors, for many, many years, were working off a massively undervalued currency,” Forster says.
Forster's remarks to the American Chamber of Commerce in Germany came as he found himself at the center of a controversy that has implications for some 10,000 jobs, many of them in Germany.
Co. is selling a controlling interest in its Germany-based Opel division to a consortium led by Canadian mega-supplier International Inc., which includes a Russian bank.
Forster levels currency-manipulation charges against Japan, South Korea and China. When the yen, won and renminbi, respectively, are unfairly discounted against the euro and the U.S. dollar, manufacturing costs are wiped out.
The result is “a very winning formula,” he says.
In Western Europe, through the year's first half, Ward's data show two auto makers in positive sales territory compared with 2008: Korea'sMotor Co. Ltd. and Japan's Motor Corp.
At the brand level, just five marques were in the black:, Suzuki, SA's Dacia, AG's Skoda and GM's Chevrolet.
But the bow-tie brand, Forster notes, generates its European sales volume from vehicles assembled by South Korea-based GM Daewoo Auto & Technology Co., which is controlled by GM.