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It was a week that saw Tesla Motors' (Nasdaq: TSLA ) shades-of-1998 IPO, General Motors' management finally getting real with the investment community, and Ford (NYSE: F ) making another big improvement to its balance sheet. But as always, there was much more going on behind the headlines -- here are a few stories that you might have missed.
Toyota's latest recall adventure
Add another 270,000 vehicles to the millions recalled by Toyota (NYSE: TM ) over the last year: The Japanese giant said on Thursday that the vehicles -- mostly large sedans, including the popular-in-Asia Toyota Crown and several Lexus models -- are being recalled due to an engine problem that can cause them to stall while moving. According to some reports, drivers in Japan have told Toyota that their engines made a "strange noise" before cutting out.
It's another dent in Toyota's quality armor in what has been a year of safety-related woes. But at this round of recalls -- like last week's recall of 17,000 Lexus hybrids for a flaw that could cause a fuel spill in a crash -- appears to have come with a minimum of foot-dragging. Toyota was hit with a record $16.4 million fine by the U.S. government earlier this year for repeatedly delaying action on potential safety defects, and the company has been at pains to show that it has changed its ways.
GM takes on Tata
In the wake of news that General Motors' first-half sales in China led those in the U.S. for the first time comes a report of a new emerging-markets effort by the General: A joint venture with China's SAIC to produce a new car for the Indian market -- one intended to rival Tata Motors' (NYSE: TTM ) Nano.
Tata's Nano, of course, is the much-talked-about world's cheapest car -- and it has been rocketing up the sales charts, pushing Tata's June sales into second place among automotive brands in India. GM, like Ford, has been coming on strong in India, however, with its June sales double those of a year ago, and the General clearly sees an opportunity to expand downmarket. By partnering with SAIC, a leading low-cost automaker and longtime joint-venture partner of GM's in China, GM hopes to be able to bring in its new model for about the price of a loaded Nano -- roughly $5,000 -- when it launches in a couple of years.
Tesla's wild ride
Tesla Motors finally went public on Tuesday, and the electric car company's first week on the Nasdaq was a wild ride indeed. Initially priced at $17 -- solidly above the $14 to $16 range anticipated by analysts -- Tesla's shares blasted out of the gate, briefly crossing $30 on Wednesday before falling back to the low $20s.
It was a dramatic debut for one of Silicon Valley's most talked-about companies, but this Fool continues to wonder what, exactly, all the fuss is about. Tesla's much-hyped "technology" doesn't seem like anything special when compared to what the major automakers will be launching in the near future, and the launch of the ballyhooed Model S is -- by Tesla's own reckoning -- at least two years off.
Nissan has already received more than 15,000 $99 deposits from potential U.S. buyers of its upcoming all-electric Leaf sedan, due later this year. What will Nissan -- and Ford, and GM, and Toyota, and Honda (NYSE: HMC ) , and others expected to jump into the green-car space -- be offering two years down the road, when Tesla's sedan finally comes to market?
As I write this on Friday morning, Tesla's stock is down over 6% -- it appears that the short-sellers have arrived. But are they -- and I -- missing something? Do you think Tesla is going to change the world? Or are they doomed? Scroll down to leave a comment and let me know.
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