News from Notch Consulting, Inc.

July 5, 2011

Environmental group to sue US EPA over black carbon (not carbon black)

Filed under: Carbon Black — Notch @ 5:15 pm

The Center for Biological Diversity, an environmental lobby group based in California, has issued a formal letter to the US Environmental Protection Agency, informing the Agency of its intention to sue for violations of Section 304 of the Clean Water Act in relation to pollution by black carbon.

The group’s full letter is available here.

Some media sources have reported that the letter refers to carbon black, but readers should note that “black carbon” is not synonymous with “carbon black.” Black carbon is soot released into the atmosphere by the incomplete combustion of fuels or biomass, whereas carbon black is an industrial filler and pigment manufactured from heavy residual fuel oil.

Toyota and Honda increase incentives in US in a sign that production woes are easing

Filed under: General — Notch @ 12:24 pm

According to, increased incentive spending in June by Toyota and Honda indicate that the two Japanese automakers are turning a corner with their respective production issues. The company’s report on the True Cost of Incentives found that incentive spending by Toyota increased 30.5 percent to $1,631 per vehicle from May to June. Honda, meanwhile, boosted its average spend four percent to $1,023 per vehicle over the same period. The incentives jump by both automakers comes just one month after found Toyota and Honda spending fell 26 percent and 46 percent, respectively, in May.

“By kicking up their incentive spending, Toyota and Honda are sending a clear message that production levels are starting to return, even if those vehicles haven’t yet hit dealer lots,” said Jessica Caldwell, director of industry analysis at “Honda, for example, introduced its Honda Promise’ program which lets car buyers lock in incentives on a new car now, even if the car can’t be delivered for another several weeks. With this program, Honda is not only demonstrating a confidence in its recovery, but also making a strong play to protect its market share.”

In related news, estimated at 1,093,000 new car sales (including fleet sales) are expected for June 2011, representing an 11.2 percent increase over June 2010 and a three percent increase over May 2011.

The estimated sales volume translates to a Seasonally Adjusted Annualized Rate (SAAR) of 11.9 million in June, according to analysts. Even with SAAR coming in below 12 million for the second month in a row, continues to project an annual SAAR of 12.9 light vehicle sales overall in 2011.

Conti announces new tire plant in Russia

On July 1, 2011, Continental announced plans to build a new tire plant in Kaluga, Russia. Kaluga is a city of just over 325,000 inhabitants that lies 170 km southwest of Moscow.

Nikolai Setzer, head of the Passenger and Light Truck Tires division and member of the Executive Board of Continental AG stated in that Conti planned to invest a total of more than one billion euros over the next four years in order to build up additional passenger tire capacity. The site in Kaluga was chosen for its good infrastructure, central geographical location, and the good experience Continental has already had with the existing automotive electronics plant in the location.

Some €220 million will be invested in the new plant, with production slated to start at the end of 2013. Capacity will total about 4 million tires per year in its first full capacity phase, while employment will total about 400 by the end of 2013. The Russian government has promised to support the new site. Continental, as a major tyre producer serving the European OEMs, is thus following leading vehicle manufacturers like Volkswagen, for example, who have already had manufacturing operations in Kaluga for several years now. Construction will begin at the end of 2011.

The full press release is here.

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