End Of An Era: Honda Pulls Out Of Formula One

Honda just announced that they will no longer participate in F1 car racing. The global economic downturn means Honda is trying to save money, just like other car makers, and British driver Jenson Button will have to find a new team. I liked Honda's Earth Car initiative, but the announcement today is a clear sign of how tough the times really are. Meanwhile, in Washington, General Motors Chief Executive Rick Wagoner yesterday told the Senate Banking Committee that "Forces beyond our control have pushed us to the brink."

There are no plans here in Japan to ask for a bailout for any of the six Japanese car makers, but the huge drop in sales could easily translate into a major crisis very soon. Honda's move may be too little, too late, and all eyes are on how events will unfold in the hearings in the US:

Lawmakers discussed options such as appointing a trustee to oversee automotive restructuring and requiring an industry overhaul to get aid.

Even so, they didn't resolve a dispute over where the money will come from, the main issue standing in the way of an auto-industry bailout. Democratic leaders want to tap a $700 billion bailout fund for the financial industry. President George W. Bush and congressional Republicans are demanding to use some of $25 billion from a 2007 energy bill for developing fuel-efficient vehicles.

Bloomberg.com: U.S. Lawmakers Move to Break Deadlock as Auto Chiefs Renew Plea

Honda has been involved in F1 racing since the 1960s. The sport is increasingly seen as a relic from the past, and even insiders and experts are feeling the crunch. Earlier this year, Max Mosley, president of FIA, the world motorsport governing body said "Formula One is becoming unsustainable." It remains to see what will happen to Honda Racing F1 Team's global network of environmental projects, called Earth Dreams.

Nikkei: Honda To Leave F1 Racing (registration needed)

Written by Martin Frid at greenz.jp

Tags: Japan | United States

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