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Wed 11 Nov 2009 04:00 AM

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Humming the same tune

As I write, the ink is drying on the final sale of GM-owned Hummer, to a Chinese construction machinery firm, which most people, even in our industry have never heard of (Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery, in case you were wondering).

As I write, the ink is drying on the final sale of GM-owned Hummer, to a Chinese construction machinery firm, which most people, even in our industry have never heard of (Sichuan Tengzhong Heavy Industrial Machinery, in case you were wondering).How odd this sale seems. Perhaps it is because the brand is so very American - both glamorous, in a Hollywood wrestler kind of way - but at the same time absurdly militaristic.

Perhaps for these reasons the four wheel-drive vehicles have enjoyed reasonable sales success in the Middle East, but only as fashion accessories. After all, when was the last time you saw one earning its keep as a site vehicle? Come to that, when was the last time you saw the Chevy Silverado, on which later Hummers are based, in any serious work application? There are simply better choices.

Yet this slice of Americana is not the only Western commodity heading east. There have been talks between the GCC members and various Asian banks, which could result in oil being traded in currency other than dollars. Considering the GCC Central Bank that is being set up, in time there will be implications of this that affect all of us, not just high-flying currency traders. Indeed, over the water Iran converted its currency reserves from dollars to euros last month, though this is politically, rather than fiscally motivated.

So what does all this mean for the plant manager in the Middle East? We've often talked about the rise of the Far East. With access to the drawing boards of Detroit, the quality of Chinese products could rise, particularly if bolstered by the access to capital markets.

Time will tell, however, what such changes will have on world stability. America might be willing to scrap old car brands, but she will not give up the rest of her assets lightly. Let's hope common sense prevails from the country that gave us trucks that make no sense.

Greg Whitaker is the editor of Plant Machinery Vehicles Middle East.

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