The Russian car market is looking grimmer than the last days of the Romanov family, but that’s proving to be a big opportunity for Kia.
That, a delay for Volkswagen’s overseas diesel fix, Porsche employees are rolling in dough, electric rallycross could be on the way, and FCA soars in Europe … after the break!
Kia should consider a Cossack trim level
Russia has fallen on hard economic times and its car sales are tumbling like the Berlin Wall, but there’s a bright side to the financial gloom if you’re Kia.
The Korean automaker has seen its market share surge in the land of Ladas and exploding meteors, beating back domestic competition and positioning it for future successes, Reuters reports (via Automotive News Europe):
Kia was Russia’s No. 2 brand by sales through February after Lada. Kia’s two-month sales fell 14 percent to 20,541 in a market down 21 percent, according to data from the Association of European Businesses in Russia.
Capitalizing on the success of its budget Kia Rio sedan, which was one of only four models to post positive sales growth in Russia last year, Kia has managed to weather the decline of Russia’s auto industry better than many of its competitors.
The affordable Rio was Russia’s third most popular car last year, a bright spot for foreign-flagged automakers in the dismal economic climate. The downturn has prompted General Motors to pull out of Russia altogether.
The long, slow agony continues for Volkswagen
Volkswagen’s hope for a (relatively) quick fix for its European diesels have been dampened by Germany’s chief transport regulator, which has held off on giving its approval for the plan, according to the newspaper Bild (via Automotive News):
The automaker has not yet received approval from the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) for proposed technical fixes for the Passat midsize model, the newspaper said today, citing a KBA spokesman.
The KBA was still examining the technical solutions submitted by VW and it’s unclear whether the engine will comply with Euro 5 emission standards after the refitting, Bild quoted the KBA spokesman as saying.
In October, the KBA demanded that VW recall models with 1.2-liter, 1.6-liter and 2.0-liter diesel engines fitted with software designed to cheat on pollution tests for harmful NOX emissions.
The delay pushes back Volkswagen’s plans by at least six weeks, though the wait could grow much longer if KBA — like U.S. regulators — ask the automaker to come up with a better plan.
“We’re in the money!” cries a joyous Porsche
Porsche posted record sales last year, and now the luxury automaker is spreading some of that wealth around.
A total of 15,600 Porsche AG employees will be taking home a bonus of 8,911 euros ($9,872), all thanks to a boffo year that saw sales rise 19 percent and revenue soar by 25 percent.
Oliver Blume, chairman of the automaker’s executive board, issued a statement congratulating the workers, while subtly referencing the troubles of its parent company, Volkswagen AG.
“The bonus is the justly deserved reward for the great commitment shown by our employees. My special thanks go out to them, because their knowledge and their dedication have contributed to our achieving such an exceptional result in what is by no means an easy environment.”
Who knew working for a luxury outfit came with such perks?
Fiat-Chrysler steals some of Volkswagen’s pie
Volkswagen’s slipping market share in car-hungry Europe — a byproduct of the diesel emissions scandal — is proving to be a boon to its competitors, Bloomberg reports:
Volkswagen’s brands accounted for 24 percent of new auto registrations in February versus 25.4 percent a year earlier, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, or ACEA, said Wednesday in a statement. Industry-wide sales jumped 14 percent to 1.09 million vehicles, while two-month registrations increased 10 percent to 2.19 million autos …
The Fiat 500X crossover and the related Jeep Renegade helped Fiat Chrysler’s European sales surge 22 percent in February, pushing the Italian-U.S. company’s two-month registrations ahead of Ford’s, which normally ranks fourth in the region’s deliveries.
The differences between European and North American car-buying preferences are stark, as even though FCA has posted strong U.S. earnings, its Fiat brand seems moribund.
More dirt, less exhaust on the rally circuit
Is rallycross the next conquest for electric vehicles? Volkswagen would like it to be.
The automaker wants to see an all-electric format, and technology head Franck Welsch is asking for World and Global Rallycross Championship regulations to be developed for it, Autocar reports:
“I can certainly imagine a championship done with all-electric cars,” he said. “The races are around six minutes long, which allows for short, intense bursts of competition and then charging.
“Today these cars are super-powerful, have torque from hell and use all-wheel drive. Electric drivetrains could deliver that.
“If the championship moved that way it would be perfect for us. We are already in discussions with organizers to that effect.”
Volkswagen already competes in rallycross with a modified Beetle, and will continue to do so, but having an electric format would allow it to show off new technology that’s currently under development.
[Images: Kia, © 2015 Alex Dykes/The Truth About Cars; Lada, AvtoVAZ]