By on March 7, 2016

North Korea (Image: CC BY-SA 3.0, Wikimedia)

New U.S. sanctions might spell the end of the glorious, glorious era of North Korean vehicle production.

That, Suzuki asks for its winnings and staggers home, automakers are being slowed down by the EPA (and it’s all Volkswagen’s fault), Audi still loves diesels (and so do you, America!), and Volvo tries to spice up its life … after the break!

North Korea traffic (stephan)/Flickr

Requiem for the North Korean dream

When you’re riding high in the saddle, it’s hard to imagine the good times could one day come to an end.

That’s the situation in the quaint Communist dictatorship of North Korea, which faces the prospect of a downturn in domestic vehicle production thanks to U.S. sanctions, according to Automotive News:

The measures were passed after Pyongyang rattled the world in January by conducting a nuclear test, then launching a purported satellite that critics called a veiled missile test.

They would expand sanctions through a so-called secondary boycott, which penalizes businesses and individuals in third countries that have financial dealings with North Korea.

They should tighten the screws on Chinese companies that ship essential parts and components to North Korean auto factories and Chinese companies involved with joint ventures in the North, a recent report in South Korea’s Korean Joongang Daily said.

All of this would threaten production of the buses and dump trucks that have made North Korea world famous.

To quote Blade Runner, “The light that burns twice as bright burns for half as long.”


Suzuki moves on from a failed relationship

A fling with Volkswagen that didn’t go anywhere has Suzuki Motor Corp. burning the evidence to erase the memories.

In addition to selling $1.8 billion in convertible bonds, Suzuki will cancel a large chunk of the stock it bought back from Volkswagen after the two automakers consciously uncoupled, reports Bloomberg:

Suzuki will sell the bonds primarily to fund the 185 billion rupee ($2.8 billion) factory it’s building in India’s western Gujarat state, according to a statement filed Monday to the Tokyo stock exchange. The automaker also will cancel 70 million treasury shares, or 12.5 percent of outstanding stock, to boost returns for investors after ending its partnership with Volkswagen in September, the company said in separate statement.

Suzuki bought back millions of its own shares from Volkswagen last year.

United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Building Plaque, Washington, DC, Image: (

EPA testing re-routes vehicle roll-outs into the slow lane

Thanks to a heightened focus on emissions testing in the wake of the Volkswagen diesel emissions scandal, the Environmental Protection Agency is inadvertently slowing the release of new products, reports Automotive News:

So far, only Volkswagen has been formally accused of deliberately manipulating emissions to fool lab tests. But top executives from more than half a dozen automakers say the scandal eroded the auto industry’s credibility in the eyes of European and U.S. environmental regulators.

“After the loss of the credibility between the industry altogether and the regulator, we see situations where the normal certification process which normally took four weeks all of the sudden takes three months, and you have to delay your launch for two months,” Daimler AG CEO Dieter Zetsche told reporters last week at the (Geneva Motor Show).

The increased EPA scrutiny on emissions goes across the board, and isn’t relegated solely to new diesel models.

2017 Audi Q7 Front Exterior, Image: © 2016 Alex Dykes/The Truth About Cars

Audi knows you want its diesels

Never mind the controversy. Audi knows that Americans are thirsty for diesel fuel!

The continuing demand for high-end German diesels from American consumers is something Audi will honor, the brand’s board member in charge of technical development said in Autocar:

Speaking after it was announced that Audi had sold more than 200,000 cars in the US for the first time in 2015, a doubling of sales since 2011, Knirsch said: “In particular, customers of our Q models are saying ‘give us diesel engines’.

“The message we have received is that some of them love our diesel engines. Clearly they want them to comply with regulations, but that issue is set aside now. The fact is they love 900-1000 km (610 miles) of driving range on the U.S. cycle.”

Audi’s operating profit dropped last year due to the ongoing diesel emissions scandal, which saw a stop order placed on sales of vehicles equipped with a 3.0-liter diesel.

As a prize for diesel aficionados, Audi announced it will bring the technologically advanced SQ7 diesel SUV to U.S. shores. Under its hood is a 4.0-litre diesel V8 outfitted with an electric compressor.

2015 Volvo V60 Polestar_2

Volvo cranks it up to “11”

The days spent wishing your Volvo wagon could hug a turn better are over.

Volvo is shedding its staid image and bowing to consumer demand by offering parts from its high-performance Polestar division on all of its models, the Swedish automaker has announced:

Polestar Performance Parts offers a wide range of extensively developed enhancements for the Volvo S60, V60, V40 and XC60 models to begin with, including chassis parts, wheels, exhaust, interior and exterior details and more …

The Polestar Performance Parts can be purchased as a Complete Package, including chassis parts, rims and tyres, intake and exhaust, as well as exterior and interior parts. All of these components will together create a more compelling driving experience, especially in combination with the Polestar Performance Optimization and can be bought in separate packages as well.

Because the parts are developed with Volvo looking over its shoulder like a stern but forgiving parent, existing factory warranties won’t be affected by installation of these parts.

[Images: North Korea (J.A. de Roo, CC BY-SA 3.0/Wikimedia); Volvo (© 2016 Alex Dykes/The Truth About Cars); EPA (Flickr); Pyongyang traffic ((stephan)/Flickr)]

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11 Comments on “TTAC News Round-up: North Korea’s Good Times Threatened, Suzuki Cashes Out, and an EPA Backup...”

  • avatar

    “To quote Blade Runner, “The light that burns twice as bright burns for half as long.””

    originally attributed to Lao Tzu.

  • avatar

    Ooh, a Volvo Performance brand….Beigeline? :)

  • avatar

    Who can blame Suzuki for parting ways with VW? When Suzuki first asked for its $2 billion back, they said it was because VW had refused to share TDI technology with them, which was part of the original deal. All reported here on TTAC. VW charged them $200 million for being impertinent by handing back only $1.8 billion.

    Being utterly cynical, I believe VW didn’t want Suzuki to examine the documentation, because it would have exposed the absolute shyster scam TDI was in reality. A report today on old editor B Schmitt’s website which continues to be highly useful to me, and copied to Forbes, gives results of Japanese Government testing of diesels in their market. Mazda did very well, Toyota and the rest not so much. The German government have performed similar tests, but no results released. I wonder why? Not really.

    The Audi blah blah about people wanting diesels in the US is blah, blah, blah. Giving the reason as range neglects to mention there is no Porta Potty option with diamond-encrusted leather lid with scent dispenser, rendering the argument moot unless the driver and passengers have gall bladders the size of a canteloupe. But I digress.

    • 0 avatar

      “Giving the reason as range neglects to mention there is no Porta Potty option with diamond-encrusted leather lid with scent dispenser, rendering the argument moot unless the driver and passengers have gall bladders the size of a canteloupe.”

      ITYM “bladders”, but regardless, bullshit.

      Every time someone cites range as a plus point, some crank pops out of the woodwork to repeat this same stupid notion.

      It’s not about non-stop driving, it’s about not having to go fuel up every couple of days. And for a daily-driver vehicle that’s a positive attribute even if you like hanging around in gas stations.

      • 0 avatar

        “It’s not about non-stop driving, it’s about not having to go fuel up every couple of days.”

        Bingo. Not sure why this is so hard for people to understand.

  • avatar

    As far as I know, NK is LHD officially. So clearly it’s just become a dumping ground for JDM cars after they can’t be bothered. I doubt someone from NK would willingly drive a traitorous car from SK.

    Chinese cars are probably the new option there.

  • avatar

    I still love my Diesels……

    North korea can go pound sand .


  • avatar

    Gotta love Audi, no idea what % of their sales are oil burners but I have to agree as a TDI owner 600 miles to a tank is great, the tank is pretty small I know the Passet TDI gets over 800 miles and that doe become an addiction very quickly, now if VW/ Audi could just fix their small issue here we TDI owners can move one.

  • avatar

    I don’t see any association with “good times” and North Korea. Their people live in a hellhole, and guess what, it’s going to be even worse. As far as Suzuki building a factory in India, they recently burned a young woman alive there, I would boycott all of India for any and all purpose’s. I know, nothing about automobiles.

  • avatar

    Nazi Germany lasted 12 years? NK has been about 60-odd or 3 generations. They’re truly indoctrinated. Sounds like they’ve got more of a production thing going than Cuba.

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