Being teased with a desirable but unavailable variant of a car sold on our shores is as inevitable as death and taxes. Every year, there is some new supercar station wagon, ultra-efficient diesel or hot hatch/rally special that seems just within our grasp. Inevitably we learn that it won’t be making its way to America for a variety of reasons. Ultimately, it boils down to one simple factor: it would cost too much to bring it over.
Posts By: Derek Kreindler
-Mike Devereux, Holden’s former Managing Director, in November, 2012
Those ominous words spoken by Mike Devereux last year have taken on an almost eerie significance in light of yesterday’s events. After more than a half century of building cars in Australia, Holden will now become a “national sales company”, ostensibly selling rebadged global General Motors products, manufactured in places like Korea and Thailand.
But veiled remarks about the Australian auto industry aren’t the only words uttered by Devereux that caused us to take notice. At the launch of the latest VF Commodore, Devereux made a vague statement about the Commodore’s future, implying that it would be built on a global platform at the Adelaide factory. While the latter is no longer possible, there’s still hope that the Commodore could live a GM architecture. The only question is, which one?
Holden informed the Australian federal and state level governments that it will cease car production in Australia by 2017, citing a “perfect storm” of unfavorable exchange rates, high production costs and a small but competitive car market that has seen sales of traditional Australian-made rear-drive sedans and Utes plummet in recent years. An estimated 3000 workers are said to be directly affected by the closure of Holden’s manufacturing facilities.
Among the pet segments that enthusiasts hold dear, none has been on a roll the way the mid-size truck market has been. News of the Chevrolet Colorado’s return, along with diesel and manual transmission options, have been greeted with the sort of fanfare that in the glossy buff book era would have been reserved for the newest European supercar.
But this is the age of the internet, the long tail and niches are able to thrive in cyberspace. Our coverage of the Colorado’s debut garnered hundreds of comments, and Phillip Thomas’ excellent analysis piece was our most popular article for a number of days (on the strength of this piece, Phillip will be back with more truck segment pieces).
While it’s easy for us to get excited about the Colorado, the numbers indicate a different story. The mid-size truck market has been in consistent decline, and the Colorado has an even tougher job than it did last time around if it wants to kickstart the segment all over again.
In case you haven’t had your fill, live shots, as well as shots in of the ragtop below. Ford was coy with powertrain details, but the 2.3L Ecoboost will make “more than 305 horsepower”, helping it exceed the 3.7L V6′s output. The 5.0L V8 is said to top the current car’s 420 horsepower. The convertble top will apparently raise and lower in just 5 seconds, while bigger brakes, paddle shifters and MyFord Touch all make an appearance. Despite adding a 4-cylinder engine and independent rear-suspension for world markets, Ford expects them to make up just 10 percent of sales.
After talk of increasing the seperation between Chevrolet and Opel, GM has announced that it will axe the Chevrolet brand in Europe, despite previously aiming to make Chevrolet its low-cost brand, while signing a nine-year, $584 million deal to have the brand sponsor Manchester United football club.
Ford’s latest game changer is here, after months of rumors, hand-wringing and broken embargoes. Aside from the new 2.3L Ecoboost engine, features like blind spot monitoring and MyFord Touch are now making an appearance. We’ll have more in a few hours, as TTAC’s Ronnie Schreiber attends the official premiere.
Just off the wires, we have word from Chevrolet that the 2015 Corvette Z06 will debut at NAIAS in January – the perfect time slot to steal some of the thunder from the Blue Oval, which will show the all-new Mustang and the F-150 to the public for the first time. Last year, Ford managed to upstage GM’s truck debuts with the surprise unveiling of the Atlas concept. Looks like GM is exacting some revenge.
Buried in an article about the East-West schism between wagons and BMW’s ungainly Gran Turismo series of pseudo-crossovers was a bit of news destined to horrify the BMW diehards that represent a slim but vocal minority of its customer base. Despite indications that it would not be appearing on our shores, BMW will in fact be launching a front-drive car in North America, as per Automotive News Europe
Next year, BMW will add a minivan-styled compact model targeted at young families, sports enthusiasts who need space for their equipment and older buyers who like cars that are easy to get in and out of and have a high seating position. The minivan will be based on the Active Tourer concept and is set to debut in production guise at the Geneva auto show in March. Most likely it will be called the 2-series Active Tourer. It will be underpinned by BMW’s new UKL front-wheel-drive architecture that debuted this week on the third-generation Mini.
Speaking at a preview event for the next-generation Hyundai Genesis, Hyundai CEO John Krafcik defended his company’s decision to forgo establishing a seperate luxury channel for cars like the Genesis and Equus. While the rationale put forth usually revolves around the exorbitantly expensive pricetag for launching a new brand and an all-new sales network, Krafcik put it from another angle.
Weeks prior to the historic deal reached between Iran and the “P5+1″ group of nations, TTAC reported on some of the machinations going on behind the scenes regarded the United States, France and their respective auto industries ability to do business in Iran. We put forth the theory that any deal with Iran would be a boon to auto manufacturers, who would have access to a market expected to be worth 1.5 million units in a few short years, with a very young population and a standard of living that is substantially better than many highly touted emerging markets.
At the time of publication, we encountered significant dismissal, if not disagreement. But as it turned out, negotiations had been ongoing since the start of 2013, and the preliminary deal appears to make the auto industry a big winner.
With the demise of the Lotus Elise and Exige, the lineup is looking pretty barren these days. Only the Evora exists for those looking to simplify and add lightness. The Los Angeles Auto Show saw the introduction of the formerly-forbidden Exige V6 Cup, but unlike our world market friends, this one is not street legal.
Claiming that the Toyobaru twins are “mid-life crisis” cars, Nissan fired back with their own retro concept, dubbed the IDx, which was apparently designed with the help of “digital natives”, or young people who have grown up with computers and the internet. For such a Generation Y-oriented car, it’s fairly retro.