Posts By: Marcelo de Vasconcellos

By on May 2, 2013

chevrolet-onix-2013-01. Photo courtesy motoresemmovimento.blogspot.com

Soon after TTAC’s article on General Motors’ new model make over, the naysayers were out in force. Commenter jpolicke for example suggested selling GM stock if its future relied on engineering coming from South Korea. However, signs abound that this time around GM is finding its way. Let’s examine some of the pros and cons:

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By on April 28, 2013

Though it was only 6 pm, it was already dark out. The fall sent shivers to the Southern Hemisphere, and I ventured out to procure bread for my family. I got to the bakery shop, facing a small dilemma. All the parking on the bakery´s side of the street was taken. I drove around the block and parked on the other side. It’s a narrow two-way street and buses pass all the time, making it difficult for two cars passing at once. I worried about somebody hitting my car or smashing my side mirror. So I thought about it a minute and left the lights on when I exited the car, hoping that would be enough to alert our modern-day semi-comatose drivers. And that my friends is what makes me an enthusiast. (Read More…)

By on March 24, 2013

The tail-end of the last century. I was living in Brasilia. In spite of the stifling bureaucratic nature of the city, officious, uninspired architecture and desolate, nose-bleeding, dry weather, I was very happy. Because of a car. (Read More…)

By on March 10, 2013

I parked and was thinking of the day ahead. I didn’t notice the black shadow approaching my car. When I looked over I was quite startled. Oh no! A flanelinha!

In almost all Brazilian cities, the flanelinha is a fixture. Flanelinha (which loosely translates as flannel man, as in the rag) is the demure name given to the “workers” who divide the streets among themselves and charge drivers to park. Their excuse is that they’re taking care of your car. If you don’t pay up,  a fat tire or a big scratch will be a symbol of your chintzyness. (Read More…)

By on March 9, 2013

When the Renault Duster came out, I didn’t have to point it out to my wife. As soon as she saw one, she smiled and asked me what car was that. I explained to her that it was nothing more than our very own Logan, which is a sedan, on stilts. I explained how the handling would be worse, how it was less economic than our own car, how the trunk couldn’t hold as much luggage as our car did (but more than its hatch sister, the Sandero can). All to no avail. She listened, interested for once in cars, shook her head gravely, then said the damning words, “I want one.”

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By on February 28, 2013

The Ford EcoSport, launched last year into the wilds of South America, is being unleashed upon unsuspecting Europeans at the Geneva Motor Show. Handheld nerds already have been given an EcoSport preview at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. (Read More…)

By on February 25, 2013

The newly shown Jeep Cherokee has created quite a ruckus. Some like the design, some describe it in language unsuitable to a family-oriented site like TTAC. The fact is Jeep needs this. The mother-ship, Fiat, is taking Jeep international and while Jeep’s design language gets good points at home, it really doesn’t strike a chord among buyers worldwide. What’s more, Jeep doesn’t have that much of a heritage outside US borders. So, the Italians are free to do with it what they like. For starters, Jeep now sponsors one of the most popular football teams in Europe. That is a sure sign that the Jeep you knew and loved is going through profound changes that will either make it relevant, or send it bruised and bleeding to lick it wounds back home. (Read More…)

By on January 3, 2013

The fluidic design of the HB20 has impressed Brazilians greatly. The car has already broken into the top 10, and Hyundai claims there are 24 thousand people who have already ordered one and have plunked down some money. Undeniably, the car is a looker. In my opinion, the side is the highlight. That swoosh is […]

By on December 26, 2012

Continued from Parte Um: I needed a cheap car to maintain and insure. I needed a small car that would not call attention and that could be jammed into any tight spot as I would be parking on the street and be going downtown everyday. I wanted, if possible, a fun car. One that would […]

By on December 25, 2012

Parte Um: Na casa que falta pão, todo mundo briga e ninguém tem razão.

August 2010. My life is a mess. My marriage is going down the proverbial drain. I’m totally fed up with my work. My wife’s company is struggling and sucking more money than it’s bringing. Mom’s dying of cancer. Cigarettes.

All of this is reflected on me. I’m turning 39, but I feel and look 45. No sense of a future. No way out. September comes along and mamãe passes on. This moment of intense grief bring me and my wife close together. The closest we’ve been in more than a while. For a while … (Read More…)

By on December 24, 2012

Video o.k. for network TV in Brazil, but NSFW in certain jurisdictions. Do not click if naked derrieres offend you.

The numbers for the first eleven months of the year have been consolidated. The first fortnight of December has been basically more of the same. It’s now quasi-official: Fiat is the biggest pig in the sty for the eleventh time in a row. They already have an ad out celebrating the fact. Last year the Italians waited until January to commemorate. This year they had no such compunctions.

Curious is the theme they chose to celebrate their victory. Don’t think a green-eyed spermatozoon, masturbation and bodily functions would be GM’s choice to celebrate their market dominance in stodgy America. Oh, those racy Italians! (Read More…)

By on December 21, 2012

Brazil has some of the highest car prices in the world. Taxes, protectionism and high margins, coupled with the fact that Brazilians are gobbling up each and every car built in Brazil guarantees that this fact of life will not change any time soon. On top of that, Brazilians must pay 4 percent of the car’s price each year as tax. (Read More…)

By on November 1, 2012

According to the Brazilian enthusiast site webmotors, the UAW has come on down for the São Paulo Auto Show for the first time ever. Could it be that they were interested in checking out the product specialists?

Officially, no. The UAW is hard at work researching how and what factors drive Brazilian consumers to buy the cars they do. More specifically, the UAW wants to know if Brazilians consider or would be willing to consider work relations and conditions as factors in their decision. (Read More…)

By on October 25, 2012

Brazil is now the world’s fourth largest market. With sales of almost 4 million cars, the magical 5 million mark is not a mirage anymore. Accordingly, São Paulo, Latin America’s second largest city and the economic hub of the country, holds the grandest of the region’s trade shows. Known as the Salão do Automóvel de São Paulo, the fair expects to attract over 750 thousand visitors.

Marking its importance, everybody’s here. From VW’s Martin Winterkorn, to GM’s Dan Akerson and Ford’s Tim Foley, not to mention assorted honchos with names difficult to spell from a host of Asian makers, everybody wants a piece of the bootylicious Brazilian pie. I can’t remember another Saloon in which more stellar members of the rarefied pinnacles of the worldwide car industry were present and making themselves so accessible to the press.

Let’s take a walk through the Salão and see the highlights according to this auto scribe’s humble point of view. (Read More…)

By on October 23, 2012

According to Bloomberg, Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn claimed that “Brazil is very much a cornerstone” in VW’s push to become the world’s largest car maker by 2018.

Herr Winterkorn is in São Paulo for the largest and most important Auto Show in Latin America. Striving to make the most of this unique opportunity, the Brazilian press was all over VW’s CEO. He didn’t disappoint. He announced investments of 4.4 billion dollars to expand VW’s model line and modernize their factories in Brazil until 2016.

Well, they better! (Read More…)

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  • Brendan McAleer, Canada
  • Marcelo De Vasconcellos, Brazil
  • Matthias Gasnier, Australia
  • J & J Sutherland, Canada
  • Tycho de Feyter, China
  • W. Christian 'Mental' Ward, Abu Dhabi
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