The Ford Ka was born as a provocateur with a challenging design and hints of refinement that solidified the idea that cars are not sold by the pound. Highly successful in Europe, this recipe proved less so in the rest of the world, particularly Latin America were the car was relentlessly cheapened out over its career […]
Posts By: Marcelo de Vasconcellos
FCA has been trying to broaden the appeal of its Fiat line in the US. Success may be a ways off, into the future, or at least won’t materialize until the Jeep Renegade and Fiat 500X are launch. But that won’t stop the Italians from trying. In a bid to show off its minivan as a viable alternative for active young folks, Fiat will introduce its 500L Vans edition at the upcoming US Open – of surfing (yes, surfing, not the famous tennis tournament).
Who invented the minivan? Americans may be surprised to hear that Europeans place that honor firmly in Renault’s lap. To them, the Renault Espace, which celebrates 30 years of production this June, will always be the epitome of the minivan and no Dodge Caravan or Chrysler Town and Country can touch it. To add to the complication, there is the trifle matter that Nissan introduced its Prairie three years before either the American or European contenders and that it, too, had what are considered the essential traits of the modern minivan.
The accepted hagiography of the Ford empire involves the firesale of all of Ford’s various brands in the aftermath of the financial crisis, with only the Blue Oval and the Lincoln Motor Company sticking around for the ride. But that’s not quite accurate.
As I mentioned in my recent analysis of FCA’s plans for Brazil, Fiat is chugging along at almost full capacity and doesn’t really need new cars to compete here. However, that doesn’t mean they will quit fiddling with their product line. Behold the latest and greatest in South America: Fiat’s adventurous new Palio Fire Way!
After all was said and done and the dust settled on FCA’s presentation of future plans to investors a couple of days ago, many of us were still left wondering – what does FCA really have in store for Brazil? We all know what the “F” in FCA stands for and there’s a reason why it comes before the “C”. Part of that is the success Fiat has enjoyed in Brazil – which was heavily emphasized in the Fiat brand presentation. Brazil is a good indicator for Fiat’s plans in the Latin American market, and the rest of the globe.
The Chinese will be the first to lay eyes on Peugeot’s beautiful new concept car, the Exalt, at the Beijing Auto Show that starts later in the month. Along with great artistic touches inside and out, it’s also a hybrid that can run on gasoline, pure electricity or both. The Exalt is a sedan that anticipates Peugeot’s take on the sedan as a coupe -and it’s another example of a dying brand throwing a “hail mary” pass in the form of an attractive concept car.
Serendipity is what I believe it’s called. On the day TTAC was aflutter with news and comments on the new Chevy Colorado and an out-of-the-box thinking proposal to get the Chevy Montana into the North American market, I got some news in my e-mail inbox. The new Ford Ranger has arrived in Brazil – but in regular cab form.
Last time I told you of the perfect legal, societal and media storm which conspired to make me let go of the car of my dreams. This time reasons of a more personal, and very human, nature, joined up to make the Fiat Tipo a car that never was to be mine.
The year was 1995. The country: Brazil. A new Constitution had been proclaimed a few years before, and our fledgling democracy had survived a presidential impeachment. Society was growing up and demanding new, more transparent relations with big business. The car market was more open than it had been since the 1950’s, and due to the deluge of imported cars, that brief window would soon close. I was there, in the eye of a hurricane, looking to buy my very first car with my own money. All those factors made up the perfect storm, which conspired to pull me away from the car of my dreams.
As of late Brazil has been on a roll and a multitude of makers have set up or are in the process of setting up in our tropical paradise. Everybody from Jaguar to Hyundai (not to mention a motley crew of Chinese brands) are placing their bets, but they face an obstacle that nobody has really noticed: the existence of a number of foreign makes that locals consider, well, local. Among them, the most Brazilian of makes – Volkswagen. Currently trailing Fiat, and sometimes GM, VW nonetheless is as Brazilian as feijoada, and for the first time in decades, VW has deemed us worthy of getting a taste of the best they have to offer on their European menu, the whimsically named up!.
According to this Brazilian site, this is the list of the 10 most sold cars in the history of Brazil. Some of them are just for us, while others have been sold in other countries, even in the First World, even if under a different brand, or a different company altogether. Do you think you have a clue? Don’t worry if you don’t, even I was surprised by some.
The rumors have it that the new Ford Ka will be on sale as of March this year. Production of the old Ka has come to a close as the Zetec Rocam engines have also been terminated (and thus the old Brazil-market Fiesta is probably dead as well). At launch, the new Ka will come exclusively with a 1.5 Sigma engine and a 1.0, three cylinder, EcoBoost-based engine. Rumors have it that it will be the most powerful 1.0 engine in Brazil and will thus have to provide around 82 ponies.
Another victim of government meddling in Brazil’s auto market is dead. Fiat’s venerable old Uno, redubbed the Mille a while ago, will not receive airbags and ABS, as per a newly mandated law, and thus will go into history’s dustbin alongside VW’s Kombi. As a farewell, Fiat has unleashed into the Brazilian market its own last edition, the Grazie Mille (“Thanks a Thousand” a clever pun on the car’s official name, Mille, though the market still calls it Uno). It can be had for slightly over $13,000, and it’s the most well equipped Uno Mille of recent times. A nod back to when this car had the panache to dispute middle class families’ hearts.
The Conselho Nacional de Trânsito, the highest traffic authority in Brazil, has just unauthorized the Economic Ministry’s intention of opening up an exception to venereal, I mean venerable, Volkswagen Kombi (known as Bus in the U.S.). It has ratified the governmental organ’s own resolutions of 2009, which implemented a gradual, mandatory adoption of airbags and ABS systems, reaching 100 percent of cars sold in Brazil as of 2014.