It’s pretty amazing how the world spins and moves forward yet people refuse to budge. Fiat consistently scores in or near the top of Euro reliability rankings, besting most if not all of the mainstream Euro makers as well as other competitors from other continents who, somehow, are given a pass in this area. It does likewise in South America. In terms of “fix-ability” it is among the most appreciated, being its corporate policy to share information with mechanics quite openly about its cars’ needs and selling every small bit as a separate part so that people need only change what needs changing, saving its customers money .
João Paulo de Oliveira found it hard to find another job after he was fired by Rapistan, a Michigan-based conveyor belt maker, in 1980. He was detained or arrested another five times until the Brazilian military dictatorship, that had successfully realized a coup d’état in 1964, and returned power to civilians in 1985. Oliveira claims that no other company would hire him after he lost his job, and hge was constantly threatened by police. His crime? Being a union member at a time the military considered strikes as subversive communist movements.
Oliveira declares that he and many other union members suspected that private companies, including many auto makers collaborated with the state’s repressive forces. Apparently, his suspicions have been borne out.
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 and became irrevocably divorced from the European car in its second generation. Now, designed and developed by Ford Brazil (with some help from the European unit), the Ka, in its third generation, sets out from the tropics in its eventual quest to become an integral part of the One Ford strategy (sales in Europe, from a UK beachhead, should commence in the fall of 2015).
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 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!.
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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.
On the off chance that someday you might walk into your local Ford dealership in Kalamazoo and buy a Brazilian-built Ford EcoSport, at least you now get the ease of mind that it got five stars from Latin NCAP, the institution that tests cars sold in Latin America, in Germany, using pretty much Euro NCAP standards. So it would seem that, as TTAC has previously reported, Brazilian cars may not all be deathtraps.
Spy photos in Germany of a heavily camouflaged small Ford have set the Brazilian blogosphere on fire. The initial photos were published by a Malaysian site that didn’t really know what they were seeing. It turns out that it’s actually the new Ford Ka, a very important car for our market (and the car I currently drive).
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 >
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 >