Just in time for Halloween, NBC News’ China-centric news blog “Behind the Wall” is running a piece on the removal of a Chinese “Zombie car.” The car, actually a small blue van, was left in a roadside parking lot just over a year ago and has since been consumed by a voracious ivy plant. When photos of the plant covered car became an internet sensation earlier this year, the police became involved but had little luck tracing the current owner. Eventually the decision was made to impound the vehicle, but by then the vines were so thick that local authorities determined it would be easier to haul the entire mess away in one fell swoop. The end result makes an interesting photo. Read More >
Reuters is reporting that the reason behind PSA/Peugeot Citroen’s financial tie-up with China’s Dongfeng Motors was the decision of General Motors, which owns 7% of the French automaker, to scale back cooperation with Peugeot. GM also apparently rejected a PSA/Opel merger backed by the French government.
After the China Business News reported that Dongfeng Motor will purchase a 30% stake in PSA/Peugeot-Citroen for $1.63 billion (10 billion yuan) the French automaker confirmed that it is indeed having talks with possible foreign partners but would not comment specifically on a possible equity sale to Dongfeng. “We have a partnership with Dongfeng and we are looking at how how we can expand it, but nothing more has been decided,” a PSA spokesperson told the Automotive News. PSA said that it is looking at new industrial and commercial projects with a variety of partners, ”including the financial implications that would accompany them.” PSA has a current market valuation of 4.4 billion euros ($5.95 billion), its stock having doubled in price this year.
When a major EV and battery expo takes place at the same time as EV charging station maker Ecotality files for bankruptcy, it’s a good question as to how much of the EV and hybrid vehicle industry is truly sustainable and how much exists solely to chase government incentives, but there is no question that it’s a substantial industry, even if, according to the most optimistic forecasts, cars and trucks with electric drive will never make up more than a fraction of annual sales.
Geely Automobile Holdings Ltd., owned by the same Chinese company that bought Volvo Cars in 2010, announced that it will soon start developing cars jointly with the Swedish company. The cars will be intended for the Chinese and export markets and will go on sale in 2015. Geely has ambitions to be China’s largest car exporter. Working jointly with Volvo is seen as giving Geely products some of Volvo’s reputation for safety and reliability.
“We have entered into actual research and development stage and I believe we can see the new product in the year after next,” said Geely Chief Executive Officer Gui Sheng Yue yesterday in Hong Kong.
Zhejiang Geely Holding Group Co., bought Volvo from Ford for $1.8 billion and last year the two companies signed a memorandum to “leverage its full access” to technology to develop vehicles. Earlier this year, Volvo announced that it was going to build a joint R&D center with Geely in Gothenburg. Volvo has also started assembling test builds at its first factory in China, in Chengdu, which will have an annual capacity of 120,000 cars.
Volvo Cars also announced today that it has received approval from the Chinese national government to build two more factories in China. The assembly plant in Daqing, in northeast China, will have a capacity of 80,000 units a year and is hoped to be fully operational some time next year. The facility in Zhangjiakou will be an engine plant and it will supply the Chengdu assembly operation where actual production will begin in Q4 2013. The two assembly plants are not expected to reach capacity for a few years.
Tesla Motors faces trademark issues in the United States and China as it tries to expand its lineup of cars and countries where it is sold. According applications found at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s web site, on August 5th, Tesla filed three trademark applications for use of the name “Model E” in three categories, “automobiles and structural parts therefore,” automobile maintenance and repair services, and apparel. With merchandise sales being an important part of car marketing today, additional filings to cover apparel and similar logoed items are standard practice. Last year, Tesla CEO Elon Musk hinted at a Model E in an interview with Jalopnik, “There will definitely be more models after the S and X. Maybe an E :).”
July sales reports are in from China and GM and its JV partners did well while Toyota, Honda and Mazda were down. GM and its Chinese partners sold 221,580 vehicles last month, up 11% from last July, based on strong Buick sales, which were up 26% to 66,208. The two marques GM is trying to turn into global brands, Cadillac and Chevrolet, had mixed results with Cadillac up 83% to 3,688 vehicles and Chevy down slightly, 3%, at 43,343 units.
GM’s microvan enterprise, SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile Co., a joint venture with SAIC and the Liuzhou government in Southwest China, sold 98,380 Wuling-brand microvans in China, up 5 percent from 2012 and that venture’s Baojun compact sedans were up 300%, selling 6,302 units of that recently launched brand.
Everybody was betting big on electric cars in China. Everybody thought China will be the world’s biggest market for EVs. It was a bluff. At the Shanghai Auto Show in April, the smart money suddenly was on hybrids. Insiders expect that the Chinese government will extend bigger subsidies to buyers of hybrid cars, after the big electric car revolution in China turned out to be a bust. This is good for Japanese carmakers – for some at least. Read More >
What do People’s Daily, the voice of China’s Communist Party, and Jalopnik have in common? More than you would imagine. Just as a for instance, both are masters of the fine art of pecksniffian outrage. Both are experts when it comes to condemning loose morals, as long as the condemnation can be illustrated with enough graphic, click-generating pictures that show said loose morals in practice. Sanctimonious click-whoring knows no boundaries, and it transcends ideologies: Gawker and CCCP, unite!
A few days ago, Peoples Daily ran an 11 high resolution picture gallery, ostensibly condemning the fact that
“in addition to taking off clothes, some commercial promotions have chosen a more disgusting way to attract public attention. From sexy dress to body painting, public’s moral bottom line has been challenged again and again.”
(Jalopnik, aware of its TL;NR clientele, would have said it with fewer words, and with at least as many pictures.)
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A few weeks ago, GM’s spokesman Greg Martin said:
“There will be no exports of these cars built in China. Cars that are built in China are sold in China.”
No true, said GM China head Bob Socia to Reuters today, reiterating former statements that GM’s Chinese export machine is in full swing: “GM plans to export as many as 130,000 China-made vehicles this year, up from 77,000 vehicles in 2012, driven by demand for its Chevrolet Sail in other emerging markets,” Reuters writes. Read More >
By the end of 2009, China was the world’s largest auto market – something we saw coming nearly a year in advance. When the torrid double digit growth got stuck two years later, a lot of people called a bubble. However, the bubble did not burst. Now, analysts predict a return of the double digit growth.
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It’s a thing in China: You don’t get the car service you expect, and instead of waiting for the J.D. Power questionnaire, you hire thugs with sledgehammers. Not to beat the dealer to pulp. No, to smash your car in front of a lot of cameras. It so recently happened to a Maserati Quattroporte. According to Carnewschina, the owner of the car (starting at 423,000 USD in China) disagreed with the dealer over a $390 repair. After a flurry of letters, the car was smashed. Read More >
The container yard stretched out into the distance as far as the eye could see. Next to the ship, three giant cranes worked at a feverish pace, plucking the 40 foot long containers from their racks, lifting them high into the air and depositing them onto one of an endless stream of flat-bed trucks below at a rate of around one every minute. The loaded trucks raced their engines and sped off into the yard where they were met by other machines, immense forklifts, that removed the containers and piled them in stacks six or seven units high. The stacks, numbering in the tens of thousands, merged with one another to form great flat topped mesas of multicolored steel cut by valleys of cement and the industrial landscape rivaled anything that nature could create with stone and water. It was a scene I had looked upon many times and it could have been a container port anywhere in the world. Only the stench of told me it was Kaohsiung Taiwan.
Audi’s global deliveries were “clearly lower” than in January, Audi’s CEO Rupert Stadler told Reuters reporter Andreas Cremer in Geneva. Audi’s global sales were up 16.3 percent in January. There won’t be a minus said Stadler, even while fighting the lunar calendar, Audi will report a single digit plus.
Audi’s numbers won’t be the only ones that won’t look as good as the month before.