The Truth About Cars » China The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Mon, 14 Jul 2014 16:00:14 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars » China Buick Gets Another Crossover – What Took So Long? Tue, 01 Jul 2014 18:10:22 +0000 All-new high-end midsize SUV, the Buick Envision, will make its


Buick will launch a new mid-size crossover, dubbed “Envision” in China first, then presumably in other markets. All we can say is “hurry up”.

Given the sales strength of the Enclave and Encore, it’s amazing that Buick isn’t busting their hump to get this thing on sale tomorrow. Then again, China is Buick’s most important market, and their thirst for CUVs seems nearly impossible to satiate. No word on what platform this new CUV will ride on, but the Theta chassis that underpins the Chevrolet Equinox and GMC Terrain is a good bet.

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Volvo Will Export Chinese-Made Cars To America Wed, 18 Jun 2014 12:42:30 +0000 volvo-s60l-guangzhou-c

Honda may have been the first OEM to bring Chinese-made cars to North America, but their Made-In-China Fit never arrived in the United States. Now, it looks like Volvo will be the first brand to import Chinese-made cars to America.

Reuters is reporting that Volvo will import the S60L (for long wheelbase) sedan to the United States, with volumes of around 10,000 units per year. The S60L is identical to the S60, save for a 3.1 inch longer wheelbase, for enhanced rear seat comfort. Volvo did not confirm which models will actually come to the United States, but a Volvo spokesman confirmed to Reuters that exports from China are indeed planned for Volvo.

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Infiniti ESQ: Infiniti Gets A Small Crossover, But Only For China Wed, 11 Jun 2014 16:41:41 +0000 kcp6xowebol7ndrn3wfy

That Infiniti-badged Nissan Juke that seemed so outlandish? It’s coming – but only for China.

A Nissan spokesman confirmed to Jalopnik that the Infiniti ESQ, pictured here, is indeed a Chinese-only Infiniti product. Essentially a rebadged Nismo Juke, the ESQ makes next to no attempt to disguise its origins – it’s literally a rebadge job that only the least discerning consumers would ever confuse for a distinct Infiniti product. But it does give Infiniti a toehold in the red-hot compact crossover segment.

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QOTD: Why There Will Be No “Made In China” Lexus Products Mon, 05 May 2014 14:02:35 +0000 01-lexus-nx-concept-1

Currently, there is only one Lexus plant outside of Japan. A Toyota factory in Cambridge, Ontario makes the Lexus RX crossover, while Toyota’s Georgetown, Kentucky plant will come online in 2015. Like other Japanese auto makers, Toyota is moving towards a localization of its production facilities, but one thing they won’t be doing is producing Lexus vehicles in China.

Speaking at the Beijing Auto Show, Lexus head Tokuo Fukuichi said

“We are often asked whether we plan to manufacture Lexus cars in China. But the question is whether our brand has earned the trust of customers. If a brand is really trusted, it can sell its products wherever they are manufactured. But Lexus has not yet achieved such a status.” 

Building an automotive luxury brand is a decades long process. Audi is an overnight success nearly 40 years in the making, while Infiniti is now on the slow, long road to lifting themselves up out of the doldrums of Tier 2 luxury. Lexus has arguably been the most successful Japanese effort at a Tier 1 luxury brand, but they still have work to do. In world markets (specifically Western Europe), Lexus does not enjoy the same footing as it does in the United States, and has only been on sale in Japan since 2005.

In Fukuichi’s estimation, Audi, BMW and Mercedes-Benz (not to mention, Cadillac and Infiniti) can all do what Lexus cannot: build cars in China without harming brand perception. This is a big problem for Lexus – it must import its cars from Japan (and the NAFTA zone) and sell them at a higher price thanks to import tariffs and other duties. But it’s also a deliberate calculation on the part of Lexus.

If any of the German brands suffered quality problems from Chinese made cars, their customers would likely forgive them, due to the burning desire to have four rings, a three pointed star or two blue triangles on the hood of their car. But nobody feels the same pull for the stylized “L”.

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2104 Beijing Auto Show: Ford Introduces Everest SUV to Chinese Market Mon, 21 Apr 2014 15:30:10 +0000 everestfront

While two days after an avalanche killed 13 Nepalese Sherpas on Mount Everest may not be the best time to highlight a vehicle named for the peak, Ford is going ahead with introducing the Everest Concept to the Chinese market at the Beijing auto show. The  seven passenger SUV, larger and more expensive than the Kuga and EcoSport crossovers already on sale there, will take the slot at the top of Ford’s utility vehicle offerings in China. The Everest was developed by Ford’s Asia-Pacific design team in Australia and it will be built in China by Jiangling Motors, one of Ford’s joint venture partners there. The Everest Concept was previously shown at last month’s Bangkok Motor Show.


 While the red hot Chinese market has cooled a bit, with light vehicle sales growing at an annual rate of 10-15% compared to the 30% growth seen in 2009 and 2010, SUV sales continue to be strong, with 40% growth year to year.

Ford CEO Alan Mulally has said that the new Chinese market Escort sedan will likely end up in the United States (with local revisions) the company had no comments about selling the Everest outside of China.

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Fushou: Donfeng’s Dragon Won’t Eat PSA’s Lion Mon, 17 Mar 2014 12:08:15 +0000 Peugeot Display in China Circa 2013

In light of fears regarding the three-way deal between Dongfeng, PSA Peugeot Citroen and the French government leading toward a time where Dongfeng would take the reins of the ailing automaker, CEO Zhu Fushou assured his company would not do so.

Automotive News Europe reports in an interview between Fushou and French newspaper L’Alsace, the 14 percent stake in PSA is a “win-win cooperation, not a purchase deal but a way to help PSA return to growth.”

In return for a capital increase of 3 billion euro — made up of 800 million euro contributions from both the Chinese automaker and the French government in exchange for 14 percent of PSA — the two automakers will begin work on conquering the Asia-Pacific automotive market with an aim of 1.5 million units annually, as well as helping Dongfeng better compete against local rivals.

As for Europe, the deal will help PSA reduce its share of vehicle sales in its local market from 62 percent to 50 percent as focus turns toward emerging markets, including Russia and South America. In turn, 10,000 jobs will be cut in the next three years as part of the recovery plan for the French automaker.

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Tesla Hires Renault-Nissan Communications Director Thu, 13 Mar 2014 12:35:00 +0000 tesla-model-s-10

In preparation to enter the Chinese market while battling state governments of direct sales, Tesla has hired Renault-Nissan communications director Simon Sproule to the role of vice president of communications and marketing for the EV automaker.

Bloomberg reports Sproule’s experience gained from stints with Microsoft, Jaguar, Ford and Renault-Nissan may be of benefit to Tesla, according to AutoTrends Inc. principal Joe Phillippi:

In many respects he’s got the perfect background. He’s been on the tech side, he’s been on the international auto side and he works for a CEO with peripatetic qualities who runs more than one company.

Sproule will be responsible for marketing Tesla to Europe and China — who aim to increase sales of its Model S 55 percent through exports to the two markets this year — while aiding in the fight with various state regulators over direct sales to customers, including this week’s blow-up between the automaker and New Jersey.

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Opel Adam Entering Chinese Market As A Buick Thu, 27 Feb 2014 13:55:15 +0000 2013-Opel-ADAM-Models

When the Opel Adam enters the Chinese auto market in 2015, it will do so with a Buick badge as General Motors’ first high-end city car.

CarNewsChina reports the Adam will sell for somewhere between 169,800 yuan and 268,800 yuan, the same price range as that of the city car’s main competitor, the Fiat 500. Buick will import the Adam at first, though local production could come to fruition further down the road.

Under the hood, two engines will be available to future Adam owners, including a 1.2-liter engine driving 69 horses through the front wheels, and a larger 1.4-liter with 100 horsepower. Both engines are gasoline-powered.

The customer base for the Adam are those seeking a trendsetting lifestyle machine that has little to do with their parents’ Regal or other sedans.

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Ford CEO Mulally To Head Boeing Or Microsoft Soon? Sat, 19 Oct 2013 16:06:35 +0000 ford-ceo-alan-mulally-china-lincolnjpg-894a92e3f2c9121aThe rumor mill has been grinding away as of late regarding the possible return of Ford CEO Alan Mulally to helm either one of two of Seattle’s many economic engines: Microsoft and Boeing. In the face of these rumors, Mulally has opted not to dispel the rampant speculation.

Reuters was  among those in attendance at an automotive conference in Wuhan, China, where Mulally’s response to being asked whether he was directly or indirectly approached by either company to take the wheel was, “I love serving Ford.” He added that there were no changes to the plan laid out for Ford to find a successor to the third longest serving CEO when he steps down at the end of 2014, though Reuters did report that the auto maker may be open to an earlier departure should Mulally accept an offer elsewhere.

Since taking over Ford in 2006, Mulally helped steady the then-troubled company through his One Ford plan, which led to the sale of acquired brands — including Aston Martin and Volvo — to bring the focus back upon the Ford and Lincoln product lines. In turn, Mulally’s Ford was the only auto maker to avoid the pitfalls and bailouts experienced by Chrysler and General Motors during the Great Recession’s early days in late 2008.

With Microsoft’s market price still stagnant a decade on, and Boeing’s own woes with the 787 Dreamliner, either company could possibly benefit should the right offer approach his desk, especially if hand-delivered by his senior contacts in both companies to his home in Seattle.

Of course, when asked if he were open to a new executive post upon the end of his term at Ford, Mulally laughed and only had three words for the reporter: “I don’t know.”

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Justice for the Zombie Cars Fri, 18 Oct 2013 16:19:50 +0000

Photo courtesy of

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.

Photo courtesy of

There is something sad about an abandoned car. How a vehicle goes from the object of a person’s desire to a worthless piece of trash is an amazing journey. Think about the money and effort involved in purchasing a car. The average person struggles for years to find the money to make the down payment, then years more to service the loan. Along the way there is gas, oil, tires, batteries, tune-ups and eventually parts and repairs, but in return for all that your car gives its entire life to your service. It is, at first, a status symbol, the object of your neighbors’ envy, then a faithful servant that carries you on every errand. Later it becomes that part of your family that carried you to the hospital when your son or daughter was born and eventually that aging but stalwart companion that carried you across the country on your family vacations.

Sooner or later something new catches your eye, your situation changes, or the repair bills begin to mount up so high that you decide a change is in order. In most cases people trade their old car in for another and, although they are thrilled to have something new, they are saddened to see the old one go. Still, the idea that the old car may find some service for another family, may live to serve that family as it has served your own, helps soften the blow. I know that’s how I felt when I traded the keys to my Ford Freestar for the ones to our new T&C but I walked away from the relationship knowing that I did my best to ensure that it would live on for some time to come.

I can’t look at an old, abandoned car without imagining how it came to be there, the people it carried and the lives it touched. In my mind, abandoning your vehicle is a despicable thing to do and it reminds me of an old folk tale called “The Bell of Atri.” Of course I know a car is not a living, breathing thing but as a faithful servant it deserves better. If it can’t go on, then at the very least take it to the recycler and let it start the process anew. Everyone deserves justice, do they not?

Image Courtesy of

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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Reuters: Dongfeng/PSA Tie-Up Resulted From GM Scaling Back Cooperation Tue, 15 Oct 2013 14:58:58 +0000 gm-psa-ceos

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.

In February of 2012, GM announced its investment in PSA as part of what was publicized as a broad based partnership. However, the relationship had problems only months later when GM announced that Shanghai Automotive (SAIC), its partner in China, vetoed some of the joint GM-PSA product planning.

Also, in June of this year, Peugeot had arranged approval from the French government for a restructuring that involved a merger with GM’s European Opel division, but the Detroit based automaker disapproved the deal. The less than smooth relationship with GM persuaded Peugeot CEO Philippe Varin to find other financial partners, ending in the reported $4 billion capital investment in PSA by Dongfeng and the French government. If that deal goes through, the holdings of GM would be diluted and the Peugeot family, which currently owns a bit more than a quarter of its shares, would no longer control the firm.

In exchange for the investment, Dongfeng will get access to PSA’s technology and markets.

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Grandpa Ronnie Visits The Battery Show and Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo Fri, 20 Sep 2013 11:00:06 +0000 IMG_0002

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.

Over 300 battery vendors and tier 1 and tier 2 vendors to the battery and EV industries had displays this week at The Battery Show and Electric & Hybrid Vehicle Technology Expo, held just outside of Detroit in Novi. To be honest, there wasn’t really much news generated at the combined shows, which were pretty much trade shows with booths from companies eager to do business. A lot like the SAE World Congress, I came home with more logo inscribed pens than with breaking news.

As most of the vendors were involved with selling motors, wiring, insulating films, welding systems, powder pulverizers, battery management systems and other components, equipment and processes that go into making hybrid or electric vehicles, there were only a handful of actual cars and trucks at the event, one of them being a medium speed electric vehicle (top speed: 60 kmh / 36 mph) called the ZD, from the Shandong Xindayang Electric Vehicle Co. Ltd. of Huangyan, China, part of the XDY group.

It comes with a 10.8 kw/h battery, and a DC motor rated at 6 kw continuous, 18 kw maximum, which work out to about 8 and 24 horsepower respectively. It has 82 Newton meters of torque, ~60 ft lbs. It’s decently equipped, as you can see at their charmingly Chinglishy web site. Their representative told me that the ZD isn’t for sale yet in the United States but the company has a dedicated website for potential distributors.

779ff1be-3759-4272-a585-c737191f80f5My daughter-in-law is finishing up nursing school and had clinicals to do, so I was assigned the very pleasant task of babysitting my grandson, Aryeh Leib, named after my late father, Leonard. Aryeh has gone to a bunch of car shows and car events with me and he’s usually pretty cool about riding around in his stroller. That leaves my hands free for shooting photos and video.


Aryeh is a very cute child. Don’t take my word for it.Forget yellow Lamborghinis. As babe magnets, PMY Gallardos must surely pale beside toddlers. IMG_0007a_l

Still, a 16 month old child has a limited amount of patience and by the time I came across the booth with the little white ZD electric car, Aryeh was beginning to fuss. I wanted to take some photographs of the EV but he really didn’t want to stay in the stroller, so I let him play in the little hatchback, much to the amusement of the nice, albeit English impaired, Chinese lady staffing the booth.



Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, a realistic perspective on cars & car culture and the original 3D car site. If you found this post worthwhile, you can get a parallax view on cars at Cars In Depth. If the 3D thing freaks you out, don’t worry, all the photo and video players in use at the site have mono options. Thanks for reading – RJS

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Geely & Volvo to Jointly Develop Cars, Volvo Pilot Production Begins in Chengdu, Two More Chinese Volvo Factories Approved Fri, 23 Aug 2013 20:50:56 +0000 Pilot production begins at Volvo's Chengdu plant in China

Pilot production begins at Volvo’s Chengdu plant in China

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.

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Tesla Faces Trademark Issues With “Model E” In U.S. and “Tesla” in China Fri, 23 Aug 2013 20:10:22 +0000 chinesetesla

Chinese businessman Zhan Baosheng’s “Tesla” web site

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 :).”

Tesla may run into problems using Model E, though. Thirteen years ago, Ford Motor Company sued a company called the Model E Corp, claiming that it would cause confusion with Ford’s trademark on the name Model T. That case in a Michigan court was dismissed for lack of standing. Records at the USPTO show that Ford subsequently cancelled or abandoned applications for a trademark on Model E. Initially, when the news broke about Tesla’s applications, a Ford spokesman said that the Dearborn automaker would likely not challenge Tesla’s use. However, a later statement from Ford said that the company will review Tesla’s application and have no further comment on the matter at this time.

Tesla is also having difficulty entering the Chinese car market because a local Chinese businessman already secured rights to use the name Tesla in the world’s largest car market. Tesla Motors had hoped to open a company owned showroom in Beijing by the beginning of 2014, but that plan has now been delayed while they work out the intellectual property issue. The Tesla showroom has posters of the Model S, but no brand signs. A Tokyo-based Tesla representative said that the company had begun taking reservations for the Model S in China.

The “Tesla” trademark was registered in China to a Guangdong businessman named Zhan Baosheng in 2006, according to a trademark agency representing him, in both English and Chinese characters. Zhan also owns the domain name (and similar domain names) where he appears to promoting his own electric cars. Not only is he using the Tesla name and a Chinese-language slogan ‘Te Si La, Live For Electricity’, he’s also using the T shaped Tesla logo. Experts familiar with Chinese trademark issues say that Tesla may have no other choice than pay Zhan for the use of the name. According to published reports, the EV maker offered him $326,000, but Baosheng is holding out for $32 million. Last year Apple Inc. paid $60 million for the Chinese rights to the name iPad. As a backup plan Tesla has registered the name Tuosule, which phonetically reproduces their brand name.

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Honda Will Be Late To The Chinese Hybrid Revolution Fri, 14 Jun 2013 14:44:50 +0000  

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.

Honda will delay Chinese production of hybrids for up to three years while it develops local sources for cheaper components, Affordability is critical,” a Honda spokeswoman told Reuters

The wire thinks the sudden retrenchment is because “Toyota Motor Corp said last month it was trying to source key hybrid components in China to make hybrids more affordable. Toyota said it was planning a joint venture in China with a local supplier to produce batteries for gas-electric hybrid cars.”

Reuters confirms again that “Toyota – and other automakers in China, both indigenous Chinese and foreign – gear up to try to kick-start sales of “conventional” hybrid cars in China in anticipation of policy changes aimed at boosting sales of hybrid vehicles.”

Under the old policy, China offers generous subsidies for EVs and plug-ins, but finds few takers. A change of mind towards hybrids is widely expected. Says Reuters:

“A growing number of industry insiders and experts believe Beijing will boost purchase subsidies significantly for conventional hybrids as early as this year.”

The Chinese car market tilts heavily towards cars that don’t use much gas (or “oil,” as the Chinese like to say,) but the Chinese also like a deal. Incentives on hybrids would blow that segment wide open. However, the government won’t incentivize imports from Japan, hence the race for local sources.

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Communist Party Organ Condemns Nude Pics, Shows Them Again Sun, 09 Jun 2013 17:45:00 +0000

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.)

People’s Daily’s pictures of what challenges China’s morals are old standbys. A supercar bikini carwash. A busty Toyota booth professional at a car show in Wuhan. A naked Chinese girl in a fish tank. If we would have shown the latter on TTAC, there would have been outcries of sexism and racism. No thanks, we won’t show it, we rather give the salacious traffic to People’s Daily. In any case, our high journalistic standards would forbid reporting news that is 2 years old. That’s how old the fish tank picture is.

The other pictures are likewise ancient. The disgusting Chinese bikini supercarwash had been featured in TTAC a year ago. The rare shot of a busty Chinese booth professional is similarly antique. Paparazzi dispatched to this year’s Shanghai Auto Show came back empty handed. The show was very much toned down.

That won’t dissuade People’s Daily from showing ample T&A, along with righteous indignancy.

(Disclosure: All outgoing clicks, especially those to People’s Daily, are logged and recorded, and most likely are known to the NSA before we know it.)  

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GM Wants To Nearly Double Its Exports From China Tue, 04 Jun 2013 14:38:56 +0000


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.

The Sail, GM’s $9,800 car, goes to “South America and other emerging markets,” Socia told Reuters.

According to the wire, GM is China’s second-largest  car exporter with 33,623 units shipped overseas in the first four months of the year, behind Chery, which shipped 46,234 units.

For the first time in the history of car manufacturing, Chinese carmakers have sold 1 million cars outside of China in 2012, writes Matt Gasnier. GM was glad to help.

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Forecasters Predict Return Of Torrid Car Growth In China Tue, 21 May 2013 18:05:18 +0000 Picture courtesy

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.

Ryan Cui, an analyst with LMC Automotive, told China Daily that said his firm “forecasts passenger vehicle sales will rebound to 10.5 percent growth this year and a stable increase will continue in the next four to five years.” Cui doesn’t see “any chance of a decline.”

His colleague Lin Huaibin, an analyst with IHS Automotive, said that a falling market “is impossible” unless the nation’s economic fundamentals change.

The logic behind the reasoning: “About 67 of every 1,000 people in China now have cars, a much lower ratio than Western markets.” Many European countries now have 600 cars per thousand people. America has 800 per thousand. China’s car growth is directly connected ton the economy. Most car sales still are in cash, and Chinese tend to save when darker clouds appear on the economic horizon. As business picks up in China, car sales should follow.

One problem in China: Capacity utilization: A report released by China Galaxy Securities in January said domestic carmakers on average used only 58 percent of their production capacity last year, while joint ventures operate at 90 percent. Lin with IHS said over-capacity could be eased if domestic brands export more.  TTAC readers know this since September last year and can save the money for the study.

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Chinese Maserati Owner Destroys Car Over $390 Repair Bill Tue, 14 May 2013 15:11:37 +0000 maserati-qingdao-smash-china-1

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.


The wronged  Maser owner lives in Qingdao in Shandong Province. It just so happened that there is a minor car show in Qingdao, with lots of journalists in town.  The owner of the Maserati did set up a special Weibo account (Chinese variant of Twitter) where he chronicles the iniquity.


According to Carnewschina, “the windows were all smashed up and the bonnet received some blows as well, but the vehicle is otherwise all right.” Apparently, the owner went for maximum show effect with  minimal destruction.


In 2011, the owner of a Lamborghini, also in Qingdao, did the same. In that case, the car was totally smashed by nine hammer-bearing men.

Protest by public shame is a popular tactic. This Volvo XC60 SUV  was dragged through Hangzhou by an ox.

This Porsche Cayenne was simply put on a flatbed and parked in front of a Porsche dealer.

A year ago, I sat with foreign friends in a fancy restaurant in Beijing. At the neighboring table, a group had fancy dinners. Then a ruckus ensued. They complained about a cockroach that was found in a glass of water melon juice. My foreign friends, most of the 6ft-and-as-wide-as-a-subzero-fridge variety, became annoyed by the noise and transported the protesters outside. We didn’t have to pay for our dinner.

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Taiwan Taxi Ride Mon, 18 Mar 2013 20:01:30 +0000

Fong’s Taxi looked just like this.

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.

Given the weight of the cargo filled containers, the scale of the equipment and the frenetic pace of the activity below, the opportunity for death at the bottom of the gangway was obvious. But after crossing the Central Pacific by way of Hawaii and Guam, and with a 12 day return run to Seattle looming ahead, there was no way that I, or any other self-respecting sailor, was going to stay aboard ship. If necessary, I would have walked out to the front gate and tried to flag down a ride, but fortunately, the port authority in Kaohsiung understood the situation and allowed a number of taxis into the yard. Sure enough, there at the foot of the gangway waited a battered green taxi owned by a driver we knew as Fong.

Normally there were several taxis on the pier and while each of us had our personal favorite we were united in our disdain for Fong. In retrospect, Fong had to have been smarter than he let on. He spoke fairly fluent English and probably made a good living, but he always seemed like a huckster and a ride with him was an opportunity for him to bombard you with unwanted advice about where you should drink and with whom you should meet. Of course, every driver was in cahoots with one or more of the establishments along Kao-Suing’s version of skid row but when you rode with Fong, no matter where you asked to be dropped, you always found yourself deposited directly in front of his chosen establishment.

I was anxious to get uptown and with no other options in sight, I reluctantly climbed into the passenger seat of the much abused Toyota. We haggled for a minute about the cost of the ride but with the exchange rate firmly on my side I honestly didn’t try too hard. The deal struck, he mashed the gas and we roared off into the night while I was still fumbling around for a seat belt.

Fong handled the car with careless ease, one hand on the column mounted stick shift and the other grabbing a wheel mounted suicide knob. We slowed just barely at the port gate and then rolled out onto a wide, four lane road that ran around the perimeter of the yard and towards the town proper. As we neared the city limits the traffic became a mix of large trucks, cars and small motor scooters all moving along without regard for one another. The sheer number of two wheeled machines on the road was stunning and they flitted about going every which way without any rhyme or reason, their operators seemingly indifferent to their own survival. Fong treated them like obstacles, whipping the wheel as he changed lanes to avoid them and once even ducking into the lane reserved specifically for them to pass a car on the right. I stared in awe at an entire family rolling along on a tired Honda scooter, the father at the controls with a young child between his knees, mother behind him with a baby in her arms and grandmother behind her, facing backwards holding a frightened chicken in a wire cage.

Sort of like this!

At a major intersection, in violation of a red light, Fong made an abrupt right turn without using any brakes and seamlessly merged into the cross traffic. Without checking his mirrors, he guided the car into the fast lane and then, as we approached another red light, suddenly swerved into the oncoming lanes to pass cars slowing for the light. The oncoming cars moved over to facilitate his passage without so much as a honking horn and we shot through the gap along the centerline and drove towards the intersection when the worst happened – two semi trucks moving side by side rounded the corner and headed straight for us. With a line of stopped traffic on our right blocking our escape, Fong shifted the car left and straddled the line in the middle of the two oncoming lanes. The truckers both hit their horns and parted just enough to allow us to shoot down the middle with inches to spare.

Compared to that, the rest of the ride was anticlimactic. Five minutes later we rolled to a stop in front of Fong’s chosen bar and sat there in stunned as I dug out my wallet. “You’re crazy!” I shouted at him. “If you drove like that in America,You would go to jail.”

Fong looked at me incredulously, “That’s not true!” he said earnestly. “I know all about America, we watch American TV.”

I stared back, unbelieving as I paid the fare and climbed out of the car. “It’s true!” He shouted after me as I fled into the night. “I know all about American drivers, I watch The Dukes of Hazzard on TV!”

Thomas Kreutzer currently lives in Buffalo, New York with his wife and three children but has spent most of his adult life overseas. He has lived in Japan for 9 years, Jamaica for 2 and spent almost 5 years as a US Merchant Mariner serving primarily in the Pacific. A long time auto and motorcycle enthusiast he has pursued his hobbies whenever possible. He also enjoys writing and public speaking where, according to his wife, his favorite subject is himself.

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Chinese New Year Affects Audi, Will Hit Volkswagen Even Harder Mon, 04 Mar 2013 19:22:23 +0000

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.

Reporting the January numbers, Volkswagen cautioned that “the sizable increase in China” was “due to the later date set for the Chinese New Year.” The company warned that “for February, we expect a decline in deliveries in China as a result of this special effect.” Make that a serious decline.  Most of China was closed in February.

When Volkswagen reports group numbers later in the month, they definitely will be affected by China’s New Year, those of the Volkswagen Passenger Vehicle brand more so than those of Audi.

28 percent of Audi’s global sales were in China last year. Volkswagen Passenger Cars has a 38 percent exposure to the vagaries of the Chinese New Year.

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Ford Ignores Chinese Raptor Mania – ZX Does Not Sun, 24 Feb 2013 15:35:58 +0000

American automakers keep complaining about the allegedly closed Japanese market where just about nobody wants their big brutes since … the last world war. The Japanese market is full, it has too much local capacity, and it is getting smaller by the day. At the same time, Detroit does not seem to have its ear on the ground in a much bigger market close-by: China. Despite being in China in full strength, Detroit hasn’t capitalized on a huge trend in the Middle Kingdom:  Pickups for urban cowboys. According to Chinacartimes, money is left on the table for Chinese who are ready to cash in.

Ford’s “Raptor has become the official toy of urban playboys across China, the 40,000USD truck regularly sells for north of 100,000USD in the PRC for those that wish to stand out from the crowd with a gigantic toy that burns gas faster than fireworks on Chinese New Years Eve,”  CCT says.

Never mind that the Raptor officially should not be in China. As Ford’s Chinese site shows, the 4×4 is not in the Chinese program, nor is any pick-up. This does not keep it from being shipped to China by mostly West Coast dealer who make their numbers that way. Chinese duty rates that blatantly copied the American chicken tax, 17 percent VAT, an a retaliatory surcharge on big bore American imports can’t keep the Raptors from coming in.

Grey marketer are not the only ones to cash in. Relatively unknown Chinese truck maker ZX  Auto has “given their new TUV a cool orange paint scheme along with some Ford F150 Raptor inspired decals on the rear end,” CCT reports. ZX is very quick to cash-in on a trend. When the Libyan Civil War broke out, Zhong Xing (ZX Auto in English) was there with  several boatloads of cheap trucks, taking market share from the Toyota Hilux.

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The Chinese Are Coming! Seriously Now Mon, 18 Feb 2013 18:56:29 +0000

Qoros 3 Sedan

At the Geneva auto show, the long awaited Chinese attack on the embattled European auto market will finally get started in earnest – with the help of German and Austrian engineers, and money from Israel. Qoros is a joint venture partnership between China’s Chery and the Israel Corporation. Qoros wants to be to Chery what Lexus is to Toyota and Acura to Honda. It also wants to be the key that unlocks foreign volume markets.


The names on the doors of the executive suite at Qoros sound like a who’s who of European automotive management: A former Executive Vice President of Volkswagen of America, Volker Steinwascher, is Vice Chairman. Gert Hilderbrand. before Chief Designer of MINI at BMW, is head of design. A former Chief Engineer of BMW, Klaus Schmidt, is in charge of engineering. Peter Matkin, formerly Chief Engineer at Jaguar Land Rover, is in charge of the vehicle program.

Qoros 3 Sedan

The cars look a bit more conservative that the cow designs Hildebrandt showed two years ago.

First will be the Qoros 3 Sedan,due to be launched in China in the second half of 2013, with first European sales following later in the year. Launches of further Qoros models are promised at six month intervals.

Qoros 3 Estate Concept

“The car will attack the 6,000 euro more expensive VW Jetta,” reports Germany’s BILD Zeitung. The paper entertains its readers with the Landwind crashs from 2005, but also reports that the engines come from AVL in Austria, the engineering is from Magna Steyr, “and many parts come from Germany.”

Speaking of safety, Qoros says it “aims to achieve top scores on both European and Chinese crash tests for all its models.”

Qoros 3 Cross Hybrid Concept

Chery is China’s largest independent automaker. In a stagnant Chinese market, independents are feeling the pinch by joint ventures between large multinationals and state-owned Chinese companies. Independents seek their salvation in exports, but, as we reported from the Global Automotive Forum in Chengdu, “exports usually come from backwards companies,” as Donfeng’s chairman Zhu referred to China’s second and third tier car companies. Chery wants to break that mold, exporting cars one can be proud of. To sell and to buy.


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Fisker Will Be Chinese, One Way Or The Other Mon, 18 Feb 2013 14:40:13 +0000

Not Dongfeng, but China’s Geely currently looks best positioned to profit from U.S. government largesse by buying beleaguered and DOE-funded plug-in car maker Fisker, Reuters reports. According to the report, “Zhejiang Geely Holding Group is favored to secure a majority stake in troubled U.S. electric car maker Fisker Automotive, according to two sources familiar with Fisker’s search for a strategic investor or partner.”

Also according to the report, red flags are sure to flutter over Fisker’s HQ in Anaheim, as Fisker “is currently weighing bids from two Chinese auto makers: Geely, the owner of Sweden’s Volvo, and state-owned Dongfeng Motor Group Co.”

Geely Chairman Liu Shu Fu (left)

Geely and Dongfeng did offer between $200 million to $300 million for a controlling interest in Fisker. Reuters’ sources think Geely has the inside track, because Geely is “more serious” and “passionate” about Fisker and its technology, the company also is said to be able to “move fast in making decisions — unlike Dongfeng, whose responsiveness could be hampered by its multi-layered decision-making structure typical in a Chinese state-owned enterprise.”

In 2009, Fisker received a $528.7 million conditional loan from the DOE. After drawing down $193 million, the credit line was frozen, following a series of scandals surrounding other DOE recipients. Production was shut down in summer of 2012 while fresh capital was sought. The financial troubles of Fisker’s battery supplier A123 gave Fisker another reason not to restart production. A123, another recipient of DOE largesse, was sold off to China.

Which is where DOE recipients appear to get outsourced to.

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Mad In China: How To Get A New Mercedes B-Class For Only $8,680 Tue, 05 Feb 2013 10:54:03 +0000

BAIC and Daimler announced last Friday they are taking the Beijing-Benz joint venture a giant step further. Daimler takes a 12 percent stake in BAIC and both parties will work closely together to win market share from Audi and BMW. On the ‘grass roots level’ the close cooperation has long begun! Above, a Beijing Auto E-Series with a Mercedes-Benz grille. How did that happen?

It started as an E-Series. No, not as an E-Klasse. The Beijing Auto E-Series was launched on the Chinese car market in March last year, priced between 53.800 and 86.800 yuan ($8,600 to $14,000.) This E-Series’ design is inspired by the last generation Mercedes-Benz B-Class, but the car is much smaller. Are we confused yet? No? Bear with me.

The platform however has a real connection to Daimler. The Chinese E-Series that looks like the German B-Series sits on the platform of the failed Smart ForFour that was made from 2004 to 2006. The engines are 1.3 and 1.5 liter Mitsubishi units that came with the platform.  (Cue requisite and boring “merger of equals” comments from folks who know that Mitsu was part is the threesome.)

The Beijing Auto E-Series is not made by the Beijing-Benz joint venture, it is produced by Beijing Auto and sold by the Beijing Auto dealer network. Do your part for a sustainable auto business! Recycle a platform!

This is the last generation Mercedes-Benz B-Class. It was imported into China and sold via a then separate ‘imported-Mercedes’ dealer network. BAIC and Daimler only recently agreed to sell the locally produced Beijing-Benz cars and the imported Mercedes cars together, in a new and yet to establish dealer network. The B-Class was priced between 270.000 and 320.000 yuan ($43,300 – $51,400).

Now, how did these rather different vehicles come together?

Enter a fake Mercedes-Benz grille, made to fit the Beijing Auto E-Series.

The grille comes in a neat beige box. The Chinese characters write ‘BeiQi E Series’, BeiQi is short for Beijing Qiche, or Beijing Auto. But! Just a grille isn’t enough to fool grandma these days. Fortunately there is more:

Badges for on the wheels, for on the back, and one for on the steering wheel.  ‘E150′ is the Beijing Auto E-Series with the 1.5, the 1.3 is called E130.

If you want to spend a bit more money you can buy wheel covers that look like Mercedes-Benz alloys. Price for the whole set, including the grille, badges and wheel covers: 500 yuan or $80.

Looks a little chintzy, but your grandmother in Inner Mongolia will be impressed.

The badge on the hood doesn’t sit completely straight. This wouldn’t happen to the Germans. It looks more like a “100  Jahre ADAC” badge, but what do we and grandma know.

BAIC and Daimler have their work cut out for them.

Dutchman Tycho de Feyter runs, a blog about cars in China, from Beijing, China. He also collects die-cast models of Chinese cars.

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