Category: EU

By on September 12, 2017

2017 Volkswagen up - Image: VolkswagenThe global auto industry is not a place in which small car production is as straightforward as it was a decade or two ago.

Brought closer to home, Americans are buying roughly 30-percent fewer subcompact cars now than they were just three years ago. With next to no fuel economy advantages; limited payment upside; and less refinement, power, and space, why would a car buyer choose a subcompact over a compact sibling? Most buyers don’t. In the United States, compact car sales are five times stronger than subcompact sales. August’s top three compacts (Civic, Corolla, Cruze) outsold their subcompact brethren (Fit, Yaris, Sonic) by more than seven-to-one.

Many automakers don’t even bother selling their smallest cars in North America. Mazda’s latest 2 never saw U.S. import. FCA has left the compact market, having long since left the subcompact sector to rivals. Subaru doesn’t dive below the Impreza platform. And Volkswagen stops at the Golf, leaving the subcompact Polo for more small-car-friendly countries.

But how keen on small cars are those other countries? In some instances, not keen enough. Volkswagen boss Herbert Diess tells Autocar, “Selling small cars is not easy.” And he’s clearly not just talking about F-150-loving America. “It’s a very European problem,” says Diess. As a result, the Volkswagen Up city car, a Lupo successor, may pull out of Europe in favor of emerging markets only. Read More >

By on September 11, 2017

Image; 1983 DeLorean DMC 12

The DeLorean DMC-12 is forever linked to the classic film Back to the Future, where the stainless steel wonder was converted into a conveyance for the purposes of time travel. But the silver screen was not the only place the DMC-12 underwent a transformation. A certain credit card company had a PR stunt in mind that saw the DeLorean plated with 24-carat gold.

Our Rare Ride today is what happens when a private owner attempts the same thing.

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By on June 23, 2017

Image: 1988 Alpina B7S, image via Enthusiast Auto Group

The glorious green Alpina coupe before your eyes nets three firsts for the Rare Rides series. It’s the first coupe coated in any shade of green paint, the first BMW, and indeed the first German vehicle in the series (I don’t count last week’s Rolls-Royce as German, though you might).

Time for some eye candy.

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By on October 19, 2016

2017 Skoda Kodiaq frontYou want a Škoda Kodiaq. Your neighbor wants a Škoda Kodiaq. I want a Škoda Kodiaq. Naturally, we all want Škoda Kodiaqs, because the grass is always greener on the other side.

But what if the Kodiaq wasn’t only available on the other side of the Atlantic? What if persistent talk of a potential North American Škoda return resulted in a Kodiaq on sale at a dealer near you? How inexpensive would the Kodiaq need to be in order for your persistent desire for unobtanium turn in to a real purchasing decision?

Škoda would likely charge in the neighborhood of USD $24,995 if the Kodiaq, set to go on sale across the pond in April 2017, made its way to the United States. Read More >

By on September 19, 2014

1024px-Ford_Fiesta_-_Mondial_de_l'Automobile_de_Paris_2012_-_003_(image_modifié)

As one of Europe’s most popular vehicles, the Ford Fiesta’s sales is an interesting datapoint when it comes to looking at the strength of the overall European car market. So it’s interesting that despite a supposed rebound of Europe’s new car market, Ford is cutting Fiesta output at its plant in Cologne, Germany.

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By on August 25, 2014

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The wildly optimistic fuel economy figures touted by auto makers in Europe could be in for a major revamp, as the EU looks to change the way these tests are conducted.

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By on July 3, 2014

Citroen Ami 6. Picture courtesy Citroen

I’ve been on the road for the last few weeks and one of the places I was able to visit was the Smithsonian Institution’s Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles International Airport located just outside of Washington DC. Unlike the National Air and Space Museum located on the national mall close to the capitol building, the Udvar-Hazy Center is an enormous facility and although I have visited other aircraft museums that have had larger collections on display, I think it is safe to say that the Smithsonian’s collection is second to none. The aircraft on display span the history of flight and include both military and civilian examples. More importantly, at least for the sake of this discussion, they come from every corner of the globe and as they sit there, lined up beside one another, it’s easy to compare the craftsmanship of one nation’s products against the next.

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By on February 3, 2014

2007: "The Managing Director of Ferrari in Great Britain, Massimo Fedeli, boasted “our 60th anniversary tour is the perfect opportunity to provide this special 612 Scaglietti HGTS for the police service of England, Ireland and Wales to drive. This reinforces Ferrari’s commitment to responsible driving and promoting road safety.” (courtesy motorauthority.com)

The British Newspaper The Telegraph is reporting that, if senior European law enforcement officials have their way, all cars entering the European market may soon be fitted with a remote shutdown device that would allow police officers to electronically deactivate any vehicle at the touch of a button. Read More >

By on December 5, 2013

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After talk of increasing the seperation between Chevrolet and Opel, GM has announced that it will axe the Chevrolet brand in Europe, despite previously aiming to make Chevrolet its low-cost brand, while signing a nine-year, $584 million deal to have the brand sponsor Manchester United football club.

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By on October 4, 2013

Volkswagen Polo

While Americans are still asking whether it’s even wise to buy small turbocharged engines instead of larger naturally aspirated ones, we in Europe are slowly losing our ability to even choose a car without a turbocharged engine. Volkswagen has recently announced that it is going turbo only – but in our market, the transition is nearly complete. Except for base engines in Polo supermini and Up! city car, basically everything else has a turbo slapped on it – and it looks much the same with other VAG brands. Others are following closely – Ford eliminated most of its naturally aspirated engines, except for the base 1.6 in Focus and small engines in Fiesta. Renault is coming with new tiny turbo plants to replace small four cylinder NA motors – and is even introducing them to its low-cost brand Dacia. PSA, Fiat, Opel and others are heading this direction as well.

But, why is that? Is it that Europeans are more forward thinking, more interested in economy an environment than polar bear killing ‘murricans with their massive V6s and V8s? Is it the European driving style and road network, requiring smaller and lighter cars?

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By on October 1, 2013

Aston_Martin_Cygnet_(82)

With just 143 examples registered in the UK, Aston Martin has quietly dropped the Cygnet city car – based on the Toyota iQ. According to UK mag Autocar, Aston Martin will also not be re-entering this space, and will focus on what it does best: making high end performance cars. Originally conceived as a way to meet strict European emissions rules, the Cygnet failed to meet Aston’s initial sales projections of 4000 units annually.

By on February 6, 2013

Remember all that hype about how a Detroit-area Jeep plant would be building the Maserati Levante SUV, for export back to Italy? Yeah, me either.

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By on October 18, 2012

Europe’s auto market implosion has led BMW to shift units earmarked for the continent over to the United States and China, where demand remains strong.

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By on July 17, 2012

Europe’s new car market continues on its downward spiral with sales down 2.8 percent in June. Half year sales are down 6.8 percent across the EU, data released today by the European Automobiles Manufacturers’ Association ACEA show today. Some countries and automakers do much better, some much worse. Read More >

By on July 16, 2012

The establishment of a new manufacturing base in North Africa has fascinated me for the past couple months – though few others seem to really care. The leader in this movement has been Renault, which is setting up plants in Morocco and Algeria to build their popular, low-cost Dacia vehicles in factories where employees earn a fraction of what a French assembly line worker would make.

PSA doesn’t have a low-cost brand of it’s own, so jobs haven’t gone across the Strait of Gibraltar – yet. But the closing of the Aulnay plant, where a massive contingent of North African immigrants (now French citizens) work, is a compelling snapshot of the socioeconomic and racial dynamics of France that happens to intersect with the auto industry.

Read More >

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