From the Blade Runner future in Dubai to the shores of Tripoli, Ford aims to launch an aggressive campaign in the Middle East and Africa markets through the creation of a fifth business unit that will consolidate the Blue Oval’s operations in the two regions.
Emerging markets have been a big theme at TTAC for the past few years, with our coverage going beyond the cursory articles on automotive developments in the BRIC countries. Our articles on places like North Africa and Indonesia aren’t always the most popular, but we keep an eye on them for a very important reason. These countries are the final frontier for growth in the automotive sector.
The durability of the original Toyota HiLux, known in the United States as simply “Truck,” is the stuff of legend, especially if you enjoy Top Gear. It often seems that only rust can kill these simple but durable pickups, which means that in areas where rust does, in fact, sleep, they are effectively immortal. My daily ride in Abu Dhabi is a Fortuner, the HiLux’s Asian cousin.
But this isn’t my first foray into Toyota reliability. My graduate level work in this field came from my time as a UN Unarmed Military Observer (UNMO) on a peacekeeping mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea in 2004. The patrol vehicle dejuir was the Toyota HiLux Surf (aka the 4Runner). But rather than the V-6, the UN standard issue at the time was a 4 cylinder turbo diesel mated to a 5 speed manual.
Renault’s Algerian plant became a done deal Thursday, with production beginning in mid-2014, which will see the French auto maker become the sole passenger car builder in the North African state.
The fate of PSA and the Algerian people has been intertwined for decades. The group’s Aulnay plant, which is due to close, was originally staffed by immigrants from North Africa, lured by the promise of a better life and secure jobs in France. And while Peugeot sales withered in France, the brand has been traditionally strong in North Africa, with 2011 bringing a 93 percent increase in sales for Peugeot.
But Algeria’s push for a domestic car industry doesn’t seem to include PSA. Arch-rival Renault is due to set up a factory in the country, but PSA has apparently rejected overtures from the French government to take a stake in the ailing car maker.
PSA is looking to challenge Renault-Nissan’s dominance of the low cost car segment with a new sedan branded as a Peugeot.
They do that in South Africa. Use your phone for texting or gabbing, and police in Cape Town will arrest your cell. Read More >
As a member of The Tribe with an Iranian best friend, the general policy on politics pertaining to the Middle East is “don’t talk about it” (although like most young Iranians, my friend’s take on Ahamadinejad would make Rick Santorum look like a capitulating Ayatollah-sympathizer). The same policy seems to have come up in the last week or two, as talks of a General Motors/PSA tie-up have surfaced. Peugeot has an Iranian best friend, and it may have some interesting implications if the deal goes through.
In the auto industry, as in so many other areas, Africa is something of a forgotten continent. Without the new roads and emerging middle class of a China, the most underdeveloped part of the developing world tends to fly under the radar: for example, until I read a Financial Times piece on an airplane, I had no idea that South Africa’s auto industry was booming. And now, here’s another story that isn’t getting much play in the mainstream of the auto world: Mobius, a Mombasa, Kenya-based firm has built a prototype vehicle that it hopes will be the Model T of Africa, providing robust, low-cost transportation to a continent that is not taken seriously as a market by the global car business.
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When I think of the South African car industry, I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I first think of the Citi Golf, the ageless Mk.1 VW Golf that was built there from ’84 to 2009 (or possibly armored cars). Of course that’s a grossly inaccurate representation, and the Financial Times recently clued me into South Africa’s booming auto sector growth . Led by screaming exports of Ford’s Global Ranger pickup and the Mercedes C-Class, South Africa will very nearly have doubled its production numbers between 2009 and 2012. And with the government introducing yet another Motor Industry Development Programme in 2013, the plan is to build South African production capacity to 1.2m vehicles per year by 2020. And though South Africa is not immune to the currency, labor and supply chain problems that plague nearly every production location, Mercedes has already promised to double C-Class production to 95,000 units by 2014. Sounds like a vote of confidence, and another reason to keep a closer eye on South Africa.
You’ve seen them before, photos from some godforsaken place of insurgent warfare. A half dozen rag tag soldiers, if you can call them soldiers, bristling with Chinese Kalishnikov knockoffs, piled into a Toyota Hilux with a heavy machine gun or some other armament like a recoil-less rifle or ack-ack gun mounted on the roof or in the bed. The Toyota Hilux has been the choice of low level combatants around the world since the 1960s. As noted by China Car Times, when Muammar Gaddafi (is there a world leader whose names, first and last, are spelled in so many different ways?) had one of his snit fits and invaded Chad in 1987 to overturn the government, both sides used so many Hiluxes that Time magazine dubbed it the Toyota War. In the early 90s, the war in Somalia brought us the term “technical”, interestingly enough derived from the NGO practice of hiring local gunmen to protect their employees, and paying them with funds earmarked as “technical assitance grants”.
Most automakers are suspending operations in Egypt while riots continue. Here is a list of current closures: Read More >