The Truth About Cars » Emerging Markets http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Tue, 01 Sep 2015 18:20:13 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.4 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 editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » Emerging Markets http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/emerging-markets-news-blog/ Union Leader Blasts Obama on Pacific Trade Talks http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/union-leader-blasts-obama-pacific-trade-talks/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/union-leader-blasts-obama-pacific-trade-talks/#comments Wed, 26 Aug 2015 21:00:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1153377 The head of the AFL-CIO in the United States is criticizing the current presidential administration for its pursuit of a trade zone in the Pacific that could open up Asian markets to America and vice versa, the Detroit News is reporting. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka wrote the administration a letter saying that a free-trade agreement with […]

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Trans-Pacific Partnership Circa 2010

The head of the AFL-CIO in the United States is criticizing the current presidential administration for its pursuit of a trade zone in the Pacific that could open up Asian markets to America and vice versa, the Detroit News is reporting.

AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka wrote the administration a letter saying that a free-trade agreement with countries such as Japan jeopardizes American jobs because those countries may be able to source cheaper parts from outside the negotiated area, according to the report.

“I hope it is not the case that the Canadian and Mexican negotiators are actually holding a harder line than our own government on this issue. But due to the unaccountable lack of transparency from USTR, absolutely critical decisions are being made without our input or voice. Thousands of good American jobs and an iconic American industry are at risk, and we don’t even know what our government’s negotiating position is.”

According to the Detroit News, a free-trade agreement with Asia would be high on Obama’s priorities before his administration ends.

Trumka said there would be no guarantee for American automakers to gain a foothold in Japan if the Trans Pacific Partnership were created.

Instead, he said, the deal would make it easier for American automakers to source cheaper parts from China and Thailand, or other developing nations, which would come at the expense of American auto workers. Under current free trade rules in North America, 62.5 percent of a car or light truck must originate within the trade zone to be tariff free. Mexico, which is currently building nearly 4 million cars a year, would like to increase that to 65 percent. Japan is proposing a 45-percent threshold for vehicles and 30 percent for parts.

The agreement could also end the 25-percent import tax on light pickups, commonly called the “Chicken Tax.”

Automakers have said they’d prefer to renew the Chicken Tax or slowly roll the tax back after years — or even decades.

According to the story, Japan doesn’t place any import tax on American-built cars, and has said they’ve spent billions building production facilities in America — which American automakers haven’t yet done in Japan.

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Just How Bad Are the Automakers Taking a Beating in the Stock Market? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/just-bad-automakers-taking-beating-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/just-bad-automakers-taking-beating-market/#comments Mon, 24 Aug 2015 17:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1151441 Markets around the world are down, down, down, down and down. At the time of this writing, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is down roughly 650 points on Monday, which is more than 1,500 points off of where we were at the beginning of August. A lot of the run is fueled by fears that China […]

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Come on Carlos, let’s hit up the Limeys for some money. Picture courtesy of motortrend.com

Markets around the world are down, down, down, down and down.

At the time of this writing, the Dow Jones Industrial Average is down roughly 650 points on Monday, which is more than 1,500 points off of where we were at the beginning of August. A lot of the run is fueled by fears that China is tapering off its growth (or they’ve been making it up for a while) and that Europe is tinkering on the brink of sinking into another recession.

There are plenty of financial sectors that are taking a beating. Automotive companies are no different. Here’s a rundown of publicly traded automakers and how much they’ve lost from their July 31 close to mid-day trading today.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest droppers are those with more exposure to China (Especially Toyota, whose production has been hampered by a blast in Tianjinand Tesla, whose second stock offering could be diluting shares in addition to the larger, global shock.

Tata Motors (TTM) — 29.66-23.01, -22.4 percent
Tesla Motors (TSLA) — 266.15-219.46, -17.5 percent
Toyota Motor Corp (TM) — 133.71-110.87, -17 percent
BMW (BMW.DE) — 91.30-77.88, -13.5 percent
Daimler (DDAIF) — 89.19-77.59, -13 percent
Nissan Motor Company (NSANY) — 19.34-16.90, -12.6 percent
Honda Motor Company (HMC) — 33.96-29.70, -12.5 percent
Ford Motor Company (F) — 15.18-13.21, -12.9 percent
General Motors (GM) — 32.08-28.22, -12 percent
Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCAU) — 15.80-14.02, -11.2 percent
Volkswagen AG (VLKAY) — 40.35-36.56, -9.3 percent

Earlier this month, General Motors issued a statement before the massive stock sell off to ensure investors that it would endure a devalued Chinese currency. It’s “natural hedge,” or locally sourced suppliers, would help insulate it from massive market fluctuations, but not entirely. Last month, GM announced it would invest $5 billion in a joint venture with SAIC motors in China to locally build smaller cars.

On Monday, Daimler said it would press on further in China, despite worries that the market for luxury vehicles could be drying up, according to Automotive News.

Losing this much steam in China will undoubtedly have a ripple effect in the rest of the automotive world, that much is clear. The size of the wave has yet to be determined.

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Could Africa Support Its Own Auto Industry? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/africa-support-auto-industry/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/africa-support-auto-industry/#comments Wed, 19 Aug 2015 20:00:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1146337 Africa may be one of the last untapped continents for automakers and one of the largest growth markets in the future. But the opportunity is now for carmakers such as Uganda-based Kiira Motors, Kenya-based Mobius Motors, Nigeria-based Innoson and Ghana-based Kantanka Motors, they say. “The automotive industry presents one of the fiercest competitive market environments,” Kiira Chief Executive Paul […]

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Africa may be one of the last untapped continents for automakers and one of the largest growth markets in the future. But the opportunity is now for carmakers such as Uganda-based Kiira Motors, Kenya-based Mobius Motors, Nigeria-based Innoson and Ghana-based Kantanka Motors, they say.

“The automotive industry presents one of the fiercest competitive market environments,” Kiira Chief Executive Paul Isaac Musasizi told the Wall Street Journal. “We need to remain focused, courageous and committed.”

His commitment is shared by other automakers such as Ford, who recently announced that it would produce 5,000 trucks at a plant in Nigeria for sale within the continent. Hyundai said they would invest $22 million to build an assembly plant in Nairobi and expand dealerships.

A cursory look at market penetration for automakers looks promising — no African country cracks the top 50 in vehicles per capita.

According to Ward’s Auto, East African countries such as Kenya are registering more new cars than before, with total registrations increasing 9 percent in 2014 from 2013. Most of those cars are used imported examples, though new car purchases were up in the country last year as well.

All that may be why startups such as Kiira, which makes hybrids, are looking for investors to build locally produced cars for Africa, which places taxes on imported parts like headlights and batteries.

The continent’s most economically developed country, South Africa, has manufacturing plants for BMW, General Motors, Mercedes Benz, Nissan, Renault, Toyota and Volkswagen, which exported 271,000 cars in 2010.

That could create a favorable, home-grown automotive business if the countries labor supply settles into consistent manufacturing.

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Why Can’t We Buy Bentleys on Amazon Yet? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/cant-buy-bentleys-amazon-yet/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/cant-buy-bentleys-amazon-yet/#comments Thu, 06 Aug 2015 20:00:27 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1135514 Chinese luxury car dealer Yongda and giant online retailer Alibaba are offering the next logical step in online car buying for luxury car buyers: point-and-click car buying. The South China Morning Post is reporting that Yongda, which has more than 200 high-end car dealerships in China, will make available its cars on the shopping site for browsers […]

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Chinese luxury car dealer Yongda and giant online retailer Alibaba are offering the next logical step in online car buying for luxury car buyers: point-and-click car buying.

The South China Morning Post is reporting that Yongda, which has more than 200 high-end car dealerships in China, will make available its cars on the shopping site for browsers to point, click, pay and drive away from a dealership.

Seems like a good idea for ultra-luxury cars.

According to Yongda, more than 20 luxury and ultra-luxury car makers will have available models online, including Land Rover and Bentley. To celebrate the new partnership, Alibaba will offer 4,000 models of the Chevrolet Epica at a 40 percent discount.

According to the companies, the partnership allows a broader base for Alibaba to appeal to a wider range of buyers. The online retail giant already sells cars that range between $15,000 and $25,000.

According to reports, roughly 20 million people signed up to finance their purchase through the online retailer.

It’s unclear how many dealerships Alibaba’s automotive division works with already, but the agreement with Yongda would offer 200 more dealerships where buyers would pick up their cars. Alibaba and Yongda would also offer a used car network where owners could sell their cars back to the companies online.

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Suzuki May Finally Climb Out From Under VW http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/suzuki-may-finally-climb-vw/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/08/suzuki-may-finally-climb-vw/#comments Tue, 04 Aug 2015 18:00:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1133577 Hedge fund investor Daniel Loeb has purchased a minority stake in Suzuki Motor Corp., which may mean the automaker could have a ruling on its nearly 5-year arbitration with Volkswagen, Bloomberg Business is reporting. The unspecified investment in Suzuki by the billionaire Loeb, who is one of Japan’s wealthy business elite, could be a sign […]

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2003 Suzuki Wagon R

Hedge fund investor Daniel Loeb has purchased a minority stake in Suzuki Motor Corp., which may mean the automaker could have a ruling on its nearly 5-year arbitration with Volkswagen, Bloomberg Business is reporting.

The unspecified investment in Suzuki by the billionaire Loeb, who is one of Japan’s wealthy business elite, could be a sign that a ruling following June’s completion of arbitration is imminent. For years, Suzuki remained “paralyzed” as the procedure slogged on.

Suzuki has a significant automotive presence in emerging markets and India.

Shares of Suzuki jumped in Tokyo trading on the news.

In 2009, when the alliance between Volkswagen and Suzuki was announced, both automakers stood to gain from each other — on paper. Volkswagen would benefit from Suzuki’s growth in emerging markets, including its relationship and distribution in India with Maruti Suzuki. The Japanese automaker could benefit from VW’s vast resources and technology. The relationship soured quickly after.

The remaining issue between VW and Suzuki could be the nearly 20-percent ownership stake the German automaker has in the Japanese automaker. According to Bloomberg, Suzuki may have enough cash on hand to buy back the remaining shares if a London-based arbitration court allows it, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Either way, we could be seeing a lot more of Suzuki — which is still Japan’s fourth-largest automaker, by the way — real soon.

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Volkswagen Surpasses Toyota in Global Auto Sales http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/volkswagen-surpasses-toyota-global-auto-sales/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/volkswagen-surpasses-toyota-global-auto-sales/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 18:00:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1126585 Despite slowdowns in China, Russia and Asia, Volkswagen surpassed Toyota in global auto sales by delivery in the first half of 2015, Automotive News Europe is reporting. Volkswagen sold 5.04 million cars in the first six months of 2015, compared to 5.02 million for Toyota, according to the report. Sales were down 1.5 percent and […]

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Volkswagen Wolfsburg

Despite slowdowns in China, Russia and Asia, Volkswagen surpassed Toyota in global auto sales by delivery in the first half of 2015, Automotive News Europe is reporting.

Volkswagen sold 5.04 million cars in the first six months of 2015, compared to 5.02 million for Toyota, according to the report. Sales were down 1.5 percent and 0.5 percent for Toyota and VW respectively.

GM was the third-largest automaker with 4.86 million vehicles.

Volkswagen capitalized on a growing European market to help offset softening Chinese sales. Passenger-vehicle sales fell for the first time in two years in China as that country’s economy responds to market volatility.

Sales slumped in South America, some Southeast Asia markets and sales in Russia have dramatically declined, the story points out.

Deliveries in North America increased by only 4.4 percent, the smallest margin since the economic recovery began in 2009.

The report is the latest in the saga of “Who Wants To Be The World’s Largest Automaker?” with VW on pace to take the crown three years before their executives forecasted. In May, it looked as if VW would take silver thanks to its ongoing leadership shuffle, but a resurgent European market may help. Meanwhile, Toyota may make up ground after a 10-percent gain in China in the first half, according to the report.

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GM to Develop Global Car with China-based SAIC Motors http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/gm-develop-global-car-china-based-saic-motors/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/gm-develop-global-car-china-based-saic-motors/#comments Tue, 28 Jul 2015 15:00:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1126489 General Motors will invest $5 billion to build a global line of cars with Shanghai-based SAIC Motors that will be sold in Brazil, China and other emerging markets, the automaker announced Tuesday. The cars won’t be sold in the United States, according to the statement. The global vehicles will go on sale starting in 2019 and the automaker […]

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General Motors will invest $5 billion to build a global line of cars with Shanghai-based SAIC Motors that will be sold in Brazil, China and other emerging markets, the automaker announced Tuesday.

The cars won’t be sold in the United States, according to the statement.

The global vehicles will go on sale starting in 2019 and the automaker expects the line to eventually produce roughly 2 million cars annually.

GM said the new global architecture would replace several existing models, but didn’t specify what those outgoing models would be. The vehicles would be manufactured in China, Brazil, Mexico and India and exported to other countries. GM said they expect to source many of the car’s components from local suppliers.

“With a significant majority of anticipated automotive industry growth in 2015 to 2030 outside of mature markets, Chevrolet is taking steps to capitalize on that growth,” General Motors President Dan Ammann said in the statement . “Strengthening Chevrolet’s position through this major investment is consistent with our global strategy to ensure long-term profitable growth in the markets where we operate.”

In February, SAIC and General Motors (through its Shanghai General Motors Wuling joint venture business) opened a plant in Indonesia to build SAIC-branded cars. SAIC also owns British car company MG.

The GM-SAIC partnership has an interesting history, especially in India.

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Jeep Points to Map of India, Says Let’s Print More Money Here http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/jeep-points-to-map-of-india-says-lets-print-more-money-here/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/07/jeep-points-to-map-of-india-says-lets-print-more-money-here/#comments Wed, 01 Jul 2015 19:00:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1104881 More and more automakers are looking at exotic locales to produce their wares (us Canadians can consider Mexico exotic thanks to its ice-free beaches) as they expand their brands and explore in-roads to untapped markets. For Jeep, that means investing in a shared money-printing press with an unlikely partner: Tata, the parent company of Land Rover. FCA […]

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2015 Jeep Renegade

More and more automakers are looking at exotic locales to produce their wares (us Canadians can consider Mexico exotic thanks to its ice-free beaches) as they expand their brands and explore in-roads to untapped markets.

For Jeep, that means investing in a shared money-printing press with an unlikely partner: Tata, the parent company of Land Rover. FCA will put $280 million USD into joint venture Fiat India Automobiles Private Limited which, since 2007, has solely produced Fiat models.

The investment will “support the production of a new Jeep vehicle and is expected to begin production in the second quarter of 2017,” according to statement released today by FCA. Jeep did not give further details on the new model.

With Sergio Marchionne’s hunger for consolidation, this could be seen as a sign of interest in a more formal arrangement between FCA and India’s Tata, especially when you consider the FCA executive’s desire for a Range Rover-esque model.

“We are pleased that this investment will strengthen FCA presence in India and are confident in the ability of the joint venture to produce world class products like those carrying the legendary Jeep nameplate,” Marchionne said.

This announcement is part of a wider expansion by Jeep into new markets. From The Detroit News:

FCA plans to produce 1.9 million Jeeps by 2018 at 10 plants in six countries: the U.S., Italy, China, Brazil, India and one other yet-to-be-announced country. Two years ago, only 798,000 rolled out of four plants in the United States.

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Volkswagen Introducing ‘Budget-Car Family’ By 2018 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/volkswagen-introducing-budget-car-family-by-2018/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/06/volkswagen-introducing-budget-car-family-by-2018/#comments Mon, 29 Jun 2015 15:00:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1101537 Once upon a time, Volkswagen lived up to its name by providing a low-cost car for the people. Now, the automaker has plans to do so once more. CEO Martin Winterkorn told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag Sunday his company would bring “a budget-car family to market in 2018, with an SUV, saloon and hatchback,” […]

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Volkswagen Beetles in Paphos Circa March 2015

Once upon a time, Volkswagen lived up to its name by providing a low-cost car for the people. Now, the automaker has plans to do so once more.

CEO Martin Winterkorn told German newspaper Bild am Sonntag Sunday his company would bring “a budget-car family to market in 2018, with an SUV, saloon and hatchback,” Reuters reports. Winterkorn added the cars — to cost between €8,000 and €11,000 ($8,932 and $12,225 USD) — would be assembled in China; the original target was between €6,000 and €8,000 ($6,670 and $8,932).

Though the low-cost vehicles are aimed for markets in Southeast Asia, Winterkorn says his company would determine “if this is something of interest for other markets as well.” Whether North America is among them, only he and his senior execs know for certain.

(Photo credit: Chris Parker/Flickr/CC BY-ND 2.0)

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Will the GenX Nano Erase Tata’s ‘Cheapest Car’ Stigma? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/will-genx-nano-erase-tatas-cheapest-car-stigma/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/will-genx-nano-erase-tatas-cheapest-car-stigma/#comments Mon, 25 May 2015 13:26:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1071194 It’s not often a car company, or any group of people for the matter, will admit mistakes – particularly billion dollar mistakes. That’s why the launch of the all-new Tata GenX Nano is refreshing. Based on former CEO Ratan Tata’s dream of moving Indians who transport their entire families on scooters and motorcycles into safer […]

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It’s not often a car company, or any group of people for the matter, will admit mistakes – particularly billion dollar mistakes. That’s why the launch of the all-new Tata GenX Nano is refreshing. Based on former CEO Ratan Tata’s dream of moving Indians who transport their entire families on scooters and motorcycles into safer – albeit, basic – four wheeled automobiles, the very fact the original 2009 Nano was the least expensive car on sale anywhere in the world proved to be an albatross around the Nano’s tiny neck. Even Indians aspiring to the middle class of a developing country, it turns out, aspire to be seen in something other than the cheapest car in the world. They’d rather buy a used Maruti Suzuki Alto 800, the hatchback that more or less defines India’s entry level car segment. In recognition of that reality, the new GenX Nano will now be positioned as an entry level hatchback to more directly compete with the Alto 800, Hyundai Eon and the newly announced Renault Kwid.

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While some saw the Nano as India’s Model T, prompting comparisons of Ratan Tata to Henry Ford, the historical reality is while Henry Ford had a great idea in making cars for the average consumer, not just the wealthy, the Model T was far from the cheapest car on the market when it was introduced. While it’s true that productivity and cost improvements allowed Ford to eventually drop the price of the T to less than $300, that was in 1924. When the Model T was introduced in 1908 (as a 1909 model) it cost $850. By comparison, a Brush Runabout cost less than $500 in 1908. Henry Ford didn’t face the stigma of selling the cheapest car in the world when he launched the Model T.

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In a 2013 interview, while claiming it was never his personal goal, Ratan Tata admitted it was a mistake for his company to market the Nano on price.

“It became termed as a cheapest car by the public and, I am sorry to say, by ourselves, not by me, but the company when it was marketing it. I think that is unfortunate,” Tata told CNBC.

Around the same time, which would have been while the GenX Nano was being developed, brand positioning guru Jack Trout publicly suggested that Tata kill the Nano. But, in launching the GenX Nano, Tata Motors Senior Vice President for passenger vehicle product and chief Nano engineer Girish Wagh said, “Never did we have discussion about killing the brand.” Wagh admitted the company erred in not recognizing the “societal status” needs of those upgrading from a two-wheeler to an actual automobile and that the launch of the GenX Nano meant creating a “perception change” for both the Nano and for Tata as a maker of passenger cars. Wagh told the Economic Times, while they haven’t yet discussed killing the Nano, the relaunch is indeed a “make or break” effort for Tata’s sub-brand.

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When the original Tata Nano was launched, the “cheapest car in the world” was big news globally, even though it was designed primarily for the domestic Indian market. The Nano’s existence persuaded some very big automakers to reexamine their plans concerning low cost passenger cars and their strategies about export hubs and the developing world.

 

Bajaj Re60

Bajaj Re60. Image: Bajaj

In the Indian market a number of companies started developing low cost cars, with Maruti introducing the Alto 800, the latest version of the Suzuki Alto with a smaller, older engine. Scooter and three-wheeler maker Bajaj, working with Renault-Nissan, introduced their first four wheel vehicle, the RE60, a low cost, low speed car for the commercial autorickshaw market. The French-Japanese automotive alliance revived the Datsun brand with the $5,000+ Go for the Indian market. The Go hasn’t exactly gone as well as Mr. Ghosn had hoped, so Renault itself just introduced the $4,700 Kwid to India. The GenX Nano will be priced from $3,150 to  $4,550.

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For all that news and influence, Nano sales have been disappointing for Tata. Tata has sold only as many Nanos in six years, about 250,000 units, as they had hoped to sell in the first two years of Nano production. Currently, the factory in Sanand, Gujarat is operating at just 15 percent capacity and sales this year are down 20 percent from last.

 

Original Tata Nano instrument panel

Original Tata Nano instrument panel. Wikimedia commons photo

Tata acknowledges they misjudged just how aspirational Indian consumers are at even the lowest entry level of car ownership and they are now relaunching the Nano for the third time. It’s really more than a relaunch, though. The Nano has been substantially rengineered and equipped with features to reposition it as a city car, an entry level hatchback, hopefully removing the stigma of being the cheapest car in the world. That’s a stigma the corporate owners of one of the world’s storied luxury automobile brands, Jaguar, can’t really afford to have.

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After collecting consumer impressions from over 1,000 Nano owners and half again as many of owners of other entry level Indian cars, Tata is hoping that a safer, all-new design and features like an automated transmission and Bluetooth connectivity (not earlier available at the price point) will allow it to more directly compete with other small hatches like the Chevrolet Beat, Hyundai Eon, and the Maruti Alto 800. The Eon and Alto 800 each sell about ten times as many units per month as the outgoing Nano. Even the highest priced GenX Nano will still undercut comparable Maruti Altos by 50,000 rupees, or about $800 at current exchange rates.

 

Renault Kwid

Carlos Ghosn introducing the new $4,700 Renault Kwid. Round trip Business Class airfare on Air France for Paris-Mumbai starts at $2,500. Kinda puts global business into perspective. Renault photo.

There is talk, not denied by Tata, of a bigger 1.0-liter engine to be offered a year down the road in addition to the 660 cc twin that currently powers the Nano, along with a possible diesel option. Right now, the GenX Nano has about half of the power to weight ratio of the Alto 800, which has, as the name indicates, a 796 cc engine. Because the engine is relatively loaded down, the GenX Nano is projected to get slightly worse fuel economy than the Alto 800, about 21 km per liter of petrol vs 22.7.

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The Tata Nano began as Ratan Tata’s dream of getting Indians who sometimes transport entire families on motorcycles and scooters into an unquestionably safer, enclosed, four-wheeled vehicle. It then became what, I think, was a rather impressive feat of engineering to a price point, removing all but the essential. That price point was “one lakh” or 100,000 rupees, the equivalent of about $2,000 US when the Nano was launched in 2009. The project had setbacks from the beginning, with farmers and politicians protesting the original factory location, delaying production. And because we’re in the internet age, fires in a small number of early production Nanos went viral around the world, harming the car’s image. Then Ratan Tata’s dream ran into the fact the families riding on motorcycles had aspirations greater than owning the world’s cheapest car. Indians would apparently rather drive a used example of a more expensive car.

 

Original Tata Nano

Original Tata Nano. Wikimedia commons photo

The first relaunch stressed the value of the Nano by emphasizing low monthly payments, but that only reinforced the image of the Nano as a cheap car. A second relaunch of the slightly more upscale Nano Twist models ran into the fact that, by then, competitors in India had products like the Beat and Alto 800 on the market.

 

Tata Nano Twist

Tata Nano Twist

This time, Tata has abandoned the cheapest car in the world scheme and decided to make a better Nano. As mentioned, much of the design and engineering of the original Nano was about taking things out, like using three lug nuts instead of at least four. By comparison, the GenX Nano’s development was more about putting things in than taking things out.

 

Maruti Alto 800

Maruti Alto 800

Tata says with the use of more high strength steel, crush zones, and side intrusion beams, the Nano’s body is much stronger and safer. It now also has a functional hatch with up to 110 liters of cargo space in the trunk. The original Nano was a four door, not a hatchback. Though the engine has been more or less unchanged, it’s been recalibrated for better urban fuel economy based on Tata engineers’ real-world observations of driving in major Indian markets. Mechanically, the biggest change is the availability of an automated manual transmission. While Tata is no longer marketing the Nano as the cheapest car in the world, the launch publicity did mention that the GenX Nano will be the “most affordable” car with an automated manual transmission.

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In addition to the structural and drivetrain changes, the GenX Nano has a new instrument panel, a stronger air conditioner (something very important with India’s climate), power steering, modern connectivity, and better NVH performance. While the overall silhouette hasn’t changed, the GenX Nano has a new face and rear end, with new bumpers, lamps and a honeycomb grille. The changes are intended to appeal to young, aspirational Indians, particularly women who will like the “Easy Shift” automated manual. Women take a targeted role in the GenX Nano’s marketing and dealers report 20 percent of those who have already booked a GenX Nano – which is already on sale with deliveries scheduled in about two months – are females.

Click here to view the embedded video.

When the original Nano was introduced in 2009, I saw more than a couple of online comments from consumers in North America wondering why a car that cheap couldn’t be sold on this continent. As it turns out, a car that cheap can’t be sold in great numbers on the Indian sub-continent, let alone in North America, where something as relatively advanced and luxurious when compared to the Nano, like the Mitsubishi Mirage, struggles in the market. In time, the Nano project may turn out to be a success. But, whatever success it will have will now be based on its virtues as an automobile compared to competing products, not by being the cheapest car anywhere on the planet.

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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Fiat Aegea Is the Dodge Dart for Elsewhere http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/fiat-aegea-is-the-dodge-dart-for-elsewhere/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/fiat-aegea-is-the-dodge-dart-for-elsewhere/#comments Thu, 21 May 2015 14:18:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1072098 Fiat, in conjunction with Tofaş R&D, revealed its new compact three-box Aegea sedan project at the Istanbul Motor Show. The new sedan, which will get a different name when it goes to production, is the first of three new models to be introduced for the EMEA region, replacing the Linea sedan and Bravo hatchback. Designed in Italy and engineered […]

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Fiat Aegea

Fiat, in conjunction with Tofaş R&D, revealed its new compact three-box Aegea sedan project at the Istanbul Motor Show. The new sedan, which will get a different name when it goes to production, is the first of three new models to be introduced for the EMEA region, replacing the Linea sedan and Bravo hatchback.

Designed in Italy and engineered in Turkey, the Aegea project sits atop the same ‘small wide’ platform as the Fiat 500L/500X, Jeep Renegade and (to a lesser degree) Dodge Dart. With a wheelbase of 2,640 mm (103.9 inches), the Aegea is only 2.5 inches shorter than the Dart at the wheels. The new sedan sits at 4,500 mm (177.2 inches) long, 1,780 mm (70.1 inches) wide and 1,480 mm (58.3 inches) tall. Fiat also states the sedan is “large enough to seat 5 well built passengers comfortably with a load capacity of over 510 litres.”

Four engines will be available in the Aegea family. Two Multijet II turbodiesels and two gasoline engines, mated to manual and automatic transmissions, will produce between 95 and 120 hp.

The Ægea name pays tribute to the Aegean Sea that is “the symbolic bridge between East and West.”

The new sedan will go on sale in Turkey in November and later in other EMEA markets.

NOTE: The car will be built at the same plant where there’s currently a labor dispute. That November on-sale date could slide a bit if the situation isn’t resolved soon.

Fiat Aegea Fiat Aegea Fiat Aegea Fiat Aegea Fiat Aegea

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Renault Kwid Unveiled, Ready To Battle Maruti Suzuki Alto In India http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/renault-kwid-unveiled-ready-to-battle-maruti-suzuki-alto-in-india/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/renault-kwid-unveiled-ready-to-battle-maruti-suzuki-alto-in-india/#comments Wed, 20 May 2015 17:00:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1071530 As the Datsun brand stumbles in India, Renault-Nissan unveiled the Kwid Wednesday to take on the challenge of beating the best-selling Maruti Suzuki Alto. The Kwid hatchback is underpinned by the alliance’s Common Modular A Family platform, boasts a ground clearance of 7.1 inches, and has a starting price of ₹3,00,000 ($4,700 USD), Automotive News […]

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Renault Kwid 01

As the Datsun brand stumbles in India, Renault-Nissan unveiled the Kwid Wednesday to take on the challenge of beating the best-selling Maruti Suzuki Alto.

The Kwid hatchback is underpinned by the alliance’s Common Modular A Family platform, boasts a ground clearance of 7.1 inches, and has a starting price of ₹3,00,000 ($4,700 USD), Automotive News Europe reports. Power is set to come from an 800cc unit, though no other powertrain information was announced at this time.

Like the Tata GenX Nano announced Tuesday, the Kwid has a feature set normally found on more upscale vehicles for the Indian market, including hands-free voice-calling with Bluetooth, 7-inch touchscreen display with navigation and infotainment, and optional airbags.

Renault-Nissan CEO Carlos Ghosn said the Indian market was not an easy one during the Kwid’s unveiling in Chennai, and expects the city car to be “a game changer for Renault India.” The alliance’s current attempt to crack the market — the Datsun Go — sold 16,000 units since its introduction in 2014. The Alto manages to sell over 16,000 units per month in comparison at a starting price of ₹2,46,163 ($3,865).

Renault India also plans to expand its dealership network from 157 to 280 by the end of next year, though the target still pales to Maruti’s 1,500 stores.

The Renault Kwid is expected in those showrooms in September upon leaving the assembly line in Chennai.

[Image credit: Renault]

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Tata GenX Nano Latest In Low-Cost Line Of Nano City Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/tata-genx-nano-latest-in-low-cost-line-of-nano-city-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/tata-genx-nano-latest-in-low-cost-line-of-nano-city-cars/#comments Tue, 19 May 2015 16:00:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1070802 Hitting showrooms Tuesday, Tata Motors announced its latest variant of the Nano city car: the GenX Nano. Starting price for the four-passenger GenX ranges between Rs1.99 lakh ($3,000 USD) for the XE trim, to Rs2.89 lakh ($4,535) for the XTA model. Power comes from a 624cc two-cylinder with multi-point injection, and is good for around […]

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genex-nano-1-large

Hitting showrooms Tuesday, Tata Motors announced its latest variant of the Nano city car: the GenX Nano.

Starting price for the four-passenger GenX ranges between Rs1.99 lakh ($3,000 USD) for the XE trim, to Rs2.89 lakh ($4,535) for the XTA model. Power comes from a 624cc two-cylinder with multi-point injection, and is good for around 38 horses and 38 lb-ft of torque. A four-speed manual and a five-speed “Easy Shift” automated manual route the power to the back, with the latter providing enhanced acceleration and traffic-friendly features.

Other features available include: smoked headlamps; 24-liter fuel tank for longer trips; electric power steering; 110 liters of luggage room; connected-vehicle system with Bluetooth, CD and USB/AUX ports; “SUV-like ground clearance”; and structural safety enhancements.

The GenX Nano will be on sale at all 450 Tata showrooms Tuesday, with the XE, XM, XT and XTA models available immediately; the XMA trim will arrive made-to-order beginning in August. Its competitors include the Hyundai Eon and Suzuki Alto.

[Photo credit: Tata]

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Hyundai To Build Mexican Factory After Sales Exceed 50K Per Year http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/hyundai-build-mexican-factory-sales-exceed-50k-per-year/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/04/hyundai-build-mexican-factory-sales-exceed-50k-per-year/#comments Fri, 17 Apr 2015 12:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1046314 Hyundai is planning on building a factory in Mexico, but only after annual domestic sales in the country rise to appropriate levels. Bloomberg reports the automaker is waiting until annual sales exceed 50,000 before breaking ground on a factory for the Hyundai brand, per Hyundai Motor de Mexico managing director Pedro Albarran. He adds that […]

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Hyundai Grand i10 Receiving Service in Mexico

Hyundai is planning on building a factory in Mexico, but only after annual domestic sales in the country rise to appropriate levels.

Bloomberg reports the automaker is waiting until annual sales exceed 50,000 before breaking ground on a factory for the Hyundai brand, per Hyundai Motor de Mexico managing director Pedro Albarran. He adds that the target could come as soon as 2018; 2014 sales totalled 12,000.

As for where it could be built, Albarran says the state of Nuevo Leon — where Kia is investing $1 billion into building a new factory of its own — would be an ideal location, and that Kia’s move to build the factory made Mexico more desirable for Hyundai, thanks to the factory attracting suppliers.

When operational, the Hyundai factory would produce over 100,000 units per year, and would include subcompacts popular in the country.

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Tesla Commits To Localized Production In China Within Three Years http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/tesla-commits-localized-production-china-within-three-years/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/tesla-commits-localized-production-china-within-three-years/#comments Tue, 31 Mar 2015 14:00:12 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1033497 Aiming to build confidence among Chinese consumers, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has pledged his company will begin local production in China within three years. Xinhua reports that until then, imports from the United States will continue because the factory still has capacity left to grow into. Once that occurs, however, Musk says it would only […]

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2014 Tesla Model S in China

Aiming to build confidence among Chinese consumers, Tesla CEO Elon Musk has pledged his company will begin local production in China within three years.

Xinhua reports that until then, imports from the United States will continue because the factory still has capacity left to grow into. Once that occurs, however, Musk says it would only be sensible to “localize production in China for the Chinese market, in Europe for the European market.”

Though Musk and Tesla haven’t had the best time in China since importation began in mid-2013 — ranging from sales issues and speculators, to range anxiety and consumer preferences — the CEO is optimistic about the future of his company’s work in the market, taking the long-term view as the basis for said optimism.

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Middle Eastern, Asian Demand Fuels Booming US Auto Exports http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/middle-eastern-asian-demand-fuels-booming-us-auto-exports/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/02/middle-eastern-asian-demand-fuels-booming-us-auto-exports/#comments Tue, 10 Feb 2015 15:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=995394 Demand from the Middle East and Asia has helped fuel a new record in U.S. auto exports for the third consecutive year. The Wall Street Journal reports 2.1 million vehicles from factories in the Midwestern and Southeastern United States left for export markets in 2014, breaking the 2-million barrier for the first time. The figure […]

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Jeep Cherokees Departing West From Grays Harbor Washington

Demand from the Middle East and Asia has helped fuel a new record in U.S. auto exports for the third consecutive year.

The Wall Street Journal reports 2.1 million vehicles from factories in the Midwestern and Southeastern United States left for export markets in 2014, breaking the 2-million barrier for the first time. The figure is an 8 percent increase over 2013, and a 73 percent jump from a decade ago.

While around half of the exports head north to Canada or south to Mexico, China, Saudi Arabia and South Korea welcomed U.S.-made BMWs, Jeeps, Toyotas et al to their ports over the past year.

Factors for the booming export market include a dollar that was weak long enough to lay down the foundation, and is now strong enough against the yen and euro to encourage more production in the U.S., leaner manufacturing, competitive labor rates, and the aforementioned increased demand from newer markets in the Middle East and Asia.

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Baidu Buys Major Stake In Uber http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/baidu-buys-major-stake-uber/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/baidu-buys-major-stake-uber/#comments Fri, 19 Dec 2014 15:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=962882 Chinese Internet overlord Baidu is buying a major stake into everyone’s favorite transportation network company, Uber. According to CNBC, neither company stated how much the stake cost Baidu, nor how large the stake is. The tech company joins Google and Goldman Sachs in the big-name-investor group backing the TNC, which is currently valued at $40 […]

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Baidu_headquarters

Chinese Internet overlord Baidu is buying a major stake into everyone’s favorite transportation network company, Uber.

According to CNBC, neither company stated how much the stake cost Baidu, nor how large the stake is. The tech company joins Google and Goldman Sachs in the big-name-investor group backing the TNC, which is currently valued at $40 billion.

As for what will happen as a result of this pairing, Baidu wants to help Uber gain a foothold into the Chinese car-hailing app market — expected to jump to 45 million users next year, from 18 million in 2013 — which is dominated by Alibaba’s Kuaidi Dache and Tencent Holdings’ Didi Dache. Uber CEO Travis Kalanick said his company would integrate with the Baidu Maps app, in the hope of helping users get to where they need to go.

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Mobius Leads Path Toward Local Manufacturing For African Consumers http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/mobius-leads-path-toward-local-manufacturing-african-consumers/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/mobius-leads-path-toward-local-manufacturing-african-consumers/#comments Thu, 11 Dec 2014 15:00:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=958457 Today, 50 units from Nairobi-based manufacturer Mobius are set to be delivered to customers, marking the first step for the company as it aims to prove Kenya — and the continent of Africa — can produce just as well as it supplies raw materials. Reuters reports the vehicle, known as the II, will go for […]

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mobius-motors-two-front-three-quarters-view-outdoors

Today, 50 units from Nairobi-based manufacturer Mobius are set to be delivered to customers, marking the first step for the company as it aims to prove Kenya — and the continent of Africa — can produce just as well as it supplies raw materials.

Reuters reports the vehicle, known as the II, will go for KSh950,000 ($10,500 USD) before taxes, and is meant to tackle the rough roads the Chinese have yet to pave over. Thus, for ease of maintenance and repairs, the II has little more than a front windscreen, minimal electronics, and a sturdy suspension upon which its aluminum body rests. Forty-five percent of the vehicle is derived from local sources, while the engine and other pieces come from outside suppliers.

Mobius joins Ugandan automaker Kiira Motor Project in designing, building and selling an African-made vehicle for Africa, overcoming long-standing concerns that the continent cannot make anything like the II for its people, let alone the rest of the world; the last attempt by a local concern — the Nyayo Pioneer in 1990 — fell apart soon after production began.

So far, Mobius is doing well for itself with its business model, with enquiries from neighboring nations, western Africa and beyond. Kiira, meanwhile, received an initial commitment of $70 million from the Ugandan government, and is seeking a total of $350 million to build a factory for its planned vehicle, a $20,000 sedan in the vein of the Toyota Camry aimed at office workers and executives.

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China Auto Sales Slow To Lowest Rate Since February 2013 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/china-auto-sales-slow-lowest-rate-since-february-2013/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/china-auto-sales-slow-lowest-rate-since-february-2013/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 11:00:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=931362 Chinese automotive sales are still growing, but at the lowest rate in the past 19 months as demand cools. Bloomberg reports sales in September rose 2.5 percent to 1.98 million units compared to what they were in 2013, marking the lowest rise in sales since February of last year. While passenger-car sales climbed 6.4 percent […]

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SAIC bus

Chinese automotive sales are still growing, but at the lowest rate in the past 19 months as demand cools.

Bloomberg reports sales in September rose 2.5 percent to 1.98 million units compared to what they were in 2013, marking the lowest rise in sales since February of last year. While passenger-car sales climbed 6.4 percent to 1.7 million units, commercial-vehicle sales fell 16 percent.

Meanwhile, purchase restrictions and declines in other parts of the nation’s economy also contributed to the slowdown in sales. The China Association of Automobile Manufacturers lowered its 2014 forecast of vehicle sales growth in July, bringing it down from 10 percent to 8.3 percent. Economists add that overall growth will slow to 7.3 percent in 2014 — the lowest rate since 1990 — and 7 percent for 2015.

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Datsun Dealing With Low Sales In Emerging Markets http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/datsun-dealing-low-sales-emerging-markets/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/10/datsun-dealing-low-sales-emerging-markets/#comments Wed, 15 Oct 2014 10:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=931346 Last year, Renault-Nissan resurrected Datsun, positioning the brand for emerging markets — like India, Russia and Indonesia — with a portfolio of models that would attract new, young consumers whose wallets were a bit thin. It’s not quite working out thus far. Bloomberg reports deliveries of the Go hatchback in India have fallen in three […]

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Datsun mi-Do 01

Last year, Renault-Nissan resurrected Datsun, positioning the brand for emerging markets — like India, Russia and Indonesia — with a portfolio of models that would attract new, young consumers whose wallets were a bit thin.

It’s not quite working out thus far.

Bloomberg reports deliveries of the Go hatchback in India have fallen in three of the previous four months through this August, with only 607 units leaving the lot in July, briefly dipping below the sales rate of the Tata Nano in the same month. Further, from its debut in March through August, a total of 9,557 of the ₹312,270 ($5,100 USD) Gos found their way into Indian garages.

Meanwhile, Russian sales will take a hit thanks to the ongoing geopolitical Cold War retro revival delivering a two-pronged attack upon the market, with sanctions by Western states on one side, the spectre of recession along the other. According to IHS Automotive, sales may fall to a decade-low of 9 percent by the time 2015 rolls around.

Finally, Datsun has moved 6,400 Go+ Pancas thus far in FY 2014, with the goal set for 40,000 units sold by the end of March 2015. The brand recently began accepting orders for the Go hatch, while Nissan believes it can hit the mark within the year.

India may prove to be the toughest market for the upstart brand, as those interested in a new car would rather pay more than be seen in something considered “cheap.” That said, sales could pick up during the country’s festival season, which began last month and is set to end in November. Additionally, Datsun corporate vice president Vincent Cobee acknowledged that it would take a while for a new-car buyer to consider a new brand over an established one, even if they are paying $10,000 or less for the vehicle.

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California Dominates US Plug-In Market http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/california-dominates-us-plug-market/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/california-dominates-us-plug-market/#comments Wed, 10 Sep 2014 12:00:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=910058 A shock that may come to no one among the B&B, California leads the way in sales of plug-ins with just over 100,000 units sold in the past four years. Bloomberg reports the figures, accounting for 40 percent of the plug-in market, were compiled by the California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative from data gathered between […]

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2013 Ford C-MAX Energi Plug-In Hybrid, Exterior, Charging Plug, Picture Courtesy of Alex L. Dykes

A shock that may come to no one among the B&B, California leads the way in sales of plug-ins with just over 100,000 units sold in the past four years.

Bloomberg reports the figures, accounting for 40 percent of the plug-in market, were compiled by the California Plug-In Electric Vehicle Collaborative from data gathered between December 2010 and August 2014 by the California Air Resources Board, Hybridcars.com and Baum & Associates. Baum also reported overall U.S. sales checked-in at around 250,000 units over the same period.

Though California has 40 percent of the plug-in market covered — thanks in part to legislation pushing automakers to bring more ZEVs to market — the milestone is a long way from the goal of 1.5 million plug-in vehicles by 2025, let alone the Obama administration’s target of 1 million such units by the end of 2015.

As for the present, Baum & Associates founder Alan Baum — who says 300,000 total units will hit the road by the end of this year — believes California’s stake in the market will likely shrink “as certain mass-market models that were initially sold only in state are introduced more broadly across the country.”

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Volkswagen: Hydrogen Will Struggle Outside of Japan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/volkswagen-hydrogen-will-struggle-outside-japan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/volkswagen-hydrogen-will-struggle-outside-japan/#comments Tue, 09 Sep 2014 13:00:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=909146 While Toyota and the administration of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are going all in on hydrogen, Volkswagen Group Japan President Shigeru Shoji proclaims FCVs will struggle to make headway elsewhere. According to Bloomberg, Shoji says the government subsidies meant to push Toyota’s Mirai and other FCVs into the marketplace are likely too high for […]

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VW-Up-Japan-December-2012

While Toyota and the administration of Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe are going all in on hydrogen, Volkswagen Group Japan President Shigeru Shoji proclaims FCVs will struggle to make headway elsewhere.

According to Bloomberg, Shoji says the government subsidies meant to push Toyota’s Mirai and other FCVs into the marketplace are likely too high for other governments to match. He adds that issues surrounding refueling infrastructure and the handling of hydrogen itself will add to the roadblocks awaiting the technology outside of Japan.

Those comments — echoing sentiments by Tesla CEO Elon Musk and other hydrogen skeptics — aren’t lost on either Toyota or the Abe administration. Company representative Dion Corbett says the subsidies are needed to help get hydrogen off the ground, citing the high cost of developing fuel-cell technology. That said, Dion believes demand will not only be the highest in Japan — where Abe envisions a “hydrogen society” of fuel-cells for homes and businesses as well as cars — but in Germany, California and the U.S. East Coast.

Though Volkswagen has its doubts, VW Japan representative Yasuo Maruta says the company is keeping its eye on Toyota’s efforts, planning to be no more than three years’ behind R&D work in relation to Toyota.

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North Korea Owes Sweden $428M For 1,000 Volvos Swindled In 1974 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/north-korea-owes-sweden-428m-1000-volvos-swindled-1974/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/09/north-korea-owes-sweden-428m-1000-volvos-swindled-1974/#comments Tue, 02 Sep 2014 11:00:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=904857 Forty years ago, the North Koreans and the Swedes entered into an agreement where the latter’s socialist and industrialist interests aimed to bring recognition to the former’s regime while filling its pockets from the country’s mining industry. Part of this agreement included 1,000 Volvo 144 GLs, which were meant to be paid in copper and […]

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Stolen Volvos in North Korea

Forty years ago, the North Koreans and the Swedes entered into an agreement where the latter’s socialist and industrialist interests aimed to bring recognition to the former’s regime while filling its pockets from the country’s mining industry. Part of this agreement included 1,000 Volvo 144 GLs, which were meant to be paid in copper and zinc.

But that was 40 years ago.

Newsweek reports North Korea, under Kim Il-sung’s regime, ultimately absconded with the Volvos and other Swedish goods during a Swedish-Korean trade fair in Pyongyang, all within the same year the vehicles were delivered.

Since then, the Swedish Export Credits Guarantee Board has calculated the interest owed on the debt linked to those goods. Total debt after inflation plus interest holds at kr3 billion ($428 million USD).

As for the Volvos, they were ordered for taxi service within the North Korean capital. As of 2008, those cars were not only still running, but, according to photographer and entrepreneur Tor Rauden Källstigen, were treated well:

I think I’ve never been inside such an old car even back home in Sweden. This taxi was very well maintained too, close to mint condition it seemed.

Were Il-sung’s grandson and current ruler, Kim Jong-un, to sell the vehicles at current book value, he would net $2.6 million — or 0.6 percent of the debt — for the trouble.

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Kia Set To Build “Range” Of Compacts At Monterrey Plant In 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/kia-set-build-range-compacts-monterrey-plant-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/kia-set-build-range-compacts-monterrey-plant-2016/#comments Thu, 28 Aug 2014 12:00:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=902129 Kia announced Wednesday that it plans to build “a range of yet-to-be confirmed compact models” at its new plant in Monterrey, Mexico after Job 1 production begins in H1 2016. Automotive News reports the automaker is still determining which vehicles it plans to produce at the $1 billion plant, as it will be set-up to […]

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2014 Kia Forte EX Exterior-001

Kia announced Wednesday that it plans to build “a range of yet-to-be confirmed compact models” at its new plant in Monterrey, Mexico after Job 1 production begins in H1 2016.

Automotive News reports the automaker is still determining which vehicles it plans to produce at the $1 billion plant, as it will be set-up to produce both compact and subcompact models at a rate of 300,000 units annually once full production begins.

Kia adds that the plant will also serve as a potential launching pad for production throughout Central and South America, as well as a supply line to a new sales channel in Mexico:

With its strong growth forecasts for new vehicle demand, Mexico was chosen as the site for Kia’s next overseas plant given that it is one of the few remaining major markets in the world in which Kia does not have a sales presence.

Kia will begin construction of its new facility in late September.

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Datsun Unveils mi-DO Hatch At 2014 Automechanika Moscow http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/datsun-unveils-mi-hatch-2014-automechanika-moscow/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/08/datsun-unveils-mi-hatch-2014-automechanika-moscow/#comments Thu, 28 Aug 2014 10:00:45 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=901969 Nissan’s emerging-market brand Datsun unveiled its newest addition to its burgeoning lineup at the 2014 Automechanika Moscow show: The mi-DO. Just-Auto reports the compact hatch, joining the similarly named on-DO sedan set to arrive in September, will arrive in showrooms sometime in early 2015. No price of admission has been stated for the five-door, five-passenger […]

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Datsun mi-Do 01

Nissan’s emerging-market brand Datsun unveiled its newest addition to its burgeoning lineup at the 2014 Automechanika Moscow show: The mi-DO.

Just-Auto reports the compact hatch, joining the similarly named on-DO sedan set to arrive in September, will arrive in showrooms sometime in early 2015. No price of admission has been stated for the five-door, five-passenger vehicle, however.

Under the bonnet, a 1.6-liter 8V engine will deliver 87 horsepower to the front pair of 15-inch alloys through a standard five-speed manual or optional four-speed auto.

As for its name — and that of the on-DO — Datsun says it’s a fusion of Japanese, Russian and English themes: “do” is Japanese for “moving,” “on” is Russian for “he,” and “mi” is meant to invoke personalization by rhyming with “me” to Russian ears.

Datsun mi-Do 01 Datsun mi-Do 02 Datsun mi-Do 03 Datsun mi-Do 07 Datsun mi-Do 06 Datsun mi-Do 04 Datsun mi-Do 05 Datsun mi-Do 08 Datsun mi-Do 09

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