Category: Europe

By on October 17, 2017

british-leyland-mini

While some of Europe saw modest auto sale gains through the first nine months of 2017, the region has mirrored North America’s decline in deliveries since the end of the summer. The United States saw eight consecutive months of declining sales this year, with a positive bump in September and better than expected volume in Canada.

Europe, meanwhile, saw the inverse. Passenger car registrations fell 2 percent year-over-year to roughly 1.43 million deliveries in September, despite August seeing a 5.6-percent improvement. Overall, 2017 has the makings of a unsatisfactory sales year for both regions. But Europe seemed to be doing alright before the U.K. suddenly stopped buying cars.

British registrations took a massive nosedive after Brexit. By September, it represented a monthly decline of 9.3 percent, compared to Germany’s 3.3 percent slide. Even though the rest of the continent saw a gain in sales, having Europe’s two largest markets lagging guaranteed the net loss.  Read More >

By on October 2, 2017

vintage diesel fuel pump

Diesel-powered passenger vehicle sales have fallen in Europe. Data from the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) showed diesel’s year-over-year market share plummeting in the first half of 2017, sinking from 50.2 percent to 46.3 percent of all new car registrations in the EU.

Helped by negative publicity and governmental intervention, it’s the first time diesels have dipped below the 50 percent mark since 2009. ACEA’s figures indicate 152,323 fewer diesel cars sold so far in 2017, attributing some of the decline to a renewed interest in gasoline-powered vehicles. Of course, if you aren’t buying diesel, you don’t have a lot of other options.

Still, deliveries of “alternative” vehicles — which include hybrid, electric, and natural gas-powered automobiles — also rose by more than 35 percent. Those categories now account for 5.2 percent of Europe’s total auto sales.  Read More >

By on September 27, 2017

2018 Hyundai i30 N - Image: HyundaiUnfortunately, the new Hyundai i30 N is, by all accounts, a terrific hot hatchback.

The i30, you’ll recall, is essentially the Hyundai Elantra GT that’s beginning to arrive in U.S. showrooms, a pleasantly tasty car in Sport trim.

But Hyundai’s new performance N sub-brand, headed up by former BMW dynamics sage Albert Biermann, is not yet America-bound. And while European critics broadly praise the i30 N — not just as “a pretty stunning first effort from Hyundai’s N division” but “up there with the best” competitors — and celebrate the availability of yet another viable performance car, the car will not make it across the pond. Read More >

By on September 19, 2017

2018 Ford Fiesta ST three-door - Image: FordOver the last seven years, America, you didn’t buy many Ford Fiestas. Fewer than 430,000, in fact. For perspective, in the much smaller United Kingdom market, Ford sold over 500,000 Fiestas in just the last four years.

But the Fiesta’s lack of popularity — and its dramatic loss of popularity in America — is not a unique-to-Ford situation. U.S. sales of subcompact cars plunged by more than a fifth, year-over-year, during the first eight months of 2017. That tumble comes after U.S. sales of subcompact cars declined in 2015 and 2016, as well.

Nevertheless, it comes as no surprise that Ford, after exploring America’s affordable avenues for one generation of Fiesta, isn’t bringing the seventh-generation version to America. And now we have confirmation that there is absolutely no hope the next-gen Ford Fiesta ST will come stateside, either. Read More >

By on September 18, 2017

Citroen DS, Image: Wikimedia Commons

For some, including TTAC’s in-house Francophile, Chris Tonn, the wait is simply unbearable. PSA Group, maker of Citroën, Peugeot and DS cars, plans to re-enter a market it hasn’t done business in since the last Peugeot left a U.S. dealer in 1991.

It’s a slow and steady comeback for the French automaker. Steamlined, flush with products, and no longer the fiscal basket case it was earlier in the decade, PSA plans to conquer untapped and underperforming markets, including the United States. The American arrival comes by way of an extremely cautious 10-year plan. While the automaker remains hesitant to show its cards, it now admits that, if the buying public is willing, it can have cars ready for U.S. purchase in three years. Read More >

By on September 13, 2017

Concept EQ, Exterieur Concept EQ, exterior

Everyone’s doing it. It’s as popular as the fidget spinner and Pokémon Go crazes all those years months ago. In a rush to signal their environmental bonafides and display their dedication to the Next Big Thing, luxury automakers are tripping over themselves in an effort to promise an all-electrified model lineup as soon as technology and finances allow.

This time, it’s Mercedes-Benz. The world’s oldest car brand doesn’t want its rivals cashing in once governments around the globe start turning off the fossil fuel taps. So, earlier this week, Daimler CEO Dieter Zetsche stepped up and made a promise we’ve heard ad nauseum as of late: every model in the brand’s lineup will soon sport some form of electric propulsion, be it a hybrid setup or full-on battery electric powertrain.

For Mercedes-Benz, this means 50 hybrid or EV models, including at its irrelevant-to-Americans Smart brand. The move isn’t without a steep cost, however — Daimler is bracing for a slashing of vehicle profit margins. In some cases, the green collected from green cars could be half that of a gasoline Benz. What to do? Read More >

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 12, 2017

Honda Urban EV Concept unveiled at the Frankfurt Motor Show - Image: Honda UK“This is not some vision of the distant future,” Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo says of the Honda Urban EV Concept that debuts at the Frankfurt Motor Show. “A production version of this car will be here in Europe in 2019.”

Be a skeptic if you like. Honda’s recent history is full of pie-in-the-sky small car concepts that never came to production fruition: Remix, Step Bus, IMAS, Puyo, P-Nut, Gear. But there are also Honda concepts that ended up in the real world. The Model X Concept became the Element, the CR-Z Concept became the CR-Z, the SUT Concept arrived as the Ridgeline.

Honda has every intention to introduce the delightfully retro-modern Urban EV, albeit most assuredly without suicide doors, gigantic wheels, a front bench, or the unusually minimalistic interior. Yet if Honda can maintain the silhouette, a blend of early Civic and Mk1 Golf GTI, we’ll begin to wonder whether Honda’s lost decade – in which mistakes were made and costs were cut — is about to produce evidence of a reinvigorated Honda. 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.

Read More >

By on August 31, 2017

Image: 1990 BMW Z1, image via seller

Though not the first BMW-powered vehicle in our Rare Rides series, and not the first with two doors, it is the first BMW convertible we’ve seen here. And the two aforementioned doors on this little convertible have One Simple Trick up their sleeve — disappearing into the body of the car. It’s the kind of detail you’d only expect on some crazy old Citroën.

But that’s not the only unique aspect of the Z1. Want to learn something?

Read More >

By on August 10, 2017

2013 Opel Monza Concept - Image: OpelIt was to be called the Monza.

GM Europe expected to assemble the Opel Insignia-based SUV, roughly the size of the Ford Edge, right alongside the Opel Insignia at its Rüsselsheim, Germany, assembly plant. Which is in Rüsselsheim.

But development of the so-called Monza was either lost in the shuffle or used as a bargaining chip, depending on whom you ask, when Groupe PSA (Peugeot and Citroën) announced the $2.3-billion purchase of its European brands, Opel and Vauxhall. Now it appears the Monza project is suspended, according to AutoExpress, as PSA decides to “freeze all GM-related projects.”

What’s it mean for Buick? Read More >

By on July 27, 2017

2015 Ford B-Max - Image: FordIt’s a question parents don’t ask often enough: are is our children learning?

More commonly queried: why not are our doors all is sliding? Furthermore, why is minivans are not mini?

Ford gave it a five-year whirl, slapping sliding doors on the side of the Fiesta-based B-Max. But according to a report in Romania’s Automarket, production of the Romanian-built B-Max ends this fall.

Are is our automakers learning? Read More >

By on July 14, 2017

Hyundai i30N Nurburgring 24h - Image: HyundaiIn Hyundai’s mind, consumers now know the brand builds reliable cars. Quality cars. Attractive cars. “But now we have the knowledge to add sportiness to that image,” says Klaus Köster, Hyundai’s European director for high performance vehicle development.

The Hyundai i30 N, essentially a high-performance version of the Hyundai Elantra GT that Americans will soon be able to purchase in less powerful iterations, is instantly becoming the foundation for a Hyundai brand that wants to be taken more seriously for its athleticism.

Just as the i30 N spent much of its development time at Hyundai’s six-year-old technical center beside Germany’s iconic Nürburgring circuit, now every Hyundai will be assessed at the Nürburgring.

The Santa Fe’s ‘Ring time probably won’t be published. Read More >

By on July 6, 2017

Image: 2011 Chevrolet Montana, image via Wikipedia

Today we feature the second entry to our Domestics Abroad series. Here’s where we take a look at the international models proffered around the world that wear a domestic company’s badge on the grille, but are not offered in their brands’ domestic markets. This is ground zero for “you can’t get that here.” All nameplates you’ll see in this series are current production models.

We kicked off this series with Ford, and its 13 qualifying models. Our second entry is Chevrolet, which also places second in number of models.

Here are Chevrolet’s nine entries, in alphabetical order:

Read More >

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.

Read More >

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