The Truth About Cars » New Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Thu, 26 Mar 2015 21:57:25 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 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 editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (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 » New Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/new-cars/ New York 2015: Mercedes-Benz ML Renamed “GLE” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/new-york-2015-mercedes-benz-ml-renamed-gle/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/new-york-2015-mercedes-benz-ml-renamed-gle/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 20:28:13 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1029929   As part of its efforts to re-brand crossovers, the Mercedes-Benz ML is now the “GLE”, the X5 to the GLE Coupe’s X6. Along with a diesel 4-cylinder and a gasoline V6 (with or without turbos), there is an AMG version, the GLE63 AMG and an “S” version. The diesel, dubbed the GLE300d makes 2.1-liter, four-cylinder […]

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As part of its efforts to re-brand crossovers, the Mercedes-Benz ML is now the “GLE”, the X5 to the GLE Coupe’s X6.

Along with a diesel 4-cylinder and a gasoline V6 (with or without turbos), there is an AMG version, the GLE63 AMG and an “S” version. The diesel, dubbed the GLE300d makes 2.1-liter, four-cylinder diesel making 201 hp and 369 pound-feet of torque, while the atmospheric V6 3.5-liter V6 makies 302 hp and 273 lb-ft. The turbo V6 makes 329 hp and 354 lb-ft. The AMG versions use the familiar twin-turbo V8 will make 550 or 577 hp depending on grade. A plug-in hybrid version will also be available. Full details will be announced at next week’s New York Auto Show.

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New York 2015: Scion iA Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/new-york-2015-scion-ia-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/new-york-2015-scion-ia-revealed/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 20:02:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1029913 Spy photographers have caught the Scion iA sans camo ahead of its New York Auto Show debut. For the full set of pictures, please click here.

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Spy photographers have caught the Scion iA sans camo ahead of its New York Auto Show debut. For the full set of pictures, please click here.

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New York 2015: A Preview Of The Next Kia Optima http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/new-york-2015-preview-next-kia-optima/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/new-york-2015-preview-next-kia-optima/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 11:44:34 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1029881 This is all we’ve got on the new Kia Optima. You’ll have to wait until next week for official details, but expect the same specs as the current Hyundai Sonata.

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This is all we’ve got on the new Kia Optima. You’ll have to wait until next week for official details, but expect the same specs as the current Hyundai Sonata.

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New York 2015: Toyota RAV4 Hybrid Debuts http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/new-york-2015-toyota-rav4-hybrid-debuts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/new-york-2015-toyota-rav4-hybrid-debuts/#comments Thu, 26 Mar 2015 11:36:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1029849 Toyota is set to debut a hybrid RAV4. I’m not sure what’s taken them so long. With the Lexus NX using a 2.5-liter 4-Cylinder paired with an electric motor, moving that drivetrain to its platform-mate, the RAV4, was an obvious choice. In the NX, it produces 200 hp while returning 33/30 mpg city/highway. Perhaps we’ll see […]

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Toyota is set to debut a hybrid RAV4. I’m not sure what’s taken them so long.

With the Lexus NX using a 2.5-liter 4-Cylinder paired with an electric motor, moving that drivetrain to its platform-mate, the RAV4, was an obvious choice. In the NX, it produces 200 hp while returning 33/30 mpg city/highway. Perhaps we’ll see slightly better numbers in the RAV4?

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Lincoln Continental Concept? We’ll Do You One Better http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/lincoln-continental-concept-well-one-better/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/lincoln-continental-concept-well-one-better/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 21:03:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1029441 The rest of the blogosphere is breathlessly heralding the return of the Lincoln Continental. They’re two years behind the curve. The Lincoln Continental concept might be coming, but the next Lincoln large sedan will be the production Continental. Unfortunately, it won’t be like the JFK-era sedan, but rather a front-drive CD platform car with Ecoboost […]

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The rest of the blogosphere is breathlessly heralding the return of the Lincoln Continental. They’re two years behind the curve.

The Lincoln Continental concept might be coming, but the next Lincoln large sedan will be the production Continental. Unfortunately, it won’t be like the JFK-era sedan, but rather a front-drive CD platform car with Ecoboost V6s and some design language that mirrors the Chevrolet Impala. Why? Because it’s made for Chinese customers who want to be driven in comfort, not for Americans who like to drive. The next Continental is even carrying the codename “Project GOBI” within Lincoln, and internal documents seen by TTAC emphasize “rear seat comfort and amenities” as a key feature of the car.

But there’s still a ray of sunshine for Lincoln fans. There’s going to be a real RWD Lincoln on the way. But it’s a crossover.

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Question Of The Day: How Would You Reform CAFE? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/question-day-reform-cafe/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/question-day-reform-cafe/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 14:54:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1029337 In response to today’s editorial on the CAFE overview, reader jmo proposed a novel solution to the very idea of regulating fuel economy. Jmo writes: “We don’t need to scrap CAFE” Sure we do and replace it with a $2/gallon gas tax. To hell you say, abolish both. But, between CAFE and fracking we’ve really […]

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Gas Prices Circa December 2014

In response to today’s editorial on the CAFE overview, reader jmo proposed a novel solution to the very idea of regulating fuel economy.

Jmo writes:

“We don’t need to scrap CAFE”

Sure we do and replace it with a $2/gallon gas tax.

To hell you say, abolish both. But, between CAFE and fracking we’ve really put the screws to Iran, Venezuela and Russia. I’m all for the free market but we also have geopolitical enemies that need to be dealt with and low oil prices are far more productive than wars at keeping our enemies in check.

I like the idea of a gas tax in place of CAFE. Let the people buying the gas guzzlers take the hit, rather than punish the consumers with vehicles that designed around a deeply flawed set of regulations. In countries where gasoline taxes are higher, consumers tend to gravitate towards smaller, more fuel efficient vehicles.

Unless you’re Canada, where the Ford F-Series, Ram 1500 and GM full-size trucks still dominate the sales charts. Canadian consumers do tend to shy away from thirstier passenger cars, but they love their pickups, and are willing to shell out at the pump in exchange for the chance to drive one.

Let’s hear your thoughts or alternative suggestions below

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2015 Honda S660 Spied Sans Camo http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/2015-honda-s660-spied-sans-camo/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/2015-honda-s660-spied-sans-camo/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 13:36:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1029249 Honda’s newest sports car, the S660, channels the diminutive, kei-class Beat more than the venerated S2000. I still love it. There’s nothing wrong with the kei-car formula per se. I can live with the tiny footprint, the 660cc engine and the wheezy 63 horsepower. What’s really unfortunate is that the S660, in its current form, […]

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Honda’s newest sports car, the S660, channels the diminutive, kei-class Beat more than the venerated S2000. I still love it.

There’s nothing wrong with the kei-car formula per se. I can live with the tiny footprint, the 660cc engine and the wheezy 63 horsepower. What’s really unfortunate is that the S660, in its current form, will never make it over to our market. The size and lack power have all but ensured that the S660 stays at home. Remember, people complained about the ND Miata having 155 horsepower. 63 hp is a non-starter. But it sure is cool.

 

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New York 2015: NAFTA-Spec Ford Focus RS Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/new-york-2015-nafta-spec-ford-focus-rs-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/new-york-2015-nafta-spec-ford-focus-rs-revealed/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 13:14:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1029161 The 2016 Ford Focus RS will make its North American debut in New York, featuring some different alloys and a new shade of blue paint. While specs remain the same, the RS won’t go on sale until spring of 2016.  

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The 2016 Ford Focus RS will make its North American debut in New York, featuring some different alloys and a new shade of blue paint.

While specs remain the same, the RS won’t go on sale until spring of 2016.

 

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Reithofer: Government Programs Key To BMW i3 Success http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/reithofer-government-programs-key-bmw-i3-success/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/reithofer-government-programs-key-bmw-i3-success/#comments Wed, 25 Mar 2015 11:00:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1028841 BMW’s i3’s success is helped by a number of government incentives in a few of the automaker’s key markets, according to CEO Norbert Reithofer. According to Automotive News Europe, Reithofer said that sales figures for the i3 are connected to political initiatives toward electric mobility, adding that when those initiatives are there, “the registration figures […]

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BMW’s i3’s success is helped by a number of government incentives in a few of the automaker’s key markets, according to CEO Norbert Reithofer.

According to Automotive News Europe, Reithofer said that sales figures for the i3 are connected to political initiatives toward electric mobility, adding that when those initiatives are there, “the registration figures for the BMW i3 soar.”

The CEO cited Norway as an example, where the government not only has a charging infrastructure where owners can park and recharge for free, but does not levy sales or registration taxes on EVs. Those incentives have helped BMW move 2,000 i3s in 2014.

Meanwhile, significant financial subsidies in the United States, as well as privileges such as use of dedicated HOV lanes, led to sales of 3,000 units in California alone, a figure that is half of all i3s sold in the U.S.

Other incentives include looser licensing restrictions in Shanghai, circulation tax exemptions for 10 years from date of first registration in Germany, and company car tax exemptions for life in France.

Speaking of Germany, where 2,000 i3s were sold in 2014, Reithofer said his country’s government needs to “pick up the pace” in pushing electric mobility. Germany wants 1 million EVs on its roads by 2020, and has plans to offer additional incentives to achieve its goal.

In the meantime, BMW will introduce its DriveNow car-sharing service this spring, beginning in London. San Francisco will be the first U.S. city in the program by May, while the German cities of Hamburg, Berlin and Munich will join in July. The program is meant to help boost acceptance of electrification, and widening the tech’s appeal among younger drivers.

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New York 2015: 2016 Jaguar XF Revealed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/new-york-2015-2016-jaguar-xf-revealed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/new-york-2015-2016-jaguar-xf-revealed/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 19:37:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1028393 Want an F-Type but need an extra set of doors and a back seat? Jaguar’s got something for you. The 2016 Jaguar XF gets two V6s borrowed from the F-Type (supercharged 3.0L units with 340 and 380 horsepower) as well as an 8-Speed automatic gearbox. There’s also the Jaguar Configurable Dynamics system, which can adjust suspension, steering, […]

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Want an F-Type but need an extra set of doors and a back seat? Jaguar’s got something for you.

The 2016 Jaguar XF gets two V6s borrowed from the F-Type (supercharged 3.0L units with 340 and 380 horsepower) as well as an 8-Speed automatic gearbox. There’s also the Jaguar Configurable Dynamics system, which can adjust suspension, steering, engine and transmission settings – sadly, the F-Type’s famous exhaust note doesn’t appear to be present.

With a structure that is now mostly aluminum, the XF loses as much as 265 lbs on all-wheel drive models thanks to a revised AWD system. Look for the full unveil at next month’s New York Auto Show.

 

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Next Fiat Panda To Rival Citroen Cactus http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/next-fiat-panda-rival-citroen-cactus/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/next-fiat-panda-rival-citroen-cactus/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 15:30:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1028313 During FCA’s most recent five year plan presentation, Fiat was the sole brand that did not have any semblance of a unified direction. While Fiat is decidedly mainstream in key markets such as Brazil and Latin America, it appears that FCA is trying to re-position the brand as something else entirely in Europe and North […]

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Fiat_Panda. Photo courtesy wikipedia.org

During FCA’s most recent five year plan presentation, Fiat was the sole brand that did not have any semblance of a unified direction. While Fiat is decidedly mainstream in key markets such as Brazil and Latin America, it appears that FCA is trying to re-position the brand as something else entirely in Europe and North America. Key to this plan will be an all new, bare bones C-segment vehicle that could end up wearing the Panda badge.

According to the UK’s Autocar, Fiat’s lineup will focus on a series of CUVs in the immediate future, including the Jeep-derived 500X and a variant of the next-gen Jeep Compass. But once those are launched, the next product from Fiat will be

a back-to-basics C-segment hatchback and estate, replacing the unsuccessful Fiat Bravo. These will be based on the same platform as the 500L MPV and will be built in Turkey, where labour rates are cheaper.

Insiders have told Autocar that the new models will not be as “basic” as Dacia’s successful models, but will be “very well priced”. Some rumours suggest that Marchionne will use the well-regarded Panda badge for the Bravo replacement, neatly rebuilding the Panda family as Fiat’s no-nonsense sub-brand.

According to the article, the C-segment, which makes up nearly a third of the EU’s new car market, is plagued by profit margins that range from razor thin to non-existent. High labor costs, consumer demands for advanced feature content and market saturation have all contributed to this situation. While VW’s MQB platform allows for significant economies of scale, their rivals aren’t in the same position. On the other hand, Renault’s Dacia brand can enjoy margins of as much as 10 percent (compared to 2-3 percent on average) thanks to low labor costs, spartan levels of equipment and the use of old, already amortized technology.

The middle ground for mainstream auto makers lies in something like the Citroen Cactus. The Cactus looks chic, but has a number of innovative cost-cutting measures (like rear windows that pop out, rather than roll down) to keep costs down. Fuel efficiency is achieved through reducing weight rather than expensive, advanced technology. If the Dacia is the automotive equivalent of Wal-Mart, then the Cactus is something like H&M – frugal, but now dowdy. The fact that the Cactus uses the underpinings of a B-segment car, but is priced more like a C-segment car doesn’t hurt either.

Following this example for the Panda would be the most logical path for Fiat to take. The Panda name has a lot of brand equity, thanks to its longevity and the widespread acclaim it has garnered from both consumers and the automotive media. Not long ago, it was regarded as the best handling small car money could buy. But in the next half of this decade, the focus will have to shift on creating something that will make consumers consider a Fiat, when there are literally hundreds of other nameplates available. A Cactus competitor doesn’t seem like such a bad start.

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Nissan Qashqai Points The Way For Next Jeep Compass, Patriot http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/nissan-qashqai-points-way-next-jeep-compass-patriot/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/nissan-qashqai-points-way-next-jeep-compass-patriot/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 14:15:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1028057 With the arrival of the Jeep Renegade, the Compass and Patriot twins – awkwardly slotted above the Renegade in size, but lower in price – are officially overdue for a replacement. The Jeep twins have more in common with the Dodge Caliber than anything else in the brand’s lineup, and will be replaced with a […]

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With the arrival of the Jeep Renegade, the Compass and Patriot twins – awkwardly slotted above the Renegade in size, but lower in price – are officially overdue for a replacement. The Jeep twins have more in common with the Dodge Caliber than anything else in the brand’s lineup, and will be replaced with a single, all-new model.

Reports in auto media out of the United Kingdom have talked up the replacement CUV and how it will be positioned against the Nissan Qashqai. Nissan’s CUV, which has been wildly popular in Europe (some even credit it for kicking off the CUV trend on the continent, and rescuing Nissan from irrelevance in that market) has never been sold here, largely because the Rogue made it redundant.

At nearly a foot shorter than the current Rogue, the Qashqai would be awkwardly positioned between the Juke and the Rogue. But in Europe, it’s just right, nestled between those two vehicles in a market where a smaller footprint is actively desired. Since the Qashqai is about the size of a Compass or a Patriot, give or take an inch or two in each dimension, the new CUV will stay close in size to the current Jeep twins. Our Rogue, known as the X-Trail, is considered to be a full size larger, and comes with three row seating. Meanwhile, the Qashqai and its upcoming rival are considered to be the standard size CUV, the same way American buyers consider the Rogue and Cherokee to be an acceptable size.

There will also be a Fiat variant, similar to the shared platform of the Jeep Renegade and Fiat 500X. Expect a Trail Rated model to accompany the rest of the lineup, which will likely be similar to the rest of the Jeep models, with several trim variants increasing in content and price point. For Jeep, this will be a crucial product. Roughly three quarters of Jeep sales originate in North America, and FCA is keen to increase the brand’s reach in world markets. Currently, the EU makes up about 8 percent of Jeep sales – the replacement for the Compass/CUV will be just as important as the Renegade – and probably more important than the Cherokee – at increasing that figure.

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Report: US New-Diesel Registrations On The Rise http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/report-us-new-diesel-registrations-rise/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/report-us-new-diesel-registrations-rise/#comments Tue, 24 Mar 2015 14:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1028297 Diesel hasn’t had the best reputation in the United States since the early 1980s. A new report says this attitude has changed as of late. According to Edmunds, IHS Automotive found in its report for the Diesel Technology Forum a double-digit increase in U.S. new-diesel registrations, jumping 13.5 percent between 2013 and 2014. Total diesel […]

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Diesel hasn’t had the best reputation in the United States since the early 1980s. A new report says this attitude has changed as of late.

According to Edmunds, IHS Automotive found in its report for the Diesel Technology Forum a double-digit increase in U.S. new-diesel registrations, jumping 13.5 percent between 2013 and 2014. Total diesel registrations in 2014 came to 7.4 million vehicles. California, Massachusetts and Nevada lead the rest of the country in those registrations.

Greater fuel economy, cleaner diesel technology, and more vehicles with diesels — like the BMW X5, Volkswagen Jetta and Chevrolet Cruze — are helping to fuel the spike in registrations, despite diesel still being more expensive at the pump per gallon than regular gasoline.

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New York 2015: Mitsubishi Outlander Leaked http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/new-york-2015-mitsubishi-outlander-leaked/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/new-york-2015-mitsubishi-outlander-leaked/#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2015 14:28:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1027809 From AutoGuide.com, we have pictures of the all new Mitsubishi Outlander sitting at the port in Japan. While these right-hand drive models are presumably for export, our North American model shouldn’t differ too much from what you see here. We’ll know for sure when the Outlander is revealed at next month’s New York Auto Show. […]

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From AutoGuide.com, we have pictures of the all new Mitsubishi Outlander sitting at the port in Japan.

While these right-hand drive models are presumably for export, our North American model shouldn’t differ too much from what you see here. We’ll know for sure when the Outlander is revealed at next month’s New York Auto Show.

 

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A New VW Van? We’re Trying To Remember The Flop That Was The Volkswagen Routan http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/new-vw-van-trying-remember-flop-volkswagen-routan/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/new-vw-van-trying-remember-flop-volkswagen-routan/#comments Mon, 23 Mar 2015 11:21:06 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1027545 TTAC’s managing editor, Derek Kreindler, used an interesting phrase last Friday. “Well, this ought to erase memories of the Routan,” Derek wrote. Memories? Of the Routan? Who has memories of the Volkswagen Routan? Hardly anyone, that’s who. Because even by the standards of minivan flops – and there’ve been more than a couple – the […]

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2009 Volkswagen RoutanTTAC’s managing editor, Derek Kreindler, used an interesting phrase last Friday. “Well, this ought to erase memories of the Routan,” Derek wrote.

Memories? Of the Routan?

Who has memories of the Volkswagen Routan?

Hardly anyone, that’s who. Because even by the standards of minivan flops – and there’ve been more than a couple – the Routan’s failure to capture market share ranks up near the top with the Hyundai Entourage and Buick Terraza. That’s right: two Rs, one Z, Terraza. Like a terrace. Like a terrace you almost jumped off after first spotting one in the wild.

In its best year on sale in the United States, Volkswagen reported 15,961 Routan sales, a 9% year-over-year increase compared with 2009 that preceded four consecutive years of decline. All-time, between the latter part of 2008 and the early part of 2014, VW USA reported barely more than 60,000 Routan sales; 60,197 to be precise.

Between 2008 and 2014, the same vans from Chrysler and Dodge generated 1.61 million U.S. sales.

chrysler van sales chartOf course, the Town & Country and Grand Caravan were more readily available. But why wouldn’t they be? Consumers could visit their local Chrysler or Dodge dealer and spend less on the same product. Those are the vans people will want, not the Volkswagen, so the plant didn’t spent nearly as much time slapping VW badges on grilles as they did Chrysler and Dodge logos. Turns out, minivan buyers didn’t want to appear as though they fell like Andre Agassi for Brooke Shields’ tricks. German engineering, Brooke? In the words of TTAC’s founder, Robert Farago, “Well, some German engineering. Done in America. Presumably by Americans.”

And then, I might add, put into practice by Canadian auto workers in Windsor, Ontario.

But rather than rehash the fact that 2007, the Hyundai Entourage’s best year, was kinder to the Hyundai than the Routan’s best year (2010) was to the Volkswagen, or the fact that Buick sold 4327 more Terraces in its best year, 2005, than the Routan did in its best year, let’s just applaud Volkswagen USA for even considering the importing of a genuine Volkswagen van. They’ve had some success doing so in the past, you may recall.

They’ve also shown us some stunning concepts, including the Microbus and the Bulli.

Sure, the minivan segment is stagnant, but the fast-growing commercial van market can be thoroughly explored. No, we’re not product planners – although with a toddler and a big dog I may wish I was a minivan product planner – but we do recognize that Volkswagen USA may need to expand its portfolio if any kind of success is to be met in the coming years.

http---o.aolcdn.com-hss-storage-midas-e5d1c9474f6c099abe418721a512d550-201718780-VW-T6-TeaserYou can quite rightly argue that niche products like the disallowed Scirocco and Polo GTI are nothing more than low-hanging fruit for malcontent North American VW enthusiasts, vehicles which lack the possibility of adding measurable long-term benefit to the product range. But at what point does Volkswagen consider the possibility that the automaker is harming the brand’s own image with their own fans by keeping products away from North America, thus hampering the success of products that are actually sold here?

Surely a return to the brand’s illustrious van heritage would do the brand favours. While also erasing memories of the Routan, even if only a handful of people actually possess Routan-centric memories.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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Volkswagen’s Next Van Could Preview Future Product For United States http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/volkswagens-next-van-preview-future-product-united-states/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/volkswagens-next-van-preview-future-product-united-states/#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2015 17:08:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1026089 Well, this ought to erase memories of the Routan. Hot on the heels of news that VW may bring a van or a pickup to America comes a preview for their new van, dubbed the T6. Ubiquitous in world markets, the VW vans don’t follow the traditional American minivan formula, but are available in endless […]

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Well, this ought to erase memories of the Routan.

Hot on the heels of news that VW may bring a van or a pickup to America comes a preview for their new van, dubbed the T6. Ubiquitous in world markets, the VW vans don’t follow the traditional American minivan formula, but are available in endless configurations for personal or commercial use. With the rise of the Ram ProMaster, Ford Transit and Mercedes Metris, perhaps there’s a case to be made for European-style vans from VW?

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New York 2015: 2016 Lexus RX Previewed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/new-york-2015-2016-lexus-rx-previewed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/new-york-2015-2016-lexus-rx-previewed/#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2015 16:28:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1026049 The most significant luxury CUV of our time is about to get a thorough re-design. Lexus will show off an all-new RX at the New York Auto Show. This is all we’ve got for now?

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The most significant luxury CUV of our time is about to get a thorough re-design. Lexus will show off an all-new RX at the New York Auto Show. This is all we’ve got for now?

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Morgan Stanley’s Equity Research Clickbait “Tesla Stock Could Go Up 10x…Or Get Cut In Half” http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/morgan-stanleys-equity-research-clickbait-tesla-stock-go-10x-get-cut-half/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/morgan-stanleys-equity-research-clickbait-tesla-stock-go-10x-get-cut-half/#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2015 14:08:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1025913 Thursday was a gift from the blogger gods for anyone slaving away at $25/post plus traffic-related bonuses. Rather than having to cook up clickbait headlines on Tesla, the equity research arm of Morgan Stanley did it for them. In a video released to the public, MS made the typical hyperbolic case about Tesla, which mostly […]

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Black Tesla Model S

Thursday was a gift from the blogger gods for anyone slaving away at $25/post plus traffic-related bonuses. Rather than having to cook up clickbait headlines on Tesla, the equity research arm of Morgan Stanley did it for them.

In a video released to the public, MS made the typical hyperbolic case about Tesla, which mostly focuses on how cool Elon Musk is and how much they’d like to sit at his lunch table in the cafeteria. The voiceover asserts that Tesla is the only company they cover that could see its stock rise ten times…but, they caution, it could also be cut in half.

Well, which one is it? MS should know, given that they helped underwrite Tesla’s IPO, and one of their debt offerings, and have written countless notes breathlessly praising the company.

I am not a CFA charterholder and the following is not intended as investment advice. But I do know that this is a company that consistently over-promises and under-delivers, that markets a six-figure car that doesn’t even have Lane Departure, Forward Collision Warning or any other feature that would be mandatory in a traditional auto maker’s flagship, that has yet to turn a profit despite a $25 billion market cap, that loses money on every single Model S and has no revenue stream except for a shaky ZEV credit sales scheme, the value of which will be cut from roughly $4,000 per credit to a little over $1,000 per credit by 2017. If Tesla doesn’t get their mass market Model 3 out by then, they’re in big trouble. We haven’t even seen the long promised Model X yet, so it’s not looking good. Until then, they are nothing more than taxpayer subsidized playthings for the 1 percent.

Oh, and that long awaited announcement about ending range anxiety? Turns out it was a “trip planner” that plots charging points on your GPS screen. Nissan introduced that on the Leaf half a decade ago. Somehow, Elon Musk gets a pass for being some brilliant visionary when his accomplishments so far have been 1) the greatest Svengali the automotive world has ever seen 2) inventing an online payment method that half the world seems to despise. But as long as the tech press can keep living vicariously through him, he’ll be fine.

My own call for Tesla is “sell” with a price target of $0, based on their inability to generate sustainable revenue streams, the constant delays in product development, the obfuscation of key data and concerns regarding company management. Unfortunately, even the activist investors have been swayed by the relentless hype. Where’s Bill Ackman when you need him?

Disclosure: Author holds no position in Tesla but is long the entire S&P 500 via index funds.

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Cain’s Segments: Entry Luxury Sport Sedans – February 2015 YTD http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/cains-segments-entry-luxury-sport-sedans-february-2015-ytd/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/cains-segments-entry-luxury-sport-sedans-february-2015-ytd/#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2015 14:00:39 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1025905 Trivia time: which cars combined to sell less than half as often in the United States in the first two months of 2015 as the BMW 3-Series and its 4-Series two-door (and four-door) offshoot? The Audi A4 and Cadillac ATS. Or a number of other pairings listed in the chart below. Take your pick. The […]

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550x365x2015-Mercedes-Benz-C-Class-550x365.jpg.pagespeed.ic.snBz3nrGwwTrivia time: which cars combined to sell less than half as often in the United States in the first two months of 2015 as the BMW 3-Series and its 4-Series two-door (and four-door) offshoot?

The Audi A4 and Cadillac ATS. Or a number of other pairings listed in the chart below. Take your pick.

The BMW’s dominance in this executive saloon slash entry-level luxury slash sports sedan slash compact premium segment is long heralded. In January and February, 3-Series/4-Series sales grew at a faster rate than its category. The aging Audi A4 and the oft-ignored Cadillac ATS, among others, suffered notable slowdowns.

Without resorting to including every possible competitor under the sun – Accord V6! Golf GTI! – simply because those are the cars internet commenters say they’d prefer, we have made a conscious attempt to showcase manufacturer-supplied U.S. sales figures in an exhaustive fashion below. Rather than simply displaying the Acura TLX,  for example, there’s a line which shows the full sales impact of the TLX and its predecessor duo.

Since the sales figures for the class leader, BMW’s 3-Series, aren’t broken down by bodystyle or even by 3er and 4er (as they are in Canada), it seems only fair to showcase the Audi, Infiniti, and Lexus product lines similarly. Mercedes-Benz USA’s numbers for the C-Class are similarly confined. This isn’t an abnormal practice, but don’t confuse our attempts to break out as many figures as possible in as many ways as possible with an attempt to display 3-Series and C-Class figures in a restrained fashion.

Regardless, isn’t it nice to see not just Volvo 60-Series sales data, but S60 and V60 figures, too? And not just the V60, but the V60 Cross Country? Good on Volvo for oversharing.

Auto
Feb. 2015
Feb. 2014
% Change
2 mos. 2015
2 mos. 2014
% Change
Acura T Sedans
3,445 2,391  44.1% 6,361 4,652 36.7%
Acura TL
22  1,480  -98.5%  40  2,848  -98.6% 
Acura TLX
3,419  —  —  6,311  —  — 
Acura TSX
911  -99.6%  10  1,804  -99.4% 
Audi A4/A5
2,755 3,527  -21.9% 5,388 6,950 -22.5%
Audi A4 Sedan
1,743  2,216  -21.3%  3,306  4,410  -25.0% 
Audi A4 Allroad
 181 281  -35.6%  408  585  -30.3% 
Audi A5
 831 1,030  -19.3%  1,674  1,955  -14.4% 
BMW 3-Series & 4-Series
8,748 7,791 12.3% 16,096 14,285 12.7%
Cadillac ATS
2,028 2,427 -16.4% 3,785 4,336 -12.7%
Infiniti Q/G
5,638 4,613  22.2% 10,099 8,877 13.8%
Infiniti Q40/G Sedan
1,643  927  77.2%  2,672  1,829  46.1% 
Infiniti Q50
3,649  3,275  11.4%  6,615  6,224  6.3% 
Infiniti Q60/G Coupe
346  411  -15.8%  812  824  -1.5%
Lexus IS/RC
4,367 3,517 24.2% 8,589 6,565 30.8%
Lexus IS
3,383  3,517  -3.8%  6,758  6,565  2.9% 
Lexus RC
984  —  —  1,831  —  — 
Mercedes-Benz C-Class
7,072 5,621 25.8% 13,308 11,369 17.1%
Volvo 60-Series
1,612 1,913  -15.7% 3,303 3,557 -7.1%
Volvo S60
1,203  1,578  -24.0%  2,574  2,900  -11.0% 
Volvo V60
339  335  1.0%  631  657  -4.0% 
Volvo V60 Cross Country
70  —  —  98  —  — 
Total
 35,665
31,800   12.2% 66,929  60,591  10.5%

We left out the true entry-level premium brand cars like Audi’s A3, the BMW 2-Series, and Mercedes-Benz’s CLA; Buick’s Regal (down 32% to 2481 year-to-date), as well.

As for the numbers as they stand through the two lowest-volume auto sales months of the year, Mercedes-Benz’s new C-Class is the real mover and shaker. Sales are up 17% compared with the same period one year ago, but that actually translates to an 8% loss compared with the first two months of 2013, when the C-Class was easily outselling the BMW 3-Series.

After a period of great acceptance at the end of 2013, the Infiniti Q50 – which generated 10,459 sales in the final two months of 2013 – has averaged only 3100 monthly sales since. Hindered by the more affordable Q40, formerly the G sedan? One would imagine.

Cadillac ATS sales have decreased on a year-over-year basis in ten consecutive months and in 13 of the last 14 months.

2014 was the best year since 2007 for the Lexus IS. With the RC stealing some of the limelight, it might be difficult for the IS to top last year’s 51,358-unit performance.

Audi’s A4/A5 line is ancient, but keep the A3 in mind: total Audi car sales are up 5.3% this year despite A4, A5, A6, A7, A8, R8, and TT declines thanks to the A3’s 4099 extra sales compared with the first two months of 2014.

Timothy Cain is the founder of GoodCarBadCar.net, which obsesses over the free and frequent publication of U.S. and Canadian auto sales figures.

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More US Consumers Signing Long-Term Auto Loans http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/us-consumers-signing-long-term-auto-loans/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/us-consumers-signing-long-term-auto-loans/#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2015 14:00:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1025785 In the past, six-year auto loans were few and far between. Today, more of those loans are being issued, with seven- and eight-year loans gaining popularity. NPR reports such loans are helping to fuel a boom in U.S. new-car sales, with one-third of the loans lasting 74 months and beyond. AutoPacific analyst Ed Kim says […]

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Signing his life and wallet away for the next six or so years with a long-term auto loan agreement

In the past, six-year auto loans were few and far between. Today, more of those loans are being issued, with seven- and eight-year loans gaining popularity.

NPR reports such loans are helping to fuel a boom in U.S. new-car sales, with one-third of the loans lasting 74 months and beyond. AutoPacific analyst Ed Kim says the cars are one of the reasons for the long loans:

Consumers are demanding a lot more technology in their vehicles, infotainment technologies. There’s also a lot more safety features that are in vehicles right now. Emissions and efficiency technology that are in vehicles right now, that are making vehicles cost a lot more.

Kim adds that the main driver is that most consumers are still crawling out of the Great Recession, which Experian Automotive’s Melinda Zabritski says isn’t much of a problem as far as lending goes. She says that while it would be sensible to take on 36- or 48-month loans on a new vehicle, “the average consumer just can’t afford that.”

Critics counter that the long-term loans could hurt consumers and automakers alike in the near- and long-term. Consumer advocate Mike Sante states that those who are taking out those loans have no business doing so in the first place, and should buy a less expensive new or used vehicle with a loan of no more than four years. Honda Executive Vice President John Mendel, whose company offers 36- and 48-month loans, says loans beyond five years are too long, and adds that he hopes his competitors come to their senses.

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Report: ‘Hundreds’ Of Recalled New Vehicles Sold Without Prior Repairs http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/report-hundreds-recalled-new-vehicles-sold-without-prior-repairs/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/report-hundreds-recalled-new-vehicles-sold-without-prior-repairs/#comments Fri, 20 Mar 2015 13:00:41 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1025769 In an investigative segment on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Thursday, ABC News purchased a vehicle under recall from a dealer who had not repaired it. Automotive News reports the vehicle, a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado, was purchased by an undercover producer from Hawthorne Chevrolet in Hawthorne, N.J. The truck was under recall for a potential risk […]

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2014 Chevrolet Silverado Crew Cab Z71

In an investigative segment on ABC’s “Good Morning America” Thursday, ABC News purchased a vehicle under recall from a dealer who had not repaired it.

Automotive News reports the vehicle, a 2014 Chevrolet Silverado, was purchased by an undercover producer from Hawthorne Chevrolet in Hawthorne, N.J. The truck was under recall for a potential risk of rolling away while the transmission was in neutral, as well as the possibility for the transfer case to switch to neutral while being driven, leading to loss of power and an increased crash risk.

The recall, issued in June 2014, affected 467,000 2014 and 2015 Chevrolet and GMC Silverados, Suburbans, Tahoes, Sierras, Yukons and Yukon XLs. Per General Motors, 86 percent of the trucks and SUVs — 402,000 units — have been repaired thus far. The Silverado purchased by ABC News was not among them, however, in violation of federal law that requires dealerships to repair vehicles with a safety defect, including those under recall, prior to delivery.

GM representative Alan Adler said his employer spoke with Hawthorne after the segment aired, stating that no disciplinary action is planned. Adler added that while the incident occurred at a Chevrolet dealership with a GM product, such incidents aren’t exclusive to the automaker. ABC confirmed this in its report, having found “hundreds” of new cars from various manufacturers in New York and New Jersey that were under recall, but were not repaired prior to sale.

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Jeep Unveils Concepts For Easter Jeep Safari http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/jeep-unveils-concepts-easter-jeep-safari/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/jeep-unveils-concepts-easter-jeep-safari/#comments Thu, 19 Mar 2015 17:21:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1025281 The latest crop of Jeep concepts for the Easter Jeep Safari have dropped. My favorite is the Wrangler Africa, which should finally settle the question of whether it’s worth lusting after the Land Rover Defender when we get the Wrangler (my own feeling is “no”, but tell me why I’m wrong. Aside from the 2 […]

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The latest crop of Jeep concepts for the Easter Jeep Safari have dropped. My favorite is the Wrangler Africa, which should finally settle the question of whether it’s worth lusting after the Land Rover Defender when we get the Wrangler (my own feeling is “no”, but tell me why I’m wrong.

Aside from the 2 inch lift and Dana 44 axles, there’s a 2.8L diesel engine under the the hood.

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A close second is the “Chief”, which pays tribute to the 1970’s full-size Jeeps. Like the Africa, it has the lift kit, axles and Fox shocks, along with a 3.6L Pentastar V6.

For me, the combination of a modern chassis and classic looks is hard to surpass. But I’ve also only ever known fuel injection, power brakes and 5-star crash test ratings.

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GM Retaining Current Malibu, Cruze As Fleet Specials, Diesel Dead For 2016 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/gm-retaining-current-malibu-cruze-fleet-specials-diesel-dead-2016/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/gm-retaining-current-malibu-cruze-fleet-specials-diesel-dead-2016/#comments Thu, 19 Mar 2015 11:54:03 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1025193 Although all-new versions of the Chevrolet Cruze and Malibu are set to debut by the end of the year, GM will retain the current versions as fleet-only vehicles, dubbed the “Cruze Limited” and “Malibu Limited”. While the Malibu Limited will be available in LS, LT and LTZ trims, the lone powertrain will be the 2.5L […]

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2014-Chevy-Cruze-Diesel-46-mpg. Photo courtesy AutoGuide.com

Although all-new versions of the Chevrolet Cruze and Malibu are set to debut by the end of the year, GM will retain the current versions as fleet-only vehicles, dubbed the “Cruze Limited” and “Malibu Limited”.

While the Malibu Limited will be available in LS, LT and LTZ trims, the lone powertrain will be the 2.5L I4. The Cruze will drop the diesel variant, but retain the “Eco” version, as well as the manual transmission option.

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A Modest Proposal: Volkswagen Golf Sportwagen 2.0T http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/modest-proposal-volkswagen-golf-sportwagen-2-0t/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/modest-proposal-volkswagen-golf-sportwagen-2-0t/#comments Wed, 18 Mar 2015 17:00:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1024161 A Modest Proposal is a new feature where we advocate for more exciting variants of existing cars. Unlike other columns that do the same, we’ll take a look at products that actually stand a chance of making the business case, and how that can be met. I know, I know, not as fun as asking […]

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jetta20tfront

A Modest Proposal is a new feature where we advocate for more exciting variants of existing cars. Unlike other columns that do the same, we’ll take a look at products that actually stand a chance of making the business case, and how that can be met. I know, I know, not as fun as asking for cab-over rear drive vans and station wagons. If you want that, you’re in the wrong place. -DK

With the introduction of the MKV Volkswagen Jetta, VW re-introduced the much-loved GLI as a full member of the range (rather than the late cycle special edition of the MKIV). But in Canada, it took the GLI a full model year to be introduced. Canadian customers got a model dubbed the 2.0T that featured the same 2.0T engine, a sports suspension and 17″ wheels. Among from the 2.0T were the the 18″ wheels, low profile tires, bodykit and plaid fabric seats, all of which came on the GLI. It was basically a “normcore” GLI, and it ended up being the car that replaced my father’s 2003 BMW 530i.

In retrospect, it couldn’t have been a more perfect car for my Dad. It had all of the GLI’s sport bits (suspension, engine, the option of a DSG gearbox), but nothing overly juvenile (hard ride, big alloys, aero kit). It was astonishing value, costing thousands less than an equivalent Acura TSX, while offering performance more akin to the Subaru Legacy 2.5GT – but without the spartan interior.

Driving the Golf Sportwagen, particularly the 1.8TSI version, made me long for a version like the 2.0T. It would have just enough power and handling capabilities to be a a lot of fun in spirited, everyday driving. At the limit handling would be dialed back due to the need for a bit more comfort than you’d get from a GTI or Golf R, not to mention longer-wearing tires, but the stock chassis and suspension setup is most of the way there. The old 2.0T, at least in the first few years, was only available fully loaded. You got your choices of colors and transmissions, but that was it. In return for spending big bucks on a Jetta, you got everything VW had to offer at the time. This kind of packaging presumably cut down on assembly complexities and let VW make money on a smaller car by loading it with margin-rich features. I think the same formula would work on the Sportwagen as well. The 1.8TSI engine is adequate for the Sportwagen, but if you want more real world grunt, you have to step up to the diesel – and that’s not always an appealing option for American consumers.

Why not just go all out and make the case for a Golf Sportwagen R? Well, this is called “A Modest Proposal”. We’re here to discuss combinations and variants that stand a chance of making it into the lineup with minimal fuss and maximum payoff for the auto maker. A Golf R is a lot closer to $40,000 than the $30,000 price tag of a loaded up TDI Sportwagen. No matter how many people on the internet are clamoring for one, it pales in comparison to the number of people that would buy one. On the other hand, a 2.0T variant that doesn’t need all-wheel drive, can be built in Mexico and sold for somewhere just south of $35,000? Not nearly as exciting, but a lot more realistic.

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GM Withdrawing Chevrolet And Opel From Russia http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/gm-withdrawing-chevrolet-opel-russia/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/03/gm-withdrawing-chevrolet-opel-russia/#comments Wed, 18 Mar 2015 12:53:00 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1024569 GM is set to significantly reduce operations in Russia, as the once promising auto market suffers under the weight of economic uncertainty and a difficult regulatory regime. According to the Wall Street Journal Global auto makers have long placed a bet on Russia as a top emerging market, but car companies are saddled with high production […]

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GM is set to significantly reduce operations in Russia, as the once promising auto market suffers under the weight of economic uncertainty and a difficult regulatory regime.

According to the Wall Street Journal

Global auto makers have long placed a bet on Russia as a top emerging market, but car companies are saddled with high production commitments under a regulatory scheme implemented earlier in the decade. Faced with a litany of demands on its capital and little indication Russia will turn around, GM executives decided the company’s money is better spent elsewhere.

As part of the plan, Opel will be withdrawn from the Russian market, while Chevrolet’s offerings will be drastically reduced. Chevrolet and Cadillac products exported from America, like the Corvette and Escalade, will continue to be offered. While production of the Chevrolet Niva will continue with JV partner AvtoVaz, GM’s plant in St.Petersburg will be idled idefinitely, putting 1,000 people out of work. GM will take a $600 million charge related to the events in Russia.

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