The Truth About Cars » Overseas http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Wed, 23 Apr 2014 13:30:05 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.8.1 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 » Overseas http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/category/news-blog/overseas/ Musk: Tesla Will Build Cars In China Within Next Few Years http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/musk-tesla-will-build-cars-in-china-within-next-few-years/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/musk-tesla-will-build-cars-in-china-within-next-few-years/#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 13:00:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=807330 Model S - Tesla Motors China

Though Tesla is now just delivering new vehicles to China, CEO Elon Musk predicts his company will build luxury electric vehicles in the burgeoning market within the next three to four years.

Bloomberg reports the move to localized production would allow the automaker to sell their wares while also avoiding China’s 25 percent import tariff. Right now, a new Model S retails for $118,000 in Beijing due to VAT, shipping and import duties, compared to $71,000 in Los Angeles. Musk hopes to qualify the Model S for local subsidies to help offset costs in much the same way the luxury EV sedan receives federal tax credits back in the United States.

In addition, Tesla is expanding its Supercharger network to China, with Beijing and Shanghai among the first cities to join. No word yet as to how much the automaker is investing in the expansion.

A number of challenges lay ahead for Tesla’s move into the market, including slow adoption of electric vehicles among Chinese consumers and lack of a robust infrastructure, as well the loss of China general manager of operations Kingston Chang prior to the automaker’s entry. That said, Tesla plans to increase overall global sales 56 percent this year, moving 35,000 EVs out of the showroom in so doing.

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GM Sales Unaffected By Recall, Reveals China Expansion Plans http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/gm-sales-unaffected-by-recall-reveals-china-expansion-plans/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/gm-sales-unaffected-by-recall-reveals-china-expansion-plans/#comments Mon, 21 Apr 2014 14:00:22 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=806330 File photo of General Motors logo outside its headquarters at the Renaissance Center in Detroit

Reuters reports a lawsuit related to the 2014 General Motors recall crisis filed in federal court in California has placed airbag supplier Continental Automotive Systems U.S. at-fault for its role in the recall. Attorney Adam Levitt of Grant & Eisenhoffer proclaimed the supplier knew about the out-of-spec ignition switch at the heart of the recall as early as 2005, yet “did nothing to redesign its airbags” to deploy even when electrical power was cut, “nor did it warn NHTSA or the public.” Continental joins Delphi Automotive as the second supplier to face a lawsuit linked to the ongoing recall crisis.

Between the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and GM, Automotive News says the former found itself pushing the latter on a number of occasions to do more than issue service bulletins, regional recalls, warranty extensions and customer-satisfaction campaigns regarding problems ranging from corroded fuel filler pipes in full-size vans and risks of fire from door modules in fullsize SUVs, to malfunctioning airbags in Camaros and Malibus and the aforementioned ignition switch affected over 2.26 million 2003 – 2011 vehicles to date. In a 2013 email released to the public by the ongoing Congressional investigation into the recall, NHTSA Office of Defects Investigation director Frank Borris expressed his frustration with the automaker to GM executive Carmen Benavides over GM’s slow approach to communication and action, as well as needing more provoking to do more than the least amount of effort to resolve an issue.

In more NHTSA/GM news, The Detroit News reports the agency has closed the book on its four-year investigation of 334,000 2004 – 2007 Saturn Ions regarding steering problems after the automaker announced they would recall the cars. Four service bulletins linked to power-steering repairs will be issued by GM, affecting the Ion and Chevrolet Cobalt, as well as the Saturn Aura, Pontiac G6 and Chevrolet Malibu. A total of 10 crashes linked to power-steering failure — with two resulting in injury — 4,787 complaints and 30,560 warranty claims were discovered by the NHTSA during the investigation.

As for bringing the affected vehicles in for service, Automotive News reports GM-affiliated and non-GM dealerships are having a rough time with the recalls, citing a lack of parts, growing backlog of recall-related repairs, and lost sales and dealer-related financing. However, GM President Dan Ammann says the main recall hasn’t had a “measurable impact” on overall sales, citing a 4 percent truck-led U.S. sales gain in March and a “decent start” to April’s sales. That said, Ammann has not ruled out a future impact from the recall news.

In the meantime, GM will invest $12 billion into China by 2017, with plans to boost production capacity 65 percent by 2020 based on expectations of the local market to reach 33 million to 35 million new vehicles made per year by the start of the new decade, which Ammann claims will be double that of total projected U.S. demand at the same time. The expansion would total capacity to 8 million units per year, fueled by 60 all-new or refreshed products introduced to China between now and 2018, including 11 new utility vehicles — such as the Chevrolet Trax — and a new Cadillac model every year through 2016.

Finally, The Detroit News reporter Henry Payne took to heart GM CEO Mary Barra’s statement before Congress about allowing her son to drive an affected Cobalt so long as the key was by itself in the ignition switch, turning up at a local dealership to drive an affected 2006 Cobalt to see for himself what would happen. In short: Nothing involuntary, as Payne had to put the switch into the “accessory” position himself to recreate what may have happened in the reported accidents and fatalities linked to the switch.

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Beijing 2014: Production-Ready Ford Escort To Debut http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/beijing-2014-production-ready-ford-escort-to-debut/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/beijing-2014-production-ready-ford-escort-to-debut/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 10:30:53 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=804042 000-ford-escort-concept-shanghai

After several years of dormancy, Ford revived the Escort name for a concept sedan at last year’s Shanghai Motor Show. That concept is now production-ready, and will make its debut this weekend at the 2014 Beijing Motor Show.

Autoblog reports the Escort will be made locally in China through a joint venture, and may sport either a three- or four-cylinder powerplant driving the front wheels.

As for other global markets, an Escort was spotted in Europe earlier this month undergoing testing, but nothing more has come of it.

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Toyota Looking To Conquer Africa http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/toyota-looking-to-conquer-africa/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/toyota-looking-to-conquer-africa/#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 11:58:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=798514 Toyota Land Cruiser 79 Bakkie

Though Toyota already has a presence in South Africa, the automaker is eyeing the last untapped market in the world: The African continent.

Automotive News reports Toyota patriarch Shochiro Toyoda gave his son, current president Akio Toyoda, a mission last year to explore markets outside of the “Asia-Europe-America” sphere, especially those where the younger Toyoda had not visited. His travels took him to a knockdown factory in Kenya, where there are 40 cars per 1,000 people according to IHS Automotive, laying the early groundwork for an all-out campaign to get as much of the final frontier as possible.

Success in the market may have to come in the long term, however; IHS predicts GDP per capita in Sub-Saharan Africa won’t reach the threshold of $3,000, as well as the ownership rate of 70 units per 1,000 people, until 2030 at the earliest. Toyota Africa CEO Johan van Zyl, who is scouting for new factory locations outside of South Africa, knows this reality well:

It’s a growing market, a market with a future. We have quite an ambitious [annual sales] target. But we must also understand, this is not going to happen overnight. We have to put the right things in place. And that is what we are busy doing, to ensure that we have the right foundation for the business in the future in Africa.

In the meantime, the automaker will launch the Quest compact in South Africa next month. The Quest — based upon the previous-gen Corolla — will help boost production towards full capacity at Toyota’s Durban plant; while max capacity is 220,000 annually, current production is 160,000 units per year. Unlike many auto makers, Toyota is not pursuing a new brand or platform for their new, low-cost car.

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BMW May Build Second NA Plant To Fend Off German Rivals http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/bmw-may-build-second-na-plant-to-fend-off-german-rivals/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/bmw-may-build-second-na-plant-to-fend-off-german-rivals/#comments Wed, 09 Apr 2014 14:04:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=791289 BMW Spartanburg

In its battle against Mercedes-Benz and Audi for record sales, BMW is mulling over the possibility of a second plant in North America.

Bloomberg reports the automaker would place its second factory in Mexico, with two sites under consideration. The decision to expand will take a few months according to BMW production chief Harald Krueger, Should the move be given a green light, the Mexican plant is likely to build the 3 Series.

The second factory would add to the long-term growth strategy BMW is using to fend off its German premium market competitors in a heated battle for records global sales, fueled by growing demand in the United States and China. Mercedes will add the C-Class to its Alabama facility in June with a new plant in North America due near the end of this decade, while Audi is in the middle of setting up shop in Mexico with a $1.3 billion plant set to produce crossovers beginning in 2016.

Previously, BMW announced it would invest $1 billion to expand its South Carolina plant by 50 percent in 2016, as well as add the X7 large SUV to the X Series lineup currently produced in the plant.

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Ford Cuts 950 Jobs In Russia Due To Weakening Ruble, Demand http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/ford-cuts-950-jobs-in-russia-due-to-weakening-ruble-demand/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/ford-cuts-950-jobs-in-russia-due-to-weakening-ruble-demand/#comments Thu, 03 Apr 2014 13:21:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=786689 Ford-Sollers-Vsevolozhsk-plant

Two plants in Ford’s joint venture with Russian manufacturer OAO Sollers will experience job cuts as a result of a weakening ruble and decreasing demand by customers in the local market.

Bloomberg says 700 positions in St. Petersburg and 250 temporary positions in the Tartarstan region will be let go by June, while production in the former will lose one shift. The cuts were caused by “the rapid and significant depreciation of the ruble, falling industry sales and a consumer shift away” from small cars toward large SUVs according to Ford, who also reassured that the joint venture would continue to remain committed to the Russian market.

As for the current state of things, sales fell 4 percent in the first two months of 2014, following a 5.5 percent decline in 2013 to 2.78 million vehicles, while the ruble lost 13 percent of its value against the dollar within the last 12 months.

The St. Petersberg plant will also shut down for over four weeks before single-shift production and painting begin June 9. The plant currently builds the Mondeo and Focus.

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Mitsubishi Buys Laguna Ford Assembly Plant http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/mitsubishi-buys-laguna-ford-assembly-plant/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/04/mitsubishi-buys-laguna-ford-assembly-plant/#comments Tue, 01 Apr 2014 17:06:25 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=785649 Mitsubishi_L300_front_20081009

In a push to expand Southeast Asia sales, Mitsubishi has purchased a Ford assembly plant in Laguna, Philippines for an undisclosed amount.

Automotive News reports the plant, which last saw production in 2012, will start back up in 2015 with an initial capacity of 50,000 units per year, expanding to 100,000 annually. The plant will produce both the Adventure and L300 vans.

The second plant in the automaker’s Philippine portfolio, Laguna is key to underpinning Mitsubishi’s strength in the Southeast Asia market, especially in the emerging local auto market where the automaker is second to Toyota in annual sales.

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Fushou: Donfeng’s Dragon Won’t Eat PSA’s Lion http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/fushou-donfengs-dragon-wont-eat-psas-lion/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/fushou-donfengs-dragon-wont-eat-psas-lion/#comments Mon, 17 Mar 2014 12:08:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=773753 Peugeot Display in China Circa 2013

In light of fears regarding the three-way deal between Dongfeng, PSA Peugeot Citroen and the French government leading toward a time where Dongfeng would take the reins of the ailing automaker, CEO Zhu Fushou assured his company would not do so.

Automotive News Europe reports in an interview between Fushou and French newspaper L’Alsace, the 14 percent stake in PSA is a “win-win cooperation, not a purchase deal but a way to help PSA return to growth.”

In return for a capital increase of 3 billion euro — made up of 800 million euro contributions from both the Chinese automaker and the French government in exchange for 14 percent of PSA — the two automakers will begin work on conquering the Asia-Pacific automotive market with an aim of 1.5 million units annually, as well as helping Dongfeng better compete against local rivals.

As for Europe, the deal will help PSA reduce its share of vehicle sales in its local market from 62 percent to 50 percent as focus turns toward emerging markets, including Russia and South America. In turn, 10,000 jobs will be cut in the next three years as part of the recovery plan for the French automaker.

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Japanese Automakers Find New Export Base, Opportunity In Mexico http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/japanese-automakers-find-new-export-base-opportunity-in-mexico/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/japanese-automakers-find-new-export-base-opportunity-in-mexico/#comments Tue, 11 Mar 2014 14:45:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=769626 Mazda3s Loading Onto Three-Tiered Train Car

Within four months of each other, Honda, Mazda and Nissan have opened new factories in Mexico, taking advantage of the opportunities within the nation’s automotive industry to grow a new export base into the United States, Latin America and Europe while also gaining ground in the rapidly expanding local market, all in direct challenge to the Detroit Three and other automakers on both sides of the border.

Automotive News reports Mexico will become the No. 1 exporting nation to the U.S. by 2015 at the earliest in large part due to the 605,000 units per year added by the three Japanese automakers. Meanwhile, Toyota will begin production in 2015 at Mazda’s newly opened Salamanca plant prior to deciding whether or not to build a new factory of their own. Nissan’s premium brand, Infiniti, may also set-up shop in Mexico.

In turn, the Japanese will see benefits from the move, from mitigating losses from a weaker yen in exports from home and greater profit due to cheap labor, to no tariffs on exports to the U.S. due to the North American Free Trade Agreement and improved product availability resulting from shorter distances between markets.

Speaking of free-trade agreements, Japanese automakers will also have access to some 44 countries and up to 40 million sales annually as a result of Mexico’s many agreements, allowing them to take on competitors in Latin America and Europe.

Finally, the Japanese have taken market share away from the Detroit Three in Mexico’s own automotive market, holding a collective 42 percent over Detroit’s 35 percent in 2013, when just four years earlier Detroit dominated with 57 percent of the market over Japan’s 23 percent.

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Australians Favoring Imports Over Domestics In Study http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/australians-favoring-imports-over-domestics-in-study/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/australians-favoring-imports-over-domestics-in-study/#comments Mon, 10 Mar 2014 13:35:24 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=768826 Mirage (6)

In a study conducted by Roy Morgan Research, one in eight Australian consumers prefer locally made vehicles for their next new-car purchase today, down from one in four a decade earlier.

WardsAuto reports that while cars such as the Holden Commodore, Chevrolet Cruze and Toyota Camry are at the top of the list for Australian-built new vehicle purchases, the overall decline in is due to the kind of vehicles made in Australia, as Roy Morgan Research Automotive Account director Jordan Parks explains:

Over the last 10 years, Australian car-buying preferences have changed substantially – with the small-car market in Australia now clearly the dominant segment. SUVs are also taking share from the once-dominant large-car segment, with more than 20% of buyers now after either a medium or large SUV.

Parks also adds that more options available to Australian consumers, a stronger Australian dollar, and decreasing tariffs also are among the growing number of factors fueling the import boom:

When combining the increase in choice, changing vehicle preferences, higher local labor costs, strong Australia dollar, increasing petrol prices and decreased tariff protection, it is not surprising to see the gradual demise of the locally built large car.

With the end of the local industry coming over the horizon, Parks believes that the tariffs that once protected the industry would all but vanish, allowing new-car prices to fall to more affordable levels as a result of savings of up to $1 billion AUD in annual fees paid by importers.

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GM Korea May Increase Exports To Australia http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/gm-korea-may-increase-exports-to-australia/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/gm-korea-may-increase-exports-to-australia/#comments Fri, 07 Mar 2014 17:52:32 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=767345 Holden Cruze

As Chevrolet slowly exits from the European market while Holden exits the production line altogether, General Motors is mulling over increasing exports to Australia out of South Korea.

Bloomberg reports the increase in exports is compensation for GM Korea losing as much as 15 percent to 20 percent of its production volume when Chevrolet closes the door on Europe at the end of 2015, and is roughly the same volume needed to fill the showroom floors in Australia while Holden winds down local production — and possibly itself — by 2017.

The Chevrolet experiment ultimately lost General Motors “millions” of dollars according to GM Korea CEO Sergio Rocha, though he expects the Australian market will more than make up for it:

With this money that we call ‘loss avoidance,’ I’m going to have a lot of money in the next couple of years that we can invest in new products to be competitive in the local market and for exports as well.

Meanwhile, GM will focus on Vauxhall and Opel vehicles in their native markets, with Opel also providing select vehicles to the Australian market, beginning with the Cascada convertible.

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Yamanouchi: Mazda’s Mexico Factory Key To Global Strategy http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/yamanouchi-mazdas-mexico-factory-key-to-global-strategy/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/yamanouchi-mazdas-mexico-factory-key-to-global-strategy/#comments Fri, 28 Feb 2014 16:15:21 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=757201 Takashi Yamanouchi

Mazda Chairman Takashi Yamanouchi opened his company’s sole North American factory in Salamanca, Mexico, proclaiming the new factory the key to a global strategy “upon which the very future of [the] company hinges.”

Automotive News reports the strategy with the factory — Mazda’s Structural Reform Plan — follows a three-pronged approach: a hedge against currency exchange disruptions, provide Mazda with a low-cost manufacturing base, and give the automaker access to new markets. The factory’s location allows the automaker to gain more profit for the Mazda3s destined for the United States, than those exported from Japan, while also providing an export base to Europe and access to new markets in Latin America. In turn, Mazda’s new access through Mexico’s free trade pacts provides to markers worth a combined 35 million to 40 million vehicle sales annually.

Though the yen is weakening against the dollar at the moment, Yamanouchi said the factory will act as a hedge against unpredictable currency fluctuations that could bring down profits for his company at any time:

When the yen becomes stronger, we have the Mexican plant, therefore we will never again go into the lost position. But when the yen gets weaker, we will further cost reduce the Mexican plants so it will contribute to our total profitability. Our philosophy is that we will strike the balance of business so that we won’t go into the very difficult times of the past that we have experienced. Never.

The factory is expected to employ 4,600 workers once at full capacity of 230,000 units/annually. Currently, 3,000 employees assemble Mazda3s for the North American market, which will be joined by the Mazda2 and a Mazda2-based vehicle for Toyota. An engine machining plant will also set up shop in the factory by October 2014.

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Sonata Quality Issues Drag Down Hyundai, R&D President Returns http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/sonata-quality-issues-drag-down-hyundai-rd-president-returns/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/sonata-quality-issues-drag-down-hyundai-rd-president-returns/#comments Thu, 27 Feb 2014 13:54:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=756401 2011 Hyundai Sonata

Just as J.D. Power ranks Hyundai fifth from dead last over quality issues regarding the 2011 Sonata, the automaker’s research and development president, Kwon Moon-sik, returns to the fold three months after quitting over a number of quality issues within the product line.

Automotive News and Reuters report Hyundai holds 27th overall on J.D. Power’s Vehicle Dependability Study, with 169 problems per 100 vehicles surveyed. Though nothing was specified for the 2011 Sonata or the 2011 Elantra — the other car from 2011 that brought down Hyundai’s rank — the industry overall developed issues with engines and transmissions tied to advanced fuel-efficiency technologies, including turbocharging. The sedan’s issues are magnified due to its groundbreaking design and said technologies, shaking up the otherwise conservative midsize sedan segment on its way to becoming Hyundai’s top-selling vehicle.

Meanwhile, Hyundai chairman Chung Mong-koo has rehired R&D president Kwon Moon-sik to help right the ship as the next generation Sonata prepares to make its debut in South Korea next month, as the automaker said in a statement:

Given his expertise, experience and leadership skills, we reinstated president Kwon to enhance quality and R&D capability from scratch.

Hyundai also said they expect their dependability ratings to improve next year when the 2012 models are evaluated, though it was “very disappointed” the results of this year’s study, and is “examining every component of the score to determine root-cause solutions” for improving their product line and services.

Kwon, along with two other R&D executives, quit three months earlier over quality issues — such as those affecting the 2011 models — that led to massive recalls in the United States, South Korea and other market. He was also one of the top aides to Chung’s son, Chung Eui-sun. His replacement, Kim Hae-jin, will return to heading powertrain development.

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PSA-Dongfeng Deal Backed By EU, Skepticism Remains http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/psa-dongfeng-deal-backed-by-eu-skepticism-remains/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/psa-dongfeng-deal-backed-by-eu-skepticism-remains/#comments Fri, 21 Feb 2014 17:00:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=751025 Dongfeng Peugeot 308

The PSA Peugeot Citroen-Dongfeng-French government deal agreed upon by the three parties earlier this week received initial backing from the European Union, though skepticism remains as to whether the deal will bring stability to the ailing French automaker.

Bloomberg and Automotive News Europe report French Finance Minister Pierre Moscovici received a letter of initial backing from European Competition Commissioner Joaquin Almunia, confirming the 3 billion-euro deal met “at first glance” European Union rules related to state aid. The EU also approved an earlier 7 billion-euro guarantee to help Peugeot made by the French government via new bonds issued by Banque PSA Finance, which are set to expire next year.

Fellow Minister of Industrial Renewal Arnaud Monteburg, in an interview with France Inter this week, said the deal allows Dongfeng and PSA to use their complimentary strengths in building their respective brands, defending the French government’s decision to sign based on “economic and industrial patriotism”:

PSA is a company with the technology, the marques, but has not been able to grow in Asia, while Dongfeng doesn’t have the technology or the marques, but has the growth in Asia.

Analysts and observers close to the matter remain skeptical of the deal, especially as to whether it would ultimately stabilize Peugeot. GERPISA director Bernard Jullien told French newspaper Les Echos the deal has no precedent, and comes with the potential for instability down the road. Meanwhile, Financial Times voiced a similar concern over how incoming PSA CEO Carlos Tavares will be able to execute his reform plan with a board consisting of Dongfeng, the French government and the already divided Peugeot family.

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Toyota Australia Engine Plant Moving To Thailand After 2017 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/toyota-australia-engine-plant-moving-to-thailand-after-2017/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/toyota-australia-engine-plant-moving-to-thailand-after-2017/#comments Fri, 21 Feb 2014 16:30:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=751065 Toyota Altona Engine Plant

Sources close to Toyota say the engine plant in Altona, Australia will likely be relocated to Siam Toyota Manufacturing in Thailand once the automaker ceases Australian manufacturing operations in 2017.

GoAuto reports that while the company hasn’t officially announced what will happen to the $331 million AUD engine plant thus far, executives inside Toyota Australia have Thailand in mind as a potential new home for some of the tooling currently in use. The factory exports 16 percent of its 2.5-liter four-cylinder engines to Thailand and Malaysia for fitment in Camry and Camry Hybrid models.

Another reason for the move to Thailand? While Toyota Australia builds 100,000 Camry, Camry Hybrid and Aurion models annualy — 70 percent for export markets, such as the Middle East — Toyota Thailand builds 880,000 units annually, exporting a wide range of vehicles to Australia and Association of Southeast Asian Nations — or ASEAN — member states. Furthermore, a free trade agreement between the two countries means vehicles, such as the HiLux and the Corolla, from Thailand enter Australian ports duty-free.

The plant, partially funded by a $63 million AUD contribution from Australia’s Green Car Innovation Fund and opened at this time last year, will close halfway through its expected lifespan of 10 years in 2017, shedding 2,500 jobs with thousands more down the local supply chain in the process.

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Tavares-Led Peugeot Gains 5.27 Billion Euro Makeover http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/tavares-led-peugeot-gains-5-27-billion-euro-makeover/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/tavares-led-peugeot-gains-5-27-billion-euro-makeover/#comments Thu, 20 Feb 2014 17:00:10 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=749857 Carlos Tavares

Former Renault executive and incoming PSA Peugeot Citroen CEO Carlos Tavares aims to use the 3 billion euro investment made in the three-way pact between the automaker, the French government and Dongfeng as part of a 5.27 billion euro makeover of the automaker’s line of vehicles over the long-term.

Bloomberg reports Tavares is directing Peugeot to use the funds gained from the deal — as well as capital provided by Banco Santander via the automaker’s lending arm — to boost R&D funding, and to focus model expansion on the most profitable units.

Though the plan will focus on fewer models in the present with future works released down the road along the way to becoming “a global car company,” Tavares said his plan will not fix everything immediately; growing the DS line from a subbrand to a full line to compete against Audi, as one case in point, would take the better part of two decades to accomplish.

The plan will also decrease the number of models sold in unprofitable markets such as Russia while expanding into potential goldmines such as China with the help of partner Dongfeng, both of whom aim to move 1.5 million units annually by 2020.

Complete details of the plan — aimed at ending the steady decline experienced by Peugeot in their sales fight with regional leader Volkswagen AG, as well its six-year slide in overall sales in Europe — will be unveiled in mid-April, weeks after Tavares takes the helm from current Peugeot CEO Philippe Varin.

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PSA-Donfeng Deal Injects New Capital, Extended Life Into Peugeot http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/psa-donfeng-deal-injects-new-capital-extended-life-into-peugeot/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/psa-donfeng-deal-injects-new-capital-extended-life-into-peugeot/#comments Wed, 19 Feb 2014 06:23:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=747585 2011 Peugeot China 508 With Couple

The 3 billion euro ($4.1 billion USD) three-way deal between PSA Peugeot Citroen, Dongfeng and the French government, signed this week, is set to inject new capital and a much needed life extension for Peugeot, though at the expense of the Peugeot family ceding control after two centuries.

Reuters reports Dongfeng and the French government will each pay 800 million euros ($1.10 billion) for a 14 percent stake in the new alliance while existing shareholders will receive warrants entitling them to purchase new stock at 7.50 euro, ultimately adding 1 billion euros to the memorandum of understanding signed by the three parties. In return, the Peugeot family’s 25.4 percent stake and 38 percent of voting rights in their namesake company will be brought to parity with their new partners, ceding control after over 200 years of business while surviving the end of guarantees totaling 7 billion euros next year.

Aside from the new infusion of capital, the MOU calls for Peugeot and Dongfeng to sell 1.5 million units annually beginning in 2020, jointly establish an R&D center in Dongfeng’s home market, and consider a new sales wing focused specifically upon Southeast Asia. The third point in the MOU would allow Peugeot to fare better than it does currently, having only sold 6,500 units last year in its largest regional market, Malaysia.

As for Peugeot’s home market and the European market as a whole, analysts warn the MOU doesn’t address how Peugeot will address the ongoing problems the automaker has undergone over the past several years. Though some suggested freezing investments and selling more plants to save itself, French industry minister Arnaud Montebourg stated no further closures were “on the agenda.”

The deal will be formally signed in late March around the time of China’s president Xi Jinping visit to Paris.

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PSA Peugeot Citroen, Dongfeng, France Reach Outline Deal http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/psa-peugeot-citroen-dongfeng-france-reach-outline-deal/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/psa-peugeot-citroen-dongfeng-france-reach-outline-deal/#comments Thu, 13 Feb 2014 16:30:36 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=740649 dongfeng-peugeot-citroen

PSA Peugeot Citroen, Dongfeng and the French government have reached an outline deal to raise $5.5 billion in capital through a planned share sale in a last-ditch effort by PSA to remain alive after General Motors walked out of a similar deal over the Iranian market last year.

Reuters reports the deal will be presented to the Peugeot board February 18, at which point the board will sign a non-binding memorandum of understanding that same day according to sources closest to the matter. The plan would allow Dongfeng and the French government to each own 14 percent of PSA, while the two automakers retain and expand upon their alliance toward their goal of penetrating further into the Southeast Asia market.

With most of the plan settled, the only item needed to pull everything together is an independent chairman who will oversee the plan’s implementation. The French government wants senior civil servant Louis Gallois, brought aboard under the existing agreement between the state and PSA since 2012, as their champion, while Dongfeng is pushing for French businesswoman and independent Peugeot director Patricia Barbiezt to fulfill the role.

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$600 Million Manchester United, Chevrolet Deal Going From Bad To Worse http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/600-million-manchester-united-chevrolet-deal-going-from-bad-to-worse/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/02/600-million-manchester-united-chevrolet-deal-going-from-bad-to-worse/#comments Wed, 12 Feb 2014 16:30:40 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=740065 Manchester United Squad Attend Chevrolet Event

Chevrolet’s $600 million sponsorship deal with major football club Manchester United may have been a match made in heaven, but with Man U’s performance on the pitch as of late, the deal is now on the highway to hell according to Automotive News.

The deal, written up by then-head of General Motors marketing Joel Ewanick to connect the two brands at the end of the 2012 season, was done due to Man U’s cachet with not only the English Premier League’s viewership — 643 million households in 212 countries — but also with the European Champions League tournament’s 360 million households. Though the Bow Tie has little presence in Europe beyond the Corvette — and would have trampled upon Opel/Vauxhall’s turf — the club’s fans in the Asia-Pacific market was prime for the taking in Ewanick’s mind.

Reality for the deal, however, hasn’t panned out as well as first hoped. The sin of omission committed by Ewanick regarding the sponsorship led to his sacking just as Man U’s long-serving coach Sir Alex Ferguson passed the torch to former Everton FC leader/miracle worker David Moyes.  As AN’s Mark Rechtin notes, things have not been the same since Fergusons departure. The club suffered from internal conflict in the locker room, second-guessing from the English sporting media, indecision on starting lineups, and losses to other clubs they would normally dominate if not outright destroy.

Furthermore, the club is currently seventh place in the overall EPL standings with no signs of improving to pass Everton, Tottenham and Liverpool to reach fourth and gain a qualifying position in the Champions League. Without that golden ticket, Man U will land in the oft-ignored Europa League, a marketing dead zone for any brand, let alone Chevrolet.

Finally, Man U may need to sell their star-studded lineup to make payroll, stripping away the cachet that had attracted Ewanick to pen the sponsorship deal in the first place. Not that it matters much if fans weren’t buying what Chevrolet was selling in the first place.

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Nissan Outsold By Honda In Home, U.S. Markets http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/nissan-outsold-by-honda-in-home-u-s-markets/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/nissan-outsold-by-honda-in-home-u-s-markets/#comments Thu, 30 Jan 2014 18:30:23 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=727946 Nissan-Sport-Sedan-Concept-01

Though Nissan remains Japan’s second-biggest automaker with a wide gap ahead of Honda, the latter continues to outsell the former in the United States and at home, much to Nissan’s dismay

According Automotive News, Nissan’s global sales for 2013 increased 3 percent to 5.1 million units, while Honda’s rapid 12 percent growth in sales only managed 4.3 million units in the same period. Further, Nissan sold 86 percent of its 5.1 million vehicles — 4.4 million, to be exact — outside Japan, Honda doing as well by selling 3.5 million of its 4.3 million overseas. Overall, Nissan beat Honda in Europe, Mexico, China and most of Asia, yet lost to Honda in Japan and the U.S.

At home, the reason is due to Honda’s popular line of kei cars (all made in house), and all having undergone a total revamping as of late. Meanwhile, Nissan has partnered with Mitsubishi to make kei cars after years of farming out the practice to the former’s rivals. Though things appear to be looking up for Nissan, they will be looking up at Honda for a good while: Honda sold just over 400,000 kei cars in 2013 to Nissan’s 186,000, while also growing 27 percent in kei car sales against the latter’s 21 percent.

Across the Pacific, Nissan is gaining on Honda’s other home turf, selling 1.2 million units for a 9 percent increase in sales against their rival’s 7 percent increase and 1.5 million units in 2013. Market share in the U.S. held at 9.8 percent for Honda while Nissan took a tenth of a percentage for an even 8 percent in the same period.

Though Honda has done well for itself since becoming the first Japanese auto manufacturer to build a factory in the United States back in 1982 for the Honda Accord — such as exporting more cars around the world from the U.S. than from Japan in 2013 for the first time ever — Nissan aims to turn up the heat through the tandem of new production coming from Mexico, and aggressive tactics devised by Nissan North America’s new chairman Jose Munoz, who is under standing orders to boost his employer’s share of the U.S. market to 10 percent.

Either way, both Honda and Nissan still have a ways to go to take on Toyota; the No. 1 Japanese and global automaker moved 9.98 million units worldwide in 2013.

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Renault Resumes Supply Shipments To Iranian Production Lines http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/renault-resumes-supply-shipments-to-iranian-production-lines/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/renault-resumes-supply-shipments-to-iranian-production-lines/#comments Thu, 30 Jan 2014 17:30:16 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=728010 Iran Khodro Renault Production Line

After a six-month self-imposed hiatus, Renault has begun shipping “a very low volume” of parts overland to Iran for vehicle assembly.

According to Automotive News, over the past 10 days, parts for the Renault Tondar — the variant of the Dacia Logan built and sold by Iran Khodro — have made their way to Iranian production lines overland from Romania upon temporary easing of sanctions against the Iranian government for their nuclear ambitions. The lifting of sanctions is currently expected to last six months after Tehran pledged to freeze key components of their nuclear program, with talks due next month to work out a permanent deal to wind down sanctions in exchange for curbs in Iran’s aforementioned program.

For Renault and their rivals in Peugeot/PSA, the six-month window is crucial in rebuilding their relationships with their partners in Iran Khodro and Pars Khodro, as well as regaining their foothold on the Persian auto market before more players — such as General Motors — enter the room.

According to Renault’s Asia-Pacific boss Giles Normand, the window marks an opportunity to “gradually restart the supply of parts for vehicle production as well as flow of payments,” noting that the current state of things “must be allowed to improve visibly in Iran” lest their customers feel their country has been short-changed through a lack of visible change.

Total production of vehicles in Iran peaked at 1.6 million units in 2011, the year the sanctions were imposed. Renault lost 64,500 deliveries as a result in 2013, marginally dampening global growth to 2.63 million units overall. With the possibility of 1 million to 1.5 million annual sales at stake, Renault nor PSA can afford another setback.

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Toyota Supplier Expects Chinese Sales To Double By 2018 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/toyota-supplier-expects-chinese-sales-to-double-by-2018/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/toyota-supplier-expects-chinese-sales-to-double-by-2018/#comments Thu, 30 Jan 2014 17:00:15 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=728082 2014 Toyota RAV4 Exterior-011

Tsubakimoto Chain Co., a Toyota supplier, expects sales of their auto parts to factories in China to double within the next four years as automakers seek to diversify their supply chains.

In an interview with Bloomberg earlier this week, Tsubakimoto managing executive officer Toru Fujiwara expects sales of his company’s line of chains and gears to surpass $116 million by March of 2018, more than double the $58 million Tsubakimoto aims to sell in 2014. This is due to General Motors and Volkswagen battling it out over China for the title of No. 1 in the largest global auto market, leading both automakers to diversify their supply chain to reduce the risk of having only one supplier per part.

VW and GM have plans to build new plants in China to help increase production capacity, with the Germans building seven plants to produce 4 million units by 2018 as the General opts to build four plants to produce 5 million annually; GM also plans to invest $11 billion in China by 2016 to further their cause.

Japanese manufacturers, including Toyota, are also expected to increase orders as the conflict over the Diaoyu Islands cools down, allowing demand for Japanese cars to recover.

As for Tsubakimoto, Fujiwara recently approved plans to build a factory in China as early as 2014, and may either choose to increase capacity of his company’s plant in Tennessee or build a new plant within the next three years based on increased sales in the United States, which are expected to reach $172.3 million by March, then expand 15 percent by the same time in 2017. Overall sales in North America account for 17 percent of the Japanese chain company’s total revenue in the previous fiscal year.

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Barra’s GM Holding Firm On Plans To Revive Opel Profits http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/barras-gm-holding-firm-on-plans-to-revive-opel-profits/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/barras-gm-holding-firm-on-plans-to-revive-opel-profits/#comments Tue, 28 Jan 2014 16:45:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=725858 opel-cascada-cabriolet-2013-001-1350468054

Appearing before Opel’s best and brightest in Germany, General Motors CEO Mary Barra proclaimed her company’s European brand, though unprofitable, is a vital one for the General.

Last year, GM announced they would invest $5.5 billion through 2016 to fund the development of 23 new models and 13 new engines to aid in the overhaul of Opel’s aging lineup, with president Dan Ammann — responsible for global regions under Barra — being nominated as supervisory board chairman at Opel. The automaker is also holding firm on plans to build an all-new vehicle for Opel’s main factory in Germany, all in an effort to help the brand return to profitability by the middle of the 2010s.

In turn, GM recently withdrew Chevrolet from Europe to give Opel more breathing room, as well as planning to shutter Opel’s plan in Bochum, Germany by the end of 2014. Meanwhile, the Ruesselsheim will be assigned a new model sometime down the line to go with the Insignia and Zafira Tourer.

European sales of Opel and Vauxhall fell 1.5 percent in 2013 to 825,000 units, while market share held at 6.7 percent. The duo are the third-largest brand behind Volkswagen and Ford.

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Honda, Nissan, Toyota Set Production Record Against Weakening Yen http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/honda-nissan-toyota-set-production-record-against-weakening-yen/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/honda-nissan-toyota-set-production-record-against-weakening-yen/#comments Thu, 23 Jan 2014 16:32:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=706538 Toyota Baja California Assembly Line

As the yen weakened against the dollar for a second consecutive year, Honda, Nissan and Toyota all set production records in their North American plants in 2013, according to Automotive News.

Outputs for the trio last year include 1.86 million units for Toyota, 1.78 million for Honda, and 1.47 million for Nissan, though gains on the production line didn’t match sales in the United States. However, exports took up the slack in U.S. showrooms, with more units sent to growing markets such as South Korea, Saudi Arabia and Latin America.

As far as individual models are concerned, Honda built 466,695 Accords at their Marysville, Ohio plant in 2013, around 20,000 more than the number of Camrys Toyota workers at the automaker’s Georgetown, Ky. plant.

The Japanese Three expanded their presence in North America as insulation against a falling yen, which fell 17.6 percent against the dollar in 2013 after falling 11 percent in 2012, as well as protection from overseas production disruptions that could affect North American output. In fact, Honda will soon open a plant in Celaya, Mexico to build the Fit, with the long-awaited 2015 NSX to be assembled in an experimental plant in Marysville.

Regarding Hyundai and Kia, the two South Korean automakers set a few records of their own in North America, including 399,495 Sonatas and Elantras leaving Hyundai’s Montgomery, Ala. plant, and 105,647 Santa Fes rolling out of the Kia line in West Point, Ga.

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BYD Coming to America in 2015 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/byd-coming-to-america-in-2015/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/01/byd-coming-to-america-in-2015/#comments Tue, 07 Jan 2014 05:41:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=693713 BYD Qin

Backed by Warren Buffet and his investment company Berkshire Hathaway, Inc.,Automotive News is reporting that Chinese automaker BYD plans to deliver four models to the United States in late 2015.

This move comes after BYD founder and chair Wang Chauanfu spent the past three years reorganizing his company, cutting the number of dealerships under the automaker’s banner while narrowing losses with their solar business with help from state incentives.

In turn, investors rewarded the changes with a 63 percent surge in the share price — currently holding around $5 USD — though nowhere near the peak of $11 BYD saw in October 2008; Berkshire Hathaway paid around $1 per share for 9.9 percent ownership of the company back in that year.

Though BYD has yet to bring over any of their cars to the U.S., they will begin manufacturing of their K9 electric bus in March at its factory in Lancaster, Calif.; a plan to sell the e6 electric hatchback by the end of 2010 was postponed.

Leading the charge will be the Qin (pronounced Chin) plug-in hybrid, which already arrived in local market showrooms last month. The $31,400 (before state subsidies) sedan books it from nil to 60 in under 6 seconds, and possesses a 43-mile range in electric-only travel.

That said, the Qin, along with its electric brethren, may be a better sell in Los Angeles than in Beijing, as high prices, safety concerns, and a lack of supporting infrastructure have held back China’s goal of 5 million alternative-energy vehicles by 2020.

However, the state government unveiled a new program last September which is supposed to alleviate the issue through heavy promotion of new-energy vehicles in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou using subsidies through 2015, which should help BYD in local adoption of their plug-in and EV offerings.

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