Among the first to come to Brazil when the market was opened up again in the 1990s – after a hiatus of almost 50 years when this country closed itself off to the world – Renault has seemingly reached a limit in Brazil. Its market participation has hovered around 6 percent for years. Now, hungry for more, the French company is showing its new plans that will deeply affect their operations in Latin America at large and shake up their manufacturing base in South America, most especially Mercosur (namely Brazil and Argentina).
Last week, I had the privilege of attending a Naturalization Ceremony. If you have never had the opportunity to be there when immigrants to our country take the oath of citizenship and exchange their Green Cards for their Naturalization Certificates, you are missing out on one of those special things that makes the United States of America a truly great place to be. Looking out across the crowd you can see people who began their lives in the far corners of the world sitting beside one another without regard for gender, race or national origin. It matters little where they came from, whether or not they once lived on one side of some armed border or the other, today they are Americans and the old hatreds, if not forgotten, are at least set aside. On that day, they are united in their desire to join in our great experiment, to offer their descendents to the great American melting pot in the hopes that they will blend seamlessly into the fabric of our nation in the same way that we, the descendants of so many who made that journey before them, have done.
The American justice system has shown a large degree of overreach in the not so distant past, punishing or shaking down foreign companies for misdeeds performed on foreign soils by foreign perpetrators on foreign victims. This is not a matter of right or wrong. It is a matter of jurisdiction and sovereignty. Enough is enough, says the U.S. Supreme Court and decided to hear Daimler’s appeal against a decision by a San Francisco court that workers or relatives of workers at an Argentina-based plant operated by Mercedes-Benz, a wholly owned subsidiary of Daimler, can sue for alleged human rights abuses performed by Daimler in the 1970s in collusion with Argentina’s then military junta. Daimler had been on the receiving end of judicial overreach in the past. (Read More…)
In 1999, you could still buy a brand-new Peugeot 504 in Argentina. With such a classic French automobile available, Renault’s marketers had to come up with an extra-special advertising gimmick to move those Clios off the lot. How about El Diablo? (Read More…)
With a 35% import tax on new cars, Argentina is already a touch market for foreign brands seeking to bring cars into the country. But the Argentinean government has just made it little bit harder by demanding that importers export an equal amount of Argentina-made goods for every car imported. As a result, Bloomberg reports that Porsche’s importer is exporting Malbec wines and olives, Mitsubishi’s importer is getting into the peanut export game, and Subaru’s representative is shipping chicken feed to Chile. BMW, which has had recent difficulties importing into Argentina, is focusing on its core business, exporting auto parts and upholstery… and a little processed rice to make up the difference. But why are these major manufacturers getting into all kinds of strange side businesses just because Argentina wants to improve its trade balance and foreign currency reserves? Simple: Argentina is South America’s second-largest economy, and it’s been growing at over 5% per year since 2007 (i.e. when other markets were shrinking). So if the government wants imports balanced with exports, well, Porsche’s importer is just going to have to get into the wine business, isn’t he?
When I researched the subject of cars built in relatively unchanged form for 20 or more years, the only American machine that met my criteria was the first-gen Ford Falcon (no, the Model T was not built during 20 model years and, no, the Ford Panther and GM B platforms changed too much to be considered single models). As late as 1991, car shoppers in Argentina could step into a Ford showroom and choose between a new Falcon and a new Sierra XR4… or they could walk across the street to Peugeot and drive out in a new 504. How’s that for a set of choices? (Read More…)
After years of spurning lithium ion batteries in favor of Nickel metal hydride cells, it seems Toyota might changing their mind. The Wall Street Journal reports that Toyota Tsusho Corp, which is 21.8% owned by Toyota Motor Corp., has secured the loans it needed from the Japanese government to buy a stake in a lithium project in Northern Argentina. The article states that “people with knowledge of the matter” (read in to that what you will), values Toyota Tsusho’s investment somewhere between $100 million and $200 million.
The Argentinian-produced Volkswagen Amarok pickup might be coming to the US if VW thinks it can sell enough of them. VW of America’s Stephan Jacoby tells pickuptrucks.com “we’d have to sell at least 100,000 Amarok pickups to make it feasible.” But don’t get too excited: the only compact pickup to sell in those numbers is the Toyota Tacoma, which sold 102,327 units year-to-date.