In the first 3 parts of this series we have observed that Chinese carmakers have managed their expansion into Africa, Latin America and Eastern Europe by securing less developed markets and using them as anchor points for a more widespread presence in these regions. In this context it’s interesting to note that in their own ‘backyard’, Asia, the same strategy has not been met with the same success, with only a handful of small markets in the region ‘cracked’ so far..
Myanmar was once a pariah state known for its brutal military government and mistreatment of human rights activists like Aung San Suu Kyi. But democratic reforms and an easing of trade sanctions by Western governments means that doing business in Myanmar is now feasible – and GM is the latest automaker looking to establish a footing in the Asian country.
Uh-oh: Our colleagues and fellow market watchers in Malaysia were waiting and waiting for market data for the month of July, but none arrived. With August about to end, they stared to ask questions. They were told there won’t be any data. No, it wasn’t because Malaysia suddenly is like Europe. In the Old Country, July data traditionally are supplied in September,because Europe is on vacation in August.
No, it was because Proton suddenly refused to supply its data. (Read More…)
At a briefing in Traverse City, Michigan, Ford outlined its plans for tackling the twin challenges of Asia and Europe. Despite the capacity crisis facing the industry, Ford is aiming to avoid any European factory closures, while also expanding in Asia.
India is touted to become one of the biggest car markets in the world by the end of this decade. However, there is a lot of uncertainty in the Indian automobile market. Fuel prices fluctuate (usually northwards) abruptly, while the Government tries to cover its mis-governance by increasing taxes on cars when its least expected. But which is the car that Indians are buying the most? It is the Maruti Suzuki Alto! (Read More…)
Ever heard about the Tata Safari? It is the first SUV that was designed and developed entirely in India. The Safari went on sale in 1998, since then there haven’t been many changes to the styling of the vehicle.Tata Motors changed the engines, bringing in better powertrains over a period of time. The Safari has managed to create a cult following and still sells in-spite of its dated styling. The first generation Safari used the engine from Tata’s truck line-up (Tata 407 truck). (Read More…)
India is a country with absolute imbalance as far as policies and regulations go. Earlier this year, the Indian Government abruptly increased excise duty on cars by 2-5%. This increase came at a time when the automobile sector was already facing a slow down. Soon later, one of the states increased local taxes and registration charges. Now to make matters worse, the Supreme Court (the highest judicial forum of India) has abruptly banned all kinds of sun control films on cars (with effect from 19th May 2012). (Read More…)
Peugeot might be one of the biggest car makers in Europe, but it has absolutely no presence in the Indian market. With the Indian car market growing bigger day by day, there is no big automaker which doesn’t have the presence in the sub-continent. The most recent car maker to set up operations in India is Porsche, which used to import vehicles through a third party. So why doesn’t Peugeot have a presence in India? (Read More…)
Mahindra & Mahindra dates back to 1945, when they started to produce the Willys Jeep in India under license. Soon after that, they started developing light commercial vehicles and utility vehicles. In 2002, Mahindra launched the Scorpio, which was also introduced in Europe as the Mahindra Goa a few years later. Last year, the XUV5OO (pronounced five double Oh) was launched. Mahindra had to stop accepting bookings (which were opened in just 5 cities across India) after just 10 days of launch. They received 35,000 test drive requests in the same time. The second phase of bookings saw more than 25,000 applicants, which were put through a draw! Bookings have been closed since then and you can’t buy the XUV5OO even if you have the money. So what is the Mahindra XUV5OO all about? (Read More…)
According to lore, Americans dig big cars, Europeans love their hatchbacks, Australians love pick-ups. And the Indians? Indians love sedans. The sedan is a status symbol for most in India. It provides a feeling of accomplishment. It also costs more. A sedan does not cost much more to make than its hatchback platform cousin. What makes a sedan more costlier are the taxes we have to pay.
The Indian government wants to promote small cars as they are eco-friendly and consume less fuel. They are easy to park and maneuver. They take less space on the road and help in reducing traffic congestion. If you visit India, you will notice that the infrastructure growth is not keeping pace with the GDP growth. This makes small cars extremely important, and the Government of India is leaving no stone unturned to promote them. But how do they do that? (Read More…)
During my visit to Vietnam last month, I photographed many Honda Super Cubs, but I always kept one eye open for other interesting vehicles. I spotted a few Toyota Crown Royal Saloons, which was cool, but catching a Geo Chevrolet Tracker at a Hanoi intersection was one of the weirder sightings. Studying the photograph later, I realized that three of the four (non-two-wheeled) vehicles in the frame were GM products that show the breadth of The General’s Asian empire. (Read More…)
Honda will cut its North American output by 50 percent, starting Wednesday. All six North American plants will be affected through Nov. 10… Production likely will be affected for at least “the next several weeks,” Honda said. More cuts could be announced later. In addition, the December on-sale date of the redesigned 2012 Honda CR-V may be delayed by several weeks. (emphasis added)
So, if you’re jonesing for your fix of frumpy new CUV hotness, you’re just going to have to be patient. Speaking of which, while we patiently wait for October sales, Honda is telling Bloomberg that its sales went up in the last month, its first such gain since April. But between the ongoing problems in Thailand, a 50% production cut in North America, and the awkward looks of this CR-V, it looks like Honda had better enjoy this moment of good news while it can.
In many ways it was a strange scene. The president of Korea, speaking in a US factory that builds the replacement to a car that was once imported from Korea. The president of the United States, speaking in a factory that can only competitively build subcompact cars because of a government-ordered “innovative labor practices” that unionized workers were not able to ratify. In many ways, both President Obama and President Lee were visiting the graveyard of their ideals. Which is another way of saying, that this meeting symbolizes a new pragmatism.
American workers may not be getting paid what they once were, but they’re building cars at a profit. Korea may not be exporting as many cars to the US, but it’s putting the squeeze on Japan. Professor Kim Seung-jin of Hankuk University sums up the dynamic in the Korea Times, saying
There is no free lunch in the world… Korea should get into the U.S. market prior to Japan and China. The more we delay the less the advantage. You should know that the world is still living off the American market
This deal probably won’t boost US auto exports to Korea in the way Obama is hoping for, but it’s a reminder that US manufacturing is slowly becoming more competitive… and that our market remains an attractive place to do business. Free trade is necessarily a messy business for politicians, and protectionism might have kept Orion’s wages higher or Aveo production in Korea. But by embracing free trade, these two presidents could walk into Orion, live up to the downsides of free trade, and promise a stronger, more sustainable economic future.