The Truth About Cars » Bertel Schmitt http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Fri, 05 Dec 2014 17:06:32 +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 » Bertel Schmitt http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Golf Turns 40 As TTAC Looks Back At The Man Behind The Launch http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/the-golf-turns-40-as-ttac-looks-back-at-the-man-behind-the-launch/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/03/the-golf-turns-40-as-ttac-looks-back-at-the-man-behind-the-launch/#comments Mon, 31 Mar 2014 11:00:47 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=784641 March 29th, 1973 marks the anniversary of the Volkswagen Golf’s introduction some 40 years ago. Although Volkswagen’s official communications tout the car as a runaway success, the front-drive, water-cooled car wasn’t met with such an enthusiastic reception at the outset. The true story of the Golf (or at least an entertaining one that runs counter to […]

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March 29th, 1973 marks the anniversary of the Volkswagen Golf’s introduction some 40 years ago. Although Volkswagen’s official communications tout the car as a runaway success, the front-drive, water-cooled car wasn’t met with such an enthusiastic reception at the outset.

The true story of the Golf (or at least an entertaining one that runs counter to the PR hagiography disseminated by Volkswagen), and its success can only be told by one Bertel Schmitt, who recounted it in “The Autobiography of BS”, back in 2009. Rather than relay it here, I urge you all to check out the original, which is best relayed with Bertel’s unique diction, droll sense of humor and his eye for the absurd.

During my time working with Bertel, much of our business was conducted via the phone, with hour-long chats where Bertel would relay the “directors cut” version of his time working with Volkswagen. Much of it was unpublishable, and I was often left reeling at the end of it, having difficulty processing the sheer amount of information and detail. But the end result was a “Karate Kid” style of mentorship. Bertel was effectively planting the seeds of industry knowledge in my brain, giving me the context and background knowledge I needed to do my job, while giving me enough autonomy to let me screw up, get things wrong and learn the hard way – by getting flayed by the B&B in the comments.

 

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Estranged TTAC Editor Busted For Wikipedia Vandalism, Then Again For Conflict Of Interest http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/estranged-ttac-editor-busted-for-wikipedia-vandalism-then-again-for-conflict-of-interest/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/estranged-ttac-editor-busted-for-wikipedia-vandalism-then-again-for-conflict-of-interest/#comments Thu, 11 Jul 2013 17:07:30 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=494859 The article you are about to read was written by former Editor-In-Chief Bertel Schmitt during the course of a long and somewhat personal disagreement he had with former contributor Steven Lang. This article does not represent the views of The Truth About Cars, its staff, its contributors, or its ownership. We’re leaving it up because […]

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The article you are about to read was written by former Editor-In-Chief Bertel Schmitt during the course of a long and somewhat personal disagreement he had with former contributor Steven Lang. This article does not represent the views of The Truth About Cars, its staff, its contributors, or its ownership. We’re leaving it up because we don’t censor the past — but we no longer stand behind the piece or recommend that you read it — JB

Like many larger websites, TTAC has its own Wikipedia entry. For many years, the entry has been pretty blah as far as Wikipedia articles go. The only memorable items were the infamous GM Death Watch, and the flying vagina of lore. A week ago, the bucolic peace was disrupted. Suddenly, TTAC’s WP article turned into the battlefield of a bloody edit war. Reverts waged back and forth, robots leveled automated accusations of vandalism.

Sifting through the rubble, it looks very much like the alleged vandal came with a big axe to grind.

On July 2nd, an anonymous editor, or, “an IP” in Wikipedia parlance, added a rambling diatribe about the Dyke incident. The diatribe was light on facts, and heavy on “allegations of gay bashing and the resignation of Steven Lang,” along with accusations of bashing of “the former writer along with Jalopnik. “ A few hours later, the edit was removed by a member of Wikipedia’s Counter-Vandalism Unit. A few days thereafter, the edit was back, in slightly modified form. That edit lasted only a minute. It was removed by a robot that didn’t like Steven Lang’s Facebook page to be used as a reference.

Undeterred, “the IP” kept posting. Pretty much once a day, the diatribe was back, only to be undone by Wikipedia editors shortly thereafter. On July 10, “the IP” detected the undo function, a “revert” in WP lingo: The IP undid a previous undo.  In a situation like this, a revert is tantamount to a declaration of war.

A helpful editor improved the article a lot, only to see the anonymous writer again add the quite apparently unwanted crud.

This edit was immediately removed by a bot “that tries to detect and revert vandalism quickly and automatically.” Currently, this is where things stand, but we won’t be surprised if the edit war continues.

There is one thing that Wikipedia likes even less than vandalism of its pages, and that is edits by people with a conflict of interest.  Comparing the records of Wikipedia with those of TTAC, it turns out that “the IP” was that of Steven Lang’s computer. Which makes it a clear case of Conflict of Interest, or “COI” in the WP vernacular.

Wikipedia rules say:

“You should not create or edit articles about yourself, your family or your close friends. If you or they are notable enough, someone else will create the article. You should also avoid writing about yourself or people you know in articles on other topics. This includes people with whom you could reasonably be said to have an antagonistic relationship in real life.”

After trying to receive a promotion, Steve Lang had left TTAC in a huff, only to make public statements about his alleged moral outrage. Which would fit the description of an “antagonistic relationship in real life.”

The edits did not have the intended effect on Wikipedia, and did not reach the wider audience that was sought. As a make-good and a public service, we document them here verbatim.

 

Edit made on 2 July 2013‎ by 76.20.240.115. Removed on 2 July 2013 by user Fraggle81

The Truth About Cars was recently criticized for an article titled, “Small SUV Crashopalooza: Detroit Loses, Dykes Win” where the editor-in-chief stated the following.

“Boo, hiss, Detroit – pussy-whipped by a Japanese transgender crossover that is also known as a “vag-wag?”

PS: Before you start to tar and feather me for Detroit bashing LGBT discrimination, please be notified that according to the all-knowing Wikipedia, the term “dyke” originated “as a derogatory label for a masculine woman, and this usage still exists.” Shame on them. “However, some persons attempt to use it in a manner that they see as positive, or as a neutral synonym for lesbian,” and those persons include the Schmitts.”

This article lead to allegations of gay bashing and the resignation of Steven Lang. One of the long-time editors for the site. After threats were made to encourage specific companies to boycott the blog, Bertel Schmitt offered an apology in an article titled, “Editor Switches Dildos” where he continued to bash the former writer along with Jalopnik, a far larger and more successful automotive blog.

“People have varying thresholds for disgust, I understand. What I have a hard time understanding is that someone with such well-developed sensitivities is proud to write for Jalopnik, a site, which we all know, knows no shame. This is no value judgment. A good journalist should not be bashful.”

Due to the recent editorial direction of the site, and the frequent banning of commenters who disagree with the arbitrary enforcement of TTAC’s editorial policy, the site has continued to struggle against a very long list of online automotive publications including Autoblog, Jalopnik, Hooniverse, The Car Connection, Autonews.com, Motoramic, Roadandtrack.com, Kickingtires, Hemmings, caranddriver.com, Automobilemag.com and, of course, Motor Trend.

According to one former editor TTAC’s google stats are down, some 15-20% from a year ago.

 

Edit made on 6 July 2013‎ by 76.20.240.115. Removed on 6 July 2013 by XLinkBot:

The Truth About Cars was recently criticized for an article titled, “Small SUV Crashopalooza: Detroit Loses, Dykes Win where the editor-in-chief, Bertel Schmitt, stated the following.

“Boo, hiss, Detroit – pussy-whipped by a Japanese transgender crossover that is also known as a “vag-wag?”

PS: Before you start to tar and feather me for Detroit bashing LGBT discrimination, please be notified that according to the all-knowing Wikipedia, the term “dyke” originated “as a derogatory label for a masculine woman, and this usage still exists.” Shame on them. “However, some persons attempt to use it in a manner that they see as positive, or as a neutral synonym for lesbian,” and those persons include the Schmitts.”

This article lead to allegations of gay bashing and the resignation of Steven Lang. One of the long-time editors for the site. After threats were made to encourage specific companies to boycott the blog, Bertel Schmitt offered an apology in an article titled, “Editor Switches Dildos” where he continued to bash the former writer along with the automotive site Jalopnik.

“People have varying thresholds for disgust, I understand. What I have a hard time understanding is that someone with such well-developed sensitivities is proud to write for Jalopnik, a site, which we all know, knows no shame. This is no value judgment. A good journalist should not be bashful.”

At this time Verticalscope, the current owner of The Truth About Cars, has not handed out any form of consequences or disciplinary action.

 

Edit made on 7 July 2013‎ by 76.20.240.115. Removed on 8 July 2013 by user Bzr:

The Truth About Cars was recently criticized for an article titled, “Small SUV Crashopalooza: Detroit Loses, Dykes Win” where the editor-in-chief stated the following.

“Boo, hiss, Detroit – pussy-whipped by a Japanese transgender crossover that is also known as a “vag-wag?”

PS: Before you start to tar and feather me for Detroit bashing LGBT discrimination, please be notified that according to the all-knowing Wikipedia, the term “dyke” originated “as a derogatory label for a masculine woman, and this usage still exists.” Shame on them. “However, some persons attempt to use it in a manner that they see as positive, or as a neutral synonym for lesbian,” and those persons include the Schmitts.”

This article lead to allegations of gay bashing and the resignation of Steven Lang. One of the long-time editors for the site. After threats were made to encourage specific companies to boycott the blog, Bertel Schmitt offered an apology in an article titled, “Editor Switches Dildos” where he continued to bash the former writer along with Jalopnik. A site that competes in part with The Truth About Cars.

“People have varying thresholds for disgust, I understand. What I have a hard time understanding is that someone with such well-developed sensitivities is proud to write for Jalopnik, a site, which we all know, knows no shame. This is no value judgment. A good journalist should not be bashful.”

 

Edit made on 9 July 2013‎ by 76.20.240.115. Undone on 9 July 2013 by 63.92.255.201. Reverted on 10 July 2013‎ by 76.20.240.115 (while deleting one intermediate edit:)

The Truth About Cars was recently criticized for an article titled, “Small SUV Crashopalooza: Detroit Loses, Dykes Win” where the editor-in-chief stated the following. “Boo, hiss, Detroit – pussy-whipped by a Japanese transgender crossover that is also known as a “vag-wag?”

PS: Before you start to tar and feather me for Detroit bashing LGBT discrimination, please be notified that according to the all-knowing Wikipedia, the term “dyke” originated “as a derogatory label for a masculine woman, and this usage still exists.” Shame on them. “However, some persons attempt to use it in a manner that they see as positive, or as a neutral synonym for lesbian,” and those persons include the Schmitts.”

This article lead to allegations of gay bashing and the resignation of Steven Lang. One of the long-time editors for the site. After threats were made to encourage specific companies to boycott the blog, Bertel Schmitt offered an apology in an article titled, “Editor Switches Dildos” where he continued to bash the former writer along with Jalopnik. A site that competes in part with The Truth About Cars.

“People have varying thresholds for disgust, I understand. What I have a hard time understanding is that someone with such well-developed sensitivities is proud to write for Jalopnik, a site, which we all know, knows no shame. This is no value judgement. A good journalist should not be bashful.”

 

Edit made on 11 July 2013‎ by 76.20.240.115. Removed on 11 July 2013 by ClueBot with a vandalism warning:

The Truth About Cars was recently criticized for an article titled, “Small SUV Crashopalooza: Detroit Loses, Dykes Win” where the editor-in-chief stated the following. “Boo, hiss, Detroit – pussy-whipped by a Japanese transgender crossover that is also known as a “vag-wag?”

PS: Before you start to tar and feather me for Detroit bashing LGBT discrimination, please be notified that according to the all-knowing Wikipedia, the term “dyke” originated “as a derogatory label for a masculine woman, and this usage still exists.” Shame on them. “However, some persons attempt to use it in a manner that they see as positive, or as a neutral synonym for lesbian,” and those persons include the Schmitts.”

This article lead to allegations of gay bashing and the resignation of Steven Lang. One of the long-time editors for the site. After threats were made to encourage specific companies to boycott the blog, Bertel Schmitt offered an apology in an article titled, “Editor Switches Dildos” where he continued to bash the former writer along with Jalopnik. A site that competes in part with The Truth About Cars.

“People have varying thresholds for disgust, I understand. What I have a hard time understanding is that someone with such well-developed sensitivities is proud to write for Jalopnik, a site, which we all know, knows no shame. This is no value judgment. A good journalist should not be bashful.”

 

For the record, in the past, the author of this article made a few non-controversial, routine edits to TTAC’s Wikipedia entry. These routine edits are expressly allowed by Wikipedia. The author did not make any edits to the WP pages since he took over as editor in chief on January 1 2012. All edits are in the editing history under a quite obvious alias.

Also for the record, Steven Lang was notified by the author of this article via email on July 5 2013 as follows: “Wikipedia has clear and strongly enforced rules that forbid edits by people with a conflict of interest. There is a long list of scandals involving people who ignored this rule. Conflicted persons should NEVER edit an article about a topic in which they are involved. This goes especially for anonymous edits, which rarely are as anonymous as assumed.”

After receipt of the email (which remained unanswered,) Lang knew that he was breaking the rules, and he did so with apparent intent. According to Wikipedia’s rules, conflict of interest editing “risks causing public embarrassment to the individuals and groups being promoted.” The email was sent to spare Mr. Lang the embarrassment. Sadly, it did not work.

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NHTSA Probes GM’s Screening Test After Fire http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/nhtsa-probes-gms-screening-test-after-fire/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/nhtsa-probes-gms-screening-test-after-fire/#comments Tue, 09 Jul 2013 13:59:37 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=494616   The NHTSA is looking into whether GM is doing the right thing with cars it has recalled. According to Reuters, “the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it has opened what it calls a recall query to look at whether a stress test GM is using on a portion of the recalled cars […]

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The NHTSA is looking into whether GM is doing the right thing with cars it has recalled. According to Reuters, “the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it has opened what it calls a recall query to look at whether a stress test GM is using on a portion of the recalled cars is good enough, because a fire occurred after the procedure that was meant to catch the problem.”

In May, GM recalled 42,904 2012 and 2013 model Buick LaCrosse and Regal cars, and 2013 model Chevrolet Malibu Eco cars equipped with its “eAssist” mild hybrid system, after circuit boards did overheat and would “lead to a loss of battery charge or, in extreme cases, a fire in the trunk,” as the report says.

Of the recalled cars, about 22,000 are getting their battery packs replaced. The rest undergoes a screening test to see if the control module needs to be replaced.

Says Reuters: “NHTSA questioned the effectiveness of the screening test because the fire in March occurred in a car that had already gone through the testing as part of a service procedure before the recall.”  The NHTSA said that the fire drew “into question whether or not the procedure can effectively identify a defective control module.”

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EU Files WTO Complaint Against Russia Over Bogus Recycling Fee http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/eu-files-wto-complaint-against-russia-over-bogus-recycling-fee/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/eu-files-wto-complaint-against-russia-over-bogus-recycling-fee/#comments Tue, 09 Jul 2013 12:32:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=494603 Less than a year after joining the WTO, Russia finds itself dragged in front of the same. The EU launched a formal trade dispute with Russia, claiming that its Eastern neighbor is “illegally protecting its carmakers with a recycling fee levied on imported cars,” as Reuters reports. “The European Commission has pursued every diplomatic channel for […]

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Putin - Picture courtesy cbc.ca

Less than a year after joining the WTO, Russia finds itself dragged in front of the same. The EU launched a formal trade dispute with Russia, claiming that its Eastern neighbor is “illegally protecting its carmakers with a recycling fee levied on imported cars,” as Reuters reports.

“The European Commission has pursued every diplomatic channel for almost one year now to find a solution with our Russian partners on this matter but to no avail. The fee is incompatible with the WTO’s most basic rule prohibiting discrimination against and among imports,” EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht told the wire.

Car importers have to pay a “recycling fee” of around 5 percent of a car’s sticker price, local makers do not.

Russia was only admitted to the WTO after Moscow signed up to a series of tariff cuts, lowering import duties on cars from 30 percent to 25 percent.” Slapping on the bogus “recycling fee” is simp0le seen as the old tariff with a green sheen.

Under WTO rules, Russia has 60 days to satisfy EU concerns about the recycling levy, by changing or explaining its policy. After that the EU could ask the WTO to adjudicate, which could force Moscow to change the rules or face trade sanctions.

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Steal Me! I’m An F-250 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/steal-me-im-an-f-250/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/steal-me-im-an-f-250/#comments Tue, 09 Jul 2013 11:59:26 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=494598   Prematurely pronounced dead, trucks are back in favor. They never went out of style with one eclectic clientele: Thieves. “Thieves continue to target large pickups and large SUVs at higher rates than other vehicles,” says the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) that keeps track of these things. “No. 1 on this year’s list, the […]

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Prematurely pronounced dead, trucks are back in favor. They never went out of style with one eclectic clientele: Thieves. “Thieves continue to target large pickups and large SUVs at higher rates than other vehicles,” says the Highway Loss Data Institute (HLDI) that keeps track of these things. “No. 1 on this year’s list, the four-wheel-drive F-250 crew cab, has a claim frequency of 7 per 1,000 insured vehicle years, or nearly 6 times the average for all vehicles.”

The Ford F-250 has replaced the Cadillac Escalade, formerly the most loved by crooks. The HLDI cites “new antitheft technology on the Escalade, as well as its waning popularity,” as the two likely reasons.

“General Motors has put a lot of effort into new antitheft technology, so that may help explain the decline in the Escalade’s theft rate,” says HLDI Vice President Matt Moore. “On the other hand, sales of the Escalade have fallen in recent years, so there may be less of a market for stolen Escalades or Escalade parts.”

If you want to find your car where you left it,  get a Toyota Sienna 4WD, or a Jeep Compass. Thieves hate them.

INSURANCE THEFT CLAIMS, 2010-12 PASSENGER VEHICLES
Vehicle size/type Claim feq. Avg. loss pmt per claim Overall theft losses
HIGHEST CLAIM RATES
Ford F-250 crew 4WD very large pickup 7.0 $7,060 $50
Chevrolet Silverado 1500 crew large pickup 6.7 $5,463 $37
Chevrolet Avalanche 1500 very large SUV 6.1 $6,163 $38
GMC Sierra 1500 crew large pickup 6.0 $6,366 $38
Ford F-350 crew 4WD very large pickup 5.6 $7,517 $42
Cadillac Escalade 4WD large luxury SUV 5.5 $6,508 $36
Chevrolet Suburban 1500 very large SUV 5.4 $4,468 $24
GMC Sierra 1500 extended cab large pickup 4.7 $5,908 $28
GMC Yukon large SUV 4.5 $6,276 $28
Chevrolet Tahoe large SUV 4.4 $5,367 $23
LOWEST CLAIM RATES
Dodge Journey 4WD midsize SUV 0.4 $5,016 $2
Volkswagen Tiguan 4WD small SUV 0.4 $10,352 $4
Audi A4 4-door midsize luxury car 0.4 $13,803 $5
Acura RDX midsize luxury SUV 0.4 $8,701 $3
Toyota Matrix small station wagon 0.4 $7,782 $3
Lexus HS 250 hybrid 4-door midsize luxury car 0.4 $2,226 $1
Honda CR-V small SUV 0.4 $4,630 $2
Hyundai Tucson 4WD small SUV 0.4 $4,134 $2
Toyota Sienna 4WD very large minivan 0.5 $13,038 $6
Jeep Compass 4WD small SUV 0.5 $5,527 $3
AVERAGE ALL PASSENGER VEHICLES 1.2 $6,532 $8
Note: Claim frequencies are per 1,000 insured vehicle years; overall
losses are average payments per insured vehicle year.. Source:HLDI

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A Solution To Europe’s Overcapacity: Take Monday Off. Or How About Friday? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/a-solution-to-europes-overcapacity-take-monday-off-or-how-about-friday/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/a-solution-to-europes-overcapacity-take-monday-off-or-how-about-friday/#comments Tue, 09 Jul 2013 09:32:51 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=494592   European SEAT sales showed new signs of life lately, but the vital stats of Volkswagen’s Mediterranean brand still are weak enough for doctors to recommend a lot of rest. SEAT recommends to have workers stay at home an extra day of each week, Reuters writes. According to the wire, SEAT “wants to halt production […]

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European SEAT sales showed new signs of life lately, but the vital stats of Volkswagen’s Mediterranean brand still are weak enough for doctors to recommend a lot of rest. SEAT recommends to have workers stay at home an extra day of each week, Reuters writes.

According to the wire, SEAT “wants to halt production for 16 days on one of its lines, between September and December, affecting 2,800 workers, and stop production for 35 days next year on another line, affecting 3,800 workers.”

Doing the math, that amounts to a four work day week beginning in September, after workers return from extensive and most likely extended holidays. The four work day system would then last through most of next year.

According to the wire, Seat proposed the plan to unions and the regional government in Catalonia and will hold a 15-day consultation period.

The system has a strong tradition in Europe. For 12 years, from 1994 through 2006, Volkswagen Germany worked only on four days of the week. The “Vier-Tage Woche” was invented to get VW through the lean times of the 90’s. The extra vacation went hand-in-hand with a 20 percent pay cut, and this is what Spanish unions probably will hear.

SEAT said that “the measures are aimed at guaranteeing the continuation of all staff at Seat as well as an adequate relationship between production and demand for our products in the market.” This statement also is right out of Volkswagen’s  “Vier-Tage Woche” playbook, which, all in all, worked quite well.

Of course, when business picked up later in the decade at Volkswagen, German unions did not want to give up their three-day vacations every week. Only the threat of jobs emigrating elsewhere finally brought workers back to the line on five days of the week.

What didn’t work out so well was that, in the name of justice, fairness, and equality, white-collar workers also had to observe the 4 day week. This had horrendous effects on efficiency. Workers could choose which day of the work they would not work, they inevitably picked Monday or Friday. This meant that meetings could only be scheduled from Tuesday through Thursday.  Which meant that nothing was done Monday and Friday, because half of the people weren’t at the office. And nothing was done Tuesday through Thursday, because everybody was in meetings.

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Fiat Owns 68.49% Of Chrysler, Will Soon Own More http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/fiat-owns-68-49-of-chrysler-will-soon-own-more/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/fiat-owns-68-49-of-chrysler-will-soon-own-more/#comments Mon, 08 Jul 2013 18:53:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=494579 Fiat bought another 3.3 percent of Chrysler, “bringing it a step nearer to its goal of creating the world’s seventh-largest automaker by sales,” says Reuters. What Fiat really wants is to consolidate loss-making Fiat with profitable Chrysler, and to get “access to some of Chrysler’s cash flow for investments in new models,” the wire says. […]

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Marchionne - Picture courtesy theglobeandmail.com

Fiat bought another 3.3 percent of Chrysler, “bringing it a step nearer to its goal of creating the world’s seventh-largest automaker by sales,” says Reuters. What Fiat really wants is to consolidate loss-making Fiat with profitable Chrysler, and to get “access to some of Chrysler’s cash flow for investments in new models,” the wire says.

With any luck, this time we won’t hear forever “that all they wanted was Chrysler’s cash.” This time, the unions will get a hefty chunk of the cash, and silence is guaranteed once the final price has been agreed.

Fiat was handed 20 percent of a worthless Chrysler in 2009 for free, and has options to increase its stake to 75 percent until July 2014. Fiat can buy 16.6 percent of Chrysler from UAW’s Veba. A court decision on the price Fiat will pay for the shares is still pending, but Fiat said its calculation of the value of the shares is $254.7 million. The UAW probably has a different opinion.

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What’s Bad For Russia Is Bad For GM http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/whats-bad-for-russia-is-bad-for-gm/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/whats-bad-for-russia-is-bad-for-gm/#comments Mon, 08 Jul 2013 15:40:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=494561 Car sales in Russia disappointed a month ago, and they disappoint again: Russian sales of new cars and light commercial vehicles dropped 11 percent in June, says Reuters. For the first half of the year, sales are off 6 percent while Russia caught a whiff of the European contagion. Now, all hopes are on the government […]

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Red menace - Picture courtesy photoshelter.com

Car sales in Russia disappointed a month ago, and they disappoint again: Russian sales of new cars and light commercial vehicles dropped 11 percent in June, says Reuters. For the first half of the year, sales are off 6 percent while Russia caught a whiff of the European contagion. Now, all hopes are on the government and cheap credit.

Russians bought 241,346 cars in June, 31,254 fewer than in the same month last year. So far in 2013, 1.33 million cars and light commercial vehicles have been sold in Russia, down from 1.42 million at the same point last year.  Last month, plans that had called for nearly 3 million cars for 2013 were trimmed down to 2.8 millionPlans for Russia to overtake Germany as Europe’s biggest car market were postponed for another year.

The news isn’t good for GM, which did bet big on an expanding Russian market to lessen the pain in Western Europe. Ford , Renault and Fiat also are invested heavily in Russia.

Now, everybody is waiting for miracles, performed by the government. It is expected to announce plans to subsidize credit-backed vehicle purchases.

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Detroit 3: Bitching About Closed Markets Beats Really Trying http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/detroit-3-bitching-about-closed-markets-beats-really-trying/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/detroit-3-bitching-about-closed-markets-beats-really-trying/#comments Mon, 08 Jul 2013 15:05:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=494555   If you want to sell cars, you need to market them.  Except in Japan, say the Detroit 3. In Japan, it’s easier and cheaper to complain about closed markets and manipulated currencies than to waste money trying to sell cars.  After the jump, you will find a list of automakers that will display their […]

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_MG_2559 co py

Akio Toyoda at the 2011 Tokyo Motor Show

 

If you want to sell cars, you need to market them.  Except in Japan, say the Detroit 3. In Japan, it’s easier and cheaper to complain about closed markets and manipulated currencies than to waste money trying to sell cars.  After the jump, you will find a list of automakers that will display their cars at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show. You probably can imagine who is not on this list.

2013 Tokyo Motor Show
Participants
Passenger Cars
DAIHATSU (Japan)
HONDA (Japan)
LEXUS (Japan)
NISSAN (Japan)
MAZDA (Japan)
MITSUBISHI (Japan)
SUBARU (Japan)
SUZUKI (Japan)
TOYOTA (Japan)
ALPINA (Germany)
AMG (Germany)
AUDI (Germany)
BMW (Germany)
CITROËN (France)
JAGUAR (U.K.)
LAND ROVER (U.K.)
MERCEDES-BENZ (Germany)
MINI (Germany)
PEUGEOT (France)
PORSCHE (Germany)
RADICAL (U.K.)
RENAULT (France)
SMART (Germany)
VOLKSWAGEN (Germany)
VOLVO (Sweden)
Commercial Vehicles
HINO  (Japan)
ISUZU (Japan)
MITSUBISHI-FUSO (Japan)
UD TRUCKS (Japan)
HYUNDAI (Korea)
VOLVO TRUCK (Sweden)

For the third time in a row, Detroit automakers are not participating in the Tokyo Motor Show, held at Tokyo Big Sight on Tokyo’s Odaiba Island between Nov. 22 and Dec. 1.  Understandably, they did not come during the dark days of 2009. But even when things improved,  they were not back at the biannual show. German companies, such as Volkswagen, BMW, and Mercedes on the other hand will again deliver full court appearances.

As you can see, Tokyo will be a cozy show again, and full attention would be guaranteed, unlike in China, where you are one of a few hundred participants, and the place is so mobbed that people won’t get to your cars. But God forbid, what would happen if Japanese showgoers suddenly detect their love for Detroit iron and buy it? Can’t have that.

The list of the participants reflects genuine interests in  making sales in Japan. Detroit is not interested, while maintaining loudly that they would be, if only those nasty Japanese would let them.

The Los Angeles Auto Show is exactly on the same days of the Tokyo bash, from  Nov. 22 to Dec. 1. It’s one of those coincidences.

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Überholprestige: BMW Makes Audi And Mercedes Eat Dust http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/uberholprestige-bmw-makes-audi-and-mercedes-eat-dust/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/uberholprestige-bmw-makes-audi-and-mercedes-eat-dust/#comments Mon, 08 Jul 2013 13:25:28 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=494540 Members of the media are still speculating why Audi’s R&D chief Wolfgang Dürheimer was sacked and replaced by Volkswagen’s engineering rock star Urlich Hackenberg. Today, the market delivered the reason:  With BMW in the passing lane in China and America, global sales of the roundel brand keep rising faster than those of Audi and Mercedes. […]

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Members of the media are still speculating why Audi’s R&D chief Wolfgang Dürheimer was sacked and replaced by Volkswagen’s engineering rock star Urlich Hackenberg. Today, the market delivered the reason:  With BMW in the passing lane in China and America, global sales of the roundel brand keep rising faster than those of Audi and Mercedes.

Sales at BMW’s core brand were up 9.4 percent in June to 153,000 units, while sales at Mercedes rose 8.3 percent and Audi slowed down to 5.5 percent r growth, Reuters says.

For the half year of 2013, global sales of BMW are up 7.7 percent to 804,000 units, with Audi up 6.4 percent to 780,500 units , and Mercedes also up and 6.4 percent to 694,000 autos.

Envied by other European carmakers Germany’s three leading premium manufacturers are maintaining production in July and August to meet soaring export demand, while the rest of Europe is going on – often extended – summer vacations.

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Strike At DHL Could Cripple JLR http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/strike-at-dhl-could-cripple-jlr/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/strike-at-dhl-could-cripple-jlr/#comments Mon, 08 Jul 2013 12:52:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=494535 Ah, the wondrous web of global automaking: Drivers and sorters at DHL are going on strike, and this threatens to cripple production at Jaguar Land Rover in the UK. JLR  has outsourced a good deal of its logistics to Deutsche Post–owned  DHL. DHL employees serving JLR’s plants at Castle Bromwich and Solihull voted for a […]

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Ah, the wondrous web of global automaking: Drivers and sorters at DHL are going on strike, and this threatens to cripple production at Jaguar Land Rover in the UK. JLR  has outsourced a good deal of its logistics to Deutsche Post–owned  DHL. DHL employees serving JLR’s plants at Castle Bromwich and Solihull voted for a strike after they did not receive terms and conditions extended to regular JLR staff.

JLR and DHL ware working on contingency plans to keep production going. “A source close to JLR played down fears that production could stop altogether and that the carmaker was studying “a range of options” to ensure parts continued to reach the production line,” Reuters says.

DHL workers at JLR’s Halewood factory in North West England that makes the Land Rover Evoque, are due to vote today. Workers at other logistics firms serving JLR may join the strike.

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Renault About To Get Going In China http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/renault-about-to-get-going-in-china/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/renault-about-to-get-going-in-china/#comments Mon, 08 Jul 2013 12:32:14 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=494530   Renault hopes to get going on its foray into China, and to sign a joint venture agreement with Dongfeng, Reuters says. “We are waiting for an official invitation from the Chinese industry ministry,” Reuters heard from an insider. Rumors of an impending JV kept Chinese media guessing and speculating for years. Total investment is […]

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Renault China

Renault hopes to get going on its foray into China, and to sign a joint venture agreement with Dongfeng, Reuters says. “We are waiting for an official invitation from the Chinese industry ministry,” Reuters heard from an insider. Rumors of an impending JV kept Chinese media guessing and speculating for years.

Total investment is said to be close to 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion). Renault and Dongfeng are well acquainted: Alliance partner Nissan has a joint venture with Dongfeng, and is China’s largest Japanese brand. The island issue put a damper on sales of Japanese-branded cars in China, which makes a diversification into European brands extra pertinent.

According to the report, the Renault-Dongfeng JV will start with an annual capacity of 150,000 units, and will begin producing SUVs and minivans in 2014.

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Savings At All Costs: Software Change At BMW Causes Parts Mayhem http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/savings-at-all-costs-software-change-at-bmw-causes-parts-mayhem/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/savings-at-all-costs-software-change-at-bmw-causes-parts-mayhem/#comments Sun, 07 Jul 2013 17:29:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=494469 1,200 BMWs are sitting at German dealers and cannot be repaired.  The reason: Missing parts. After a software change in BMW’s German parts distribution system, supply with needed parts has become sporadic and unpredictable, Automobilwoche [sub] says. BMW works council chief Manfred Schoch blames cost cuts by BMW’s management: “There were other solutions, but they […]

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electronic-parts-catalogue

1,200 BMWs are sitting at German dealers and cannot be repaired.  The reason: Missing parts. After a software change in BMW’s German parts distribution system, supply with needed parts has become sporadic and unpredictable, Automobilwoche [sub] says. BMW works council chief Manfred Schoch blames cost cuts by BMW’s management:

“There were other solutions, but they wanted to save money. Now it will be getting three times as expensive.”

BMW has started to provide customers with replacement cars. Even that cause problems. “If people want to go on vacation in a Touring, and they are given a sedan, they won’t be happy,” a dealer told Automobilwoche.

A BMW spokesman confirmed the backlog to Reuters, but said the situation is improving.

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Imports To Japan Strong, Despite Claims By Detroit That The Market Is Closed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/imports-to-japan-strong-despite-claims-by-detroit-that-the-market-is-closed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/imports-to-japan-strong-despite-claims-by-detroit-that-the-market-is-closed/#comments Sun, 07 Jul 2013 16:21:38 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=494463   And here, by popular demand, the sales of cars imported to Japan in June, and for the first half year of 2013, as published by the Japan Automobile Importers Association.  For those with open eyes and mind, a few items quickly become clear: Imports to Japan, June 2013 June 2013 vml]>vml]>   January – […]

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Ford Setagaya Dori

 

And here, by popular demand, the sales of cars imported to Japan in June, and for the first half year of 2013, as published by the Japan Automobile Importers Association.  For those with open eyes and mind, a few items quickly become clear:

Imports to Japan, June 2013
June 2013 vml]>vml]>

  January – June 2013
2013 Share 2012 Growth 2013 Share 2012 Growth
Volkswagen Grp 10,075 29.1% 8,573 17.5% 49,660 29.1% 43,103 15.2%
Volkswagen 6,662 19.2% 5,751 15.8% 32,842 19.2% 28,897 13.7%
Audi 2,930 8.5% 2,403 21.9% 14,356 8.4% 11,974 19.9%
Bentley 16 0.0% 19 -15.8% 93 0.1% 79 17.7%
Lamborghini 15 0.0% 19 -21.1% 96 0.1% 78 23.1%
Bugatti 1 0.0% 0 1 0.0% 2 -50.0%
Porsche 451 1.3% 381 18.4% 2,272 1.3% 2,073 9.6%
BMW Grp 6,605 19.1% 6,231 6.0% 29,329 17.2% 27,606 6.2%
BMW 4,867 14.1% 4,681 4.0% 20,887 12.23% 19,284 8.3%
BMW MINI 1,724 5.0% 1,532 12.5% 8,298 4.86% 8,242 0.7%
BMW Alpina 4 0.0% 12 -66.7% 96 0.06% 40 140.0%
Rolls Royce 10 0.0% 6 66.7% 48 0.03% 40 20.0%
Daimler 5,943 17.2% 4,672 27.2% 25,007 14.6% 20,289 23.3%
Mercedes-Benz 5,735 16.6% 4,384 30.8% 24,339 0.14 19,669 23.7%
smart 208 0.6% 287 -27.5% 662 0.00 609 8.7%
Maybach 0 0.0% 1 -100.0% 4 0.00 6 -33.3%
Unimog 0 0.0% 0 2 0.00 5 -60.0%
Nissan 3,235 9.3% 3,550 -8.9% 20,194 11.8% 23,264 -13.2%
Fiat-Chrysler 2,343 6.8% 2,110 11.0% 9,363 5.5% 9,125 2.6%
Fiat 897 2.6% 644 39.3% 3,340 0.02 2,823 18.3%
Jeep 518 1.5% 595 -12.9% 2,246 0.01 2,461 -8.7%
Chrysler 399 1.2% 57 600.0% 1,194 0.01 334 257.5%
Alfa Romeo 385 1.1% 663 -41.9% 1,653 0.01 2,447 -32.4%
Dodge 59 0.2% 84 -29.8% 430 0.00 607 -29.2%
Ferrari 59 0.2% 42 40.5% 291 0.00 234 24.4%
Maserati 24 0.1% 19 26.3% 163 0.00 148 10.1%
Lancia 2 0.0% 6 -66.7% 46 0.00 71 -35.2%
Toyota 1,454 4.2% 1,466 -0.8% 8,477 5.0% 8,475 0.0%
Volvo 1,888 5.5% 1,624 16.3% 7,398 4.3% 6,681 10.7%
Mitsubishi 846 2.4% 0 7,841 4.6% 2 391950.0%
PSA Group 808 2.3% 940 -14.0% 4,416 2.6% 4,988 -11.5%
Peugeot 590 1.7% 627 -5.9% 2,983 0.02 3,080 -3.1%
Citroen 218 0.6% 313 -30.4% 1,433 0.01 1,908 -24.9%
JLR Group 445 1.3% 225 97.8% 2,291 1.3% 1,267 80.8%
Jaguar 101 0.3% 108 -6.5% 499 0.00 537 -7.1%
Land Rover 344 1.0% 117 194.0% 1,792 0.01 730 145.5%
Ford 335 1.0% 309 8.4% 2,146 1.3% 1,858 15.5%
General Motors 269 0.8% 301 -10.6% 1,580 0.9% 1,577 0.2%
Cadillac 119 0.3% 125 -4.8% 772 0.00 665 16.1%
Chevrolet 127 0.4% 151 -15.9% 692 0.00 734 -5.7%
Hummer 12 0.0% 15 -20.0% 58 0.00 116 -50.0%
GMC 10 0.0% 8 25.0% 46 0.00 54 -14.8%
Pontiac 1 0.0% 1 0.0% 7 0.00 7 0.0%
Buick 0 0.0% 5 0.00
Saturn 0.0% 1 -100.0% 0.00 1 -100.0%
Renault 201 0.6% 353 -43.1% 1,606 0.9% 1,525 5.3%
Suzuki 101 0.3% 3 3266.7% 930 0.5% 413 125.2%
Lotus 27 0.1% 16 68.8% 168 0.1% 134 25.4%
Aston Martin 25 0.1% 12 108.3% 118 0.1% 65 81.5%
Mclaren 6 0.0% 0 43 0.0% 1 4200.0%
Honda 6 0.0% 10 -40.0% 39 0.0% 153 -74.5%
Hyundai 5 0.0% 6 -16.7% 27 0.0% 43 -37.2%
Rover 3 0.0% 4 -25.0% 22 0.0% 34 -35.3%
Morgan 2 0.0% 0 18 0.0% 5 260.0%
MG 0 0.0% 0 5 0.0% 5 0.0%
Scania 0 0.0% 5 0.0%
Saab 1 0.0% 6 -83.3% 3 0.0% 14 -78.6%
Autobianchi 1 0.0% 0 2 0.0% 1 100.0%
Kia 0 0.0% 1 -100.0% 2 0.0% 1 100.0%
PROTON 0 0.0% 1 0.0%
Detomaso 0.0% 0 0.0% 1 -100.0%
RUF 0.0% 0 0.0% 1 -100.0%
Ssangyong 0.0% 0 0.0% 2 -100.0%
Zagato 0.0% 0 0.0% 1 -100.0%
Others 7 0.0% 5 40.0% 37 0.0% 34 8.8%
Total  34,631 100.00 30,417 13.9% 170,728 100.00 150,668 13.3%
Source: Japan Automobile Importers Association
  • Complaints of a closed market are nonsense. Quite evidently, car imports to Japan are alive and well.
  • Imported cars are the best performing segment in Japan. Imports were up 13.9 percent in June, while the total market was down 10.8 percent, and while even sales of the vaunted kei cars were down 2.3 percent.
  • The Volkswagen Group continues to be Japan’s largest importer. Three out of ten cars imported to Japan come from the Wolfsburg-based company.
  • Compared to the cars imported by European makers, imports by Ford and GM are anemic. Ford and GM are the loudest complainers about closed markets and onerous technical standards. At the same time, they omit that most of their cars come in under Japan’s Preferential Handling Procedure. It allows small series of up to 2,000 units into the country with the barest of paperwork.
  • The Preferential Handling Procedure opens the door to imports which would never make it beyond U.S. borders. America does not have this procedure. Europe does. Japan’s borders are even open for a handful of Hummers, Pontiacs, and the odd Saturn. Try bringing a non-federalized  car to the U.S., and you will experience a boarded-up market.

The numbers also help to debunk a few rumors. Commenter BD2 said that “roughly half the imports are actually Japanese models” built elsewhere and imported into Japan. And that for the other half, “the vast majority are German luxury autos.” Bunk.

  • Japanese makers had 21 percent of all imports in the first six months of the year. For them, it was cheaper to produce elsewhere and to import, while being exposed to the same importation rules and zero percent tariffs as foreign makers.
  • Japan’s best-selling imports are small compact cars made by Volkswagen, the Golf, the Polo, and lately the Volkswagen Up!

While growing, the market for imported cars remains limited in Japan.  Four out of ten cars sold in Japan are 0.6 liter minivehicles. Importers have no offer in the kei car segment. To drive an imported car is a display of individualism in Japan. Individualism is not big in Japan, a country where people want to blend in, not stand out.  A low share of imported cars is no proof of a closed market. It simply is a reflection of customer preferences.

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A Game Of Chicken Tax: Detroit Drops Pretenses, Wants To Keep Japan Out For As Long As Possible http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/a-game-of-chicken-tax-detroit-drops-pretenses-wants-to-keep-japan-out-for-as-long-as-possible/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/a-game-of-chicken-tax-detroit-drops-pretenses-wants-to-keep-japan-out-for-as-long-as-possible/#comments Sun, 07 Jul 2013 12:47:11 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=494450 Detroit is finally dropping the mask and says what it really wants in U.S. / Japanese trade relations. It wants to keep existing barriers that frustrate importation of Japanese cars, and that, for all intents and purposes, prevent importation of  Japanese trucks. For the next generation, Detroit wants to be in your pocket without outside […]

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Detroit is finally dropping the mask and says what it really wants in U.S. / Japanese trade relations. It wants to keep existing barriers that frustrate importation of Japanese cars, and that, for all intents and purposes, prevent importation of  Japanese trucks. For the next generation, Detroit wants to be in your pocket without outside interference.

Japan is formally joining negotiations on the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) agreement next month in Malaysia. Despite, or possibly because of shrill rhetoric based on lies and deception, Detroit could not prevent it.

Last week, a U.S. government panel led by the Trade Representative’s Office held a hearing to get advice on negotiating objectives for Japan.

“Now that Japan is part of the negotiations,” wrote Reuters,  the American Automotive Policy Council, a lobbying group representing GM, Ford, and Chrysler, “is trying to hold on to the current 2.5 percent tariff on Japanese cars and the 25 percent tariff on Japanese trucks for as long as it can.”  The unions joined the pleas to keep trade barriers against Japanese imports in place. “Thea Lee, deputy chief of staff for the AFL-CIO labor federation, said eliminating the 2.5 percent duty on Japanese cars would gut the Detroit automakers’ profit margins, especially for small- to medium-sized cars.” Reuters says. “Getting rid of the 25 percent truck tariff would eliminate the incentive for Japanese companies to build trucks in the United States, putting U.S. jobs at risk.”

According to Reuters, “Japan already agreed in principle that the phase-out period for U.S. auto tariffs would be the same as the longest phase-out for any other product in the pact.” The longest phase-out would be the pact with for South Korea, which eliminates the 2.5 percent U.S. car tariff after four years and the 25 percent U.S. truck tariff after 10 years.

Detroit and the unions finally drop the charade that all they are interested in is an opening of the allegedly closed Japanese car market, which has been wide open.  The 25 percent chicken tax, along with skewed CAFE rules created a protected market for overpriced trucks that are safe from foreign competition. Detroit wants it to be protected for as long as possible, and the price to be paid by the American truck buyer.

In its representations to the panel, the AAPC still reiterated that Japan “maintains the most closed auto market in the developed world,”  but nobody except Detroit and the unions believe the tired lies anymore. Hard pressed to name the non-tariff barriers it blamed for the low sales of American cars, the AAPC lamely demands that Japan adopts more UNECE rules, while the U.S. does not adopt any.

In contrast, the Japanese Auto Manufacturer Association JAMA delivered short and very polite comments:

“At times during the Japan TPP debate in the U.S., misunderstandings have led to statements that Japan’s market is closed to imports.  In fact, Japan has zero auto tariffs and no restrictive customs or regulations only apply to imported vehicles.  With regard to dealerships, there is no restriction on the brands or vehicles dealers in Japan can sell and Japanese automakers cannot intervene in these dealer decisions.

In the case of the Japanese market, it is essential to note that Japanese consumers overwhelmingly prefer very small cars, which U.S.-based automakers rarely provide.  In 2012, smaller passenger cars, those with up to 2,000cc in engine capacity, had a 90 percent market share in Japan.  However, the U.S.-based automakers offered only five models in this segment while European automakers offered 87 models.  Accordingly, European car sales and market shares have been rising.  These realities confirm that a critical factor to success in any auto market is to offer sufficient choices of models that appeal to local consumers.”

 

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Ghosn Sees No European Turn-Around Anytime Soon, Or Later http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/ghosn-sees-no-european-turn-around-anytime-soon-or-later/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/ghosn-sees-no-european-turn-around-anytime-soon-or-later/#comments Sun, 07 Jul 2013 11:03:57 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=494447 Nissan and Renault co-CEO Carlos Ghosn still sees a future in the electric car, it’s the European market that doesn’t have great prospects of a turn-around as far as Ghosn is concerned. Ghosn does “not expect any strong recovery in the troubled European auto sector in the medium term,” Reuters reports from France. “I am […]

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Nissan and Renault co-CEO Carlos Ghosn still sees a future in the electric car, it’s the European market that doesn’t have great prospects of a turn-around as far as Ghosn is concerned.

Ghosn does “not expect any strong recovery in the troubled European auto sector in the medium term,” Reuters reports from France. “I am preparing Renault to several years of market stability, at best,” Ghosn said. That’s stability at low levels not seen for 20 years, mind you.

While some cling to hopes for a quick turn-around (hello, Opel), Ghosn repeatedly warned of a “structural decline” of the European car market.  Simple population studies show that there will be fewer and fewer new car buyers in Europe for many decades, with no relief in sight.

Ghosn’s faith in electric car sales however remains unbroken. Between the two of them, Renault and Nissan will have sold a total of 100,000 electric vehicles so far by the end of June, Ghosn told Reuters. Ghosn said the alliance’s investment in hybrid and electric vehicles “is not a bet, it is a certainty.” Other than Europe, EV sales can only go up.

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Opel’s Branding Yo-yo: Down, Up, Down, Down, Up http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/opels-branding-yo-yo-down-up-down-down-up/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/opels-branding-yo-yo-down-up-down-down-up/#comments Fri, 05 Jul 2013 17:56:07 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=494361 GM wants to move Opel upmarket (again,) to allow more breathing space for Chevrolet in Europe, Reuters reports. Frustrated Opel dealers say GM needs to declare what it wants, and stick with it for a change. “We need to rebuild the Opel brand,” Chevrolet Chief Alan Batey told Reuters. “As we do that, that gives […]

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Yoyo - Picture courtesy Twiier.com

GM wants to move Opel upmarket (again,) to allow more breathing space for Chevrolet in Europe, Reuters reports. Frustrated Opel dealers say GM needs to declare what it wants, and stick with it for a change.

“We need to rebuild the Opel brand,” Chevrolet Chief Alan Batey told Reuters. “As we do that, that gives us the opportunity to move Opel and Vauxhall up a little bit, which creates potentially a value opportunity for Chevy. We try and make sure we have as little overlap as possible.”

Chevrolet failed to carve out a meaningful market share in Europe, and recently lost a lot of the little it had gained. January through May, Chevrolet’s European sales were down 31.5 percent. Opel’s EU sales were down 6.4 percent in the same period. Sales of Chevrolet and Opel are not down due to cannibalization. They are down in a murderous European market, where established brands fight for survival, and where new brands are trampled in the wild stampede.

Moving a brand up-market is an arduous exercise. It takes iron discipline, a lot of time, and even more money. Opel has none of them. 40 years ago, Audi’s image was worse than that of Opel – but GM can’t wait 40 years to take Opel around. The direction of Opel’s branding usually changes with the CEO, and CEOs change around once a year at Op0el, recently more often than that.

In 2010, Nick Riley, Opel’s CEO at the time, wanted to move Opel upmarket. Reilly’s successor, Karl-Friedrich Stracke, said Opel moved the brand up market too fast and lost some of its more cost-conscious customers. Short term interim-chief Steve Girsky wanted to go up again: “Think of a Volkswagen-Skoda kind of thing. Opel will be higher-priced, more features and Chevy will be lower-priced,” he told Reuters.

The only sensible voices in this directionless drama are the Opel dealers. Says Reuters: “Opel dealers have voiced frustration with the brand’s market positioning, saying GM needs to clearly define whether or not it is a more premium brand. Some have suggested GM should orient Opel to compete with VW’s Skoda.”

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Killer Coolant Wars: France Blocks Mercedes Registrations http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/killer-coolant-wars-france-blocks-mercedes-registrations/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/killer-coolant-wars-france-blocks-mercedes-registrations/#comments Fri, 05 Jul 2013 17:05:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=494347 The fight over the flammable refrigerant takes a new twist. France refused to register Mercedes A-Class, B-Class and SL cars assembled since June 12, even though German authorities have approved them, a Daimler spokesman told Reuters. Under the EU Whole Vehicle Type Approval system, cars approved in one EU country are supposed to be automatically […]

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The fight over the flammable refrigerant takes a new twist. France refused to register Mercedes A-Class, B-Class and SL cars assembled since June 12, even though German authorities have approved them, a Daimler spokesman told Reuters.

Under the EU Whole Vehicle Type Approval system, cars approved in one EU country are supposed to be automatically legal in all.

An EU official told the wire that France blocked the registration because the cars contained a coolant that was not permitted in the EU. Daimler refused to use the coolant 1234yf, saying that it could result in deadly fires. Often dubbed the “killer coolant,” 1234yf is the only air conditioning coolant on the market that conforms to a new European Union directive on greenhouse gases.

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Overgrown Fiat 500 Launched http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/overgrown-fiat-500-launched/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/overgrown-fiat-500-launched/#comments Fri, 05 Jul 2013 16:20:18 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=494329 Fiat launched a seven-seat version of its Fiat 500, a car that used to be known for its cramped space in the original model. Called the 500L Living (as in Living Room …), the seven seater “is about a meter longer than the classic 500,” writes Reuters. The car gained 20 centimeters on the Fiat […]

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500 L living - Picture courtesy Fiat

Fiat launched a seven-seat version of its Fiat 500, a car that used to be known for its cramped space in the original model. Called the 500L Living (as in Living Room …), the seven seater “is about a meter longer than the classic 500,” writes Reuters.

The car gained 20 centimeters on the Fiat 500L, on which it is based. The MPW is “essentially a stretched version of the 500L,” writes Autoexpress. “That allowed engineers to squeeze in a third row of seats, but don’t expect acres of space back there.”

Other expectations are pretty big: “We expect to sell about 20,000 to 30,000 of them in Europe in the next 12 months,” Gianluca Italia, Fiat brand chief for Europe, Middle East and Africa, told Reuters.

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New From Caterham: A SUV, And A Subcompact http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/new-from-catherham-a-suv-and-a-subcompact/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/new-from-catherham-a-suv-and-a-subcompact/#comments Fri, 05 Jul 2013 15:46:19 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=494306 We may have one of those really rare cases where Formula 1 racing leads to honest, provable new car sales. The UK boutique builder  Caterham “is developing a crossover SUV and a subcompact car with Renault, Chairman Tony Fernandes” told Reuters. The cars should be launched “soon after the first sports cars due in 2016 […]

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Catherham - Picture courtesy racedepartment.com

We may have one of those really rare cases where Formula 1 racing leads to honest, provable new car sales. The UK boutique builder  Caterham “is developing a crossover SUV and a subcompact car with Renault, Chairman Tony Fernandes” told Reuters. The cars should be launched “soon after the first sports cars due in 2016 under the Caterham and Renault Alpine brands,” the wire says.

AirAsia founder Fernandes bought Caterham in 2011. The F1 team by the same name uses Renault engines. Renault also supplies engines to Red Bull and Toro Rosso. Its alliance partner Infiniti is Red Bull’s title sponsor.

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PSA On The Death-Bed: Worth More Dead, Or Cut Up Into Parts? http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/psa-on-the-death-bed-worth-more-dead-or-cut-up-in-parts/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/psa-on-the-death-bed-worth-more-dead-or-cut-up-in-parts/#comments Fri, 05 Jul 2013 15:16:44 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=494285 Imagine (sorry) you are on your death-bed, surrounded by your friends and families, who are divided in two camps. One group bets big on how soon you will die. The other group calculates how much your body-parts will bring after you are cut up. Now you know how PSA poor Peugeot Citroen must feel. According […]

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Death bed - Picture courtesy CNN.com

Imagine (sorry) you are on your death-bed, surrounded by your friends and families, who are divided in two camps. One group bets big on how soon you will die. The other group calculates how much your body-parts will bring after you are cut up. Now you know how PSA poor Peugeot Citroen must feel.

According to Reuters, the battered PSA stock jumped 8 percent yesterday after Goldman Sachs said the company is worth more than the €6.7 a share, if one would “focus on a SOTP (sum of the parts) valuation.” Usually, the whole is supposed more than the sum of the parts, but in the perverted world of financial double-speak, SOTP valuation means the parts could be worth more than the sum. That seems to be the case here. The market is betting that Peugeot is being broken up and sold by the piece.

Until yesterday, the market was betting big that PSA would croak.  Says Reuters: “Hedge funds have been betting on falls in Peugeot’s shares, making it one of the biggest short-selling targets in Europe in the past year. According to data from Markit, 10.2 percent of Peugeot shares outstanding are out on loan.”

So what would you be saying if you overhear the discussions of the two camps by your sickbed? I know what I would say: “Nurse, crank up the Morphine.”

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GM Takes On Toyota With No-Frills Spin http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/gm-takes-on-toyota-with-no-frills-spin/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/gm-takes-on-toyota-with-no-frills-spin/#comments Fri, 05 Jul 2013 13:42:59 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=494281 As far as emerging markets go, Indonesia is one of the hottest. “The country of 240 million people bought one million cars last year, and sales by some estimates are expected to double over the next three years,” says Reuters. The only trouble: Most of the cars are and will be Toyotas. GM wants to […]

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Chevrolet Spin - Picture courtesy indianautosblog.com

As far as emerging markets go, Indonesia is one of the hottest. “The country of 240 million people bought one million cars last year, and sales by some estimates are expected to double over the next three years,” says Reuters. The only trouble: Most of the cars are and will be Toyotas. GM wants to do something about it with a no-frill people mover designed in Brazil.

Priced at 139.7 million rupiah ($14,360), the Chevrolet Spin hit showrooms in Indonesia in early May, and was an instant success. “In June, GM sold 1,294 Spin vans, powering the company to sell a total of 1,761 cars that month. While still small, the volume was respectable compared to the company’s annual volume of 5,277 cars last year,” says Reuters. “But GM is still miles behind its Japanese rivals.”

“We started in Indonesia in 1938. We have been so successful, we have seven-tenths of a point of market share in 75 years. Are you kidding me?” Tim Lee, head of GM’s international operations, told Reuters. “That is not constancy of purpose.”

Japanese automakers have more than 90 percent of the 1.1 million unit market that is expected to grow another 10 percent this year. More than half of the cars are made by Toyota companies. Toshiyuki Shiga, COO of Nissan, calls Indonesia the “Toyota Republic.”

GM’s Spin is assembled in a reopened plant that GM had shuttered in 2005. Even at full capacity of 40,000 Spins, it would make only a small dent into the market.

Developed by GM’s Brazil engineering center on a Gamma platform, the seven seater, three row people mover is powered by a 1.8 liter EconoFlex engine, and it is targeted at emerging markets. GM started shipping some of its Indonesia-made Spin cars to Thailand this month and expects to start exporting them to the Philippines next month.

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Neumann: Bringing Opel To China “Utter Nonsense” – Badged As Buick Better http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/neumann-bringing-opel-to-china-utter-nonsense-badged-as-buick-better/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/neumann-bringing-opel-to-china-utter-nonsense-badged-as-buick-better/#comments Fri, 05 Jul 2013 11:53:17 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=494277 GM’s ailing Opel hopes to enter the American and Chinese markets, and through that for a speedier recuperation. It wants to do that under cover: Made in Europe Opels, sold abroad as Buicks. This according to a report in Opel’s hometown paper Mainzer Allgemeine Zeitung. For Opel to look for salvation in China would be […]

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IMG_9800

GM’s ailing Opel hopes to enter the American and Chinese markets, and through that for a speedier recuperation. It wants to do that under cover: Made in Europe Opels, sold abroad as Buicks. This according to a report in Opel’s hometown paper Mainzer Allgemeine Zeitung.

For Opel to look for salvation in China would be “utter nonsense,” Opel’s CEO Karl-Thomas Neumann told the paper. He knows that an entry in to the Chinese market is costly and risky. It would be less so with an established brand. Therefore, Opel’s management is looking into “exporting more cars to China and the U.S.A., where they would be sold under the Buick brand through Buick distribution channels – if the decision is positive,” Neumann said.

Neumann has plenty China experience from his former job as Volkswagen’s China chief. Whether Buick managers in the U.S. and China will be happy about the idea is a different question. Imported cars carry a 25 percent tariff in China, which makes them a hard sell unless they are in the high luxury segments – where some cars can’t be expensive enough for Chinese tastes.

The European car market is going through a brutal downturn, which is only survivable with strong exports and successful engagements in growth markets: Opel, PSA, and Fiat suffer while Volkswagen, BMW, Daimler thrive. Opel has for long been kept out of most of these markets, whereas Opel platforms underpin many cars sold there by GM.

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Prius Sales To Fall Short Of Expectations http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/prius-sales-to-fall-short-of-expectations/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/prius-sales-to-fall-short-of-expectations/#comments Wed, 03 Jul 2013 14:03:52 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=494063 Talk about timing: On the day Toyota announced that cumulative sales of the Prius passed the 3 million mark, Reuters says Toyota may fall short of its goal to sell 250,000 of the Prius in the U.S. this year. “The 240,000 to 250,000 range is kind of where we’re settling our sights for the Prius […]

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Picture courtesy motorafondo.net

Talk about timing: On the day Toyota announced that cumulative sales of the Prius passed the 3 million mark, Reuters says Toyota may fall short of its goal to sell 250,000 of the Prius in the U.S. this year.

“The 240,000 to 250,000 range is kind of where we’re settling our sights for the Prius family,” Toyota’s U.S. sales chief Bill Fay told the wire.

U.S. sales of all Prius models fell 5.1 percent during the first six months of 2013, while Toyota’s overall U.S. sales rose 6 percent. The Prius usually gets a lift from rising gasoline prices. The reverse is also true.

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Meet The Most American Sedan: The Toyota Avalon http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/meet-the-most-american-sedan-the-toyota-avalon/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/meet-the-most-american-sedan-the-toyota-avalon/#comments Wed, 03 Jul 2013 13:39:50 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=494060 Very few car buying decisions are guided by patriotic motivations. And the few there are, are rarely supported by hard data. Which spares us embarrassing moments. “Many of the ‘most American’ cars on dealership lots today are made by Japanese automakers,” says Edmunds. ”The most American sedan, for example, is Toyota Avalon, and the most […]

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Topyota Avalon - Picture courtesy Toyota

Red Avalon – now with extra white and blue

Very few car buying decisions are guided by patriotic motivations. And the few there are, are rarely supported by hard data. Which spares us embarrassing moments. “Many of the ‘most American’ cars on dealership lots today are made by Japanese automakers,” says Edmunds. ”The most American sedan, for example, is Toyota Avalon, and the most American hatchback is Honda Crosstour.”

Most American Vehicles
Category Vehicle Local Content*
Sedans Toyota Avalon 80%
SUV/Crossovers Ford Expedition 80%
Minivans Dodge Grand Caravan 80%
Hatchbacks Honda Crosstour 75%
Trucks Ford F-150, Toyota Tundra 75%
Convertibles Chrysler 200 74%
Coupes Chevrolet Camaro 71%
Wagons Cadillac CTS Wagon, Toyota Venza 65%
* Percentage of U.S./Canadian content based on information reported by carmakers to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) under the American Automobile Labeling Act (AALA).

This is a list of the “most American cars” by segment, using – your tax dollars at work – the definition set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and that of the American Automobile Labeling Act. Under which, by the way, a car would be pure American if it is built from 100% Canadian parts.

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