Hong Kong, and I speak from experience, is a great place to incorporate, to save taxes, and to throw a cloak of secrecy over financial operations which otherwise would be out in the open. In the case of GM, it is also a great place to save their Korean behinds. In December 2009, GM sold a 1% stake in its Shanghai-GM (SGM) joint venture to the Hong Kong part of its Chinese partner SAIC for the paltry sum of $85m. GM also put its India business into a Hong Kong based joint venture (HKJV). GM provided the India business, SAIC provided cash. As it turned out later, unearthed in Ed Niedermeyer’s seminal oeuvre about the mystery golden share, SAIC also underwrote a $400 million loan. In its darkest hour at the end of 2009, GM was kept afloat by the Chinese. Now, history seems to repeat itself in some convoluted way. (Read More…)
If you’re shopping for a compact American crossover, Chevy’s Equinox is likely on your list. If however you’re looking to rent a small crossover, the Chevrolet Captiva Sport is probably what you’ll get for $29.95 a day from Hertz. While you’re bound to see them on the streets, you can’t buy them new unless you’re a fleet customer. That’s because the Captiva is designed to do two things: keep fleet sales of GM’s other CUVs low and continue to amortize the cost of Americanizing the Opel Antara. Yep, that’s right, under the bow tie, the Captiva Sport is none-other than the 2008-2010 Saturn VUE, aka the Opel Antata, Holden Captiva and Dawewoo Winstorm MaXX. We spent a week in a Hertz rental to find out if Chevy’s rental soft-roader should be on your used CUV shopping list.
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…)
If you have a pulse and a willful ignorance of the local speed limit, you’re probably not interested in the Chevrolet Spark. If you’re a media-savvy hipster who’s on Facebook sixteen hours a day, you’re probably not interested in the Spark, either. If you’re a techno-geek or an eco-geek, you’re probably still not interested in the Chevrolet Spark.
If you need something to get you from point Alpha to point Beta and aren’t willing to pay too much, you might be interested in the Spark. But only after all the alternatives have been removed from your short-list as being too sensible. And even then, a lobotomy might be required to help you make up your mind.
That’s a shame, because the Spark isn’t really that bad.
Having been asked by a certain newspaper to review the new book “American Wheels, Chinese Roads: The Story of General Motors in China [more info on that review coming soon], I’ve been spending my quiet moments over the last week or so looking into GM’s Chinese operations. The book’s author, Michael Dunne, documents GM’s rise in the Middle Kingdom from the perspective of a well-informed outsider, revealing just how delicate one of GM’s best-performing global maneuvers really was. But after following the rise of GM in China, Dunne notes the December 2009 announcement that GM was selling a 1% stake in its Shanghai-GM (SGM) joint venture to its Chinese partner SAIC (for the paltry sum of $85m no less), arguing that GM had made a dangerous leap of necessity. This sale, implies Dunne, could well have been the tipping point that leads to GM being surpassed by its erstwhile junior (in size, technology and global reach) partner, SAIC. And, in the words of “one GM executive who used to work in China,” GM would need
good luck getting that back.
But, back in June, GM CEO Dan Akerson told GM’s shareholder meeting that he wants to do just that, saying
We have an option to buy that 1 percent. It’s our intention to exercise that.
With Akerson’s announcement, the mystery of GM’s “golden share” sale deepened. At first the question was simply “why would GM sell its 1%?” but now there’s another mystery: why would GM want it back? After some digging, it seems that we are now able to resolve the first mystery, and report why GM sold its one percent. But the whole deal is still surrounded by several layers of mystery which conceal whether GM will in fact be able to regain its 50-50 partnership in SGM, why it would want to and whether its gambit was ultimately worthwhile. And given how important China has been (and continues to be) to GM’s global business, this is definitely an issue that GM- and industry-watchers will want to better understand.
GM is pushing its Chevrolet brand as a ”world brand,” reports the Freep. First battlefields for global bowtiefication: Europe and Korea. In Korea, the matter is easy: Last month, they took off the Daewoo badge and put a bowtie on instead. As predicted by TTAC nearly a year ago. There is not much that can go wrong in Korea: Hyundai dominates the market, Dawoo’s and now Chevrolet’s market share treads water in the single digits.
In Europe, any substantial market penetration by Chevrolet is “still a long-term goal,” concedes the Freep. And then, the Detroit paper proceeds to publish completely bogus numbers: (Read More…)
GM doesn’t use [Continuously Variable Transmissions] now. But they could be used on models such as the Chevrolet Spark, Aveo and Cruze in the next three years, said Mike Arcamone, CEO of GM Daewoo Auto & Technology.
Between the years 1988 and 1993, GM decided to use Americans in a mass experiment, in which I found myself an unwitting participant. Seemingly unable to determine on its own whether Korean-made cars would pass muster here, GM just sent boatloads of them over and slapped on the storied Pontiac LeMans name, no less. Then it looked for suckers/participants, both long and short term. Oddly enough, one actually had to pay to play. I ponied up for a week’s worth in the summer of 1990, and put it through the most difficult torture possible to try to kill it, in revenge for having been drafted by Hertz to do GM’s work. I hereby submit my results, in the hopes of getting my money back. Oh wait; that was the old GM. Well, someone’s going to pay to hear my evaluation, twenty years late or not. (Read More…)
GM’s Korean partner GM-Daewoo has an Aveo-based “SUV” in the final stages of design development… and it definitely looks like the 2007 “Chevy Trax” concept, right? Wrong. Of course.
Design chief Taewan Kim insists the design is “still not fixed” for production but the detailed study is finished to the sort of standard designers reach before wheeling in The Boss to sign it off as ready for production and the interior ‘mock-up’ looked all but sorted to give the suppliers the go for first off-tool samples. Looks? Cameras were banned but think ‘I shrunk the Capitiva’ and you get the idea.
Don’t know what a Captiva is? Well, do you remember the Saturn Vue? No? Well, there’s a new one anyway… take a look after the jump.
I was born in 1971 and started actively reading about cars in 1976, subscribing to Car and Driver and absorbing the work of men such as LJK Setright, Gordon Jennings, and Gordon Baxter. Those men were waiting for America to create a truly outstanding small car, one that could meet the Germans (and, later, the Japanese) on equal ground and beat them in a fair fight. More particularly, since General Motors was the acknowledged leader of the American automotive industry, they were waiting for GM to create the Great American Small Car.
Those men are gone now, as dead as Julius Caesar and not nearly as well-remembered. I am standing here, waiting in their stead, waiting patiently for the Great American Small Car, waiting for General Motors to fulfill the promise they’ve made to us for nearly fifty years now.
The 2011 Chevrolet Cruze is a good car, although at least part of its goodness comes from the fact that it isn’t really that small. It’s well-positioned against the Civic and Corolla. I believe that it beats both of those cars in significant, measurable ways. This is what it is: a good car, a bold car, a car for which no purchaser need make an excuse or feel any concern. This is what it might be: great. That’s for the buyer to decide. This is what it is not: American.
If there were a global brand that GM should have killed, it’s probably Daewoo. Outside the South Korean market, the name is so associated with cheap, crummy cars, that GM rebadges nearly all of Daewoo’s exports as Chevrolets. And even then, the “Chevwoo” brand is tainted by the fact that GM refuses to take ownership of its troubled South Korean operations, and enforce a one-badge policy in line with Chevy’s global branding. And it’s not like the Daewoo name is all that beloved in Korea either, as The General recently figured out that as many as 40 percent of all Korean Daewoo buyers were replacing their badges with Chevy bowties supplied by the aftermarket. In fact, GM was threatening to get rid of the Daewoo name altogether and replacing it with Chevrolet. But apparently because of fears of alienating Korean customers and “resistance from labor unions,” GM has decided to introduce the Chevrolet brand to Korea without killing off Daewoo. As GM’s presser puts it:
today’s announcement is about brand coexistence, not brand replacement
The latest Cruze-hyping video from GM shows the forthcoming compact ripping through a test track, as Vehicle Line Director Chuck Russell waxes eloquent about its engineering and reliability. His point is clear: this new Cruze is a truly global product, in contrast to the America-only Cavalier update that was the Cobalt it replaces. And comparing footage of the Cruze ripping through a slalom to that of a Civic negotiating the same obstacles, one is left with the impression that Russell isn’t just blowing smoke. But then, we knew that already. In his review of the European-spec Cruze, TTAC’s Martin Schwoerer notes:
In contrast to the engine, the Cruze’s ride and handling are perfectly acceptable in the grand scheme of things.