Everybody is talking about how much the Euro is losing against the dollar. At closer look, it is not alarming. Even during normal times I have seen lower Euro rates than the current $1.27. But wait until you look at the Euro from a Japanese perspective. (Like the one I have at the moment, sitting in a pittoresk cabin half way up Mount Fuji that could use better heat.) The anemic euro might discourage people like me from coming to Japan. What it really does is discourage Japanese automakers from exporting to Europe. A lot has been said about the strength of the Yen against the dollar. It’s nothing compared to the Euro. Against the Euro, the yen turned into Godzilla. This has Japanese automakers extremely worried. They don’t really know what to do about it. (Read More…)
Everybody has heard that Europe and the Euro are in trouble. So why does it take so long to save it? We’ll let you in on a little known secret. First, let’s go to Slovakia. The eurozone’s second poorest member quietly turned into an automotive powerhouse. Ever hear much of the Slovakian auto industry? You won’t. Global automakers such as Volkswagen, Peugeot, Kia have discreetly set up car plants in Slovakia. Parts makers followed. Wages are low – 780 euros a month on the average. Without anyone looking, Slovakia turned into the world’s top auto maker per capita. They want to keep it that way. And that’s why they don’t want to help Greece. (Read More…)
Bloomberg reports that Fiat is considering moving production of planned Alfa/Jeep-branded compact CUVs from its Italian Mirafiori plant to the US, as a rising Euro forces tough production choices. Production of some 280,000 units per year were planned to start at Mirafiori in late 2012, but Fiat may now build an as-yet unannounced subcompact there instead. According to Bloomberg’s reporting, Fiat/Chrysler CEO Sergio
Marchionne, while confirming his commitment to invest at the Turin facility, told Piedmont Region President Roberto Cota Aug. 29 that he may change the production plans for the plant.
“Fiat is evaluating which model it will build at Mirafiori,” Cota said after meeting the CEO.
Driving the Renault Mégane R26.R on the snow-covered L-10–a public road-cum-rally track near the famous Nürburgring–is an unforgettable affair. And not simply because summer tires and slush don’t mix. This particular Mégane is a stunning piece of machinery in any condition: no Stateside machine comes even remotely close. And unlike most European unobtainium, it’s no sculpted, Teutonic monument to cash-flow either. It’s French. Cheap gas, Japanese quality and the Detroit-centric Eisenhower Interstate System have given Americans no reasons to contemplate, let alone lust after, French cars in the modern era, but not having this Ferrari-killing hatchback on crack is a bummer. The Mégane R26.R is so wrong it’s gotta be right.
The vocabulary used to classify hybrid drivetrains has been lagging considerably behind new developments, as Wikipedia’s article on the matter proves. The old parallel, serial, mild and plug-in hybrid categories do little to illuminate public understanding of the underlying technology, and much to confuse it. Enter the BYD Dual-Mode, VW “Twindrive” and, now, the AVL “Turbohybrid”. With cooperation from BMW, Bosch and LuK, AVL has developed a mild-ish hybrid drivetrain. The consortium claims it’s cheaper and more fun to drive than a “full hybrid” while offering nearly the same efficiency. Care to deep dive?