After talk of increasing the seperation between Chevrolet and Opel, GM has announced that it will axe the Chevrolet brand in Europe, despite previously aiming to make Chevrolet its low-cost brand, while signing a nine-year, $584 million deal to have the brand sponsor Manchester United football club.
Is the future of motoring in the global marketplace in the good hands of the Golf, Forte and Fiesta? Not if you’re Ford’s vice president of Global Marketing, Jim Farley. In his mind, it’ll be a page from the 1991 Explorer’s successful playbook that will help his employer gain market and mind share the world over.
One bright spot in the struggling European car industry has been Spain. Assembly plants in Spain are increasing production now and gaining more new model builds in the near future. Industry officials say that local manufacturers have to increase their R&D budgets and the Spanish government must improve transportation infrastructure if that country is to keep its position as the #2 car making country in Europe and fend off competition from lower cost producers in eastern Europe.
While unemployment in general in Spain is about 25%, production rose 7% at plant at Martorell, where Volkswagen’s Seat unit has its headquarters. (Read More…)
Saying that he’s frustrated by the “confusing” overlap between Opel and Chevrolet products in Europe as GM tries to grow the latter as a global brand, General Motors CEO Dan Akerson likely is signalling a change in the automaker’s strategies for Chevy and Opel on the continent. ”It is of concern to me,” Akerson told Automotive News. “Something has to change. I just think there’s channel conflict and confusion.” Akerson said that the product overlap reminds him of “retro GM”, when brands like Pontiac and Oldsmobile competed for customers with Chevrolet.
Some time ago, I ranted on these pages about European methods of testing fuel mileage (and thus also CO2 emissions), and the way they give unfair advantage to downsized turbocharged engines, compared to good old N/A units. So it’s quite convenient that for my first TTAC European review, I got a Škoda Rapid, powered by a 1.2 TSI turbocharged four-cylinder – a typical example of downsized powerplant. With the Rapid being a relatively small and light family car, the little four-banger may have an opportunity to really shine, and show us whether downsizing works. Or not.
While new car and light truck October sales were up in France, Spain and Germany, giving hope that the European market has finally bottomed out, Italy’s car market is not showing any signs of recovery with car sales down 5.6% from a year ago. Fiat’s European chief, Alfredo Altavilla, remains pessimistic about that brand’s home market. ”We are not seeing signs of a recovery in Italy, while in other markets we are seeing the glimmer of recovery where the market has touched bottom,” Altavilla said. “The real problem in Italy continues to be lack of consumer spending.” (Read More…)
After taking a sales hit due to tsunami-related production woes, Lexus has been trying to regain their mojo with a new product offensive. Things started out with the new Lexus GS sedan that Jack Baruth and I loved on and off the track, followed by a revised RX. With the redesigned IS, the bulk of their lineup has been overhauled. Initially, I was a little concerned that the Lexus IS sedan would receive nothing more than a new nose and some LED lights for 2014 but the Japanese 3-Series fighter came out swinging when we were invited to the launch event earlier in the year. I came away impressed with the IS 350′s road manners, but most buyers will be shopping for the less powerful IS 250 and it’s taken us this long to get our hands on one.
The all-electric future creeps upon us all steadily, from Tesla’s luxury offerings more appropriate for New York Fashion Week, to Nissan’s electric blue and white jelly beans moving eco-conscious families to Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s.
Speaking of Nissan, the automaker has decided to unleash the e-Nv200 upon the streets of Europe in 2014, with both fleet and private sales in mind.
The Spanish government is extending its own version of “Cash for Clunkers” for the fourth time, as Spain tries to boost sagging car sales in the midst of a severe recession.
In a sign that the European automobile market may finally be recovering, new car registrations in September were up 5.5% from the year before. Sales in the UK and an extra sales day in the month were factors but industry analysts say that things have finally bottomed out in Europe. Year to date sales were still down, -4% to 9.34 million cars, still on track to be the worst year in two decades.
After the longest European recession since the adoption of the euro currency ended with GDP growth in the second quarter of this year, demand has increased but when car sales were down in August, there was concern. With September sales up, industry watchers now think the August decline was just a blip. (Read More…)
With just 143 examples registered in the UK, Aston Martin has quietly dropped the Cygnet city car – based on the Toyota iQ. According to UK mag Autocar, Aston Martin will also not be re-entering this space, and will focus on what it does best: making high end performance cars. Originally conceived as a way to meet strict European emissions rules, the Cygnet failed to meet Aston’s initial sales projections of 4000 units annually.
One of the awful side effects of being really really good looking is that you tend to have lots of kids; and four kids later I find myself driving a VW Touran. It is the sensible-shoes option for the sexually successful in Europe- cheap to buy, cheap to run. Drinking in the TTAC cool aid, on a recent trip to the USA I booked a Lincoln Town Car for the six of us from Hertz, and ended up in a Dodge Durango; after which I have found a bit of red on my neck. (Read More…)
PSA, parent company of Peugeot and Citroen, is said to be exploring a partnership with China’s Dongfeng, as Peugeot looks for ways to strengthen itself amid weak sales and a perpetually sputtering European car market.
TTAC Commentator MightyTall writes:
I’ve been reading your articles and enjoying your sage advice given to other people. And since you said you’re running low on submissions, here’s mine: I’m currently driving a well maintained reliable 140hp 2.0l Turbodiesel, 6-speed manual 2007 Passat station wagon … 157.000 km on the clock and no troubles. (Read More…)