The Truth About Cars » Libya The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 19 Jul 2014 05:27:35 +0000 en-US hourly 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 (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 » Libya Gaddafi’s Fiat Stake To Be Unfrozen Tue, 13 Nov 2012 13:04:21 +0000

Last year, our esteemed Ed in Chief Niedermeyer did intensive research into what was left of then Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi’s share holdings in Fiat. Fiat denied that the Colonel had any financial interest in Fiat, but he did. The holdings were seized by the Italian government.

With Gaddafi long gone, Italian magistrates asked a court on Tuesday to free the funds. As it turned out, Libya held 0.33 percent of Fiat, 0.33 percent of Fiat Industrial, along with 1.5 percent of Turin’s soccer club Juventus.

]]> 6
China Meddles In Libyan Matters. NATO Spreads Rumors Thu, 25 Aug 2011 19:34:47 +0000

Now we know the truth behind the rebels routing Kadafi in Libya. “British, French, Qatari and other special forces working inside Libya?” Bollocks! It was the skilled deployment of fine Chinese weaponry that turned the tide. Chinese guns made the Colonel collect the last cadres of his female bodyguards and head for wherever people head to for a last get-together with their bodyguards before their bollocks are removed in a less than surgical manner. (I am getting sidetracked. Where were we?) Ah, yes, Chinese weaponry!

Tycho over at Carnewschina found the picture above in, a Chinese site dedicated to the military side of China, and, to provide proper balance, to barely dressed members of the fairer sex. If you are into uncamouflaged Chinese guns & girls, this site’s for you! (Someone is trying to undermine my morals, and my writing focus.)

Of course, Tycho inspected the site for professional, not prurient reasons. With an eye for details, Tycho says:

“The vehicle is a military version of the Beijing Auto Works (BAW) BJ212. It is likely an ex-Libyan army vehicle taken by the rebels. In good hands… This military version is called T75 -105. T75 is an army number, 105 stands for the size of the gun, 105mm indeed.”

This, of course, is blatant NATO misinformation of the finest kind: Kind of true, but false enough to confound the enemy. As the former son-in-law of a high ranking American officer and expert in Chinese matters, I received training, and I identify the weapon as a rifle, recoilless, 105mm type T75, which is basically a knock-off of the American M40 105mm recoilless. The gun is a T75. The truck indeed is a BJ212, which is a knock-off made under license variant of the Soviet UAZ-469.  In case your mind is still wandering, “BJ 212″ does not stand for fellatio performed by a full-stregth company of female bodyguards, it is the BeJing212.

The fact that the vehicle above is “likely an ex-Libyan army vehicle taken by the rebels,” is solid intelligence. No self-respecting rebel taking over a country that sits on top of the world’s ninth-largest oil reserves would be buying that crud. As noted by TTAC’s military analyst Ronnie Schreiber, China exports boatloads of ZX Grandtigers to Libya, made by Hebei Zhongxing Automobile, a.k.a. ZX Auto.

]]> 11
The Mystery Of The Fiat-Gaddafi Connection Wed, 30 Mar 2011 17:40:35 +0000

Back in 1976, the Italian automaker Fiat had been badly battered by a global energy crisis and the resulting malaise infecting the global auto industry. In what Time Magazine described at the time as “a devastatingly ironic example of petropower,” Col. Muammar Gaddafi instructed his Libyan Arab Foreign Bank to invest some $415m into the Italian automaker, giving it a stake that would eventually grow to some 14 percent of the firm’s equity.

By 1986, Fiat’s Libyan stakeholders were becoming more trouble than they were worth. In the wake of the Lockerbie bombings, the US introduced sanctions on Libya, and Fiat’s Libyan connection left its attempts to bid for US military contracts (particularly those related to Ronald Reagan’s Strategic Defense Initiative) dead on arrival. As a result, Fiat and its shareholders bought back the entire 14 percent Libyan stake in the firm, presenting the Libyan Arab Foreign Bank-controlled Banca UBAE with a $3.1b check. And, according to what a Fiat spokesperson told us yesterday, that is where the story ends. But thanks to the now-ubiquitous Wikileaks, we have found that this story may in fact go farther than that. In fact, as the evidence stands right now, either the US State Department is working with bad information (which major news sources have yet to correct), or Fiat is lying about its ties to the embattled Gaddafi regime.

As with so many of the best stories in recent months, the major point of factual conflict in this tale comes from a Wikileaks-sourced US State Department memo. The memo, which does not appear at, was provided to Reuters by an unnamed third party and was cited in a Reuters piece that focused on Gaddafi’s ownership of Wyndham Hotels. The Fiat connection isn’t made clear until well towards the bottom of the story, when Reuters reports

A 2006 U.S. State Department cable obtained by WikiLeaks and made available to Reuters by a third party describes LFICO/LAFICO [the Libyan Arab Foreign Investment Company]as Libya’s largest government-owned investment company, operating under the auspices of something called the “General People’s Committee” which has served as the Gaddafi government’s Ministry of Trade and Economy…

The State Department cable said that, as of 2006, LFICO’s holdings in Italy included 2 percent of Fiat, 15 percent of the Tamoil energy company, and 7.5 percent of Juventus, where a soccer-playing Gaddafi son, Saadi, once sat on the board. The cable said LFICO also had over $500 million worth of investments in Britain.

If the Gaddafi-controled LAFICO/LFICO held two percent of Fiat as recently as 2006, then the public narrative that had Fiat completely buying out its Libyan backers in 1986 is not completely accurate. In hopes of reconciling the discrepancy between the leaked memo (which presumably reflects the conclusions of the US intelligence community) and the public rejection of Libya’s equity stake in Fiat, we reached out to Fiat’s international media relations staff requesting clarification. The response, from Fiat’s Richard Gadeselli, came as follows:

Dear Mr Niedermeyer,
Further to your email, I would mention that the Reuters report you refer to is incorrect. As too are other similar mentions that have appeared recently in the media concerning the LIA’s holdings in Fiat.
The LIA sold all of its 14% shareholding in Fiat SpA in 1986 – ten years after its initial stake was bought.  It no longer has a stake in Fiat SpA.
I trust that this clarifies the matter.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t clarify the matter at all. Either Mr Gadeselli isn’t telling us the whole story (which could be the case for any number of reasons, not all of the nefarious), or the Wikileaks memo cited by Reuters is incorrect, a possibility that is equally likely for a number of reasons. For one thing, we haven’t seen the leaked memo itself, and so we can not verify the exact source of the intelligence reported by Reuters. And even if we could verify that the US State Department and intelligence community had reason to believe that Gaddafi-backed investment funds continued to hold a stake in  Fiat as recently as 2006, it’s conceivable that the US government had experienced a failure of intelligence. As a 2001 piece by reports, Gaddafi’s own money manager Ali El Huwej has admitted that Libya uses a number of techniques to invest in Europe despite US sanctions.
Banca di Roma didn’t violate economic sanctions, because the stake was sold through Libyan companies rather than the Libyan government, Mr Brambilla said.
Though they were sporadically enforced, the sanctions nevertheless limited Libya’s room for manoeuvring in some countries. For example, Libya’s UK bank accounts were frozen and funds such as dividends from the Metropole stake could not be transferred to Libya.
That is why Lafico works to avoid detection when it makes investments, Mr Huwej says, adding that in everything it does, Lafico is aware the US is watching.
As such Mr Huwej sometimes avoids doing business under Lafico’s name. A farming company in Egypt owned by Lafico is registered there as simply Agriculture Investment Co., he says. 

Another strategy employed by Libya is to keep stakes small or indirect, particularly in banking companies. Though bank investments are a small slice of Libya’s holdings, they’re among the most scrutinised by the authorities, as access to banks means access to money and the ability to move it around the world.

In any case, either Fiat isn’t telling the truth or the US Government was misinformed about Libyan ownership of a firm that is poised to take over the bailed-out US automaker Chrysler. In the interests of truth, we call on Fiat and Reuters to help resolve this factual discrepancy. If anyone knows where to find the Wikileaks memo in question or has any information regarding this story, we encourage them to send it to our contact form.
]]> 36
Libya In Love With Chevy Thu, 03 Mar 2011 06:46:53 +0000

After having covered Argentina, if you thought I would lazily go down the alphabet to finish on Zimbabwe you were WRONG! I like surprises, as I’m sure you do too, so given Libya is at the center of world news at the moment, why not have a look at the cars that sell best in that country – as long as it’s still there.

If you can’t wait for the next update and want to know all about car sales in 154 countries simply go here.

There is no official data about car sales in Libya*, but that wasn’t going to discourage me. When faced with this situation, I have two ways of finding out which are the best selling cars in any given country:

1. Go to that country and observe the streets, count (yes, this is my fetish) the new cars roaming around until there’s a pool of a few hundreds and see which ones appear most often. If done meticulously and in a few different cities, it can give a pretty accurate idea of the new car landscape of the country. I’ve done this in Egypt. But until I get a travel budget from TTAC (working on it….ha!) this is not going to happen too often.

2. Failing that, I go and talk to my old mate YouTube. It’s amazing the number of videos people upload of themselves driving in the streets of any given city in the world. Boring? Not so. I go through as many recent street videos of the selected country. As surprising as it may sound, a pretty good picture of that country’s best selling cars starts to appear. Not 100 percent accurate of course, but better than nothing.

Right. Now that we have the methodology out of the way, let’s get down to serious business.

Libya is easy because there are just a few models that keep popping up in the streets of Tripoli again and again. Namely the Chevrolet Optra, the previous generation Mitsubishi Lancer (still on sale in some countries) and Toyota Hilux.

They are by far the most frequent new cars in the streets, and by looking at the relative age of the cars it seems that this trio has been leading Libyan car sales for a few years already.

Other models that appear successful in Libya are the Toyota Corolla, Nissan Tiida, Mitsubishi L200 pick-up (aka Triton) and a bunch of Hyundais: the Santa Fe, Sonata and Accent.

On the Korean car subject, if you look a bit further at the older cars in the streets of Tripoli, there is a strikingly high occurrence of previous generations Hyundai Accent, but also Daewoo Cielo and Nubira.

My assumption is that the Daewoos were imported from Egypt where they were produced in the General Motors Egypt plant near Cairo. With the Daewoo plant being sold to Chery, which now produces Speranzas there (a whole different story I will touch on in a future post), the import flow has ceased, but the Daewoo brand stayed popular in Libya, making it easy for Chevrolet to take the relay when Daewoo became Chevrolet in the early 2000’s.

This is why Libyans love Chevrolet.

There you go, now you can be proud to be among the most knowledgeable people on the planet about car sales in Libya.

If you have visited this country recently, have some additional info that may be of relevance to this article, or better still, if you work for Colonel Gaddafi General Motors in Libya or anywhere else and are able to confirm/infirm my assumptions, please do speak up!

* None that I could find anyway, so if you have any Libyan car sales data please shout.

Matt Gasnier, based in Sydney, Australia, runs a blog named Best Selling Cars, dedicated to counting cars all over the world.

The Chevrolet Optra. Picture courtesy Chevrolet The Toyota Hilux. Picture courtesy Toyota The streets of Tripoli.  Picture courtesy YouTube The streets of Tripoli.  Picture courtesy Youtube The Mitsubishi Lancer. Picture courtesy Mitsubishi Zemanta Related Posts Thumbnail

]]> 6