Last time I told you of the perfect legal, societal and media storm which conspired to make me let go of the car of my dreams. This time reasons of a more personal, and very human, nature, joined up to make the Fiat Tipo a car that never was to be mine.
The year was 1995. The country: Brazil. A new Constitution had been proclaimed a few years before, and our fledgling democracy had survived a presidential impeachment. Society was growing up and demanding new, more transparent relations with big business. The car market was more open than it had been since the 1950′s, and due to the deluge of imported cars, that brief window would soon close. I was there, in the eye of a hurricane, looking to buy my very first car with my own money. All those factors made up the perfect storm, which conspired to pull me away from the car of my dreams.
Derek’s recent article on the CUV “event horizon” seemed to have been misunderstood by some of the B&B. Derek’s fine analysis showed you how one type of car, the crossover, has left its usual stronghold of America and is now eclipsing other kinds of cars in other markets. His proof is the new Mercedes GLA which shows that now everybody wants in. I posit that the “event horizon” came somewhat earlier in the form of the Renault/Dacia Duster and that this phenomenon had been brewing for a while. My home country of Brazil is one place where crossovers have been steadily rising in popularity.
Spy photos in Germany of a heavily camouflaged small Ford have set the Brazilian blogosphere on fire. The initial photos were published by a Malaysian site that didn’t really know what they were seeing. It turns out that it’s actually the new Ford Ka, a very important car for our market (and the car I currently drive).
This week, the idea of Brazil’s cars being “unsafe” due to inferior construction has been gaining a lot of currency on the blogosphere after the Associated Press published a report on this topic. Very few outlets have anyone posted in Brazil to do any deeper digging, but TTAC does. Unfortunately, our man Marcelo de Vasconcellos is currently in exams right now (good luck, Senhor!) and was unable to write up an article refuting these claims. Still, Marcelo took the time out to talk to TTAC about the problems behind the article.
Though it was only 6 pm, it was already dark out. The fall sent shivers to the Southern Hemisphere, and I ventured out to procure bread for my family. I got to the bakery shop, facing a small dilemma. All the parking on the bakery´s side of the street was taken. I drove around the block and parked on the other side. It’s a narrow two-way street and buses pass all the time, making it difficult for two cars passing at once. I worried about somebody hitting my car or smashing my side mirror. So I thought about it a minute and left the lights on when I exited the car, hoping that would be enough to alert our modern-day semi-comatose drivers. And that my friends is what makes me an enthusiast. (Read More…)
The tail-end of the last century. I was living in Brasilia. In spite of the stifling bureaucratic nature of the city, officious, uninspired architecture and desolate, nose-bleeding, dry weather, I was very happy. Because of a car. (Read More…)
I parked and was thinking of the day ahead. I didn’t notice the black shadow approaching my car. When I looked over I was quite startled. Oh no! A flanelinha!
In almost all Brazilian cities, the flanelinha is a fixture. Flanelinha (which loosely translates as flannel man, as in the rag) is the demure name given to the “workers” who divide the streets among themselves and charge drivers to park. Their excuse is that they’re taking care of your car. If you don’t pay up, a fat tire or a big scratch will be a symbol of your chintzyness. (Read More…)
The Ford EcoSport, launched last year into the wilds of South America, is being unleashed upon unsuspecting Europeans at the Geneva Motor Show. Handheld nerds already have been given an EcoSport preview at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. (Read More…)
The newly shown Jeep Cherokee has created quite a ruckus. Some like the design, some describe it in language unsuitable to a family-oriented site like TTAC. The fact is Jeep needs this. The mother-ship, Fiat, is taking Jeep international and while Jeep’s design language gets good points at home, it really doesn’t strike a chord among buyers worldwide. What’s more, Jeep doesn’t have that much of a heritage outside US borders. So, the Italians are free to do with it what they like. For starters, Jeep now sponsors one of the most popular football teams in Europe. That is a sure sign that the Jeep you knew and loved is going through profound changes that will either make it relevant, or send it bruised and bleeding to lick it wounds back home. (Read More…)
The fluidic design of the HB20 has impressed Brazilians greatly. The car has already broken into the top 10, and Hyundai claims there are 24 thousand people who have already ordered one and have plunked down some money. Undeniably, the car is a looker. In my opinion, the side is the highlight. That swoosh is very appealing. As for the front, you either like the corporate mug or you don’t, and I don’t. The back has some problems. This is a problem in Brazil. We are into backs. This one makes the car look narrower and taller than it really is and some of the lines are clashing. In general, the car is well-built, but it’s not perfect. The example I drove had misaligned doors. (Read More…)
Video o.k. for network TV in Brazil, but NSFW in certain jurisdictions. Do not click if naked derrieres offend you.
The numbers for the first eleven months of the year have been consolidated. The first fortnight of December has been basically more of the same. It’s now quasi-official: Fiat is the biggest pig in the sty for the eleventh time in a row. They already have an ad out celebrating the fact. Last year the Italians waited until January to commemorate. This year they had no such compunctions.
Curious is the theme they chose to celebrate their victory. Don’t think a green-eyed spermatozoon, masturbation and bodily functions would be GM’s choice to celebrate their market dominance in stodgy America. Oh, those racy Italians! (Read More…)
Brazil has some of the highest car prices in the world. Taxes, protectionism and high margins, coupled with the fact that Brazilians are gobbling up each and every car built in Brazil guarantees that this fact of life will not change any time soon. On top of that, Brazilians must pay 4 percent of the car’s price each year as tax. (Read More…)
According to Bloomberg, Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn claimed that “Brazil is very much a cornerstone” in VW’s push to become the world’s largest car maker by 2018.
Herr Winterkorn is in São Paulo for the largest and most important Auto Show in Latin America. Striving to make the most of this unique opportunity, the Brazilian press was all over VW’s CEO. He didn’t disappoint. He announced investments of 4.4 billion dollars to expand VW’s model line and modernize their factories in Brazil until 2016.
Well, they better! (Read More…)
Here in Brazil, Toyota had to bow to pre-market pressure and lower the price for their Etios. Hyundai goes the other way and is betting that they will be able to command higher prices. In their first try to get at the juicy meat of the Brazilian market, Hyundai has launched their exclusive-to-Brazil small car, the HB20.
Starting from R$32,000 (US$16,000) and reaching an astronomical R$48,000 (US$24,000), Hyundai is claiming the car has two main differentials. According to Hyundai’s dedicated HB20 site the car acts as
“a model built in Brazil for Brazilians. It has Hyundai’s fluidic sculpture design and unrivaled standard content; the New HB20 is striking, modern and sporting.”
Hyundai indulges the buyer: even the lowliest trim will be “complete” by Brazilian standards. In other words, even the base car comes with air conditioning, assisted steering, double frontal airbags and trip computer (according to the folks over at Brazilian enthusiast site bestcars.com.br).
The Hyundai will be the first locally produced Brazilian car to sport an interesting three-cylinder, 1.0L, 12v with 80hp and can run on the local concoction known as gasoline and ethanol. As the engine is the same as the one in the imported Kia Picanto, I warn Brazilian shoppers that although it’s probably one of the best 3-cylinder motors out there, you will be reminded of its presence by the lawn-mower-like noises it emits
From R$37,000 (US$18,500), Hyundai will offer a 1.6L 16v engine good for 128hp. It is the same engine as the one present in the Veloster sold in Brazil, but it has also been adapted to run on ethanol. With this trim level, you get the same content as in the 1.0 car, but ABS is standard.