In GM’s darkest hour, in December 2009, GM and SAIC cut a strange deal: GM ceded control of the 50:50 China joint venture by selling 1 percent to SAIC. GM also transferred half of GM’s India operations to the Chinese company. GM received a $400 million line of credit. SAIC received access to the Indian market, which it had coveted, but the Indians had sworn to keep the Chinese out. Now they rode in on GM’s coattails.
Dacia showed off their Lodgy MPV today, giving more fodder for Dacia fans who became aware of the brand via their slavish devotion to Top Gear. The Lodgy is a small minivan available in 5 or 7 seat configuration and sold under a Romanian auto brand certain to go on sale in the rest of Europe, but maybe not in the UK.
From the “how did we miss that?” file comes this Automotive News [sub] story, filed at the beginning of the week, which asked GM Europe boss Nick Reilly about plans for Volt-based variants. Reilly replied
We won’t do it with this generation, and that will run to 2015. You’d have to wait until after that until you see it.
Which is peculiar, considering GM just announced that it will build a Cadillac Converj-style Volt variant at some point. GM has also shown a near-production-look Volt MPV5 Concept, although that has never been confirmed as a future production model. But Reilly explains that current Volt’s slow ramp-up and “expensive technology” have doomed any possibility of a Volt family of vehicles before the next generation drivetrain launches.
Small-n-funky vehicle nerds, Honda Fit freaks and JDM fetishists with families take note: though we’ve heard no indication of it in the mainstream auto media (and Honda offers no hints of it at its “future cars” page), some Reuters reporting seems to indicate that the Fit Shuttle, which just debuted in Japan, is heading to the US market. Towards the end of a piece on Honda’s silly discount guarantee on out-of-stock cars (Japanese-built cars need not apply… go figure), Reuters notes:
The No. 3 Japanese automaker warned investors on Tuesday that operating profit could fall as much as 65 percent this year because it has had to delay the launch in the United States of major models, including its new Fit Shuttle and a new version of its top-selling Civic
Honda already has 7,000 pre-orders for the Fit Shuttle in Japan, according to another report, which goes on to note that the Shuttle Hybrid costs about $5k less than the Toyota Prius V in Japan. Remind us again, why did Ford decide to cancel its seven-passenger C-Max? To compete more directly with this one-two punch of Japanese hybrids?
When Ford showed the world its new crop of compact-based cars and MPVs at January’s Detroit Auto Show, it announced that its C-Max compact MPV would be coming to the US in 7-passenger Grand C-Max form. But in a strangely prophetic turn of events (see video above), the 7-passenger model refused to show up. Now, according to Ford, the 7-passenger Grand C-Max won’t be coming to the US… instead the 5-passenger version will be sold as a dedicated hybrid model with a plug-in option. Why? Because it’s big in Europe… and because “One Ford.” Hit the jump for Ford’s explanation, and then wonder along with us: seriously, why not sell the 7-seat version too?
See that? Looks a bit like a first-generation Scion xB, doesn’t it? It’s actually a new Kia, codenamed “Tam,” built on its new A-segment Picanto Morning platform, but featuring first-gen xB-style tall-body MPV packaging. The Picanto’s wheelbase is actually slightly smaller than the xB’s, and there’s another key difference here as well: see that rear door? Look where the handle is placed. That’s right, it’s a slider! But that’s not all…
Not to cut speculation short or anything, but the answer is “probably not.” GM has already said that its “Baby Enclave” will be built at its Orion Township plant, alongside the new Aveo-replacing Chevy Sonic, which indicates a subcompact (Gamma II)-based MPV will be Buick’s next vehicle. Add to that the fact that GM has said the “Baby Enclave” would bear the styling cues of the Buick Business concept, which the Opel Meriva more closely resembles, and it’s clear that Buick’s first MPV will be the suicide-doored subcompact. But, since Buick won’t bring the Chinese-market GL8 minivan stateside, this compact, Astra-based mini-minivan could be coming to a Trishield dealer at some point… in fact, some might even argue that a compact MPV would do better as a Buick than a subcompact one (even with suicide doors). Either way, the new Zafira will be crucial to Opel’s attempts to right its sinking ship over the next several years.
Toyota’s been talking about adding to the Prius family for some time, and a plus-sized MPV has been rumored as the first addition. Now Autoblog.it [via Jalopnik] thinks it’s found the first images of the Prius MPV, which might take the name Prius Verso in Italy, and may be called the “Prius Alpha” in other markets. These images show a vehicle that is unmistakeably Prius-related, but boasts a longer wheelbase and a higher roofline at the rear. But does it differentiate itself well enough from the Prius, or would even more length and sliding doors help make its case?
Via Autocar come these pictures of a jacked-up Fiesta variant undergoing development testing. Rumors of a Fiesta-based MPV have been rampant, as European competitors have been bombarding the B-segment with bigger, and/or butched-up new models like Kia’s Venga (and it’s forthcoming sibling, the Hyundai ix20), Opel’s suicide-doored Meriva, Toyota’s Verso S,and VW’s PoloCross. Ford’s Fiesta-based entry could resemble the brand’s Iosis-Max concept, and it will probably be built in Romania. Based on the dearth of camouflage, we’d also guess it’s going for the “butch” more than the “big” section of the B segment. Needless to say, it’s unlikely to ever arrive in the US, where the idea of taking a B-segment hatch into the dirt occurs only to the desperately unwell.
Toyota’s Verso S will debut at the forthcoming Paris Auto Show, and these first pictures show that iQ-inspired styling is starting to creep across the Toyota small-car lineup. So does the edgier (by Toyota standards) iQ-inspired design language mean the shortest micro-MPV in Europe (at under 4 meters) might make it stateside as a Scion-branded van? Anything’s possible, but Toyota ain’t saying… for now.