Tag: Vietnam

By on September 13, 2012

Ho Chi Minh was a mysterious guy; even after reading the definitive biography of the revolutionary schemer who changed pseudonyms as often most of us change our socks, I still couldn’t tell you much about the man who is now his country’s equivalent of all of America’s Founding Fathers rolled into one. However, I can tell you what Ho Chi Minh drove! (Read More…)

By on April 12, 2012

During my visit to Vietnam last month, I saw about a million Honda Super Cubs, a Hummer H2, and lots of GM products, but I didn’t see something I thought would be commonplace: Soviet vehicles. Well, except for this lone UAZ-452, that is. (Read More…)

By on April 5, 2012

Having suffered behind the wheel of a few rented Corollas during my travels with the 24 Hours of LeMons Circus, I’m here to tell you that the current generation of Corolla— the version you get in rental fleets, at any rate— is one of the least fun motor vehicles you can buy. I am convinced that the suits at Toyota have ordered their top engineers to devise a Fun Prevention Control Module™ for the Corolla, a little box under the dash that does everything from preventing you from finding a good song on the radio to ensuring that you will never, ever be able to pull off even a half-assed e-brake turn in a muddy racetrack paddock. With the FPCM™ in full effect, you’ll drive your Corolla for hundreds of thousands of trouble- and fun-free miles, all the while fantasizing about setting the thing on fire and giving some crackhead $119 for a much more fun ’95 Mercury Mystique rolling on three space-saver spares. So, it came as a shock when I spotted this Corolla-hustling ad on a Saigon Toyota dealership during my recent trip to Vietnam. (Read More…)

By on April 5, 2012

During my visit to Vietnam last month, I photographed many Honda Super Cubs, but I always kept one eye open for other interesting vehicles. I spotted a few Toyota Crown Royal Saloons, which was cool, but catching a Geo Chevrolet Tracker at a Hanoi intersection was one of the weirder sightings. Studying the photograph later, I realized that three of the four (non-two-wheeled) vehicles in the frame were GM products that show the breadth of The General’s Asian empire. (Read More…)

By on April 3, 2012

For about 15 years, the Civic and the Accord were untouchable in the American marketplace; Honda sold all they could build here plus as many as they could import under the limitations of the Voluntary Export Restraint agreement of 1981. Then… well, Soichiro Honda died and Honda sort of lost its way. Sure, their cars were still good, but the competition had caught up and the Honda magic had worn off for American car buyers. Honda car sales in Japan had never been so great, so what kept Honda going through the lean times? Two-wheelers! I spent two weeks in Vietnam last month and came away with a new appreciation for Honda’s utter dominance of the Asian motorbike market. (Read More…)

By on March 22, 2012

I just spent two weeks on vacation in Vietnam, and my pre-trip expectations of seeing fleets of left-behind-by-the-French Peugeots, left-behind-by-the-Americans Falcons, and left-behind-by-the-Soviets GAZs turned out to be ridiculously inaccurate. I saw a few old cars (more on that later), but most of the cars in Vietnam are boring late-model rides like Kia Rios and Toyota Innovas. However, I did see quite a few conspicuous-consumption statusmobiles in Saigon and Hanoi; the grumbling old-time revolutionary veterans no doubt refer to the current Hanoi leadership as CINOs. Here’s an example I spotted near St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Hanoi’s Old Quarter. (Read More…)

By on June 8, 2011

While western companies have their eyes on China as the big market for EVs, and while they worry about their precious know-how being expropriated by the nasty Chicoms, Chinese are already looking elsewhere for low cost production of their cars. (Read More…)

By on January 14, 2010

Ho Chi Minh City (formerly Saigon.) Picture courtesy lookatvietnam.com

The U.S.A. dispatches its Secretary of State to complain to Japan about less than 8000 vehicles exported from the U.S. not benefiting from the Japanese cash-o for clunker-u. At the same time, a new car market is starting to explode, without anybody noticing: Vietnam.

Vietnam imported 76,300 units in 2009, nearly 10 times the U.S. exports to Japan. The increase was 51 percent on the year, an all-time high, the Nikkei [sub] reports. Sales of domestically manufactured vehicles were 115,000 units in 2009, up only 3 percent, but still a record. A total market of some 200,000 units is not much compared to neighbor China, but it’s a strong start. (Read More…)

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