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.
Despite a chorus of largely uncritical reporting, there is a growing contingent of those who question VW’s claim that their new MQB modular architecture will bring about significant savings. The latest among them is Bernstein Research. A report by noted analyst Max Warburton (who recently authored the definitive study on Chinese cars) questions VW’s claims and shows how MQB may be helpful, but not nearly as significant as VW claims. On the other hand, it’s worth noting that these reports are meant for end-user investors, not necessarily industry types.
Redesigning retro is a herculean task. You need to change the vehicle enough to be worth the effort, meanwhile maintaining an iconic retro theme. If you don’t change enough, shoppers won’t see a reason to trade in their old flashback for the new time capsule. Change it too much and you’re left with a caricature. The task is so daunting that few even attempt it. (Just look at the one-hit-wonders: PT Cruiser, HHR, SSR and Thunderbird.) VW on the other hand is different. After all they continued to build and sell the same Beetle with minor tweaks for 65 years straight. If anyone can tweak retro and convince people they need it, it’s VW. Sure enough, 2012 was the best Beetle sales year since 1973. As a chaser to VW’s revived retro-mojo, the Beetle is now offered sans-top and VW tossed us the keys to a brown-on-brown model for a week so we could get our 70s on. Can you dig it?
The 420,000 mile Ford truck. The 420,000 mile Chevy truck. The 420,000 mile Camry. The 420,000 mile Accord.
I have covered all of these brands and models to the point now where I just hope, wish and dream of a different vehicle to highlight.
A few months ago I finally had a pair of Saturns make it to the top. A little before that there was a 90′s Altima that handily beat nearly 7000 other cars and trucks. This week…
VW and Fiat are in talks regarding a possible sale of Alfa Romeo. The sale of Alfa Romeo to Audi would also include the Pomilgiano assembly plant in Naples, which once made Alfas, but currently produces the Fiat Panda. Magnetti Marelli, Fiat’s famed parts maker, may also be included in the deal, as Fiat looks to raise cash so it can buy the remaining shares of Chrysler off the UAW’s Voluntary Employee Benefits Association. (Read More…)
1 million units a year. That’s going to be the minimum volume necessary for car makers to survive, if you believe SEAT boss James Muir. His struggling brand sold just 320,000 cars last year, and their exposure is largely limited to economically ill countries in the sunny areas of Europe.
The engine quit with a sudden un-dramatic snap, and the little Golf TDI began to slough off speed. Reflexively, I bumped the gearshift lever into neutral, flicked on my signal and began moving towards the left edge of the expressway. My exit was less than a mile away and, rather than stop alongside the highway, I used my momentum to coast up the off-ramp and over the small knoll that stood between the expressway and the toll plaza. I stopped there, on the back side of the hill where the road widened on the approach to the toll booths, to avoid blocking traffic and dug out my cell phone to call for a tow truck. I didn’t know it then, but it was the last time that I would ever sit behind the wheel of the little car, never mind the fact that it would follow me again around half of the globe. (Read More…)
insufferable Volkswagen d-bags fans who proudly reject Mexican made Jettas in favor of German-assembled Golfs will be crying in their beers over news that North American made versions of the MK7 Golf will be built south of the border.
Did you see an instant classic at last week’s Detroit Auto Show? Maybe that new Stingray. And hearing that the first C7 Vette was on the auction block to support the College for Creative Studies made me a little proud of my former school, too. But, aside from the always nerve-racking bus ride between CCS and Cobo Hall, my “instant classic” moment from the (1999) NAIAS was the introduction of the MK IV Jetta. All of a sudden I couldn’t keep my eyes off of Jettas, especially a silver one in the lower hall of Cobo. And time hasn’t changed my opinion…aside from making it more extreme. (Read More…)
If I say “hybrid,” most people think: slow, efficient, awful-to-drive, Prius, tree-hugger, Democrat and California. Pretty much in that order. The people’s car company however is on a mission to change your word association. In 2011 VW crafted the ridiculously fast supercharged Touareg Hybrid. For 2013, the Germans have some new words for you to associate with “hybrid”: direct-injection, turbocharged, 7-speed, DSG and Jetta. Is this enough to sway Prius shoppers looking for a more engaging ride? More importantly: should you get the Jetta Hybrid or the Jetta TDI? VW tossed us the keys to a dark blue fuel-sipper to find out.
Lawdy! Lawdy! Guess who’s 40!
Well, it happened. After a weekend where my daughter scores the game winning basket and the trade-ins numbered 6432, I hit the golden age of middle age.
As for the 1983 Jeep Grand Wagoneer in the picture, would you believe 403,224 miles? That little factoid was just the very tip of a long data drilldown.
Not to mention a few unusual future contests between the automakers in what will now be called the Trade-In Quality Index… or TIQI for short!
Question #1. TTAC commentator Seminole95 writes:
Sajeev, I have another question for you.
Why do auto manufacturers increasingly make cars with hard to read speedometers? I was thinking of buying a Mustang, but I could not tell easily how fast I was going. The new Accord speedometer is harder to read than previous models. (Read More…)
I see lots and lots of air-cooled Beetles in self-service wrecking yard, and this has been the case for the 30 years I’ve been frequenting such places. There seems to be an inexhaustible supply of old Type 1 Bugs slowly trickling into junkyards, and I usually ignore them (though I thought this ’73 Super Beetle was interesting enough to photograph). It’s not that I don’t like these cars— I’ve owned a few and thought they were great fun— but mostly they’re just background. Junked Karmann Ghias, on the other hand, get my attention. Sure, they’re Beetles under the skin, but you just don’t see many of the crypto-sporty air-cooled VWs these days. Here’s one I found at a snow-covered Denver self-service yard last week. (Read More…)
A 2012 VW Jetta TDI Wagon.
It comes with the usual six speed stick that you would find among thousands of other Jetta wagons all over the world.
It has the ‘arrest me red’ color that always comes across as neon pink whenever you photograph it in the sun.
But there are at least two mysterious facets of this urea indulgent uber-wagon. A rare and unusual frame damage announcement in the run list, and only 815 original miles.
What percentage of new cars sold this year in the United States have European badges?