By on January 25, 2016

The big Blue Oval is setting in the Land of the Rising Sun.

That, Volkswagen’s labor boss doesn’t like what he hears, Detroit’s big show and Kia’s big plans for the Rio … after the break!

2015 Ford Edge (10 of 43)

Ford closing up shop in Japan, Indonesia

Ford will shutter its operations and business in Japan and Indonesia by the end of this year, Bloomberg reported.

The automaker said it would still provide parts and services to the area, but that it had “become clear that there is no path to sustained profitability, nor will there be an acceptable return over time from our investments in Japan or Indonesia,” according to a Ford spokeswoman.

Ford sold an abbreviated lineup of cars in Japan, including the Fiesta, Focus, Mustang, EcoSport, Kuga and Explorer. Ford offered the Lincoln Navigator and MKX in Japan as well, which will be an answer to an automotive-related trivia question some day soon.

2016 Rio 5-Door

Kia readying Rio GT to fight Fiesta ST

Kia is preparing to unleash a faster, tuned version of its Rio to compete with other hot hatchbacks including the Ford Fiesta ST and Fiat 500 Abarth, according to Autocar.

The UK magazine said the Rio GT would sit atop a new platform for Rio and sport a tuned version of Kia’s 1.6-liter turbocharged four.

The Rio GT would be part of the company’s growing portfolio of performance cars that would include an Optima GT and a possible GT sports car.

The report doesn’t specifically mention the model coming to the States because we’re not allowed to have nice things.

Volkswagen labor chief wary of automakers plans

The labor boss for Volkswagen’s workers’ union said the automaker’s plan to increase efficiency and reshuffle workers to rebound from the company’s cheating scandal was causing unease with the rank-and-file, according to Reuters.

“We will not support a further drive towards performance,” works council chief Bernd Osterloh told IG Metall bei Volkswagen. “We principally view productivity in a positive way … But we expect that VW at the same time guarantees the security of employment.”

Volkswagen brand chief Herbert Diess said the automaker would press for a 10 percent increase in productivity and a reshuffling of regional brands to allow for more autonomy.

“At the moment there are more questions than answers. That is bad,” Osterloh said.

Audi making electric SUV in Belgium in 2018

Audi announced Monday that it would put into production an all-electric SUV in 2018 and produce batteries for the electric car at its Brussels plant. The Belgium plant could produce batteries for other Volkswagen Group vehicles, according to the automaker’s statement.

The all-electric SUV will be based on Audi’s e-tron Quattro concept the automaker first showed off at the 2015 Frankfurt Auto Show.

According to Audi, the car will have three electric motors and a range of more than 300 miles.

Buick Avista

Attendance up at North American International Auto Show

More than 815,000 people visited the North American International Auto Show in Detroit this year — eclipsing last year’s mark of 808,775, according to the Detroit Free Press.

According to show organizers, the event contributed more than $425 million to Detroit’s economy.

“I think the mild winter led to more people venturing downtown,” Detroit Auto Dealer Association spokesman Max Muncey told the newspaper. “We’re up this year. We’re trending to finish above last year, which brought in just over 808,000.”

This year’s mark of 815,575 visitors would be the most for the auto show since 2003, according to the Detroit News.

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27 Comments on “TTAC News Round-up: Ford Leaving Japan, Indonesia; Detroit’s Big Show; Kia Rio GT Coming?...”

  • avatar

    Hyundai/Kia. the perennial “me too” automaker.

  • avatar

    Optima GT – 300 boosted HP?

  • avatar

    Japan, with its entrenched domestic industry, density, excellent public transit, and aging and shrinking population, is going to be a tough nut to crack for any non-Japanese mainline carmaker.

    • 0 avatar

      Plus they’ve been laughing at American cars for 40 years.

      And it’s not just them; when I was convivial with many East Asians I learned that if anything the rest of that region is even more contemptuous of Detroit. Or at least they felt freer to heap scorn than the circumspect nihonjin.

      • 0 avatar

        Definitions of Convivial:
        1. cheerful and friendly, jovial
        2. the affect purchased with an extra $10 from a comfort girl. See also: GFE.

      • 0 avatar

        There’s a supremacist undercurrent in Japanese culture which would even make some KKK members uncomfortable. we may see Germans as arrogant, but at least they’ve long since owned up to the country’s actions up through 1945. Japan still likes to pretend they were all sunshine and rainbows, much to the chagrin of China and Korea.

        • 0 avatar

          ^^^Thank you Jim!^^^

        • 0 avatar

          It’s not just Japan, a lot of nations have nationalist attitudes that would seem bizarre to most westerners. Texas gots nothing on some of the xenophobic things you can hear and see from all around the world.

          Japan isn’t really any more nationalistic than its neighbors, but the fact act they were at war with all of them within living memory and sometimes want to pretend it didn’t happen has led to a lot of tensions.

    • 0 avatar

      Indonesia, huge population, but they are only interested in Asian manufacturers

  • avatar

    Instead Indonesia a big market for the Ranger?

  • avatar

    I really wanted to love my recent Rio dealership loaner but the seat wouldn’t travel back far enough for me to get my zipper down.

  • avatar

    I’d love to see a Kia Rio GT. Why not? All the parts are there already. Bolt them into the smaller car.

  • avatar

    The Ford thing is a nice incidental tidbit but the real news in Japan is that a Japanese rikishi won the Hatsu basho! First time in 10 years a Japanese won a sumo tournament!

    Omedetou gozaimasu, Kotoshogiku!

  • avatar

    Why is it whenever I see the Rio (or a Fiat 500) the Herbie theme from “The Love Bug” starts running through my head?

  • avatar

    The Asians are just smarter than the american public. They know when they have been screwed over by a car manufacturer/s like Detroit. the ignorant american public still haven’t figured it out yet. They still want to deal with those low-lives from Detroit. I finally figured out why i like Asia so much. People are just much smarter there than here in the US.

    • 0 avatar

      Dammit. I was hoping down the line I could get a RHD Focus RS or V8 Mustang here in Japan. Now the only way that’s going to happen is to jump through the hoops of importing one from the UK. And having followed Kreutzer’s “Swimming Upstream” series, I certainly don’t look forward to that process.

      I’ve never seen a Lincoln Navigator or MKX on the road here but you do see Cadillac Escalades, CTSes and Chrysler 300s. Lots of Mustang and Camaro rental cars too. Japanese think muscle cars are cool, but just can’t afford to own them (displacement taxes, comparatively expensive maintenance). But trying to sell your mediocre non-aspirational models to the masters of appliance automobiles, and a market that has a bunch of peculiarities at that, will probably never succeed.

      “They know when they have been screwed over by a car manufacturer/s like Detroit. the ignorant american public still haven’t figured it out yet. They still want to deal with those low-lives from Detroit.”

      Oh please. There’s plenty of new-production American iron driving around the streets of Thailand and even “Communist” Vietnam (have you been to places recently? I have…) . Not to mention that one of the most popular brands in China is *BUICK*.

      You might be right about one thing: if an American would take the data point of the small (120 million), xenophobic Japanese market, home to the most reliable automotive appliance manufacturers on the planet, and extrapolate from it that somehow all Asians (2 billion+?) must hate American cars and are therefore smarter….yeah, that might be an indicator that people in the US aren’t particularly bright -_-.

      • 0 avatar

        The Buick is Chinese and probably thought of as a Chinese brand. The last Emporer had a Buick, so it has some street cred in China.
        “New production American Iron” in Thailand and Vietnam??

        • 0 avatar

          “The Buick is Chinese and probably thought of as a Chinese brand.”

          Unfortunately most of the Internet articles about “Chinese view of Buick” don’t give in-depth information on Chinese understanding whether it’s an American brand. Generally speaking the whole reason foreign brands are popular is due to the perception of quality inherent in non-Chinese products.

          As for the cars themselves being Chinese in origin…that’s largely not the case.

          Their #1 seller, the Buick Excelle, was first a rebadged Daewoo, then a rebadged Opel, and now the same global Buick Verano by another name. The GL8 minivan is built on the same ancient GM minivan platform as the Pontiac Montana. The Envision *is* a unique Chinese market product…but only accounted for ~20,000 of Buick China’s 920,000 sales in 2014.


          “‘New production American Iron’ in Thailand and Vietnam??”

          New Production. Not second-hand cars produced in other markets and imported.

          American. Products of the Big Three. Most commonly I’ve seen Fords and Chevies.

          Iron. Colloquial term for vehicles.

          • 0 avatar

            My point, you would be really have to looking in Thailand, to find any US vehicles. About the same or less than Indonesia. All I saw in the very crowded streets of Bangkok was Asian sourced vehicles. Thailand followed the British Monarchy a lot and made vehicles RHD, unlike LHD in Vietnam, Laos etc

  • avatar

    I’m so glad that Japan is an open market with no barriers to foreign automakers!

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