By on March 16, 2016

2016 Kia Optima SXL Exterior

The Russian car market is looking grimmer than the last days of the Romanov family, but that’s proving to be a big opportunity for Kia.

That, a delay for Volkswagen’s overseas diesel fix, Porsche employees are rolling in dough, electric rallycross could be on the way, and FCA soars in Europe … after the break!

Lada Niva Russia 2009. Picture courtesy of AvtoVAZ (aka Lada)

Kia should consider a Cossack trim level

Russia has fallen on hard economic times and its car sales are tumbling like the Berlin Wall, but there’s a bright side to the financial gloom if you’re Kia.

The Korean automaker has seen its market share surge in the land of Ladas and exploding meteors, beating back domestic competition and positioning it for future successes, Reuters reports (via Automotive News Europe):

Kia was Russia’s No. 2 brand by sales through February after Lada. Kia’s two-month sales fell 14 percent to 20,541 in a market down 21 percent, according to data from the Association of European Businesses in Russia.

Capitalizing on the success of its budget Kia Rio sedan, which was one of only four models to post positive sales growth in Russia last year, Kia has managed to weather the decline of Russia’s auto industry better than many of its competitors.

The affordable Rio was Russia’s third most popular car last year, a bright spot for foreign-flagged automakers in the dismal economic climate. The downturn has prompted General Motors to pull out of Russia altogether.

2015 Volkswagen eGolf Exterior

The long, slow agony continues for Volkswagen

Volkswagen’s hope for a (relatively) quick fix for its European diesels have been dampened by Germany’s chief transport regulator, which has held off on giving its approval for the plan, according to the newspaper Bild (via Automotive News):

The automaker has not yet received approval from the Federal Motor Transport Authority (KBA) for proposed technical fixes for the Passat midsize model, the newspaper said today, citing a KBA spokesman.

The KBA was still examining the technical solutions submitted by VW and it’s unclear whether the engine will comply with Euro 5 emission standards after the refitting, Bild quoted the KBA spokesman as saying.

In October, the KBA demanded that VW recall models with 1.2-liter, 1.6-liter and 2.0-liter diesel engines fitted with software designed to cheat on pollution tests for harmful NOX emissions.

The delay pushes back Volkswagen’s plans by at least six weeks, though the wait could grow much longer if KBA — like U.S. regulators — ask the automaker to come up with a better plan.

Classic Porsche Center

“We’re in the money!” cries a joyous Porsche

Porsche posted record sales last year, and now the luxury automaker is spreading some of that wealth around.

A total of 15,600 Porsche AG employees will be taking home a bonus of 8,911 euros ($9,872), all thanks to a boffo year that saw sales rise 19 percent and revenue soar by 25 percent.

Oliver Blume, chairman of the automaker’s executive board, issued a statement congratulating the workers, while subtly referencing the troubles of its parent company, Volkswagen AG.

“The bonus is the justly deserved reward for the great commitment shown by our employees. My special thanks go out to them, because their knowledge and their dedication have contributed to our achieving such an exceptional result in what is by no means an easy environment.”

Who knew working for a luxury outfit came with such perks?

2016 Fiat 500X Trekking Plus

Fiat-Chrysler steals some of Volkswagen’s pie

Volkswagen’s slipping market share in car-hungry Europe — a byproduct of the diesel emissions scandal — is proving to be a boon to its competitors, Bloomberg reports:

Volkswagen’s brands accounted for 24 percent of new auto registrations in February versus 25.4 percent a year earlier, the European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association, or ACEA, said Wednesday in a statement. Industry-wide sales jumped 14 percent to 1.09 million vehicles, while two-month registrations increased 10 percent to 2.19 million autos …

The Fiat 500X crossover and the related Jeep Renegade helped Fiat Chrysler’s European sales surge 22 percent in February, pushing the Italian-U.S. company’s two-month registrations ahead of Ford’s, which normally ranks fourth in the region’s deliveries.

The differences between European and North American car-buying preferences are stark, as even though FCA has posted strong U.S. earnings, its Fiat brand seems moribund.

2016 beetle dune

More dirt, less exhaust on the rally circuit

Is rallycross the next conquest for electric vehicles? Volkswagen would like it to be.

The automaker wants to see an all-electric format, and technology head Franck Welsch is asking for World and Global Rallycross Championship regulations to be developed for it, Autocar reports:

“I can certainly imagine a championship done with all-electric cars,” he said. “The races are around six minutes long, which allows for short, intense bursts of competition and then charging.

“Today these cars are super-powerful, have torque from hell and use all-wheel drive. Electric drivetrains could deliver that.

“If the championship moved that way it would be perfect for us. We are already in discussions with organizers to that effect.”

Volkswagen already competes in rallycross with a modified Beetle, and will continue to do so, but having an electric format would allow it to show off new technology that’s currently under development.

[Images: Kia, © 2015 Alex Dykes/The Truth About Cars; Lada, AvtoVAZ]

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8 Comments on “TTAC News Round-up: Kia Invades Russia, German Diesel Fix Delayed, and a Porsche Payout...”

  • avatar

    Good for Porsche… It’s never a bad idea to treat your employees well. $154,003,200.00 well spent.

    It seems to me that an electric car rally would be a bizarre experience for the spectator. All that visual commotion without the expected audible accompaniment.

  • avatar

    I think it was a combination of Hyundai/Kia that ultimately forced more companies to offer more technology in their base models – and improve the styling of their base models to make them look sleeker and more luxurious.

  • avatar

    Of course the diesel fix is delayed. They don’t have a fix.

    • 0 avatar

      No, this is mere KBA BS on behalf of VW, pretending they’re looking at the “fix” closely.

      The exact same fix for Golf was approved back in Decenmber.

      The Passat was not approved then.

      But this is a Passat the article is talking about. And gosh, golly, gee everyone knows the Passat is not a Golf, despite using the same engines.

      So now the image is sent of studious KBA techs in lab coats poring studiously over a Passat, nodding their heads wisely. Putting off fixing the Passat for a few months is no problem; VW don’t have enough parts in stock to fix all the Golfs anyway.

      So this is, in my opinion just the usual government/company collusion to make VW look not so bad. PR in other words.

  • avatar

    Gee, not an egineer, but what happens if the software switch to clean mode for testing is the normal mode?? I imagine there would be some performance and fuel efficiency reductions but it should meet the emission standards. Just sayin……

  • avatar

    I am sure VW would love to receive an exemtion on standards so the target cars would retain the performance and fuel mileage. Maybe keeping it in the test mode would be a phase one approach. Phase 2 might be a more comprehensive repair. This approach would give VW more time to come up with a better solution while the phase 1 mode would allow the cars to meet emission standards. But this would increase pressure on VW to get a good phase two solution.

  • avatar

    Look how cute the Lada Niva is. It looks like an anime cartoon dog with those orange eyebrows. “Hurr, I’m all wet!”

    • 0 avatar

      They are just such awesome little rigs. Favorite of rural folks that wrench on their own rides by necessity, hunters and fishermen on a budget, and ‘dachniki:’ folks with summer homes/gardens. Almost all of the mechanical bits were borrowed/adapted from the old RWD Ladas, so everything is cheap/easy to replace and every little podunk village will have parts for it. These things punch way above their weight offroad, much like Samurais/Trackers do over here. Arguably the first “modern” SUV that pioneered a number of interesting concepts (all at the same time): Unibody construction, fully coil sprung suspension, fulltime 4wd for onroad use (with lockable center diff and low range t-case). All of this back in 1977, in the Soviet Union of all places. Very comfortable riding compared to the agrarian UAZ-469, the standard bearer of 4wd passenger vehicles at the time in the USSR.

      The Chevrolet Niva released in 1998 used the old Niva drivetrain, but with a heavily modernized 4 door body. Looks a lot ‘softer,’ but it is still a very serious little 4wd.

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