TTAC News Round-up: Kia Invades Russia, German Diesel Fix Delayed, and a Porsche Payout

ttac news round up kia invades russia german diesel fix delayed and a porsche

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!

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.

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.

“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?

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.

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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  • 1audiofile 1audiofile on Mar 16, 2016

    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.

  • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Mar 16, 2016

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

    • Gtem Gtem on Mar 16, 2016

      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.

  • Bryan Raab Davis I briefly dated an Australian fellow who was mad for Aspires; one of his better characteristics, if I’m honest.
  • ToolGuy Check out Ferrari's market cap:https://companiesmarketcap.com/automakers/largest-automakers-by-market-cap/
  • ToolGuy • Not sure who you get when you call the "Company phone" number listed on the recall report, but confident that it ISN'T Ferrari (someone either screwed up or made a conscious exception; recall might need a recall; where is my excellence in government that all of you are funding?).• 99% of them are fine.• On later models, additionally, a message will also appear on the vehicle’s dashboard that reads as follows: “Brake fluid level low, Go to dealer slowly”. That right there is classic.• Anyway, this is what happens when you build to a price point... (ba dum tsh!)
  • Art Vandelay And what a giant pile of sh!t ths new format is. Great job guys, way to run off the last of the die hards.
  • Theflyersfan If you ever want a review on a 2022 Mazda MX-5 GT RF, I'll be more than happy to type up a few thousand words and add in some great pictures in front of Churchill Downs for y'all!In a nutshell, I agree with this review. I didn't have a chance to try the Recaro seats because the only test drive available was with another GT that someone backed out in buying so it was being used as a demo. But from what I was told, if you're larger than a 38 waist or taller than 5'10", it gets tight. But with the standard seats, and I'm 5'10" and maybe 20 pounds from the 38 waist, I fit fine. Now getting in and out with the roof up after shoulder surgery (especially leaving the surgery center with most of the right arm under a nerve block) is the total opposite of graceful!!! The look on the nurse's face when the MX-5 pulled up and I'm partially wrapped up like a mummy was priceless.I've had mine since the middle of April and have already put 6,700 miles on it, including round trips from Louisville to Chicago and the Philadelphia suburbs. Averaged 38-39 mpg at a steady 75 mph, and it wasn't a torture chamber. The metal top helped a lot. The standard seats are a bit thin on padding, and there was a bit of squirming by around hour 8 on the Philly drive, but it's possible. But even though this design was released in 2015, I still get compliments from total strangers at stoplights, carwashes, gas stations, restaurants, etc. The Soul Red Metallic paint just makes the car pop. I wish it was available with the Terra Cotta leather (the gray above is available with it), and that it didn't have the standard all in black, because it gets thermonuclear in there with the top down and the sun beating on you, but a minor quibble. But it's just fun. Pure driving fun. The best stick shift in any car today. Solid brakes, excellent handling, a sane amount of power to where you aren't going to get into anything reckless and stupid. After a 12+ hour day at work, there's nothing better than dropping the top and driving the 20 minutes home with the better than I thought it would be Bose stereo playing Moby into my ears through the headrest speakers. Mazda has already announced there will be an NE model so I can't wait for that. It'll be interesting how they will keep the weight down with the expected changes to eke more MPG out of what is already an efficient car.
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