Behind The Scenes

QOTD: Has the Global Vehicle Market Recovered?

Is the global vehicle market in recovery following the 2020 downturn? Data analysts GlobalData seem to think the market is firmly in recovery mode, according to their latest report.

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New Communicators at Audi and Hyundai

Audi’s Emilie Cotter

Hyundai and Audi both filled high-level communications posts this week. Audi promoted Emilie Cotter, while at Hyundai Sarah Fullwood arrived devoid of automotive experience.

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QOTD: Will Foxconn Make Fisker's PEARs?

Foxconn, also known as Hon Hai Technology Group, announced that it signed a development and manufacturing agreement with Fisker. Foxconn is one of the world’s largest electronics manufacturers and the producer of Apple’s iPhone.

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Hyundai Motor Group Invests a Boatload in the US

Hyundai Motor Group, makers of Hyundai and Kia autos, announced today their intent to invest $7.4 billion in the US by 2025. Electric vehicles, production facilities, and smart mobility is where the money will go.

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BMW 2 Series April's Fastest-Selling Used Vehicles

April’s fastest-selling used vehicles were led by the BMW 2 Series, according to iSeeCars. The 20 fastest-selling used vehicles averaged 28.7 days, 1.2-1.7 times faster than it took to sell an ordinary used vehicle. The fastest-selling used vehicles included a mix of sports cars, luxury vehicles, hybrids, and minivans.

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Toyota Subsidiary Woven Acquires Lyft Autonomous Division

Toyota’s Woven Planet Holdings has acquired Level 5, Lyft’s self-driving unit. Woven Planet’s deal brings scientists, software engineers, and researchers together as one.

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2023 Vantas VX SUV and T-Go Coming to the U.S.

The Vantas VX SUV will go on sale in the U.S. in late 2022. HAAH Automotive Holdings and Sicar announced yesterday that they will import Vantas and T-Go vehicles. This is a prelude to HAAH and Shanghai Sicar Automotive Technology manufacturing vehicles stateside. The COVID-19 pandemic delayed their U.S. manufacturing startup.

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Rental Car Companies Reeling From Uptick in Travelers

Rental car companies are their own worst enemies, having sold off much of their fleets during the pandemic’s height. With travel restrictions easing in many places they find themselves with no inventory.

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Chinese Smartphone Titan Xiaomi Entering the EV Race

Xiaomi, a Chinese smartphone colossus, has announced they are building their own branded electric vehicles (EVs), just like Apple, Huawei, Sony, and Foxconn.

If you’re prepared to lose money, starting a car company is easy. Just ask Tesla. Xiaomi has plenty, enough to sink $10 billion into the venture over the next 10 years.

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In the Future, Will Car Dealerships Exist?

Car dealerships are a conundrum. For decades, they’ve prevailed despite changes in every aspect of what occurs at a new car dealership. The big question is whether they will continue doing business as they have, or will there be changes to a system that’s out of touch with buyers today?

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The Fast and The Furious Rides Again

The ninth Fast and The Furious epic was announced during Super Bowl LV in typical Fast fashion, with an over-the-top trailer to herald yet another chapter in a franchise where the stars outgrew the cars central to the theme.

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Your Dirty Questions Answered at The Car Wash Show 2017

Some trade shows embrace the purist of missions, refraining from creating pointless content in hopes of mindless media coverage. The Car Wash Show caters to professionals in the car-care business with nary a sensationalist notion and not an autoblogger in sight on the show floor. This show isn’t about clicks, reach or engagement.

Which was precisely why I attended, embedded with my Mumbai-based cousin in the trade to learn more.

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Auto Leasing Insider Tips, Tricks, Myths and Misconceptions

A record 31 percent of all new vehicles sold this year in the U.S. are leased. I spent a good part of my career studying why some people refuse to lease. Much of their resistance stems from bad buzz. Some say it’s because of the stories they heard about ’80s-era open-end leases where owners were responsible for paying the car’s residual value at lease end. (These are the same customers who will not buy a Hyundai today because they produced crappy cars in the ’80s.) Others oppose leasing because they heard about a guy whose cousin’s neighbor had to pay $5,000 in wear and tear or excess mileage charges at lease end. And there are those of you who will brag comment below about how you always pay cash for your cars and don’t understand why other people won’t follow your lead.

This article is not designed to convert such non-believers to leasing. This advice, drawn from my years in the auto finance business, is for buyers who know the basics and benefits of leasing, want some timely tips on how to get the lowest possible payments, and want to pay less money on lease-end charges.

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Cole: Automotive Turkeys, Diesels, Alfas, B&B and You - Merry Thanksgiving

The fourth estate has a rich history of drinking their turkey on our annual day of giving thanks. As a newspaper editor and reporter for more than 10 years, I know why: journalists are miserable human beings and gratitude feels awkwardly close to Catholic guilt that some of us have deep, deep inside. Numbing our feelings are always better than actually feeling them.

But once a year, some of us trot out our humanity for readers poke fun at, and to help keep sane because sometimes this business will drive us crazy. I am thankful for much in my life: health, work, humor and family.

I’m also thankful for much, much more.

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TTAC Goes Karting, And So Should You!

One of the great secrets of TTAC is how little we, the writers, know each other.

I have met our fearless leader, Mark Stevenson, exactly once. I have met Sajeev exactly once — and he was wearing a judge’s robe and a headdress. I have met Murilee exactly once, and he was berating me for driving over the blend line at Carolina Motorsports Park. I’ve met Steve Lang once, and I was mostly drunk. I’ve never met Cameron, or Aaron, or Ronnie, or Tim, or several of the other contributors.

So when the opportunity arose to go karting with noted wheelman and TTAC author W. Christian “Mental” Ward this week in Atlanta, I eagerly accepted.

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Hammer Time: Halt and Catch Fire Jeep Cherokee

“Extras with cars! This way!”

A 20-something assistant to someone else’s assistant guides us to where the next shoot will take place.

“You! You! And You! We need you for wardrobe!”

Me? This can’t be good.

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Tesla's Tanking U.S. Sales And The World Of Automakers Falsifying Sales Numbers

Tesla’s first fleet deal? Around 100 Model S’s were sold to a Las Vegas startup taxi service.

The auto journo world is in a tizzy because electric automaker Tesla refuses to post its car sales numbers on a monthly basis and the numbers they do divulge are suspicious as they are without detail and they vary widely from actual registration numbers. Our friends at Jalopnik ranted about it last week, calling on Tesla to start reporting sales consistently. They based their story on a report by Seeking Alpha that deduced that Tesla may have as many as 12,000 unsold Model S’s, based on registration figures and the automaker’s quarterly financial reports.

We say congratulations, Elon Musk, you truly are the head of an American car company now, as reporting bogus sales numbers to the press is a normal part of an automaker’s modus operandi.

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The Streets Of R-Ado

I felt like a spy within my own company. It was a hot summer day in 2003 and I was at the DaimlerChrysler proving grounds in Laredo, Texas to attend a focus group on the upcoming 2006 Mercedes-Benz R-Class minivan/crossover/sport touring wagon. My dozen or so fellow attendees were all wealthy owners of high-end Mercedes-Benz cars. I was here because the Mercedes-Benz USA focus group invite filter did not recognize my net worth nor the fact that I worked for Mercedes-Benz Financial Services. And I was not about to tell anyone that…

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Inside The Industry, Special Edition: The Truth About Getting In

This being Q&A Wednesday, I promised to answer TTAC commenter 28-cars-later’s question in feature-length. He said: “Bertel, how do you get such access to Ghosn… is Nissan just *this* friendly to the press?” Let me explain to you how it works.

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Inside The Industry: Busts Of Counterfeit Parts Rings Are Part Of A Much Bigger Sham

The story about fake taxi parts did not surprise me at all. “Police busts fake parts scam” is a fixed part of the standard repertoire of the auto industry theater troupe. That play is longer running than Les Miserables, it definitely made more money than the Phantom of the Opera. The play is a clever sham to separate you from your money, and I helped write the script.

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Remember This Top Secret Facility? You Have Been There

After Toyota ended production of the Lexus LFA and closed a chapter of supercar history, National Geographic aired its documentary as part of its Megafactories series. “Up until now, no television cameras have ever been allowed inside this top secret facility,” says the film. The words were carefully chosen. You, the TTAC readers, had been there long before the film went on air.

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Inside The Industry: The Making Of A Press Conference – With 45 Exclusive Pictures

At TTAC, we showed you the secrets of how to make a supercar. But what about the real top secrets of a car company, like its earnings? This is insider information, trading on which could make you rich, or poor. It also can land you in jail for a long time. TTAC takes you to the inside of how a car company prepares for an earnings press conference.

Dan Sloan is tired. The head of Nissan’s Global Media Center in Yokohama got up at 6am this morning after days of not much sleep. Today is the day when Nissan’s third quarter earnings are to be announced to the press, and the world at large. It will be a long day of preparations for the big announcement in the late afternoon, and TTAC will be the fly on the wall. Or, as Sloan predicted, the fly in the ointment.

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Titillating Embargoes, And How Our Youth Is Led Astray By Manipulative Automakers

Investigative reporter

We have a new car show season. With it come new car releases, and with them comes a contagion that is as tiring and headache-inducing as a Cobo Hall flu on top of an after party hangover. The disease goes by the name of embargo, and it comes with the embargo breach as a secondary infection.

In case you have studied Pol.Sci. instead of HTML, you might be thinking that we are talking about real embargoes, such as those of Iran or Cuba. We don’t. In our biz, an embargo is when an OEM sends a blog a picture or a story, and then asks not to “print” it until later. If you think that the outcome is both predictable and inevitable, then you are absolutely correct. We could put the matter right to sleep without wasting (ha!) precious HTML column inches, would the new car season not also be marked by an excited chattering, twittering, OMG+1000ering over busted embargoes in what goes as the automotive media these days.

So let’s do what we rarely do, let’s talk about embargoes.

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The Making Of The Lexus LFA Supercar. An Inside Report In 5 Chapters
The Last Word On LFA Sales. Or: How To Cure OCD With One Phone Call

I’m looking at you …

Obsessions are a menace. The daughter of a friend had a shower obsession. “I have an obsessive compulsive disorder,” she would readily admit, only to continue: “I’ll be right back, I need to take a shower.” Such a pretty girl. And she always smelled so good.

A prime obsession of the auto blogosphere are the sales of the Lexus LFA. Is it sold out? Is it not?

(To avoid killing you with the suspense: It is. Has been since April 2010 when Lexus had its 500 orders long before production started in December of that year. Not interesting? I don’t blame you. Stop reading. There is plenty of other content.)

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The Making Of The Lexus LFA Supercar: An Inside Report, Chapter 5: Exam Week.

On the LFA’s in-house test track. Each car gets tested for some 50 miles

In this week-long report, we followed the Lexus LFA from raw fiber to body, paint, and assembly. In this final chapter, we take it on the test track in Motomachi.

Each and every LFA that rolls off the line is checked like no other car. 7,000 items of the LFA, all previously checked, counter-signed, eternalized in evidence sheets, are checked again. Each check again is eternalized in evidence sheets. When I said it takes 8 days to make an LFA, I lied. It takes 8 days to make one, and then it takes a full additional week to check it.

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The Making Of The Lexus LFA Supercar. An Inside Report, Chapter 4: Balance Of Power

In the preceding chapters, we followed the Lexus LFA from raw fiber to body, paint, and assembly. Today, the LFA gets its engine. Tomorrow, we’ll test it, and then, we’ll say good-bye to the LFA Workshop in Motomachi.

On its slow road to completion, the LFA travels down a main line, where it is met by components that come from smaller sidelines. One such subassembly is the LFA’s V10 engine. Covered by a thick sheet of plastic, it comes from Yamaha where it was built and assembled. The engine was a balancing act, in more ways than one.

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The Making Of The Lexus LFA Supercar. An Inside Report, Chapter 3: Call Me Names

LFA carbon fiber body

After a general introduction in the first chapter, the last chapter of this inside report showed us how the body-in-white of the LFA is hand-made layer by layer, and that it is actually a body-in-black. When finished, the body goes on a transfer cart and travels one third of a mile to the second stage of the LFA production, painting and final assembly. We take a bus.

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The Making Of The Lexus LFA Supercar. An Inside Report, Chapter 2: In The Clean Room.

One of two circular looms on the planet. 12 layers of seamless carbon fiber are woven into what will be part T3-3RH, part A-pillar, part roof support

Yesterday, we heard how the LFA really was born (in a bar, where many good ideas are born and pitched,) and why it is made from carbon fiber. Now, we are in front of the cleanroom, and while our little group is suiting up, let’s use the time for a quick course on CFRP.

The basic principle of Carbon Fiber Reinforced Polymer, CFRP for short, is not new. It dates farther back than metal. CFRP is a composite, made from two completely different materials that are joined together to give a much stronger material. Straw and clay was such an early composite. Concrete is a more recent one. In the case of CFRP, carbon fibers are combined with epoxy, the polymer. Sometimes, the material is also called “carbon fiber reinforced plastic,” but the end product is far removed from what usually comes to mind when we think of plastic.

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The Making Of The Lexus LFA Supercar: Who, What, Where And Most Of All Why. An Inside The Industry Report, Chapter 1: From A Bar To Bar None

The autoclave. A giant pressure cooker that limits the Lexus LFA production to one per day

Behind a nondescript garage door in the Motomachi plant in Toyota City is LFA Kobo, the LFA Works. Here, 170 men and women chase the holy grail of car making. Their mission: How to make a car super fast, super light, super safe, and affordable. They have mastered the first three. On the affordable they are still working. The holy grail is being chased in a supercar, the $375,000 Lexus LFA.

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TTAC Celebrates Lexus LFA Week, And You Go Behind The Scenes

This coming week is LFA Week. From Monday, July 9 through Friday, July 13, TTAC will run a five-part series documenting the production of the Lexus LFA. Readers of TTAC will receive unprecedented access to the LFA Works in Motomachi. You will receive a behind-the-scene look, exclusive, never before published proprietary pictures, and a glimpse into the future. Here is a preview:

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  • Randy in rocklin The Japanese can be so smart and yet so dumb. I'm America-Japanese and they really can be dumb sometimes like their masking paranoia.
  • Bunkie The Flying Flea has a fascinating story and served, inadvertently, to broaden the understanding of aircraft design. The crash described in the article is only part of the tale.
  • Master Baiter "I like the Earth."The idea that modern combustion engines are incompatible with the ongoing survival of the Earth, or of humanity, is breathtakingly stupid. Climate alarmism is akin to a religion--one to which I do not subscribe.
  • Skippity Key takeaways.Toyota is run by competent businessmen.Art doesn’t like Toyota.
  • MaintenanceCosts Audi has been a full player in the German luxury club for 20 years. It started to get there with the first A4, which was a 500-foot home run, and then achieved full recognition with the spectacular D3 A8.