Africa

Mercedes-Benz Names New Head of Van Life

Mercedes-Benz USA announced the elevation of Nicolette Lambrechts to vice-president and managing director of sales and marketing for Mercedes-Benz vans, effective May 1st. Underscoring the van life movement, sales, marketing, service, and parts for the entire segment is under Lambrechts’ purview.

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South African Crash Test for Dummies

The Steed 5 pickup, Haval H1 five-door SUV, and the Renault Kwid five-door compact, all achieved poor levels of adult and child protection in crash tests conducted by Global NCAP and AA South Africa yesterday.

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The Big, Bad, Automatic Benz That Took on the WRC - the C107

In 1978, Mercedes-Benz made the decision to expand its efforts in rally competition. But its choice of platform to enter into the World Rally Championship was, to say the least, unique.

At the time, the WRC was dominated by small sedans like the Fiat 131 Abarth and Ford Escort RS1800 — cars that finished first and second in the championship that year. Mercedes-Benz took a decidedly different route, as it had no small sporty sedan.

What it did have was a large, heavy and expensive personal luxury coupe in the C107 SLC. While the choice would seem unnatural, under the direction of Erich Waxenberger the premier 450SLC was prepared and developed over the next few seasons into a rally winner.

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From In-Road Rock Formations to Traffic-Directing Robots: A Dispatch From Congo

If you can describe a road surface as being home to a rock formation, you might be in Kinshasa, Congo.

Protrusions of solid rock extend several feet above the road surface, as though thrust upward by some geologic force. In fact, these shockingly large outcroppings are made possible through an unfortunate combination of poor construction, over-use, and extreme neglect. I came upon several such promontories during a recent visit to the Congolese capital. And these were not rural or back street rock climbing opportunities. These can be found on main roads across the city center.

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Marchionne Straddles the World, Shouting 'Jeeps for Everyone!'

The Jeep brand is Fiat-Chrysler’s biggest money maker, so it’s no wonder that CEO Sergio Marchionne is scattering factories around the world like a sailor’s offspring.

The company’s head honcho outlined his business plan for the brand in an interview published by Automotive News, and it involves no longer having to make a “Sophie’s Choice” decision with Jeep output.

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Four Weeks in Africa With the Land Rover Defender

After 67 years, production of the iconic Land Rover Defender ends today. It’s an amazing feat that the Defender has lasted this long. It was a utilitarian vehicle developed at a time when going off-roading meant just going. It helped Europe rebuild after World War II. And it explored Africa, where often the Land Rover was the first automobile ever seen by locals. It continued that way for years, undergoing constant but slow evolution, rather than complete revolution.

Until today.

Rather than boring everyone with interesting quasi-factual trivia about Land Rover’s most iconic model, I’ll bore you with my own personal experiences.

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FCA Signs Fullback Mitsubishi L200 To Fiat Professionals For 2016 Season

Making its debut at the 2015 Dubai Motor Show, the Fiat Fullback will be playing its first season in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa next May.

The Fullback — a rebadged Mitsubishi L200 — takes its name from the position found in rugby, soccer, and American football. Its purpose: to help Fiat break into the medium-duty pickup segment in the aforementioned EMEA market, where 675,000 units from the likes of Ford, Toyota and Mitsubishi were sold in 2014.

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Could Africa Support Its Own Auto Industry?

Africa may be one of the last untapped continents for automakers and one of the largest growth markets in the future. But the opportunity is now for carmakers such as Uganda-based Kiira Motors, Kenya-based Mobius Motors, Nigeria-based Innoson and Ghana-based Kantanka Motors, they say.

“The automotive industry presents one of the fiercest competitive market environments,” Kiira Chief Executive Paul Isaac Musasizi told the Wall Street Journal. “We need to remain focused, courageous and committed.”

His commitment is shared by other automakers such as Ford, who recently announced that it would produce 5,000 trucks at a plant in Nigeria for sale within the continent. Hyundai said they would invest $22 million to build an assembly plant in Nairobi and expand dealerships.

A cursory look at market penetration for automakers looks promising — no African country cracks the top 50 in vehicles per capita.

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Ford Posts $1.9B Second Quarter Profit, Largest Since 2000

Ford announced that it made a $1.9 billion net-adjusted profit in the second quarter of 2015, marking the largest gain for the automaker since 2000, according to Automotive News.

The profit represents a 44-percent gain over last year despite dipping global sales and a stronger U.S. dollar hampering exports. Ford said it was selling cars for more money and offering fewer incentives, despite recent reports of F-150 incentives topping nearly $11,000 in some places.

Ford said revenues in North America surged 10 percent, which helped the company beat Wall Street’s expectations.

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GM to Develop Global Car With China-based SAIC Motors

General Motors will invest $5 billion to build a global line of cars with Shanghai-based SAIC Motors that will be sold in Brazil, China and other emerging markets, the automaker announced Tuesday.

The cars won’t be sold in the United States, according to the statement.

The global vehicles will go on sale starting in 2019 and the automaker expects the line to eventually produce roughly 2 million cars annually.

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With New Honda CEO, Possible FCA Partnership?

New Honda CEO Takahiro Hachigo told media Monday that the automaker wouldn’t aim for a specific global sales figure to drive growth and would be open to partnerships with other automakers, Automotive News reported.

The speech also emphasized sharing global manufacturing resources within Honda’s six regional divisions and to create “challenging products.” (Which may or may not — probably not — mean “Challenger.”)

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Fiat Aegea Is the Dodge Dart for Elsewhere

Fiat, in conjunction with Tofaş R&D, revealed its new compact three-box Aegea sedan project at the Istanbul Motor Show. The new sedan, which will get a different name when it goes to production, is the first of three new models to be introduced for the EMEA region, replacing the Linea sedan and Bravo hatchback.

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Fiat Compact Sedan to Debut at Istanbul Autoshow

In related news: Istanbul has an auto show.

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Mobius Leads Path Toward Local Manufacturing For African Consumers

Today, 50 units from Nairobi-based manufacturer Mobius are set to be delivered to customers, marking the first step for the company as it aims to prove Kenya — and the continent of Africa — can produce just as well as it supplies raw materials.

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Datsun Is Go In South Africa
Toyota Looking To Conquer Africa
Ford to Fight for the Heart of Middle East, Africa

From the Blade Runner future in Dubai to the shores of Tripoli, Ford aims to launch an aggressive campaign in the Middle East and Africa markets through the creation of a fifth business unit that will consolidate the Blue Oval’s operations in the two regions.

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Beyond The BRICs

Emerging markets have been a big theme at TTAC for the past few years, with our coverage going beyond the cursory articles on automotive developments in the BRIC countries. Our articles on places like North Africa and Indonesia aren’t always the most popular, but we keep an eye on them for a very important reason. These countries are the final frontier for growth in the automotive sector.

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Capsule Review: Toyota HiLux Surf (United Nations Edition)

Diesel and Baby Blue to strike fear into the hearts of our enemies

The durability of the original Toyota HiLux, known in the United States as simply “Truck,” is the stuff of legend, especially if you enjoy Top Gear. It often seems that only rust can kill these simple but durable pickups, which means that in areas where rust does, in fact, sleep, they are effectively immortal. My daily ride in Abu Dhabi is a Fortuner, the HiLux’s Asian cousin.

But this isn’t my first foray into Toyota reliability. My graduate level work in this field came from my time as a UN Unarmed Military Observer (UNMO) on a peacekeeping mission in Ethiopia and Eritrea in 2004. The patrol vehicle dejuir was the Toyota HiLux Surf (aka the 4Runner). But rather than the V-6, the UN standard issue at the time was a 4 cylinder turbo diesel mated to a 5 speed manual.

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Labor Unrest In South Africa

South Africa’s main auto union threatened to “halt production” at a Volkswagen after union members were fired, Reuters says.

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Renault Says "Kuss Ummak" To VW, French Unions With Algeria Deal

Renault’s Algerian plant became a done deal Thursday, with production beginning in mid-2014, which will see the French auto maker become the sole passenger car builder in the North African state.

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Algerian Government Rejects French Offer Of PSA Stake, Seeks Renault's Love

The fate of PSA and the Algerian people has been intertwined for decades. The group’s Aulnay plant, which is due to close, was originally staffed by immigrants from North Africa, lured by the promise of a better life and secure jobs in France. And while Peugeot sales withered in France, the brand has been traditionally strong in North Africa, with 2011 bringing a 93 percent increase in sales for Peugeot.

But Algeria’s push for a domestic car industry doesn’t seem to include PSA. Arch-rival Renault is due to set up a factory in the country, but PSA has apparently rejected overtures from the French government to take a stake in the ailing car maker.

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Renault, VW, In Spat Over North African Plants

Renault’s plans for a plant in Algeria have stalled, amid the French auto maker’s desire for an agreement barring auto makers from setting up shop in the country for 5 years after the plant comes online – and Volkswagen is apparently what’s keeping Renault up at night.

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PSA's Low Cost Efforts Bear Fruit

PSA is looking to challenge Renault-Nissan’s dominance of the low cost car segment with a new sedan branded as a Peugeot.

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Don't Give LaHood Ideas: They'll Take Your Phone Away

They do that in South Africa. Use your phone for texting or gabbing, and police in Cape Town will arrest your cell.

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The Iranian Connection In The GM/Peugeot Alliance

As a member of The Tribe with an Iranian best friend, the general policy on politics pertaining to the Middle East is “don’t talk about it” (although like most young Iranians, my friend’s take on Ahamadinejad would make Rick Santorum look like a capitulating Ayatollah-sympathizer). The same policy seems to have come up in the last week or two, a s talks of a General Motors/PSA tie-up have surfaced. Peugeot has an Iranian best friend, and it may have some interesting implications if the deal goes through.

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Out Of Africa, A Car For Africa

In the auto industry, as in so many other areas, Africa is something of a forgotten continent. Without the new roads and emerging middle class of a China, the most underdeveloped part of the developing world tends to fly under the radar: for example, until I read a Financial Times piece on an airplane, I had no idea that South Africa’s auto industry was booming. And now, here’s another story that isn’t getting much play in the mainstream of the auto world: Mobius, a Mombasa, Kenya-based firm has built a prototype vehicle that it hopes will be the Model T of Africa, providing robust, low-cost transportation to a continent that is not taken seriously as a market by the global car business.

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South African Auto Industry Takes Off

When I think of the South African car industry, I’m a bit ashamed to admit that I first think of the Citi Golf, the ageless Mk.1 VW Golf that was built there from ’84 to 2009 (or possibly armored cars). Of course that’s a grossly inaccurate representation, and the Financial Times recently clued me into South Africa’s booming auto sector growth . Led by screaming exports of Ford’s Global Ranger pickup and the Mercedes C-Class, South Africa will very nearly have doubled its production numbers between 2009 and 2012. And with the government introducing yet another Motor Industry Development Programme in 2013, the plan is to build South African production capacity to 1.2m vehicles per year by 2020. And though South Africa is not immune to the currency, labor and supply chain problems that plague nearly every production location, Mercedes has already promised to double C-Class production to 95,000 units by 2014. Sounds like a vote of confidence, and another reason to keep a closer eye on South Africa.

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Is Toyota Losing the Market for "Technicals" to China?

You’ve seen them before, photos from some godforsaken place of insurgent warfare. A half dozen rag tag soldiers, if you can call them soldiers, bristling with Chinese Kalishnikov knockoffs, piled into a Toyota Hilux with a heavy machine gun or some other armament like a recoil-less rifle or ack-ack gun mounted on the roof or in the bed. The Toyota Hilux has been the choice of low level combatants around the world since the 1960s. As noted by China Car Times, when Muammar Gaddafi (is there a world leader whose names, first and last, are spelled in so many different ways?) had one of his snit fits and invaded Chad in 1987 to overturn the government, both sides used so many Hiluxes that Time magazine dubbed it the Toyota War. In the early 90s, the war in Somalia brought us the term “technical”, interestingly enough derived from the NGO practice of hiring local gunmen to protect their employees, and paying them with funds earmarked as “technical assitance grants”.

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Carmakers Shutter Plants In Egypt As Riots Escalate

Most automakers are suspending operations in Egypt while riots continue. Here is a list of current closures:

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  • Alan Like all testing and analysis work you need a good set of requirements. If you don't you'll find or end up with gaps.
  • Alan In aviation there is more vigourous testing, well, until Boeing changed things.
  • Alan This outcome was certain.The US, Australia and Canada need to approach this differently. A policy towards plug in hybrids should of been a first step. As in CAFE gradually tighten FE from there.There's no reason why you can't have a 2 litre F-150 with electric motors putting out 400-500hp. A 2 litre turbo is good for 200hp more than enough to move a pickup.Also increase fuel tax/excise every year to fill the void in loss of revenue.
  • Doug brockman hardly. Their goals remain to punish us by mandating unsafe unreliable unaffordable battery powered cars
  • Lorenzo It looks like the curves are out and the boxy look is back. There's an upright windscreen, a decided lack of view obstructing swoop in the rear side panels, and you can even see out of the back window. Is Lexus borrowing from the G-Class Mercedes, or the Range Rover?