QOTD: Is The EV Honeymoon Over?

Now that the Nissan Leaf is being made in Tennessee, Nissan has decided that a big price drop is in order. While the 2012 car retailed for $35,200, the 2013 Leaf starts at $28,800, thanks to a new base model. Anyone who bought a 2012 must be pretty ticked off at the resale-ruining price cut. Higher-end SV and SL trim levels will retail for $31,820 and $37,250 respectively.

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NAIAS 2013: Nissan Versa Note Left Uncovered
NAIAS 2013: Nissan Teases Versa Note, Because Note Means Hatchback

Nissan is keeping true to its promise of offering up a new model every 3.5 seconds for the rest of time. What you see above is the newest child to be birthed from Yokohama Prefecture, Japan – the Nissan Versa Note.

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Made In America Nissan Leaf Now In Production
Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: World Roundup November 2012: When Hyundai Cracked Brazil

Hoping that you are all having a very Happy Holiday Season, my present to you guys today is the 9th installment of our much anticipated monthly rendezvous: the World Roundup.

If last month the focus was on China, Austria and Japan, in November all spotlights are on Brazil…

You can check out previous World Roundups here for March 2012 (“Has the Hybrid era started for good?”), April 2012 (“Big change coming from India”), May 2012 (“GM and Toyota Etios make headlines”), June 2012 (“Hyundai Santa Fe and Ford Focus shine”), July 2012 (“Geely CK writes history in Ukraine“), August 2012 (“The Subaru XV topples a legend in Switzerland”), September 2012 (“Ford Focus strong in China”) and October 2012 (“One Japanese in the Chinese Top 50”).

Had enough of the world and you just want to know which cars sell best in your own backyard? Easy. You can visit 171 countries and territories in my blog in the comfort of your own lounge. Just like that.

Back to our Roundup…

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Brazil in 2012: Fiat Celebrates Early For Fear That VW Will up! Them

Video o.k. for network TV in Brazil, but NSFW in certain jurisdictions. Do not click if naked derrieres offend you.

The numbers for the first eleven months of the year have been consolidated. The first fortnight of December has been basically more of the same. It’s now quasi-official: Fiat is the biggest pig in the sty for the eleventh time in a row. They already have an ad out celebrating the fact. Last year the Italians waited until January to commemorate. This year they had no such compunctions.

Curious is the theme they chose to celebrate their victory. Don’t think a green-eyed spermatozoon, masturbation and bodily functions would be GM’s choice to celebrate their market dominance in stodgy America. Oh, those racy Italians!

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Piston Slap: Modern Sleeper, Future Classic?
TTAC Commentator Halftruth writes:

Hey Sajeev,

While watching the Mecum auto auctions recently, a beautiful Plymouth GTX came thru on the auction block. It got me thinking about the rash of brand-icide we’ve seen these past ten or so years. As they pass, others come in.

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Review: 2013 Nissan Altima SL 3.5 (Video)

The “family sedan” may not be very exciting, but without midsized sales auto makers would be in a pickle. Ponder this: the five best-selling midsized sedans in America accounted for 1.3 million of the 12.8 million vehicles sold in 2011. With numbers like that, it’s important to get your mass-market people mover right. This means competitive fuel economy, a low base price and swipe as much tech from your luxury brand as possible. Either that or just wear a Nissan badge on the front. Say what? The last generation Altima was the second best-selling car despite being long in the tooth and filled with Chrysler quality plastics. That made me ask an important question: Is the fifth-generation Altima any good, or is it selling well (now in third place thanks to the new Accord and Nissan’s model change over) just because it has a Nissan logo on the front?

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TTAC Declares (Knock On Wood) Toyota World's Largest Automaker 2012

We have been saying it since May, but it took Bloomberg (along with the rest of the copypasting media) until a few days ago to realize that GM’s reign as the World’s Largest Automaker is coming to an end. GM regained the title in 2011 from a tsunami-ravaged Toyota. Toyota has been bouncing back strongly ever since. Toyota’s worldwide production is up 30 percent for the year, while GM was seen treading water when they last published global numbers in October.

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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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Infinitis To Be Made In Sunderland. Baby Benzes To Follow?

Infiniti’s often discussed future premium compact model will be built at Nissan’s UK plant in Sunderland, Nissan says. It was previously announced that the new Infiniti will “share a platform developed with Mercedes.

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Infiniti Revives The "Q"

Infiniti has decided to abandon its current alphanumeric strategy for…an all-new alphanumeric strategy whereby passenger cars are given the “Q” designation, and crossovers and SUVs are dubbed the “QX”.

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Renault-Nissan Working On Really Low Cost Car

Last week, when talking about Volkswagen’s future $10,00o low-cost car, we said that “is rumored to work on something that costs about half.” Guess it is no longer a rumor. Reuters writes that Gerard Detourbet , the man behind Renault’s Logan program, is in Chennai, India, to work on a real budget car, costing about half of Volkswagen’s targeted price. India is the battlefield for low-cost cars. And that’s not because of Tata’s Nano.

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Volkswagen Ready To Add Low-Cost Car Brand

Volkswagen is making most of its profits with pricey Audis, but it is looking towards making volume with low cost cars. Plans for a budget-brand, reported at TTAC in October, are “entscheidungsreif”, ready for a decision as they say in Wolfsburg. In January, Volkswagen’s board could give its go-ahead.

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Survey Says: Detroit Can't Shake The Drinking Habit - Blame The Enablers!

Demand for fuel-efficient vehicles remains strong, and the fleet of newly bought cars is taking to the streets getting a better mileage on average than a year before. The cars sold by Hyundai/Kia are most miserly with their fuel, with Volkswagen close behind. Automobiles from Detroit on the other hand stay thirsty. This is the result of TrueCar’s TrueMPG survey.

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Meet The New GM Trucks, Same As The Old Trucks

GM revealed its new full-size pickups today, with a combination of “evolutionary” styling and while offering a more traditional pickup, devoid of the fancy turbocharged V6 engines and air suspensions offered in its rivals.

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Review: 2013 Ford Flex SEL AWD (With Video)

A large crossover doesn’t have to be Mehta-approved to be a best-seller. Aesthetically, it need do little more than not look like a minivan, so owners can pretend to have lives apart from their offspring. By why be just a couple sliders away from fatally uncool when the brood could roll with the style of a MINI or Range Rover? To provide this option, four years ago Ford gave North American families the Flex. How could this combination of offbeat style and functionality not be a hit? Well, it hasn’t been, with sales about one-sixth those of the crosstown competition. One of two things generally follows such a failure: termination or revision. For 2013, Ford has opted for the latter.

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Renault-Nissan In Charge At Russia's Largest Carmaker

With the stroke of a few pens putting signatures under a contract in Moscow today, then Renault-Nissan Alliance has become Russia’s largest automaker. The Alliance took control of AVTOVAZ, maker of the market-leading Lada brand. Lada holds 30 percent of Russia’s rapidly growing car market.

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The Incentive Wars: GM Cries Uncle. Let Them Cry A Little Louder

Last week, we told you to not buy a full-sized GM pickup just yet, and to hold out for big discounts from GM. You did not have to wait long. However, you may want to wait a little more.

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Review: 2013 Nissan NV3500 HD SL 12 Passenger Van (Video)

Every now and then a journalist sticks his foot in his mouth, and so it was with me and a Nissan PR person. PR person: we go the extra mile to make sure the press has access to everything we make, we don’t hide anything. Me: (after a long pause) oh yea? What about the NV Passenger van? How about that!? Eh? Why haven’t I seen one before? Hiding something? My Nissan minder whipped out his phone, made a call and a ginormous shiny black box appeared a week later. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it. I did not, I repeat, did not grovel and beg to Nissan’s top brass to get my hands on a full-size van.

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Piston Slap: Is a Frontier Necessary for Your Frontier?
Phil writes:

Sajeev,

I am currently the owner of a 2011 Nissan Frontier that I bought in February of last year. It is both the first truck and new vehicle that I have purchased. I am in the process of buying a house and have a little buyer’s remorse for purchasing a new vehicle.

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Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: A Trip to Homeland America

After taking you on a World roundup last time, I thought this week we would go back home and explore the best-selling cars in our own backyard.

Boring? That’s OK. You can visit 170 additional countries and territories in my blog in the comfort of your own lounge. Simple really.

Back to the backyard.

And the stars of the month are the Ford F-Series (expected), Honda Civic (not expected) and Dodge Dart (or not).

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In The Land Of Wagons, The Compact Crossover Is King

Despite being attacked in some circles as symbols of American decadance, the compact crossover is rapidly gaining in popularity. French business outlet La Tribune reports that sales of small crossovers are up 25 percent this year, with crossovers of all sizes now accounting for 10 percent of the car market.

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America's Hot Export Article: "Import" Cars

Many people don’t realize that most of the “import” cars bought and sold in America no longer roll off a boat, but off an assembly line somewhere in the American heartland. Or at least in the North American heartland. It comes as an even bigger surprise that these cars are one of America’s most successful export products, going from American ports to many countries in the world – where people often are likewise ignorant of the car’s American origin.

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U.S. Imports All The Rage In South Korea

While Japan may be a “closed market” in the eyes of some, imported cars from America are all the rage in South Korea. Honda is planning on sending no fewer than six American-made cars; the Civic, Accord, Odyssey, CR-V, Crosstour and Pilot will all be sent to South Korea as Honda attempts to become a net exporter of American made vehicles.

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Car Fight! Fiat And Nissan Trade Insults Over Who's Uglier

Forward contracts for popcorn skyrocketed at the Chicago Mercantile Exchange, the Tokyo Commodity Exchange and other world markets after managers of Fiat and Nissan traded barbs about beauty.

Matt Davis, head of Fiat brand product marketing, hit first.

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London Looking To Alter Congestion Charge Exemptions By Lowering CO2 Threshold

The 100 grams/km CO2 output figure is an important one for motorists in the UK. Cars that can hit this magic number are exempt from London’s daily $16 Congestion Charge, which is levied upon motorists attempting to enter London’s downtown core. But new rules may leave drivers liable for the daily fee, as lawmakers seek to change the exemption threshold to 75 grams/km.

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New Improved 2013 Volt - Now Charges 30 Percent Slower (Push "Leaf" Button To Fix)
In late 2011, photos of melted and damaged Volt charging cords appeared on the internet. GM initially blamed wiring problems in the electrical outlets, eventually, the company announced that they would replace all the 120V chargers in all 2011 and some 2012 models with a new unit. About 9,500 charging units were replaced.When the 2013 model came around, Volt owners were faced with a new and improved feature: Longer charge time. In self-help groups on the Internet, the culprit was quickly found: GM had reduced the default circuit load of the charger from 12 Ampere to 8 Ampere. Then, a low intensity war on the message boards ensued, and is still rages on. Here the latest dispatches from the front:
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What Is Happening To Toyota, Honda, Nissan In China, The Same Can Happen To GM

Buried In the depths of General Motor’s quarterly results is a routine litany of negative factors that could severely hamper the company’s future. One of them is “Significant changes in economic, political and market conditions in China.” GM intently monitors what is happening to Japanese brands in China, and it has more reason to watch with worries than with glee. What is happening to Toyota, Honda, and Nissan right now could just as easily happen to GM. The Japanese might shake off the troubles – Japanese makers have seen worse in the very recent past. GM would be brought to its knees by a boycott of American cars in China. Quite possibly, one of the reasons behind the whole anti-Japanese exercise is to say “look what could happen to you.” Government Motors finds itself at the mercy of China.

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TWAT Nominations Close At Midnight Tonight

Nominations for the TWATs have been extended until midnight. One last chance to get those nominations in before voting begins. Check out our full list of nominees below. Remember the rules; you can add, but nothing will be subtracted. Vehicles must have been on sale starting January 1, 2012. Voting will begin this week as we configure our polling software against unwarranted manipulation – if it can happen to TIME Magazine, it can happen here.

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November Sales: Another Strong Month, Not So Much For Some (Final Numbers)

Forecasters expected a strong November as far as U.S. light vehicles sales go, and they got a strong November. Data after the jump.

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Chinese Continue To Shun Japanese Cars

Chinese sales of Japanese makes continue to suffer from the fallout of the islands row. Toyota told Reuters that Chinese sales were down 22.1 percent YoY in November. Mazda’s China sales were down 29.7 percent compared to November last year, Reuters says. The severity of the drops has lessened, but it will be a while until Japanese brands return to their regular growth pattern in China.

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Japan In November 2012: Kei Cars Save The Month

Some forecasters expected Japan’s appetite for new cars to drop by more than 20 percent in the last quarter after government incentives expired in September. So far, it is not happening. Sales of new cars, trucks and buses declined a minuscule 0.4 percent in November. Elsewhere you may read that the market was down 3.3 percent, but they are not giving you the whole story. Sales of mini vehicles, or kei cars actually were up in November, pulling the market nearly completely out of minus territory.

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Piston Slap: Ter-Sell or Not Ter-Sell?

TTAC Commentator Ryoku75 writes:

Thanks for your response on my question on modern car grilles, you make a good point on modern cars being a bit taller up-front than needed. Now, I own an ’89 Toyota Tercel that needs a rear wheel bearing and exhaust (muffler, piping), otherwise it works fine and has 125k.

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What the Hell, the Japanese Characters Fit the Switch Just Fine!

When the Mitsubishi Pajero was brought to these shores, as the Mitsubishi Montero and the Dodge Raider, the bosses at Mitsubishi figured they’d just move the steering wheel to the other side and translate the text on all the controls from Japanese to English, end of story. As I learned while working for a localization company a few years back, this job is not always as simple as it looks.

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GM's Wishful Thinking Swallows the Pontiac G8, Spits Out the Chevrolet SS.

A couple of years ago, I attended my last General Motors press event. It was the debut of the Cadillac CTS-v Coupe and it was held at the Monticello country-club racetrack. I recall being impressed with the car, and I recall being impressed with Mark Reuss, the second-generation GM executive who brought his own helmet and his Grand-Am license to the event. Like Bob Lutz, Reuss is a big, handsome, improbably wealthy fellow who travels with a personal assistant, speaks in a no-nonsense tone, and carries himself with impervious confidence.

My attitude to the superstar dudes of the industry closely parallels that of O’Shea Jackson (warning: listening to that song at work will GET YOU FIRED) so I didn’t bother to chat Mr. Reuss up until we found ourselves side by side in the airport terminal. I asked him his opinion of the handling differences between the various CTS bodystyles, listened to him tell a couple of stories about road racing, and received some mild chastisement for turfing “his” Cadillac at high speed. It wasn’t until my flight home was halfway over that I realized: Yeah, he’s a great guy, but his company is failing miserably and he really isn’t doing anything to stop it. GM is chock-full of likable, even admirable people who are nevertheless collectively part of a great tragedy. It really doesn’t matter how “cool” a guy like Mark Reuss is. He’s being beaten out of his socks by “uncool” people at other companies, and as automotive journalists we’re not serving the truth if we don’t remind our readers of that simple fact every time it’s necessary. Every single time. Even if nobody else is willing to discuss the enormous elephant in the room — you know, the one with “18% Market Share” and “Bailout” and “Worst Product Line In the Industry” tattooed all over its wrinkly bottom.

So with that in mind, let’s talk about the new “Chevrolet SS”.

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AAA: No More Alcohol For Cars!

The AAA asked the U.S. government to prohibit the sale of E15. Only about 5 percent of the 240 million light duty vehicles on U.S. roads today are approved by manufacturers to run on the gasoline that contains 15 percent alcohol, and the other 95 percent could be ruined by the wicked fuel, says the AAA. The industry agrees.

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And Here The Latest Sales Forecasts For November

Two days ago, we heard that TrueCar expects a whopper of a November. Now, Kelley Bluebook and Edmunds have submitted their forecasts also. All agree: This will be a whopper of a November. More or less.

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Hyundai Fuel Fiasco: Whose Shoe Will Drop Next?

“Who’s next?” This is the number one topic at the Los Angeles auto show. After Hyundai had to restate its MPG numbers and pay compensation to customers, executives and analysts are convinced that more automakers may have to do the same, reports the well-connected Reuters reporter Bernie Woodall from the back-rooms and cocktail parties in LA.

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Fisker Delays Bringing Karmas To China, Should Forget About It

Fisker wanted to sell its $100,000-plus Karma plug-in hybrid in China by the end of this year. It’s not happening. Fisker “encountered a slight delay in obtaining final certification to sell cars in China” spokesman Roger Ormisher told Reuters. The company now targets “the first quarter of next year to take advantage of China’s rapidly growing market for luxury cars.” Good luck with that.

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Japanese Make Up For China In America

A few weeks ago, Toyota’s CFO Satoshi Ozawa told an astounded press corps (and I paraphrase for brevity): “Sure, the riots in China have an effect, but we’ll make it up elsewhere in the world.” Today, we have the data that prove Ozawa-san right. What’s more, he could have spoken for all his Japanese peers. Yes, the boycott of Japanese cars in China caused drastic cutbacks at large Japanese automakers. However, all are doing so gulpingly well elsewhere that a buyer strike in the world’s largest car market turns into nothing more than a hiccup.

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Nissan Lands A Blockbuster. On YouTube

Dan Sloan, since May 2011 Editor in Chief and General Manager of Nissan’s Global Media Center at the Nissan Global HQ in Yokohama, can celebrate his big breakthrough. The former Singapore Bureau Chief of Reuters landed a YouTube blockbuster.

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Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: World Roundup October 2012

Yes it is that time of the month, the time for our acclaimed monthly rendezvous: the World Roundup, now in its 8th installment.

Last month the Ford Focus’ success in China made the headlines, and in October it does again…but the heat is also on in Japan and Austria…

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TrueCar, Auto Execs Expect Very Strong November

Driven by a rebounding economy and an after-Sandy pop, auto sales in November will be be “highest since February 2008,” expects Jesse Toprak, senior analyst at TrueCar.com. Sales chiefs at major automakers agree.

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Vellum Venom Vignette: Redesigned Chrysler 200?

TTAC commentator halftruth writes/draws:

I got taking a look at the Chrysler 200 recently and while I want to like it, I cant get past the little droop on the bottom of the tail lights. I took a couple of stabs to see what they would look like flat and perhaps they are too VW-ish, but I like them better this way..

What do you think? I did them quickly in paint but I think you get the point…thanks!

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Infiniti To Become One Of The Big Names Of Formula One

Nissan’s Infiniti is joining high-powered nameplates such as Ferrari, Lotus and Mercedes and becomes title sponsor of a Formula One racing team. Under a four year contract, the highly successful Red Bull Racing team will change its name to Infiniti Red Bull Racing starting with the 2013 season.

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Renault Won't Start A New Chinese Joint Venture. It Already Has One

China Business News has the story (via Reuters) that Renault will start a joint venture with Dongfeng, and that “the two firms plan to invest a combined 6.5 billion yuan ($1.0 billion) in a plant in the central province of Hubei with an initial capacity of 200,000 cars a year.” The story promptly went as viral as a story about a Chinese joint venture can go viral.

Officially, the story elicited a “no comment”at Renault. Privately, after they were done yawning, contacts in Paris said that this is a non-story, but a popular one. News about a joint venture between Renault and Dongfeng appear with regularity, but they overlook the fact that Renault has had a joint venture in China for longer than most people seem to remember.

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Renault India Starts Duster Exports To The UK

Since ages, India has been receiving cars from UK manufacturers (MINI, Rolls-Royce, Jaguar Land Rover, Bentley, etc) and it’s now time to return the favour. Renault has commenced exports of the Duster compact SUV to the UK markets. This entry level vehicle is manufactured at Renault-Nissan’s India facility in Chennai. The Duster is badged as a Dacia for the UK and is very similar to the one sold in India. The Duster is a massive hit in India, selling more than 5,000 units per month, which is more than 6 times that of the second best selling car (Scala, which is a re-badged Nissan Sunny) in Renault India’s portfolio.

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Nissan Technology Protects Walls

Nissan showed technology that protects both walls from cars, and drivers from their own stupidity lack of judgment. Sonar devices in the front and rear of the car detect hard obstacles. If the system decides that the driver is about to hit the wall, the computer cuts the gas and applies the brake.

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Japanese Car Sales In China Expected To Be Down In November, But Less Than In October

The boycott of Japan-branded cars by Chinese customers appears to be abating faster than feared by some, but not as fast as hoped by others. Nissan expects its November sales in China to be down by approximately 25 percent, Hideki Kimata, senior general manager of Nissan’s joint venture with Dongfeng, told Reuters. Yesterday, Mazda’s China chief said he expects sales in China to be down by around 35 percent in November.

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Toyota To Launch Two China-Only Brands

Toyota will launch two China-only brands next year, one for each of its two Chinese joint ventures, a Toyota executive told Reuters today. Toyota had been one of the last hold-outs in the China-only business, after most other makers had caved in to the strong suggestions of the Chinese government that China-only brands are good for the Chinese joint venture.

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GM Launches Chinese EV Under "Shanghai GM" Brand

That GM will launch an electrified Sail in China is no secret, at least not to TTAC readers. You won’t be surprised to hear that GM launched one at the Guangzhou auto show. The car is not the interesting part. The interesting part is the brand behind the car.

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Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: 10 Things I Don't Understand

If over the last few weeks we have travelled to Iraq, Poland, Australia and China, you can also check out 167 additional countries and territories in my blog, all from the comfort of your home. Or if all that matters to you is the United States of A (yes you at the back – I know that’s what you’re thinking), I can offer you the 264 best-selling models in the USA in October 2012. Every single one of them.

But I have something different for you today.

Over the years there has been a few things I haven’t got my head around. Simple things, odd things or stupid things. They have been like a nagging voice in the back of my head. So I decided to put them all in one article on here. Now the tone is definitely tongue in cheek, I know most answers to these questions are cost-related, but that’s boring. So enjoy!

1. Why are the Americans not stuck in the fifties?

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Nissan Hikes Price Of Unpopular Cube
Renault's Quest For The 3,000 Car

Renault is gearing up to produce a range of cars positioned below Dacia, including a competitor for the Tata Nano.

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New Nissan Leaf Promises You More Or Less

Nissan showed a refreshed version of its all-electric Leaf today. Available to the Japanese market at first, it offers both more and less.

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Monday Mileage Midget: 2011 Honda Accord LX

Not too long ago (but in a galaxy far, far away) I wrote about the deals you can get on unpopular new cars that have brand new replacements waiting in the wings.

Today we’ll examine what happens when those vehicles fall off the depreciation cliff. Again.

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GM Invests More Into Fake Chinese Brand

GM added more capacity to its Chinese Baojun brand by opening a factory in Liuzhou, southern China. Plant and brand are part of the SAIC GM Wuling joint venture, where GM holds 44 percent, SAIC 50 percent, with 6 percent held by Wuling.

Baojun started with the Baojun 630, a compact sedan based on an older Buick Excelle/Daewoo Lancetti platform, later the Le Chi was added, a rebadged Chevrolet Spark. By 2015, Baojun wants to have a total of five models, Reuters says.

Baojun is one of China’s joint venture brands, which we at TTAC like to call “fake Chinese brands.”

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Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: Only One Japanese Left In The Top 50 Best-Selling Models In China

Lately we have traveled to Iraq, Puerto Rico, Poland and Australia. And today we are going to China.

Heard enough about the Middle Kingdom? Fine. You can fly to 170 other countries and territories in my blog, all from the comfort of your home. Or today I can offer you the 264 best-selling models in the USA in October 2012. Every single one of them.

Now back to China. You can discover the Top 280 best-selling locally produced models below the jump and you will see that the impact of the island diplomatic row between China and Japan is extremely hard on the model ranking in China…

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The TWATs Keep Chugging Along

Our preliminary shortlist for the Ten Worst Automobiles Today award ended up garnering even more nominations, and some questions about the process. In the interest of transparency, we’ll tackle some of those below, as well as post an updated list.

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  • FifaCup Loving both Interior and exterior designs.
  • FifaCup This is not good for the auto industry
  • Jeff S This would be a good commuter vehicle especially for those working in a large metropolitan area. The only thing is that by the time you put airbags, backup cameras, and a few of the other required safety features this car would no longer be simple and the price would be not much cheaper than a subcompact. I like the idea but I doubt a car like this would get marketed in anyplace besides Europe and the 3rd World.
  • ScarecrowRepair That's what I came to say!
  • Inside Looking Out " the plastic reinforced with cotton waste used on select garbage vehicles assembled by the Soviet Union. "Wrong. The car you are talking about was the product German engineering, East German. It's name was Trabant.