Since acquiring Mitsubishi in 2016, the Renault-Nissan Alliance has found itself in the midst of Volkswagen and Toyota’s struggle for the title of World’s Largest Automaker.
At the end of 2016, VW was still on top but momentarily ceded ground as Toyota amped up volume in early 2017. Compared to last year, the Germans saw sales fall a half-percent in the first quarter of 2017 as the Japanese companies recorded more stable growth. But CEO extraordinaire Carlos Ghosn believes Renault-Nissan has what it takes to fill the top spot before the end of the summer.
While it would be a privilege to tell you that Ghosn entered a darkened room illuminated by a single spotlight to announce the time for the Alliance to crush its enemies was now, the reality was far more tame. The shareholders meeting was adequately lit and Carlos stated, without malice, that becoming the world’s largest automotive superpower is more of an inevitable accident than an intentional conquest.
Toyota is hoping to break the internet with an alluring butt shot of an upcoming Prius variant.
That, a new guy will turn around Lada (again), Buick says you’ll never drive an Avista, the second GM ignition trial begins, and Google’s got its eye out for buses … after the break!
Romanian automaker Dacia is crafting limited-edition versions of its most popular models and wants its online fans to name them.
To mark the initiative, Dacia brought its first such model — the Swiss market-bound Duster Essential — to show off at the 2016 Geneva Motor Show.
Creature comforts like power windows and doors, alloy wheels, Bluetooth connectivity and a new specialty body color (which even covers the bumpers!) are what sets these versions apart from their entry-level brethren. It also puts greater distance between the brand and its crude Eastern Bloc origins.
Oh, Brazil. Not having the cars, the will or possibly the means to offer proper SUVs to customers back in the 90s, local makes did as the always do and improvised. Raise up the suspension, modify it (or not) as needed, insert bigger wheels, add lots of plastic cladding and graphics, and your pseudo-SUV common hatch or station wagon is magically transformed into an “aventureiro”.
A Fashionable Savior for the Budget Minded?
Rio is full of beauty: beaches, gorgeous people on said beaches, delicious caipirinhas served beachside and…wait for it…a healthy alternative to DLO FAIL.
Yes, a way out from the infestation of black plastic cheater panels: triangles of FAIL that plague Car Design from the cheapest subcompact to the most flagship-iest Cadillac.
Tim Cain’s article on how the Micra now accounts for 1 in 10 Nissans sold in Canada led me down the armchair product planner rabbit hole, though my conclusion was not the “Nismo Cube Diesel in Brown” that one might expect of an auto blogger. I think that there’s a strong case to be made for the Dacia Duster to be imported to Canada as an ultra-cheap Nissan crossover.
From the Twitter account of Bob Flavin comes this map of Europe, overlayed with each country’s best-selling auto brand.
General Motors took the step of killing off Chevrolet in Europe earlier this year, and has long attempted to position Opel and Vauxhall as mainstream but slightly more premium offerings (analogous to how Volkswagen was once marketed in the United States). And that makes news of a new line of budget cars all the more confusing.
One of the frequent themes discussed on TTAC is the rising inequality of the mainstream car market in Europe. Since the Great Financial Crisis, Europe’s auto market has not only undergone a severe contraction in terms of volume, but also a radical shift in its composition.
In 2012, Volkswagen began research into starting a budget brand in the vein of Datsun and intended rival Dacia, with the aim of having a full lineup ready for sale by 2015. Two years later, the budget brand has hit a budget wall, and that’s only the start.
After a six-month self-imposed hiatus, Renault has begun shipping “a very low volume” of parts overland to Iran for vehicle assembly.
Top Gear and TTAC have been at the forefront of giving you your dose of Dacia developments for some time now, propelled by my strange obsession with this obscure Romanian brand of budget car. Now, Dacia is getting its 15 minutes of North American coverage, with a New York Times feature touting Dacia as “Europe’s Hottest Car”.
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.
Renault launched the Duster in India last year and it immediately became a strong seller. The response to the Duster was so good that the compact SUV overtook India’s best selling SUV, Mahindra Scorpio, to become the segment’s best seller. All was well for Renault until Ford crashed the French automaker’s party with the launch of the EcoSport. Ford not only undercut the Duster’s price by a cool $3000 but also offered way more equipment, helping them to get 50,000 orders in a matter of just two months.