There’s been much talk lately about the possibility of Czech automaker Škoda entering the American market, spurred by news of the brand trademarking some model names in the USA.
The idea is that Škoda could complement or even replace Volkswagen on American soil with its larger, cheaper cars. But can it make sense? Can Škoda offer something that VW can’t? Is it better suited to American tastes? And, is it cheap enough? Let’s look at all these question with the eyes of someone who’s familiar both with Škodas and with American cars and consumer tastes.
With the Saab brand now functionally dead, could the next quirky car du jour for individuality-signalling Americans come from France?
All eyes will be on PSA Peugeot Citroen on April 5 as France’s top automaker reveals its new international growth strategy, possibly heralding a return to the long-abandoned U.S. market.
The U.S. and Iran are being looked at as potential export markets, now that PSA’s “Back in the Race” restructuring program has improved the financial fortunes of the once-struggling automaker.
Automotive News reports former General Motors CEO Dan Akerson proclaimed in an interview with Forbes magazine that current CEO Mary Barra had no knowledge of the out-of-spec ignition switch that led to the February 2014 recall of 2.6 million vehicles, going as far as to bet his own life on the statement. Barra added the fallout from the recall is a chance for GM to not only “do the right thing and serve the customer well through” the crisis, but “to accelerate cultural change” within the company. Akerson passed the torch to Barra in December 2013 to take time to care for his ailing wife, and has since rejoined Carlyle Group as vice chairman on its board of directors.
Though PSA Peugeot Citroen secured funding in a three-way deal between itself, the French government and Dongfeng, new boss and former Renault COO Carlos Tavares has a hard road ahead of him as he rebuilds the ailing automaker.
Within four months of each other, Honda, Mazda and Nissan have opened new factories in Mexico, taking advantage of the opportunities within the nation’s automotive industry to grow a new export base into the United States, Latin America and Europe while also gaining ground in the rapidly expanding local market, all in direct challenge to the Detroit Three and other automakers on both sides of the border.
Mazda Chairman Takashi Yamanouchi opened his company’s sole North American factory in Salamanca, Mexico, proclaiming the new factory the key to a global strategy “upon which the very future of [the] company hinges.”
As the yen weakened against the dollar for a second consecutive year, Honda, Nissan and Toyota all set production records in their North American plants in 2013, according to Automotive News.
Should you find yourself renting a Chevrolet Spark in Acapulco in the near future, beware: it won’t have the same safety features — as in none at all — as the Spark exported to your local dealership. In fact, unless a car or truck screwed together in Mexico is bound for the United States or Europe, only the bare minimum, if any, in safety features will be available to customers in Latin America shopping for base models.