We return to our Abandoned History coverage of Daewoo Motors in the early part of the Sixties. Korea was a newly independent nation still in the process of building its economy after many decades of Japanese occupation. The new Korean government seemingly relied on two tenets in its earliest years: Centralized control and openness to bribes.
Both those factors were at play when the government handed the production of all passenger cars to a single company, Saenara Motors. Via a huge loan and technical assistance from Nissan, Saenara built Korea’s first car, the Saenara (Datsun) Bluebird via knock-down kits assembled in South Korea. But once the government noticed there was too much capital flowing out of the country, they banned Saenara from buying more kits from Japan. The scraps of bankrupt Saenara were picked up by another company, Shinjin.
Other than a few controversial wheel designs and far more buttons, the steering wheel hasn’t changed all that much in the last several decades. Your car probably has an adjustable steering wheel that allows different height and telescoping settings. If it’s a fancy car, you may even have power adjustments and other options like a heated steering wheel or leather grips. Those are nice features, but General Motors’ latest idea goes several steps further.
With a majority of automakers snubbing the upcoming auto show in Detroit, there’s not likely to be much to talk about in terms of new product beyond the next-generation Ford Mustang. But there are interesting things happening elsewhere on the planet if we’re using interesting as a polite euphemism for strange.
General Motors’ joint operation in China, SAIC-GM-Wuling Automobile Co., is releasing a poverty-tier convertible that makes the long-dead Chrysler Sebring look positively decadent by comparison. Based on the Wuling Hongguang Mini EV – a boxy microcar that only measures 114.8 inches in length – the Cabrio will be a limited production convertible requiring Chinese customers to participate in a lottery.
With the Chevrolet Bolt gradually losing its competitive edge as more all-electric vehicles take the field, and the car on the hook for a high-profile recall relating to battery fires, General Motors opted to reduce its price by six grand this year in a bid to make the 2023 model year more appetizing to consumers. Prior to the Biden administration pushing to renew EV tax credits as part of the "Inflation Reduction Act of 2022" (basically a tweaked version of Build Back Better), GM had little hope of its vehicles benefiting from continued government incentives that it had already exceeded its sales quota for and needed a remedy. However the sudden price cut didn't sit well with customers who had just purchased a Bolt EV (or EUV) at the earlier price point, so the automaker attempted to cut them a semi-Faustian bargain.
Detroit’s truck makers love beating each other over the head. Witness the power wars happening at one end of the table, endless innovations in the cargo box at the other, plus the current obsession with off-road one-upmanship. And that’s even before all hands start cranking out electric trucks packing a bazillion horsepower.
The midsize segment is not immune. Chevrolet has introduced the ’23 Colorado, a truck with upgrades suitable for keeping up with (and passing) the Joneses. Oh – and they also pulled a trick taken from the Book of Detroit: Take the engine from a larger machine and stuff it up the nose of a smaller one.
As a luxury brand, Cadillac doesn't have the same racing pedigree as other manufacturers that spent a considerable amount of their time at the track during the latter half of the 20th century. But the American brand hasn't ignored motorsports in the subsequent millennia and deserves some real credit for fielding — and winning with — models like the CTS-V.R Coupe (Pirelli World Challenge GT series), ATS-V.R (GT3), and DPi-V.R (Rolex 24 at Daytona, WeatherTech Championship, Michelin Endurance Cup).
Cadillac would like to remind everyone of that fact and has introduced the GTP Hypercar as the keystone of its next attempt to embarrass rival manufacturers on the world racing stage — which will reportedly include the 24 Hours of Le Mans. The 2023 CT4-V Blackwing Track Edition, intended for regular customers, is the other part of that equation. To be offered in three flavors, each honoring a different course on the International Motor Sports Associations (IMSA) schedule, the models will exist as a kind of purchasable victory lap.
We all know GM takes the C8 Corvette Z06 very seriously; putting that particular engine amidships surely took an act of divinity and Alfred P. Sloan himself. But a recent inside look at dealer training materials provided to sales hacks shows just how seriously they're taking the thing - pitting it against a $300,000 Ferrari.
General Motors has announced a national network of quick charging stations for electric vehicles to be installed at Pilot and Flying J truck stops. Managed by EVgo (a subsidiary of the South Korean LS Group), the network may be the final piece of the puzzle for GM to make good on its promise to go all-electric. It’s already spent oodles on development, created partnerships with global battery suppliers, and now has a glut of EVs on the way –a glut of product that GM is hoping will resonate with consumers.
Cadillac has been meticulously stoking the fires of the hype train of the Celestiq to ensure the model has a full head of steam before its debut on July 22nd. The forthcoming flagship model is rumored to become the most expensive product in the luxury brand’s 120-year history and will bring back a level of opulence not seen on American cars since the golden era of the 1950s.
Frankly, it sounds like General Motors may be setting expectations a little high — especially since the last handful of Cadillacs haven’t exactly been able to check the luxury box with the kind of gusto necessary for a nameplate that’s supposed to specialize in providing exactly that. The brand’s best offerings now tend to be focused more on performance than comfort and are accompanied by sporting names that include terms like “Blackwing” and “V.” But that may soon change if the latest teasers of the Cadillac Celestiq are anything to go buy, as the company seems to be returning to its roots.
In 2017, General Motors bowed out of the European market. The tactical retreat came after nearly two decades of struggling to make the region profitable and freed up cash the company could use to expand more profitable endeavors located elsewhere. This basically entailed widening its footprint in China, eliminating modestly sized passenger vehicles from its North American lineup, and setting aside any extra money for electric vehicle development. However, the automaker’s Western clientele has been slower to embrace EVs than hoped, even with gas prices becoming astonishingly high, and market analysts expect the United States to be the very last developed nation to see alternative powertrains go mainstream.
One possible solution for this conundrum is to sell those all-electric vehicles elsewhere — namely Europe.
The United States has requested that Mexico investigate worker rights violations that were alleged to have taken place at one of the parts factories owned by Stellantis. Officials are curious about what’s been happening at Teksid Hierro de Mexico, a facility located in the border state of Coahuila that’s responsible for manufacturing iron casings, in regard to unionization. According to U.S. officials, this is the fourth such complaint under the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA).
Having supplanted the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) signed into law by the Clinton administration in 1993, USMCA sought to rebalance trade laws the Trump administration believed had disadvantaged the United States. However, it also sought to advance worker protections in Mexico and give employees an easier pathway toward unionization.
On Wednesday, Buick formally committed itself toward an “all-electric portfolio” by 2030 — saying that it would be embarking on a brand transformation that would fundamentally change the company forever. This includes an entirely new horizontally oriented badge that doesn’t stray too far from Buick’s traditional tri-shield design.
“The Buick brand is committed to an all-electric future by the end of this decade,” stated Duncan Aldred, global vice president, Buick and GMC. “Buick’s new logo, use of the Electra naming series and a new design look for our future products will transform the brand.”