Daimler, maker of top-end Mercedes-Maybach automobiles, is on the hot seat after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was spotted scooting around in brand new armored limos at recent international summits.
Sales of luxury automobiles to the despotic regime are banned under a UN Security Council resolution passed in 2013, and Daimler does not count it as one of its customers. Still, the country’s leader travels in uncompromising Germanic style.
Like two brothers who really, really, really can’t get along (I can’t stress enough how much they don’t get along) no matter how hard they supposedly try, the Koreas have a hot/cold relationship, to put it mildly.
One moment, the brothers are manufacturing trinkets together in Kaesong Industrial Region, a special administrative region in the DPRK. The next, the North is threatening to bomb everyone and the South shuts off the water and electricity service (literally) to its brother’s apartment.
But what if the Koreas unified; became whole again? Mike Rutherford of AutoExpress thinks it would be a car-building paradise, with Hyundai, Kia, Samsung, and SsangYong best poised to take advantage of low-cost Northern labor and cheap, cheap land.
New U.S. sanctions might spell the end of the glorious, glorious era of North Korean vehicle production.
That, Suzuki asks for its winnings and staggers home, automakers are being slowed down by the EPA (and it’s all Volkswagen’s fault), Audi still loves diesels (and so do you, America!), and Volvo tries to spice up its life … after the break!
Forty years ago, the North Koreans and the Swedes entered into an agreement where the latter’s socialist and industrialist interests aimed to bring recognition to the former’s regime while filling its pockets from the country’s mining industry. Part of this agreement included 1,000 Volvo 144 GLs, which were meant to be paid in copper and zinc.
But that was 40 years ago.
Reuters calls it “one of the more bizarre joint ventures in car-making,” and it is coming to an end. South Korea’s Unification Church, better known as the Moonies, is giving up its investment in the one and only carmaker in North Korea, Pyeonghwa Motors. “Giving up” is carefully chosen: The church will walk away from the business, and donate its 70 percent stake to North Korea.
According to TTAC’s North Korean correspondent, “Mercedes of various models and age serve as the premium mode of transport for the rich and powerful.” China had to do something. And do they did. A Japanese car (of sorts) competes with German iron in the North Korean motor pool.
The familiar wail of a police siren cuts through the chilly early winter morning air rudely snapping me out of a cold-induced slumber. Our minibus slows to a crawl as our minder winds down the window to wave his papers at a bunch of stern-faced traffic policemen.
The officer that checked the papers gave the 17 university students on the bus a once-over before waving to his partner to turn off the siren. It seems that a Toyota Coaster minibus filled with students is a rare sight in this part of the world.
Then I caught sight of a little round badge bearing the smiling face of the “Eternal President” Kim Il-Sung on the officer’s coat.
“Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Kansas anymore,” the voice in my head whispered.
Best Selling Cars Around The Globe: In North Korea, You Can Have Any Car, As Long As It Is A Pyeonghwa
After Argentina, Brazil and Libya, I am keeping the surprises coming thick and fast, with our next stop in our ‘round the world travel being… wait for it… North Korea! This way, Dear Leader Kim Jong will feel a bit less “ronery, so ronery, so ronery and sadry arone.”)
If you can’t wait for the next update and want to know all about car sales in 154 countries around the planet, simply go here.
Let’s clear the air right from the start: There are no official car sales figures available for North Korea. Didn’t think so did you? This is where my ‘alternative’ methods come in… Little bit trickier than other countries but I managed to find a few long enough and recent YouTube videos of the streets of PyongYang to get a rather clear idea of what cars sell best in North Korea.
Latest Car ReviewsRead more
Latest Product ReviewsRead more
- Surakmn Wrong question, for a lot of people even a PHEV has enough range for commute or errands. The problem is lack of a cost effective, speedy and available charging infrastructure. With an ICE you're usually never more than a few miles away from a ten minute fill up. THAT is what makes me comfortable on a cross country trip. Electrics can manage more routes than many people realize but you have to plan it out and allow for charging times and pray charging stations are real and working shopping the way. It's a few years out yet.
- John I had an 87 escort GT that was silver, it was a fun little car and got 35+ mpg average, one time I got 42 average on a turnpike trip.
- Jho65697139 That's going to take a lot of buffing.
- Corey Lewis No need for unique qualifications to care for this thing, it's just a Corolla with a different body on it.
- Jeff S How's you Fiat doing?