By on September 9, 2018

President Donald Trump jumped on Twitter Sunday morning to rattle off a series of musings I couldn’t have cared less about. However, mixed in with the rest of them, was a reference to last month’s news that Ford abandoned its plans to import the Chinese-built Focus Active into the United States.

“‘Ford has abruptly killed a plan to sell a Chinese-made small vehicle in the U.S. because of the prospect of higher U.S. Tariffs,'” Trump said in reference to a CNBC article from August. “This is just the beginning. This car can now be BUILT IN THE U.S.A. and Ford will pay no tariffs!”

Whether or not you support the president, he has made a genuine effort to convince automakers to do their manufacturing within the United States. However, his comments on the matter make it seem as if he’s a tad confused on how things actually work. Perhaps we can attribute his statement to an unbridled optimism or a tongue-in-cheek jab at Ford. Otherwise, the only explanation is that he doesn’t have the best understanding of what’s happening with the industry — which would be mildly alarming.  (Read More…)

By on December 8, 2017

Ding dong, fake luxury is dead. I should be more specific — I don’t mean Fake Luxury in the Caddy-Calais-vs-Ninety-Eight-Regency sense. I mean just plain old fake luxury. You know what fake luxury is. Invicta watches, Michael Kors suits, everything you could possibly buy at the Pottery Barn or in most American malls. Mass-produced sweatshop junk gilded and pimped for the administrative assistant nervously considering how to spend a $250 Christmas bonus.

Real luxury is on a roll everywhere from Savile Row to Maranello, swept away on a wave of Gilded Age cash and the ever-increasing leverage power of capital, but fake luxury is in a tailspin. Patek and Vacheron will thrive, Rolex will hold steady, Breitling will collapse. Airlines are feverishly revamping their widebodies into “super-high-J” configurations, replacing rows of packed prole seats with sleeper beds and sliding-door suites. It’s a good time to be a private jet pilot, a good time to be an UberPool driver, hell on earth to be anything in between.

Two weeks ago I told you about the Chinese Volvo S90, the Volvo S90 that is built in China. It’s the equivalent of a department store suit “designed in Sweden” but constructed by the lowest bidder. I told readers on my site that the market would adjust for this, that the price of Chinese Volvos would quickly drop into the basement while Swedish Volvos stayed strong.

I was right, young Skywalker… about a great many things.

(Read More…)

By on November 27, 2017

2018 Volvo S90, Image: Jack Baruth

Many years ago, a friend of mine married the daughter of a local real estate kingpin. She was loud and large and her taste, as they say, was all in her mouth. She had her father’s friends build her a massive McMansion encased in beige stucco and filled to the brim with the latest furniture from Pottery Barn and gold-plated bathroom fixtures. She was a big believer in retail therapy.

I would go to their house and see dozens of freshly stuffed shopping bags from the local semi-upscale stores. Prada, Coach, Ann Taylor, the kind of stuff you find in the mall. It was all “Designed In California” or “Designed In Italy” or plastered with the name of a city: Donna Karan New York. But there was always a tag somewhere out of sight that said, “Made In China.” Almost without exception, it was ephemeral garbage, meant to be worn a few times then thrown away. The pleasure was 90 percent in the purchasing and 10 percent in the ownership.

So now we have this 2018 Volvo S90. Designed In Sweden, with a svelte, tasteful, proportional shape that makes the big barges from Benz and BMW look like ’99 Navigators by contrast. It’s a study in minimalist luxury, powered by a tiny engine and self-consciously focused on a low-consumption aesthetic yet possessed of enough backseat space to carry the King of Siam. As you will see below, it’s often delightful, frequently gratifying, and always respectable.

There’s just one little problem. The website might talk about “Scandinavian Design,” but just like everything you see at the outlet stores, the 2018 Volvo S90 T5 AWD is Made In China.

(Read More…)

By on January 21, 2016

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If loving Texas is Rong, I don’t want to be right. I’m referring, of course, to my pal Blake Z. Rong, who currently lives in, and sort of loves, the Lone Star State.

One of the best (or worst) parts of living in Texas is the unhealthy codependency between the people who live there and the trucks they can barely afford and never use for trucky things but insist on owning anyway. The bond between Texans and their ridiculously-appointed Cowboy Cadillacs is so strong that all of the full-size purveyors offer a Texas-focused variant that slathers bling and chrome on an otherwise affordable half-ton.

We’re talking RAM BigHorn, Nissan Texas Titan, GMC Sierra Texas Value SLE, Tundra Texas Edition, and, of course, the Chevrolet Silverado Texas Edition. If you are in Texas, and your Silverado is not a Texas Edition … well, I don’t know what to say other than that you clearly have no sense of decency. But fear not. Thanks to the aforementioned Mr. Rong, I’m here to make it right. Ten lucky TTAC readers are going to have a chance to upgrade their rides to a TEXAS EDITION, at my cost. Is there a catch? Of course there is!

(Read More…)

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