By on January 3, 2013

The fluidic design of the HB20 has impressed Brazilians greatly. The car has already broken into the top 10, and Hyundai claims there are 24 thousand people who have already ordered one and have plunked down some money. Undeniably, the car is a looker. In my opinion, the side is the highlight. That swoosh is very appealing. As for the front, you either like the corporate mug or you don’t, and I don’t. The back has some problems. This is a problem in Brazil. We are into backs. This one makes the car look narrower and taller than it really is and some of the lines are clashing. In general, the car is well-built, but it’s not perfect. The example I drove had misaligned doors. (Read More…)

By on December 24, 2012

Video o.k. for network TV in Brazil, but NSFW in certain jurisdictions. Do not click if naked derrieres offend you.

The numbers for the first eleven months of the year have been consolidated. The first fortnight of December has been basically more of the same. It’s now quasi-official: Fiat is the biggest pig in the sty for the eleventh time in a row. They already have an ad out celebrating the fact. Last year the Italians waited until January to commemorate. This year they had no such compunctions.

Curious is the theme they chose to celebrate their victory. Don’t think a green-eyed spermatozoon, masturbation and bodily functions would be GM’s choice to celebrate their market dominance in stodgy America. Oh, those racy Italians! (Read More…)

By on December 21, 2012

Brazil has some of the highest car prices in the world. Taxes, protectionism and high margins, coupled with the fact that Brazilians are gobbling up each and every car built in Brazil guarantees that this fact of life will not change any time soon. On top of that, Brazilians must pay 4 percent of the car’s price each year as tax. (Read More…)

By on October 23, 2012

According to Bloomberg, Volkswagen CEO Martin Winterkorn claimed that “Brazil is very much a cornerstone” in VW’s push to become the world’s largest car maker by 2018.

Herr Winterkorn is in São Paulo for the largest and most important Auto Show in Latin America. Striving to make the most of this unique opportunity, the Brazilian press was all over VW’s CEO. He didn’t disappoint. He announced investments of 4.4 billion dollars to expand VW’s model line and modernize their factories in Brazil until 2016.

Well, they better! (Read More…)

By on September 24, 2012

Here in Brazil, Toyota had to bow to pre-market pressure and lower the price for their Etios. Hyundai goes the other way and is betting that they will be able to command higher prices. In their first try to get at the juicy meat of the Brazilian market, Hyundai has launched their exclusive-to-Brazil small car, the HB20.

Starting from R$32,000 (US$16,000) and reaching an astronomical R$48,000 (US$24,000), Hyundai is claiming the car has two main differentials. According to Hyundai’s dedicated HB20 site the car acts as

“a model built in Brazil for Brazilians. It has Hyundai’s fluidic sculpture design and unrivaled standard content; the New HB20 is striking, modern and sporting.”

Hyundai indulges the buyer: even the lowliest trim will be “complete” by Brazilian standards. In other words, even the base car comes with air conditioning, assisted steering, double frontal airbags and trip computer (according to the folks over at Brazilian enthusiast site bestcars.com.br).

The Hyundai will be the first locally produced Brazilian car to sport an interesting three-cylinder, 1.0L, 12v with 80hp and can run on the local concoction known as gasoline and ethanol. As the engine is the same as the one in the imported Kia Picanto, I warn Brazilian shoppers that although it’s probably one of the best 3-cylinder motors out there, you will be reminded of its presence by the lawn-mower-like noises it emits

From R$37,000 (US$18,500), Hyundai will offer a 1.6L 16v engine good for 128hp. It is the same engine as the one present in the Veloster sold in Brazil, but it has also been adapted to run on ethanol. With this trim level, you get the same content as in the 1.0 car, but ABS is standard.

By on August 17, 2012

 

I would like to take this opportunity, and also on behalf of Fiat, express my sincere gratitude to the American taxpayer. (Read More…)

By on July 10, 2012

According to Brazilian enthusiast site bestcars.com.br, Fiat will start selling the 500 L in Europe this month. Deliveries will begin in October. The good news is that the minivan will be available in 100 countries, including the good old USA. Fiat took the opportunity to supply more info on the first stem off its iconic Cinquecento that will spawn a slew of cars including the 500 X. Read on to find out the details. (Read More…)

By on June 29, 2012

GM do Brasil has been on a roll recently. While the early 00s saw GM running hard to get nowhere, the new decade has brought on some good news for the embattled, tired, old General. They are proving, at least in Brazil, that they still have some cartridges to burn.

To wit, the all-new, brand-new, super-new, ok, enough with all the new. A minivan: The Spin. Cool name, though somehow its significance will be lost on most Brazilians. The Spin seats 5 or 7, and in our tax-break-fueled-heated-up market, it’s sure to become a hot one. Don’t worry, be happy and buy now. Following the trail burned by our beloved technocrats in Brasília, Brazilians, and soon I’m sure, many hermanos, will be able to take the latest and the greatest from Detroit via São Caetano do Sul for, well, a spin. That is, if you have roughly 22 thousand greenbacks in your pocket, considering that now the dollar begets about 2 of our reais. (Read More…)

By on March 31, 2012

Pocket rocket lovers who happen to live in Belgium, France, Spain, or Switzerland,rejoice! According to Brazilian enthusiast site webmotors.com.br, Renault is using to good effect its Formula 1 presence and is launching the Renault Clio R.S. Red Bull Racing RB7 in  the aforementioned markets. Wow! What a mouthful for a compact car! And yes, you read right, Clio and Red Bull in the same name! (Read More…)

By on March 30, 2012

Following up on the good news of sister Chrysler in America, Fiat do Brasil has some good news of their own to send embattled Turin’s way. As of March 20, the Uno has officially pushed ahead of the VW Gol and has taken the sales crown in Brazil. According to Brazilian car site webmotors.com.br, this is the first time the Uno has been ahead of the Gol for an extended period of time. Hitherto, the Uno had threatened VW’s pride and joy a month or another, then lagged behind.

But wait, there’s more! (Read More…)

By on May 15, 2011

During the recent annual shareholder meeting in Munich, BMW’s prez Norbert Reithofer confirmed the Bavarians are seriously considering starting production in Brazil. “We are studying new places for production, such as an assembly line in Brazil and in another BRICT country”, he said. This comes on the back of another of BMW’s top honcho’s declaration. Back in March, BMW’s head of production Frank-Peter Arndt commented: “We believe Brazil has a great future ahead. The country’s development over the last ten years has been impressive”. (Read More…)

By on May 15, 2011

As you’ve read here many times, the drums against imports have been beating in Brasília for a long time. Now, the government is acting. It has opened up its little tragic bag of dirty tricks and is pulling the first, as it were, rabbit out. It also promises to dip into that bag again if this first rodent fails to bite. Moneyed (and not so moneyed Brazilian import buyers of Chinese cars) Brazilian consumers should run to the dealerships to get ’em while they can. They should also put some money aside as the measure will also affect parts makers and consequently prices. (Read More…)

By on April 14, 2011

It seems that my recent article on Citroën’s anti-retro retro-inspired car, the DS3, provoked two kinds of reactions: admiration and understanding, but also rejection and some even thought Citroën was simply being cynical in its use of the much storied DS moniker. What was hinted at with the DS3 becomes much more evident in the DS4’s case. With it Citroën may well have stumbled on a modern classic, not to mention a way forward for retro-inspired cars. (Read More…)

By on April 13, 2011

Au contraire to VW’s New Beetle, BMW’s Mini, Chrysler’s Pt Cruiser and Fiat’s Cincuecento, Citroën is reviving the fabled DS name as a marque, one that intends to impress on consumers a very Gallic flair for sophistication and elegance. With the launch of the DS3, Citroën is showing a new direction for retro-inspired cars. One that points to the future, while keeping a link to the past of luxury of one of the most intriguing and desirable models in the history of all cars, the DS. Produced in the 60s and 70s, the DS impressed everyone with its different kind of beauty and many a mechanical innovation. Now, it can impress again. (Read More…)

By on April 10, 2011

Chevrolet do Brasil has shown pictures of its updated S10. In what has become somewhat of a norm for this market, the truck will be debuted at the Thailand Auto Show (according to Brazilian ehthusiast site webmotors.com.br). Once in Brazil, the new S10 will substitute both the South American and the Asian model (known as Colorado).

GM targets its more expensive rivals this time. (Read More…)

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