By on May 15, 2019

Image: 1996 Toyota Camry CoupeThe past couple of Wednesday editions of Question of the Day have been full-on Nineties design in their subject matter. First, we considered American marques, before moving on last week to the European set. This week we’ll do it once more, talking about Asian car designs from the Nineties that still hold up today.

Break out your soap bar memories.

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By on October 19, 2018

Everyone who spends the majority of their time obsessing about cars seems to low-key adore the Genesis G70. It’s handsome, comfortable, and apparently handles like a sports sedan should. The dealership will even sell it to you with a manual transmission and rear-wheel drive if you can live without the 365-horsepower twin-turbo 3.3-liter V6. It also undercuts the starting price of its self-selected rival, the BMW 3 Series, by a full ten grand — softening the blow of any shortcomings it may possess.

However, there is one aspect that puts it a step behind its more-expensive competition. The G70 still uses analog instrumentation in conjunction with its digital interfaces. While this is a non-issue for many enthusiasts, as most electronic gauges simply mimic traditional clusters (and sometimes rather poorly), the general public expects premium autos to have the most-flashy tech available.

Genesis is remedying the situation in South Korea as read this. But, rather than than simply bringing the G70’s display up to the bar, it has decided to do a front flip over the status quo by offering what it claims is the world’s first 12.3-inch 3D instrument cluster.  (Read More…)

By on August 6, 2018

2000 Daewoo Leganza in California wrecking yard, LH front view - ©2018 Murilee Martin - The Truth About Cars

Daewoo wasn’t a well-known name in North America in the late 1990s, though quite a few Daewoo-built Pontiac Lemans cars were sold here during the 1988-1993 period. For the 1999 model year, a trio of Daewoo-badged cars appeared on these shores: the Lanos, the Nubira, and the Leganza.

The Leganza was the most luxurious of the Daewoo triumvirate (the bloodline of the Lanos lived on here after Daewoo departed the continent in 2002, as the Chevrolet Aveo and then the Sonic), and I photographed this crashed ’00 in a California self-service wrecking yard. (Read More…)

By on April 25, 2018

For most people, not having a brand new car sort of budget can mean scrounging around on AutoTrader, Cars.com, eBay, or even the ever-professional Craigslist for used vehicles. The resulting experiences end up shaping the future of our car ownership, our finances, and perhaps our legal situations in some cases.

Today we want you to know about your sketchiest used car buying experience.

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By on March 29, 2018

2018 Acura RLXOur last few entries in the Buy/Drive/Burn series have been stuck in the 1990s, and we’ve had a request recently to talk about something a bit newer, perhaps even… current. While you recover from your immediate shock, I can assure you we aren’t going completely mainstream. No talking about boring everyday things. No, these three will likely all qualify as Rare Rides subjects in the future, assuming I’m 70 years old and there’s still an Internet media (hopefully there isn’t).

Three untouchable large sedans, all of them trading on their luxury intentions. Remember, you only get to burn one, and one has to go home to your garage.

(Read More…)

By on March 27, 2018

2015 Hyundai Santa Cruz Crossover Truck Concept - Image: Hyundai

The United States and South Korea reached a free trade agreement on Monday that spared the Asian country from punitive steel tariffs, assuming Seoul keeps an eye on just how much steel it sends to American buyers.

A quota on Korean steel exports means the country can only sell 70 percent of its recent average (2015-2017) to the U.S., though it is hardly Korea’s largest export market. The deal, reached “in principle” ahead of both countries’ meetings with North Korean leader Kim Jung UN, will also see South Korea raise the limit for U.S.-made vehicles that needn’t conform to local safety standards from 25,000 to 50,000.

It’s good news for the Trump administration, but not everyone’s thrilled. Hyundai’s union is hopping mad that a steep tariff on Korean-built pickups — which was set to expire in 2021 under the previous agreement — was just renewed for another 20 years.  (Read More…)

By on March 5, 2018

Union officials have stated that roughly 2,500 workers from General Motors’ South Korean unit have applied for a redundancy package offered as part of the automaker’s comprehensive restructuring of the region. The number represents around 15 percent of total GM staff in the area and should make negotiations with one of the most inflexible workers’ unions on the planet that much easier.

Still, what General Motors plans to do with its remaining South Korean factories is unknown, but it has already announced one closure. This has left many wondering if the automaker will abandon production in the country entirely. Fortunately, the Korean workforce has not responded with violence. In fact, many appear to see the writing on the wall, opting to take a buyout rather than cause a fuss during the restructuring.  (Read More…)

By on January 17, 2018

Image: 1986 Hyundai PonyToday’s Rare Ride is a small-medium sized five-door hatchback, and you’d be forgiven if you had no idea what it was upon first glance. It was only available to the fine people of Canada, and only for a short time.

It’s the Hyundai Pony, and it’s a beauty.

(Read More…)

By on November 28, 2017

2018 Hyundai Kona front - Image: Hyundai

Hyundai Motor Company has, once again, found itself at the mercy of an unhappy workforce. No stranger to labor disputes, the company hinted that it might scale back its at-home labor in South Korea — presumably aware that the possible response would be negative, which it was. But the timing couldn’t be worse.

The Kona crossover is believed to be the model that will turn things around for Hyundai in the United States, but a new labor strike has put the export vehicle’s production on hold only a week after it started. (Read More…)

By on November 15, 2017

Image: 2017 GAC Trumpchi GS8It’s no use continuing with the idealistic notion that North America will reject advances from Chinese-made cars on our shores. The Buick Envision is Fabrique en Chine, as well as the long-wheelbase Volvo S60, and more recently the Volvo S90. Yesterday, Steph Willems reported on a patent filing from the Guangzhou Automobile Company for its largest SUV offering, the GS8.

You don’t have to like the upcoming Chinese onslaught, but it’s necessary to accept it as reality. So, today we’re asking you to twist your mind and wring from it your thoughts on what it would take for a Chinese auto manufacturer to be successful in North America on a large scale.

(Read More…)

By on October 4, 2017

South Korea Chevy Malibu 2015

Officials from the United States and South Korea held a special session in Washington on Wednesday as part of U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer’s request to consider amending the two countries’ trade agreement. The joint talks serve to reassess the countries’ five-year pact, with the Trump administration aiming to diminish America’s growing trade deficit with South Korea.

One of the largest issues concerns the automotive industry. Korean rules stipulate a cap on the number of vehicles U.S. automakers can bring into the country each year that adhere to the country of origin’s safety standards. Presently, that quota sits at 25,000 vehicles per manufacturer. However, no U.S. company has ever made full use of the quota. General Motors, which is the most popular U.S. brand in South Korea, only sold 13,150 domestically built units in 2016.  (Read More…)

By on September 21, 2017

hyundai-sonata-eco-grille logo

Snubbed by both the Germans and the Chinese, Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is continuing its journey to find the automaker that will sweep it off its feet and say, “Let’s build a factory together.” However, if CEO Sergio Marchionne maintains that FCA will be bought by an established automaker, he’s running out of options. The automotive dating pool isn’t particularly deep.

While there was some stirrings of vague Korean interest when news broke of talks between FCA and Chinese automakers, those rumors dissipated quickly. But reports of a possible business deal between Hyundai and the Italian-American company surfaced recently after Great Wall Motors shrugged off its proposed bid for Jeep. FCA later said it had not received any offer from the Chinese manufacturer.

Presumably, Great Wall would have used FCA to supplement its sport utility sales and begin making moves on North America. Another brand that might be interested in bolstering its supply of SUVs is Hyundai — something the South Korean press has been buzzing about all week.  (Read More…)

By on September 5, 2017

hyundai-sonata-eco-grille

Hyundai Motor Co. is squabbling with its Chinese partner, BAIC Motor, over efforts to reduce supplier costs. The automaker has already faced a myriad of problems with its Korean workforce and witnessed reduced volume in both China and North America this year.

However, its newest problem in the Far East isn’t simply a matter of tweaking its lineup. The issue also has political undertones as the North Korean missile crisis has pitted Beijing and Seoul at odds with each other. (Read More…)

By on August 31, 2017

kia logo emblem

Seoul Central District Court ruled against Kia Motors on Thursday, ordering the automaker to pay around 420 billion won, or $374 million, in unpaid wages. Kia employees first filed an initial lawsuit in 2011, claiming a 659 billion won wage disparity, following it up with an additional suit in 2014.

However, the automaker claims the final cost will be closer to 1 trillion won, or about $890 million, and could result in a third-quarter operating loss. Interestingly, this is roughly the same amount workers demanded over their six-year legal dispute (after interest).

“The current operational situation is such that the ruling amount is [difficult] to bear,” Kia said in a statement. (Read More…)

By on March 23, 2017

Hyundai Logo. Picture courtesy of autoblog.com

Hyundai Motor Group has received added attention from investors this week over expectations that the family-run business could undergo a major reorganization into a public holding, with the same separate, multifaceted structure as Hyundai Heavy Industries.

News spread that Hyundai Motor could be preparing a restructuring campaign after it issued a disclosure statement last Friday that explained it would be charging Hyundai Steel and Hyundai Glovis Co. 13.9 billion won ($12.4 million) for the use of the Hyundai brand name. This is the first time the company has ever collected from either over the use of its corporate trademark.  (Read More…)

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