AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
While Thailand is mostly known for sandy beaches, fake watches and other pleasures that need to be paid for in cash, Thailand has a strong manufacturing base, with many automakers producing vehicles and components in the developing nation.
October’s flooding, which ravaged the Southeast Asian country, made a major dent in the production figures of Japanese automakers in particular. Toyota estimates that it lost 87,000 vehicles alone due to the flooding. Other automakers, like Nissan, Mazda and Mitsubishi are just re-starting production as well.
Honda was impacted fairly strongly, although their power products and motorcycles seem to have been hit the hardest. Honda’s CBR250R motorcycle, a popular entry-level bike, is built in Thailand, though the flood’s effect on their automobiles (like the Brio city car) has not been fully discovered.
[Source: Automotive News]
In 2010, Volkswagen took a twenty-percent stake in Suzuki, and virtually no progress has been made from the alliance since then. Neither side has been thrilled with the coalition and the two automakers have even stated cultural differences as being a factor in the failed relationship.
Both automakers had different goals: VW wanted to expand into the Asian small-car market, while Suzuki wanted to take advantage of VW’s expertise in diesel, hybrid, and electric cars. As a result, Suzuki may be looking to take its talents to Italy.
Currently, Suzuki has made a deal with Fiat to supply the SX4 crossover for rebadging as the Sedici in Europe. Sources have indicated that Suzuki is looking for ways to further its relationship with Fiat, however the Italian automaker has not indicated whether the feeling is mutual.
As it stands, the Japanese and German automaker have clearly expected more out of this partnership, yet neither are progressing. Suzuki and VW are likely to split but the Japanese automaker has more to lose, so expect to see a move sooner rather than later.
[Source: Truck Trend]
General Motors has its hands in all corners of the globe, and while most consumers know about their operations in Europe and South Koreas, their arm in the former Soviet Republic of Uzbekistan is shaping up to be quite the powerhouse in the all-important Russian market.
Despite only being in existence since November, 2008 GM Uzbekistan’s operations are credited with a 40 percent rise in sales in the first half of 2010. With 45,217 Uzebkistani-made vehicles sold, GM ranked 10th overall in the Russia market. While GM produces mostly modern Daewood-engineered vehicles in Uzbekistan, consumers can also buy the Chevrolet Nexia (pictured above) based on the wretched Pontiac LeMans which originally debuted in 1986.
Ford is planning a product-lineup bonanza in China, with plans to introduce 15 new vehicles there as part of its Asian expansion plans.
The announcement was made at the 2011 Shanghai Auto Show, where Ford also outlined plans to more than double the number of dealerships currently open: from 340 to over 700. Ford will also add 1,200 jobs and a brand-new, $490 million plant at Chongqing next year, which will be able to handle 150,000 cars annually. The first car to launch will be the all-new Focus, entering production in China in 2012.
Like many other companies, Ford has seen booming success in the Chinese market: sales were up 19% in the first quarter, with over 140,000 cars sold. The company expects 70% growth across Asia and Africa within the next 10 years.
Honda has announced a recall of 700,000 Fits worldwide, with 97,000 in the U.S., for a problem with valvetrain springs, which may break and cause the engine to stall.
The recall has caused no injuries so far, yet Honda is taking no chances: the recall covers the Fit, the Freed and the City models across world markets. There are 122,000 vehicles affected in North America in total, and the rest include 176,000 in Japan, 156,000 in China, and 233,000 in other Asian countries.
72 reports of the valvetrain problem in Japan prompted the recall, and 29 more complaints came from elsewhere in the world.
Think the $41,400 sticker price for a BMW 335i is bad? Be glad you don’t live in Singapore where the same model will run you $260,000, about what an Italian exotic would retail for in the United States.
Singapore residents who want a private vehicle must pay for a special permit that allows them to keep the car for a decade – the permit alone costs $55,000 USD, as much as a Porsche Boxster would in America. In 2008, the permit cost about $2,000. On top of that, buyers must pay a 150% duty on the vehicle upon importation. Not surprisingly, car ownership rates in Singapore sit at around 15%, compared to 82% in the United States.
Singapore is ruled by an authoritarian regime (famous for outlawing chewing gum in the name of etiquette and cleanliness), and is strongly pushing for residents to adopt mass transit as a practical solution to reduce congestion, and cut down pollution. While Singapore boasts outstanding air quality, it fears that it could become similar neighboring islands like Hong Kong, which has fewer restrictions on vehicle ownership but is riddled with heavily polluted air.
The structures in place leave car ownership as a privilege for the wealthy, and car dealers are now looking to peddle premium brands to the wealthy, since they are largely unaffected by an increase in ownership costs. “The extra $20,000 to S$30,000 on the [new vehicle permit] is nothing when the total car price is $300,000 or more,” one dealer told Bloomberg. No wonder that companies like Lamborghini do well in the tiny Asian country, with a special preview for their upcoming LP-7004 Aventador being held exclusively for that market.
Prius sales began to dip in September after the government subsidy program ended, but Fit sales remained strong, buttressed by the introduction of an inexpensive Fit Hybrid model. Toyota’s new Vitz subcompact was also blamed for stealing Prius sales. Overall sales in January were down about 21.5 percent compared to 2010, the fifth month of consecutive decline. Vehicles under 660cc, counted in a separate category, still continue to lead the sales race, with the Daihatsu Move and Suzuki WagonR taking first and second spots respectively.
[Source: The Mainichi Daily News]
China is increasingly becoming the market place for luxury brands, and Ferrari‘s banner year in the Chinese market will likely force the Italian supercar maker to shift more of its energy to the Far East as China and Hong Kong gobble up more and more cars.
With 300 cars sold in 2010, China sold 50% more cars in the region than in 2009, and the company is expected to sell its 999th vehicle in 2011. With the number 9 having major connotations in China regarding longevity and good fortune, you can bet that Ferrari will be celebrating their record sales in a very big way.
[Source: Inside Lane]
Chevrolet‘s Orlando micro-van has had its first pictures shown ahead of its debut at the Paris Auto Show. Based on the Cruze platform, the Orlando won’t make it to the United States, but is expected to be a strong seller in world markets, as well as Canada, where the compact minivan market has entries from nearly every automaker.
Under the hood is a 1.8L gasoline four-cylinder engine putting out 143 horsepower, along with two 2.0L diesels, making 133 and 165 horsepower. Styling takes on Chevrolet’s “corporate face” out front, while the rest of the car looks conservative and squared off. Inside, the cockpit is said to be inspired by the Corvette with seating for seven passengers.
Autoguide will be on hand in Paris for the Orlando’s debut. Stay tuned for more pictures and info.
Gallery: Chevrolet Orlando
Hit the jump to see the official press release