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.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen the Hawtai B35, it debuted almost two years ago resembling a mash-up of Porsche, Bentley, and Audi styling. The Chinese automaker went back to revamp the model and plans on bringing this revamped SUV to the Beijing Motor Show this year.
The front grille, that previously resembled something from Bentley’s factory, has been slightly shrunken and now looks like it came off a Jaguar. Meanwhile, the biggest change is the redesigned headlights. There’s no way beating around this bush, the front end of the B35 is definitely more Cayenne-inspired than not. What’s even more peculiar is the close resemblance the doors now have to those off a Mercedes-Benz.
But that’s where the resemblances stop. Once you take a look at the B35 interior or under the hood, it’s obvious that Chinese vehicle design is still more about style than substance – or rather, copying style and leaving out the substance.
The interior is completely bland leather with wood – or imitation wood – trim accents, six airbags, navigation, parking sensors, heated seats, and an electric sunroof. But under the hood is a 1.8L that apparently is derived from the Rover K-Series family from back in 1988. The B35′s 1.8L is turbocharged with an output of 164-hp. The other engine option is a naturally aspirated 2.0L with 150-hp. Transmission choices include a CVT or a five-speed manual.
No pricing was announced on the new B35.
GALLERY: Hawtai B35
BMWs in certain markets may be getting a “Made In China” code in their VIN numbers starting at the end of 2011, as the company plans to export Chinese made 5-Series sedans to certain markets.
The Truth About Cars quotes the CEO of BMW’s Chinese operations as stating “We will find some markets, maybe in the Middle East, somewhere in Asia, or some other markets that welcome the products where we can test this export effort. The main market of course is here (in China), because we can’t even supply enough here.”
The 5-Series is built in China as part of a joint venture with Brilliance. TTAC’s China expert Bertel Schmitt claims that the quality of cars built in Chinese/foreign joint ventures is no worse than vehicles built in Japan, America or any other country (and sometimes better). The 5-Series is a popular vehicle in China, with a long-wheelbase version regarded as a status symbol for wealthy Chinese who can afford a driver.
[Source: The Truth About Cars]
Fiat will build Alfa Romeo vehicles in China starting in July, 2012, as part of a joint venture with local partner Guanhzhou Automobile Group Co Ltd.
Company president Zeng Qinghong told Automotive News that ”Besides the Fiat brand, after talks between the two shareholders, we will introduce the Alfa Romeo brand to the venture company.” No timetable was given for when the vehicles would go on sale, but the new venture would be dubbed Guangqi Fiat.
Guangqi Fiat will initially produce 140,000 vehicles annually, and will likely expand beyond just Fiat and Alfa Romeo cars. Fiat has large interests in commercial vehicles, trucks and other vehicles. Alfa Romeo will also have to compete in an increasingly crowded premium vehicle segment in China.
[Source: Automotive News]
For the past decade, China’s economy has continued to expand with little sign of slowing down. Volkswagen took advantage of an opportunity to continue offering its past models such as the Volkswagen “Jetta King” (Mk2 Jetta), the Volkswagen Bora Classic (Mk4 Jetta), as well as various Audi vehicles in the Chinese market in order to optimize its foothold.
But Volkswagen is not the only automaker in on the clever, cost-cutting idea. Haima, a Hainan island car company that once had a joint-venture agreement with Mazda, continues to produce the Haima3 (pictured above), simply a rebadged and face-lifted Mazda 323, along with many other past Mazda products under its new management, First Automobile Works.
Those that are familiar with Mazda products can readily identify the Haima Family as a rebadged Mazda Protege and the Haima7 is a tastefully updated Mazda Tribute, itself a rebadged Ford Escape. Even the diagonal “i” in Haima and its emblem boldly draws its design influence from the current Mazda logo.
GALLERY: Haima Family
[Souce: China Car Times]
The Chevrolet Malibu will get a 1.6L 4-cylinder turbo powerplant when it debuts in China, similar to its Buick Regal platform mate. While North America will forgo this engine in favor of larger displacement 4-cylinder engines, the 1.6L mill still produces 186 horsepower.
GM is attempting to position Chevrolet as an upmarket, rather than bargain brand, in China, and the Malibu will be an important product for both China and world markets at large, having been designed with their needs in mind.
[Source: China Car Times]
U.S. private equity firm North Street Capital, has purchased Spyker, after a deal to sell the Dutch outfit to Russian investors fell through. The Financial Times reported the news after viewing a preliminary draft of the announcement.
It’s unclear how the Spyker sale will impact parent company Swedish Automobile, and its attempts to restructure Saab, the legendary Swedish car company once affiliated with Spyker. The Dutch sports car maker was due to be sold to CPP Global Holdings, owned by Russian investor Vladimir Antonov.
Swedish Automobile wanted to sell Spyker to focus on Saab, and a series of deals with Chinese auto makers were also announced, with little tangible results.
[Source: Financial Times]
Ford may begin building electric cars in China via joint ventures with Chinese auto makers, replicating the tactics of rivals like General Motors and Daimler AG, parent company of Mercedes-Benz. China is looking to add 1 million EVs by 2015 as part of an effort to curb emissions and the dependence on fossil fuels.
Ford CEO Alan Mulally was in China for the groundbreaking of a new engine assembly plant with local partner Changan Automobile Group, part of a $1.6 billion effort to build four new factories in China. Mulally expects China to play a key part in boosting Ford sales by 50 percent by 2015, and Ford’s Lincoln brand may become part of that strategy, as Chinese demand for luxury cars is rapidly growing.
[Source: The Detroit News]
Mazda and Chinese joint venture partner Chang’an are reportedly developing a new sub-brand for the Chinese market, with their first offering based on the outdated but still excellent 1st generation Mazda3.
Mazda still sells the older Mazda3 in China, while importing the current Mazda3 hatchback. The current car will be joined by a Chinese made version of the contemporary Mazda3 sedan, ostensibly with the new SKYACTIV engine capable of 40 mpg, while the older model will get a re-styling and move to the sub-brand’s lineup sometime this year.
[Source: China Car Times]
BMW will expand its Chinese joint venture with local automaker Brilliance, in an effort to build 300,000 cars per year in China. BMW’s joint venture near Beijing currently builds the 3-Series and 5-Series, and will add the X1 crossover in 2012.
Plans call for new factories dedicated to vehicle assembly, stamping and a paint shop. These plants will be good for an additional 200,000 units according to BMW.
With China now serving as BMW’s third largest market, expanding domestic production makes sense for the brand, with BMW Chaiman Norbert Reithofer noting that “BMW vehicles are very popular in China. We anticipate that this growth will continue in the future.”
[Source: Inside Line]
With the apparent collapse of the deal between Hawtai and Spyker, the Dutch parent company of Saab is now courting Chinese automaker Great Wall in an apparent bid to find a partner for the ailing Saab brand.
Hawtai was apparently unable to get the necessary approval to complete a transaction with Saab worth 150 million euros, in which Hawtai would get a stake in the Swedish luxury car maker. Saab would have used the cash to pay off suppliers and resume production at its Swedish plants.
Spyker released a short statement today, claiming ”Spyker and Saab Automobile continue to work on securing short and medium term funding. To that end Spyker and Saab Automobile are negotiating equity and debt financing and/or technology licensing with various (strategic) Chinese partners.”
A source close to the deal told Retuers that Saab and Great Wall had been in communication throughout the Hawtai deal, stating “the two sides have never stopped talking…”
[Source: Automotive News]
Saab’s partnership with Chinese automaker Hawtai could see the ill-fated Swedish luxury brand use its dealer network to sell cheap Chinese cars in America, with some priced at the magic $10,000 mark.
“We laughed when the Japanese came,” Victor Muller, Saab’s chairman, told Automotive News. “We laughed when the Koreans came. But we will not be laughing when the Chinese come. The Chinese are like a steamroller.”
Saab recently signed a joint venture deal with Hawtai Motor Group that covers distribution, manufacturing and technology sharing. Muller was reluctant to confirm that Hawtai would use Saab’s distribution network, but did say that it’s a tempting prospect for the automaker. Muller also said that Saab could sell a cheap, well-equipped Chinese car, with the caveat that it would not meet 5-star crash protection requirements.
[Source: Automotive News]
MG Rover may have been able to retain much of its British character after being acquired by Chinese automaker SAIC, the company’s tie-in with General Motors may see the next generation MG Rover products use GM technologies, including platforms.
The Roewe 750 sedan, formerly based on the Rover 75, may be based on the Epsilon II platform used on the Buick Regal and Opel Insignia, which would help bring the car up to a level suitable for European sales. A new range of turbocharged gasoline and diesel 4-cylinder engines are also being developed, along with a crossover and a plug-in hybrid variant of the MG5 compact hatchback, although GM’s involvement in these projects is unclear.
MG is also hoping to expand its UK dealer network to 50 stores in the near future, and the fact that much of the engineering work is being carried out at MG’s historic Longbridge facility should make the cars an easier sell in such a competitive market.
Volkswagen could barely sell one generation of the Passat here in the United States, but over in China, VW is selling no less than 4 different Passats, from the mid-1990′s B5 chassis car to the all-new, “Made for America” Passat that will be sold here.
The New Passat, as the current car is dubbed, will signal an upmarket shift for the Passat in China, where it has traditionally been a more mainstream product. The new car will cost between $33,000 and $47,000.
A long-wheelbase variant of the previous generation B7 Passat will also be offered for Chinese customers who seem to favor mid-size luxury sedans with some extra rear legroom. The now antiquated B6 and B5 Passats will continue to be sold, ostensibly as downmarket sedans, as the Passat Magotan and Passat Lingyu, with the B2 Passat from the mid 1980s is still sold as the wildly popular Santana.
[Source: The Truth About Cars]
Saab is hitting the road in an effort to promote its new financial backers, but the road show will have to wait for approval from several authorities who must approve Saab’s transactions with China’s Hawtai Motor Group and Russian financier Vladimir Antonov.
CEO Victor Muller will target major media events and car shows in an effort to demonstrates Saab’s newfound vitality. But Saab was tentative on whether Antonov would be a part of the program.
“If and when Antonov gets involved, we want to include him,” Michele Tinson, a spokesman for Saab Cars North America, told Automotive News. “We want people to meet him and know who he is. Obviously we want to include our Chinese joint-venture partners as well in our tour.”
Saab’s American dealer network held a conference call to discuss dealer issues and the deal with Hawtai. According to Saab National Dealer Council chairman Kurt Schirm, Muller will be targeting major media outlets during his American stops.
[Source: Automotive News]
Saab’s attempt at selling off assets to a Russian financial magnate Vladimir Antonov has stalled after the European Investment Bank told the Swedish auto maker to essentially find a new partner within a set time frame.
The EIB and other parties have expressed concerns regarding Antonov’s reported Russian mafia connections. All parties involved are understandably reluctant to elaborate on specifics, but Saab parent company Spyker said in a statement that “Saab Automobile is working with all parties involved on a solution to complete the sale of the property and will have further talks with the EIB today,” Spyker said.
Saab has borrowed $400 million from the EIB, but a cash crunch has also seen the company owe its supplier $49 million, leading to parts supply disruptions and a mere trickle of cars built due to the disputes. Saab has also been courting Chinese auto makers for a variety of deals, but said that it has nothing to do with Volvo, Saab’s fellow Swedish auto maker, currently owned by a Chinese corporation.
BMW and Chinese automaker Brilliance have joined forces to create a plug-in hybrid version of the 5-Series long wheelbase sedan sold in the Chinese market.
Set to be revealed at the Shanghai Auto Show in April, the 5-Series plug-in will back an unspecified displacement turbocharged engine making 215 horsepower and a 94 horsepower electric motor. The car can travel 47 miles on pure electric power at a speed of 37 mph. The 5-Series plug-in will be produced in 2013, but it will not be sold in other markets, as the car was specifically designed for the Chinese market and their needs.
BYD, China’s 4th largest automaker, has finally established a location in Southern California, although the digs are modest to say the least. BYD’s new home in America is an office within a used car dealership in Glendale, a Los Angeles suburb.
According to reports, the dealership is being used to train BYD technicians, and BYD will roll out 10 of its own sales outlets starting in late 2011.
BYD has leased a fleet of 10 electric vehicles to a local municipal government agency, and its electric car, the E-6, will be on sale later in the year with a range of 200 miles and a starting price of $32,000. But BYD Vice-President Michael Austin admits that their entry into the U.S. market will be challenging. “The paradigm of driving a Chinese car in the U.S. is going to be hard to break,”he said to the Glendale News-Press.
[Source: Glendale News-Press]
Speaking to Autocar Magazine, Ford‘s European design chief Martin Smith said “Our marketing people are telling us there’s demand for an affordable family saloon,” and Ford appears to be moving in that direction for the Chinese market.
The Blue Oval will prepare a concept for the Beijing Auto Show, but rather than target the wealthy coastal areas of China, this car will go after the poorer, inland markets where basic transportation would be a big purchase for the average family. Using either a Focus or Fiesta platform, the car would still meet strict crash standards, but would be decontented with less sophisticated features in order to reduce costs. “We’d never engineer out safety,” Smith said, “but you could give it single-piece headlights and tail lights, and reduce the glass panels in the side from three to two.”
The previous generation Focus, known as the C1 (a different car than our previous compact Ford) would likely underpin the car, as Chinese buyers are thought to be more receptive to a larger vehicle.
BYD, perhaps China’s best known car maker, is an acronym for “Build Your Dreams”, but their current product offerings look like someone else’s dreams shamelessly copied and sold under the Chinese automakers own badging.
BYD’s S6 DM is a blatant rip-off of the Lexus RX crossover, and even has a dual-mode hybrid system similar to the RX400h. However, BYD’s 102 horsepower gas engine and 14 horsepower electric motor are exponentially weaker than the Lexus’ 3.5L V6/electric motor combination. BYD claims that the car can travel about 37 miles on a full electric charge, but really, who knows if this car will even be sold here. We’ll be waiting to see if BYD can make an original design first.
Gallery: BYD S6 DM
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]
BYD, the Chinese automaker backed by American investment magnate Warren Buffet, has delayed plans to bring their B6 electric car to America to better engineer the car for American tastes.
The Wall Street Journal, having spoken to a BYD representative, claims that, “the holdup was caused by BYD’s efforts to make the car roomier, especially its rear-seat area that was cramped thanks to a beefy battery pack that needs to be stored under the seat.”
BYD expects the first 50 B6′s, destined for fleets, to arrive sometime in 2011, with private sales beginning in 2012. With the notoriously unreliable schedule of Chinese automakers, don’t be surprised if we see further delays with the introduction of Chinese-made EVs in the United States.
[Source: Wall Street Journal]
BMW has released a Jurassic Park-esque video of its new BMW M3 Tiger Edition. The video doesn’t show us much, other than that the marketing department in China has a little too much time and money on their hands.
The Tiger Edition, as you all know by now, is an M3 designed to commemorate the Year of the Tiger, with special orange paint, blacked out wheels and a Tiger motif on the head rests.
We can’t wait for the Year of the Rat to come around, so we can have a purple M3 Master Splinter Edition (expert artists rendering above) with a rat motif throughout the car.
Hit the jump to watch the BMW M3 Tiger Edition Launch Video
The Chinese city of Shenzen recieved a fleet of 40 electric taxicabs last week, marking a historic milestone for China and electric vehicles. The taxis, made by Chinese automaker BYD have a top speed of 140 km/h, and are capable of getting 300 miles on a single charge.BYD, backed by American investor Warren Buffet, is planning to launch its cars in the U.S. market in late 2010, becoming one of the first makers of all-electric vehicles.
BYD also expects Shenzen to have 100 electric taxis running by the end of June. With a population of over 1 billion, poor air quality due to coal-fired power plants and rising energy costs, China is the perfect market for electric vehicles, and it would not be unreasonable to see BYD and other Chinese automakers make significant moves towards promoting electric vehicles both at home and abroad.