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.
In recent years, the number of cars in Latin America homes has grown exponentially. To take advantage of this growing market, car companies are offering cheap models to attract more customers into their showrooms.
Some of Latin America’s best selling cars pose high risks of life-threatening injuries and are considered to be two decades behind on safety when compared to cars sold in Europe and North America.
The Uruguay based Latin New Car Assessment Program said in a report released in Sao Paolo, that cars from four manufacturers pose the most risk to its occupants. The manufacturers and their models are the Chevrolet Celta, Corsa Classic and Cruz, the Nissan March and Tiida hatchback, the Fiat Novo Uno (pictured) and the Ford Focus and Ka. These cars provide a one-star safety rating rather than five-star provided by cars sold in Europe and North America. Poor safety standards and ever growing traffic in these markets are resulting in many traffic fatalities.
Max Mosley, who is the chairman of the British based Global New Car Assessment Program says; “We are witnessing an unprecedented growth in automobile use in emerging markets like Brazil, China and India. Yet it is precisely in these countries where we face a growing death toll on the roads.”
The car companies mentioned in this report have not made any comment on these finding yet.
[Source: Detroit News]
The world’s economy stinks, gas is expensive and we’re all watching our wallets closely.
You might assume that would also indicate less car parts being sold, but not for diesel engine manufacturer Cummins. “Several of the economies where Cummins operates are clearly weakening,” COO Tom Linebarger told analysts last month. “We really don’t know how deep it will go. We are confident in the long-term profitable growth of the company.”
The Columbus, Ind. based manufacturer builds natural gas and diesel engines and despite the worlds money woes is projecting a sharp rise in diesel fuel demand. Last month Cummins told analysts they forecast to grow by more than 60 per cent and reach $30 billion in 2015.
Over the next five years the company also plans to hire 7000 new engineers to compensate for increased demand. They hope doing so will allow them to develop new engines to meet increasingly stringent efficiency standards.
They owe their expansion in large part to overseas demand in emerging economies like China and South America and India where there is still high demand for construction equipment, but it isn’t the only reason.
The company is also expanding its production for consumer vehicles. Nissan is currently working on putting a 2.8-liter direct injection turbocharged four-cylinder from Cummins into its 2015 Titan pickup. Once available, the new generation Titan will be one of the most efficient full-size pickups on the market.
In North America, GM has replaced the Chevrolet Cobalt compact with the new Cruze sedan. However in South America, an all-new Chevy Cobalt has been revealed in pre-production form at the Buenos Aires Auto Show in Argentina(June 17-26).
The South American Cobalt will enter production in 2012 and will be offered in ethanol (flex fuel), gasoline and diesel engines. Engines range from a 1.3-liter to a 1.8-liter engine. Both automatic and manual transmissions will also be available.
The concept at the show came equipped with an aero kit offering a front and rear skirt, discreet rear spoiler, with 17-inch alloy wheels in 255/45 R17 tires and a twin exhaust.
The interior will also get two-tone leather seats, chrome trim, a double sunroof as well as an infotainment system equipped LCD screens integrated into the front headrests.
Along with other Japanese automakers, Mazda is predicting a drop in operating profit for 2011, due to a strengthening yen and supply disruptions, which continue to affect production output, following the March 11 earthquake and Tsunami in Japan.
However, the projected forecast in operating profit through March 2012 is slightly better than originally hoped, estimates place it at around some 20 billion yen ($248 million), versus original estimates of 5.6 billion yen predicted by industry analysts. Mazda has also forecast a net operating profit of 1 billion yen for this year, versus a net loss of some 60 billion yen in 2010.
Nevertheless, the Hiroshima based company is looking to diversify its manufacturing base to further increase profitability, with an eye on emerging markets as major centers for potential growth, including Central and South America.
To cater to market needs in this region, the company has announced that, in conjunction with Sumitomo Corporation, it will begin construction of a new assembly plant in the Mexican state of Guanajuato. The plant will produce the Mazda2 and Mazda3 as well as a range of engines.
Once up and running, the plant will have a production capacity of some 140,000 cars annually and will employ approzimately 3,000 people; Mazda will own 70 percent of the venture, Sumitomo the remaining 30 percent.
In addition, both companies will also set up a joint sales venture in Brazil, in an effort to capitalize on that country’s fast growing auto market.
Mazda currently has two thirds of its total vehicle production based in Japan and the rising yen is making its products increasingly uncompetitive overseas (currently 80 percent of total production is exported) as well as eating into profits.
It is hoped that an additional assembly plant outside Japan will help reduce the problem (currently Mazda has three other production facilities outside the home country, in the US, China and Thailand, though all of those were set up as joint ventures with Ford Motor Company).
Upon announcement of the new Mexico factory, Mazda’s shares on the Nikkei (the Tokyo Stock Exchange), spiked some 1.6 percent, out performing the benchmark average, reaching 195 yen per share.
General Motors is hoping to expand their Opel nameplate beyond its traditional European markets to places like China, Australia, South America and other unspecified Asian countries.
GM is hoping to leverage Opel’s premium brand image to expand its lineups in places where the General lacks a foothold in that market segment. Chevrolet (and Holden) are the sole brands operated by GM in these areas, with the exception of China.
China poses a particular conundrum, since Buick enjoys enormous social cachet in the 1 billion strong country, where the pre-Communist Emperors drove Buicks exclusively. Many Buicks are also derived from Opel products, which may pose a problem for GM, which now must position two premium brands head to head with one another.
General Motors sold 4,000 Opels in China last year as a trial run, and the company is optimistic about the brand’s fortunes. “We will market Opel as a European designed car in the premium segment,” an Opel official told Deutsche Welle. “There are a growing number of Chinese who like European cars and have the money to afford them.”
[Source: Left Lane News]
We love (well, a few of us here love) superminis more than the latest and greatest supercars. Why? They’re honest, unpretentious, and the literal background of many countries across the globe. In South America, there is no typical two-car garage — everything a family does is done in a small car, like the new Fiat Uno.
It’s slightly larger than the Panda yet smaller than the Punto. The interior is dead simple, with utilitarian controls, materials, and details — including a mesh “net” that fits over the passenger seat in order to carry more things when you’re alone in the vehicle.
Pictured above is the “Way” version, with more ground clearance and chunky looks — still front-drive, though! Engines are flex-fuel gasoline only (for the time being): 1-liter (73 horsepower on alcohol, 75 on gasoline) to 1.4-liter (88 horsepower on alcohol, 85 on gasoline.) Transmission? No fancy CVT or DSG here: the Uno gets a proper 5-speed manual.
GALLERY: Fiat Uno
“Is that hashish in your race suit, or are you happy to see us?” was probably what Spanish police said to drug smugglers at the helm of a fake Dakar rally truck. The graphics-laden and off-road prepared truck had blended in with support trucks along an official rally route, in hope of delivering its load to the Spanish island of Ibiza in time for the summer party season.
Just what did police find? More than 1,760 lbs (800 kg) of cocaine, 15,000 ecstasy pills, marijuana, guns, and $64,000 U.S. in cash.
“The vehicle had been totally transformed to adapt it to its supposed participation in the competition as a support truck, with publicity and logos of the event painted on its side,” read a police statement.
Its drivers were fully kitted out in race suits, with official-looking route maps and race documents to hide their motives. In total, seven suspects have been arrested, all from Spain.
Since we have no footage of the criminals in action, after the jump we’ve placed a video of a Kamaz Dakar truck hooning in the snow with ex-F1 driver David Coulthard at the wheel.
*Note: the above image is of a Dakar support truck, not the actual one used in the case.