Archive for November, 2008

Weekend Entertainment: French car ads, good for a laugh

Friday, November 28th, 2008

Oh those crazy French ads…always the same end, but always a different means…

Don’t poke around, it might cost you your parking space…

Wednesday, November 26th, 2008

Say goodbye to the $4000 car

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

Well, if you were not aware that Serbian (haha, yes you read correctly) automaker Zastava makes the Koral compact car it’s probably because you know it by another name, the “Yugo”. When production ceased on November 11, 2008, the company had produced just under 800,000 cars.

American origins of the Yugo data back to Malcolm Bricklin, who brought the car over, and previously brought over the Subaru. Though the Yugo in America started in 1985, the “fun” was short lived and the last one was sold in 1992. Not aided by incidents in which the cars were slept off the road resulting in injury and death, the death of the Yugo will go largely unnoticed by much if not all of the developed world. Maybe the Cubans will pick them up on the second hand market…

Source:

NY Times

An opportunity lost?

Tuesday, November 25th, 2008

Ok, we admit that US$1.3 billion for Germany’s Opel brand may or may not be a fair number. But earlier in the week CNET reported on a story that largely went unnoticed. 

Germany company SolarWorld, a maker/developer of solar panels as well as solar-based cars has offered to help out failing automaker GM. Last week we reported on GM’s failed attempt to secure billions in government loans. This week, we’ve posted a Saturday Night Live spoof of the hearing.

Much more serious is CEO Frank Asbeck’s interest in GM’s German division Adam Opel. It’s nearly surprising that GM might be able to unload one of its divisions, let alone to a buyer that might be able to something very extraordinary with it.

GM should take the offer, whatever it is. The company is obviously not capable of developing energy-friendly cars of its own, so they might as well do us all a favour and unload the company to someone that can do the job. US$1,300,000,000 you say? Done deal!

 

Sources:

Transcript of SolarWorld CEO Frank Asbeck’s interview (German)

Opel

CNET

Porsche produces a diesel? Really?

Monday, November 24th, 2008

Porsche’s communications department has release information indicating that the company will in fact sell a diesel-powered version of the Cayenne SUV.

The benefit to Porsche? The obvious benefit is that consumer demand has finally forced even the sportiest of automakers to consider satisfying consumer demand for large vehicles that get 30 miles per gallon or more. As fuel prices increase over time, demand for vehicles that hit the wallet less, will increase. It’s simple economics.

Another benefit to Porsche is that a 30mpg car reduces the company’s overall emissions output. For the Cayenne, Porsche will source VW/Audi’s 3.0 litre TDI engine. This engine apparently produces 240bhp while creating 244g/km of carbon dioxide. Still not super environmental, but it’s a fair start for a sports car maker.

What’s not clear yet is if the car is coming to the USA. Imagine that with the US as the largest buyer of Porsche’s the company is considering this as an option, but American acceptance of diesel-powered cars has never been too great. Rest assured petrol prices will increase again in the not-so-distant future, at which time the case will be re-made for the fuel efficiency that diesel offers.

If it does come to the USA, imagine a price around $50,000. That is a $6K+ premium over the petrol Cayenne. At present, the UK edition will start at £40,250 and will be out in February 2009, just in time to get your wife a nice Valentine’s Day gift!

Darwinism for the Big 3: Weighing in on GM and the impact of its failure for the global automotive industry

Wednesday, November 19th, 2008

Yesterday, Congressional Republicans went on the record saying that they opposed an auto industry bailout. Today, long-time Democratic senator, Chris Dodd of Connecticut went on the record opposing a $25 billion bailout to the Big 3 automakers.

New York senator Chuck Schumer had this to say: 

“Survival of the auto companies is imperative for America to remain the global leader in innovation. We should not drop out of the race before we have a chance to compete.”

Unfortunately, Sen. Schumer’s analysis is short-sided and blindly optimistic. Of particular interest is the idea that by not approving this bailout, we will drop out of the auto industry and a major world player. Schumer argues that the U.S. will effectively lack competition in this area.

The reality is that the U.S. has never been terribly competitive when it comes to innovating the auto industry.

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Weird BMW drama: thank the Quandt family…

Tuesday, November 11th, 2008

Susanne Klatten owns 12.5% of BMW, is the 68th richest woman in the world, and the richest woman in Germany. So why is she headline news this week? Apparently Ms. Klatten, pictured above, has learned a difficult personal and business lesson: don’t become a victim of blackmail.

The whole incident does bring up a good point, which is how does a wealthy auto executive stay clear of drama and sketchy affairs? No doubt she’s hired a crisis management consultant. She is probably in the right to be coming out and exposing the embarrassing affair. It does make one wonder just how many executives in her position stand to lose or may make decisions based on blackmailer by elicit lovers or poor business partnerships.

All the worse is that a regularly private person is now put on public scrutiny.

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Lamborghini struggling?

Monday, November 10th, 2008

 

Well, the world’s largest Lamborghini dealership has closed this year as well as the largest Chevy dealer.

Orange County Lamborghini apparently closed its doors, though the site remains: LAMBORGHINI ORANGE COUNTY

According to Leftlane New the company’s management struggled, despite the dealership being quite successful with some exclusive clientele for which most luxury goods makers would kill. It’s unclear which part of the family business is failing, however, as Vik is the property owner, but the dealership owners are actually Nora, Sossi, and Astrid, his sisters. One possibility is that cash flow is weak following the 2007 purchase of an Audi-VW dealership in Santa Ana. Either way, the business lesson to be learned is that cash flow is not safe in the down economy.

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How a reverse VW-Porsche takeover might work

Thursday, November 6th, 2008

Unless you have been living in a cave the last two years, you know that Porsche’s strong financial position has allowed them to make a gradual play for VW’s shares. In fact it is just the latest in what has been a long-time partnership between the two + Audi. You may recall that many years ago Audi+Porsche dealerships often shared the same building.

But what we really didn’t know until recently was how Porsche might use VW in their product portfolio. Remember that the VW Touareg , Audi Q7, and Porsche Cayenne share the same platform. The benefit being significantly cheaper development costs. Bear in mind that Porsche has had a benefit in this partnership of releasing their Cayenne before VW and Audi have released their products. Ironically, it is the smashing success of the Cayenne product line that has given Porsche the ability to launch a takeover of VW.

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Totally random link of the week: Doggie seats!

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Are you one of those people who decided having pets was a better idea than having children? If so, you probably take your pets everywhere you go. The problem with this is that your car will forever be stinky and covered in pet hair. The solution? A company called G.W. Little has produced a “Dog Seat”. It should keep your pet from dirtying your car or moving around much while you are on the go. Will it keep your dog from flying through the windshield in the event of a crash? Perhaps not, but at least you’ll be doing a lot less vacuuming!

G.W. Little