Check Your Mirrors
Odds and Ends about Cars and the Car Business
By Brendan Moore
KIA has been showing off their new No3 concept car to the press in Europe lately, and it’s a stunner. The production car is going to make its debut at Frankfurt in September. Based off the Soul platform, the No3 mini-MPV has great looks and presence, and should do well in the European market. Kia design seems to noticeably improve with every new car they do these days, which definitely is not a bad thing. For you readers in the States, you will probably not see the new Kia on your shores anytime soon, if ever. It’s considered too small for the American market.
GM is apparently thinking long and hard about keeping all of Opel to itself now. German officials have castigated GM for not making a decision about giving up control of Opel to Magna or RHJ, but now it seems as if there was some method to GM’s foot-dragging. There is a great deal of chatter today that GM is quietly trying to put a deal together to retail complete control of Opel.
MINI has taken the wraps off a coupe version of their car, bringing the model total up to five. The coupe version will be shown at the Frankfurt Auto Show in September. The company says the coupe will be a competitor to the Audi TT and the Peugeot RCZ.
SAMOA is switching from the right side of the road to the left side of the road on September 7, the first country to execute a traffic direction switch in a very long time. Many residents of Samoa are angry at the government for deciding to switch, but that has not bothered the Samoan authorities one iota. For an excellent article regarding the Samoan switch, as well as some interesting background on the history of switching traffic sides, you can read this piece by Patrick Bart of The Wall Street Journal.
BARD EKER, one of the principals of Koeningsegg Group, the tiny specialty car manufacturer that is trying to buy Saab from GM, has been caught speeding in Sweden and banned from driving in Sweden for 90 days. He was driving 170 kph (105 mph) in his Ferrari on a road with a 90 kph posted limit. As if the deal to buy Saab didn’t have enough troubles…
LUXURY CARS are not the draw they used to be, with sales sliding in this global recession we’re in, and a disturbing trend towards less conspicuous consumption emerging among consumers, even wealthy ones. There is some data suggesting that the new status among the at least part of the upper crust is to look as environmentally responsible as possible. If the trend continues to gel, it is definitely not good news for the auto manufacturers that put out luxury cars. Environmental concerns aside, there is also some evidence that many people who can easily afford a luxury car are now opting to buy something more practical (and lower-priced). These twin pincers of consumer sentiment are giving luxury car makers considerable pause.
CASH FOR CLUNKERS was an overwhelming success from a sales perspective; and from a operational perspective, not so much. You can bet that any similar program in the future will be better-prepared for best-case scenario in terms of demand, as opposed to the this program, which apparently was prepared for only the worst-case demand scenario. When the program took off in popularity, the government, represented by the United States Department of Transportation was caught completely flat-footed and operational anarchy ensued, led by a wholly inadequate technology server platform that was supposed to handle the volume of deals being submitted. It will be interesting to see what the the government’s position will be regarding the operational failures of cash for clunkers.
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