Archives for March 2016

Return of a bad habit? Chinese copycat designs

Chinese-clone-Changan_CX70-Ford_ExplorerThe Chinese Range Rover Evoque clone Landwind X7 has revived an old habit among Chinese automakers, of whom we had thought they’d have grown up by now and had quit copying foreign car designs. However, last month two of the three all-new models launched in China are blatant copy-paste jobs again. You’d think that especially Changan, the largest of China’s domestic auto brands with almost a million domestic sales last year, would be large enough to have their own design department. But no, they just decided to screw over their own Joint Venture partner Ford by “taking inspiration” from the Ford Explorer for their new Changan CX70 SUV. Especially from the rear ¾ the door profiles, C-pillar and rear side window, the chrome bar between the rear lights look an awful lot like the Explorer. At the front the headlights are a bit more stretched and the grille is a bit thinner, but the placement of the hood is similar and the bottom end of the bumper also. The entire car is a bit narrower, giving it different dimensions, but the resemblance is still remarkable. Maybe it’s a stab at Ford for planning to have the Explorer for the local Chinese market produced by its Jiangling-Ford joint venture which produces its commercial vans and the Everest SUV. Not sure what Ford thinks of this design from the company that produces all other Ford passenger cars including the Edge SUV for the local market, but I don’t think they’re going to make a big deal of it unless Changan starts to export it to the US, which is highly unlikely. And 72 sales in its first month on the market don’t make it an instant blockbuster that could threaten the Explorer either.… Continue Reading …

Look-a-like: Nissan Maxima and…

Nissan Maxima rear

So, your company wants to launch a dynamic, four-door sedan? A car that is aggressive enough for fathers to lust over it, and yet practical enough to carry a family much in the way the ubiquitous crossovers would? You should gather all your best designers, let them at a clean sheet of paper, even let them employ funky details such as a fake floating roof – why not? Just make sure of one thing…

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VW loses the only person who was doing all the right things to save the company

Volkswagen_US-Michael_HornIf you hadn’t already shorted your VW stocks after the diesel scandal last year, now would be the best time to do so: VW just lost the only person who was doing everything right in the aftermath of the scandal. In his position as VW of America president, Michael Horn was popular among the plagued dealers for his straight talk, apologetic to the public and influential enough at the German headquarters to push for the right products. But last week VW issued a statement that Horn, is departing “by mutual agreement” to pursue other interests, effective immediately. Such a sudden departure by someone who has worked for the company for more than 25 years, this statements sounds like a euphemism for “he didn’t do what the company wanted him to do, so we fired him”. Update: according to Reuters, VW offered Horn “other positions within the company”, which he declined. In other words, VW of Siberia is still looking for a new Product Manager Eos and Golf cabriolet. Horn’s departure is very bad news for a company that desperately needs a person who was doing exactly those the things he was known for during the current slowdown in US sales at the Volkswagen brand and inability to reach a deal with US regulators or a technical solution to fix the illegal emissions software in about 600.000 VW Group cars.

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Poll results: Killing the 200/Dart duo is folly

Dodge Dart2015 Chrysler 200C

When we asked you, our readers, whether you thought Sergio Marchionne was right to kill off the Chrysler 200 and Dodge Dart to concentrate on crossovers, we expected most of you to disagree with him. What we did not expect was just how few of you would either agree with FCA’s action, or would be willing to wait and see if it was the right action.

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Poll results: Volvo V40 most likely to succeed in the US

Volvo V40

A while back we asked you which premium compact model not currently available in the US would have the highest chance of succeeding. The Volvo V40 came out ahead with 32% of the votes – a clear, but not decisive win over its competitors. That many think it could do well does not come as a surprise – Volvo is currently on a bit of a roll, and while the V40 predates the current “hot” XC90 and S90/V90 models, it still represents much that customers like about the brand. It’s even available as the Cross Country, a jacked-up version of the kind that’s ever so popular in the US (think Volvo XC70, Subaru Outback).… Continue Reading …

Car cultures around the world: Singapore

So we’ve taken a virtual tour to Morocco, Africa, Monaco, Europe, Nagoya, Japan and Bali, Indonesia, and we’ll stay in Asia once again, visiting Singapore. Although not that very far from Indonesia on the map, the car culture in Singapore almost couldn’t be more different than that of Bali. Gone are all the small motorbikes and in are supercars. That’s right, the Singapore streets look more like those of Monaco with all the supercars and luxury cars showing off

Lamborghini_Huracan-Ferrari_458_Speciale-Singapore-street_scene-2015

This is not only because Singapore is one of the wealthiest countries in Asia – and in fact the world- but also because they have quotas on the number of new cars that can be registered each year. On top of these quotas, new car buyers need to get a Certificate of Entitlement from the government, which gives them the right to register, own and use a vehicle in Singapore for a period of 10 years. Because these COEs have to be acquired through an auction, prices rise when demand is high. As a result, the cost of acquiring a COE can be as high as the price of the car itself, therefore favoring the wealthy, whom are more likely to buy luxury cars. Because the certificate is valid for 10 years, after which a car needs to be exported or scrapped, you won’t find many old cars on the roads of Singapore either.… Continue Reading …

Tough act to follow: Audi Q5 [w/ poll]

Audi Q5

The Audi Q5 has proven to be a very important model for Audi. It may not have been Audi’s first SUV (that would be the gargantuan Q7), but it has been its most successful one. Even as it is about to be replaced in 2016 by a completely new model, the current eight-year-old Q5 was the second-best selling car in the Premium Mid-sized SUV segments in Europe and in the US in 2015! Over its lifespan, it has consistently outsold its German competitors, the BMW X3 and Mercedes-Benz GLK, quite the feat for a first-time effort from Audi. And now, with the second generation Q5 model almost upon us, I wonder if it will be able to its predecessor’s sales success.

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Poll: what were your 5 biggest concept car disappointments in Geneva 2016?

Following articles on our Top 5 concept cars, as well as our 5 biggest concept car disappointments, as well as a poll asking you about your 5 top concept cars, it’s time for the final poll: which concept cars from Geneva were you most disappointed with?

Also, don’t forget to let us know what you thought of the production cars in geneva:

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Poll: what were your top 5 concept cars in Geneva 2016?

Following articles on our Top 5 concept cars, as well as our 5 biggest concept car disappointments, now we’d like to hear what you thought the concept stars of the show were!

Don’t forget to let us know what you thought of the production cars in geneva:

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Geneva 2016: 5 biggest concept cars disappointments

#5 Nissan Qashqai & X-Trail Premium

Nissan Premium Concepts

Why are they here? They’re just like Ford’s sad Vignale line, and that’s enough words wasted on these cars…

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