South America auto news

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Fiat taps Mitsubishi for European pickup

06/04/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Trucks/Pickups, Euro, Mitsubishi, South America, FIAT

Mitsubishi L200

Mitsubishi is often derided in the US for its relatively boring lineup, Lancer Evolution aside, but the company is on the upswing worldwide, recently posting record global operating profits. The Japanese automaker may get a further boost in the near future from a rumored pickup truck deal with Fiat.

According to insider sources speaking to Automotive News Europe, Mitsubishi would reportedly build a variant of its widely respected L200 pickup truck for the Fiat Professional brand in Europe and Latin America starting in 2016. The L200 is larger than the Fiat Strada front-wheel-drive pickup already available in those markets, and it's available in rear- and four-wheel-drive configurations. The idea of adding a midsize truck to the commercial lineup was in the Fiat-Chrysler Automobiles five-year plan, but it didn't include any mention of a partnership to build it.

At first blush, the Mitsubishi agreement seems like an odd move, given that Fiat already owns pickup truck specialists Ram. However, according to ANE, the company had at one time planned to use a version of a new Dodge Dakota pickup for duty in Europe and Latin America, but the model never came to fruition.

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Ford is building this sweet back-to-basics SUV in Brazil

06/03/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Economy, SUVs, Ford, South America, Off-Road

Ford Troller T4

We're use to forbidden fruit teasing us in Europe. Hatchbacks and diesels from Renault, Citroën, Peugeot, Skoda, SEAT and Alfa Romeo have been a regular torment that we've grown accustomed to over the years. This vehicle, though, is one piece of forbidden fruit we aren't entirely sure we can get over. We need it.

It's called the Ford Troller T4, and if you accidentally read that as either "reborn Ford Bronco" or "Americanized Land Rover Defender," we wouldn't be rushing to correct you. It's a basic, badass SUV, and is the first new vehicle to come from Troller since Ford gobbled it up in 2007. For those with longer memories, you'll recognize this vehicle from the concept that preceded it, the Ford T-R Concept. The production model remains remarkably true to the T-R, as well as past Trollers, but it's a slightly more modern look overall, with LED taillights, contrasting colors

You'll have to bear with us on the details, as we've been forced to rely on the notoriously literal Google Translate to convert the original Portuguese into English, which means some of the details were lost along the way.

Under that long, square hood sits a 3.2-liter diesel engine that's paired with a six-speed manual (are you listening Jeep?). There's no mention of power figures, although we're still so darn enamored with this brute's looks, we don't much care how fast or slow it is. Although it isn't explicitly stated, four-wheel drive is likely to feature heavily in the Troller. A high-mounted intake will aid its off-road abilities even further, while "adjustable crossbars," which we think is a swaybar disconnect, are also fitted. We can't see it from the trio of images provided, but the Troller will now also offer a new "sky-roof" system, which is basically a two-pane glass roof that brightens up the off-roaders cabin.

As of right now, the Troller is a purely Brazilian product. That said, a simple badge swap would make this an awesome successor to the oft-missed Bronco and would give Ford a legitimate competitor to the Jeep Wrangler. Here's hoping someone in Dearborn decides that this is a good idea. Take a look below for the full translated press release.

Continue reading Ford is building this sweet back-to-basics SUV in Brazil

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VW planning to push Hyundai for World Cup eyeballs

04/22/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sports/GTs, Marketing/Advertising, Hatchbacks, Volkswagen, South America

2015 Volkswagen GTI, front three-quarter view

Adidas was an official sponsor of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, but the German sportswear company got drowned out of early advertising buzz by Nike, which wasn't a World Cup sponsor. The American company's Write the Future ad put it at the top of Nielsen's study of online buzz, ahead of Adidas. The same thing happened to official World Cup sponsor Budweiser when it got drummed out of the top ten in Nielsen's buzz ratings, while Danish brewer Carlsberg - not a Cup sponsor - ranked sixth.

Volkswagen hopes to score the same goal on Hyundai during this year's World Cup in Brazil. Hyundai and Kia have been official sponsors of the global soccer federation FIFA since 2002 and are official sponsors of the World Cup through 2022. VW has "a major ad buy" planned to run on ABC, ESPN and Univision as well as digital and social media channels during the competition, which begins June 12, to promote the GTI. VW of America's VP of marketing said the Cup's attraction to young males and Hispanics makes it the perfect place to promote the hot hatch.

The sparring between Hyundai and VW has already begun. Volkswagen's Gol compact, named for the Portuguese word for a soccer goal, has been the best selling car in Brazil for 27 years, and the German company sponsors the national soccer team. When Hyundai Brazil began a promotional campaign promising to extend its five-year warranty for six if the Brazilians won a sixth world cup, Volkswagen of Brazil complained to the soccer federation, which asked Hyundai to pull the campaign. As of this writing, that hasn't happened, so we expect it'll be boots on, gloves off, on and off the pitch this summer.

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Watch VW's touching tribute to the Type 2 Kombi

04/09/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Time Warp, Economy, Minivans/MPVs, Videos, Volkswagen, South America

Volkswagen Type 2 Kombi Best Wishes

Volkswagen Kombi VideoFrom the time a vehicle first enters a family, stories will be told about it. People talk about their road trips, or a special bumper sticker or some random memory that their vehicle was involved in. As the years go on, the memories and stories that people have with their cars grows, and eventually, it turns into a cult following. Spend enough time traipsing around the world's roads, and the stories and memories turn a vehicle into an icon.

That's what's happened with the legendary Volkswagen Type 2. Known as the Kombi, Transporter, Bus, MicroBus and Camper Van, after 63 years on sale it's the second most iconic VW to ever travel the roads, surpassed only by the legendary air-cooled Beetle.

Yes, 63 years. The Type 2 has, remarkably, been built in one form or another since 1949. It won't see a sixty-fourth year, though, as VW pulled the plug in 2013. To celebrate the legendary van's long life, VW's Brazilian outfit, which built the very last Kombis, has put together this heartfelt tribute video.

You'll want to scroll down and watch this. As for us, we're going to go figure out why it's so damn dusty in here.

Continue reading Watch VW's touching tribute to the Type 2 Kombi

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Report: Last VW bus ever made arrives at final destination

01/31/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Time Warp, Minivans/MPVs, Euro, Volkswagen, South America

The last Volkswagen Type 2 Microbus rolls into the museum in Hanover

A Brazilian politician tried to save it, unsuccessfully, so the final Last Edition Volkswagen Type 2 Kombi was produced on December 20, 2013 and now resides in a vintage museum at Volkswagen's Commercial Vehicles HQ in Hanover, Germany.

The Volkswagen Microbus was built for 56 years, starting in September 1957. Brazil was the last country still assembling it, but new safety regulations in the country requiring airbags and ABS on all cars spelled the end. When that politician introduced a bill that would pardon only the 'Bus from a death sentence, it couldn't garner the required number of votes for passage. The South American country takes the Kombi production title, though, with 1.5 million of the 3.5 million total made in the home of Copacabana beach and the girl from Ipanema.

The VW Bus is dead. Now perhaps we can turn our attentions to the still-not-totally-settled matter of the Bulli...

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Followup: Brazil contemplates safety exemption for VW Kombi as it goes out of production today [w/poll]

12/31/2013   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Time Warp, Minivans/MPVs, Government/Legal, Safety, Volkswagen, South America

Volkswagen Kombi Last Edition

Brazil: the country of carnivals, indescribable beauty adjacent to abject poverty, Ayrton Senna and old Volkswagen models. Only they're not old - they're new, they're just based on old designs. The original Beetle continued production there long after it had been phased out elsewhere, but the original Kombi van has lasted much longer. That ends today, however, with the iconic VW Microbus ambling out of production on the last day of 2013.

VW kept making the van in Brazil with the original air-cooled 1.2-liter boxer four until 2005, after which the original design was updated with a 1.4-liter water-cooled engine. Today, however, it ultimately falls prey to safety regulations that mandate that all vehicles - no matter how old their design - need to have airbags and ABS, forcing Volkswagen do Brasil to cease production of the Microbus after a 56-year production run. But the latest word is that the Kombi (as it's presently known) could get a stay of execution - or at least a resurrection in short order.

According to reports, the Brazilian government is looking into granting the Type 2 Microbus an exemption from said safety regulations, reasoning that the van was designed long before the advent of airbags and ABS. If the measure goes through, the Kombi Last Edition (pictured above) could prove not to be the last at all. So what do you think, should the Microbus get an exemption from Brazilian safety regulations for nostalgia's sake? Vote in our poll below, then have your say in Comments.

View Poll

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Report: Venezuela may be losing its nickel-a-gallon gas

12/27/2013   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Government/Legal, South America

Worlds Cheapest Gas

There aren't many places in the world where one can buy a gallon of gas for the equivalent of a nickel, but, for the time being, Venezuela is one of those places. There the price of gasoline has been frozen for nearly two decades, but the country's president, Nicolas Maduro, says he favors raising prices gradually over three years to help fight the country's economic crisis, The Detroit News reports.

Venezuelans tend to drive cars that aren't fuel efficient because of the low price of gas, and consumption of the fuel reportedly is 40-times higher than in any other Latin American nation. Lucas Davis, a University of California - Berkeley energy specialist, gives some context: "Prices are so cheap in Venezuela that they may make Saudi Arabia and Iran look expensive."

A native Venezuelan who drives a 1975 Ford LTD station wagon says, in Venezuela, "You spend more on liquor than you do on gas."

The government's plan to raise gasoline prices is being sold on Maduro's promise to reinvest some of the money into building schools and homes, but the effects of raising prices should have other positive effects in the country, such as lowering pollution (assuming Venezuelans are willing to buy more fuel-efficient cars) and reducing black-market oil trading and road congestion.

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Video: Renaultsport prepares Dacia Duster to tackle Dakar

12/22/2013   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, SUVs, Videos, Renault, South America, Off-Road, Racing

Dacia Duster Dakar

If you've ever seen a Dacia up close, it'd probably strike you as one of the least likely vehicles to take racing. The Romanian-made vehicles (also sold as Renault models in certain markets) typically drive around a hundred horsepower to the front wheels through a five-speed gearbox and offer little more. Nor should they, really, because they're budget-oriented forms of transportation, but neither should they be taken racing. Or so you might assume, but apparently nobody has told that to the engineers at Renaultsport, who have prepared Dacias to compete at Pikes Peak, in the Andros Trophy for ice racing and at the Dakar rally.

That's where the firm's Argentinean team intends to field a pair of V6-powered Dusters next month. In fact they already entered an earlier version of the vehicle in the rally this past January, but apparently couldn't manage to finish any higher than 29th place. The Renault team is undoubtedly hoping for a better result this year, and while they haven't released any details on the vehicle's specifications, you can check it out in the video clip below.

Continue reading Renaultsport prepares Dacia Duster to tackle Dakar

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Report: Ford shares falling on news of lower-than-expected profits next year

12/19/2013   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: China, Euro, Ford, Earnings/Financials, South America

Ford logo

Ford has released projections for its 2013 profits, along with predictions of its 2014 earnings, and the news has forced the company's stock to stumble, falling over seven percent as of this writing. The Blue Oval is expecting earnings of $8.34 billion for 2013, although the bulk of that is coming largely from its North American operations, as troubles abroad continue to take a toll.

Calling 2013 an "outstanding" year, Ford expects its revenue to be up about 10 percent, thanks to gains in market share everywhere but Europe. But it's 2014 predictions that are causing stock prices to fall, as the Dearborn-based manufacturer expects pre-tax profits to fall to $7 to $8 billion, because of troubles in both Europe and South America, according to a report from Reuters. This is despite an expansion plan that will see it open an additional factory in the southern hemisphere, as well as two plants in China, all in a bid to launch 23 new or refreshed products next year.

The issues in South America aren't so much related to a fall in sales - Ford expects improved profits in Brazil and Argentina - but because of currency devaluations in Venezuela that are projected to cost it around $350 million. While that would still allow it to break even with 2013, Ford cites continued economic risks that could push losses even higher.

Europe, meanwhile, remains a thorn in the side as Ford works to restructure its operations there, with a projected cost of $400 million. Part of the 23-vehicle launch schedule will also take a toll in Europe, as it projects increased spending for launches and engineering costs.

There's an extensive press release detailing Ford's financials available below.

Continue reading Ford shares falling on news of lower-than-expected profits next year

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Report: World auto sales to hit 100M by 2018?

12/18/2013   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: China, Plants/Manufacturing, Earnings/Financials, South America

Rekordabsatz von Mercedes-Benz trotz Schwaeche in China

Good news is on the horizon for global automakers as a confluence of factors could lead the number of cars sold globally to surge from the current estimate of 82 million for 2013 to over 100 million by 2018, according to a recent report from The Detroit Free Press. What's interesting, though, is that it won't be the US market leading the surge.

US sales are expected to hit 15.5 million units this year, and will continue to rise through 2018, although the pace of the increase will gradually slow down. Around the globe, though, sales are expected to increase as much as 22 percent in the next four years. It's this increase in demand that will force automakers to deliver an additional 21 million units.

The Free Press report cites a number of sources at IHS Automotive, which is predicting Europe to rebound. "We are going to finally see economic growth in Europe," according to IHS economist Charles Chesbrough. "Europe is probably at the very end of their unemployment losses," he said.

It isn't Europe that will truly bring the numbers, though. Naturally, China's name has been thrown around, along with Brazil, Thailand and Chile. "In every major economy in the world we are expecting economic growth," Chesbrough said.

It's this push that is expected to most benefit American production, as IHS Automotive's Mike Jackson predicts an increase in US automotive exports by two million vehicles by 2020, provided suppliers are able to adapt to the rapid increase in global demand. "That is certainly one of these questions that remains," Jackson told The Detroit Free Press. "There hasn't been a tremendous amount of investment within the supply base."

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