The automotive world is bigger than just Detroit. American cars and trucks are sold worldwide and other nations’ products compete with American ones, both here and abroad. Some global automotive news that may have an impact close to home and across the world:
Japanese airbag crisis not yet over? As Americans are being strongly urged to check to see if they have Takata airbags, Takata is still having problems. In December a Takata airbag exploded in a scrapyard in Gifu prefecture. Nobody was hurt. The airbag was in a 2003 Toyota WiLL Cypha, a vehicle not currently being recalled. Furthermore, at least in America, the public was told the cars under recall were the only dangerous ones, and the highest risk were cars in warmer climates.This latest explosion seems to defy the conventional wisdom about the Takata debacle.
Russia’s Lada in trouble? The ubiquitous Lada, the cheaply made Soviet-era car that still dominates the Russian roads (and can be seen in many other locales, just not America), is no longer the top seller in Russia. The Lada Granta, a subcompact car, was outsold by the Kia Rio towards the end of 2014. Russia blames the Lada’s downturn on supplier problems. The supply problem occurred when the plant shut down, presumably because there was a decrease in demand. The iconic Granta will likely overtake Kia again shortly.
Ferrari spinoff the latest in auto manufacturer recombinations? The merger of Fiat and its Chrysler unit may not be the end of the news from Milan. Quickly after the merger was announced, Sergio Marchionne, who headed that merger, announced that he planned to sell off the vaunted Ferrari brand. Selling off the Ferrari component of the business reduces the corporate debt and positions Fiat Chrysler to be an attractive partner for future joint operating agreements. Other car manufacturers that could be future partners with Fiat Chrysler include Volkswagen, Ford and General Motors. In addition, talks could be possible with Mazda or Suzuki. Ferrari, meanwhile, is considering moving its corporate headquarters from Milan to London, for tax purposes, while maintaining its plant in Maranello, Italy.
Tesla vs. the Germany luxury automakers: The German luxury auto market has a couple of challenges on its hand. One is the sluggish European economy. But the automakers are also keeping a watchful eye on Tesla’s progress. Audi will be debuting an electric car at the Detroit Auto Show. Audi will also be showcasing a hybrid, known as the Audi Q7 . Not yet at the Auto Show, but in the works are hybrid and alternative-powered vehicles by BMW and Mercedes. These could be displayed as early as 2017. And Porsche, which already offers some hybrids, is also looking to develop a plug-in. As oil prices dip, it will be interesting to see if Tesla maintains public fascination or if that dips as well.