Wednesday Snippets – Citroen, BMW, and some outrageous homologation costs

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I haven’t done a snippets post in a while so there are a LOT of links here. There’s plenty of interesting stuff going around at the moment. Let’s get started.

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Earlier this year, Ford announced that they were ceasing vehicle production in Australia in a few years time. Last week, after months of sliding sales and years of government subsidies, Holden did the same. Redneck racing fans have been having fits of panic ever since.

This week, Ford announced that it’s hiring 11,000 new workers in a 2014 global expansion. Yesterday, General Motors announced that it’s spending $1.45billion on plant upgrades in the US.

I guess we know where we stand in terms of being a high-wage manufacturing country.

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And the hits keep on coming…..

All those redneck Holden Commodore fans better prepare themselves for the shock of a lifetime.

While GM’s talking heads have committed to keeping Holden as a brand in Australia – scotching rumours that they’d save themselves some global marketing money by calling the cars Chevrolets – the new Holden Commodore that will replace the current Aussie built V6/V8 RWD model range is said to be a FWD 4 cylinder from China.

I can’t wait to see how well that goes.

Looks like Dodge might save the day, though. And for that, I’m genuinely excited.

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To more positive news……

I’ve never been a huge BMW fan, but I have to say that the new BMW M3 and M4 look outstanding.

And is it just me who finds it interesting that after years of BMWs running mostly with odd-numbered series nomenclature, their most interesting cars are now going to run with even numbers? Yes, the old 6-series and 8-series cars were interesting, but BMW’s bread, butter and marketing spend has always been focused on its 3-series and 5-series.

Have they created a rod for their own back? Or will people just pour into them as they’ve done for years? I suspect the latter. “It’s the product, stupid”. And the product looks good.

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Speaking of BMW, I expect the i3 to take out the European Car Of The Year award, to be announced at the Geneva Motor Show next year.

The other six finalists are:

  • Tesla Model S
  • Citroen C4 Picasso
  • Mazda 3
  • Mercedes-Benz S-Class
  • Peugeot 308, and
  • Skoda Octavia

Good as those cars may be, I don’t think they’re anywhere near the game-changers that the BMW i3 will turn out to be.

Saab – here’s your new electric vehicle benchmark.

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From the new, to the very old.

There’s a Citroen DS19 wagon for sale in the US at the moment!! Yes, a genuine Safari goddess!!

According to the ad on Ebay, the car has been idle for the last 45 years(!) after the substantive owner hit a protrusion in the road, cracking the transmission case. Thankfully for a new owner, the car comes with a spare engine, spare transmission and a whole bunch of spare parts (check the photo – who wouldn’t want to spend the next 10 years sorting that out????!!!!)

Once restored, this car will be the coolest on any block. Guaranteed. At the time of writing, the sale has just under 2 days to go and the current bid of $4500 is yet to reach the reserve.

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BMW has M. Audi has S, or RS if you’re feeling particularly nutty. Nissan has Z. Subaru added a W to their RX vehicles to make a hottie. Cadillac (and therefore, Holden) have the V range.

Everyone’s after a letter they can add to make their cars sportier and more marketable.

Now Hyundai have joined the crowd with the letter “N”

Hyundai_i20_N

I assume they chose “N” because someone already had the trademark for “Pfft”

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Homologation – rightly touted as a reason why car companies don’t take their cars to some markets. If they don’t think it’ll sell well enough, it doesn’t justify the costs.

Just how much does it cost to homologate a car?

Lotus spent $50,000,000 to get the Elise compliant for the US market. It took them 16 months to complete.

Read the full story at The Truth About Cars.

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And in some non-car news……

Thankfully, in this crazy, truth-spun world we live in, there’s still some people out there with common sense. There are still some decisions made that bring peace to the soul, knowing that mankind can still get something right when centred minds are applied to a task.

Nirvana were chosen for induction into the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame.

Outstanding.

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21 Comments

  1. Wow, far-ranging indeed!

    In no particular order:
    – Ford and GM don’t make cars in lots of countries. Too bad that Oz is next on that long list.
    – The Dodge Challenger is a fun car to drive, yes. I think that the Dodge Charger (essentially the same car with four doors and different sheet metal) may be a step quicker in the turns. I have to think it’ll hit Oz before the Challenger. Take a look.
    – If I were a rich man, I’d buy the Citroen wagon and hire a mechanic to make it go. So cool I’d save on air conditioning in the summer.
    – Nirvana is THAT good, yes. ‘Heart-shaped Box’ is certainly a favorite.
    – I have a hard time believing the $50 million price tag for Elise entry into the US. Even if they get $75,000 a copy, that’s 660 cars before the CASH FLOW evens out. In this day, it will likely take something upward of 10x that amount to make it worth while. I’m not sure that Lotus can sell 6,000 Elises in 3-4 years. We’ll see.

    1. We don’t have any Dodge product here at the moment. We have Chrysler, but not Dodge. So if they’re coming, they’re starting from scratch. I hope they do.

      The Citroen is awesome. Ahhhh, so many cars, so little time/money/space

      1. Well, you have the Fiat Fremont, which is the Dodge Journey. I’m guessing that you have some Chryslers that are sold here as Dodge? Either way, you should have the Chrysler 300 either as a Chrysler or as the Lancia Thema. If they have the hotted up version (392 cu. in. / 6.5 l V8), it’s roughly the same. All three vehicles are on the same platform. The 300 is a little longer than the Charger, and it’s also a bit heavier.Similar driving experience.

  2. The i3 might tickle European fancies more, but in general the Tesla offers much more as a whole package. I’ve not heard of beemer superchargers yet, to mention one thing.
    The i3 being butt ugly it another thing…

  3. Hyundai. Well, what can one say. From the heady days of the Excel priced at $9900 last century to today, all grown up and ‘nice’. Good on them. And it is what Oz buyers want to drive, being great value for money today. You get a lot of kit for the money, and how do you argue with that? Possibly the Oz government shouldn’t have baited Holden and force them into a corner, but this day was always coming. And now it has. Sort of put the silver dagger into the heart and soul of the local automotive industry. So I blame all those who went to the 1999 Melbourne motor show and said…”I’ll buy that….it so CHEAP!”
    And so it came to pass…one giant step for Korea, and one giant step for the US of automotive A.
    If only Ford had committed to making the Focus here, things would be different. If only Holden had committed to making the Torana concept, when it had the vision and the chance. If only.
    Oh well, there goes the whole auto industry, as Toyota pull the pin in the next few days. It is coming, that’s for sure. How can the bosses in Japan see the local suppliers coming to the party? It won’t happen.
    It makes Sweden’s suppliers look utterly fabulous when they recommitted to being suppliers again to NEVS, on a whim and a prayer. Melbourne’s auto supplier industry is ……’ed to say the least.
    Hyundai have done their job well. Too well.

    1. Strongly agree! Hyundai also has the indirect effect of putting price pressure on all manufacturers everywhere to cut costs across the board which only leads to further doom high-cost manufacturing operations in Australia and elsewhere. That is, American consumers enjoying the same benefits from Hyundai, Nissan and Chrysler lead to shut downs in Australia as well.

  4. BWM design team (if there is one…): “Oh, the i3 will be an *electric* car? Then we have to change the design to utterly convoluted so it’s looking futuristic!”

    BMW is going down the Audi and Samsung road: just make every possible variation of the product and see what stick with customers. Works as long as the money is flowing and there is no hesitation about the brand identity.

    1. The i3 was intended to look different. My initial reactions when i saw it last year were the same as yours, however I happened to be passing BMW in Park Lane London and both it and the i8 looked fantastic to me. The great thing about BMW is that they are not afraid to take risks, the opposite of Audi. The last 5 was slated by critics, bought in huge numbers and deeply affected the design direction of several manufacturers.

      The i3 design may fail, but to complain about it looking different is to take us to a world of silver Audis.

  5. Saw an i3 recently driving near Aberdeen. It is even more hideous in the flesh than it is in photographs!

    Why do manufacturers generally think that they have to make their electric cars look like the batteries they stick in them?!

    Good design is good design. The i3 is not a good design IMHO.

    1. I completely agree. There is no reason not to make a 3 series ev that looks like a 3 series except they want it to “stand out” for marketing reasons… I hope nevs makes the new 9-3 ev look exactly like a SPG. It would stand out, and it would look good… (ok a little tongue in cheek, but I’m hoping they don’t go for the chunky EV “look” like everyone else)… Tesla is actually not bad at all in that regard imho…

      1. If BMW wanted the car to look like a 3 series, it would look like one. Although given the size of the car it would be more like the 1 series. It is intended to reflect its market, city drivers who have little interest in taking it outside the city.
        If indeed they had made a 1 series people would rightly be asking why a car with such a radical chassis did not take advantage flexibilty granted by this platform.

    2. I would disagree. The 5 GT was a bad design, the i3 is an incredibly clever design. The interior space and access to it, the thought put into communal space, the huge investment in the chassis to start with. The cut out rear door seems a gimmick until your kids rave about how the can see out ( I hate off roaders and MPVs yet my kids LOVE them for the view, to the extent that I am coming round to them). BMW thought about city dwellers want to use this car.

      Challenging? daring? risky? different? yes. Bad design? never. Reminds me of when SAAB genuinely was different and did things its own way.

      1. I agree, Jon.

        I’m not overly excited about the way it looks in pictures but it’s not bad looking at all and it strikes me as a package that’s fit for purpose. More exciting for me is the carbon fibre construction, which is a massive step in production for a mainstream carmaker. Again, part of designing the car, and a very good part at that.

        1. The i8 literally stopped me running past the showroom to take a photo.

          The i3 looks better in real life than in pictures and I suspect it will be a bit colour sensitive – I hate the two tone A1 but a soild white S-Line is pretty striking. I am just glad someone is doing something different, I am looking forward to seeing the evolution of Gordon Murrays iStream with Yamaha.

  6. The Challenger and Charger are pretty good cars, and will probably do well on the Australian market. Sure, the plastics are cheap and bare, but their shape is surprisingly organic and pleasing. A good friend has a thing for Chargers, it’s the only car he will rent. Awesome ride for a long trip, unlike the Taurus (nee 500) that requires constant tiny steering corrections.

    The relatively high homologation costs for the Elise are due to the fact that the car wasn’t designed with the intention of selling in the US. Someone here will know for sure, but I had the impression that US and European Saabs were essentially the same in terms of structure, gasoline emissions, and safety equipment. That’s a big saving in tooling costs (and we all know that the automotive industry is just a front for the much bigger tooling industry).

    1. That would explain a lot about the Elise. And, yes, it’s been confirmed many times over on the boards at SaabCentral that my recently departed 1999 Saab 9-5 was the same in virtually all respects to the European counterpart, even down to the model year distinctions. The primary difference between the European and US versions of the car were marketing decisions about what equipment is included with each model designation.

  7. The 4 series is a car I have my eye on in 5 – 6 years time, when the Guillietta comes up for replacement (or rather, becomes my eldest’s first car). The i8 looks amazing, I suppose by then the practicalities will be clearer. I do not like the i3.

    A very merry Christmas to Swade and the readers/contributors to this site. Thanks for all your work Swade. I haven’t forgotten I was supposed to send you something about the Guillietta… I will try to do so over Christmas.

  8. Heck, the Commodore is now dead, and we now see in recents days a real ramp up of adverts that push the car to appear for all intents and purposes ‘alive and kicking’. If you were half dead and media ignorant you would even consider buying one. Pity nothing of consequence was done prior to the announcement that production was going to cease.
    The Liberal Govt in Oz has now taken the same line that the SwedGov did two years ago, not to prop up the local car industry and to let them fail. BMW and MERC would not let that happen in Deutschland…

  9. at least the BMW can be optioned with an engine of sorts, cannot think of any place local to me which offer services to fix a carbon shell..

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