Thursday, February 28, 2013

Kia Sedan!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Not an International Incident

At GM, if it's worth doing, it's worth doing badly.  Around 1990 this car was built.  GM settled on an international theme, even though Oldsmobile hadn't sold anything in a foreign country since 1925.  Anyway, absent international sales, they decided on plastering the fender with a bunch of flags.  That should make Toyota buyers take a second look.  It didn't, and their gaffe went unnoticed.

To save costs, GM got the flags out of an old encyclopedia.  Had the cars left the US, someone might have been offended.  The Spanish flag is left over from Francisco Franco and his Falange.  Spain's flag was different by the time this car came out, but it didn't matter.

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Seen but not photographed: Subaru Commercial Shoot

Photographing it is their job.  Besides, we're often stuck seeing commercials, whether we want to or not.  Having them in the area was a surprise.  All this week, I thought the streets would be blocked off for road work.  Then, there they were.

Anyway, the people at FilmWorks* were very nice about explaining what was going on.  They were also much quieter than a construction crew.

There is an artfully dirtied silver sedan parked on the curb, opposite a 3 way intersection.  A guy walking a dog crosses the street, while the camera moves on rails, slanting towards the car.  There is great attention to detail.  The fake license plate says, "THE BEAUTIFUL STATE."

The rails the camera rides on are made from metal tubing.  It looks like they are reassembled at every shoot.  Everything was very smooth.

Although life on location looks fun, I suppose it would also be difficult.  They start work early, loading their trailers and driving out. The streets had to be cleared as of 5 a.m. for them to start.  Tomorrow, they'll be somewhere else. Later, others will handle post-production.

* A million companies and organization have that as part of their name.  I have no idea who they are.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Chevy Aveo (Sonic)

One way you can tell that GM has never been serious about small cars is that they keep renaming them. While there are new Minis and Bugs and Fiat 500s, no one is talking about a new Vega or Corvair.  There are no longstanding models like the Corolla. 

So it is with the Aveo.  The strange thing is that although it was panned in the US, it got good reviews in other countries. With immigration still running at high levels, this might have given GM pause and caused them not to revert to old habits.  Even in the US, there are probably more satisfied customers than the one I met, who is the only Aveo owner I have talked to so far.  The name remains the same internationally.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Seen but not photographed: Yet another VW Bug

More people drive Volkswagens than any other appliance.  That's a variation on an old joke, but it fits.  I saw what looked like a silver Bug, parked at night with manufacturer plates.  It had a black metal (Or plastic.  I didn't bother to stop.) strip along the bottom that looked like the place where you would put the switches.  Maybe it was supposed to recall the running boards, but it looked like a low slung toaster or an electric tea kettle.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

The Mexican Car Market: A short series that's too long.

Happy St. Valentine's Day!  This post is the Valentine's equivalent of Charlie Brown getting rocks for Hallowe'en.  Anyway, here's the word on Mexican taxis.

Volkswagen Jetta:  This was the newest taxi we rode in, with only 14,000 km.  It was also the most substantial.  It was a very solid car that didn't feel too heavy.  On previous trips, I had heard it said that Mexican market Jettas have much stronger suspensions than anything sold in the US.

Pontiac Matiz:  The driver didn't like the car at all.  It had over 300,000 km, and the check engine light was on.  The interior wasn't that great, and the dashboard was right on my knees.  The driver said his version of the Matiz was better, because it was a Pontiac.  Chevrolets, he said, were always the first to break down.  The car had some rattles, but it sounded like there was some life left in it.  The driver said that the cabs were often used 24/7.

Fiat Palio Adventure:  Riding in this Fiat was a big surprise.  It's a small SUV, that like all SUVs, looks outdated.  Inside, it feels light, very solid and up to date.  The drivetrain sounded perfect.  I was unable to find out how old it is.  Consequently I can't tell if Fiat has improved, or if it was a fairly new car with only a few thousand kilometers on it.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

1948 Buick

This car is a lot of fun, even if it's off the topic.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Seen but not photographed: BMW 7 Series

O, the chrome!  O, the excess weight that implies!  O, Germany!

It flew by on the 101, ashamed of its girth.

Friday, February 1, 2013

The Mexican Car Market: A short series that's too long.

How did Detroit blow it?  There are two problems with their mindset.

The first is their idea that America is a foreign country.  The "Imported from Detroit," Chrysler ad that rocked America a while ago was old hat to Californians.  Before the rest of the country was foreign, we were.  Ads from the (then) Big 3 tried to appeal to all of us hippie surfer dudes who could see that they were cool too!  Hey hey, would California like something imported from Detroit? No, we just wanted cars that ran.

Fast forward to 2013, and America is so foreign that it doesn't occur to them to make a small pick-up truck.  Look at the automotive fora.  Lots of people need small trucks for their businesses.  They mention that they're not stonemasons.  Many carry large, but light loads.  The funnier posts mention that there is no need for anatomical compensation.

The two small pick-ups pictured here are from VW and GM in Brazil.  They're good sellers.

Their second problem is their idea that Korea is Japan.  Ever since they got burned by the Japanese, they have been looking to align themselves with the next Japan.  They are as pathetic as the old colonizing Europeans looking for India.  Place names with variations of the word still exist all over Asia and the Americas.

Here are two pictures of Detroit at its laziest.  The Dodge Attitude has most of its Hyundai badges left on.  I didn't photograph their Verna, but that's even worse.  I also photographed the Chevrolet Chevy.  This Daewoo brings to mind old Monty Python jokes about crossing things out and writing over them in crayon.

At times, Korea beats Japan, but they do it on their own terms.  Hyundai and Kia are part of the home team.  GM not only uses Korea to alienate Mexicans, but Koreans as well.  Incredibly, they had the temerity to throw away the Daewoo name and heritage everywhere, even in Korea.

Other foreign companies in different places have managed to achieve home team status.  VW did it in Mexico and Brazil.  Ford has done it in much of Europe.

Meanwhile, the penny-wise search for greatness continues.  The Germans have found that Eastern Europe isn't Germany.  VW is paying a ton of money for the second time to find out that the US isn't Germany.  Honda has joined many other companies in finding out that China isn't Japan.  Suppliers have also learned that China isn't the US or Germany.  In 2011, Tata found out that England isn't India.

The ruse is always the same.  One country looks exactly like another, but without the disadvantages.  Short-sighted executives fall for it every time, and bad products result.