By James Wong
It’s a bit difficult to talk about the Golf R from an objective point of view since I drive something else from the same company, the GTI. But I’ll try, because what I’ve learnt about the Golf R I’ve had the privilege of driving during the past three days is worth sharing with anybody who’s making a choice between these two cars. As I’ve come to realize, the Golf R has a very different temperament when compared to the GTI. You’d expect the fastest Golf VW has ever made to be an exercise of extremity, but that could not be further from the truth.
But of course, there’s a catch.
By Chris Haak
US Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner told the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee that taxpayers were still at risk of loss from the investments that the US government made in GM and Chrysler, but that any potential loss would be just a fraction of the original amounts feared. He also said that there was a “reasonable chance” that both GM and Chrysler would be recouped.
However, it’s important to hone in on specifically what he said. He said there was a “reasonable chance now that we will recover all of the dollars we put into these companies” since January 2009. Of course, on January 20, 2009, the Obama administration took office. The key phrase (which I italicized above) is “since January 2009.” (Alternately, “we put into these companies” would work, if “we” in that context is the Obama administration.
By Chris Haak
We have yet to see Chinese cars in the US, and they’re about to become more scarce in Europe. Back in November 2009, HSO Motors, the European importer of Brilliance automobiles, filed for bankruptcy protection. Brilliance itself took over distribution of its cars, which sold only about 4,000 units since 2007. Now, Brilliance has halted exports to Europe.
Five years ago, it seemed as if the entry of Chinese automakers into developed markets such as Europe and the US was all but imminent. It was not so much a question of whether it would happen – that seemed to be a foregone conclusion – but more like one of when it would happen, or which automaker it would be.
By Chris Haak
Kia has completely shocked me over the past few years with the dramatic improvement in its vehicles from generation to generation. And the company’s move to hire Peter Schreyer as its chief designer was an absolute stroke of brilliance. Schreyer has brought an interesting, attractive design language to the brand where previously there had been little more than a hodgepodge of various design cliches slapped together. Take the Kia Amante, for an example of what was wrong with Kia design prior to Schreyer’s arrival.
The last Kia that I evaluated for a week was a Sportage, and I really didn’t care for it at all. As we’ve recently covered from New York, the 2011 Sportage is an all-new beast, and one that mercifully completely erases all memory of the former sub-par crossover. And as an added bonus, the Sorento is the first Kia model built in the US, in Kia’s new Georgia plant. So if you buy a Sorento, you’re not just supporting American assembly workers, but members of Kia’s US-based supplier community build interior plastics that smell like a new car’s should, unlike the odd olfactory sensations that Korean-built Kias tend to bring to the table.
By Chris Haak
To steal from Mark Twain, rumors of the V8’s death have been greatly exaggerated. We reported in January on the end of big block V8 production at GM’s Tonawanda, New York plant, which meant that another 108 employees on the L18 big block line landed in GM’s layoff pool, joining some 162 others on layoff there. But after that bad news for V8s and Tonawanda, news came today that the facility would receive a $400 million investment to produce GM’s next-generation V8 engines. The investment will create or preserve more than 710 jobs – meaning that the company will either have to hire new workers to fill all of the spots or will have to draw from its pool of laid-off employees from elsewhere in the country.
It’s not just Tonawanda getting good news from GM today, though. St. Catharines is getting a $235 million investment and about 400 jobs; Defiance is getting $115 million and up to 189 jobs; Bedford is receiving an investment of $111 million and roughly 245 jobs; Bay City is getting investment worth $32 million that should yiedl more than 80 jobs. GM did not confirm the timing of the investments or the hiring, nor did it get specific about which vehicles the new engines would find these engines under their hoods.