We're going on an epic journey through South America, and we're bringing you along for the ride.
Volkswagen may have come a long way since the original Beetle to produce hatchbacks, coupes, convertibles, sedans, wagons and crossovers... but pickups? As we found out in England recently, the Amarok is a notable exception, but it's not the only one. Head down to South America and you can also pick up the Saveiro.
That bike-friendly city of Bogota finally came to the conclusion that two wheels are worth seven days, not just one. The Colombian capital, which has been hosting car-free days regularly since 2000, expanded the idea and held its first-ever car-free week earlier this month, Treehugger says. Coordinated by the organization "Mejor en Bici" ("Better on Bike"), the event spurred about 600,000 people a day to leave their cars at home.
The Ford Ka (pronounce it like a Bostonian saying "car") is the Blue Oval's sub-Fiesta offering in a number of markets that aren't North America. It's been a staple in Europe since it launched in 1996 and in South America since 1997, where it's enjoyed quite a bit of popularity as an affordable, efficient city car.
With uncertainty in the US and Chinese markets, automakers are scrambling to rev up their efforts in what were traditionally secondary markets. Take Toyota's efforts in Latin America. A recent story from The Wall Street Journal highlights the Japanese brand's push in the southern hemisphere, particularly in Brazil, where it has expanded its operations and installed new executives with a greater range of powers, all in a bid to grab a bigger slice of the ever-growing South American pie.
Chinese automaker BYD will soon be running a fleet of 49 electric vehicles as emissions-free taxis in the capital of Colombia. BYD will supply 46 of its e6 EVs to Bogota for what will be the first all-electric taxi fleet in South America. Three more e6 EVs will be provided for Colceincias, Bogota's Technology, Science and Innovation Administration. The taxi fleet will go live sometime by March 2013.
BMW has announced plans to invest 200 million euro ($261 million by current exchange rates) in a facility in Brazil. The move is an effort to counter Audi in one of the world's quickest-growing markets. BMW says it plans to produces upwards of 30,000 units a year at the Santa Catarina factory by 2014, though that number could swell significantly if the automaker sees the demand. Audi, meanwhile is set to build 150,000 vehicles per year at its location in San Jose Chiapa, Mexico. Reports indicate
First, Kia Motors Brazil disavowed the ads done in its name by Brazilian agency Moma Propaganda, and now, the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity is doing the same. If you'll remember, some creatives at Moma put together a rather suggestive, comic diptych to advertise the dual-zone climate control in the Kia Sportage. The ads got people everywhere rather hot – and not in a good way – and the automaker quickly went on record saying that it didn't commission them.
According to the Los Angeles Times, new car sales in South America are skyrocketing, thanks to wage hikes, more jobs and easy credit terms. Last year, there were 3.5 million new car and light truck purchases in Brazil alone, representing an 86-percent increase over 2006.
BMW may be planning to set up a new manufacturing facility in Brazil. The automaker currently only sells around 10,000 units per year in the South American country, but BMW has seen sales leap by 50 percent annually in the market for the past few years. According to Reuters, standards of living in Brazil are increasing at a rapid pace as the country prepares to host both the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016. Those increases have helped to fuel light vehicle sales, which ticked up by 11
There are milestones, and then there are milestones. Last week, Fiat's Brazilian division celebrated the big mamma: 10 million vehicles produced. The Italian automaker has been building cars and light trucks in Brazil for over 30 years, and today Fiat Automóveis holds a 25.5% market share, making Fiat the largest automaker in Brazil and Brazil the largest foreign market for Fiat.
Outside of a Terry Gilliam film, where else can you see a used car blessing ceremony, a city of one million people with 535 different public bus routes, roadblocks set up by car mechanics, and kids dressed in zebra suits patrolling crosswalks? Bolivia, that's where. The South American nation, attempting to halt an explosion of automobile buying that's clogging their limited road network, has banned importing used cars more than five years old.