A round-up of today's other stories in brief
Honda hoping to manoeuvre back into the SUV market with its new, competitively priced CR-V
Honda is looking to regain some of its once-held dominance of the Irish SUV sector with the launch of the new CR-V. The original 1998 model once held a huge 25 per cent share of sales of such cars, a share that has long since been eroded by the arrival of so many rivals in what is one of the few booming sectors of the market.
While the new CR-V is clearly a careful evolution of the outgoing model in terms of style and substance, it also represents something of a departure for Honda. When the new 1.6 iDTEC diesel model arrives late next year, it will be Honda’s first front-wheel-drive SUV since the old HR-V ended production.
It’s a sign of the times that even Honda must now compete with the Korean brands when it comes to value. So prices for the new CR-V start at €37,785, which is just under €3,000 less expensive than the previous entry-level model, and only €800 more expensive than the new Hyundai Santa Fe, a car Honda clearly sees as its most significant competitor.
And when the 1.6-litre front-wheel drive model arrives in the autumn of 2013 (allegedly boasting 99g/km CO2 emission, a first for the SUV sector) its price will dip even lower, to challenge high-end versions of smaller, C-segment SUVs such as the Volkswagen Tiguan and Nissan Qashqai.
On a brief test-drive this week, the CR-V proved that it’s still one of the most spacious and comfortable cars in its segment, with an excellent drivetrain and some surprisingly serious off-road ability too. We do, however, have some reservations about cabin quality and styling, and some annoying road-noise issues.
VW's new Taigun concept looks ready to roll at Sao Paolo
Volkswagen has shown a concept version of a new compact crossover at São Paulo International Motor Show, called the Taigun. It’s officially still a concept, but the car at the show looked pretty much production-ready and should form the basis for the new Up-based rival to the Nissan Juke.
Unlike the Juke, and the Mini Countryman, though, there’s no chance of a four-wheel-drive version of the Taigun, as the platform would require too much investment to adapt for the extra hardware. Versions with Skoda, Seat and Audi badges, however, are a racing certainty.
Mondeo goes to Mexico
Ford may shift production of its new Mondeo saloon to a factory in Mexico, as it seeks to stem unsustainable losses in Europe. Ford called an emergency meeting with the unions at its plant in Genk, Belgium, which currently builds the existing Mondeo, the S-Max and the Galaxy, and which had been earmarked for the new Mondeo.
Suspicions had been raised earlier this year when Ford put back the European launch of the new Mondeo by six months to allow for, it claimed, extra quality work. This has heightened speculation that production will be shifted to Mexico, while the Genk plant will be wound down once the Galaxy and S-Max reach the end of their production lives.
Ford currently employs 4,300 people in Genk.
Made in Brazil
With car sales declining in Europe and growth in China slowing, automotive attention is turning towards South America, particularly Brazil.
BMW plans to invest €200 million to build a new car plant there, and Cadillac has said it is considering plans to bring the brand to Brazil.
BMW is hoping its new factory in Santa Catarina, due to produce as many as 30,000 vehicles a year, will counter the growth of Volkswagen, and in particular its archrival Audi, in South America. Audi plans to produce 150,000 cars a year at a new plant in the town of San José Chiapa.
BMW announced its intention to build a plant in Brazil in March 2011, but the decision was held up by tax changes on imported vehicles. Demand for high-end vehicles is expected to grow, helped by investment, as South America’s largest economy prepares to host the World Cup in 2014 and the summer Olympic Games in 2016.