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Euro Sales March Forward


By: Gary S. Vasilash 27. January 2015

While the headline should be: “Europe 2014 Auto Sales Up 5.3%,” the “when” is more interesting than the “what.”

JATO Dynamics calculated the numbers. It determined that nearly 13-million units (12,995,397) were sold in Europe last year, and the sales were up across in the board in the 29 markets analyzed (even if the increase was only 0.3% in France).

JATO

What’s interesting is to look at when the month-by-month sales occur. Although things are improved in 2014, note how when people buy cars track. Clearly, there is habit involved.

Volkswagen was dominant. In 2014 it delivered 1,612,895 units (up 3.9% from ’13).

Ford came in second at 961,844 (up 4.3%), a sizeable 651,051 vehicle difference.

Third? Opel/Vauxhall at 885,714.

As for vehicles, the VW Golf held the number-one spot, with 520,958 units. The Ford Fiesta was second, at 308,999, and the Renault Clio third, at 300,924.

We wonder, however, what is it about car sales and Europe in March?


Cars As Art


By: Gary S. Vasilash 26. January 2015

Think of another industry where an “old” product—yet a product that is still in production—sells for millions of dollars.

Although automotive auctions aren’t something that we ordinarily write about here, looking at the results of the 44th Barrett-Jackson automotive auction made us realize that the designers and engineers in the auto industry are truly artists and artisans because some of the works that they’ve created—paint-on-metal—rival the paint-on-canvas works we read about when there’s an auction at Sotheby’s.

Barrett Jackson

The scene at Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale

That is, according to Barrett-Jackson, there were more than $130-million in vehicle sales during the 10-day event. “We smashed records at every level,” said Craig Jackson, the outfit’s chairman and CEO.

The sale of the Ron Pratte Collection accounted for some $40.44-million.

One car in the collection, the 1966 Shelby Cobra 427 Super Snake, sold for $5.1-million.

Rounding out the top-10 in the Pratte collection:

• 1950 GM Futurliner Parade of Progress Tour Bus– $4 million
• 1954 Pontiac Bonneville Special Motorama Concept Car– $3.3 million
• 1949 Talbot-Lago T-26 Grand Sport Franay – $1.65 million
• 1965 Shelby Cobra 427 Roadster– $1.595 million
• 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing – $1.1 million
• 1937 Mercedes-Benz 320B Cabriolet– $1.045 million
• 1936 Delahaye “Whatthehaye” Street-Rod– $671,000
• 1991 Ferrari F40 – $643,500
• 1953 Mercedes-Benz 300S Cabriolet– $643,500

And contemporary cars didn’t do too badly, either.

For example, several OEMs donated cars for charities. Like BMW, which brought in a 2015 M5, which sold for $800,000. That was the amount also raised by the GM-donated “first-retail” 2015 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 Convertible.

Ford Donates Shelby GT350R Mustang

And in what is almost a closed loop in some senses, Ford donated VIN number 001, the first production unit, of the just-introduced Shelby GT350R Mustang. It raised $1-million for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.

Yes, cars aren’t just cars. They are treasured art. Well, at least in some cases, such as those here.


Toyota Mirai—Oh My


By: Gary S. Vasilash 23. January 2015

When you’re first to market with a hydrogen-powered sedan with intentions of selling more than a handful to a limited number of individuals, you have to temper your expectations in terms of how well you may do.

After all, there isn’t a whole lot of available infrastructure—anywhere—for refueling the vehicle.

Mirai

And let’s face it: there aren’t a whole lot of people who are sufficiently gutsy to throw down a non-trivial amount of money to buy something that could be troublesome.

Toyota, when introducing the Mirai to the world this past November, was nothing if not circumspect as regards its expectations.

During a press event in Newport Beach, California, Takeshi Uchiyamada, Chairman of Board, Toyota Motor Corporation, stated, “We believe our production volume will steadily increase from about seven hundred in 2015 to the tens of thousands in 2020s.”

Seems as though they’re going to have to work a little overtime this year.

It turns out that in Japan, where the Mirai has first gone on sale (in the U.S. it will go on sale this summer), they’ve received some 1,500 orders in the first month. They had planned for 400 units in Japan—for the entire year.


Concept as Le Concept


By: Gary S. Vasilash 22. January 2015

In mid-September 2014, prior to the Paris Motor Show, the DS brand of Citroën revealed the DS 3 Ines de la Fressange Paris Concept. It looks like this:

DS 3 concept

Last week, the DS brand of Citroën revealed the DS 3 Ines de la Fressange Paris. It looks like this:

DS 3 real

It is a limited edition. Not a concept.

Allez comprendre. Go figure.

It features Encre blue body panels, an Onyx black roof, and “Rouge Ines” mirror housings.

On the inside, there is a “Rouge Ines” dashboard and special headrests.

Seems like “concept car” has a very loose interpretation.

(For those of us who are not necessarily au courant, Ines de la Fressage Paris is a fashion house in Paris, founded by, well, Ines de la Fressage. In Paris.)

DS 3 badge


“Live Green Go Yellow”


By: Gary S. Vasilash 21. January 2015

If you think back to the 2009-2010 timeframe, it seemed as though the future of energy in automobiles was going to come from a farm near you.

Biofuels were going to change the world.

In fact, that headline was a phrase used by General Motors back in 2006 when it was urging people to put E85 in their tanks.

Before the decade was out, GM was supporting companies like Coskata, which was developing the ways and means to transform things like wood biomass and agricultural waste into fuel.

And GM was far from being the only company that was supporting the biofuels revolution in a public way.

Things were so heated that there was some concern that the price of popcorn at movie theaters was going to skyrocket because farmers would sell their crops to fuel-makers at the expense of movie goers.

Turns out that hasn’t been the case. Well, yes, the price of popcorn has gone up. But not because of ethanol.

biodiesel.org

Biodiesel is a different take on green fuel. It is made out of things like recycled cooking oil, animal fats, and plant oils.

Last week the National Biodiesel Board (NBB) came out and slammed the Obama Administration and Congress for insufficient support of biodiesel.

The NBB cited new figures from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) showing that the consumption of biodiesel in the U.S. in 2014 was 1.75-billion gallons compared with some 1.8-billion gallons in 2015.

What caused this 3% plummet?

“These number reflect the consequences of policy inaction,” according to Joe Jobe, CEO of NBB.

It seems that (1) the Administration failed to finalize biodiesel volumes under the Renewable Fuel Standard (which goes back to 2005 and 2007, when it was thought important to have a percentage of renewables in transportation fuels for purposes of energy independence) and (2) Congress permitted the $1-per gallon biodiesel tax incentive to lapse at the beginning of 2014.

Jobe said that biofuel plants are closing and others are having a difficult time planning production. He stated, “The most frustrating aspect is that this is completely unnecessary. This is an industry that should be growing, and that has proven it can expand with smart policies in place. Yet we have this paralysis in Washington. Biodiesel companies simply can’t plan for growth or hire new people with the kind of uncertainty we have now.”

Washington notwithstanding, we know someone who is a big supporter of biodiesel:

biowillie

Source: biowillie.com




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