LOS ANGELES — HAAH Automotive Holdings is ending its seven-year effort to import Chinese vehicles and distribute them through a dedicated U.S. dealership network, CEO Duke Hale told Automotive News.
Hale cited tense U.S.-China relations that scared off potential investors.
The Irvine, Calif., startup will file for bankruptcy Monday after a conference call with prospective dealers, who have paid nonrefundable deposits from $100,000 to several hundred thousand dollars for franchise points in the U.S., Hale said.
“We don’t see a way forward right now for Vantas and T-GO,” Hale said of the two U.S. brands created to sell vehicles from China’s Chery Automobile Co. “There’s going to be no cars, there’s going to be no parts, there’s going to be no revenue,” Hale said of the bankruptcy filing.
Although he said in a previous interview that HAAH would file for bankruptcy on Monday, Hale would not confirm that the filing had been made when asked on Tuesday. “Our attorney has asked that I not comment further,” Hale said in a text message to Automotive News. An electronic search for the bankruptcy filing did not turn up any results as of Tuesday afternoon.
HAAH pulled the plug after the investors it needed to move forward became increasingly risk averse because of tensions in U.S.-China trade relations, stiff auto tariffs and negative U.S. public sentiment toward China’s role in the coronavirus pandemic, Hale said.
Hale said that half a dozen investors had expressed interest in the HAAH plan with Chery, which is a major Chinese automaker and top exporter. But in recent months, that interest dried up. And HAAH’s previous confidence in raising the needed money dried up as well.
“All of the big investors moved away from the deal because of U.S.-China relations,” Hale said. “They do not see it as the right place to invest. Even though I didn’t want to hear it from the investors, it wasn’t hard to understand.”
He did not identify the investors.
“These were major Wall Street private equity types of investors,” Hale said. “These were the big money guys.
“I don’t have total insight into their decision, but basically the response is that China-U.S. relations are not very good, not very stable and really haven’t gotten better under President Biden,” Hale said. “Americans aren’t very fond of where they believe COVID came from.”
A few years ago I was suckered in by the prospect of a driverless tomorrow. My children would ping around from city to city on future-y trains that could pick them up without ever stopping. Or on moving sidewalks. Or in self-driving cars, with banquette seating and open bars! I believed in that last one hardcore. I figured we were mere years away from never having to set foot to pedal to get wherever we wanted to go.
I should’ve known better. I was already old enough to know that the world I live in is always ready to let me down, and yet I thought the auto industry, out of everyone, was somehow exempt from that rule. Reader, you’re not gonna believe this, but it is not. I wanted flying cars. Instead I got a pandemic, hoax miracle buses, bug-infested driverless cars retrofitted to deliver shitty pizza, a deteriorating American infrastructure that will never be repaired, and more goddamn cars. Our real future, one unfolding before us right now, is one where cars not only remain legion, but where the expensive ones dominate.
I know because I live in the Washington, D.C. area, where you can’t get out of bed without stumbling into some asshole lobbyist’s X3. Last year, during the pandemic, wealthy Americans bought even more cars than they usually do, which artificially inflated the average price of new cars sold across the board. Given that the K-shaped economic recovery has already begun in earnest, that artificial inflation may soon become permanent with cars, just as it has with homes and private schools.
Now, you can still buy “affordable” cars, like a base-model Honda Civic that retails for just under $22,000. Or the lowest trim-level of the new Toyota Sienna, which clocks in at $35,000, give or take. But in terms of style, comfort, and amenities, many of those base-model cars treat you like absolute shit, and everyone on the road knows it.
I know it because I test drove a base-model Honda Odyssey, which I despised. I felt like I was driving the Spirit Airlines of cars. Then I test drove an Elite model of that same minivan and suddenly—whether it was the blue ambient LED lighting on the dashboard or the air-conditioned seat that made me feel like Irish forest nymphs were fanning my otherwise gruesome ass—it was like I was driving a whole different vehicle. I was upsold. Spiritually, a Honda Odyssey should never cost more than $100. But after my encounter with the base model, I gladly paid $40,000-plus for the Touring edition. (The top-spec Elite was just a hair too elite for my taste). It became the most expensive new car I’ve ever bought, and it was a goddamn Honda Odyssey. But at least it was a nice one. And now I understand that $40,000 represents the entry barrier to any new car I’d actually want to drive.
PARIS — France is resisting the European Union effectively phasing out combustion-engine car sales by 2035, advocating for a more lenient target for the end of the decade and a longer leash for plug-in hybrid models.
The French government backs a target to reduce emissions from cars 55 percent by 2030 from 2021 levels and for hybrids to remain on the market for longer, an official in President Emmanuel Macron’s office said.
The European Commission is expected to unveil on Wednesday plans to require emissions to fall by 65 percent from 2030 and drop to zero from 2035.
The French official, who asked not to be identified, commented after Macron met with top executives at auto companies including Stellantis and Renault, suppliers Valeo, Faurecia and Plastic Omnium, as well as labor representatives to discuss the transition to electric vehicles.
German Transport Minister Andreas Scheuer also warned the commission against setting too strict targets for the auto industry.
“I believe that all car and truck manufacturers are aware that stricter specifications are coming. But they have to be technically feasible,” he told the German press agency DPA.
Scheuer said he supported the shift to battery-powered drivetrains for passenger cars as fossil fuel combustion engines are phased out. For heavy trucks “there needs to be more focus on hydrogen,” he said.
The French and German positions could signal a battle is brewing within the EU over new climate targets and how they will affect the auto industry.
The effective ban on combustion engines by 2035 is part of an ambitious plan to align the region’s economy with more aggressive climate targets. It would also mean a faster phasing-out of hybrids than some executives and labor officials expected.
The new EU emission targets would be significantly stricter than existing fleet-wide goals requiring a 37.5 percent emissions reduction by 2030. While the auto industry has been bracing for tougher rules, the meeting with Macron was part of an effort to gain support for a slower phasing out of combustion engines.
La Plateforme Automobile, or PFA, France’s main lobby group for the industry, estimates 17.5 billion euros ($21 billion) in investment is needed in the country by the middle of the decade to develop batteries, charging stations, hydrogen and related services.
The phasing out of combustion engines could lead to a loss of roughly 100,000 auto jobs in France through 2035 and the shutdown of manufacturing sites, according to a PFA presentation. The industry directly employs about 190,000 people currently.
Production of electric and fuel cell vehicles is less labor-intensive compared with hybrids and those with diesel or gasoline engines, the PFA said. France lags countries including Germany, Japan and the U.S. in terms of the number of robots used by the auto industry, and French workers are more expensive than their counterparts in eastern and southern European countries.
Android Automotive is Android Auto’s bigger and more complex sibling, as it comes pre-loaded on the head unit and provides more advanced functionality. That includes access to climate controls and EV information, such as battery level and mileage.
While the number of cars getting Android Automotive is growing, the adoption of this fully featured operating system is still in the early phases. Google is working together with carmakers across the world to bring it to more models.
The Mountain View-based search giant lets companies put their own skins on top of Android Automotive, creating a fully personalized experience that looks different from the one on other brands. But the core OS is the same, and Google hopes this approach will help increase the adoption in the long term.
In the meantime, however, Android Automotive is also getting more love in the dev community. Most recently, someone has managed to port the operating system to a tablet and therefore run it outside of the car.
Developer Tom Pratt claims everything is running properly, though Android Automotive’s tablet port lacks Google services, meaning that apps like Google Maps wouldn’t be available.
On the other hand, Android Automotive can still be an Android Auto replacement, as you can install other navigation and media apps. That’s pretty much because the port does recognize the tablet’s LTE connection, the GPS sensor, and even the microphones for voice input.
In its current implementation, Android Automotive barely brings any value to someone who wants Android in their cars. Still, with the right improvements, such as a launcher and more apps, this port could easily become a full Android Auto replacement that no longer requires a phone to power the whole thing.
Of course, pretty much the same thing can be obtained by simply running full Android on a tablet and customizing it with a car launcher, so it’ll certainly be interesting to keep an eye on this project and see how it improves over time.
Looks like the future is going to be all-electric, and the Petersen Automotive Museum is celebrating it with their exhibit, “Building an Electric Future: The Technology of Today for the Vehicles of Tomorrow.”
While that title isn’t exactly spot-on—sounds like we’ll have outdated technology in the future—the exhibit itself is pretty cool. Actually, the Petersen has had some sort of Cars of Tomorrow-type exhibit its whole existence, from the day the museum first opened in 1994. Those cars have included everything from whacky, university-built solar cars for the World Solar Challenge race to steam cars and early electrics.
“We endeavor to do two things, learn from the past and become inspired for the future,” said Petersen Museum chief historian Leslie Kendall. “With electric cars, we’ve done both of those things.”
The museum has a 1901 Detroit Electric car that it exhibits to remind people how long EVs have been a thing.
“A lot of people had no idea that there were electric cars before the present day,” Kendall said. “They had absolutely no idea. And they find it very, very interesting that the application of that technology is being reinvigorated in so many amazing ways.”
With what one can only assume was a big infusion of Deutschmarks from VW, a lot of the exhibit features VW EVs, from the e-Golf to the ID.R that obliterated the record at Pikes Peak just a few years ago. There’s even a VW ID. Buzz microbus concept, the original yellow one, on hand. The latest addition is the ID.4 crossover, which rides on Volkswagen’s all-electric MEB architecture. And it’s not just any ID.4; it’s the off-road concept that recently completed the NORRA Mexican 1000 off-road race.
“‘Building an Electric Future’ gives a behind the scenes look at making the new age of electric and autonomous mobility happen,” said Klaus Zyciora, head of design at Volkswagen Group. “It shows varying perspectives from the point of view of the designer, the manufacturer, and the consumer.”
“The ‘Building an Electric Future’ exhibit is a prime example of the future of mobility through the eyes of the world’s largest automobile manufacturer,” said Petersen Executive Director Terry L. Karges. “We are proud to present this exhibit with Volkswagen and ignite a conversation about the impact of an electrified future. We hope it inspires museum guests to think critically about the cars of tomorrow and the challenges manufacturers are facing to design them.”
Volkswagen notes that “Building an Electric Future” is the feature installation under the “Driving Toward Tomorrow” series of exhibits at the Petersen. The series addresses the automobile industry’s current work on the future of transportation design and displays actual concept vehicles being developed by a global selection of automobile manufacturers.
If you’ve had the chance to spend time at the Petersen Museum, what’s been your favorite exhibit? Share in the comments below.
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New research shows we have to start getting cars off the road—and fast—if we want to avoid cities being overrun by gridlock.
In the study published in the journal Open Science on Tuesday, researchers modeled city residents’ personal decisions of how to travel across a town. Understanding how cars affect cities and commute times is of vital importance, both for the sake of the climate—transportation is the biggest share of U.S. emissions and a growing chunk globally—and quality of life.
Right now, more than 80 million cars are produced worldwide each year. Absurdly, that means they’re increasing as fast as the global population. A bipartisan group of senators and President Joe Biden also just endorsed an infrastructure deal with $109 billion for roads and other auto-related infrastructure. While the U.S. admittedly needs some upgrades, doing so could perversely lock in more car use that the new study shows could be a catastrophe.
The researchers modeled the time car trips take, factoring in the baseline length of the trip on empty streets, the time added by other drivers who create traffic, and the time added by the designation of some street lanes for exclusive use by pedestrians, buses, and bikes. They also did the same for public transit, which in the study, includes biking and walking as well.
The model showed a phenomenon anyone who’s driven in a city is surely familiar with: This choice creates an inherent paradox. If more people decide that driving is quicker, there will be more traffic, clogging streets and making trips longer. The longest trips across town, the authors found, were the ones taken when every single resident tries to reduce their commute times by driving, thus creating the most traffic.
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The study admits that the models are in some ways reductive. For one, it assumes that city populations are homogeneous and that all residents have equal access to all modes of transport without factoring in things like cost or the inequitable distribution of bike lanes. It also lumps together walking, biking, and all forms of public transit.
“Of course in real life, cycling may take a different length of time than the monorail,” Rafael Prieto Curiel, a postdoctoral researcher at the Mathematical Institute of the University of Oxford and the study’s lead author, said. “But also, let’s be honest, what happens today is that using public transport … can require a bit of other things, like usually a bit of walking or a bit of cycling to the bus.”
But despite its simplistic nature, the model is instructive, showing the logical fallacy of attempting to reduce drive times by increasing the use of cars.
The authors also discuss some ways to reduce the time it takes to get
In 1963, an animated short film called “Automania 2000” celebrated the golden age of automobiles, breathlessly announcing that “scientists have gone from strength to strength” in inventing new features. Yet the film also imagined the future of cars as a nightmare, with drivers trapped in traffic jams for years and self-reproducing autos taking over the planet.
That kind of ambivalence is reflected in “Automania,” a new exhibition opening July 4 at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, which takes its name from the movie. The show explores 20th-century car culture from many angles. In addition to historic cars, it includes early automobile ads, car-design sketches by Frank Lloyd Wright and Picasso’s bronze sculpture “Baboon and Young” (1951), in which the undersides of two toy cars, confiscated from the artist’s young son, form the baboon’s head. The animal has a human baby at her breast, presumably being fed with “the essence of automobiles,” as lead curator Juliet Kinchin and colleagues Paul Galloway and Andrew Gardner, also parr of the curatorial team, write in the exhibition catalog.
While “Baboon” offers a witty comment on our obsession with cars, the American artist Ed Ruscha offers an eerier vision of car culture. Mr. Ruscha paints gas stations repetitively, the way Monet painted haystacks. “Automania” includes his “Standard Station” (1966), in which a giant, dreamlike building, with clean lines and no windows, stands against an orange sky in a landscape devoid of cars or people.
Andy Warhol took an even darker approach in the 1963 painting “Orange Car Crash Fourteen Times,” part of his “Death and Disaster” series. Monumental in scale—at almost 9 feet high and 14 feet wide—its left half is filled with a repeatedly silk-screened photo of a gory, fatal car crash, taken from a newspaper. The right half of the work is solid orange. Warhol noted that repeatedly viewing a disaster deadens emotions, but when seen up close the image can shock the viewer with its horror. At the same time, Warhol “makes something very beautiful out of it,” says Ms. Kinchin.
MoMA has explored industrial design since the 1930s, and its 1951 exhibition “Eight Automobiles” broke ground in taking car design seriously. “Automania” continues the tradition, featuring 10 vehicles from the museum’s collection, including a Volkswagen Type I, the classic “Beetle.” The model was designed in the late 1930s by
who was commissioned by Hitler to create an affordable “people’s car,” but the war kept production very limited. By 1972, it was being sold around the world, becoming the most popular car in history.
Another enduring design in MoMA’s collection is the Airstream travel trailer, which became popular in the 1940s thanks to its lightweight, largely aluminum body. An early-1960s version, known as The Bambi, is roughly the same length as a passenger car. “Airstream trailers remain beloved pillars of American life,” the
The average age of vehicles on U.S. roadways rose to a record 12.1 years last year, as lofty prices and improved quality prompt owners to hold on to their cars longer.
It was the first time the average vehicle age rose above 12 years, according to data released Monday by research firm IHS Markit. While the average vehicle age has risen steadily over the last 15 years, the trend accelerated during the coronavirus pandemic partly because of a drop in new-car sales, IHS said.
The finding reflects the stronger value of vehicles throughout their life cycles, from higher new-vehicle prices Americans have been paying for years to steeper prices on the used-car lot, said Todd Campau, associate director of aftermarket solutions at IHS. Improved vehicle quality also is a factor, he said.
Whereas 20 years ago a car might have changed hands once or twice and lasted 100,000 miles, it is more common today for a car to have multiple owners and last for 200,000 miles or more, he said.
“That has extended the life cycle of the vehicle and created value for more buyers up and down the chain,” Mr. Campau. “For that second or third or fourth owner, there’s still meat on the bone.”
The rise in average vehicle age doesn’t necessarily mean Americans are forgoing new-vehicle purchases and making do with their current cars longer, Mr. Campau said. New-vehicle sales have been running at a record or near-record pace for years, with the exception of a short-lived drop in the early months of the pandemic last year.
Instead, since cutting back in the financial crisis, more consumers have been adding to their number of household vehicles—buying a third car for the family instead of getting by on two, for example, Mr. Campau said. The total number of vehicles in operation in the U.S. has risen about 10% since 2013, to around 279 million, according to IHS.
The lengthening vehicle age presents an opportunity for dealerships and other companies that sell aftermarket parts for vehicle repairs, such as brakes and tires, Mr. Campau said. Also, more companies are offering aftermarket products to upgrade infotainment systems and other technology in cars, giving owners of older vehicles the ability to connect their phones to the dashboard touch screen, for example.
As cars stay on the roads longer, auto makers are looking to offer digital services and features after the sale to generate recurring revenue, such as adding new apps to multimedia systems or new convenience features such as hands-free driving in some situations.
Motor Co. Chief Executive
has said he wants the company to have an “always-on” connection to Ford’s customers and break the traditional model of selling a car and simply waiting a few years before the owner returns for an upgrade.
“Like with your phone, there will be new features added every hour, every day,” Mr. Farley said in an interview last month. “I think that’s where the real competitive race is.”
When you’re shopping for a new ride, sometimes all you want are the essential details delivered quickly and easily. We’ve condensed our more comprehensive eight steps to buying a new car into a few essentials. Here we go:
1. Pick your vehicle
Read Edmunds reviews and best vehicle lists, such as those for best midsize sport-utility vehicles, best sport sedans and best pickups. Then narrow your choices, settling on the vehicle that fits you best, whether that’s a minivan or a subcompact. Shopping online is the fastest way to get a great deal, so these steps assume that’s what you are doing.
2. Arrange financing
Run your credit report and get your credit score. The score tells you your credit tier, which will affect your annual percentage rate. Even if you have bad credit, you can still buy a vehicle that’s right for you and your wallet. Next, get preapproved for a loan at your local bank, credit union or online lender. By going in with financing already arranged, you can determine if the dealer can beat your interest rate. This strategy also keeps the negotiations more focused since you will only be looking at the total price of the vehicle (also called the “out the door” price), not a monthly payment.
3. Check vehicle prices
For a quick sense of pricing on Edmunds, look at the deal “meter” next to most vehicles listed in the Edmunds new-car inventory. It will indicate whether the special offer shown is a fair, good or great deal. Click “Reveal Price,” supply some contact information and you’ll immediately see the deal details.
Some listings may ask you to request a quote from the dealership, and that’s easy to do. It’s smart to get multiple quotes once you are serious about a make and model. It can add a little time to the process, but it also can pay off.
If you want more context on the vehicle’s selling price, Edmunds can help with its True Market Value tool. You’ll get an idea of what people are paying for vehicles that are similarly equipped to the one you’re considering, and it’s a good reference point for negotiations. Edmunds also has a tool to help you appraise your potential trade-in to determine if you might trade it in or sell it on your own.
4. Gather dealer quotes and test-drive
If there is no special offer, you can email, text or telephone dealers for a price quote. Getting four to six quotes on vehicle prices in an hour should be easy. Call the internet manager to verify that the vehicle in question has the options you want and to check if it has any other dealer add-ons. Not all will match your ideal configuration, so you may have to be flexible on options and color to get the best deal.
When you’ve found the exact vehicle you want, take the lowest price quote, then call or email the internet manager and make an offer. Even if