Cadillac V-12s began arriving in dealer showrooms in October 1930. by ’31 they were also producing a V8 and since they were already making a V16 the V12 sort of got squeezed out. The Twelve was nearly the performance equal of the big Sixteen, with strong torque and similar top speed, it also shared design and many parts.
How awesome do you have to be to rock a van in your action TV show? Just say’n…
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Today we return to exploring the car makers of France, one of the other large automakers in Europe. In fact this post will cover three of France’s most storied, most successful companies that ultimately became the core of Stellantis one of the most dominate vehicle manufacturing conglomerates in the world. Check it out.
Founded in 1919 by French industrialist André Citroën, who was from a Jewish Diamond family. Andre’s influences were the death by suicide of his father when he was six, and watching the construction of the Eiffel Tower for the World Exhibition, and the writings of Jewels Verne.
The company name is eponymous, but the name itself came about from Andre’s grandfather in the Netherlands who sold citrus and took a name meaning “lime-man” which Andre’s father changed to Citroen. Upon moving to France, one of Andre’s grade school teacher made it French by adding the diaeresis over the e. All of this is only interesting to Americans who might wonder at a car maker names “Lemon.”
Although virtually unheard of by Americans (aside from those who visited Europe) Citroen is one of the best selling French brands in Europe.
Their popularity could be attributed to savvy pricing and it’s wide range of “style-forward” vehicles. At one point Citroen gained a reputation for their sports cars, and while that reputation faded for several decades it has returned with their C4 Cactus and DS5 models (recognized for engineering excellence).
What Andre Citroen is best known for his application of double helical gears. A helical gear is one that has angled ridges in place of teeth. Essentially a double helical has two of these gears fastened together with one reversed of the other. As the story goes Andre saw a carpenter working on a set of gears with a fish bone structure while on vacation. These gears were less noisy, and more efficient. Citroën bought the patent for very little money and created the first of several innovations in automotive history.
Side Note: The Double helical gear looks from the top like a row of V’s which is why Citroen’s Logo is two Chevrons.
Among these innovations was the world’s first car to be mass-produced with front-wheel drive, four-wheel independent suspension, as well as unibody construction, the 1934 Traction Avant. Citroen went on to cell roughly three quarters of a million units of this car line.
In 1908 Andre became chairman for the automotive company Mors, where he did well. During WWI he built ammunition for the French army. As the war drew to a close, Andre realized he would soon have a factory making a product for which there was little demand, so he went back to what he knew–cars.
Citroën asked the engineer Louis Dufresne, previously with Panhard, to design a technically-sophisticated 18HP automobile even before the war ended, however Andre realized, like Ford, that the best way forward would be lighter, quality cars, made less expensive through modern production efficiency. So in February 1917 Citroën contacted another engineer, Jules Salomon, who earned a reputation for designing Le Zèbre.
March 1919, just four months after the guns fell silent, Citroen announced his new Type A, a 10 HP car that would be more robust and less costly to produce than any rival. Two months later the first Type A was made and it sold by the end of June.
Citroen nearly sold out at that point to GM, but instead remained independent until 1935. Andre seems to have been handy at marketing as he convinced Alda business owner, Fernand Charron, to lend him the show-room (Number 42) on the Champs-Élysées in Paris which normally sold Alda cars. The relationishp with Charron continued and Charron later became an investor in Citroen, who still uses this location to display its concept cars.
Side Note: Citroën used the Eiffel Tower as the world’s largest advertising sign, as recorded in Guinness World Records.
Here’s what you really need to know about Citroen:
Nearly every car built at the time, the 1920s and early 1930s, followed the Ford Model T pattern. Bolt everything onto a steel ladder-like base, use a stiff rear axel the connects the engine via driveshaft. It produced cars cheaply, but with other problems, they were heavy for one.
Andre saw an opportunity to build a whole new kind of car. One where the body itself produced the strength to hold hold everything–even the engine. The quest to develop this and the resulting other innovations required more and more capital without seeing a return. In 1927, the bank Lazard brought much-needed investment, and renegotiated Citroën’s debt (Getting a seat on the board).
In December 1934 Citroen went bankrupt, Michelin, already the car manufacturer’s largest creditor, became its principal shareholder and Pierre Michelin became the chairman of Citroën early in 1935. Later that year Andre Citroen died of stomach cancer.
The gamble on innovation worked out. The Traction Avant became the car that pioneered the mass production of three revolutionary features–Unibody Frame, four wheel independent suspension and front-wheel drive. Basically it was the first modern car and it met with market acceptance.
What’s significant about the Michelin era is that the VP of Michelin, a man named Pierre-Jules Boulanger soon became the head of Citroen. JP was a WWI air reconnaissance photography specialist where he won both of the highest medals available in the French military. He was bold and not a fan of Germany. During Nazi occupation of France in WWII, Citroen made Wehrmacht trucks as slowly as possible, many of which had dipsticks that tricked operators into underfilling the oil, which led to engine failure. In fact JP Boulanger was on the Nazi hitlist be the time Allied troops landed on the shores of France.
JP would die in 1950 before the DS came to market, but his contribution to automotive design is about as big as you can ask for.
What could go wrong?
It’s hard to explain why Citroen would go bankrupt yet again, this time in 1974. They followed their same strategy of leading with innovation, which had earned them a loyal following. Without taking their foot off the gas of innovation they needed to create a car that would fill a gap in their line up, and they needed to get a more powerful car to compete as an exporter. They literally didn’t have a car to compete in the midsized car category, which was the biggest market. (Post WWII France taxed cars with big engine which prevented car makers from creating an affordable car that would carry a family.)
This lead them to spend 15 years buying companies like Panhard, Berliet, and Maserati. They also joint ventured on the Wankel engine through a subsidiary known as Comotor. They actually succeeded in creating the mid-size Citroën GS, that would sell about 2.5 million units in the early 70’s. But it was too little too late this time.
In the late 1960’s Michelin decided to return to their roots making tires and as part of that effort they sold a 49% share of Citroen to FIAT. In 1973, Fiat sold back to Michelin its 49% stake. The 1973 energy crisis basically made all their energies working with Comotor and Maserati to make a bigger engine pointless. In 1974, the carmaker withdrew from North America due to U.S. design regulations that outlawed core features of Citroën.
Fearing massive unemployment the French government stepped in and negotiated a takeover/merger with Peugeot and PSA Group was born. Peugeots’ influence can be summed up by saying they expanded into new markets and countries by erasing everything unique about Citroen’s design and appearance.
Citroen would go on to perform well in China and has recently entered the market in India. The new CEO, as of PSA, and former CEO of Citroen, launched an ironic initiative in 2020, to explore success through brand differentiation.
Founded in 2009 makes DS Auto one of the new kids on the block. Headquartered in Paris and created by Citroën to make Luxury cars. DS has been a standalone brand since 2015. The name is a bit confusing as in French it’s pronounced like the word déesse, meaning “goddess,” it’s now rumored to stand for Different Spirit or Distinctive Series.
If the name DS sounds familiar it’s because Citroen’s model DS was their best seller for decades. The French love this goddess play on words, which is lost on buyers in the US.
The story of DS is pretty straight forward. Neither Peugot nor Citroen have ever been successful at creating a luxury model. In an effort to do what similar to Chevrolet/Buick or Honda/Acura did, PSA created DS.
It makes a lot of sense that PSA would go to Citroen for a brand that requires differentiation, but then they hired Korean designer Jin Joo to design a logo that looks nothing like the double chevron and they release what is basically rebadged versions of the DS3, DS4, and DS5. According to PSA CEO Carlos Tavares, DS would would distinguish itself from Citroën cars by using “separate manufacturing and engineering standards.” Which sounds to us a lot like saying, “we can make better cars if you pay more.”
There’s not a lot to say here as the experiment will need more time to succeed or fade. There are some troubling signs.
Founded in 1882 Headquartered in Currently in Poissy, the company was born in Sochaux where they maintain a factory and museum. The Peugeot family made hand tools and kitchen equipment as a company starting around 1810 and graduated to steam tricycle (in collaboration with Léon Serpollet) in 1889. They made their first combustion engine car a year later, by using a Panhard–Daimler engine.
The family owned a foundry and began making everything they could that was comprised of steel. If it seems like a stretch from kitchenware to cars this is the chain of products–metal ribs for crinoline dresses, then umbrellas, then bicycle wheel spokes, then bicycles and then cars.
Peugeot was an early pioneer in motor racing, with Albert Lemaître winning the world’s first motor race, the Paris–Rouen, in a 3 hp Peugeot which steered via tiller and had solid rubber tires, although they technically came in 2nd to a steam powered car which was a violation of the rules. By their third race Michelin soon put pneumatic tires on the car which weren’t very durable.
1899 Peugeot made a third of all the cars sold in France (300/1,200), and by 1903, they made half of the cars built in France, despite quitting racing in 1901. By 1912 Peugeot was back in racing. They wracked up a string of wins including a 1915 win at the French GP and Vanderbilt Cup.
During the First World War, Peugeot turned largely to arms production, becoming a major manufacturer of arms and military vehicles, from armored cars and bicycles to shells. After the war, car production resumed and racing resumed. Georges Boillot, one of the three original engineer/drivers known as Les Charlatans of Peugeot, entered a car with 120,000 miles on it in the 1919 Targa Florio, and won through superior driving.
1929 brought the Peugeot 201, the cheapest car on the French market. It was also the first car to use the naming convention or three numbers with a 0 for the middle digit. (The first digit indicates the size and the third indicates the generation. This has since become a registered Peugeot trademark.
Note: 1934, Peugeot introduced the 402 BL Éclipse Décapotable, the first convertible with a retractable hardtop.
Peugeot as with most car makers faced several periods of struggle as a company. Clearly WWI & WWII impacted every car company that existed through those times as did the fuel crisis during the 1970’s. As many but not most makers, they survived in large part by moving their manufacturing to other countries where it could be done cheaper.
Peugeot somehow continued to make cars through German occupation though mainly by using up supplies they’d already stockpiled.
Peugeot range of models is wide and their prices competitive. The company has traditionally not been on the cutting edge of design, innovation or luxury although they’ve recently turned a corner with their 3008 crossover and RCZ coupe which get high marks for performance. Peugeot has received many international awards for its vehicles, including six European Car of the Year awards.
With the 1975 takeover of Citroen, the goal was to maintain separate brands while sharing technology and resources. The group then took over the European division of Chrysler, which were formerly Rootes and Simca. (In 1978 Chrysler America struggled to exist.)
At one point PSA group had three partners, one of which was Talbot. The whole Chrysler/Simca range was sold under the revived Talbot badge until 1987.
In March 2012, General Motors purchased a 7% share in Peugeot for 320 million euros as part of a cooperation aimed at finding savings through joint purchasing and product development. In December 2013, GM sold its entire Peugeot stake, taking a loss of about 70 million euros.
February 2014, the shareholders agreed to a recapitalisation plan for the PSA Group, giving Dongfeng Motors and the French government each 14% stake in the company. So far the biggest expansion of sale is in Asia, although PSA continues to pursue markets where they don’t yet have a toe hold.
Peugeot, like Citroen was part of the PSA group prior to the creation of Stellantis. If we haven’t spent much time talking about their car designs it’s because they just don’t stick out very much as you can see from the pictures.
Thanksgiving is a time for family, friends, and food. After indulging in a big Thanksgiving feast, many people hit the road to visit loved ones. If you’re planning on traveling this holiday season, it’s essential to ensure your car is in top condition.
Here is a checklist for prepping your car for thanksgiving travel:
1. Get a Car Wash
A thorough car wash will remove any dirt and debris that could damage your paint job or affect your driving visibility. In addition, a car wash can help to prevent rust and corrosion, keeping your car looking its best for years to come.
2. Check Engine Fluids and Filters
You can avoid any potential problems during your trip by checking engine fluids and filters. This includes ensuring that your engine oil is at the correct level and checking your coolant levels and engine air filter. In addition, it is also a good idea to have your vehicle’s battery and tires checked before embarking on a long journey.
3. Inspect the Tires and Brakes
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to forget these crucial components when busy preparing for the holiday. After all, you don’t want your car to break down in the middle of your road trip! Checking the tires is important because you want to ensure they’re appropriately inflated and have enough tread. You don’t want to get a flat tire or blowout while driving. As for the brakes, it’s always a good idea to get them checked before a long trip. You don’t want to find out too late that they’re not working correctly.
4. Check the Wiper Blades
With all the rain and snow coming this year, good wipers are essential for seeing clearly while driving. A smeary or streaked windshield can make it challenging to see headlights and taillights, which can lead to accidents.
5. Heater and Defrost System
A properly functioning heater will keep you warm on those cold winter nights, while a well-working defrost system will ensure that your windshield stays clear and frost-free. So before you embark on your holiday travels, give your heater and defrost system a little TLC.
6. Cooling System
The cooling system in your car comprises several different components, all working together to keep your engine at the right temperature. Unfortunately, these components can wear out over time, leading to leaks and other problems. That’s why it’s important to check your cooling system before going on a long road trip. A few simple preventive maintenance measures can go a long way toward preventing problems down the line.
7. Check Lights
As any experienced traveler knows, one of the most important things you can do to prep your car for a long road trip is to ensure all the lights are in working order. This includes the headlights, taillights, brake lights, and turn signals. After all, you don’t want to have a blown a fuse in the dark or be stranded on the side of the road.
8. Check Your Battery
A dead battery is one of the last things you want to deal with on Thanksgiving, so it’s essential to check before you hit the road.
9. Check your Air Conditioning
Checking the air conditioning is especially important when traveling in warm weather. Nothing is worse than feeling trapped in a hot, stuffy car for hours.
10. Consult a Professional
A car professional can help you inspect your car to ensure everything is in working order before hitting the road. They can also give you tips on how to avoid common problems like flat tires and dead batteries.
We’d recommend our sponsor, TireKickers but we’re biased.
Groupe Renault aka Renault Group, but legally Renault S.A. is a true car maker of France as you’ll learn below. As a company, they produces a range of cars and vans (and in the past trucks, tractors, tanks, buses/coaches, aircraft and autorail vehicles) on a multinational scale.
In 2016 Renault was the ninth biggest automaker in the world (production volume) and in 2017, the Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi Alliance had become the world’s biggest seller of light vehicles. Renault group is made up of the namesake Renault marque (below) and subsidiaries, Alpine, Renault Sport (Gordini), Automobile Dacia from Romania, and Renault Samsung Motors from South Korea.
ACMAT, Panhard General Defense and Alpine could be named among French car brands associated with Renault. Since ACMAT makes (cross-country) tactical military vehicles, and Panhard General Defense is better-known for its armored fighting vehicles and jeep-like four-wheel-drives only Alpine really belongs in the car category. Both ACMAT and PGD are divisions of Renault Trucks. Alpine gained recognition for its racing and sports cars equipped with rear-mounted Renault engines.
Founded in 1899; 123 years ago and headquartered in Boulogne-Billancourt not far from the capital, Renault has a lot to be proud of. The Renault–Nissan Alliance built their popularity in Europe and Asia through Quality, medium-priced sedans and SUVs.
The product range varies, the Logan and the Duster are their top selling sedan and SUV, but includes family cars like the Twingo supermini and Espace MPV. The Renault Scenic is a practical car with solid, consistent sales, but they also have sports models.
There are three key factors in Renaults early success. First it was founded by three brothers, Louis, Marcel, and Fernand. Louis Renault was a brilliant automotive mechanic and designer with experience under his belt before founding his own company. Marcel and Fernand ran the business. Having competent and trustworthy business partners really helps a company get up and running, and that’s what they did in 1898 when they sold their first car, the Renault Voiturette 1CV, to a friend of their fathers.
The second key factor in their success were taxis. In 1905, just two years after the Renault began making their own engines, they made their first large sale to a taxis company in Paris. These vehicles were later used by the French military to transport troops during World War I which earned them the nickname “Taxi de la Marne.” Renault would go on to supply taxies in London and New York.
The third factor in their success was racing. I the early 1900’s racing was the way you got exposure and the Renault brothers were keenly aware. Both Louis and Marcel raced company vehicles, but Marcel was killed in an accident during the 1903 Paris-Madrid race. Louis stopped racing but the company continued participation with great success winning the first Grand Prix motor racing event in 1906.
By the end of 1909, only Louis remained alive, (Fernand died of illness). Louis visited a Ford plant in 1905 and began adopting modern production techniques to increase production and reduce the cost of his cars to the public. The company never really got out of the commercial vehicle market adding busses and commercial trucks to their line up. Louis’s engine designs were so innovative even Rolls Royce patterned their aircraft engines off his V8 engines.
The combination of great design, modern production, and experience with commercial vehicles made Renault a natural pick for military vehicles in both world wars. Louis would go on to create the revolutionary Renault FTtank that would earn him and his company the Legion of Honour.
Side Note: Renault introduced new models at the Paris Motor Show that was held in September or October of the year. This led to confusion about model years. For example, a “1927” model was mostly produced in 1928.
The US Stock Market crash and Great Depression were hard on all car companies even in Europe. Post WWI Renault reworked their tank design into a tractor and went into agricultural equipment. The Great Depression caused to spin most of his extra companies off to their own concern and kept the car business close to his chest. He needed to compete with some of the fuel efficient cars coming out of the rebuilt Germany. Early in the 1930 Citron surpassed Renault in both innovation and total sales but Citron got hammered by the Great Depression while Renault’s other military and farm equipment saw them through without going bankrupt.
Side Note: There was a particularly bad labor strike among Autoworkers in France from1936 to 1938, which Renault put down via firing 2,000 workers.
Renaults handling of the worker strike would come back to bite him. Under German occupation Louis refused to make tanks, instead sticking to trucks. His factory was leveled by allies anyway, twice. When the war ended Louis attempted to rebuild, in Billancourt, which happened to be a stronghold of the resistance party. In the wake of German occupation France became divided between the Communists and the Anti-Communists. As an industrialist Louis wasn’t popular in Billancourt and Billancourt was not popular with the de Gaulle presidency.
Louis was accused of supporting Hitler, turned himself in. He was arrested and died in prison awaiting trial. The French government took over the company, the only one they federalized, and has never given it back to the family despite repeated attempts to get compensation.
Under the leadership of Pierre Lefaucheux, Renault experienced both a commercial resurgence and labor unrest, that was to continue into the 1980s. The injustice didn’t end for the Renault family. In secret Louis continued to work on his ability to compete with the super affordable VW bug and the Minor. He created the rear engine4CV which Pierre Lefaucheux launched with great success after Louis died.
Renault built to a million cars a year under the French Government control, often because the person they put in charge of the day to day operations ignored the Government’s odd demands, like ending car production to concentrate on trucks.
The story goes on, and is one for the history books but we’ll leave it for now and talk about some of the companies Renault acquired over the years.
Founded in 1955 by Jean Rédélé. Headquartered in Dieppe, France.
The Alpine car marque was created in 1954, after founder, Jean Rédélé, had some success racing his modified Renault 4CV. Redele went from garage owner in Dieppe to car manufacturer after class wins in a number of major events, including the Mille Miglia and Coupe des Alpes. In 1955 he became a pioneer in auto glassfibre construction and produced a small coupe, based on 4CV mechanicals, called the Alpine A106, which he sold under the name Alpine (pronounced Al Peen in France).
The company has been closely related to Renault through its history, and was bought by it in 1973, and the Alpine competition department merged into Renault Sport in 1976. Production of Alpine-badged models ceased in 1995, was relaunched with the 2017 introduction of the new Alpine A110, then in 2021 Renault announced that Renault Sport would again merge into Alpine.
The 70s saw rally wins at Monte Carlo and they built factories in several countries including Spain, Mexico, Brazil and Bulgaria. The 80s saw more variety of car for more kinds of racing, ultimately Alpine would begin creating F1 & F2 cars as well.
One problem that plagued Alpine was that the rights to the name Alpine in the UK were owned by Sunbeam. Eventually mega conglomerate Stellantis would end up owning the rites to the name in the UK in 2021 ending any chance that Alpine will ever sell their under their own name.
Alpine’s motorsport division, made up of the Alpine subsidiaries Alpine Racing Limited and Alpine Racing SAS. In 1976, the Alpine competition department was merged with Gordini to form Renault Sport. Alpine-badged racing activities re-emerged in 2013, as part of the promotional activities for the launching of Alpine roadcars. With the help of Signatech and Oreca Alpine has entered and racked up wins in World Endurance and Formula One throughout the 2000’s.
Founded in 1899 we could have put Berliet in the category with other defunct French car makers, but they were part of Citroën (1968-1974), and it was eventually Renault (1974-1978) who closed them down so we’ll include them here.
Founded by Marius Berliet in Vénissieux, France this care maker’s emblem is one of the more puzzling features of the company, although certainly not the only oddity.
The company produced Automobiles, buses, military vehicles, trucks. Apart from a five-year period from 1944 to 1949 when it was put into ‘administration sequestre’ Berliet was in private ownership until 1967 when it then became part of Citroën.
Berliet took over the plant of Audibert & Lavirotte in Lyon in 1902, having experimented on cars for 8 years. Some of his experimenting was on single cylinder engines, then twin, and his first manufactured models were four cylinder. By he was also offering 6 cylinder upon request.
Berliet had to expand his factory during WWI as the French government began ordering trucks for the Army. While Renault and a company called Latil also made trucks to fill the need, the Berliet CBA became the iconic truck on the Voie Sacrée, supplying the battle front at Verdun during 1916 with 25,000 of these 4/5 ton trucks. The number of workers increased to 3,150, and a new principle factory was built between Vénissieux and Saint-Priest.
After WWI Marius Berliet was faced with a good problem. He had wartime factory capacity with no army contract. He needed to rebuild his market so he gambled on making one truck model and one car model. He chose his 5 ton CBA that he made for the army as the truck model which meant he didn’t have to retool part of his factory.
For the car he tried a slick trick and copied a popular American Dodge model with it’s torpedo-shaped body and high headlights, which he called the “Berliet Type VB.” While the car was initially well received the engineers who performed the copy didn’t take into account that American steel is stronger and they reliability issues in early models.
By the time they had fixed the issues and repaired the damaged to their reputation, Berliet was 55 million in debt. The banks took over for about ten years though they left Marius in operational control. He diversified his car offerings by 1925, to five models–all 4-cylinder, and by 1929 he’d regained financial control of the company.
Berliet spent the great depression economizing, reducing models, reversing course on their new 6-cylinder models, switching to diesel, and by 1939 they stopped making through own bodies. The last few hundred Berliet Dauphines produced used the body of a Peugeot 402 with a custom made Berliet hood/bonnet and radiator grille.
The End of Cars
Regular passenger car production for Berliet officially ended in 1939 and Trucks continued. The Germans discovered around 20 new cars in the factory when they took over, and those were quickly requisitioned. Under German occupation, the Factory cranked out 2,330 trucks for the Nazi’s.
After the war, enough car parts were found around the factories to assemble another 65 sedans.
Marius Berliet, who died in 1949, had however refused to recognize legal actions against him after the war. Likely as a result, the company was given back to Marius Berliet’s son Paul in 1949, in stark contrast to the fate of the Renault family.
Berliet manufactured the largest truck in the world in 1957, the T100 6X6, which they turned into everything from dump trucks to delivery “loris.” A separate company called MOL Trucks of Hooglede, Belgium bought the design rights and began making two models of the truck as well.
The End of Independence for Berliet
In 1967, Berliet was taken over by Citroën, Berliet share holders got Citroën shares in exchange for their Berliet stock. Citroën itself had been owned by Michelin since 1934 following it’s own cash crisis. After the 1973 oil crisis, Michelin decided to divest itself of these two companies and concentrate on tires. They sold Berliet was to Renault in 1974, and Citroën was sold to Peugeot.
Renault proceeded to merge Berliet with Saviem to form Renault Véhicules Industriels in 1978. Elements of Berliet continued for a time, a bus, an armored personel carrier and an engine design, but the Berliet brand was phased out at that time.
Renault Part 2
In 1994, plans to sell shares to public investors were officially announced after coming to the conclusion that the company’s state-owned status was a detriment. After privatization the company expanded into markets in Eastern Europe and South America and supported it with infrastructure investments including a new factory in Brazil and upgrades for its infrastructure in Argentina and Turkey.
Renault’s financial problems were not all fixed by the privatization. Deputy President, Carlos Ghosn, was given point on fixing them and he created what would be called the “Renault Production Way” based on the Japanese system of producing cars. He also cut costs by reducing the workforce, revising production processes, standardizing vehicle parts and pushing the launch of new models off for two years.
If you are tempted to believe Ghosn a hero we should mention that Brazilian-born Lebanese businessman (and citizen of France) is currently an internationally wanted fugitive. But that’s topic for a few paragraphs from now. Ghosn was at various points the CEO of Michelin North America, chairman and CEO of Renault, chairman of AvtoVAZ, chairman and CEO of Nissan, and chairman of Mitsubishi Motors Ghosn was also the chairman and CEO of the Renault–Nissan–Mitsubishi Alliance, earning him the nickname, “Mr. Fix-it.”
Renault searched for a new partner to cope with an industry that was consolidating, and they landed on Nissan. Starting on 27 March 1999, the Renault–Nissan Alliance is the first of its kind involving a Japanese and a French company, including cross-ownership. Also in 1999, Renault bought a 51% majority stake of the Romanian company Dacia for £408.5 million. The next year, Renault acquired a controlling stake of the newly formed South Korean Samsung Group‘s automotive division.
To finance its inversions and acquisitions Renault sold its industrial automation subsidiary, its 50% stake in bus/coach manufacturer Irisbus, it’s Véhicules Industriels to Volvo, and its agricultural machinery division, Renault Agriculture, to CLAAS. Thought it took much of the 90s and 2000s to accomplish the moves concentrated Renault’s manufacturing on cars and buses.
Renault developed a reputation for distinctive, outlandish design. The second generation of the Laguna and Mégane featured ambitious, angular designs that turned out to be successful, The 2000 Laguna was the second European car to feature “keyless” entry and ignition. What didn’t work for them was their upmarket/luxury models they tried to create–the Avantime and the Vel Satis. Although the latter inspired the design of their biggest success, the second-generation Mégane.
In 2008 Renault acquired control of Russian carmaker AvtoVAZ, which would give them the distinction of being the most experienced European car maker in the Russian market and eventually give them a giant headache. But first, in 2010, Renault–Nissan announced an alliance with Daimler that would give them a dominant position in Diesel powered small cars.
Also in 2010, Renault opened their zero emissions factory near Tangier, Morocco, with an annual output capacity of 170,000 vehicles though they expect to increase output to 400,000 in the future. Renault formed a joint venture with Dongfeng Motor Group named as Dongfeng Renault, in 2013 and was back out of that deal by 2020.
Renaults Return to Financial Woes
Renault now believes that small (B-segment) diesel cars in Europe and some mid-size (C-segment) will no longer be diesels by 2020. However, the pandemic has thrown off the world market of everything so it’s hard to tell what’s really causing the latest round of financial distress for Renault.
Two things we do know: Friday, 13 January 2017, Renault shares fell as the Paris prosecutor started an investigation into possible exhaust emissions cheating. Renault denied any foul play but recalled 15,000 cars for emission testing and fixing.
November 2018, Ghosn, now CEO, was arrested by Japanese officials for allegedly underreporting his Nissan’s salary. This lead to a dizzying series of regime changes at the top of Renault until January 2020 when they settled on Italian Luca de Meo as its new CEO.
Now the plan to recover from the pandemic is in full swing with eliminating 15,000 jobs worldwide (10% of their workforce), and dividing its automotive division into four business units: Renault, Dacia and Lada, Alpine, and its new “new mobility services” called Mobilize.
A Final Controversy
With the February 2022 Russian Invasion of Ukraine most western businesses pulled out of Russia. Renault got their but not fast enough for their critics. They were able to sell their interests in AvtoVAZ to NAMI with the option to buy it back at some point in the future.
Although the 2023 Kia Niro’s price has slightly gone up because of global inflation, car enthusiasts agree that you will get your money’s value when you purchase this car. The base four-liter cylinder engine comes packed with 139 hp while the plug-in hybrid model churns out 180 hp, thanks to its electric motor. Keep reading to discover more features, including what’s new in the 2023 Kia Niro.
Engine and Performance
The 2023 Kia Niro is a subcompact crossover SUV in several hybrid and electric versions. It has a 1.6-liter four-cylinder engine produces 139 horsepower and 195 pound-feet of torque. The hybrid version features an electric motor that churns out an extra 43 horsepower, and the electric version has an 84-horsepower electric motor.
The Niro has a seven-speed dual-clutch automatic transmission and front-wheel drive. It has an EPA fuel economy rating of 58 mpg city/53 mpg highway for the hybrid and 110 mpg city/99 mpg highway for the electric version. The stylish vehicle from Kia has a starting price of $23,490, which makes it one of the more affordable hybrids and electric vehicles on the market.
Interior and Comfort
The all-new 2023 Kia Niro has been completely redesigned with the driver and passengers in mind. The exterior may look sleek and futuristic, but the real magic happens inside—where there is room to stretch out and relax.
The seats are comfortable and supportive, making them ideal for long drives or extended road trips. And the infotainment system is intuitive and user-friendly, making it easy to stay connected while on the go. But what sets the Niro apart is its attention to detail. Everything about the Niro has been carefully crafted, from soft-touch materials to ambient lighting, to provide an enjoyable and comfortable experience.
Entertainment and Connectivity
The 2023 Kia Niro is a workhorse of a vehicle. It’s reliable, efficient, and stylish. But what sets the Niro apart from other cars on the market is its entertainment and connectivity features.
The Niro comes standard with an eight-inch touch screen, Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, Bluetooth connectivity, and a six-speaker sound system. For something extra, you can upgrade to a 10.25-inch touchscreen, a premium Bose sound system, wireless phone charging, and built-in navigation. The Niro also has several safety features, including blind spot detection, lane-keeping assist, and automatic high beams. With so many features packed into one vehicle, the 2023 Kia Niro is sure to be a hit with consumers.
Now that we’ve finished covering the “Big 5” car making countries (US, Germany, Japan, Italy, UK) it’s time to cover some of the other countries that make cars you may be less familiar with, which might make it even more interesting as you’ll be running into more manufacturers that you’ve never heard of or don’t know much about.
Today we start on France, one of the other largest and oldest automakers in Europe. France has a long history of making great cars and of dominating both the racing and business worlds. France was a pioneer in vehicle manufacturing. At the beginning of the previous century it made the most highly advanced vehicles with the world’s largest car market.
WWII took a heavy tole on the French industrial complex, especially anything cutting edge. France is clawing its way back though, reaching 13th-largest in the world by unit production. The US wouldn’t really know that, however, the big three French Auto Makers (Peugeot/ Citroen/ Renault) pulled out of the US Market 25 years ago. In fact it’s not easy to get information about a lot of the boutique car makers in English. So check out what we found.
De la Chapelle got it’s start as a Bugatti replica maker in the early 1970s. This French independent car builder was founded by Xavier de la Chapelle, a former Venturi director.
Even though modern De la Chapelle goes back to the 70s the family have a long legacy with automobiles. Brothers brothers Guy owned a Burgundy wine estate when they bought a Mors 5hp in 1896. In 1901 they created the Stimula marque brand and started making motorcycles and Tricars.
The brothers were joined by cousin Neyrand and they began to make cars. They created a grill with a hill-shape at the top to simbolize their commitment to quality. Between 1907 to 1914 Riviere drove the a Stimula in several races with great success. When Carl, the engineer of the group, gets injured in a gas attack during WWI the company can no longer stay in business.
At age 26 Xevier decides to reopen the family car business, making classic roadster replicas powered by BMW (Straight-6).
In 1989 through 1992 Xevier went to work for Venturi.
In 1996 De la Chapelle unveiled a sports car which was to to be made in India, but tragedy struck again when their partner in India disappeared putting a halt to their Bombay factory build.
In 1998 they created the Roadster powered by Peugeot (Straight-4/V6), their second original creation as an independent company.
Like most car makers, De la Chapelle is focusing on Electric vehicles for the future with their 100% autonomous shuttle.
Founded in all the way back in 1985 by the Prevot Brothers. Headquartered in Saint-Christol-lès-Alès, France.
If you are a connoisseurs of individuality and style, you’ve come to the right place with PGO. for the last 37 years this French car manufacturer, produced an exclusive series of sports cars. Brothers Patrick, Gilles and Olivier Prévôt, hence PGO, began by making replicas but soon moved onto their own designs like the Speedster II which debuted at the Paris Motor Show in 2000. It seems counter-intuitive to label your first car Speedster 2, but this two-seater sports car merges retro-style with modern specifications so it fits in a hard-to-explain way.
Subsidiaries of the Al-Sayer Group acquired controlling interest in the brand by 2005 which financed R&D for their next two cars, the Cévennes roadster and the Hemera. Both are lovely looking cars with great performance capability. You may have noticed that, unlike large market production models, these high-end supercars only need to create a new model every five to ten years and may continue to build and sell previous models long after launching their next design.
This is, however a niche they lucked into. Venturi started under the name MVS (Manufacture de Voitures de Sport), with the purpose to compete in the “Grand Tourisme” market. A handful of startups came about in France during the 1980s as they attempted to rebuild the Frances place among the greats of luxury sports car makers. A place they held prior to being the battlefield for two world wars.
As with other’s pursuing this goal like PGO, and like their predecessors Facel Vega, Monica, and Ligier which we’ll discuss in future posts, they were woefully under funded, couldn’t get enough trained staff, and were complete unknowns in the industry. In year 2,000 they declared bankruptcy, and were rescued in a sense by Monegasque Gildo Pallanca Pastor who took refocused the company on electric-powered motors. It worked, and they produced the first electric sports car in the world, the limited-production Fétish.
Since then, in addition to their racing efforts, the brand developed 5 other innovative concept cars and become recognized for high performance electric vehicles destined to break records or to operate in extreme conditions.
What does that mean exactly?
We’ll the company has joint ventured with some of the most brilliant minds in Electric Motor and Automotive knowhow to take on 5 impossible missions. Ranging from setting a land speed record (for EVs), to crossing Africa North to South, to creating the go to vehicle for the South Pole…which is bold, daring AAAND stupid. (It takes a lot of battery life to keep humans from freezing in sub-zero temperatures.) But everyone has their windmills to tilt.
Founded in 1983 and headquartered in Aix-les-Bains, Savoie, France. It is 44% owned by Polaris Industries.
Though it started in the 80s and is an independent automotive brand, Aixam is different in that their goal was always to make Microcars. As a car company they can trace their history back to the establishment of Arola in 1975, a small manufacturing company based in Lyon-Corbas, France, which manufactured a range of microcars. Under Axiam, they wen to make a more stylish set of cars 325D, followed by the 400D in 1985. T
he market for these cars were European countries that allowed vehicles under a certain power output to be driven without a license. The maximum speed on a Aixam A.7XX series (their current offering) powered by a diesel Kabota engine is (28 mph). So it’s basically a lawnmower with safety features that allow it to be driven with license created for 4-wheelers.
In 1995 Aixam came out with their Mega line. These were full sized cars, but to look ate them they’re clearly larger versions of a microcar aesthetic. In 2006 Mega launched the electric Mega City. These cars have used various powerplants even from one year to the next in the same model so they are doubtless a delight to work on, but otherwise they’ve earned a solid reputation as a runabout for urban dwellers. The companies future might be in question as this niche puts them in direct competition with small electric vehicles that are better suited for this kind of duty. What might keep them alive is the EV makers desire to be accepted as “real cars” and never be associated with “toy cars.”
Okay, we know the core purpose of Veteran’s Day is to honor the brave men and women who put themselves between citizens and danger. At the Kicker we go out of our way to honor and thank our vets every year. So above all, it’s a great day to thank a veteran.
It also happens to be a three day weekend and a great excuse to go car shopping so lets look at why it’s a good time to buy a car, even if you aren’t a vet or don’t have great credit.
Veteran’s Day Sales Can Be A Great Time To Buy A New Car
Many car dealerships offer special sales around Veteran’s Day. It’s a great time to buy a new car because you can often get a good deal. The sales are usually for both new and used vehicles, so you have many options. And, since many people are busy with holidays and family commitments this time of year, there’s less competition for the best deals.
List of Major Incentives Offered by Automakers
As Veterans Day approaches, many automakers offer special deals and discounts to veterans and active-duty military personnel. Here are some of the best deals currently available:
It offers a $500 discount on all new vehicles, including the popular Silverado pickup truck. Additionally, it’s waiving the $1,000 destination charge on all new cars.
There is a $500 military appreciation bonus cash offer on all new vehicles, including the Ford Explorer SUV and the F-150 pickup truck. Additionally, you can expect a waiver of the $995 destination charge on all new cars.
The company offers a $500 rebate to all active-duty military personnel and veterans. The rebate applies to any new Jeep vehicle, including the Cherokee SUV and the Wrangler off-road vehicle. Jeep also waives the $1,195 destination charge on all new cars.
You can expect a $500 rebate for all active-duty military personnel and veterans. The rebate encompasses any new Ram vehicle, including the 1500 pickup truck and the 2500 HD heavy-duty truck. In addition, you won’t pay the $1,295 destination charge on all new cars.
These are just a few of the many Veterans Day car deals that are currently available. So if you’re in the market for a new vehicle, check with your local dealership to see what deals they’re offering. And thanks for your service!
How Do I Qualify for a New Car With Bad Credit?
Bad credit can make it tough to get a new car, but there are some special deals for veterans. Veterans Day is a great time to buy a car, and many dealerships offer special financing for veterans with bad credit. Here are a few things to keep in mind when you’re looking for a new car with bad credit:
Look for dealerships that specialize in bad credit financing. These dealerships will be more likely to work with you and help you get the best possible deal.
Get pre-approved for financing before you start shopping. This will give you an idea of how much you can afford to spend on a car.
Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Many dealerships are willing to work with buyers with bad credit, so don’t hesitate to ask for a better interest rate or other concessions.
With these tips in mind, you should be able to find a great deal on a new car this Veterans Day. So don’t let bad credit hold you back – get out there and find your perfect car today!
One Final Note
One of our Sponsors is Tire Kickers, a veteran owned business that comes to you to inspect a vehicle you’re thinking of buying. No one at the Kicker Blog would ever buy a car without having it inspected, pre-purchase. This is a great time to support a veteran-owned business and save yourself money and heartache on your purchase.
We know every car dealership says, “we performed our SUPER-AMAZING inspection on this vehicle.” Of course they did. What they’re indicating is that they believe in pre-purchase inspection and do it themselves. So, you shouldn’t? What if the grocery store told you they washed their veggies before they put them out, would you think, “Oh good, I don’t have to now?”
Once in awhile we struggle with modern design. There is beauty in utility but there is a time, at least there once was a time, when beauty is elevated to top priority in design. Enter this classic Buick Streamliner in pristine condition, restored by Dave Crouse for the 2010 Concours d’Elegance.
Built with an aluminum body around a steel chassis, this work of moving art took two years to create. Good luck ever catching site of something like this on the road.