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Global automakers to shutter Russian plants?

07/29/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Plants/Manufacturing, Russia

Renault Avtoframos Plant in Russia

For an automaker to manufacture locally, two elements need to be in effect: for one, the market needs to be large enough to justify it, and for another, importing has to be too expensive to make it worthwhile. Many automakers have found both those elements in place in Russia, but may not for very much longer. According to Ward's, changing conditions in Russia could spell the end of local production in the world's largest country. On the one hand, the market is shrinking, while on the other, import duties are dropping.

The market for new cars in Russia fell by six percent in May when compared to the same period last year, leading analysts to predict a massive drop by 26-30 percent over the course of the year. If the decline continues apace, the market could drop from 3.6 million projected new-car sales in Russia to just 2.3 million by 2018. Meanwhile, Russia's obligations to the World Trade Organization mean that import duties on cars manufactured abroad will have to drop from 25 percent to 15 percent by 2019, making it less expensive to sell imported cars in Russia. At the same time, government incentives for manufacturing locally - whether by local or foreign automakers - may drop in the years ahead thanks to a weak ruble and the spiraling cost of Russia's invasion of the Crimean peninsula, according to the report.

Analysts expect that, as a result, vehicles produced locally by foreign automakers could drop from 52 percent of the current market to 26, while imports rise to 67 percent - the difference presumably being taken up by Russia's own domestic automakers, which have apparently dwindled to a small proportion of the market. Despite the forecast, however, foreign automakers like PSA, Renault and BMW may still find it advantageous - if only for the shipping costs - to manufacture locally for the Russian market. If present conditions continue, however, we can't help but wonder for how long.

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Dartz Red Russian is a Putin-spec Mercedes G63 AMG 6x6

06/10/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Aftermarket, Sports/GTs, SUVs, Trucks/Pickups, Etc., Mercedes Benz, Russia, Design/Style, Luxury

Dartz Red Russian

The creations that come from Dartz Motorz almost defy explanation. The company is known for modifying SUVs with so much over-the-top luxury that they seem unreal. For example, its last project was a Mercedes G63 AMG 6x6 with gold wheels and a portable smoking room. The company's latest foray into automotive insanity is another take on the G63 6x6 called the Red Russian.

Dartz Red RussianUnique is word that gets thrown around a lot when describing cars, but it's hard to call this G63 AMG anything else. Dartz says that the Red Russian is supposed to look like a military vehicle on the outside while being opulent on the inside, but it's hard to imagine any army rolling like this. The exterior is fitted with heavy-duty bumpers meant to look like a mine-resistant vehicle, and it's hand painted by artist A. C'machoff. Of the two models rendered, one is in red and yellow paisley (sported by an oddly rendered Vladimir Putin above) and the other is a camouflage pattern in pink, black and white female silhouettes (right). Inside, the six-wheeler is reupholstered in bespoke leather from the same company that supplies Ferrari and Bentley and includes floor coverings made from shark leather. A. C'machoff also paints custom baseball bats, which come signed in the truck in a special case.

This won't be the last we see of Dartz, either. The company is also launching the G Squad dedicated to modifying all of Mercedes SUVs. It even promises an upgraded GLA is on the way, which should be another case of lunacy on wheels. Scroll down to read the gloriously machine-translated press release about the Red Russian.

Continue reading Dartz Red Russian is a Putin-spec Mercedes G63 AMG 6x6

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Incident between Russian driver and biker escalates rather quickly

05/25/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, Videos, Hyundai, Motorcycles, Humor, Russia

Russian Dash cam biker versus Hyundai

Based on the compiled evidence, driving in Russia is a perilous, potentially deadly venture that requires complete and total suspension of one's self-preservation instincts. Considering this, you can imagine what it's like riding a motorcycle on the notoriously wild Russian roads.

The unfortunate biker that is the subject of today's video found out the hard way. It looks like he attempted to split the lanes, and another driver took offense, sandwiching the biker (is that a Goldwing?) in the process. As you can guess by our handy headline, things deteriorate rapidly from there.

Take a look below for the full scene.

Continue reading Incident between Russian driver and biker escalates rather quickly

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How to break into your crapcan with a piece of string

05/15/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Videos, Russia

Screencap from a video showing how to open a locked car door with a piece of string.

Being locked out of your car is just as much a universal language as music, love and drunkenness. That's why this video from what appears to be Russia, featuring a Lada, can be immediately understood even though no one in it speaks a lick of English. The protagonist in the clip, showing off a skillset that would make MacGuyver say "Dayum," opens a locked car door with nothing more than a piece of string.

Yes, you'll note that in order for this to work you'll need to have a car with truly crappy door seals and locks that are at least 20 years old, or a Lada; or as one commenter quipped, "I'll have to remember this trick if I ever go back to the 80's." If you ever plan on going back in time, or Russia, there's a handy tip on old-school ingenuity in the video below.

Continue reading How to break into your crapcan with a piece of string

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IHS: Global vehicle production to increase by 21M units by 2021, China to account for half

05/12/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: China, Euro, Japan, Plants/Manufacturing, Russia, South Korea

DEU Daimler Jahresbilanz

The global automotive market will continue to surge into the start of the next decade, according to a new report from IHS Automotive. The analytical firm is reporting that global annual production will increase by 21 million units by 2021. Global production has already seen a 25-million-unit increase since the dark days of 2009.

Not surprisingly, China will dominate global production, while its neighbors in Japan and South Korea focus on foreign production, rather than building vehicles in their home markets. The North American market, meanwhile, will be kept going with the help of the same foreign investments that are leading to a decline in Japanese and Korean production.

Europe is a different case altogether, as the continent continues its economic recovery. Russia and Turkey will fall back in 2014, although IHS is predicting demand will increase four percent per year from 2015 to 2017. As for production, the percentage of European-built vehicles that are sold in Europe will fall by 2021, from 70 percent to 50 percent. That number could be greater, although IHS is arguing that significant recoveries in the struggling Italian and Spanish markets will help keep sales of Continentally produced vehicles afloat.

Take a look below for the official press release from IHS.

Continue reading IHS: Global vehicle production to increase by 21M units by 2021, China to account for half

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Watch this Russian freeway sinkhole open in real time

05/12/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Videos, Russia

Screencap of a video showing a sinkhole opening up on a Russian road.

Seems everybody's got to have a sinkhole nowadays, the sudden collapse of huge chunks of ground swallowing cars and homes in Baltimore, Buckinghamshire, Chicago, Ohio, and seemingly every week, Florida. Oh yeah, and there was that little disturbance recently in Bowling Green, Kentucky.

This one comes from Russia, and although it didn't swallow anything we get to see it open up in the middle of the street in real time. If you watched the footage from the National Corvette Museum incident, you know they don't open up quickly (or if you're this guy, they might not open at all), so skip ahead to 1:00 in the video below if you're not interested in the build up.

Continue reading Watch this Russian freeway sinkhole open in real time

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Vladimir Putin's all-Russian limo revealed

05/08/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Concept Cars, Sedans/Saloons, Government/Legal, Special/Limited Editions, Russia, Design/Style

2016 Russian Limo

It seems like you can't turn on the news this year without seeing the icy stare of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Whether he's opening the Olympics, sending troops to the Ukrainian border or just riding a horse while shirtless, he's seemingly everywhere. But behind the scenes, Putin has a big engineering project under development to create a new Russian-built and engineered official limousine for him and other top officials.

Russian media recently snapped a few pictures of the design concept. As you can see, the current version has the country's seal emblazoned all over the vehicle. The front end has the monolithic flatness that is associated with super high-end luxury cars from Bentley and Rolls-Royce. It's not exactly a beauty, but you probably wouldn't want to criticize the look to Putin's face. He doesn't seem to a guy who takes critique well. Prototypes of Putin's new limo are scheduled for testing later this year, and final production is planned for 2016.

Known as Project Cortege, the plan has several Russian automakers working together to design several vehicles, but the limo is the first priority. According to Yahoo Autos, the venture might even be getting some engineering input from Porsche. Putin has sunk an estimated $150 million to $400 million in government money into the project. Eventually, he wants it to spawn other vehicles - like a van and SUV.

This is actually the second attempt at a new Russian limousine. Initially, ZiL, which made vehicles for top officials in during the Communist era, was spearheading it, and its limo even started production. However, Putin was reportedly not happy with the design. Now, it's back to the drawing board.

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Volvo Trucks makes some pretty strong brakes

05/06/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Trucks/Pickups, Videos, Commercial Trucks, Volvo, Russia

Russian Truck Stopping

Often dashcam footage from Russia shows some of the worst driving imaginable, but this is an exception. The Volvo truck driver in this video definitely earned himself a drink or two at the end of the day after making it through this potentially horrific crash. As do the folks at Volvo that engineered those brakes.

The truck driver shows some fantastic reaction time as the silver hatchback suddenly pulls out of an intersection. It looks like he only has a few yards to bring the behemoth to a stop before demolishing the little car. While it's an impressive feat, the best part of the video has to be the driver's bow when he gets out of the truck. He looks like a maestro who just finished conducting a symphony asking for a round of applause.

Scroll down to check out this truck driver's skills and see if he earns his bow afterward.

Continue reading Volvo Trucks makes some pretty strong brakes

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Subaru XV runs over dog in Russian ad, but in a funny way

04/27/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Wagons/Estates, Videos, Subaru, Humor, Russia, Off-Road

Subaru XV Crosstrek dog ad

In case you're wondering, no, the woman didn't actually hit the dog. This is just a commercial, and a fairly clever one after you get over the perceived canicide, that's meant to show off the desirability of Subaru's lifted Impreza wagon, the XV Crosstrek.

We'll try not to spoil it for you, because it is a fairly humorous piece, but you have to make sure to watch it from start to finish. The found-footage angle of it, which sort of presents it with the same quality as a Russian dashcam video, just adds to the video's ridiculous premise.

We aren't sure if this is an actual ad from the Russian arm of Subaru, as it seems to be posted from an independent account with only one video to its credit. Still, have a look below, and let us know what you think.

Continue reading Subaru XV runs over dog in Russian ad, but in a funny way

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Worst car unloading attempt ever is quick and painful

04/15/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Economy, Sedans/Saloons, Etc., Videos, Humor, Russia

The Russian way of unloading a car

Here's a fun fact: not all automotive calamities in Russia are caught on dash cam. Occasionally, someone with just a cell phone captures some gold, like this woeful attempt at unloading what appears to be a Lada.

First of all, as with most jobs, having the correct tool for the task makes the work considerably easier. In this case, we'd recommend a tow truck or a flat bed. Once you start trying to move a car with a dump truck and a couple of boards, you should know you're in for trouble.

Have a look below for this short-and-sweet video, and then hop into Comments and let us know if you can think of a more bone-headed way of getting a car onto the ground.

Continue reading Worst car unloading attempt ever is quick and painful

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