Alan Harman


Alan writes about the auto industry in Australia and New Zealand, as well as other Asia/Pacific and emerging markets.

Toyota Malaysia Assembling Camry Hybrid Locally
Contract assembler ASSB will operate and manage the line producing three variants, the Camry 2.5 hybrid, Camry 2.0G and Camry 2.0E.
GM Reshuffle Reflects Thai Auto Industry’s Struggles 
Despite its prolonged sales slump, industry analyst Jessada Thongpak says Thailand will remain ASEAN’s largest automotive hub because its technology and capability to meet global standards is years ahead of second-ranked Indonesia’s.
Malaysia February Sales Stall Ahead of Tax Change 
Automakers expect sales to edge higher in March as dealers make offers aimed at clearing stock before a 6% goods and services tax takes effect April 1. It replaces a 10% vehicle sales tax.
Ford Hikes Output as Falcons Fly Out of Oz Showrooms 
Described as a future classic, the Falcon XR8 is being praised for the work the Australian-based engineering team has done to deliver its ride, handling and stopping power.
Political Turmoil Slows U.K. Car Build for Export 
Despite steadily growing production for the U.K. market, industry spokesman Mike Hawes says, “political instability abroad has hit certain export areas which will invariably have a small impact on total output.”
JLR Sets 2017 Target for Opening of New R&D Center
The joint-venture advanced research center ultimately is expected to house 600 JLR employees. The project comes at a time when the automaker is riding high, with 50 product actions planned over the next five years.
Online Presence Extends Dealers’ Reach, Survey Shows 
The survey revealed just 24% of desktop users, 18% of tablet searchers and 36% of smartphone users say they are most likely to search between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. when dealers’ doors typically are open.
Suppliers Along for Ride As U.K. Auto Output Rises 
Vehicle manufacturing in the U.K. is undergoing a renaissance. Production has increased more than 50% since 2009 and this is creating new opportunities for domestic suppliers.
Tie Auto Rules to High Tech, U.K. Safety Group Asks 
“The government must do more to prepare for a transition period where manual, semi-autonomous and driverless vehicles will share U.K. roads,” says Louise Ellman, chairwoman of Parliament’s Transport Committee.
Aussie Motorists Chasing Glamor Look North to Japan
Roy Morgan Research finds four of the five most popular makes of sports cars, coupes and 2-door convertibles in the country are Japanese. Among their 326,000 owners, 11.1% drive a Mitsubishi, followed by Toyota, BMW, Nissan and Mazda.
Shuttered Oz Auto Plant Reborn as Research Center 
The former Mitsubishi – and before that Chrysler – manufacturing site has reopened as Flinders University’s new A$120 million teaching and research center.
GM Names Thai National to Head Operation
Amnat Saengjan will take over as vice president-manufacturing at GM Thailand effective April 1 and will be responsible for both the GM Thailand and GM Powertrain Thailand plant operations.
New Life for Oz Post-Auto Making Transition Fund 
The government says it still will realize most of the savings it wanted to make from the program, based on production volumes as GM Holden, Toyota and Ford wind down Australian operations.
Automakers Remain Pessimistic as Russian Sales Continue Slide 
Industry insiders expect a difficult next few months, as the market shows little signs of near-term recovery. The recent stabilization of the ruble is raising hopes of longer-term improvement, though.
GM Holden Has Couples Stop (and Go) in Name of Love 
Using the Holden Cruze’s on-board technology, couples faced challenges including navigating around Sydney and completing a reverse park, with all the chemistry caught on camera.
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