Q. I read that the Buick is more popular in China than it is in America. Why is that? — E.H. (via Internet)

A. Seems hard to believe, but Buick has a long, revered history in China, going way back. Today large, luxurious  Buick sedans with lots of rear-seat room are among the most-popular models in that country. They often are driven by chauffeurs, not by their owners. Expect more action from Buick as it introduces more crossover vehicles, not cars. Crossovers are becoming more popular in China, which also is the case in America. And let’s not forget that Buick now sells a limited number of convertibles in America, although I wasn’t impressed by a short time I spent driving one.

Q. Why isn’t the new Chevrolet electric Bolt doing better? — J.M. (via Internet)

A. Not to be confused with the older electric Chevrolet Volt, the rather oddly named Bolt is selling fairly well in some states, but it needs heavy dealer incentives to sell moderately well in others. The Bolt has a EPA-rated range of 238 miles. So far, it has no direct competition in its price range. However, the Bolt has a small number of potential buyers, and Chevy has more than a dozen other more familiar gas-powered nameplates to sell. Also, the Bolt won’t be sold nationally until September, although it’s now offered  in California, Oregon, New York and a few other East Coast states. The Bolt isn’t cheap with a base price of approximately $37,000, although a California rebate and a federal tax incentive can bring the price to about $25,000.

Q. Who is the mysterious Ferdinand Piech?  I heard he was a powerful genius at Volkswagen, Porsche and Audi and is retiring — E.N. (via Internet) 

A. The grandfather of Ferdinand Piech was VW Beetle designer Ferdinand Porsche. Now 80 and reportedly in good health, the hard-driving Piech rejuvenated Porsche’s racing program, became Audi’s noted head of  technical development and went on to become CEO of the huge Volkswagen Group. The trade publication Automotive News calls Piech “a world-class eccentric but a figure of transcendent importance in the history of cars and car companies.” Although worth a fortune, some speculate that Piech is not about  to retire.

Q. I’ve noticed that some older, racy Japanese cars, starting about the late 1960s, are becoming desirable collector’s items. Why is that? — G.H. (via Internet)

A. Virtually all such cars have been below the radar for many years. In fact, I wrote in the Chicago Sun-Times several decades ago that these autos one day would become very desirable. The  low-production (only 342 built) gem-like 1967-70 Toyota 2000GT is valued at $8880,00 to $975,000, but most racy older Japanese cars are worth far less. For instance, the 1970 Datsun 240Z (16,215 built) is valued at only $32,600 and was the first widely available and extremely popular Japanese sports car sold in America.

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