CARBIZ

I'm Not Dead...

38 posts in this topic

Hey, guys (and gals). I thought I would drop a line and say hi (for those who care) just to say that I have not dropped off the face of the earth - just the face of the northern hemisphere.

I don't need to tell any of you regulars how bad things are for GM in North America. The dealer where I worked for almost 10 years closed its doors a year ago and I was forced to jump ship. Being a loyal Chevy fan, I joined another old, established Chev dealer in Toronto - and boy is that a dying breed. Things were going great through the summer, and then when GMAC cancelled leases (43% of my portfolio in 2007), coupled by all the bankrupcy news in the Fall of last year - well, the wheels fell off the cart.

I wear my heart on my sleeve and I was just getting tired of fighting a 200-fronted battle. When a customer test drove the Malibu, then drove the Accord and Camry, called me back a week or so later to say he wanted the Malibu because it was better, but he didn't feel comfortable buying it due to 'future parts availability,' I knew a day of reckoning was coming for me.

So, after some soul searching over Christmas, then taking a long, hard look at my savings (did I mention I took all my cash out of nice, safe GICs in March of last year and put them in mutual funds - can you say STUPID?), I decided that car sales is not for me any more. I am sick of arguing with people, I am tired of overcoming customer's fears/misconceptions and outright stupidity. I was stressed-out, tapped out and heading for a nervous breakdown, frankly. I cared too much and even after 11 years could not help but take a failed sale personally. I was terrified of reading the business section of the paper, wanted to 'key' every Toyota I saw, and masochistically counted imports on every street where I walked my dog. Egad.

The BF and I already had a holiday booked for Brazil in mid-February, so we changed our tickets and flew the coop. I have been down here for a couple months and the release has been incredible. (Although I do have to find a gym, if we are to stay down here permanently!)

If there is one thing you guys can do before you die, visit Foz do Iguacu. We were there last week, and I've never had such a blast. The boat trip takes you directly into one of the falls and it is such a thrilling feeling to have that 28 degree celsius water (about 80 for you Americans) streaming and spraying all over you and the boat! Be warned: the guide is clever in casually wearing a t-shirt and shorts, but while he stops in a whirlpool to allow you to take your last pics before putting your camera away in a special bag, he quickly slips into moon-gear while you aren't looking! You get wet, that's for sure - and it's somewhat terrifying looking up at 40 meters or so of water cascading down at you, but exciting at the same time.

Anyway, I digress. My first visit to Brazil 4 years ago (this is my 3rd trip, for those of you counting) put Chevrolet firmly at the top with Fiat and VW in terms of what I saw in my travels to Sao Paulo, Salvador, Recife, Jaoa Passoa, Rio and Cambriu. Not so any more. Corollas and Civics are absolutely polluting the streets of Brazil now, just like the cancer they are in Canada.

GM'S DAYS ARE TRULY NUMBERED.

I see so many old 'Omegas' and other Chevys down here, clearly showing the Brazilian love (not to mention durability) of Chevrolet, but as with all self-centered middle-class yuppies - why buy a car that is built right in your backyard by a company that has decades of history with your country, when you can buy the flavor of the month? I don't know if there is a Portuguese version of CR down here, but the front page of one of their local car mags today puts the 'new' Vectra on the cover (looking suspiciously like the Malibu, I might add) and has a 3 way shoot out with the 'new' Corolla and 'new' Civic. Even the by-line notes the Vectra is R11,000 less than the Civic. Get ready for this: a Civic sells for R63,000 down here. Okay, that's about $37,000 Canadian, but WTF? For a Civic? PUT DOWN THE BONG!

Unfortunately, many of the newer Corsas and Celtas I see down here are taxis, proving once again that GM does not know how to stop being the Fleet Queen. I do see quite a few of the new Captivas down here, and if the new Equinox is half as nice, it will be a knock out.

But I don't have to give a $h! about any of that any more. My in-laws bought a new Celta, so that is good enough for me. LOL

It's hot as hell down here (they're having record rains this summer) and internet access is sketchy. Most of northern Brazil runs on 220V; naturally, my laptop only has a 110V transformer. With the prices of electronics, I'll be damned if I'd buy a 220 transformer for the prices they want! Airports advertside Wi-Fi, but they usually don't work. So, I either have internet and a dead battery, or power and no internet. [Note to self: gotta ask 'sis, the electrician, why on earth half the States in Brazil would still be using 220V. Is it better? Am I being North-American-centric in assuming 'we' have it right?)

We've visited Fortaleza (Myeh - I don't recommend it), Jaoa Passoa (the in-laws are there so that is obligatory, but the beaches are amazing so I don't mind), Foz do Iguacu and been hanging around Sao Paulo quite a bit. We cancelled plans to visit Buenos Aries. I am kind of glad when we don't have internet access so the BF can't see how much money we've lost in our Canadian investments.

So, that's the story so far. I got a phone call from an old manager of mine (he got in touch with me via a colleague who was working the Auto Show in Toronto - something else I don't regret not having to do!) and he offered me a job to work for him at a P-B-GMC dealer in the east end of Toronto. I thanked him for the offer, but I"m not sure when we are going back (if ever) and if we do, I think I will explore other options.

Selling cars was punching way below my weight. Getting kicked off UrbanToronto in November whetted my appetite for politics, so that is one avenue I will look into. As an aside, one of my missions in Brazil has been to take a lot of photos of avenues, bi-ways and highways in and around Sao Paulo so that I can throw it in the face of those hacks on Urban Toronto about what a supposedly 'Third World' city can manage to do to get their hapless citizens around, without deliberately frustrating motorists at every opportunity like the idiots who are running Silly Hall in Toronto. I do not miss Toronto and its hopeless addiction to 4 lane roads, choked with parked cars and bicycle lanes on every other street. Maybe I'd consider moving to Vancouver again. [shrugs]

We've done an apartment swap with a female student-friend (who is taking Evolutionary Biology at U of T - sheesh, talk about a heavy subject!) and she loves our kitten and dog, so the kids are looked after while we take this long term sabbatical. The Optra is being paid off at zero percent - thank you very much GMAC, so it can just rot in the garage for awhile. Although, I do miss driving an automatic - GASP!! Automatics are hard to come by around here.

So, that's the Reader's Digest version of the past couple months and why I haven't been around much. I miss quite a few of you, but the incessant back-and-forth irrelevant arguments (like lack of hardtops, etc) just wore me down, too. I still shed a tear when I see bad news on CNN (somehow, Obama makes more sense when subtitled in Portuguese), but since my livelihood is no longer attached to it, I don't have to give a rats' ass.

Beijos, folks!

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Carbiz,

Great to hear from you.

Hey, I'm happy for you. Seriously. And I'm kind of jealous, too. :lol: I love South America, though Argentina or Uruguay would be more my style...Spanish speaking, less hot/humid and calmer. Where specifically in Brazil are you going to be "based?"

Boa sorte e atelogo.

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I would have went to Argentina, but to each their own, glad to see you back ...

You and I can't think alike.

We just can't.

:smilewide:

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Hey Carbiz, good to hear from yu. Wondered where you went. Sounds like you finally got a much needed break.

Oh and....

:useless:

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Carbiz,

Great to hear from you.

Hey, I'm happy for you. Seriously. And I'm kind of jealous, too. :lol: I love South America, though Argentina or Uruguay would be more my style...Spanish speaking, less hot/humid and calmer. Where specifically in Brazil are you going to be "based?"

Boa sorte e atelogo.

I got some nice shots last week in Foz do Iguacu of the three markers that denote the borders of Paraguay, Argentina and Brazil. Brazil's side is kinda dilapidated and run down, but they are building some huge tower at the site that will be the 'tallest tower in Latin America' Apparently, the local mayor has let the monument area slide and the Governor of the State is pissed - this according to our taxi driver. LOL I'm still organizing the 600 + photos I've taken and about an hour of digital movies, but there are a few pics I'd like to post, sort of a NYAH, NYAH, NYAH, sort of thing.

We've settled in Sao Paulo for now. That's where the free apartment (and loads of friends are). Plus, living very near to the corner of Avenida Paulista and Coloncao (sp?) is easy to take. We are on the 13th floor - yes, the 13th floor, and have fantastic views all around of the city. We can stay here for the rest of the year before money will become an issue. The BF just signed the deed to one of his houses to his brother today for a lousy R15,000. [This is me biting my tongue!] It's more of a gift, really, but we could have lived here for years on what that house is really worth.

Anyway, I am just refusing to think about what I want to do right now. My visa says I can stay 3 months, then have to get permission from the federal police (not a problem) to stay another 3. After that - well, there are estimated to be 10,000 illegal Brazilians in Toronto, so maybe I should return the favor? LOL.

Thanks for the kind words.

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You and I can't think alike.

We just can't.

:smilewide:

Not to worry, we are as different as night and day ...

Edited by Pontiac Custom-S
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Good to see you back, but I'm also very upset that we've lost another Canadian, bringing our total population to 13.

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Hey Carbiz, good to hear from yu. Wondered where you went. Sounds like you finally got a much needed break.

Oh and....

:useless:

Okay, color me stupid, but I've tried twice to 'download' one of my pics and after, like, 5 minutes of watching the blue circle go 'round and 'round, I aborted. Believe me, there is nothing I'd like more than to send "NYAH, NYAH, NYAH' pics, but someone needs to send me info on how to post them. I suspect one of the reasons is that most of these pics are about 1.6 MB or larger.

Oh, and I've only seen one 300 down here (I wonder how much that cost!), a few Jeeps - but, sadly, no Intrepids.

I also saw a Caddy SRX in Foz do Iguacu with Paraguayan plates: I'd bet that cost a few pennies, too.

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A very deft escape, Mr. Biz. Have a good time down there, and good luck with your next move.
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The file size shouldn't be an issue, since my camera takes photos several megs fine, and Vista doesn't have an issue. On my comp, which is XP, I use Adobe Photoshop Album. Maybe try the free starter addition?

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Muito bem! O Brazil é bonito. Agora tem que começar a treinar o Português.

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Seriously, I was thinking to myself a couple of days ago, "where is CARBIZ?" And then you show up. :P

Good to see you're still alive. Hey, maybe you can start bringing more of a perspective of GM down there. All we usually get is NA, Australia, and Europe, but it would be nice to hear about the industry in a not-as-developed nation.

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Congrats. Don't worry, the neighbourhood hasn't changed, the trannies still stand on the corner by the high school! LOL

Man I wish that was a joke.

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Great News Mr. Biz. Nice to hear from you.

I hope you sell some Brazilian Chevrolet Corsas soon. :smilewide:

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He's alive!

Glad to see you're doing better, and that sounds like a lot of FUN!

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Interesting stuff... if my life had taken a different turn of events in 1997, I'd probably be going to Curitiba at least once a year (my ex-fiancee #1 is Brasilian).

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You're certainly not alone, our salesman lost 85% of his portfolio in the last six months and now works in the service dept.

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Well at least it's good that he has the skills to be versatile in these trying times.
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Muito bem! O Brazil é bonito. Agora tem que começar a treinar o Português.

Desculpe, mais o meu Portuguese continua sendo uma merde, desculpa o linguajar. LOL

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Well at least it's good that he has the skills to be versatile in these trying times.

Oh, trust me - I can be very versatile. :AH-HA_wink:

I understand that historically speaking, GM has been very successful in Brazil, but the explosion of Toyotas and Hondas down here since my first visit 4 years ago is striking. Brazil is another one of those up and coming markets that will be very important to the future health of GM. Brazil will be 200 million in a very few years and is already the 4th or 5th largest car market in the world, I think, so Toyota has finally woken up to this fact in their quest for World Domination. GM and Ford have been down here for 50+ years, and it astounds me how jaded the public is everywhere. GM just spent $600M US dollars building a new truck factory down here. I wonder how much Toyota spent?

For those of you who are North-America-centric, realize that Brazil is not in a deep recession. In fact, while HSBC bleeds red ink in Europe and N. America, it's Brazilian arm actually continues to make money. GM needs this market and cannot afford to lose share to Toyota or Honda. They still sell the S-10 down here, available with the hoary old 3.4 or a 4 cylnder turbo, so I am not altogether sure they 'get it' (or perhaps they don't have the $$$ to 'get it') just yet.

Although GM is not faced with the 'downsizing' problems they are facing in North America, judging by the number of Mitsu, Fiat (not even sold in N. America), Peugeot, Renault and Citroen products I see here (especially in the South), GM runs a very high risk of becoming irrelevant here, too.

On another thread I read that there are those who believe the 'herd' of car companies should be culled, and I cannot say I disagree with that. I don't see how any market is served by 20 small hatchbacks to choose from, like I see around here. They mostly look the same anyway, although the new Ford Ka is a great remake of the old one.

It looks like the auto business is going to turn on its heels once again, as hybrid, pure electric and fuel cell technologies jocky for position. Considering it could cost over a billion dollars and then some to chase any of these technologies, I am starting to wonder why we need 20+ OEMs globally. As was mentioned on the other thread, how many passenger airliners are there in the world? Four of five, at best?

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What kind of laptop do you have?

Make and Model. I may be able to help you with the transformer issue.

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What kind of laptop do you have?

Make and Model. I may be able to help you with the transformer issue.

I have a HP dv9000, but power isn't a problem now that I am in Sao Paulo, although they do have those wierd euro-style 2 round plugs. I bought an adaptor for that already. Ceara (state) and Parnambuco, plus a couple other places we visited are still on 220V. In Jaoa Passoa, the hotel was nice enough to supply me with a transformer that was the size of a Greyhound bus, but it worked. What pisses me off is that my transformer doesn't have any info on it - nada. According to my HP help screen, it was supplied with a NA standard transformer, so when I was in northern Brazil I dared not plug it in to see what happens. (WTF, my shaver and both digital cameras will adapt to almost any voltate - what's with HP?)

[Gets on soapbox] If we are going to endure a truly 'global' economy, then these nations had better get together and start resolving all these petty conflicts of incompatibility. I am told my cellphone will work here if I pop out the SIM card. Okay. None of the cars down here have daytime running bags or airbags!! EEK! The way these people drive, 80 airbags should be mandatory, but then when you pay R19,000 for a car with a/c and not much else, I guess you can't blame them.

As an aside here, I bought a 16 GB memory stick in Toronto, just before I left for $26C. The BF's niece wanted a memory stick when we were in Jaoa Passoa so we went to an electronics place to get her one: R110 for 8 GB! Ouch. That works out to be about $60C, but still - for half the memory capacity. Electronics are outrageous here.

post-436-1236701558_thumb.jpg

This was dune buggy day in Fortaleza. I am not going to let on which one of these guys is me. (Hint: I've gained 20 lbs since I came here!) We met up with another 'couple' from Rio de Janiero and spent the day at some awesome beaches and a wind farm that would shame anything Canada has on the books.

post-436-1236701613_thumb.jpg

This is Praia Grande, about an hour's drive from Sao Paulo. We were there over their Carnaval Long weekend. Eeks. Literally, tens of thousands of people on this huge beach.

post-436-1236701655_thumb.jpg

post-436-1236701690_thumb.jpg

These last two pictures are from my balcony. We live in a very cool area of Sao Paulo - the corners of Consolacao and Avenida Paulista. Very posh, dontcha know. Seriously, access to anywhere from here either by car, foot or Metro is amazing.

I finally shrank down the size of these photos and it appears they have worked. There are loads more on my memory card. The ones of Foz do Iguacu are stunning.

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Jaoa Passoa

These last two pictures are from my balcony. We live in a very cool area of Sao Paulo - the corners of Consolacao and Avenida Paulista. Very posh, dontcha know. Seriously, access to anywhere from here either by car, foot or Metro is amazing.

You mean Joao Pessoa (sp) - that's hilarious, that means "John Person," but Pessoa is a common Portuguese last name anyway

Sao Paulo e P-E-R-I-G-O-S-A. Don't underestimate that about Brazil. I've been to Rio once and the "look over your shoulder" concern didn't make for much of a vacation. Saw all the sights and got all my pictures, but it was a sigh of relief to land in Buenos Aires and actually have someone ask me for directions on la Peatonal Florida in the city center.

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