October 19th, 2009
08:48 AM GMT
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SEOUL, South Korea - There are a few reasons why Kim Han-Chal calls his supercar the “Tiger.”

The first is apparent when you get behind the wheel of the Spirra. Zero to 100 kilometers per hour (0-62 mph) in 3.8 seconds with 500 horsepower, your throat hits the back of your neck as the gas pedal hits the floor. The Spirra is the definition of supercar: fast, sporty, sleep, and a six-figure U.S.-dollar price tag.

But the more important reason Kim, the creator of the car, calls it the “Tiger,” is that the animal is a powerful symbol of Korea. That’s apropos for Korea’s first venture into the supercar market, made with all Korean parts, built with Korean hands. “We were the only country that didn't have a supercar,” Kim says. Neighbor Japan has a Toyota and Honda supercar, and Germany and Italy has Porsche and Lamborghini.

The car enthusiast, who pledges if you check carefully he has gas running in his veins, dreamed of building a car on his home soil. He believed in his countrymen’s ability to produce a high-end car, not just the reliable, eco-friendly Hyundai or Kia.

For 10 years, he tinkered with designs and poured his money into concept car after concept car. But it wasn't until he partnered with Oullim motors, backed by the wealth of a high tech company, that he began production. Now Europe is his first major customer. A dealer in the Netherlands purchased 145 orders of his handmade cars over the next three years, marking the first commercial entrée of his supercar into the global market.

CLSA auto analyst Christopher J. Richter says supercars are often losing business ventures and are built to send a message. “These guys, I think the message they want say is 'Hey, we can make a super car too, high performance car too, and we can do it with all Korean components. It stirs the pot a little bit and shows that auto-making is not just about Germany or Japan, but Korean auto-makers have a valuable contribution to make.”

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Filed under: Auto industryBusinessSouth Korea


October 19th, 2009
05:11 AM GMT
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Sometimes I think if you want to be a serious investor, you shouldn't become a business journalist. Sure, you learn a lot about various industries and get insightful advice from experts at the top of their game. On the other hand, you know all too well how everything can go terribly awry.

Jim Rogers, the famed commodities investor and author of new book "A Gift to My Children: A Father's Lessons for Life and Investing," admitted to me that he is a horrible short-term investor.  However, he says you don't need to be a good trader to make money.

Here are his tips for anyone looking to invest in the current economic crisis:

1) Buy what you know. "You should only buy things that you yourself know a lot about - whether it's cars, sports, hairdressing, fashion, or whatever it is," he told me.  "Do some research, do some homework, and if you see something really dramatic changing that is cheap, buy it.  You are going to know about it long before I am, long before a broker on Wall Street is, and that is how you are going to make a lot of money. "

2) Don't be cocky. "Being overactive is usually a mistake," Rogers mused.  "It always leads to problems.  People don't like it.  They want to jump around all the time.  That's not the way to succeed as an investor."

3) Buy low, sell high. "It's as simple as that," he said.  "Nobody likes to hear it.  Now that is so simple and so easy, but you cannot believe how difficult it is to buy low and sell high.  That is the hard part."

So what is Rogers doing with his money?

He wouldn't buy stocks today - not even in emerging markets.  He is selling the U.S. dollar because "it's a flawed currency."  Today, he would put new investments into commodities or what he thinks are "sound" currencies such as the Canadian dollar and the Japanese yen.  And one of his favorites - farmland.  With food prices rising, he believes farmland "may be one of the best investments a person can make in 2010."  But get to know the farmer and the industry first, he reminded me.

In other words, be sure to do your homework.



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