Government powers at work

Posted on by Matt McDonald 7

Volvo and Saab have long since been rivals in the automotive industry. Recent years have seen a decline in this competition, but the two still share much in common. After General Motors was finished running Saab into the ground by making re-branded Chevrolets with their nameplate, it was sold off. One of the most unique companies in the world, Spyker , bought Saab and has been running it since 2010.

Earlier today a Swedish newspaper has reported that Volvo in conjunction with the Swedish government were in talks about buying Saab Saab . Volvo spokesman Per-Ake Froberg said, “No such talks have been going on and no such talks are scheduled.” The idea of this merger is rather interesting and has several implications on capital markets.

The De Telegraaf newspaper mentions that the Swedish government would like Volvo to take over Saab because that would mean a greater chance that a loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB) granted to Saab, which was guaranteed by Sweden, would be repaid. This type of acquisition would also help Saab deal with its cash problem. Spyker Spyker had its 2010 sales fall below forecasts and has therefore struggled to pay suppliers. Sweden has also come to the rescue here by approving financing to help get production on the move once more.

The Swedish government is not the only player in this transaction seeing as China is essentially the owner of Volvo. Geely Geely Automotive Holdings took over the Volvo Volvo brand after its sale from Ford. This acquisition was the largest of any automaker by China. You may also remember the acquisition of the Hummer Hummer brand, but that paled in comparison to this. The Saab CEO, Victor Muller, has said, “the Swedish carmaker is negotiating with a wide range of Chinese car makers about a tie up.” It will be interesting to see how this situation plays out and whether these two monikers can rise from the ashes of their U.S. ownership and become profitable once again.

Source: Reuters
Posted on by Matt McDonald 23

Ten years ago there was very little discussion about electric or hybrid vehicles. The technology was far from perfected and no low level consumer was able to purchase it. Throughout this past decade our economy, natural resources, and priorities have shifted towards conserving the environment and our funds. This has helped the renewable and green energy proponents to make large discoveries that are moving the industry forward faster than ever.

Americans tend to be very stubborn and change can rub us the wrong way all too easily. Most of the negative sentiments about electric and hybrid vehicles are based around ignorance. Quite simply, most people could not tell you the difference between a hybrid car and a full electric vehicle. Come to think of it, most people could not tell the difference between a diesel and a petrol engine besides the fact that they would have to use the green pump at the gas station. For the hybrid automakers to start selling these vehicles in larger quantities, the public must be educated about their benefits and potential pitfalls.

Several basic types of low emissions vehicles exist and are currently being marketed by the major auto manufacturers. The biggest seller of these is Toyota with their Prius model, which is a hybrid vehicle. Making distinctions between the different cars available will be helpful to a potential buyer by allowing them to get a vehicle that best suits their respective uses and needs.

Hit the jump for more details on Hybrid Vehicles

If you’ve ever watched the 007 series - and we’re sure just about all of us did - then you’ve probably dreamed of becoming a secret agent a few times in your life. The cool clothes, cars, and girls were all reason enough for all of us to act out our favorite scenes and steal the show away from Bond himself. What we didn’t think about, though, was the extensive training one must undergo to become one of these phenomenal super spies. No one is born with this secret agent talent so training - hard and extensive training - must be done to pull it off. If after reading this, you still want to become a secret agent, then read on.

National Geographic is airing a program called Secret Service Files, where you will be able to the see rigorous training Secret Service agents go through, including extreme driving training. Yeah, you’ll be able to see how these agents learn how to twist, turn, and jump at high speeds. There’s about zero things in the world that are cooler than that in our eyes.

The program is airing on Sunday, February 20th, 2011 and Monday, February 21st, 2011 at 8PM and 9PM ET/PT.

Uwe Gemballa’s killer has been arrested and sentenced to 20 years behind bars, according to The Times Live.

In what has been a story that has featured so many twists and turns, the latest development comes in the arrest of 28-year-old Thabiso Mpshe of Pretoria for his involvement in the murder of Uwe Gemballa . Mpshe was arrested last Friday before being sentenced to 20 years in prison in a Johannesburg high court later in the afternoon, a dizzying sequence of events that has taken this saga to new heights. Police spokesman Colonel Vishnu Naidoo was "not at liberty to say" if Mpshe had plead guilty or if a deal was struck, but something fishy is going on for this arrest, trial, and sentencing all to be done in a mere 24 hours.

Despite the arrest being made, the authorities are still in the dark as to how Gemballa was murdered adding even more questions to this bizarre story. According to police spokesman Colonel Vishnu Naidoo, “it is still unclear how Gemballa was murdered, but indications are that he was suffocated. He had no visible injuries.”

Meanwhile, Uwe Gemballa ’s body is on its way back to Germany, according to Martin Schaefer, spokesman for the German consulate in South Africa. "The corpse is being flown to his home,” he said. “We have offered our consular services in terms of issuing official documents for customs and the like."

The arrest and subsequent conviction of Mpshe is the latest twist in a saga that has had more plots and turns than a mystery thriller novel. From the looks of things, we’re thinking that this won’t be the last news we’re going to hear regarding the murder of Uwe Gemballa. The whole secretive nature of this arrest and conviction only lead us to believe that authorities are on to something, and on to something big. Why else would such a high profile situation get pushed under the rug so quickly?

Source: Times Live
Posted on by Bryan 2

Slogans such as "fifteen minutes can save you fifteen percent on auto insurance", Flo and her Progressive shop, and the long haired man who talks about State Farm are just a few of the many automotive insurance companies that are after your business, so in order to find the right company for you it’s going to take some serious work.

It seems that too many people are listening to the commercials they see on television and basing their opinions on what the little characters have to say. We understand that shopping for car insurance is pretty dull, but it’s something that needs to be done in order to ensure that you and your car are protected in the event of an accident.

Automotive insurance is one of the most important things in the auto world because, let’s face it, there are plenty of drivers out there that don’t need to be on the road, and when they hit your car, you better be covered.

Hit the jump for our tips of buying car insurance.

Posted on by Bryan 7

California, a state that once tried to ban Happy Meals from McDonalds, has decided to take on distracted drivers. The state has proposed a regulation that would ban drivers from all types of cell phone use.

"GHSA supports a total ban of cell phone use (hands free and hand held) and text messaging for all drivers," the resolution obtained by The Detroit News says.

"GHSA also supports a ban on electronic devices used for entertainment purposes with video screens that are within view of the driver and a ban for school bus drivers on text messaging or using electronic devices except in emergencies."

If you read that correctly, it basically means that if you own a new Ford and live the Golden State, then the wonderful Sync system could put you in jeopardy. We all know that states have been cracking down on cell phone use, but hands free systems never seemed to be an issue. Needless to say, the automakers are a bit unhappy.

"We support state laws that ban texting or calling while driving if a driver’s using a hand-held device. But we realize people are going to have conversations, read maps and directions, and listen to music while they drive. Automakers have worked to make sure this can be done while still maintaining focus on the road," spokesman Wade Newton said to the Detroit News.

If this law does pass, it should be interesting to see how systems like Sync and OnStar will adapt.

Posted on by Bryan 2

SEMA, the Specialty Equipment Market Association, has long been known for its street rods, customs, and replicas that are rarely seen on the roads of America. These are more like parade vehicles that are shown at exhibitions and, well, parades.

With these modified vehicles roaming the streets, state government had to find a way to make money off of them. Numerous states, including Washington, Florida, North Carolina, and California have enacted the SEMA-bill and now, Massachusetts joined the party.

Governor Deval Patrick signed the law in the legislation that will create a vehicle registration classification for these special vehicles. The new law will set parameters of what street roads, replica vehicles, specially constructed vehicles, and custom vehicles are.

“After 5-years of working with the legislature on various iterations of this bill, we are extremely grateful to State Representative Carolyn Dykema, in addition to Representative Brian Dempsey, Representative Joseph Wagner, Representative Charles Murphy and Senator Steven Baddour and their staffs for taking it over the last hurdle,” said SEMA VP of Government Affairs, Steve McDonald.

A benefit of this new law is that these vehicles are now exempt from emission inspections. That being said, specially constructed vehicles and replicas built after April 30, 2012 will be subject to emission requirements.

“This new law simply recognizes the immeasurable amount of time, money and attention automotive hobbyists invest in their cars. For many vehicle enthusiasts in Massachusetts and throughout America, building, maintaining and enjoying their vehicles is a favorite pastime. This new law represents an opportunity to acknowledge their commitment to the hobby and to protect it for future generations,” said McDonald.

We’re guessing this isn’t the kind of start Suzuki was expecting with their new Kizashi sedan. Barely a year after the car was launched; it’s already facing its first recall issues. Not good. Not good, at all.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, a total of 5,701 Kizashi sedans – those that were manufactured from October 13, 2009 through May 31, 2010 - are poised to be recalled over issues with the center-lower glove box on the dashboard, which as it turns out, may open in the event of a crash possibly causing a potentially serious injury if it hits any of the front passengers.

The Kizashi recall is expected to begin sometime in the middle of July at which time Suzuki will be replacing the part in question at no cost to the car owners. In the event that you have a Kizashi sitting in your garage all nice and new, you might want to err on the side of caution and give Suzuki a call at 1-714-996-7040.

Source: NHTSA
Posted on by Alexander + 12
Fifteen cats in your car may be a distraction

Okay, listen, we are animal lovers just like everyone else, but this may be a tad too ridiculous for us and, hopefully, many other people. Yes, our hearts go out to the animals featured in the tearful Sarah McLachlan/ASPCA commercial, but Patricia Edwards and her cat-infested automobile is just plain wrong.

The reason we say Edwards’ vehicle was cat-infested is because the woman had fifteen - yes fifteen - cats in her vehicle as she attempted to back out of a parking spot at a convenience store in Pierre, South Dakota. This scenario wouldn’t be a big deal unless, of course, Edwards hadn’t almost backed into a police cruiser in her attempt to see around the furry creatures.

The police officer, who was almost backed into by the feline-loving woman, immediately seized the cats in an effort to stop Edwards from driving with such a distraction.

The courts, thankfully, ruled against Edwards and her cats who were deemed "a distraction and interfered with driver Patricia Edwards’ ability to see where she was going." A distraction. No shit, Sherlock.

Seriously, can this get any more ridiculous? If it can, we’d love to hear your stories!

It’s such a good idea that we started thinking why no one has ever thought of it before. That or maybe someone did think about it, but didn’t go past the thinking stage to the actual doing stage. Guess that dude probably cost himself a lot of money.

In any case, Yanko Design’s new Uni-Signal is taking traffic lights and turning them into something that could be of more use, especially to those who are color-blind. So instead of seeing merely colors to determine when to stop or go in a busy intersection, why not put some shapes into it so that those suffering from color blindness won’t have a difficult time determining whether they’re free to go or whether they should stop. In their example, the Uni-Signal incorporates a triangle shape/red color for stop, a circular shape/amber color for stay, and a square shape/green color for go. It’s a great idea, although, we do have one suggestion.

Keeping in with the universal connotations of certain shapes, we suggest that they make the red/stop sign square-shaped, similar to how remote controls have a square sign to connotate stop. As for the yellow/stay sign, that ought to be the triangle - matter of fact, turn it upside down so its similar to the ’yield’ sign, which in essence is pretty much what the yellow light is for - and the green should remain circular because, well, triangle and square have already been accounted for.

Source: Yanko Design

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