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Gumpert Apollo Enraged

The phrase ’filing for insolvency’ has been been thrown around a lot in the past couple of weeks. It wasn’t long ago that Melkus filed for insolvency amidst lagging sales that have effectively torpedoed their standing in the industry. It certainly didn’t help that they overpriced themselves out of the market, but that’s a story for another time.

What is the story, at least the latest one involving insolvency proceedings, is Gumpert’s decision to follow in the footsteps of Melkus in its home country, citing - you guessed it - the company’s failure to balance the supply of their cars with the demands of it, particularly in the Chinese market.

Now before you start crying for Gumpert’s demise, their move to apply for insolvency isn’t considered a death knell for the company. Rather, it gives them an opportunity to restructure their business in order for them to be able to cope with the demands of the market.

There’s still a chance that Gumpert can get back on its feet, something Görge Scheid, the attorney tapped to handle the company’s insolvency case, alluded to in a statement to the media. Not much was divulged by the official announcement, but the company did acknowledge that they’ve been aggressive in looking for potential new investors for the company. It’s a move that could potential infuse some new life to Gumpert and restore its place in the business as one of the most popular niche supercar makers in the world.

Source: Gumpert
CNG and LPG Gasses: Is there a future for going natural?

We often bring up the CAFE standards, as they directly impact our covering of supercars that obviously do not fit into this plan. As much as we hate to admit it, fossil fuels are at about a quarter tank right now and fading fast, so something had to be done.

First came the “Gas Guzzler” tax, but that had very little impact, as the folks buying those types of cars could afford the extra several thousand dollars. With our backs against the wall, gasoline prices over $4 per gallon and the current CAFE standards expiring in 2016, the government stepped in and began composing an extension to the CAFE standards, which would push the average mpg of all cars and light trucks up to 54.5 mpg by 2025.

There was some battle over these standards being unconstitutional and unnecessary, but ultimately the courts and all sides of the government came to the conclusion that it was a necessary evil. Now this law has become official, as it has successfully passed its final obstacle, the pen of Barack Obama.

The new law takes effect in the 2017 model year, but there is a chance that Mitt Romney could beat Obama and he made it clear that he would immediately repeal the CAFE standards and move more toward encouragement than legislation. We’re not a political site, but it’s likely too late for encouragement to move the mpg needle fast enough.

We have already outlined what the supercar realm may look like by the year 2020, with high-strung 4-cylinders powering our fastest cars instead of massive V-12 engines. This can also cause a push toward LPG, CNG or hydrogen in the future, as the new law includes incentives for natural gas and fuel cell vehicles. We’ll have to wait and see exactly what happens, but the changes in the next 13 years will be drastic.

Click past the jump to read the press release about the finalization of these standards.

Source: Money News

We seriously lost count of how many times Youngman was blocked while trying to purchase Saab before it was finally awarded to a lower, but more “suitable” bidder. Finally, after numerous swings and misses, Youngman has found a suitable partner in its automobile-manufacturing venture. Ironically, it is with the company he was originally blocked from buying Saab from, Spyker .

Spyker and Youngman have just inked a framework deal that assigns 29.9 percent of Spyker’s stock to Youngman. In turn, Youngman will pay €10,000,000. Of the initial investment, €6.7 million will be used to pay for the 29.9 percent ownership, while the remaining €3.3 million will act as a shareholder loan. The entire deal should be completed within 45 days of the signing of the deal, as that is the time frame that Youngman has to pay the deal in full.

In this deal, the two companies will form a joint venture called Spyker P2P B.V. (Spyker P2P) Youngman will contribute an additional €25 million to this venture and take 75 percent share hold in it. Spyker’s 25 percent share hold comes in the form of technological contributions. Spyker P2P will use this technology to develop the Spyker D8 Peking-to-Paris super sports utility vehicle (SSUV). The $250,000 SSUV is set to launch in 2014 and Spyker P2P B.V. will use its technology to help launch additional models.

A second joint venture, dubbed the Spyker Phoenix , will see Youngman contribute the Phoenix platform technology that he bought from Saab and fund 100 percent of the venture. This will net Youngman an 80 percent share hold on the Phoenix and give Spyker 20 percent — we assume this share is for Spyker manufacturing the car.

This is certainly a great big mess of numbers, but essentially, Youngman is giving Spyker a ton of money and Spyker is providing its technology on one vehicle and, we assume, the manufacture of the other vehicle to gain minority share in said vehicles.

We’ll keep a close eye on this one and let you know if it actually ever pans out or simply fizzles away.

Click past the jump to read the full press release.

Rumors: Dany Bahar Suing Lotus

After a healthy drought between Bahar-and-Lotus divorce articles, we have now started a new streak for this dysfunctional divorce. We recently learned that Lotus is auctioning off Bahar’s custom 2002 Lotus Esprit and it may be a fund-raising effort for their upcoming legal battle with its former CEO.

You guessed it. It is now official that Bahar has filed a high-court suit against Lotus for wrongful termination. The suit is reported to be worth ₤6.7 million and is against both Lotus and DRB-Hicom, with the former being the first defendant and the latter being the second in the case.

According to a report from DRB-Hicom, it opposed Bahar’s accusations and is prepared to defend them vigorously. In addition, DRB-Hicom has filed a counter-suit against Bahar, likely for misuse of corporate funds, as he was renting a house on Lotus’s dime, which isn’t a big deal, but dumped tons of money on having the rental property refurbished, using Lotus funds, allegedly.

In a statement, DRB-Hicom stated "The exact quantum of costs arising from the claim cannot be determined at this point in time... We will make the requisite announcements when appropriate." That sounds like corporate-ese for “we are trying to dig up every last penny that Bahar used without permission and add it up to really make him look bad.”

For now, this is all the news we have on this front, but we’ll keep you up to date on this lawsuit as it progresses.

Criminals are all too often not the brightest bulbs in the pack and this usually results in them using something like a 1989 Dodge Shadow as their getaway car. Well, not to compliment a robber, but this UK thief took planning to a whole new level and stole himself a real getaway ride, a 450-horsepower Audi RS5 .

After his 16th robbery of a UK business, he took off in the RS5 and the police could hardly keep up – seeing the cars they drive, it is no surprise. The dude even outran a helicopter. It wasn’t until he decided to make a stopover at a local apartment complex that he was tracked down and busted.

The police estimated that he was doing upwards of 180 mph during the chase and by the looks of the helicopter camera, his tires gave way at some point and he was shooting sparks from the rims – a tribute to that wonderful Quattro AWD system, if I may add.

Audi RS5 Leads Police on Fastest British Chase

In all, this 65-mile run from the cops in a stolen Audi beast – and the multiple robberies – landed this thief in jail for nine years. A rather light sentence for all of those crimes and an extremely fast police chase. We guess they do things a little differently in the UK.

Anyways, check out the above video to see all of the craziness. You’ll notice that the cameras are pretty choppy in the beginning, but the chase section is nice and smooth.

Recently, we let you in on the news that Mercedes-Benz was working closely with the German government in testing vehicle-to-vehicle-to-object technology and that it brought models bearing this feature to the U.S. for its own testing purposes.

We have just received word that the testing process of these “connected” cars is not only a Mercedes job, as the DOT has brought in 3,000 vehicles to test their crash-avoidance skills. This is actually the second phase of product testing, but the first time that the DOT will actually test the Wi-Fi communication between these vehicles.

Once all of this information is gathered, the DOT will crunch the numbers and is expected to make a decision on continuing testing this technology or not sometime in 2013. the goal of this testing phase is to find out “how to apply the technology in an effective way in the real word,” according to David Strickland, NHTSA Administrator.

Now, don’t confuse this progress with movement toward automated vehicles. This is just one of the many major steps toward legalizing autonomous cars, but not the final decision. If this test goes well, then this does set the ball moving slightly faster on automated cars.

To read the DOT’s full press release, click past the jump.

Jeremy Clarkon and James May spotted filming Top Gear segment in Beijing

Anyone who has Internetted before is likely well aware of how YouTube works. Legally, YouTube is a place where people go to upload their own random videos for people to see. In the real world, YouTube is a place where people steal other people’s videos and post them online, pawning them off as their own until YouTube shuts them down. Then the user just changes his user name, reposts the video, then repeat...

Sometimes, companies do actually use YouTube to promote their TV shows and movies, and the BBC is one of the biggest to do so. It is not uncommon to see 9 or so, minutes of “TopGear ” and “Nigella Lawson” on YouTube for “promotional purposes.” In the UK, the Authority for Television on Demand (ATVOD) regulates on-demand videos and forces all companies to sign up and pay fees for TV-like programs on places like YouTube.

Well, the ATVOD is now calling these 9-minute pieces TV-like programs and are requiring the BBC to pony up ₤2,900 ($4,601 at the current exchange rates) per channel on YouTube for said programming.

The BBC is now appealing to the governing sector of its government, the Office of Communications (Ofcom) to have this matter resolved. The BBC actually operates its own On-Demand TV service and pays the fees related to it, as required by law, but it feels the YouTube videos are “short form” and are not typically watched at home.

We’ll keep an eye on this story, but we are pretty certain that the BBC will come out of this still paying a little money due to this odd law.

General Motors does some pretty weird things, but also some really fantastic things. One of the latter is that GM’s CEO, Dan Akerson, will be auctioning off his 1958 Corvette, which holds a value of somewhere between $50,000 and $135,000, for charity. All of the proceeds of this auction will go directly to Habitat for Humanity Detroit, an area that truly needs the help.

We’d like to give Akerson nothing but praise here, but we can’t quite do that. Around the same time this report of generosity came out, we found out that GM is in the midst of playing Russian roulette with taxpayer dollars.

GM is the only automaker not to pay back its bailout loan, and it is now considering using this bailout money to buy international operations from Ally, the only bailed out financial institution not to repay its bail-out loan. In a fit of irony, Ally needs this bail out from the bailed-out GM in order to try and pay off its own unpaid bailout loan ... You got all of that?

So on one hand, GM is showing its compassionate side and carefully pulling the wool over our eyes, while the other hand is greedily reaching in our wallets and purses to grab a little more money. Granted, GM “paid back” the government in stock, but that is a losing effort to date and it will likely never turn into a breakeven deal for taxpayers.

In addition, if Ally needs to sell these operations to get the money together to pay back its bailout, what does GM expect to make with these operations? But that’s okay, Akerson is donating his `Vette! So pay no attention to that man behind the curtain

Protests can be a great way to get a point across peacefully. Typically, they occur without any pain and suffering and an agreement is met at some point. In Columbia, we guess they do things a little differently.

Several ex-workers at GM plants in Columbia started protesting in front of the U.S. Embassy in Bogota to settle a grievance. The charges that the ex-workers are seeking reparation for are being fired after getting injured on the job and failure of the company to cover the resulting medical expenses. These workers now want GM to pay the medical bills and provide help to ousted workers in finding new employers.

Both requests seem typical of a protest, but recently the protest has taken an eerie turn, as the workers have gone on a hunger strike. How are they proving they aren’t eating? Well, they have literally sewn their mounts shut with needle and thread.

Their mouths are bound just tight enough to not allow food through, but loose enough for them to mumble out their points. Today would mark the 20th day these workers have gone without food and, according to the protesters, they are willing to die for their cause. If you look closely at the images, these guys have IVs in their hands and arms, so we are curious if they are getting nutrition and liquids fed to them intravenously. Regardless, they have to be getting fluids somehow, as you cannot survive 21 days without water.

The amount of time you can live without food varies, depending on your body, but somber examples – Northern Ireland protests in 1981 – have shown you can live up to 73 days without food.

GM’s response to these protests? "GM Colmotores is respectful of the law and has never put the health or the well-being of its employees at risk," GM said. "Furthermore, the company would like to reassure and reaffirm that no employee has been discharged for health reasons."

The protesting workers state that GM is taking advantage of the country’s lenient labor laws to get away with not providing compensation for medical costs and firing them. Some of the protestors have undergone years of injuries and costly surgeries and now find themselves without a job and drowning in medical debt.

Let’s just hope this gets itself sorted out by GM stepping up or the ex-workers putting a stop to this starvation protest. Are medical bills and unemployment really worth losing your life?

Fisker Karma

It’s no secret that Fisker has been walking a financial tightrope without a net, ever since the Department of Energy froze the $529 million loan to the hybrid car company. Now it appears as if they are hitting the bottom of the piggy bank, as Ray Lane, one of Fisker’s directors and managing partners, has released in an interview that they need more money to finance their next car.

According to reports, Fisker has raised an impressive $400 million in the last 12 months, but still needs an additional $150 million to help fund its next model and hit the breakeven point. This is likely not even the last of the fundraising, as Lane also alluded to the possibility of Fisker having to schmooze investors for a little more money in 2013.

After the company is no longer running at an operating loss, Lane also anticipates the company releasing an initial public offering, making Fisker a publicly traded company. If recent IPOs are any indication of the future IPO market (See: Facebook, et al) Fisker may want to rethink that plan.

We are excited to see Fisker’s next model, despite its combustion issues, but it may want to slow its roll just a little bit and focus on making the Karma a profitable venture prior to branching out, much like Tesla is doing. We guess we’ll see how this all pans out in the future, but we think Fisker’s trying to run the 400-meter hurdles before it can even walk.


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