We do our best to keep you in the loop when it comes to new and cool developments in the automotive world. One of the hottest topics going right now in the U.S. is automated driving. Though it is still several decades away from being a national reality, although some states are legalizing autonomous cars, we are still seeing some progress. The leader in this technology to date in the U.S. is the Google Prius, but other automakers - such as Cadillac and Ford - sniffing around the automated car sector.
In Japan, however, they are taking the bull by the horns and setting up an outline for national implementation of an autonomous driving system. According to a report from Tech-On, the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport, and Tourism (MLIT) is starting to piece together how to make automated driving a reality in as little as eight years.
Starting immediately, the MLIT will start piecing together the problems related to automated driving and neatly package it in an interim report that is due for release in March of 2013. Some of the issues at hand have to include: driver attentiveness, driver override ability, handling of accidents, and infrastructure development.
The MLIT has already employed the help of Toyota , Nissan , Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. (A.K.A. Subaru ), Honda , and Mazda in this project. Heading up the entire team is Yasuo Asakura, a professor at the Tokyo Institute of Technology.
For now, this is all just talk and we will see if anything ever comes of it. If this is actually a serious deal, it could drastically accelerate the timeframe that we in the industry have set for automated cars. We will keep a close eye on this situation and update you if any new details come up. Until then, enjoy your steering wheel, while you still can.
Former porn star, err, “adult film star,” Jenna Jameson hasn’t made a new flick in many years, but we are fairly certain there are plenty of her classics circulating the computer screens of men everywhere. Well, it looks like her exit from “the industry” hasn’t treated her too well, as she was stuck leasing a Maserati Quattroporte S back in 2010.
Leasing of this luxury auto is not the story though; the real story is that she hasn’t paid the $2,299 lease payment since January. Using our crack mathematical skills, that puts her six months behind and owing $13,794 in late payments.
According to a report by TMZ, the finance company, Maserati Financial Services, attempted to repo the circa $130,000 425-horsepower sedan, but were apparently unsuccessful. Now MFS is outright suing Jameson to return the vehicle and pay an astronomical $107,000 in damages.
We are a little intrigued by the $107K in damages. What kind of damages has MFS undergone from not being able to repo a $130,000 car? We understand suing for the $13,794 in back payments, late fees, and even suing for fruitless repo fees, but what else could possibly add up to that number? Plus, if Jameson can’t afford to pay a $2,300 car payment, what make MFS think it can possibly milk $107,000 out of the ex-actress? We also have to ask, who leases a car anymore?
We’ll keep an eye on this one for you and let you know when we get any more details, as they are a little scarce right now.
For the most part, business deals are massaged with care and come together with relative ease and little drama. We guess the Germans must do things a little differently, as the VW takeover of Porsche was anything but easy and drama-free. In fact, it was closer to the exact opposite.
Seven years ago, Porsche was sitting pretty and decided it wanted to expand, but bit off way more than it could chew when it tried to buy out Volkswagen . This attempted takeover split Porsche’s ownership group and eventually resulted in Porsche falling into extreme debt and abandoning the takeover plan.
In 2009, the script flipped and VW ended up indirectly owning 49.9 percent of Porsche and striking an agreement in 2009 to buy up the remaining 50.1 percent. That agreement turned south when VW realized that the resulting tax payments for the purchase were its responsibility. Well, after some nifty dance steps with the taxman , VW managed to avoid paying taxes on the purchase and the deal was all but complete.
Now we can finally announce that the deal is 100 percent complete, and VW is now the sole owner of Porsche AG. The total purchase deal is going to send €4.46 billion ($5.59 billion) and a single common share of VW stock to Porsche SE. Volkswagen plans to integrate Porsche into its automotive group on August 1, 2012. Porsche SE will also receive an additional €320 million ($401 million) in lost dividend payments and net synergies, due to the rapid integration of Porsche AG into VW’s ownership group – basically VW is paying off Porsche SE to gain quicker control of its automotive group.
With this, VW’s impressive automotive group grows yet again. We are starting to wonder how big Volkswagen AG can really get before it’s too big for its own good.
Click past the jump to read the full and complicated presser from VW.
While we certainly hope and pray for the safety of all those involved, we were happy to find out that the race has been re-scheduled for August 12. Barring any conflicts from all the participants for the event, we can all expect a full cast of all the 211 competitors that will be ready to run the race up the clouds.
This year, we can expect to see the usual cast of racers at Pikes Peak led by no less than the legend himself, Nobuhiro "Monster" Tajima . A number of other drivers will also be in attendance, including Walter Röhrl who will be driving the iconic Audi Sport quattro A1 up the hill.
For now, pencil in August 12 as the date, although that could still change if the wildfire hasn’t been contained at that time.
So cross your fingers, people. While we’d love to see Pikes Peak take place on its re-scheduled date, we wouldn’t want to see it if it means that it could still be dangerous for all parties involved.
A decade ago, Porsche opened up a brand new factory in Leipzig, Germany and the first vehicle to roll off of its line was a spankin’ new Cayenne . Whether by dumb luck or precision planning, the 500,000th vehicle to roll off of that same production line just happened to be a Cayenne – a white Cayenne S, to be precise.
Instead of just slapping a window sticker on it and sending it off to some random dealership to be lost forever in the shuffle of new cars, Porsche did something special. It took this brand new Cayenne S, which carries an MSRP of $65,000, wrapped it in a special red foil for the fire brigade in Leipzig, fitted it with a light bar and handed the keys over to the Leipzig’s mayor free of charge.
This vehicle is intended to act as a command vehicle for said fire brigade, and with its 4.8-liter V-8 engine that pumps out 400 ponies and 369 pound-feet of twist, we doubt that this new Porsche fire truck will have any issues being the first at any scene.
The Leipzig plant is already producing a record number of vehicles each year for Porsche, and the soon-to-be fully Volkswagen-ized sports car company is set to add another model to its workload, the Macan , which is due to start production in the Leipzig plant in 2013. In no time at all, the Leipzig plant will be hitting the 1,000,000-car mark and we are wondering how Porsche plans to celebrate that mark.
All around, this is just a classy gesture on Porsche’s part. Few automakers really understand how much their factories and the cities that house them affect their success. It’s obvious that Porsche does not have any problem recognizing the little guy.
As a result of the Waldo Canyon wildfire in Colorado Springs, the U.S. Forest Service has clamped down and banned the staging of the 90th Pikes Peak International Hill Climb in June 8. According to the government agency, the extreme conditions of the fire, coupled with its unpredictable nature, has made it virtually impossible to host the event at this moment.
Tom Osborne, chairman of the board for the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb and president and CEO of the Colorado Springs Sports Corporation, understands the decision of the Forest Services, noting that safety for participants and fans remain top priority.
"Our deepest concern is for the safety of the public and the competitors," he said.
"It was obvious that several agencies charged with public safety would not be able to commit the resources and manpower required to ensure those requirements because of the critical need for their resources at this time. Our city is in an unprecedented struggle right now and we are deeply sensitive to it."
For now, race organizers have announced that the event will still take place at a later date, possibly "later in the summer." The schedule has to be set up in such a way that all the participants - drivers, teams, etc. - are available, making for what could be a huge logistical problem for the organizers.
Likewise, fans that have already booked tickets for the event will have their tickets honored on the new race date, whenever that’s going to be.
After a Chinese beer festival overrode the popularity of INDYCAR and was bumped out of Qingdao, China , we all assumed that INDYCAR wouldn’t just cancel the race outright. Officials pointed to several venues as the possible replacement for the beer-bumped race, the most likely of which was Texas Motor Speedway, but that never came to fruition, as INDYCAR officials have chosen to just axe the race altogether.
According to reports, the cancellation was not due to lack of interest, but rather due to not being able to promote the event and fees. Randy Bernard was also quoted saying “We want to make sure that when we add events to our roster they have long-term potential and are given every opportunity to be successfully promoted.” So apparently just because it wouldn’t be a repeating race each year, INDYCAR chose to just hack the points from the season… It’s interesting to think of the logic behind that.
NASCAR has tracks, sponsors, and promoters chomping at the bit to get a race in their speedway. Plus, there would be no need for promotion. Just put up a sign and you’d have 200,000 screaming NASCARites at the gates ready to pay for tickets. As if the cancellation of the race for a two-week-long beer festival wasn’t indicative enough of the condition of INDYCAR, this just proves that only a very select audience watches it.
I can personally live without either, but if I absolutely had to watch on of them live, I would take INDY every time. I guess I am the strange one.
As Saab closes up its latest chapter, which included bankruptcy and many months or “We’re sold, wait, no we’re not” turmoil, we were left wondering what happened to the 900 (ish) Saabs that got held up at port whenever the failed car company filed for bankruptcy. Well, now that Saab has been liquidated to the point that only the 900 cars remain, we now have an idea what’s going on with them.
According to reports, all 900 cars will be auctioned off to varying companies and exporters. Only 300 of these leftover Saabs will make their way into dealerships and the dealers have the option to either put them up for sale at a 30- to 50-percent discount and sell them or strip them down for parts. Obviously the most profitable game would be to strip them down, but it may take a while to sell off all of the parts. So we may be in for some super-cheap Saabs hitting what remaining Saab dealers there are.
The majority of the leftover Saabs will be auctioned to exporters and rental companies. So, for an American to snag up one of these Saabs he has to either find a dealership close enough that actually wants more stock on its lot or pick one up after the rental car company is done with it – AKA after it has been thrashed to within an inch of its life. Who buys a used rental car anyways?
According to the inventory report, there are 67 company cars, which include a 1960 Quantum IV and a `70 Sonnett III, over 450 9-5s, 400 9-3 sedans, 60 9-3 wagons, 12 9-3 convertibles and 28 9-4X crossovers.
So thus closes another part of the Saab saga. Now we just have to see what NEVS can do with the bankrupt Swedish automaker.
Former F1 banker, Gerhard Gribkowsky, is expected to be sent to jail for corruption and abuse of trust, and in an effort to have his sentenced reduced, he’s going down swinging.
The former BayernLB risk officer has admitted to receiving $44 million of bribe money from F1 chief Bernie Ecclestone. The DAPD news agency quoted Gribkowsky admitting to the Munich state court that the bribery charges were "essentially true." On top of that, Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport also quoted the former banker saying that Ecclestone offered him "a huge pile of money." Apparently, that ’huge pile of money’ is around $44 million.
For his part, Ecclestone has denied bribing Gribkowsky, although he did admit to paying off Gribkowksy after the latter threatened to snitch to the UK tax authorities to do a tax inquiry on the 81-year old Formula 1 boss.
All this drama in the circus that is Formula 1 isn’t entirely new to a lot of folks. But this raises concerns on just how political the sport can be. If the sport’s most powerful man can admit to paying off somebody just to keep the UK tax authorities out of his nose without even the slightest inquiry, you know something’s wrong with that picture.
For a while now, Black Eyed Peas member, Will.I.Am, has been prancing a DeLorean DMC-12 wrapped in a body kit and some rather odd looking headlights around calling it a (ahem) “Concept car ” for his new “car company” dubbed “IAMAUTO.” In reality, this is literally nothing but an uglier version of the original crap box that hit the market in 1981.
Saying that any rendition of the DMC-12 could be uglier than the original may seem rather impossible, but this monstrosity takes the cake. Its sheer ugliness is not the news though. The news is that the LAPD has recently impounded this “concept” car. Though we wish we could say it was impounded for lowering property value, we cannot, but it is for an equally boneheaded reason.
Will.I.Am was caught driving this thing around L.A. without a license plate, registration, or VIN plates. We venture to say that list can also include insurance, as you typically cannot insure a car without a VIN.
So why did Mr. I.Am decide to take his “concept” on an un-plated and extremely illegal spin? According to reports, the musician said he just wanted to feel what it was like to drive his concept car on the street. Um, a few problems… First, that is no more a concept car than a 1987 Fiero with a Ferrari kit is a concept car. Secondly, you are a multi-millionaire pop star, pay to have the thing registered before driving it or take it to a track to drive it!
We’re not here to pass judgment on the guy, but please use that 3-pound hunk of water, lipids, protein, carbs, soluble organics, and inorganic salts inside of your skull (A.K.A. your brain) next time you think about taking an un-plated and unregistered car for a spin.
A silver lining in the whole situation is that Will.I.Am was, according to reports, extremely cooperative with the police. So we have to give him credit for that, at least.