There must be something in the water in England. Earlier this year we reported on a Welshman who took his Land Rover from England to America. Now we have a Brit who will be taking his flying dune buggy from England to the Sahara Desert. Gilo Cardozo is a paramotor manufacturer whose Wiltshire-based company Parajet built the paramotor that the adventurer Bear Grylls used to fly near Everest last year. Normally paramotors work by a person using a parachute while having a giant fan strapped to their back. The fan provides forward propulsion while helping to give lift to the parachute during take off. Cardozo first had the idea to build the flying dune-buggy four years ago.
"I started making a paramotor on wheels that you sit on and take off and it suddenly occurred to me, ‘Why not just have a car that does everything?’” recalls Cardozo. “I’ve been dreaming about making flying cars since I was a boy,thinking about all the ways it could be done and seeing how all the other people in the world have done it wrong. No one’s ever made one that really does work that you can go out and buy. But here’s the ultimate solution: it’s cheap, it’s safe, it works, all the technology’s already there. So I pushed ahead and thought, ‘We’ve got to do it’.”
The Sky car is quite impressive on the ground. It is powered by a modified Yamaha R1 motor, made to run on bioethanol, creating 140 hp with a CVT (continuously variable transmission) gearbox from a snowmobile. The power plant accelerates the car from 0-60 in 4.5 sec and has a top speed of 112 mph. The car also features four-wheel independent suspension, rear-wheel drive, and will travel 248 miles to a tank of fuel.
When the car takes off power is taken away from the rear wheels and switched to the fan at the back. while in the air the SkyCar will travel 80 mph and up to 15,000 ft, with a cruising altitude of 2000-3000 ft. Potential buyers won’t need a private pilot’s license to fly a Skycar, just one day’s tuition and a powered parachute license.
The journey is set to begin in January 2009 and take 40 days. Until it lands in Timbuktu though, it still remains an attempt to achieve the holy grail of inventors everywhere.
An inside source at Mercedes has told Automotive news that the next generation SLK will be fitted with an optional diesel engine. It will have the same 2.2L four-cylinder turbo diesel engine found in the current C250 CDI. The power plant is rated at 204hp with 369lb-ft of torque. In the C-Class sedan returns fuel-economy of 54.3mpg and CO2 emissions of 138g/km.
The new diesel is "perfect" for the SLK, the source told Automotive News. Output is high, it runs smoothly, and it’s appropriately fuel-efficient for the times, he said. At the other end of the spectrum, the AMG model is expected to pick up the hand-built 6.2L V8 engine found in the C63.
It looks like the next President will be receiving a new set of wheels. The Cadillac based vehicle will most likely replace the current limo President Bush has used since 2005.
It is believed that the limo is based on the 2500 truck line by General Motors. The photos show it riding on the same 19.5-inch Goodyear tires as the trucks. Details past what is seen in the photo’s are unknown. Neither GM nor the Secret Service want to divulge details, go figure. We’ll all just have to wait till January 20 to see what the next president arrives in.
Not sure if electric cars will actually work in real life? Neither is the British government, so they have decided to offer free trials to citizens if they are willing to give up their gas powered car. The trials will begin in 2009 and involve up to 100 cars in several cities around the United Kingdom. The information will aide the government in it’s decision to embrace electric cars in the future. "A lot of people have a car for long-distance traveling and a small runabout for taking the kids to school. We need to find out whether electric cars are practical." said Geoff Hoon, transport secretary.
The cars used will be a mixture of electric vehicles as well as plug-in hybrids. The study will look at reliability as well as ease of use, such as whether it is practical for someone who keeps their car in a parking garage to recharge the EV. Hopefully the lessons learned will help the UK to build an EV friendly charging structure to raise demand.
A second study will include more than 150 electric vans that will be tested by local authorities in Liverpool, Newcastle and Gateshead, Coventry, Leeds and Glasgow.
General Motors started a used-car incentive program on Oct. 1 which offered 3.9 percent financing for 60 months on used models of Chevrolet Impala and Silverado, Pontiac G6 and GMC Sierra vehicles. The program was slated to end Jan. 5, yet in an impromptu move GM ended the program early due to the poor credit market.
GM has also announced they are ending automotive lending operations in seven European nations, and scaling back on operations in others. Earlier, GM said financing for vehicles in the United States will no longer be available to customers with credit scores under 700, eliminating roughly 40 percent of customers.
"I think what everybody has recognized is that the market is changing very quickly and we’re looking at availability of credit and it’s just very tight to finance these kinds of programs," GM spokesman John McDonald said.
GM will replace the program Nov. 4, though McDonald did not divulge details.
Green Car Journal editors have chosen 5 cars from the 2009 new car line-up. The rules for eligibility are simple. "Vehicles using all types of technologies, fuels, and powerplants are eligible for the Green Car of the Year program. To qualify for consideration as a nominee, a vehicle must exhibit characteristics that substantially raise the bar in environmental performance and be in production by January 1 of the award year."
The cars chosen where the BMW 335d, Ford Fusion Hybrid, Saturn Vue 2 Mode Hybrid, Smart ForTwo, and Volkswagen Jetta TDI. One of these models will be named the 2009 green car of the year at the Los Angeles Auto Show on November 20th.
BP has announced their third quarter profits. The company made £6.4bn ($10.5bn) between July and September, a 148% gain over the same period last year. This amount was not surprising after the price spike in July skyrocketed barrels of oil to over $147. This caused the British government to start commenting on the fact that oil companies are still reaping the benefits of high gas prices even though the price of crude oil has dipped into the $60 a barrel range. "BP have absolutely no excuse for not passing on any fuel price falls to customers. It would be a scandal if they do not." Shadow Chancellor George Osborne said.
The British Prime Minister Gordon Brown called upon BP and other oil giants to pass along the price drops to motorists. "There has been more than a halving in the price of oil and, just as when the price goes up people see it immediately reflected in the petrol pump prices, we want to see the falling price reflected in the petrol pump prices, and we are determined to see that happens," the British Prime Minister added.
BP chief executive Tony Hayward admitted the company’s profits have been boosted by the cost of fuel: "Although it has since fallen away sharply, the high oil price of the third quarter obviously helped our absolute result." BP was also quick to point out that over the past three years it had paid more than £5bn ($8.2bn) in tax to the UK. Then when fuel, excise duty and VAT were added, the total rose to almost £21bn ($34.75bn).
UPS will be the first company to use delivery trucks powered by a new hydraulic hybrid power train. The trucks will not use the conventional battery system that is used in electric hybrid cars. A diesel engine will be used in conjunction with a hydraulic propulsion system that will replace the drivetrain and transmission. Hydraulic pumps and storage tanks will capture and store energy to be used later by the vehicle. The pressure from the hydraulic fluid is converted by the motor into rotating power sent to the wheels. The system will also recover 70 percent of the energy wasted during braking.
The technology was developed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at the fuel-emissions lab in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Engineers from Eaton Corp, who design hydraulics systems, also aided the EPA in the system.
The U.S. government will be investigating over 1 million Ford vehicles after reports of leaky valve stems. The valve stems, made by a Chinese company, are posing the threat of a sudden loss of tire pressure. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration started the investigation after a reported 37 complaints, 23 of which had more than one bad stem on the vehicle. None have included any crashes or injuries due to the valve stem malfunction.
The vehicles with the valve stems named by NHTSA include the Ford F-150, Mustang, Edge, Fusion, Expedition, Explorer, Focus and Escape, and the Mercury Grand Marquis, MKX, MKZ and Milan.
No recall has been announced yet.
Volkswagen has officially announced that there will be a test track built at the Chattanooga, Tennessee plant. The track will be used to test new models that are set to be designed specifically for the US market, including the all new mid-size sedan that will be built at the Chattanooga plant.
While details are very few at this point, VW spokeswoman Jill Bratina said the designs of the $1 billion plant and test track have yet to be finalized. Track length is still undecided, but it will not be a speed track. There is a possibility that customers will be able to take delivery of their car at the plant, followed by a quick spin around the track.
“I don’t want to get into specifics about how it will be used,” Ms. Bratina said. “There are a lot of possibilities. It’s still in the early stages.”
VW already has a few test tracks around the world. In the U.S., there is one outside of Phoenix, Arizona that sits on about 12,000 acres. The ultimate VW test track is the "super secret" Ehra-Lessien track in Germany with a straightaway that measures over 5.5 miles in length.
With economic fears slowing down consumer purchases, Nissan has decided to cut vehicle output at two Japanese plants. A total of 65,000 vehicles will go unbuilt between November and March. The production cut will cause a 30 per cent drop in the projected total of models such as the Murano and Infinity luxury cars.
"The decline is due to dwindling sales in the United States, especially of large-sized and luxury cars," a Nissan spokesman said.
Nissan has also cut jobs at two other plants in England and Spain due to weakening European sales.
As construction of the plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee begins, Americans should soon see a whole new product line from VW. Plans are to manufacture a new-generation of U.S. specific clean diesel engines and, possibly, an advanced diesel-electric hybrid. This is in stark contrast to Fords announcement that they are putting their clean diesel plans on hold. Yet with the impressive sales of the Jetta TDI this year it seems that VW might be heading in the right direction.
The news was announced by Stefan Jacoby, the US chief, who confirmed to the Chattanooga Daily that VW will build a diesel version of a brand new mid-sized car in Tennessee. “We don’t see any conflict between business and the economy and the environment,” Jacoby explained. VW will also produce a smaller version of the Jetta at the US plant, which will compete with the Corolla and Civic. No news on if it will have a diesel option yet.
The Chattanooga plant will start production in early 2011, no date on the diesel models yet.
Every Halloween you see the same attempts at spooky faced pumpkins up and down the street. This Halloween show your neighbors your pumpkin carving skills with these automotive stencils. Released on Chrysler official blog, these Dodge Challenger and Ram stencils will show your neighbors which car company you support. While we can’t guarantee how well they will work, they should be a lot of fun to try.
Canada is currently not the friendliest place for electric car owners. Currently, due to crash test ratings, EV’s are restricted to a top speed of 40 km/h (25 mph) — placing the cars in league with farm tractors. This low top speed has made them illegal to drive on public roads, which makes owning one a little pointless.
Vancouver is now thinking differently. As part of the cities green campaign, Vancouver became the first major Canadian city to pass a bylaw to allow city electric cars. The car are allowed on all streets with a posted speed limit of 50 km/h or lower. This allows the owners of electric vehicles to utilize any street in Vancouver. The major glitch is that all major bridges are posted at 60 km/h, meaning no one can get into, or out of, downtown Vancouver. Don Chandler, president of the Vancouver Electric Vehicle Association, has proposed an idea of allowing electric cars in the right lane of multi-lane bridges. Even the idea of building a special lane on highways is being kicked around.
Vancouver has also passed another bylaw that requires provision for EV plugs in all new single family homes. They are also looking to retrofit old buildings to accommodate current home owners, as well as place charging stations in parking garages around the city.
Hopefully Vancouver has created a path that other cities will soon follow.
Yes, you read it correctly. In a counterintuitive study released last month, three scientists have discovered that by closing off certain streets, congestion will decrease. By drivers choosing between multiple routes to reach their destination the fastest can actually end up slowing down. This goes against the old belief that if a there is constant congestion on the roadways, widen the highways and build, build, build.
Using Google Maps, the trio of scientists, Hyejin Youn and Hawoong Jeong, of the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology, and Michael Gastner, of the Santa Fe Institute, looked at traffic routes in Boston, New York, and London. Their paper, titled “The Price of Anarchy in Transportation Networks: Efficiency and Optimality Control”, is pretty wordy, but the gist of the central argument is built on something called Braess’ Paradox, which says that adding capacity to a network where everyone in that network seeks the most efficient route can reduce the network’s overall efficiency. In layman’s terms this means that if every driver takes the road they think will get them somewhere the fastest, then that route gets bogged down.
Here’s an example by the authors. Say you have two options for reaching destination X. One of them is a narrow bridge, the other a longer but wider highway. The combined travel time for all drivers is shortest if half take the bridge and half ride the highway. But drivers only know which route is most direct, so they all head for the bridge. The crush of vehicles creates a traffic jam, so the next batch of drivers chooses the highway. Bridge traffic clears as a result, causing more drivers to choose this route until it clogs again.
This back and forth continues until each route ends up taking the same amount of time, a phenomenon known as the the Nash Equilibrium. The problem is that with this equilibrium, average travel time ends up taking longer than it would if the drivers had split the two routes 50/50.
This is in stark contradiction to the theory that traffic moves more quickly when drivers are given more control. For example, some European cities have adopted the theory by removing traffic lights and signs, which has smoothed traffic and reduced accidents by forcing drivers to take more personal responsibility.
I just hope they figure out which theory works, then put it to good use.
A concept car capable of nearly 100 miles per gallon is closer to becoming a real world vehicle, says Citroen. The French automaker said that it is considering a range of power plants for the C-Cactus including a 1.0-liter petrol engine with sub 100gr/km CO2 emissions; a HYmotion2 diesel-electric hybrid consuming 97.4mpg and insanely low emissions of 78g/km CO2, 100% electric model with a top speed and range of 70mph and 100 miles respectively.
Citroen’s stripped out as much junk as possible, using just 200 parts inside — around half the number of a typical family car. There’s no dashboard, fixed windows (the aircon is supposedly that advanced, though there is a simple slider for toll motorways and the like) and many of the components are made from recycled materials.
Or maybe the race is a dash of genius mixed with a whole bunch of crazy. Escape from Berkeley is a madcap alternative fuel race from Berkeley, Ca to Las Vegas. The rules are simple, no petroleum allowed, and fuel must be scavenged along the way. So while the rules are simple the task is anything but. "The basic premise is build a vehicle out of junk, we’ll give you the equivalent of one gallon of gas and you have to drive 600 miles to Las Vegas. Oh, and you can’t buy any fuel along the way," says Jim Mason, the artist and inventor behind the race. "That’s a pretty heavy stone to carry."
The old Dodge pickup, pictured above, was made by Wayne Keith and runs on wood. He gets about 1.6 mpp (miles per pound) so he needs about 1,000 pounds to get there. He’s carrying a chainsaw and a list of lumberyards (He has a whole new way of dealing with fallen trees blocking a road). There are ten teams total running everything from a veggie-oil Lotus 7 to a steam-powered three-wheeler that looks like it rolled right out of the 19th century. While many aren’t terribly practical, including the the solar trike and fully faired tandem bicycle with an ethanol motor, they do prove that the alternatives are there.
The racers are not waiting for any of the automakers to lead us beyond oil. They’ve created an impressive fleet of street-legal and roadworthy cars, proving automakers aren’t the only ones who can make autos. "I think energy will be our next hacking culture," Mason says. "If there’s any goal here, it’s to see how we can move energy from a commodity culture to a hacker culture."
For more information check out Escape from Berkeley
New York City officials recently mandated that all taxi cabs must average 25 mpg by 2012. The plan was to lessen the environmental impact of New York City’s 13,000 taxis, as well as 40,000 other for-hire vehicles, but the New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission apparently forgot to concern itself with passenger safety.
The fight is over the bulletproof plastic partition, which is mandated by law in NYC and separates the drivers from their fares. The problem with it is the possible effect on airbags and other passive and active safety devices to rear seat passengers. Toyota and Honda have issued outright warnings against using their hybrid vehicles as commercial cabs. While Ford, General Motors and Nissan have refused to certify the crash worthiness of their hybrid taxis, modified with mandatory partitions. It seems that the partitions could somehow block or deflect side airbags, rear airbags and side curtain airbags. There is also the chance of injury from someone being thrown into the partition itself, their seat belt being used or not (and I don’t know anyone that wears a seatbelt in NYC taxis, do they even have them?).
The trouble doesn’t end there though. Automakers are also warning that hybrids were never designed for “heavy commercial use.” Who knows if the hybrids of today can handle the deft driving skills of a NYC taxi driver, as well as the not so great maintenance schedule the cars are on.
The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission has yet to respond to the safety and longevity concerns, but does list several hybrid vehicles on its approved vehicle list for taxi use.
It was a simple idea, create a system that heats windshield washer fluid to speed up the process of melting snow and ice off windshields. In stepped Microheat with it’s HotShot system. In September though, General Motors was forced to recall about 944,000 vehicles equipped with the HotShot system because of concerns over electrical fires. GM has subsequently stopped using Microheat’s system, forcing Microheat to cease almost all production and close the company doors permanently. Now the fight is going to the lawyers, GM is suing Microheat for the cost of the recall, which is reported to be in the $20 million to $25 million range. But Microheat is pointing out the fact that GM still owes them 3.7 million for parts and tooling.
By November 1, dealers should have the parts to fix the problem, free of charge, by adding a wiring harness with an inline fuse. Vehicles affected are between 2006-2008 model years and include the Buick Lucerne and Enclave, the Cadillac DTS and Escalade, the GMC Yukon, Sierra and Acadia, the Saturn Outlook, the Hummer H2, and the Chevy Silverado, Avalanche, Tahoe, and Suburban.
One major set back stopping electric cars from going mainstream is the 6-8 hour charge times. The Italian car company Tazzari, with help from NICE car company, have announced that the new Zero will charge in 45 minutes. The only draw back is that the power source must be three-phase. Three-phase power is more likely available in commercial areas, but some urban residential areas (which all are currently on one-phase) may be able to do the costly upgrade to three-phase (i.e. rewire entire house and become directly powered from a major source). Unfortunately the Zero will take 10-hours to recharge on single-phase power.
The Zero’s compact two-door design weighs less than 1,200 pounds, thanks to the extensive use of lightweight materials. That light curb weight ensures an all-electric range of nearly 100 miles – more than enough for most city commuters. Powered by Lithium Ion batteries it will manage a top speed of 56mph and 0-30mph in under five seconds. Not jaw dropping numbers but perfect for city dwellers.
No official word of when the Tazzari is expect to hit the market, but look for the EV city car to be available in France, England and Italy when it finally does make production.
Check out the Tazzari Zero Sight for more information.
1,100 GM factory workers in Moraine, Ohio will be out of a job on December 23 as plans are announced to close the Moraine Assembly plant early, instead of the original 2010 plan (Happy Holidays to the employees.) The accelerated shutdown plans are part of company wide cost-cutting move as customers move away from sport utility vehicles to smaller vehicles amid high gas prices.
The plant builds the Chevrolet TrailBlazer, GMC Envoy, Isuzu Ascender, and Saab 9-7X. This will mark the end of all four models. With Isuzu pulling out of the U.S. market in January, the death of the Ascender is no surprise. As for Saab’s 9-7X, it is widely expected to be replaced by the superior 2010 9-4X.
General Motors turned down a $56 million tax credit and grant package from the Ohio Department of Development to keep the plant open.
Following the approved $25 billion in loans to help U.S. based auto groups, Europe’s car makers plan to ask the European Commission for a €40 billion ($55.22 billion) loan. European car makers plan to use the loan to aide them toward meeting the 2012 EU mandate that calls for the automakers to lower carbon dioxide emissions. If America will give the money, why can’t the EU? After all, it will be used to accelerate the transition to environmentally friendly cars.
According to a spokesman for the automaker, "All European car makers agree on the [€40 billion] demand." Shocking.
Toyota has unveiled a new airbag system, specifically for small cars, designed to protect rear passengers. The airbag protects passengers in a rear end collision. According to Toyota the new airbag deploys from the roof lining above the rear window in the form of a curtain-like barrier and, together with the headrests, minimizes impact to the head from a colliding vehicle or parts of the hit vehicle. The technology is due to be featured in the new iQ ultra-compact four-seater.
“Toyota has continued to actively develop and make available its collision safety technologies,” the company said in a statement to the press. “Resulting in such achievements as the swift market introduction of SRS curtain shield and knee airbags to enable its vehicles to better respond to a greater range of accidents.”
Located directly next to the subway and the 1972 Olympic village, the BMW complex is an easy day trip from the center of Munich, and get ready to spend a whole day there. When you exit the train the first building you are greeted with is the BMW Welt (German for BMW World), which is the ultimate BMW sales floor as well as a stunning architectural achievement, complete with an 800 KWatt solar plant on its roof. The Welt serves as an automobile delivery center as well as an automotive exhibition and event hall. The exterior is enough to amaze visitors, while the interior is more like a touch museum for adults. The complete BMW line is on display, including Nick Heidfeld’s 2007 F1 car (they won’t let you take it for a test drive though, I asked). The Welt also has numerous exhibits that allow visitors to feel, see, hear and interactively experience BMW technology and design. The building also is complete with two specialty shops for BMW fan wear, collectibles and everything F1 team related (Go Kubica!), as well as two restaurants to nourish hungry shoppers.
More after the jump.
In an attempt to move away from its sports car only production, Aston Martin will revive its famous Lagonda brand. Lagonda, which was named after a river near Springfield, Ohio (it’s founder was American,) was established in 1906, but was acquired by Aston Martin in 1947. Since the 60s, the Lagonda name has only been used for Aston models instead of its own brand. Aston Martin is set to display a concept Lagonda at next year’s Geneva Motor Show, with plans to develop a range of cars by 2012.
Growing markets, such as Russia, do not have the appropriate weather to warrant the purchase of a sports car. “Aston Martins are currently available in 32 countries, but we remain limited in our market penetration by the pure character of our cars - sports cars. We have now investigated and concluded that the revival of the Lagonda brand would allow us to develop cars which can have a different character than a sports car, and therefore offer a perfect synergy.” Dr Bez, Aston Martin CEO, said that Lagonda could more than triple Aston Martin’s geographic markets, taking it into more than 100 countries.
The new car could be produced with a hybrid engine. It is thought that the new Lagonda could sell for about £100,000, though no official pricing has been set.
Toyota has worked hard to create a green image with their cars. Now they are taking it one step further by adding solar panels to cargo ships that transport their cars to the United States. Two Japanese firms are building a solar power system to augment the diesel engines aboard the vessels. Fuel consumption on the 60,000-ton boat will be cut by 6.5 percent. Doesn’t sound like much? Well when you take into account that each ship burns approximately 120 gallons per mile, 6.5 percent can be a huge savings. The trip from Japan to California is around 6,000 miles, so the solar paneled cargo ship will save 46,800 gallons of fuel. In other words, on a solar ship carrying 5,000 Toyota’s, each car purchased would have saved nine gallons of fuel before customers ever even saw it.
The solar ships not only save fuel, but they also clear the air. Cargo ships burn "bunker fuel," the truly nasty stuff that literally comes from the bottom of the barrel. A study published in Environmental Science and Technology found emissions from the bunker fuel cargo ships burn may cause 60,000 deaths worldwide. Also contributing a whopping 44 percent of the sulphate found in fine particulate matter in the atmosphere of coastal California. So even the smallest cut in usage of "bunker fuels" is a huge step for Toyota and its cargo carriers.
And you thought the solar panel in the new Prius was a big deal.
With many car companies scrambling to offer incentives to lure in buyers, Volkswagen has announced the offer of zero percent financing on all 2008 models. It is slightly surprising since VW actually did fairly well in August. Speculation is that the decision was made simply to move the 2008 off the lot so the 2009 had room, not to boost sales, as is the case with GM’s employee pricing extended till the end of September.
The length of the financing depends on the car purchased, but some are available with a 60 month term.
Chrysler announced plans to cut 300 of its 1,700 employees at its light truck assembly plant in Saltillo, Mexico. The plant builds Ram 1500, 2500, and 3500 series trucks, which are mainly exported to the United States and Canada. The plant is also expected to pick up production for Nissan trucks.
Last month GM also announced that it was cutting 600 jobs at its industrial complex in Silao, Mexico. The Silao plant produces some of GM’s GMT-900-based vehicles, as well as engines and transmissions.
Both Chrysler and GM attribute the job cuts directly to the slumping U.S. market. Though Chrysler will need to higher about 485 workers when production of its Phoenix engines starts next year in Saltillo. But there is good news for Mexican workers, Freightliner will be expected to have a new plant up and running in Mexico by 2009.
Everyone has his or her hobbies. Some people can take them to excess. In the case of these two VW owners I can say that I’m happy they did. While admittedly ludicrous to build a slot car track like this, credit must be given to the detail behind the work. It’s more creative then all the show cars with a plethora of TV’s in the back and a hell of a lot more entertaining.
Mini’s newest marketing experiment is set to open from Sept. 4 till Sept. 13 atop a building in Clinton. During the day the space will act as a 4,500-square-foot landscaped park. An 8-foot grassy hill implanted with plastic dishes that serve as seats, and will hold activities like symposiums on green living and Pilates classes. At night, 320 flashing L.E.D.’s and a pulsating 28-foot lighting tower will turn the rooftop into a site for invitation-only parties and other events. Lounge areas, a sun deck, art and photo studios, and free wifi access will be available to all Rooftop guests.
The innovative design was created by NYC architecture firm HWKN. This is Mini’s latest attempt to solve the marketing problem of reaching customers who, by and large, “do not like to go to the dealer,” said Andreas-Christoph Hofmann, the company’s head of brand communication. “We have to reach them in different ways.”
Fifteen Clubmans will provide a shuttle service for V.I.P. guests. Each will be donned with a different roof graphic designed by winners of an online contest.
Check out Mini’s official Rooftop Website for more information or take a trip to 465 10th Avenue and see it for yourself.
Phil Hill, the only US-born driver to ever win the Formula One title, has passed away at 81 years of age. Hill died at Community Hospital in Monterey, California, on Thursday from complications of Parkinson’s disease. Hill won the 1961 Formula One title for Ferrari, as well as the first American to win the 24-hour at Le Mans—a three time winner in all. He also won the Sebring 12-hour race three times. “I had an amazing amount of luck to race for 22 years and not a drop of blood or a broken bone,” Hill once said. “Maybe I wasn’t trying hard enough.”
“Phil was a very special guy and had a love for the automotive age,” said Dan Gurney, a teammate with Ferrari. “He was always a potential winner when he sat in a race car. He was both a competitor and a close friend and a fellow I could look up to.”
Last April Audi said that they would not be producing an electric car in the near future. Well plans have changed according to Car Magazine. Audi has unofficially said it will sell an electric version of the VW Up as soon as it becomes available. Possible release estimate being late 2010.
Hopeful Audi doesn’t scrap this idea like it has so many others in the past (think back to the Q5 and Q7 hybrid programs). Audi may make a plan B since Volkswagen has has product delays with the Up. After all, it is not even clear yet whether the Up will be rear or front-engined; since the concept had the engine in the back, but the latest news is that production versions will adopt a more conventional layout. Chances are that whether it be an Audi or a VW badge there will be an electric Up in the near future.
Ford will invest at least $75 million to begin converting a Michigan SUV plant to small car production as part of its strategic shift to sell more of the fuel-efficient vehicles in North America. The 51 year old plant is located in Wayne, Michigan and is currently used to build the Ford Expedition and Lincoln Navigator SUVs. Begining in November, Ford will start moving equipment to build the big SUVs to the Kentucky Truck Plant in Louisville, which currently makes Super Duty F-series trucks. The move will clear space for Michigan’s truck body shop to be retooled to make Focus bodies. The Michigan factory will be converted entirely to a car plant in 2010.
The changes are part of Ford’s plan to build more small cars in response to the rapid U.S. market shift away from trucks and SUVs. For the past few months, Ford has said it has not been able to build Focuses fast enough.
MG’s current owners, China’s Nanjing Automobile Group Corp., originally planned to bring the legendary marque back to the United States in the summer 2008. Well new announcements have showed that those plans have been pushed back indefinitely. Plans also had included building MG’s in Oklahoma from kits shipped from China.
"The U.S.A. isn’t on the short-term radar as an anticipated market for us, but with the right product, it would be good to return there," Gary Hagen, marketing director of NAC MG. No reason was given as to why NAC MG changed it’s US release plans. It was simply stated that "The deal fell through".
MGs were last sold in the United States in 1980. Since then many plans to reintroduce the brand to the US have never come to fruition.
Smart is recalling 43 cars, all sold in the US, due to defective paint. Doesn’t sound as intimidating or scary as exploding gas tanks, electrical fires, or most other safety recalls. But as it turns out, this is a little unnerving. The defective paint could lead to the loss of the windshield or roof while driving the little car. The paint in question was used to coat the frame and chassis, then an adhesive was placed over the paint. If the paint peels off the frame the adhesive goes with it, then say bye-bye to some rather important bits. We think the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration made a good choice with this recall.
The October production of the Tata Nano, a $2,300 mini-car, may be slowed or halted due to violent protests at the new Singur, West Bengal plant. Eruption of protests began after Tata build a $350 million plant on the site of fertile farmland. The West Bengal state government provided Tata Motors with 1,000 acres for the factory, which they brought from local farmers. Some farmers refused to sell and are demanding the return of their land.
The increasing amount of violence is concerning Tata, so much so that the Indian automaker is considering completely abandoning the site. “What has concerned us is the violence, the disruptions, that has led us to be concerned about the safety of our employees, our equipment and investment, and of the viability of the process,” said Chairman Ratan Tata “If anybody is under the impression that because we have made this very large investment of 1,500 crore rupees ($350 million), that we would not move, then they are wrong, because we would move, whatever the cost, to protect our people. I can’t bring our managers and the families to West Bengal, if they’re going to be beaten, if there is going to be violence constantly, if their children are going to be afraid to go to school.”
GM has announced plans to install solar panels on the roof of its White Marsh, Maryland, transmission assembly plant, making it the first North American factory to get them (GM has solar panels on top of its Rancho Cucamonga and Fontana, California parts warehouses as well.) The plant produces six-speed and Two Mode hybrid transmissions for the company’s light-duty trucks. It will be equipped with over 8,700 solar panels covering 300,000 square feet, which will cut the plant’s electricity bill by 20 percent annually by 2009. The panels will generate about 1.4 million kWh of clean, renewable solar energy, which is equivalent to the demand of about 140 to 150 U.S. households with an average annual consumption of 10,000 kWh, GM said.
Best of all for GM, they are paying nothing for the energy-saving system. SunEdison will finance, install, operate and maintain the system, and will make money by keeping some of the electricity generated.
Steve Burgess, a 53 year old British Angus Beef farmer, has triumphed where famed explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes failed, by becoming the first person to cross the Bering Strait in a land vehicle. The trip began 10,379 miles away at his farm near Huddersfield in West Yorkshire and ended in Wales, Alaska. Using a Land Rover Defender fitted with a propeller and motor, he and his team drove from England, in the middle of winter, and then waited for the sea ice to thaw. The expedition was sponsored by the Cooper Tire and Rubber Company Europe, who provided Discoverer STT tires for the Land Rover’s land journeys.
Just about every car these days has a key fob. People who pay a premium price for a DBS should have the option of getting something a little more enticing. Aston Martin agrees, and so its official watchmaker Jaeger-LeCoultre has developed the ultimate accessory for the DBS supercar: a transponder watch. The AMVOX2 DBS Transponder will have the ability to lock and unlock the car. The wearer need only push the face to activate the remote entry. Push between 8 and 9 o’clock to unlock the car and 3 and 4 o’clock to close it.
Dr Ulrich Bez, Aston Martin CEO, said, “I’m delighted that we have been able to premiere this technology in such an elegant solution. It is the first time horology and automotive engineering have been combined in this way.”
The AMVOX2 DBS will be showcased for the first time at the Paris Motor Show. It is crafted exclusively for the DBS. Aston Martin says that the transponder module weighs “just a few grams” and is half the size of the identical system in the DBS’s key. They are offering the £22,000 ($41,000) device as an option on any new DBS, as well as a retro-fit for existing customers.
This week, it was announced that Trevor Creed, Chrysler’s senior vice president for design, will retire at the end of the month. Ralph Gilles will take over as vice president for design on Sept. 1. Gilles, who is most known for designing the Chrysler 300, already has big plans for Chrysler telling the Free Press on Tuesday that he wants to get Chrysler’s "cars to be sexy again." Instead of focusing on edgy designs, Gilles says he will move Chrysler more to an ‘organic’ design theme. Gilles wants shapes that are more organic but with character, such as the Dodge Zeo and EcoVoyager concept cars.
Gilles will also focus on redesigning Chrysler interiors. "For me it’s about getting this monkey off our back about interiors. It’s something I’ve already started and you’ll see some results," Gilles said, speaking of the redesigned Dodge Ram.
Looks like things aren’t tough everywhere for General Motors. GM’s Australian unit Holden has rolled its seven millionth car off the production line. The red Commodore sedan (cousin to the Pontiac G8) was revealed with a focus on green energy solutions and fuel efficiency, being fitted for dual fuel LPG (Liquefied Petroleum Gas — a sorta mixture of propane and butane.) It was rolled out amid a crowd of workers, executives and government officials.
Holden built Australia’s first mass produced car, the 48-215, in November 1948 at Fishermans Bend in Port Melbourne, Victoria. Its one millionth car rolled off the production line almost 14 years later in October 1962. The Commodore was launched in 1978 and has been Australia’s best selling car for the past 12 years.
Car enthusiasts love looking at their beloved four wheeled children, sometimes more then their two legged family. That can be the problem with garages, you can not watch TV, eat dinner, or drift off to sleep while staring at your beloved automobile. Well thanks to a team of Berlin architects you can. The team has designed the ultimate living space for you and your machine: the drive-in apartment.
The car is driven onto an elegant but heavy-duty lift that is strong enough to hoist an armor-plated vehicle, or even lift a limo directly to the loft-style apartment. Drive it off and park it in a conservatory, known as CarLoggias, with only a large glass wall separating it from the living space. Feel free to wipe it down with a diaper whenever, or even start it to impress your friends with the sweet thrilling notes of the engine. The CarLoggia is open and roofed so the exhaust fumes can quickly escape.
After 18,000 people wrote to GM during the “Tame the Name” promotion, GM has finally chosen a production name for the Pontiac G8 ST, and the winner is...G8 ST. GM decided to scrap all the entrants ideas and stick with the initial decision, with ST standing for ’Sport Truck’. "’G8 ST’ was one of the most popular suggestions, plus we noticed a far broader trend toward simple, easy-to-remember names," said Craig Bierley, GM’s BPG product marketing director for cars and cars and crossovers.
GM even toyed with the idea of naming it after the infamous El Camino. “We actually thought very long about El Camino,” said Bierley. “In the end, we felt it was more appropriate to honor the El Camino’s unique place as part of Chevy’s heritage and not use that nameplate on a Pontiac.”
The G8 ST will fill a niche that GM hopes U.S. consumers will embrace: a truck that handles, drives and looks like a sports sedan. Pontiac is still sticking with the 361 hp V-8 as the only engine, sending the G8 ST from 0-60 mph in 5.4 sec. Not too bad for a truck offering a 73.9-in. cargo bed with 42.7 cu ft of cargo space. The tradeoff is the G8 ST’s small 1000 pound payload and 3500 lb towing capacity. That isn’t exactly Silverado territory, but then again no Silverado besides the hybrid comes close to the V-8 G8 sedan’s estimated 15/24 mpg city/highway.
Four-door convertibles are a rare breed. The extra area it takes necessary to go topless over a sedan creates safety and structural problems when a roof is not in place. In fact, Lincoln’s 67 Continental was the last sedan convertible to come direct from the factory. But Nissan is thinking about breaking this streak...sorta.
Nissan’s Murano got a redesign this year, but by 2011 it may need to give customers a new reason to visit it in the showroom. So the carmaker is looking to chop the top off the SUV. Nissan will stick with a more traditional soft top to keep weight down. This will help to keep the fuel economy to the current combined city/highway rating of 21 mpg. The standard Murano’s 265 horsepower 3.5L V6 and CVT transmission should remain, with customers being able to choose between front and all-wheel drive.
Don’t expect the 2011 Murano convertible to come cheap. A top-of-the-line 2009 Murano LE with all-wheel drive and an optional navigation system is priced at $39,080 including delivery charges, and the new convertible model will likely sit at the top of the lineup.
In celebration of the launch of the Mini Cooper Clubman in the Chinese market, Mini has chopped the back half off a handful of cars so they can be converted into rickshaws. The German built Mini’s were converted to rickshaws in Hong Kong, and then the ’rickiMINI’ was taken to Beijing to "bring good luck" to the Beijing Olympics. Mini is no doubt trying to capitalize on the global spotlight placed on Beijing with the current Olympic games.
Believe it or not this batmobile replica, called the ’Tumbler’, was built by one man, Bob Dullam, in his garage. The Tumbler is fully functional and was built using only photographs and DVD still shots as references. Dullam, who makes specialty costumes, props, and statues for a living, reports that he spent between $50,000 and $70,000 on the project. That’s not the final cost though, since the interior is up next on the ’to-do list’.
Dullam also dressed for the event, making himself a replica of the bat-suit. And if that isn’t enough he has even announced plans to make the Batpod, the motorcycle from Batman Begins and The Dark Knight.
Both General Motors and BMW plan to test devices next year that will convert an engines excess heat into electricity. Research into thermoelectrics, the science of using temperature differences to create electricity, couldn’t come at a better time as high gas prices accelerate efforts to make vehicles as efficient as possible.
GM researcher Jihui Yang said a metal-plated device that surrounds an exhaust pipe could increase fuel economy in a Chevrolet Suburban by about 5 percent, a 1-mile-per-gallon improvement that would be even greater in a smaller vehicle. According to GM only about a quarter of the total energy from gasoline is used to actually turn the wheels, while 40 percent is lost in exhaust heat and 30 percent is lost through cooling the engine. That means about 70 percent of the available energy is wasted. Reaching the goal of a 10 percent improvement would save more than 100 million gallons of fuel per year in GM vehicles in the U.S. alone.
Tokyo Electric Power Co (TEPCO), Japan’s largest utility, plans to set up as many as 200 recharging stations for electric cars around the Japanese capital next year. TEPCO has developed a charging device that would allow electric cars to travel 25-miles on a 5-minute charge and 37-miles on a 10-minute charge. Mitsubishi as well as Subaru dealers have agreed to place stations on their property, as well as Aeon, a supermarket chain. Continued plans will include car parks, convenience stores, banks and post offices. TEPCO aims to have 1000 charging stations in place in the next three years.
Chrysler has decided to attempt to cut costs by moving to a four day work week at its Jeep plant in Toledo. Employees would work four 10-hour days, allowing them to continue a 40-hour work week. Chrysler states that, by closing for one day, they will be able to bring down the total energy cost of running the plant.
Chrysler feels that Jeep’s 3,800 employees, who are currently in the middle of a two month shut down, will most likely embrace the idea since it will give them a three day weekend.
Nissan unveiled the All-Around Collision Free prototype, a new technology that helps protect the vehicle and its occupants from potential risks coming from multiple directions. The system includes two all-new technologies – Side Collision Prevention (SCP) and Back-up Collision Prevention (BCP).
Nissan was careful to spell out that the new safety features are designed to "help support the driver in an intuitive manner with minimal intervention."
Full explanation of the system after the jump.
Lotus has decided to tackle the recently voiced concerns over hybrid vehicle safety concerns. Since the hybrid cars produce very little noise at slow speeds, there is an increased chance that the cars can catch a person by surprise. This is especially true for visually impaired pedestrians who rely heavily on audio inputs to judge what is occurring around them.
Lotus has created a working prototype, using a Toyota Prius, of an external sound systems that would make engine-type noises. The Prius was fit with a waterproof speaker next to the radiator that works only when the car is being electrically driven. The speaker will emit engine sounds with the appropriate pitch and frequency to match the speed of the car. This will enable pedestrians to judge how far and fast the approaching car is moving. When the hybrid’s gasoline engine starts up, the system stops emitting sound and restarts seamlessly when the electric motor takes back over.
Last Thursday, Tesla took a giant step to becoming a complete carmaker. Franz von Holzhausen resigned from Mazda and became the lead designer for the electric car company. At Mazda, von Holzhausen was Director of Design for the R&D Design Center in Irvine CA. While his name may not be very well known, his work is. Von Holzhausen created the Nagare and Furai concepts, and played a key role in the development of the Ryuga, Hakaze and Taiki concepts. His resume also includes VW’s Concept One and Microbus, as well as GM’s Pontiac Solstice and Saturn Sky.
The acquisition of von Holzhausen is seen as a step towards Tesla’s plan to produce a range of new cars according to the famed designer. "It’s going to be an exciting adventure," stated von Holzhausen "I’m looking forward to working at a new startup company that doesn’t have the confines of a large OEM." While the Roadster was designed by Lotus, Tesla founder and Chairman Elon Musk is "looking to produce electric vehicles for the masses and wanted to bring design in house."
Who knew the Government were such a bunch of car nuts? The government fleet includes 642,233 owned or leased sedans, SUVs, trucks, limousines and ambulances for over three dozen government agencies. According to the General Services Administration data, the operation of the vehicles (maintenance, leases and fuel) cost tax payers $3.4 billion last year. The government feels they need the cars to operate, while watchdogs feel differently stating that there is a lot of wasteful spending. For instance the driver for Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt earns about $90,000 a year. Government drivers salaries start at $46,000 a year. Many agencies also have cars that are rarely used, being driven once every few months, and the VA had a car disappear several months ago.
Oh and one last fact, none of this includes the Congress’ fleet of cars. Congress does not need to report their annual fleet cost and inventory to the General Services Administration.
Ever dreamed of being the Rocketeer? Well thankfully New Zealander Glenn Martin has had such dreams. The 48-year-old spent 27 years developing, what he considers, the first practical jetpack. Weighing 250-pounds the Martin Jetpack is powered by a 200bhp V4 engine providing 600 pounds of thrust. Right now it will only hover at about six feet, but the engineering team reckon they’ll have that up to 600 feet within a year. The jetpack has a range of about 30 miles, and will use up its fuel tank in about half an hour. For safety, it includes a ballistic parachute. Martin admits the device will likely give "somebody a very bad experience" at some point, but he said it’s still the "safest jetpack ever built."
This may not be a car, but we at TopSpeed like anything that moves - even if the direction is up.
Full-scale car manufacturing resumed today at what is left of the historic Longbridge factory. The first car in production is the two-seater MG TF LE500 sports car - an update of the version sold from 2002 to 2005. The cars will sell for £16,400 ($32,400) and are set to be delivered to customers next month.
The factory had been closed since MG collapsed three years ago, causing the loss of 6,000 jobs. In July 2005, what is now Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) bought MG Rover’s assets for 53 million pounds. The new owners demolished over half of the Longbridge facility, but the factory was of such massive size that it still has the capacity to employ about 1,000 workers.
"We are delighted to have reached this important point and are looking forward to seeing the cars in showrooms shortly," said MG UK corporate communications manager Eleanor De La Haye. "If you look at the pre-orders that we have had through our dealers, about 70 percent are already sold and that tells its own story."
Having a catalytic converter stolen is a theft on the rise in the U.S. and the U.K. Why you may ask? Well, the inside of the catalyst tends to contain the precious metal platinum. With the current market price at about $1700 an ounce the average thief will make $200, with very little effort. In fact SUVs make a particularly easy target because their high ground clearance gives thieves easier instant access to the catalytic converter.
Ford’s UK branch has teamed up with Retainagroup, a car security marking and registration systems specialist, to offer people a inexpensive option to deter catalytic converter theft. For the price of £11.87 ($23.00) owners can have a unique 7-digit code and a 24-hour telephone number added to the converter. Once the mark has been applied, the unique code is recorded with vehicle and owner details on the register and can be verified immediately at any time, day or night, 365 days per year. Ford will also offer ’fleet packs’ containing material for 30 automobiles, costing £136.85 ($271.00).
If rumors are correct, Fiat and BMW may be joining forces to create a new small car platform. In fact, the BMW Isetta and Fiat Topolino might be born as twins, with their own distinctive styling cues of course. The cars will be rivaling the Volkswagen Up! and Toyota iQ. Both cars will be economical on fuel and meet ever increasing emission requirements both in the US and European countries. There is further talk of making fully electric versions of both models.
The Fiat Topolino will be sold in Europe exclusively, while the rear-engined BMW Isetta will most likely come to the states by 2011 or 2012. The release date will correspond with California’s laws that would require major car manufacturers to produce a certain amount of zero emission vehicles.
A British chemical company, Ineos, has found a way to alleviate prices at the pump by converting ordinary household trash into ethanol. The process involves burning the trash to produce gas, then feeding the gas to bacteria which in turn produce ethanol. They purify the ethanol into fuel to be used in cars. Claims are that 100 gallons of fuel can be made from one metric ton of dry waste. Ineos plans for commercial quantities to be produced within two years.
“In North America and Europe we will see around 10 percent or more of petrol (gasoline) being replaced with [ethanol],” said Peter Williams, Bio chief executive officer. “Our technology will make a major contribution to reducing greenhouse gases and the world’s need for fossil fuels.” The heat that is recovered during the gasification and fermentation processes will be used to produce electricity.
A year ago Paris’s mayor, Bertrand Delanoë began a successful citywide bike sharing program named Velib’. Anyone in the French city could rent a bike from one of 5,000 different locations, ride to their destination, and drop it off. Convenient, cheap, and the Parisians loved it. Now the Mayor is offering a new idea, same concept but with fully electric cars.
The idea, named Autolib’, is to start off with 2,000 electric cars in Paris. When a Parisian needs a car they can rent one from 700 planned lots, both above and bellow ground, and pay only for the time spent behind the wheel. The lots are planned to allow 24 hr access to the cars with no advanced booking needed. There is also talk of another 2,000 cars in the suburbs of Paris.
With gas prices rising and city parking being somewhat impossible, many drivers are delighted by the idea. Only 43 percent of Paris households have vehicles and 95 per cent of them are parked at any moment. The idea behind AutoLib’ is to help lure people away from the feeling that they need to buy a car by offering them a cheap and eco-friendly alternative.
The North American Solar Car Challenge, sponsored by SolarWorld AG and Toyota, is a 2400 mile race stretching from Plano, Texas to Calgary, Canada. Each car must be solely solar powered, no fossil fuel engines allowed. The University of Michigan took the checkered flag ahead of 14 other teams, even after receiving a 20 minute speeding penalty. "When we go downhill and when the wind hits you from the tail, it accelerates your car and we did not brake fast enough," explained Jeff Ferman, Michigan team leader.
Twenty-five teams in the race left Plano, Texas on July 13 and the race concluded with 15 teams at the University of Calgary on July 22. Over 10,000 spectators lined the roads to watch these sleek, aerodynamic cars glide by.
Michigan’s solar car averaged 45 mph, leading the entire race. The car crossed the finish line over 9hrs ahead of the closest competitor (Principia College). This marks The University of Michigan’s fifth win in nine races.
Are you living in a Manhattan Penthouse on the Upper East Side, wondering what to do this weekend? Wishing you could take out your Enzo without loosing it in a pothole? Well you’re in luck! For the small price of $125,000 (plus $7,500 yearly dues) you can join the Monticello Motor Club. You will gain access to a 4.1-mile professional-grade racetrack that is located just 90 miles from Manhattan. But it is by invitation only, just like your golf course.
A $50 million investment has transformed the old Monticello Airport into the 22-turn Monticello Motor Club, opening on July 27. Comedian Jerry Seinfeld and NASCAR’s Jeff Gordon have already joined. Motorsports legends Mario Andretti and Brian Redman will race there on opening day. The track will operate from April to November and members can enjoy 200 days of access.
The 650-acre complex will include a 30,000-square-foot clubhouse with fine dining, a spa, and overnight luxury suites. Racers can drop in by using the club’s helipad, and store their racecars in a temperature-controlled garage. Rentals will also be available including modern, vintage and Formula 1 racers.
Now diesel owners can reap the same tax benefits as hybrid owners. The IRS approved the TDI Jettas, both the sedan and wagon, for the Advanced Lean Burn Technology Motor Vehicle income tax credit of $1300. "The $1,300 tax credit provides an even greater value to the upcoming Jetta TDI sedan and SportWagen,” said Mark Barnes, COO, Volkswagen of America, Inc. “Our clean diesel vehicles offer consumers the fuel efficiency that they’re looking for while providing power, utility, performance, safety and excellent value."
The TDI Jettas are EPA rated at 29/40 mpg city/highway, but according to VW the real world results are 38/44. The new diesel Jettas will be available in August or early September.
This is the first time the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has tested the side impact protection of small pickups. Unfortunately many of the results were dismal. Watch in horror as not only do the trucks get smashed, but so does your resale value.
The only truck to receive the IIHS highest rating of good in side test for occupant protection was the Toyota Tacoma. The Dodge Dakota, Mitsubishi Raider, Ford Ranger, Mazda B Series, and Nissan Frontier all rated marginal. The Chevrolet Colorado and it’s twin, the GMC Canyon, which do not have optional side impact air bags, received the lowest rating of poor in the side test.
The side impact test simulates a crash with a truck or SUV type vehicle moving at 31mph. These tests are important due to the fact that side impact crashes are the the second most common type of crash fatality. Federal mandated side impact air bags goes into effect on the 2015 model year. As of right now, side air bags are standard on 65 percent of new models.
Polish Street Racers? Sounds like the beginning of a good joke. Well street racing has become no joke in the city of Lodz (pronounced “Woodge”) which has given it the reputation as the Amsterdam of street racing. The younger inhabitants of the city have taken the recent rise in personal wealth and did the only valuable thing with it, dumped it in their cars. Unfortunately most of these boy racers were no Robert Kubica, so the death toll rose with the wealth. Something had to be done.
So what does the city of Lodz do? Legalize it. Why not? After all, making it illegal would only reinforce the outlaw culture of street racing. The government even invested $20,000 in timing equipment, embracing its reputation as the car capital of Poland by hosting monthly races that draw crowds of 70,000 and counting.
Some frown on the "harm reduction" technique Lodz has taken toward criminal activities. Harm Reduction is simply the idea that people will engage in bad behavior, so you might as well attempt to reduce the amount of damage the behavior causes. Lodz has reported that statistics show illegal street racing has declined by nearly 90%.
Now the question is will it work here in the US?
Ian Cook, the 25-year-old artist from Solihull, West Midlands, has found his artistic niche using remote controlled cars and old tires. Chevy took notice of his unorthodox style of art work and commissioned two paintings from Cook for the London auto show. One was of the Camaro convertible, done live during the opening day of the auto show, and the other of the Beat concept car.
The artwork were created using remote control cars driven through acrylic paints, with further detail added by using old car tires. “I wanted to be an artist from a young age and decided that to be successful I needed something completely unique,” said Ian. “I’ve always been mad about anything with wheels and I figured that using cars to paint cars would capture peoples’ imaginations, so I experimented at home by driving some remote control models through paint.”
Ian Cook, the 25-year-old artist from Solihull, West Midlands, has found his artistic niche using remote controlled cars and old tires. Chevy took notice of his unorthodox style of art work and commissioned two paintings from Cook for the London auto show. One was of the Camaro convertible, done live during the opening day of the auto show, and the other of the Beat concept car.
The images were created using remote control cars driven through acrylic paints, with further detail added by using old car tyres. “I wanted to be an artist from a young age and decided that to be successful I needed something completely unique,” said Ian. “I’ve always been mad about anything with wheels and I figured that using cars to paint cars would capture peoples’ imaginations, so I experimented at home by driving some remote control models through paint.”
Nissan is set to celebrate a quarter century of Micra sales in Europe. Nissan drove 25 Micra’s from their factory in Sunderland to London for the auto show, each wearing special livery. On the roof of each car was a single letter and, when seen from above, read "Micra 25 at British Motor Show". What a way to advertise. Nissan managing director Paul Willcox said: "We are delighted to be able to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Nissan Micra here in the UK, where the car has been built for the past 16 years, and to do it on the eve of the British International Motor Show."
The anniversary editions will be called the Micra 25 and be offered as a hatchback or C+C Coupe-Cabriolet. All cars will exclusively offered in a unique deep purple (Night Shade) color enhanced with silver effect door mirrors, handles and body moldings along with new wheel trim designs. In the rear, privacy glass will be fit as standard, and all will come with a ’25’ badge on the rear door. The interior will come with a 4Gb iPod nano integrated into the audio system.
First it was BMW kicking Shuanghuan CEO SUV out of Europe, now China’s Great Wall Motors (GWM) is not having very much luck with their clone cars. Fiat has won a court order banning the importation of GWM’s panda clone, known as the GWPeri. The only noticeable difference between the Panda and the clone is the front end. GWM has used bits and pieces off the Nissan’s Note mini-MPV to give it their "own" touch.
Fiat sued Great Wall Motors both in Italy and China. The Turin court ruled that the GWPeri did in fact look to much like the Fiat Panda. The ruling has caused a Europe-wide ban on the car, also causing GWM to pay a 15,000 euro ($24,000) fine for the one GWPeri that has been imported into Europe thus far. If the ruling is violated the company will be fined an additional 50,000 euros ($79,000) per car brought into Europe.
Of course an appeal is planned.
GM has designed a new windshield that will enhance objects that might otherwise go unseen, especially to the elderly eye. For example, during a foggy drive, a laser projects a blue line onto the windshield that follows the edge of the road. Or if infrared sensors detect a person or animal in the driver’s path during a night drive, its outline is projected on the windshield to highlight its location.
The developers said the technology won’t cause drivers to plow into trees. It enhances just a few objects that are already in a driver’s view, not splashing distracting information onto the glass.
It’s possible because of a transparent coating on the windshield that lights up when struck by ultraviolet light. The design gets rather intricate after that, due to the amount of input information that the car would need to properly assist the driver. Sensors that would not only have to determine the position of the car in regards to the road, but also determine the position of the drivers head and eyes in relation to the windshield. This would allow the car to create a clear and accurate image on the windshield.
GM says the windshield in designed specifically for older drivers with vision problems. According to the US Census Bureau, by 2030 20% of the population will be over 65, up from the current 12.5%. "They’re not only the fastest growing group of drivers on the road in the U.S., but they are driving more miles per year than previous generations, this has enormous implications for road safety in our country," said Cynthia Owsley, a professor of ophthalmology at the University of Alabama-Birmingham, who has worked with Seder on the high-tech windshield’s design.
Shelby Supercars is promising to next year unveil a SSC Aero Ev, a fully electric version of their Aero model. Powered by a 500 horsepower electric motor, the Ultimate Aero EV will have true supercar performance. Additionally, SSC is exploring the potential of a twin 500 horsepower electric power plant producing 1,000 horsepower in a 2 or 4 wheel drive configuration. This car should break all electric car speed records.
In Shelby’s press release they stated, "The drive train under development will feature a revolutionary power source allowing for extended time between charging intervals with the possibility of several years between charging." Years? Really? They have left many people scratching there heads with that statement.
"I think we can do it faster, leaner and cleaner than any other manufacturer," says SSC boss Jerod Shelby, clearly not a man given to understatement. Whatever Shelby have planed, they know it is going to be big. While these cars are not going to be in everyones garage it might make enough of a splash to make engineers start looking at batteries rather than cylinders.
Shelby Supercars are set to unveil the first prototype in February 2009, with production cars appearing at the end of next year.
The Netherlands will be putting an extensive toll system by 2012. As of right now motorists pay a yearly road tax to keep the motorways free. The idea behind this action is to gently force people to start using public transportation and help cut down on vehicle congestion. Luckily the Netherlands had a moment of clear thought, most likely guided by the Dutch Motorcycle Association, and have decided that motorcycles are a solution to congestion problems, thus making them exempt from the tolls.
It may not seem like much, but every motorcyclist knows that it is amazing for a country to see motorcycles as the solution and not the problem on the motorways.
Freedom of Press in France? Guess not. The offices of Auto Plus magazine was raided by authorities after the magazine published unauthorized photos of a new Renault model. Renault complained that the magazine published photos and details of a model not set to be released for another 3 years. While Renault refused to speak about the photos leaked to Auto Plus, the National Union of Journalists (SNJ) revealed in a statement that the model causing all the wrath of Renault is the future Megane.
During the raid, police took computers, hard drives, photos, and even one journalist, Bruno Thomas. The authorities are also investigating a Renault employee who is believed to have leaked the photos and information.
According to a Renault spokesman, "It kills creativity; you may as well just give our models to the newspapers and our competitors. What’s the point of doing any research? The idea is not to attack Auto Plus but to cut off the sources that feed it, to find the source in house.”
Of course the National Union Of Journalists has seen it differently and complained that "It’s intolerable that journalists should be treated like criminals when they are just doing their job of informing the public."
Anyone standing on the streets of Bradford will get to see this relatively unseen, one-off Jaguar being driven. The XJ13 was built in the 1960’s as a Le Mans prototype. Owned by Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust (JDHT) and kept in its museum in Coventry, very few have seen this car, and even fewer have heard it run. It is believed that this will be the first time it is driven through a British city.
The car will be driven by an equally famous driver, Norman Dewis. Dewis is no stranger to the car since in 1971 he was driving the XJ13 at the Mira Test Track when the car crashed at 140 mph, after earlier beating the lap record at 161 mph. Thankfully he was unharmed in the accident. Several years later the XJ13 was rebuilt by Jaguar to the original specifications, using body jigs from the original construction.
Tony O’Keeffe, Curator of the museum, said: “ It is important that motoring enthusiasts are aware of Jaguar’s rich history and the cars which the Trust maintain as part of that. The Bradford Classic is an event, which attracts enthusiasts at every level, which is why we have decided to give them a real treat.”
The Bradford Classic is a two day auto extravaganza, held this coming weekend (July 19-20). Norman Dewis will be giving a talk about his exploits with the car on Saturday evening at 7pm. Tickets can be obtained from Speedmaster, at the Bradford Classic, or at the door.
Drive to your local airport, fly up to 400 miles, land, convert, and drive directly to your
destination. Converting from road to flight mode requires a few simple commands in the cockpit. Transform back to a street legal vehicle without having to leave your seat.
This "flying car" could revolutionize the daily commute of recreational pilots. When folded in for driving, the Transition can fit into a standard garage. As a car, it is road worthy, even being able to reach highway speeds. The bumpers on the Transition are designed to be functional while aerodynamic. Safety cage, crumple zones, and a full vehicle parachute are also built into the design.
In the air the Transition flies like a general aviation aircraft. The Transition Roadable Light-Sport Aircraft seats two and is expected to have a 460 mile range with a fuel consumption of 30 mpg at a cruise speed of over 100 mph in the air. This would allow owners to have better access and use of over 5000 public airports all over the United States.
First flight of the Transition Proof of Concept is on schedule for the end of 2008. Production airframe reservations are currently being held with refundable deposits.
Nowadays people are always looking to save on gas prices. Nothing is more frustrating then buying gas then finding a station several blocks away selling for several cents cheaper.
Gasbuddy.com to the rescue. The website is an easy way for Americans and Canadians to quickly find the cheapest gas prices in any area.
Prices are updated frequently due to a network of 181 gas price information websites allowing fellow motorists to update local prices.
The comprehensive website allows motorists to target the lowest priced stations to save money when filling up at the pumps.
Slumping sales has placed pressure on General Motors to shift away from SUV and truck production and move toward more fuel efficient cars. The company has already announced plans to sell the Hummer brand to due rising gas costs.
There are also possibilities of permanently closing plants, most of which were already temporarily closed.
General Motors Corp Chief Executive Rick Wagoner is set to announce the next faze of the companies restructuring package. It appears job cuts will be handed out to white collared workers, most of which will be engineers set to work on future versions of full size SUVs and pickup trucks.
Job cuts are set to be widespread with the exact amount unknown. Further speculation points towards the possibility of discontinuing one of General Motors brands. GM also hopes these announcements will aid in winning back the trust of wary investors.
In an attempt to expand European presence, Harley Davidson has signed an agreement to buy MV Agusta.
MV Agusta Group will sell all of its shares to Harley Davidson for 70 million euros (approximately $109 million). This will include the satisfaction of all bank debts of 45 million euros ($70 million).
The buy out will include both the MV Agusta product line of premium, high-performance sport motorcycles as well as the Cagiva brand of lightweight motorcycles.
"Motorcycles are the heart, soul and passion of Harley-Davidson, Buell and MV Agusta," said Harley-Davidson, Inc. Chief Executive Officer Jim Ziemer. "Both have great products and close connections with incredibly devoted customers. The MV Agusta and Cagiva brands are well-known and highly regarded in Europe. They are synonymous with beautiful, premium, Italian performance motorcycles,"
Much will go unchanged as the headquarters of MV Agusta are set to stay in Varese, Italy. Claudio Castiglioni will continue in the leadership role of Chairman and will continue to play a major role in future product development. MV Agusta Group’s design studio will still be head by Chief Designer Massimo Tamburini.
"Following closing, the first priority will be to appoint a leadership team to include a new managing director and to resume the manufacture of current models,” stated Ziemer