With car sharing on the rise, my home state of Oregon is moving towards changing insurance rules to allow private “peer to peer” rentals by auto owners. The Oregonian reports that HB 3149 is headed for the Governor’s desk, having been approved by the state House and Senate. Sponsor Rep Ben Cannon explains
Most insurance policies prohibit people from using their cars for commercial purposes. This bill says someone can participate in car sharing without having to worry that their insurance will be canceled.
California is the only other state to have passed such legislation, and already Facebook-based peer-to-peer car rental firms like Getaround have popped up to fill the demand. With average car ownership costs reaching $8,000 per year according to the AAA, Cannon argues that research showing that cars sit parked for 90% of their lives proves the need for more car-sharing flexibility. And established car-sharing firms like Zipcar, which operate their own fleets don’t feel threatened by the bill, as they are not expanding beyond urban cores and as Zipcar’s CEO puts it, peer-to-peer rentals validate the car-sharing model. But would you rent your car to a stranger?
See that? Looks a bit like a first-generation Scion xB, doesn’t it? It’s actually a new Kia, codenamed “Tam,” built on its new A-segment Picanto Morning platform, but featuring first-gen xB-style tall-body MPV packaging. The Picanto’s wheelbase is actually slightly smaller than the xB’s, and there’s another key difference here as well: see that rear door? Look where the handle is placed. That’s right, it’s a slider! But that’s not all…
Ford sold 8,834 Transit Connects in 2009, with sales of the small, Euro-style panel and passenger vans hitting 27,405 units last year. With 9,852 already sold in the first third of 2011, it seems the original German delivery van-slingers in the US market, Mercedes, are taking notice of the segment. The Dodge-branded Sprinter, a larger vehicle, saw peak sales of 21,961 back in 2006 has seen sales fall dramatically in recent years, and in 2010 Mercedes wrestled the vans back to its brand, only to sell a meager 8,599 (a nearly 1,500 unit improvement over Dodge’s last year with the product). In other words, the lesson of recent US-market Euro-style delivery vans seems to be that bigger (i.e. more direct competition with American BOF offerings) is not better. Read More >
Are you ready to crank some Korean crunk (see video above) and cruise the town in a long, rear-drive, V8-powered… Kia? Get ready, as Kia Motors Australia COO Tony Barolow tells drive.com.au that
We have an interest in all new models under development. A rear-wheel-drive premium sedan could be seen as a logical step from the Optima to the next level of Kia development. It is far too early at this stage to be any more precise about the car but we will definitely maintain a watching brief.
The Hyundai Genesis platform-mate has been photographed in camouflage (click here for more Korean crunk-free images), and the rumormill has it debuting in Frankfurt this fall, or possibly the NAIAS next January. In any case, get ready for a Schreyer-styled, “proper” Kia flagship to come down the line at some point in the near future.
One of the worst things about traffic is that it’s so unpredictable. You can be whizzing along one minute, and crawling with the snails the next. Even the real-time traffic information that a few companies, notably Google, now provide, can be obsolete by the time you’re on your way.But a small cadre of lucky San Franciscans will soon be finding out where the traffic will be before it happens, thanks to a joint project by the California Center for Innovative Transportation (CCIT) at the University of California, Berkeley (my alma mater) the California Department of Transportation, aka Caltrans, and IBM.
MG has been building its 1995-era MGF (now MG TF) at its Longbridge, UK plant off and on since 2007, but it’s been a purely knock-down assembly affair, with kits being shipped in from Nanjing, China. But a new British-built MG is about to go into production since the brand was bought by Nanjing Auto in 2005 (Nanjing has since merged with SAIC). Called the MG6, the new compact sedan isn’t completely built at Longbridge (UK workers build and fit the engines, as well as installing the front suspension and subframe, exhaust system and electrics, but bodyshells are shipped from China), but it was designed and engineered at SAIC Motor’s European technical center in the Midlands.
Ford has made it clear that a 250 HP “ST” version of its 2012 Focus will be making its way to America, hopefully opening a new chapter in Ford’s US-market hot hatch history. The perfect followup? How about a 180 HP Fiesta ST, featuring the new 1.6 liter Ecoboost engine? Autocar says its coming to the UK by the end of this year, and Ford is already teasing its arrival with the release of a “warm” Fiesta, the 134 HP S1600 (above). There’s no word on US availability yet, but if Ford’s going to bring us the Focus ST, why not its baby cousin? With the Fiesta getting plenty of play in rally racing and, far more importantly, Ken Block videos, this seems like an easy call. If nothing else, it will at least look like the bargain of the lifetime compared to the Fiat 500 EV.
In the post-Veyron, post-Horsepower Wars world, “Responsible Performance” has been the catchphrase on the lips of every purveyor of performance cars. And with Audi and Nissan already set to brawl for EV sportscar niche that’s being abandoned by Tesla with the forthcoming end of production of its Roadster, diesel power seems to be benefiting from a second look by would-be “responsible performance” vendors.
Unsurprisingly, the tuning houses are promoting their diesel efforts, as EV tuning presents significant challenges to the ICE-based tuning community. And the BMW modifiers at AC Schnitzer are leading the way with this Z4 “99d,” a 188 HP, 310 lb-ft two-liter turbodiesel roadster capable of 146 MPH. Oh yes, and 99 grams of CO2 per Km, or (very roughly) 60-ish MPG (non-EPA). Sound like a healthy compromise between “responsibility” and performance? The only thing you’ll have to give up is the $210,000 that Automobile says this Schintzer concept would cost if it were built.