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By on November 8, 2011

Sixty-one million dollars a year is a lot of money. That is the revenue Chicago’s red light camera program program generated in 2010. Based on reports from the Chicago Department of Transportation (CDOT), a proposed speed camera enforcement program being pushed by Mayor Rahm Emanuel (D) would make the city’s red light camera program look penny ante in comparison.

The Expired Meter obtained the results of three studies conducted by CDOT over the past few years which shed light on how lucrative the speed camera business could be for Chicago. Data from these reports seem to indicate that revenue from speed cameras could generate hundreds of millions of dollars in fines for a desperate, cash-strapped city.

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By on November 8, 2011

Lyssna: Kinesiskt ja kan tvinga fram ett godkännande

“We will try to get clarity about what the decision from GM means and if there is any way ahead,” court-appointed administrator Guy Lofalk told Reuters. “I hope that I will know more before the end of the week.”

For the time being, Lofalk will not recommend to the court to end the bankruptcy protection process. He said it could happen though.

On Monday, GM said they would yank all licenses and oppose the deal if Saab would be sold 100 percent to China’s Pangda and Youngman.

Both Victor Muller and his mouthpiece Saabsunited now say they knew that all along.

We are in rare agreement on that. Last Friday, Sweden’s  national publicly funded radio broadcaster Sverigesradio reached me and asked what I think of the deal. Read More >

By on November 8, 2011

None of the approximately 100 journalists that packed Toyota’s basement meeting room in Tokyo today was surprised when the midterm results of the current fiscal year were announced, and there was an operating loss of 32.6 billion yen ($417 million). The loss was a little higher than expected, but expected it was. If you lose 689,000 units in sales, then you are bound to lose some money. The surprise came in the form of an unexpected new benchmark: Nissan. Read More >

By on November 8, 2011

While Malaise Era Subarus have disappeared from just about every location in the world outside of Colorado, a Subaru Leone sedan is a rare sight even here in Denver. At first glance, I wasn’t sure whether I was looking at a Corolla or maybe even another RX-2. Read More >

By on November 7, 2011

With the Tokyo Motor Show only weeks away, Japanese manufacturers start dribbling out announcements of what they will show at the show.

Subaru for instance announced to the astonished world today “that it will roll out the Subaru BRZ compact sports car, jointly developed with Toyota Motor Corp. at the Tokyo Motor Show later this month,” says The Nikkei [sub]. No word from Toyota on its Subaru-sibling, any announcements from Aichi are under tight embargo. And when they say embargo in Japan, they mean it. Except when you are Nissan. Read More >

By on November 7, 2011

Ever since the messy collapse of solar panel maker Solyndra just two years after it received over half a billion dollars in government loans,  the political climate around all green energy loan programs has heated up considerably. As the White House opened an investigation of the Department of Energy’s entire loan portfolio, loan recipients and startup automakers Tesla and Fisker found themselves under attack. And why not? Fledging firms with unproven products in brutal, scale-driven industries are hardly safe bets, even in the best of times. And with the government drowning in deficits, who’s in a gambling mood?

What gets left out in the hue and cry is that Tesla and Fisker between them represent “only” about a billion dollars worth of DOE loans in a program that was supposed to be able to loan out $25b (the final tally could be closer to $18b). Dwarfing the half-billion-each investments in Fisker, Tesla, and Solyndra are projects that seem a lot less risky in contrast to the startups. Here, in Smyrna, TN, I got to see one of them being built.

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By on November 7, 2011

With all the attention being paid to Volt sales, production and turn time in the wake of recent congressional criticism, I thought I’d update our recent chart of Volt sales versus production to see how GM’s wonder car is doing a month on. As you can see, there’s not much obvious change on the year-to-date chart, with both sales and production trending upwards. But if we zoom in on the most recent months, we can see something strange happening…

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By on November 7, 2011

Germany’s Autobild continues to bang the drum about HFO-1234yf, an air-conditioning coolant sold by US supplier Honeywell as an “environmentally-friendly” alternative to other refrigerants. Problem is, C02 seems to be not only more environmentally safe, but safer for humans (notably rescue workers) as well…
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By on November 7, 2011

MyFordTouch was supposed to build on the SYNC system’s momentum, extending Ford’s edge in mass-market infotainment gizmology. Instead, MyFord nearly killed the golden egg-laying goose, by earning Ford a sharp downgrade from Consumer Reports and widespread criticism. Ford has decided that 40-minute training sessions weren’t going to cut it as a response to the complaints that the system was balky and confusing, and The Blue Oval is now trumpeting the all-new for 2013 version of MyFordTouch. Because, in the words of Ford’s spokes-interior-designer-person

As you can see, with a software platform like SYNC, it’s easy to continuously improve and upgrade your system.

You know, in comparison to the all-new Ford Escape she’s sitting in. It’s still not quite as easy as a computer software update: instead of downloading the reflash, you have to go into a dealer to get the upgrade. Meanwhile, this is just the latest hurdle in the hot-hot in-car gizmo side of the business. The big one comes in 2014, when the government issue rules on distraction-mitigation in voice-activated in-car systems. That could make this minor public beta testing fiasco look like nothing…

By on November 7, 2011

Of all the Japanese automakers, none are as far behind on hybrid technology as Nissan. For some time there was a sense that Nissan’s (relatively) huge investment in electric vehicle production would represent a “leapfrogging” of hybrid technology, but now the firm is using the common industry response to questions about future technology: a suite of options, rather than one single technology, will meet tomorrow’s low-energy transportation needs. As a result, Nissan’s been playing catchup, as it admits in a recent press release [PDF]

“We must have a tougher job than any other hybrid team in the industry,” says Mitsunobu Fukuda, a senior powertrain engineer at NATC. “Because our CEO, Carlos Ghosn, used to be known as skeptical about the value proposition of hybrids we had to make a really compelling case that we could deliver value to customers to get him to validate a hybrid program.

In 2004, as a stopgap measure, Nissan licensed hybrid technology from Toyota for use in certain markets.

“It was a bit of a blow to our pride, but that was the right thing to do under the circumstances,” Fukuda says.“Instead of rushing out a ‘copy-cat’ hybrid we wanted to take the time to develop our own hybrid, one that is clearly different – and better. I think we’ve managed to do that.”

What makes Nissan’s forthcoming hybrid system so different? For one thing, it uses Nissan’s “one motor, two clutch” system (currently found only on the Infiniti M Hybrid), which enables a compact design. For another, it’s supercharged.

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