All 12 North American employees have been officially notified that their jobs are saved.
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All 12 North American employees have been officially notified that their jobs are saved.
Maruti Suzuki’s big news at the Delhi Auto Show was the debut of its production compact MPV, the Ertiga. But it wasn’t all staid family-carriers at the Suzuki stand, as the Japanese-Indian automaker also debuted its XA Alpha concept, described in this dramatically-narrated (to put it mildly) video as “The Small God For The Big Future.” Remember the Suzuki Samurai (our global readers will certainly remember the Jimny)? It’s getting ready for its 21st Century makeover…
Need an engineering project? Got 1,200 hours to kill with nothing to do? Take a tip from this heroically patient Spaniard, and hand-machine your own tiny (12 cc displacement) V12. This would be amazing feat of handwork even if it weren’t fully operational (using compressed air injection), but the fact that it works, runs and was made without a single CNC machine is nothing short of astounding.. If, as the book suggests, Shop Class is Soulcraft, this guy is like an engineering bodhisattva, inspiring us with his precision, patience and skill. In a world where not much is made by hand anymore, this achievement is worth taking a few minutes to marvel over… [Hat Tip: Dean Huston]
Here’s hoping your weekend motoring has been a little bit safer than surfboard designer Roberto Ricci’s…
Usually it’s the Germans who we find continually pushing the crash-test envelope, but this time around the UK’s Fifth Gear TV Show that decided to crash a car at 120 MPH. Sure, the Germans already proved how much of a difference can be made by crashing at 50 MPH instead of the traditional 40 MPH, just as the Chinese can make any of their cars appear safe by testing at 35 MPH rather than 40 MPH. But 120 MPH? It’s never been done before…
Axle and transfer case-maker Marmon-Herrington is still around, supplying OEMs and the aftermarket alike with up-rated drivetrain components. But back in the ’40s and ’50s, the firm designed its own vehicles as well, from an air-droppable tank, to a South African armored car, to monocoque electric trolley buses. Its predecessor company, Marmon Motor Car Company, even built the first car to win the Indy 500, the Marmon Wasp. Sadly this beast, an experimental amphibious off-road (on-marsh) vehicle called the Rhino (more here), was never produced. Otherwise, the Marmon name might have been exhumed during the ’90s SUV boom by a bespoke coachbuilding firm, offering specially-bodied medium-duty truck chassis bearing the brand name that won the first Indy 500 and parachuted into Nazi Germany. Imagine the possibilities…
America has a fine tradition of automotive spy shots, but it pales in comparison to Germany’s “Erlkönig” tradition. So much so, that Germans seem to exhibit a downright Pavlovian response to camouflaged vehicles, chasing anything that looks like it might be a factory prototype. Even if it’s actually a vehicle they probably see every day. How did this conditioning take root in the German psyche? For that, we need a brief history lesson.
When Aston-Martin was first trying to explain there’s nothing undignified about rebadging a Toyota iQ, the firm’s argument was that the Cygnet would be like a “luxury yacht tender.” If you own a yacht (or a “real Aston”), went the company’s logic, nobody’s going to make fun of you for being seen in a dinghy. Or a Toyota. But it seems as though Aston’s argument has been taken a bit too literally. Here, a Top Gear Magazine feature tries towing a Cygnet in a Virage, effectively ruining the “real Aston’s” performance in exchange for more urban practicality when they arrive in Monaco (but at least they got a schadenfreude-laden picture of the Cygnet next to its Toyota cousin). And lest you think this “yacht tender” nonsense is only being done by barmy British magazines, think again. Now Aston just needs to build an actual yacht, so your DBS or Virage can be the yacht tender, and the Cygnet can be the yacht tender’s yacht tender. Now that would be luxury… [via Derek Kreindler’s Tumblr]
It’s been… several months since I last indulged my strange obsession with Kia’s forthcoming funky take on first-gen Scion xB values, known as the TAM. And back then, all I had to share were a few crummy photos. Now, thanks to Youtube user daniel78park, we can see the Tam flying down the Korean freeway in glorious cell-phone-o-vision. And though I’ve always assumed the TAM was just a boxy, city-delivery variant of the Picanto/i10 platform, it seems my weird crush is more than that. Automotive News [sub] reports
Kia has dubbed its EV effort the TAM project. Kia’s first EV will be a small vehicle based on the platform underpinning the Hyundai i10 minicar. The company plans to produce 2,000 units in 2012.
Hold up… is my weird crush electric?
No, it’s not a special-edition 911 with a few extra horsepower and leather-wrapped mirror-adjustment levers. Nor is it a water pipe built to the most exacting standards ever imagined by German engineers. No, Porsche has a freaking palace for sale, Schloss Bullachberg to be precise. Conveniently located in Bavaria’s castle district, near some of Germany’s most famous castles, Bullachberg was once the seat of the von Thurn und Taxis dynasty… and can now be yours for an undisclosed sum. The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reports that Porsche bought the property five years ago, for some six million Euros, with plans to turn it into a luxury resort hotel for “kaufkräftig” (literally purchase-powerful) customers and management retreats. Fast forward through one financial crisis and one overambitious attempt to buy Volkswagen, and Porsche has decided to let the property go. But be warned, as the FAZ reports that
only the most necessary work was done on the building’s upkeep.
Now that Ferrari even has its own amusement park (conveniently begun before the financial crisis), there’s no way Porsche will ever match its Italian rival in terms of cross-branded destination tourism. Which is fine. After all, we’re talking about car companies here… right?
“We” being Nissan, and “this” being shortening a GT-R powertrain enough to fit a Juke bodyshell over it. It won’t ever make production, and it will probably spin dizzy, short-wheelbase circles every time it even thinks about a corner… but even the haters have to admit that this is a clever way to highlight the Juke’s unexpectedly sporty nature. But despite the argument that “there’s a history of Nissan engineers driving the business,” let’s be clear about one thing: Nissan’s involvement in this project is all on the marketing side. Once upon a time, Nissan’s engineers might have built a little monster like this out of sheer passion, in their spare time. Today, though, the work gets outsourced to specialty race engineering shops, RML in this case. It’s not a knock, that’s just how the world works anymore.
In the annals of poorly-chosen songs, this one is right up there with the State of New Jersey’s almost-decision to make Springsteen’s “Born To Run” the state song. Yes, Maserati, you can do anything, you can be anyone… and you’re choosing to be the brand that pimps upgraded Grand Cherokees by invoking the ghost of Fangio over crappy power-pop. Do you really want to be reminding viewers that this is a conscious choice, picked from an infinite range of options? Because that kind of willful douchbaggery makes you, Maserati, look like you’re a half-step from becoming the official luxury brand of Jersey Shore.
TTAC wasn’t able to be on-hand for the Chengdu Auto Show, but thanks to Carnewschina.com, we’ve got the latest in “we’re far enough into the interior that foreign firms won’t complain about our blatant ripoffs” styling, from the new heavyweight champion of Chinese ripoffs: Yema Motors. Seriously, calling these things “derivative” is wholly undeserved a compliment. And if you think this Audi A4… excuse me, Yema F16, is bad just wait until you see the rest of their new cars. From the Infiniti-aping E-series, to the Touareg-alike “T-SUV,” to the Subaru Forester clone F99/F10, the stylists at Yema Motors take their mimicry very seriously. And apparently the last original idea their design team had was “I know, let’s put our faux-Audi grille on the Faux-rester.” Tada, new model! The Jiade Dynasty rolls on…
Not long ago, I considered asking the Best and Brightest if something like this were possible. You see, when I was a younger man, I was a big fan of the game Aerobiz, a tough, take-no-prisoners Super Nintendo simulation of the (Cold War-era) airline business. Since I’ve been immersed in the world of the car business, I’ve often wondered if it were possible to create a game that similarly captured the challenges of running a car company. And now, it seems, that game is already in development by a couple of coder car nerds from Australia. Called “Automation,” the game is still a ways from completion and its creators are soliciting pre-orders to help fund development (sound like any car startups you can think of?).
Welcome to Bob Lutz week at TTAC! I spent several hours recently with the auto industry’s most notorious executive, and elements of that interview will be the basis for much of my writing this week. We’ll also be capping the whole thing off by voting on the 2010-2011 Lutzie award for most unfortunate quote by an auto exec. And rather than jumping right into the meat of the interview, I want to kick off Lutz week by looking at a few cars that came up in our meandering conversation. After all, these are not just vehicles… when Lutz brings them up in an interview, they become stories, little encapsulations of his philosophy or the state of the company that made them. Let’s start with a car that I literally had never heard of before he mentioned it almost in passing: the Dodge Dakota Convertible. Eat your heart out, Murano CrossCabriolet… the Dakota was the original “WTF-vertible.”
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