Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Rodney Hide heartbroken after car raids

25 January 2006 By JENNY LING

Car thieves broke more than windows when they took on Rodney Hide's car - they nearly broke the Epsom MP's heart.
Mr Hide's quirky DaimlerChrysler Smart car was broken into twice in December, with thieves smashing windows to take the $1000 global positioning system (GPS) and its holder.
"The second time I just about cried," he says.
"You care for your car so much and some little thug comes along and smashes the windows."
The first time the car was parked at the Remuera rackets club where he was speaking at an annual dinner.
Mr Hide says he had the window fixed and was careful not to leave anything in it, including taking the GPS unit out of its holder and putting it out of sight.
But three weeks later thieves struck again, breaking another window and taking the holder - this time in Clovernook Rd, Newmarket.
He says the car alarm didn't go off, but he has learned a valuable lesson and leaves nothing in his car.
"Since becoming an MP I've had so many people coming to me with far worse than that. I can now empathise with their anger. Even with your car broken into you feel violated."
Remuera community constable Cath Grant says people need to be vigilant because car thefts in the east and bays has increased.
"It comes down to personal security and responsibility. Make sure you park in a public place with lots of lighting and don't leave anything on the seats or on the floor."
Mr Hide says he will be buying a better car alarm.

View source.
[What's the deal with Liberal politicians and their smart cars?]

Monday, January 30, 2006

Candidate crashes car between polls

Last updated Jan 23 2006 07:30 PM EST
CBC News

The Liberal candidate in Compton-Stanstead escaped virtually unharmed after a violent car accident on voting day.
David Price was travelling from polling station to polling station in the riding south of Sherbrooke in the Eastern Townships, and had logged almost 250 kilometres when the accident occurred.
It had been snowing, and he was on a patch of highway near St-Isidore when he hit a patch of slush and ice. His car flipped off the road.
"The air bags went off and everything, everything functioned properly, I was just twirling in the air for a while and ended up landing right on the wheels again," Price said.
Throughout the campaign, Price has been driving a small, environmentally friendly Smart car.
He trusts the car on winter roads, and this was simply a stroke of bad luck, Price said.
Price walked away from the accident with a few scrapes and a sore shoulder, but the mishap forced him to call off visits to polling stations.
"I'm a little bit banged up, so I'm just going to take it easy for the rest of the day. I had only made it to about half of them so far," Price said.
Price says he will be sticking to his plans for election night: watching the results come in at a bar in Lennoxville.

View source.

E.J. Wessel offers unique choices for getting around town

By MIKE TRELEVEN, Register Business EditorSunday, January 29, 2006 1:06 AM PST

E.J. Wessel believes if you understand the concept of "big kid toys," you're the kind of customer he's looking for. And he believes many Napans get it.
Wessel's Big Kid Toys.com Inc. is about highly fuel-efficient gas and electric cycles, utility vehicles, ATVs, motorcycles and an occasional classic car. It's all about toys you can drive.
"And everything is street legal," Wessel added.
Wessel's business, which opened in August 2005, is on the east side of Soscol Avenue -- in the heart of Napa's Auto Row.
With skyrocketing gas prices, motorists are stopping by and kicking the tires of the three-wheeled Bajaj utility trucks and other exotic vehicles that are parked on Wessel's lot.
He said the India-built Bajaj truck has potential in the Napa Valley's vineyards, especially at crush time. A grape bin fits perfectly in the back of the fuel-efficient vehicle that has a 1,000-pound weight capacity.
The three-wheeled, Bajaj utility truck is $6,495 and comes in three models.
Wessel is also working to offer alternative car builder ZAP's Smart Car, which has taken Europe by storm.
The vehicle maker is looking to introduce an American version that meets U.S. standards -- hopefully sometime in early 2006. And Wessel wants to be one of the first dealerships to sell Smart Cars.
The two passenger Smart Cars are considered to be among the most fuel-efficient vehicles on the market.

Read full article here.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Business smarts 12: ACT

Spotted in High Park today.

Air Control Technology designs, manufactures, installs and services a range of turnkey pollution control and environment control systems. For over 20 years we have been providing customers throughout North America with quality systems for a range of industrial needs from wood dust and weld fume to paint/glue overspray and industrial heating.

Puttering at the motor show

'Tinker Toy' Smart Car draws the curious
Allyson Jeffs, The Edmonton Journal
Published: Sunday, January 29, 2006
EDMONTON -- Mac Kennedy figures a Smart Car could just about fit on the roof of his GMC three-quarter-tonne truck.
"Tinker Toy," he said as he joined the Edmonton Motor Show crowd looking over the convertible Smart Fortwo Cabriolet. Kennedy uses his truck to haul a fifth-wheel motorhome south to Florida's warm climes for part of the winter. And while he wouldn't want to make a cross-continental trek in a Smart Car, he can see the advantages of having one once he's reached his destination.
"It would be great for running back and forth to the golf course," he said.
Marie Knipelberg sat behind the wheel and declared the pint-sized convertible "a real little sweetheart."
She admits the Smart Car was one attraction she didn't want to miss at the motor show, which is expected to draw more than 80,000 people to Northlands AgriCom before it ends at 6 p.m. today.

Read the full article here.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Cost-Cutting at Daimler to Eliminate 6,000 Jobs

By CARTER DOUGHERTY International Herald Tribune
Published: January 25, 2006
FRANKFURT, Jan. 24 - DaimlerChrysler said Tuesday that it would eliminate 6,000 white-collar jobs, 20 percent of its administrative work force around the world, taking its cost-cutting drive beyond the factory floor.
The company said it would save $1.8 billion a year after this and other streamlining efforts were completed by the end of 2008. Of the white-collar cuts, 30 percent would come from the management level.
"Over the last several years, we focused on our automotive business and started to streamline the core processes in our divisions," Dieter Zetsche, the chief executive, said in a statement on Tuesday. "But to safeguard our future in this competitive global industry, we need to apply that same equation across all general and administrative functions."
While declining to speculate where the cuts would occur, Mr. Zetsche said that the pool of employees affected was overwhelmingly in Germany, where the company is based. About 57 percent of the company's white-collar employees are in Germany, with 25 percent in the United States and Canada, and the rest spread throughout the world, he said.

Read full article here.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

ZAP's Shares to Remain Listed on Pacific Exchange

SANTA ROSA, CA--Jan 24, 2006 -- ZAP (Pacific:ZP) today reported that it has been notified by the PCX Equities, Inc. Equity Qualification Panel (the "Panel"), that the Panel has accepted ZAP's plan to regain compliance with the $1.00 minimum price per share requirement for continued listing on the Pacific Exchange and will permit ZAP's's common stock to remain listed on the Pacific Exchange under the ticker symbol ZP.
"We are pleased to see that the Pacific Exchange has the confidence to continue maintaining the listing relationship with ZAP. Our goal in the coming quarter is to bring ourselves up to full compliance. We are committed to both our shareholders and the Pacific Exchange, and have already begun to actively implement our strategic plan for attaining exchange requirements," stated ZAP's CEO, Steve Schneider.
Pursuant to the Panel's notice, to maintain its listing, ZAP must regain compliance with the minimum price per share requirement by its next annual shareholder meeting, tentatively scheduled for June 2006, or in the alternative, receive shareholder approval at such annual meeting for a reverse stock split in a ratio designed to regain compliance with the share bid price requirement.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Daimler pressed to dump Smart

By Richard Milne in Frankfurt and James Mackintosh in London
Updated: 10:40 p.m. ET Jan. 25, 2006

Pressure is growing on DaimlerChrysler to dump its loss-making Smart small car unit, with four of the German carmaker's top 10 shareholders on Wednesday calling for it to be sold.
The Kuwait Investment Authority, Daimler's leading shareholder with 7.2 per cent, alongside German investors Union Investment and Activest all said the best solution would be to get rid of Smart, even if it entailed a large cost to the carmaker. It is extremely rare for Kuwait to comment in public on any of its investments.

Read full article here.

The Da Vinci Code Film

Starring Tom Hanks & Sophie Tautou the film version of Dan Brown's best-seller will be released 19 May 2006 and features the lead actors driving a smart car through the streets of Paris.

Official Sony Pictures website.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Paper Says Piaggio Considering Offer for Daimler's smart

FRANKFURT, Jan 22, 2006; Reuters reported that Italian scooter maker Piaggio is pondering a takeover offer for DaimlerChrylser's loss-making Smart car unit, Automotive News Europe reported, quoting sources familiar with the matter.
In an article to be published on Monday, Automotive News Europe said that Goldman Sachs, on behalf of Daimler, contacted Piaggio's majority shareholder Immsi in Milan to gauge its interest in buying Smart.
An Immsi spokesman told Reuters, however, that Piaggio was not looking at such a deal.
"Regarding the article by Automotive News Europe, Piaggio denies in the most categorical manner that it is studying any hypothesis relative to the acquisition of Smart," he said.
The paper said that Immsi had confirmed the approach by Goldman Sachs but refused to comment on whether it was preparing a bid.
Daimler hired Goldman Sachs in January to screen approaches for Smart, saying it would consider partnerships between Smart and other groups.
However, Daimler has said that it does not want to sell Smart.
"A sale of Smart is not on the agenda," a Daimler spokesman said on Sunday.

View source.

Plastic car takes on big city

Times Online:
A £4,500 two-seat plastic car is being promoted as the answer to city jams by the Chinese firm planning to launch it in Europe later this year. Designed to rival the Smart car and cost two-thirds of the price, MyCar is 4ft 6in wide and 8ft 4in long, allowing it to park head-on at the kerb. A Ford Focus is 6ft wide and 14ft long.
MyCar was designed by ItalDesign Giugiaro, the Italian design firm, and is produced by Innovech International, based in Hong Kong. It weighs just 770lb thanks to its plastic panels. The single cylinder two-speed (plus reverse) petrol engine comes in sizes from 50cc to 250cc, with a top speed of 28-53mph.
There are also prototype electric versions. Innovech plans to start production towards the end of the year and hopes to sell between 1,000 and 2,000 cars in Europe in the first year.
View source.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Luxury car makers feeling the need for speed

by Gina Chon, The Wall Street Journal
Sunday, January 15, 2006
As mass-market manufacturers refocus on fuel economy, luxury-car makers such as BMW, Porsche and Lexus are heading the other way, introducing models with 500-plus horsepower engines.
Engine size and power have been creeping up for several years in models including the Dodge Viper SR10 Coupe, which was introduced last year with a 500-horsepower engine, and the 505-horsepower Chevrolet Corvette Z06.
Now, the expanded range of high-performance vehicles means consumers who care about having Nascar-like power will have more options. Infiniti, for example, is proceeding with a production version of the Skyline GT-R, which has 500 horsepower. The fastest car in Infiniti’s current lineup is the M45, which has a 335-horsepower V8 engine.
Despite having sticker prices as high as $200,000 or more, these cars are selling. Vehicles in the $100,000 price range usually sell from several hundred to 1,000 models a year. But sales of the 507-horsepower BMW M5, which was unveiled at last year’s North American International Auto Show in Detroit and has a starting price of $81,200, hit 1,742 vehicles in 2005. That performance is encouraging other car makers to roll out models with powerful engines.
As 500-horsepower engines become common, and car makers look to surpass the 600-horsepower mark, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for consumers to drive these cars to their full potential on average roads. And there are other possible downsides to owning these high-powered vehicles.
Cars that go this fast have gas mileage down in the teens. The Porsche Cayenne Turbo S, for example, registers an estimated 13 miles per gallon in the city. Such gas-guzzling is frowned upon by environmentalists and fuel-efficiency proponents. And insurance rates for these ultrafast cars can run much higher than average.

Read full story here.

Thursday, January 19, 2006

Peugeot launches 207

The new Peugeot 207 was launched Thursday, as the French automaker's new entrant in the ultra-competitive B-segment of the new car marketplace.
Peugeot suffered declining sales in 2005, down 1.6 percent worldwide and 5.4 percent in its core market of western Europe.
The 207 will compete in a rapidly growing and very crowded market, against the Renault Clio III (European Car of the Year), Fiat Punto, Volkswagen Polo, Ford Fiesta, Opel Corsa, Toyota Yaris, Audi A2, Mazda2, Mitsubishi Colt, Nissan Micra, Rover 25, Seat Ibiza, Skoda Fabia, and Smart ForFour, as well as the C2 and Pluriel models of sister company Citroen. The 207 is built on the same platform as the Citroen C2, C3 and Pluriel.
In his keynote address at last week's Los Angeles auto show, Ford Americas head honcho Mark Fields identified the B-segment as the Next Big Thing in the U.S. car market. If he's right, he will have a host of experienced (and hungry) potential competitors to contend with.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

smart 911

No one complains that a Porsche 911 is a two-seater.

Chrysler lineup likely to include more diesels in future, Zetsche says

Published 01/17/06

If anyone can make the Chrysler group and Mercedes work together smoothly, it's Dieter Zetsche.
The former CEO of the Chrysler group became CEO of DaimlerChrysler AG on Jan. 1. He talked about transatlantic cooperation and other challenges with a group of Automotive News editors and reporters at the Detroit auto show.

DaimlerChrysler will bring four diesel engines to the United States for Mercedes this year. Can we expect something similar for Chrysler?
We are installing BlueTec (diesel technology) in the Jeep Grand Cherokee. How far we will stretch this technology in the Chrysler product lineup is not finally decided at this time. But quite definitely, DaimlerChrysler, including the different brands, is serious in leveraging the opportunity this technology builds for the U.S. market.

What is the time frame for fixing Smart?
In 2007, we want to reach break even. We set up a plan to accomplish that last year, and we are moving along those lines.

What about Smart for North America?
Technically it is feasible, and we see quite some growing interest in this concept in the metropolitan areas of the U.S.
There are two remaining parts which are linked: What should the distribution look like, and do we see a volume-price relationship which makes for a feasible plan?

View source.

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Super smart lambo

With thanks to Peter Flanagan.

Monday, January 16, 2006

smart booth at NAIAS

Take a virtual tour of the smart booth at the Detroit Auto Show by going to http://www.usa.smart.com/brand/smartUSA.html. Click on << Launch smart USA again. Click on the Auto Show Detroit sign. Click on any of the four floor models of smart cars.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Neal Rubin: Wise up, Mercedes, and let me buy a little 'smart' car

Friday, January 13, 2006 The Detroit News - Leave it to a reporter to stand in a big room with the most spectacular cars in the world and complain about one that isn't there.
Two years ago, Mercedes-Benz showed off an 8-foot-long commuter called the smart fortwo at the North American International Auto Show. It had two seats, three cylinders and no capital letters, that last part to emphasize how cute and perky it was.
Last year, smart had its own tiny display at Cobo Center, where the company predicted arrival in U.S. showrooms by late 2006. The fortwo has been on the road in Europe since the late '90s, and astute Canadians bought more than 4,000 diesel versions last year, but the American launch has been postponed until
Well, maybe never. Which is why there are no smarts at the auto show, and why I pinned down smart communications director Heinz Gottwick to ask, ever so politely, "When can I buy my darned smart car?"
"My motto in life is 'no risk, no fun,'" Gottwick says, "but sometimes, you have to be cautious." That means Mercedes is still trying to figure out if smart can make money -- something it has never quite accomplished in Europe -- and whether it can redesign the $15,000 roller skate to meet American safety standards without sacrificing its sweet little soul.
The odd problem, safety-wise, is that the 1,600-pound smart is too big inside. Canadian crash tests are conducted with the dummies wearing seat belts. Assuming, apparently, that U.S. drivers are too dense to buckle up in a car the size of a sheepdog, our testers leave the belts off.
"This makes a huge problem if you have too much space," Gottwick says. An American version would need some sort of knee bar for the passenger, among other things. So Mercedes has to decide whether it's worth the effort to tinker with the fortwo, find willing Mercedes-Benz dealerships and develop a marketing scheme for a 60-miles-per-gallon micro-car in a nation that thinks a Hummer is a perfectly sensible vehicle.
The decision will come by mid-year. As someone who plans to be first on the waiting list, I hope Mercedes steps smartly, in every conceivable sense.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

Hybrids, E85 or Diesels? Automakers hedge their bets

Source: Autoblog - Posted Jan 11th 2006 11:00AM by Stuart Waterman
As the dust settles from the flurry of announcements and unveils at NAIAS 2006 and the 2006 L.A. Auto Show, the battle lines are forming up between fuel efficient and low emissions technologies competing for the hearts and minds of North American car buyers.
The current leader in the green PR campaign, Toyota, must be considered the standard-bearer for hybrids. After making its mark with the niche market Prius, Toyota is taking the technology into the mainstream, introducing hybrid versions of its key sedan models - the Camry and Lexus LS.
Ford and GM, while playing catch-up with hybrid technology, are pushing a solution that's easy to implement - flexible fuel vehicles, running E85 ethanol-based fuel. While both manufacturers have FFVs in production, the solution is hampered by fuel supply and distribution issues. FFVs were a hot topic at the L.A. show last week.
More after the jump...
Meanwhile, GM, BMW and DaimlerChrysler have partnered to develop what GM calls its Two Stage Hybrid technology. Both GM and BMW are exhibiting similar systems in Detroit this week.
Nissan will come out with a hybrid Altima this year, but only because California CAFE regulations require it, according to Carlos Ghosn. The automaker seems to be focusing on diesel cars for fuel efficiency, saying hybrids are not yet profitable at an acceptable price point.
Honda, the first automaker to introduce a hybrid production car in the U.S., is also unconvinced that hybrids are the best solution. At the Detroit auto show, Honda revealed plans to launch a hydrogen fuel cell sedan in about three years, as well as its intent to offer diesel cars in the U.S.
But it was DaimlerChrysler's Dieter Zetsche who really put the diesel fox among the hybrid chickens with his announcement of aggressive plans to market the company's BLUETEC clean-diesel technology in the U.S., starting with a BLUETEC-powered Mercedes E320 sedan in the fall of 2006.
If (and its a big if) adequate supplies and distribution channels can be found for the low-sulfur diesel required by BLUETEC and other clean-diesel technologies, this could well become the solution with the broadest market acceptance in the near term. With more than half the cars currently sold in Europe powered by diesels, the odds certainly seem to be in Zetsche's favor.

Detroit Auto Show (NAIAS) 2006

Daimler Chrysler has not moved forward on its decision to bring its smart line to the USA. However, it appears that a full range of 2006 models - crossblade, roadster, fortwo and forfour - are represented at the NAIAS which runs January 8 to 22. This is a very expensive teaser if the company has no intension of selling smarts in America. See photo gallery here.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Kimi and DC sign roadster

This undated photo of Formula 1 drivers Kimi Raikkonen and David Coulthard must have been taken between 2002 and 2004 when they were Mclaren-Mercedes team mates. In 2005, Juan Pablo Montoya replaced DC who joined Red Bull.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Is this motoring’s future? Smart cars arrive in BDA

Helen Jardine, The Bermuda Sun

“Smart cars should be mandatory in Bermuda!” claims Suzie Pewter, the proud owner of Bermuda’s smallest car, and she seems to have a point — they’re economical, hardy, environmentally friendly and just plain smart, so it does seem like the an car for Bermudians.
Lets’ begin with the obvious: it’s a small car. Tiny enough, in fact, to squeeze two of them into a single space, which means parking in town couldn’t get any easier.
“My car’s length is shorter than the width of some of our cars’, says Mrs. Pewter.
Llew Peniston, who has an interest in the company, agreed: “the vehicles fit perfectly on our roads”.
However, its size on the outside does not impact its size on the inside.
“There’s so much leg room. This one guy came up to my car laughing at its size. I said ‘Are you laughing at my car?’ I made him get in, which he did easily, and he was so shocked, as he was convinced that he wouldn’t fit cause he was 6 foot 4.”
If the desire to be different is what puts you off then listen up…not only does the Smart car come in a variety of colours (including cotton candy pink girls!), but you can also take the panels off the car and change the colour yourself, a feat which Smart spokespeople claim will take no longer than 70 minutes.
However, don’t be misled, this car not some toy which will fall apart at the slam of a door. It’s made of fibreglass, so it will not rust, which is perfect for Bermuda’s humid climate. Additionally, the fibreglass exterior allows for a certain amount of ‘give’ upon impact so that a dent will just bounce back into place.
Studies have shown that an S class Mercedes hitting the Smart will receive more damage than the Smart car.
Economically, it would seem they cost far less to keep on the roads than many of their rivals, and licensed as an ‘A’ class car, it is cheaper to put it onto the road in the first place. Once on the road it is capable of doing 70 miles to the gallon, and Suzie Pewter claims she only has to fill up every four weeks, and has only ever changed the oil once, despite having it for a year and a half.
Environmentally, Smarts have low emissions, as they are up to 35 per cent lighter than most cars in their segment, which goes a long way towards giving them some of the lowest carbon dioxide emissions in their class. Built with all the standard mod-cons, including air-conditioning, am/fm radio and the choice of driving it either stick shift or automatic, it’s no doubt a versatile little car.
How long would you have to wait? Light enough to be flown in on a flight from London, Heathrow, they can be on our shores in only seven days; any colour, any type.
The cars cost between $24,'0 to $26,5', and have enough street cred that Formula 1 driver David Coulthard has been zipping around Monaco in one.

Source: The Bermuda Sun

Wednesday, January 11, 2006

The City of Ottawa today announced the addition of the first energy-efficient Smart Car to its fleet.

"The City of Ottawa is a leader in the fight against pollution," said Mayor Bob Chiarelli. "This cost-effective and environmentally friendly vehicle is an example of how we are using taxpayer dollars wisely to support sustainable environmental initiatives that will save money for the corporation and the taxpayer."
The Smart Car was purchased to replace one of the City's By-Law Services vehicles. This is a project to evaluate operating costs, ergonomics, and the best applications for the car at the City. If the Smart Car performs well on these fronts and through winter operations, additional ones will be purchased as replacement vehicles for the
City's fleet.
The Smart Car cost $7,000 less to purchase than the last vehicle procured for By-Law Services. Its fuel efficiency rating and record to date indicates it will save another approximately $1,000 a year in diesel fuel costs, for a lifetime savings of
at least $14,000.
The Smart Car is not only cost-effective, but good for the environment as well. Smart Cars operate on diesel, which produces less carbon monoxide than gasoline. They are also highly fuel-efficient. Vehicles that burn less fuel produce lower
greenhouse gas emissions.
"Making environmentally sensitive and cost-efficient transportation choices like this is just the right thing to do," said Chair of the City's Transportation Committee and GoulbournWard Councillor, Janet Stavinga. "Everybody wins, the City, the taxpayers and the environment."
The new car will be on the road starting today as a City of Ottawa By-Law Services

Source: OttawaStart

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

smart service B

Trudi was due for her second or "B" service so we booked an early morning appointment on January 6th. We've had no problems with the car other than what may seem a trivial matter. When Rupert drove her back from Chicago, a rattling sound eminating from the rear of the car nearly drove him bonkers. It's one of those tinny, irregular sounds that you irritatingly find yourself listening for like the drip of a faucet. It makes a nine month old car sound like a jalopy.
We took every thing out of the car, made sure that the engine compartment hatch was secured and made a test drive. Still there. We examined the windshield wipers, the door latches and the window latch. Still there. After much head scratching we realized that it was the cheap plastic license plate holder that vibrated as you drove over a bump. Oh well, we said when we take her in for her service we'll mention it and the highly trained Mercedes mechanics will know just what to do.
We described the problem to the service reception clerk who made a note on the form. When the car was ready we were assured that the problem had been fixed. Smiling we waved good bye and headed out of the parking lot...to the tune of the now very familiar tinny rattle. Needless to say, we were not impressed.
Plan "B" is to remove the cheap, dollar store plate holder our dealer installed on the car.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Report: DaimlerChrysler considers offers for Smart car unit

Posted on Mon, Jan. 09, 2006

Associated Press FRANKFURT, Germany - DaimlerChrysler AG has no plans to sell its Smart AG unit, a spokesman for the compact carmaker said Monday, following a report that the German-American automaker's chief executive indicated it was sounding out offers.
The Financial Times Deutschland daily said Zetsche, who took over DaimlerChrysler at the beginning of the year, told it the company was directing anyone interested in Smart to its adviser.
"We have asked interested parties to contact Goldman Sachs," he was quoted as saying.
But Smart spokesman Heinz Gottwick said that, while Smart remains interested in forging partnerships with other automakers, the company was not being shopped around.
"To sell Smart is no topic for us," he said Monday at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit.
Gottwick said there was no plan to sell Smart, and officials hoped it would break even by 2007.
A restructuring plan is under way, and "he (Zetsche) does not see any necessity to come up with a Plan B," Gottwick said.
Shares of DaimlerChrysler were up nearly 2.3 percent to euro45.08 (US$54.45) in Frankfurt trading.

Source: Miami Herald

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Smart ForTwo Hybrid

January 2006
It's hard to believe that the Smart ForTwo celebrates its eighth birthday this year. The diminutive model still looks every bit as futuristic as it did when the wraps first came off in 1998. Offering a fresh take on the city car class, it's proved to be more than simply a fad, despite the slower-than-expected sales.
It's no secret that the Mercedes-owned firm has experienced financial problems, but bosses at Smart now hope to leave those troubles behind.The next-generation ForTwo is currently being developed, and is described as the machine which will make or break the company. So could a futuristic hybrid variant lead to a brighter future? To find out, Auto Express got behind the wheel of this prototype version.
Fitted to an existing ForTwo forour test, the hybrid set-up sees a 27bhp electric motor work in tandem with an 800cc 40bhp rear-mounted diesel unit. And the big news is that the car can achieve an amazing 98mpg! As with Toyota's established Prius, the motor moves the vehicle from standstill, then the oil-burner kicks in as you build up speed and accelerate.
Read full article here.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

...but where do you put your stuff?

At a party recently we were chatting about our Route 66 trip when someone asked,"Did you send your luggage on ahead?" I think most folks would be surprised at how much luggage you can fit in the back of a smart fortwo.

From www.thesmart.ca:
"With 260 litres of cargo space, 150 litres of which fall below the window line, you'll fit more in the back of your smart fortwo than you ever thought possible. Two sets of clubs, with a walking cart. Luggage for two for a getaway to the cottage. Two hockey bags. All your "groceries"."

Monday, January 02, 2006

ZAP Receives Warning from Pacific Stock Exchange

Source: Business Wire
[Dec 28, 2005]

SYNOPSIS: The notification does not in itself result in delisting of the Company's securities. ZAP will need to adhere to certain compliance criteria in order to continue trading on the PCX exchange.
SANTA ROSA, Calif.--Dec. 28, 2005--Automotive Pioneer ZAP (PCX:ZP) announced that it has been advised by PCX Equities (PCXE), a subsidiary of the Pacific Exchange (the PCXE staff), that the Company is currently not in compliance with the PCXE's listing requirements for share bid price set forth in the PCXE Rule 5.5(h)(4).

The notification does not in itself result in delisting of the Company's securities. ZAP will need to adhere to certain compliance criteria in order to continue trading on the PCX exchange. "We are exploring a variety of options to address this situation. We will be working diligently with PCXE to facilitate their review of the Company's listing eligibility," stated Mr. Steven M. Schneider, CEO of ZAP.

ZAP will be submitting written material to the PCXE by January 9, 2006 which will outline their plans to regain compliance and maintain an active status on the Pacific Exchange, including an updated business plan, corporate investor relations strategy and various other initiatives the Company is taking. A review will take place on January 19, 2006 by PCXE. ZAP will continue to trade on the PCXE under the ticker symbol ZP until further notice.

View source here.

Trudi's Christmas Presents

Trudi recieved this parking sign from Auntie Helen in the UK.

Our smart dealer sent this package of goodies that arrived after Christmas.

We couldn't figure out what this package was.

Turns out to be an "I'm with smart" T-shirt.

Sunday, January 01, 2006

Me and my motors: Joanna Lumley

By Jasper Gerard of The Sunday Times
They’ve bumped off my Ferrari

Joanna Lumley began her acting career as a Bond girl in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service before being cast as Purdey in The New Avengers in 1976. She is best known for her portrayal of the chainsmoking Patsy Stone in Absolutely Fabulous.
“I had a Rolls-Royce,” she says dreamily. “She was a lovely old girl, built in 1949. I bought her for £550 long before the Avengers. I hadn’t any money but it was irresistible. I only had it for two years and it was hopeless, always breaking down. Things came off it but it was fantastic, just ravishing, to have that old girl. Whenever I stopped or it boiled over, always somebody came to help. People adored it.”
Lumley remained dangerously attracted to automotive exotica, once owning a Triumph Stag — notoriously unreliable — and until recently a Ferrari. This was ideal for bombing down the M2 to her cottage in the beautifully remote Kentish village of Goodnestone, but after she moved to London — fearing her old house was haunted — the red beast was denied the exercise it craved.
“They built so many speed bumps that I literally couldn’t drive around where I live. They are monsters. A Ferrari isn’t really a car for London, you’ve got to take it out on the road, and in bright red it was ridiculous.” And not quite the thing, one imagines, for pootling along to the environmental meetings that she vocally supports. Lumley laughs. “She kept the blanket on most of the time. I know, I do my bit, but that was very bad. The only good thing was I didn’t take her out often and sold her after two years.”
Finally there are signs Lumley is growing more conventional in her car tastes: “I’ve a Smart car for London and then we’ve got a Lexus for driving long distances.”

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