Friday, March 31, 2006

Mitsubishi to seek compensation from DCX for SMART ForFour cancellation

Posted Mar 30th 2006 5:34PM by Joel Arellano

Following DaimlerChrysler's announcement that it will be stopping production of the SMART ForFour sedan, partner Mitsubishi Motors Corp. has stated it will end production at the company's Netherlands plant as well. The Japanese automaker still plans to manufacturer engines for DCX's SMART two-seaters.Both companies have not yet determined when will be the last day of production. The Nihon Keizai Shimbun states, though, that Mitsubishi will be seeking financial compensation for DCX's abrupt termination of their partnership in the ForFour.[Source: Nihon Keizai Shimbun via AFX News Limited via Forbes]

Mitsubishi Motors to stop making DaimlerChrysler's Smart minivehicles - report

TOKYO (AFX) - Mitsubishi Motors Corp has decided to end production of DaimlerChrysler AG's Smart minivehicles in Europe, following the German partner's move to restructure that business, the Nihon Keizai Shimbun reported without citing sources. The cancellation may also prompt Mitsubishi Motors to overhaul its European operations, the business daily said. The Japanese carmaker still plans to supply DaimlerChrysler with engines for the next-generation Smart two-seater. Mitsubishi Motors now makes about 40,000 four-seater Smarts a year at wholly owned subsidiary Netherlands Car BV under an original equipment manufacturer contract that is effective through 2010. The newspaper said Mitsubishi Motors will seek financial compensation from the German firm, and both companies still need to determine when to halt production.

View source.

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Ice block may have fallen from plane toilet

ICE believed to have come from an aircraft's toilet as it flew over Great Glen hit a woman's car on Saturday.
Stephanie Cole (25), a trainee driving instructor, returned home after a day in Harborough with her mum to find blocks of ice across her drive. It had hit the bonnet of her black Smart Car, causing about £700 damage and shattering on the gravel drive and the road. She said: "We had just been to Harborough and came back to see ice everywhere. I just thought 'what the hell has happened,' thinking there had been a snowball fight or something, but there was no snow on the ground." Neighbours came over and said there had been a loud bang. The only way they could describe it was it was like a water balloon falling and exploding on the ground." Stephanie called the nearest airport and Harborough police, who logged the call but said there wasn't a lot they could do. The ice is believed to have fallen from a plane thousands of feet up in the air and plummeted at a tremendous pace.
A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority said ice-falls from aircraft such as this are rare and usually cause little or no damage to property – however they are all considered seriously. Leaks from toilet systems can occur if there is a fault on the seal at the point where the hose from the collection vehicle connects with the aircraft. A small leak at high altitude will form ice because of the very low outside temperature. As the aircraft descends at the end of its journey, the temperature rises and the ice can detach and fall to the ground.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

ZAP Rides Smart Car Sales to Record Month

Last Few Weeks Validates ZAP's Business Model
SANTA ROSA, Calif., March 28 -- Automotive pioneer ZAP (PCX: ZP; NYSE Arca: ZP) announced today that its initial sales in various model year Smart Cars have exceeded $2.3 million, which would result in record monthly auto sales since ZAP launched its automotive marketing.
"The purpose of this announcement is to let the world know that we are executing on our business plan," said ZAP CEO Steve Schneider. "This is just the beginning. We look forward to the rapid ramp up to fulfill the demand for these wonderful micro cars".
Recently, ZAP and its partners announced that 2005 model year Smart Cars are being delivered and sold to dealers in: Nevada, Arizona, Florida, Washington, New Hampshire and Pennsylvania. ZAP is establishing a nation-wide dealer network that specializes in smaller, more fuel-efficient gas systems, electric cars, hydrogen, fuel cell, alcohol, hybrid, trybrid and other innovative power systems.

View source here.

Sunday, March 26, 2006

DaimlerChrysler to Spend EU1 Bln More to Fix Smart (Update5)

March 25 (Bloomberg) -- DaimlerChrysler AG, seeking to end losses at its Smart division, plans to scrap a four-seater model, integrate the small-car unit and eliminate 300 jobs in Germany, spending 1 billion euros ($1.2 billion).
DaimlerChrysler will focus on the two-seater ForTwo and cut about 40 percent of the workforce at Boeblingen, Germany, near Stuttgart, the company said in a faxed release today. The cuts are in administration, sales and research and development.
``The focus on one model will help us further reduce fixed costs and material costs, which will make sure that we reach and sustain profitability at Smart,'' Marc Binder, a DaimlerChrysler spokesman, said in a telephone interview today.
The moves show that DaimlerChrysler Chief Executive Officer Dieter Zetsche plans to keep the unit that never reached its target of selling 200,000 vehicles a year, defying some investors who wanted the company to sell the division. The world's fifth-largest carmaker in January hired Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to gauge interest from potential buyers.

Photo by Lucy, with thanks to B-J L.

Read full article here.

DaimlerChrysler to Focus on Two Door Smart Car Model

March 25, 2006 8:45 p.m. EST
Lynda Fisher - All Headline News Staff Writer
Frankfurt, Germany (AHN) - DaimlerChrysler has announced it will scrap its four door Smart car and shift its focus to the two-door model in an overhaul that will cost the company $1.20 billion and 300 jobs.
The move was announced Saturday, however, terms of the deal were still subject to negotiations with Mitsubishi Motors Corp, which makes the ForFour car at a plant in the Netherlands, according to the Associated Press.
The deal also needed approval from the supervisory board at Daimler.
"DaimlerChrysler AG is planning to focus on the Smart Fortwo to ensure the long-term sustainability of its Smart brand. Thus, the profitability of Smart will be confirmed, with positive results expected from 2007 onward," a statement read.
A new version of the two-seat model will premier next year.

View source.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

G-Wiz is the greenest car in Britain....

Exclusively available from GoinGreen, the G-Wiz is 100% emission free and a dramatic breakthrough in the fight against city air pollution and global warming. The world's best selling electric car, it consumes just one quarter the energy of a similar size petrol car;is the most energy efficient car on the road (according to the Energy Saving Trust);is carbon neutral (we carbon balance the manufacturing, shipping and first 16,000 miles driving); is the only 4 seater car to receive an 'A' eco-label, the cleanest classification possible from the Department of Transport; and when charged with 'green' electricity from renewable sources is a completely sustainable car.
G-Wiz is fully automatic, with large doors for easy entry/exit and high seats for superior visibility. Its lightweight steering and the smallest turning radius of any car, make it exceptionally easy to manoeuvre and park. And because it's only 2.6m long, it fits snugly in to parking spaces which are too small for other cars. G-Wiz has nippy acceleration, a top speed of 40 mph (enough for urban driving conditions and speed limits) and a range of up to 40 miles, depending upon the temperature, driving conditions and your driving style. As the average journey anywhere across the whole of the UK is only 8 miles, and in London it is less than 4 miles, this is sufficient for daily urban use.

GoinGreen announces smart LPG range

23rd March 2006: We are proud to announce the launch of new and used smart LPG fortwo (2 seater, 84 mph, 60 mpg combined cycle) and forfour (4 seater, 103 mph, 60 mpg combined cycle) in the pulse, pure and passion models and also the LPG conversion of your existing smart to dual-fuel. LPG is less than half the price of petrol, particulate emissions are 90% lower and CO2 emissions around 20% to 40% lower than for similar size small cars. The LPG smarts are also exempt from the London Congestion charge.

View source

Railways and Main Streets tour, Part Four

The debate on the merits of electric vs gas powered engines goes back to the dawn of the automobile age. We recently visited the local history museum in St Marys, ON where we asked to be taken out to the "barn" to see their 1902 Baker electric car. The Baker Motor Vehicle Co, of Cleveland, Ohio (later Baker, Rauch & Lang Co) manufactured various models between 1899 and 1916.
These relatively clean, quiet and easy to drive vehicles were marketed as city cars for women drivers. They could reputedly cruise a distance of 50 miles (80 km) when fully charged and reach a top speed of 25 mph (40 km/h). In 1915 Baker merged his company with Rauch & Lang, a distinguished Cleveland carriage manufacturer that had entered the electric vehicle business. By that time, the gasoline powered automobile had achieved dominance in the industry, and a few years later the new company stopped producing automobiles and focused on making electric vehicles for industrial purposes. In 1977, Baker was acquired by Linde AG of Germany and a new American company, called Baker Material Handling Corporation was formed. In 1999 it became the Linde Lift Truck Corporation, of Summerville, South Carolina, and today it is part of an international firm that designs and manufactures industrial trucks and hydraulics.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Railways & Main Streets Tour, Part Three

On to Goderich, on Lake Huron, and the Hotel Bedford a favourite haunt of ours. Supper in Paddy O'Neil's Restaurant Pub which is part of the hotel. The bar failed the port test so a brandy after the meal. Dinner came to $65 including a half litre of wine and a single digestif. Up early next morning, photographing the library and the old railway station at the top of the town [there are two old railway stations in Goderich]. On to the Huron County Museum which gets top marks for a local history musuem. It has everything from an early flight simulator to artifacts from the salt mines. We could have done without the preserved mutant animals with extra body parts. A quick lunch at Tim Horton's and then headed south to Bayfield, a lake side resort town.

Smart cars finally roll past hurdles

By Chris Woodyard, USA TODAY
SANTA ANA, Calif. — Sometimes big headaches come in small packages.
That's what a California company called Zap (ZP) has discovered in trying to import the tiny, European-made Smart car.
Only now, after a three years of working to get the cars to meet U.S. safety and environmental regulations — and battling with giant DaimlerChrysler — is there a respectable batch of cars to dole out to dealers.
More than 100 cars have been shipped to sales lots. The remainder, about 250, fill a yard in an industrial area of this Orange County enclave. Here, the cars await their turn to be outfitted with myriad environmental and safety items — from stronger bumpers to better interior padding — to make them legal for sale in the USA.
Tiny as it might be, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that Zap's version of the Smart car is up to snuff. "Just because it's small doesn't mean it can't meet the standard," says agency spokesman Rae Tyson.
While it juggled regulators' demands, Zap has had its own struggles. By last year, it had amassed $2.2 billion in orders for Smart cars that it hadn't won permission to sell. From $5 a share in late 2004, the stock price slid to 50 cents at the start of the year.
"Certainly, it would appear from a public standpoint we overpromised and underdelivered," says Zap CEO Steven Schneider.
Zap's stock was almost delisted. But now that it is delivering cars, the stock has rebounded, closing Tuesday at 67 cents a share.
Besides regulators, Zap has been at odds with DaimlerChrysler, which owns the Smart brand. Zap filed a lawsuit in November alleging that DaimlerChrysler has tried to destroy it and keep it from converting Smart cars for the U.S. market. Smart spokeswoman Bettina Singhartinger said the company, which has no business relationship with Zap, denies the allegation. "We consider the lawsuit to be unfounded," she says.

Read more here.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

DaimlerChrysler sees Smart breakeven in 2007

STUTTGART -- DaimlerChrysler expects its ailing Smart small-car brand to break even next year, according to the carmaker's finance chief." We will reach the breakeven mark at Smart in 2007," Daimler CFO Bodo Uebber told journalists late on Monday, March 20, in remarks embargoed for release on Tuesday. Smart has not made a profit since the brand made its debut in October 1998 with the quirky two-seat model that remains its best seller. But it has slashed staff, costs and its planned model lineup in a drive to end the losses by next year. Daimler has said Smart's operating loss narrowed in 2005 from a deficit of around 600 million euros ($730.8 million) in 2004, without being more specific.
Read full article here.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Business smarts 18: Urban Academy

We are New Westminster's newest independent school, located in British Columbia, Canada.
Our students range from kindergarten to grade 7. We maintain a low teacher/student ratio of approximately 1:14 to ensure that each student receives mentorship and guidance and is able to progress to their fullest.
The main educational goal of Urban Academy is to facilitate individual learning and development through a fresh, exciting experience wherein challenging learning environments will build each child's confidence and promote their achievements, creativity and independence.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Smart money says it's German

The Birmingham Post Business
Mar 16 2006
By John Revill, Manufacturing Editor

The prospect of a new sports car factory being set up in the Midlands looks to be receding after Project Kimber revealed offers from Wales and Germany are now in pole position.
Kimber, the team behind the unsuccessful bid to buy MG Rover last year, had considered restarting production of its new Smart Roadster and Coupes at a former Dunlop factory in Radford, Coventry.
The new factory would have employed around 200 engineers making 9,000 cars a year with production beginning early next year.
Kimber had been looking to license the MG name from Nanjing Automobile (NAC) - the successful bidder in the MG Rover auction - for use on its cars.

Read full article here.

Railways & Main Streets Tour, Part Two

Next stop on tour was Wroxeter. We were impressed by the "spirit" shown by the local residents. Ron Brown, in his book Downtown Ontario: Unusual main streets to explore writes - "Around 1980, I visited the village of Wroxeter, and was astounded by the view. While some 18 stores and shops lined the two-block main street, built in the usual two-storey brick style, 15 were boarded up. The sidewalks were cracked and weedy, and nobody was anywhere on the silent roadway. Not too surprisingly, Wroxeter appeared in my ensuing volume of Ghost Towns of Ontario, not as a ghost town, but as one of Ontario's most completely ghosted main streets". pp 204.
Since then, the community has rallied to change the village's image with some success: "Today, the sign on the highway proudly announces Wroxeter as a "former ghost town."

Friday, March 17, 2006

Orchestra London's smart lottery

  1. You could be driving off in a brand new smart fortwo cabriolet or scooting about town on a Vespa Granturismo 200cc. Grand Prize Draw March 31, 2006
Tickets are 1 for $50 or 3 for $100 and can be purchased NOW at the following locations:
Orchestra London Box Office, 520 Wellington Street
Orchestra London Concerts at Centennial Hall
Mercedes/smart Centre London, 600 Wharncliffe Road South
by calling (519) 679-8778 or online

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Railways & Main Streets Tour, Part One

Leaving TO after lunch on Monday we blast out of town on the 401 on our quest for lost railways and interesting main streets. We call in at Georgetown's Grand Trunk station which can best be described as a hybrid -- a mix of station styles. It's an active station with VIA rail and GO train service.
We then track north through Fergus and have a coffee at Tim Horton's in Arthur.

At Palmerston we were treated to a personal tour of the magnificent historic railway station museum by retired high-school principal Bob McEachern. From the 1870s to the 1950s Palmerston was an important railway hub with six converging lines and daily trains to Owen Sound, Stratford, Goderich, Guelph, Hamilton and Toronto. The yard was so busy that a 700 foot iron pedestrian bridge was constructed in 1911. Passenger service ended here in 1970 and there have been no trains for many years. The town will host the annual Canadian Handcar Racing Championships from June 16 to 18, 2006.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Smart-Automobile LLC Announces Technology License for Smart Car Americanized by ZAP(R), Final U.S. Clearance for Smart Cars In-Hand

Wednesday March 15, 9:12 am ET
LONG BEACH, Calif., March 15 /PRNewswire/ -- Smart-Automobile LLC announced today its proprietary technology has been successfully applied in the modification of the Smart For Two Coupe / Convertible for direct importation to the United States.
Smart-Automobile is part of a venture to independently bring the fuel- efficient Smart Car to the U.S., where the popular car has not been available since its introduction in 1998. Smart-Automobile has contracted for the exclusive distribution of the Smart Cars to publicly owned automotive company ZAP of Santa Rosa, California, to be marketed to consumers through a ZAP authorized dealer network. Registered import company G&K Automotive Conversions of Santa Ana, California, has been contracted for the conversion of the cars to meet U.S. standards. Smart-Automobile President Thomas Heidemann announced that he is pleased to reach this milestone, having invested significant capital and several years in bringing the fuel-efficient car from Europe to the United States where gas prices are reaching record levels.

Read the full article here.

Monday, March 13, 2006

Business smarts 17: The Sayers Group

Specialists in Dynamic Sales Solutions

The Sayers Group is an incorporated company located in Toronto, Canada.

Business smarts 16: Abcon Media

Specializing in Glass Murals, Boom-Ads and Giant Banners.

Abcon Media specializes in "unique" alternative Out-of-Home Advertising. Our imagination and innovative products deliver cost effective marketing campaigns. Out-of-Home Advertising reaches 93% of all potential consumers second only to television.
Abcon Media is a Toronto-based Canadian company now entering it’s second decade of operations. The backbone of the company for the first 7 years was Boom-Ad® Advertising. Boom-Ad® Parking Gate Arm Advertising is a niche market product, conceived, developed, patented and trademarked in North America. It has become a widely accepted Out-of-Home medium purchased by media buyers internationally. Boom-Ad® is found in 80% of the parking garages and in every major city across Canada.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

Europe's Trendy Smart For-Two at Last Available for the U.S. Market

Smart Cars of America LLC will join with Silica Corporation to facilitate the marketing and sales of the Smart For-Two Passion model for the American driving public.
Belleair, Florida February 24, 2006 -- Smart Cars of America LLC announced today an ongoing discussion with Silica Corporation and its intent to assist Silica Corporation, to promote sales of Smart For-Two Passion models in the United States. Silica Corporation is a St. Louis, Missouri automobile wholesaler and distributor and has begun the process to import the Smart Car into the United States by sealing a relationship with a government approved Independent Commercial Importer for the Smart Car. The Smart cars are acquired directly from Europe and modified to U.S. standards by G&K Automotive Conversion, Inc., of Santa Ana, California; an authorized Registered Importer for the conversion and modification procedures of the Smart For-Two, required by the U.S. Department of Transportation and the Environmental Protection Agency. At this time Silica Corporation's Independent Commercial Importer, G&K Automotive, is the only licensed entity to convert and modify the Smart For-Two.

Read full article here.

Saturday, March 11, 2006

91 Year Old smart Driver Escapes Horrific Crash

Source: Middleton & North Manchester Guardian
Published: 9th March 2006

A 91-YEAR-OLD woman miraculously escaped unharmed from an horrific car smash in Alkrington - and she thinks it's her coat that saved her life.
Careful Dorothy Newton, of Laburnum Road, Moorclose, was driving her Smart car from Uplands into Mount Road when, before she knew it, her foot slipped onto the accelerator and she had hurtled across the junction.
Luckily for the sprightly pensioner no other cars were travelling along the carriage-way at the time, which could have resulted in a crash. As she sped towards a garden fence Dorothy attempted to pull her vehicle away but unfortunately sent it into a roll and it finally settled on its roof, badly damaged.
Guardian correspondent Harold Cunliffe happened to be passing the accident scene at the time. When he discovered the road closed because of the smash, and the number of emergency service vehicles at the scene, he was convinced someone must have died.
But unbelievably Dorothy, who was wrapped up snugly in her thick fur coat, came away without so much as a scratch.

Read the full story here.

Club smart Car Toronto Group's inaugural monthy meet

Left work promptly for drive across town to the Phoenix & Firkin at 2175 Sheppard Ave. East in North York. Enjoyed chatting in the parking lot, although the wind was brisk, and checking out Hooey's silver smart Kompressor and seeing Gina's new look. Good food, good talks and great fun getting to know other Club smart Car folk from around Toronto and beyond. Many thanks to Lynda for starting the proverbial ball rolling. We're looking forward to next month's gig.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

smart delivers 16,000 vehicles to customers through February

In February 2006, the smart brand delivered 7,700 vehicles to customers worldwide. For the first two months of the year, sales totaled 16,000 units.


Sunday, March 05, 2006

Loremo: Simple, Clever, Fun

Loremo design is based on a simple linear cell steel structure: the patented chassis with its three straight longitudinal girders and one central transverse girder weighs only 95 kg. The steel girders provide Loremo with the required stability and safety. This clever principle of
construction allows for a great crumple zone of 600 mm.
You get into Loremo via one gate instead of two doors: It has a frontdoor which opens forward. This makes getting into Loremo as easy as stepping into a bathtub!
Also Loremo's interior focuses on the essential needs: Ergonomics and haptics. The same applies to the special features. The return to what is essential makes Loremo a sensational lightweight:
With only 450 kg it weighs less than half of any comparable passenger car. Of course, this makes Loremo also sensationally affordable.
Read more here: New Models: Geneva Motor Show: Loremo LS and GT

You oughta be in pictures...

The Lizzy McGuire Movie 2003

While watching the Barrett-Jackson auction on Speed Channel we heard about a database of cars that have appeared in film and tv. You can search by movie or by vehicle make. Their rating system indicates what role the car has played in the film. A vehicle nets a rating of 1 to 5 stars depending on the importance of the vehicle in the movie, the time that it is seen on the screen and the importance of the character that uses it. Check out the Internet Movie Cars Database here.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Daimler may launch Smart minicar in U.S.

The car manufacturer is also considering selling the unit.
February 26, 2006: 10:38 AM EST
FRANKFURT, (Reuters) - DaimlerChrysler is leaning in favor of launching its struggling Smart minicar brand in the United States, its chief executive told a German newspaper on Sunday.
"It is now more likely that we will decide in favor of, rather than against (entering) the U.S.," Dieter Zetsche told Handelsblatt newspaper in an interview released in advance of publication on Monday.
A decision on launching the next generation of Smart two-seaters in the United States is expected in the first half of this year, Zetsche said.
Smart narrowed its operating loss in 2005 from about 600 million euros ($714 million) in 2004, Zetsche told an analyst conference call earlier this month.

Read full story here.

Business smarts 15: Performance cars

smart St. Catharines
371 Ontario Street
PO Box 1300
St. Catharines ON
L2R 7A7

Tel: 905-685-3838
Fax: 905-685-8101

Thursday, March 02, 2006

PunchBuggy meets Fishbowl

To Dundas street for shopping. I'm sat in the smart in a strip mall when a little old lady pulls up next to me in a '79 Pacer wagon. She wants to talk so I open the window in the cold. She wants to know all about the smart as her family are urging her to trade in the Pacer for a new smart after all this time. She has a quote for $2000 to fix up the lower bodywork. She tells me she's 78 years of age and that the Pacer has a great engine, just like a Jeep. She giggles when I tell her that the smart does 60 miles to the gallon. We chat for a while and go our separate ways. My only regret is that I didn't have my camera in the car. It was the same model and colour scheme as this one but with spoked wheels and a little rougher around the edges. What a pleasure.

By PunchBuggy

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Business smarts 14: Teddy's Murals

Spruce up the plain walls in your house. Escape boredom and really kick up the visual appeal of your living space with customized artwork from Teddy's Murals. Discover the charm and unique hand-painted quality of murals that reflect your family's good taste and sense of fun.

Teddy's Murals
25 Beatty Crescent
Aurora, ON
L4G 5V3
416 606 4662

ZAP Delivers More Smart Cars, Arizona Dealer Says Micro-Cars Are 'Stopping Traffic'

PHOENIX, AZ -- (MARKET WIRE) -- 02/28/2006 -- Advanced automotive pioneer ZAP (PCX: ZP) announced today that all applicable government certifications for the Smart Car Americanized by ZAP® have been filed and cleared, allowing for the delivery of 85 units to licensed ZAP automotive dealers throughout the United States.
Auto dealer Tim Day of Phoenix, Arizona received one of the first shipments of Smart Cars from ZAP. Day helped in the delivery of the first publicly sold Smart Car Americanized by ZAP when it was auctioned on eBay last summer. Day says he is experiencing first-hand the popularity of the cars.
"We took delivery of the Smart Cars over the weekend and have been getting interest everywhere we go -- left, front and center," said Day. "As we were parking them in front of the dealership, they attracted so much attention they literally stopped traffic, and even caused a fender-bender as people were gawking at them. I drove by my son's elementary school and the teacher invited me to bring the Smart Car for show and tell!"

Read full story here.