Friday, September 29, 2006

Mercedes-Benz won't sell small car in U.S.

PARIS, Sept 29 (Reuters) - DaimlerChrysler's premium brand Mercedes-Benz won't sell a small car in the United States even though consumers in the world's biggest car market are clamouring for fuel efficiency, a top Mercedes official said.
"In the U.S., Mercedes is perceived as a luxury car," Mercedes Car Group sales and marketing chief Klaus Maier told Reuters at the Paris car show, stressing his group did not want to dilute the brand by moving too far down market.
Maier said a 6-cylinder C-Class Mercedes-Benz -- a posh car in Europe -- was seen as an entry-level model for the brand in North America.
Exchange rates also play a role in the company's calculations. Mercedes originally dropped plans to market its German-made B-Class car in North America because the strong euro made sales there unattractive.
"You have to consider very carefully whether the investment to introduce the B-Class (in North America) would pay off," he said, pointing out that the car, launched in Europe last year, would be two years old by the time it reached America.
Mercedes does not sell its even smaller A-Class car in North America, although it will launch its two-seat Smart car in major U.S. cities in 2008.
Chrysler, the U.S. arm of the world's fifth-biggest carmaker, has been suffering from U.S. consumers' sudden aversion to inefficient light trucks and sport utility vehicles, on which it depends for the bulk of its sales and profits.
Chrysler has been negotiating with potential partners to build a subcompact model that it cannot afford to develop on its own and a decision is due by year's end.
It also is launching more fuel-efficient models in a bid to capture consumer demand and compete with Asian rivals whose more economical cars are in favour.
Maier ruled out selling a Mercedes-Benz model under the Chrysler brand in North America.
© Reuters 2006. All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Car buyers get smart at Randallstown dealership

Baltimore Business Journal - 2:44 PM EDT Monday
by Stephanie Wentworth, Staff
Baltimore got a little smarter over the weekend.
Prestige Imports, a car dealership that focuses on imported and specialty vehicles, received its first shipment of so-called "smart cars" Sept. 23. Prestige is one of the first dealerships in Maryland to sell the tiny egg-shaped cars that have been popular in Europe since the late-1990s.
The Randallstown dealership said Monday it had received 30 smart cars that are selling for $27,900. The small two-seat vehicles are 8 feet long and 5 feet wide and resemble golf carts. The cars average 60 miles per gallon of gasoline, according to a news release.
Prestige Imports sold its first two cars to Neil and Deni Tabor, owners of Ashley Custom Homes in Hampden. The couple plans to have their company's logo and Web site painted on the car doors.
Daimler Chrysler began selling 30,000 smart cars in the United States during the third quarter. Company officials told Inc., a vehicle information service, the car maker plans to increase production by 60,000 vehicles per year after its smart car debut.
View source.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

smart car Helps Brampton Bloom

City of Brampton wins the 2006 National Communities in Bloom competition.

The civic pride and beautification competition isn't just about flowers. Communities are judged in a wide range of areas: tidiness effort, urban forestry, landscaped areas, floral displays, turf and groundcover areas, environmental awareness, heritage preservation, and community involvement. The annual spring and fall cleanups earned marks, as did the city's biodeisel fueled buses and Smart car/hybrid fleet for bylaw officers.

View source.

Media Release#: 06-057For Immediate Release - April 04, 2006
Little Blue Cars Help Keep Brampton Clean And Green
BRAMPTON- The City of Brampton this week has introduced the first of 16 Smart cars and hybrid vehicles driven by By-Law Enforcement officers and aimed at conserving fuel and reducing emissions.
“Local municipal governments must take a leadership role as the importance of climate protection escalates,” said Brampton Mayor Susan Fennell. "By using Smart cars and hybrid vehicles, the City of Brampton will avoid producing up to 32,000 kilograms of CO2, and ultimately save the taxpayer $13,000 in fuel cost savings this year alone."

Read full article here.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

String Isetta

Hi Annette,
We're just back from a break in France - had a beautiful cottage in the Tarn, about 45 min from Toulouse. Went to Albi last Saturday where the attached was taking part in the Fete de la Patisserie - don't ask, but there was a huge amount of free cake!
The vehicle was charging about through the crowds. It has a cord-laced wirebody on a steel frame, and the driver sits outside, high at the back, and pedals and steers. At one point he had three large kids inside and two women on stilts sitting on the roof (again, don't ask), and was happily pedalling away, no sign of a sweat!
Great break, very restful, now back to a serious Rocket groundrush . . .
best wishes,

Monday, September 25, 2006

Sneak peek: 2007 smart fortwo

For more photos go to Leftlane News.
If you speak Dutch, read more on smartforum netherlands.

Business smarts 21: TransGlobe Property Management

TransGlobe Property Management is dedicated to property management with integrity. To us, that means providing all our clients with personal assistance, a professional atmosphere and a superior total property solution. We bring this dedication to all our dealings — and with more than a decade of management experience, and a portfolio that includes 16,000 apartments and over 4.5 million square feet of commercial space, that adds up to a lot of satisfied clients.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Push it to the limit

Photo by Ashley Camara
The Mississauga News
Suresh Joachim pushed a Mercedes-Benz smart car around Lake Aquitaine on the weekend in an attempt to break the world record for fastest time for pushing a vehicle one mile. He set a new mark of 35 minutes and 40 seconds. He also set a new world record, pushing the car more than 21 kilometres over a 24-hour period. Joachim, the holder of several unusual world records performed his latest stunt in Meadowvale to help promote this year's Terry Fox Run.

View source.

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Ask Dr Z ? Not in Canada. Dreadful pity.

Is it Doctor Zee or Doctor Zed? Doesn't matter how you say it - he only takes questions from Americans. I visited the site and attempted to send a message but found when I tried to enter my address there is a pull down menu for "state" but not one for country.
You can watch the five commercials featuring DCX chairman Dr Dieter Zetsche and read "recent questions" but not ask anything unless you phreak it by entering a state and corresponding zip code.
The ad campaign launched July first of this year has been suspended as of September first.

Chrysler suspends Dr. Z ads; return in works Company will debut ten new vehicles as it braces for a $600 million third-quarter loss.
Josee Valcourt / The Detroit News
The mustachioed German pitchman that graced television screens as part of a two-month, $100 million Chrysler advertising campaign has been muted -- for now.
The Chrysler Group on Thursday suspended its Ask Dr. Z television and radio spots starring DaimlerChrysler AG Chairman Dieter Zetsche as it prepares to roll out new zero-percent financing offers for 72 months today.
The automaker is examining phase two of the brand-building Dr. Z campaign.
Well known in Detroit, Zetsche was introduced to the nation this summer in ads to tout to buyers that its cars and trucks have the best of American and German design and engineering.
The ads, which started airing July 1, generated plenty of discussion, both from those who liked the quirky commercials and critics who said they were ineffective or ill-conceived.
Read full report here.

Daimler Cuts Full-Year Profit Target on Chrysler Woes (Update7)

By Jeremy van Loon and Barbara Powell
Sept. 15 (Bloomberg) -- DaimlerChrysler AG, the world's fifth-largest carmaker, unexpectedly cut its full-year profit forecast because of a projected $1.5 billion loss at Chrysler in the U.S. in the third quarter. Its U.S. shares fell the most in more than four years.
For the full year, DaimlerChrysler will post an operating profit of about 5 billion euros ($6.3 billion) compared with an earlier forecast of more than 6 billion euros, the Stuttgart, Germany-based automaker said. Chrysler previously expected to lose as much as 500 million euros ($600 million) in the quarter.
Zetsche, who starred in television ads as "Dr. Z.'' this summer to promote Chrysler vehicles, is also spending 3 billion euros to cut 15,000 jobs, including 8,500 at the Mercedes Car Group, which includes the unprofitable Smart car business. Mercedes lost its position as the world's largest maker of luxury cars to Munich-based Bayerische Motoren Werke [BMW] AG last year.
Read full report at source:

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

ATV SMART Electric Vehicle in the UK

The AVT [Alternative Vehicle Technology] conversions include the robotized semi automatic gearbox and offer top speeds over 60 mph with a choice of three battery packs for different travel ranges. You can choose from two types of lithium ion battery packs or a lead acid pack: The smaller lithium ion pack allows you to drive for between 60 and 80 miles, the larger between 80 and 100 miles, or you can specify a lead acid battery pack for between 20 and 40 miles. With fuel prices currently so unstable now is the time to get smart and drive an AVT Smart EV.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

VIDEO: Smart vs. Ferrari

Posted Sep 8th 2006 3:25PM by Damon Lavrinc
Peter Bee found the 60-ish horses available from his ForTwo inadequate for his daily duties (no, we have no idea what his duties entail) and sought the help of the British firm Z Cars to add a little boost to his compact commuter. Z Cars are the blokes that have the dastardly tendency of throwing R1 motors into classic Minis and they graciously accepted the challenge that Mr. Bee laid down. The result is a ForTwo equipped with a 180-hp GSXR1000 motor that can run the 1320 in 12.4 and reaches 60 in a few shakes above 4 seconds. What do you do with that kind of forward progression? Naturally you meet up with a Ferrari F430 and challenge it to a drag.

Go here to watch video of tuner smart car "Diablo" vs a Ferrari

Monday, September 11, 2006

2nd Annual ONE X ONE Benefit Gala hosted by Matt Damon raises millions

TORONTO, Sept. 11 /CNW/
- Founder of ONE X ONE, Joelle Berdugo Adler, announced today that the ONE X ONE Benefit gala last night was a resounding success raising over 2M dollars to financially assist earmarked charities.
Academy Award Winner Matt Damon hosted the 2nd Annual ONE X ONE with special guests Brad Pitt, Jeffrey Sachs, Penelope Cruz and many more.
As auctioneer, Matt Damon was able to raise $260,000 on one item - The Ocean's 13 Premiere in Los Angeles combined with an HP Home Entertainment package. Leveraging his friend Brad Pitt in order to create a bidding war, the sold out crowd of over 500 people from around the world were able to share in the excitement. Soon after, Wyclef Jean and the African Children's Choir wowed the crowd with Wyclef's own ONE X ONE improv set.
Another live auction item, a Smart Car signed by all the notables during the evening, was bid on and won by the auctioneer himself - Matt Damon. Live music performers played far into the night including Grammy Award Winner John Legend, ONE X ONE musical ambassadors and Juno Award winners Raine Maida and Chantal Kreviazuk, and Sam Roberts, to name a few.

Read full press release here.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

What are all these fortwos doing in California?

Jalopnik reports that these photos, "were snapped, camera phone style, by reader Keith Cody of this Port Hueneme, CA loading dock".
What are they doing there? Are they ZAP imports or destined for Penske's UnitedAuto distributors?

Friday, September 08, 2006

AC/DC or sound business sense

Is this déjà vu all over again? I don't want to put the mockers on Project Kimber and their new AC smart sportscar, but haven't we been here before? A part of the world that is not known for car production [in this case Wales] is anxious to pony up taxpayers cash to attract a sports car manufacturer. Cue the Bricklin in New Brunswick, Canada. Cue the De Lorean in Northern Ireland. All we need is for the AC smart to be launched with gull-wing doors.
Project Kimber has only one chance to get it right. In short the existing smart sportscar failed because it looked a bit funny, lacked grunt and was too expensive. A bit of a hairdresser's car. We could add that Mercedes-Benz didn't really know what to do with it.
The new version needs to look drop-dead gorgeous, have more power and be priced more competitively from day one. For looks the Dodge Slingshot showcar would be a good place to start. Reports that the car will sell for £13,000 are encouraging but watch that price creep up as time goes by.
By the way does anyone remember the Gilbern? RLT

Roadster Re-launch

Project Kimber news 31st August 2006
Project Kimber is pleased to confirm that it has secured an exclusive option which will allow the re-branded and re-engineered smart roadster to be re-launched under the world-famous marque of AC.
This has been agreed with the owners of the AC sports car brand, Acedes Holdings, LLC, and provides a sub-licence for ongoing use together with the option of an acquisition at a later date.
If this option is triggered it will not affect the production of any product manufactured through Acedes Holdings, LLC, producers of classic AC models. The option is subject only to a successful closing of Project Kimber’s funding.
The Welsh Assembly Government announced at the London Motor Show in July that it had made a conditional offer "in principle" to Project Kimber of regional aid. A number of possible assembly locations in South Wales are now being studied. Wales's economic circumstances allow it to grant the maximum funding permitted under European Union rules for regional assistance.
Read full report here.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

British Firm Converts Mini Cooper to Hybrid

Source: Treehugger [Sep 03, 2006]
SYNOPSIS: The PML Mini QED supports an all-electric range of 200-250 miles and has a total range of about 932 miles (1,500 km).
A British engineering firm has put together a high-performance hybrid version of BMW's Mini Cooper. The PML Mini QED has a top speed of 150 mph, a 0-60 mph time of 4.5 seconds. The car uses a small gasoline engine with four 160 horsepower electric motors — one on each wheel. The car has been designed to run for four hours of combined urban/extra urban driving, powered only by a battery and bank of ultra capacitors. The QED supports an all-electric range of 200-250 miles and has a total range of about 932 miles (1,500 km). For longer journeys at higher speeds, a small conventional internal combustion engine (ICE) is used to re-charge the battery. In this hybrid mode, fuel economies of up to 80mpg can be achieved.


Ramona Home Journal & Julian Journal
By Johnny McDonald

The incomparable Roger Penske is a remarkable businessman. Maybe he should run for president.
I knew him well several years ago, talking to him at Riverside International Raceway in 1962 after he scored a controversial victory in a Canadian-American Challenge race.
The rules called for a two-seat body and his was more like a single-seat formula machine. He won that argument and has been winning somewhere ever since.
Most will identify him with his race cars, winners of 14 Indianapolis 500's. Away from the track, he is in partnership with General Electric and serves as chairman of United Auto Group Inc., a consortium of 173 U.S. car dealerships and 123 non-U.S. stores.
He tops all that off with a new venture, as an importer and U.S. sales chief for Daimler Chrysler's new two-seat Smart Car.
It's a far cry from his position along the Indy pit wall wearing headsets.
View source.

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Canadian light vehicle sales rise 7.8 per cent in August to 153,638

TORONTO (CP) - Light vehicle sales in Canada rose 7.8 per cent in August to 153,638 from 142,537 in same month a year ago, according to data compiled by DesRosiers Automotive Consultants.
Sales of passenger cars improved 4.2 per cent to 82,245, while purchases of light trucks, including minivans, sport utility vehicles and pickups, grew 12.3 per cent to 71,393. "August quite frankly surprised us," Dennis DesRosiers wrote Tuesday in his monthly commentary on auto sales."August sales of 153,638 units was by a long shot the most vehicles ever purchased in August ... the previous record was August 2002 when sales were 148,100 units."
Ford of Canada (NYSE:F) clawed back market share as it sold 21,266 cars in the month, up 28.6 per cent from a year ago when it sold just 16,531. The U.S. automaker also increased its year-to-date market share to 14.7 per cent, up from 13.7 per cent in 2005.
DaimlerChrysler Canada (NYSE:DCX) also increased sales 13.1 per cent to 20,252 units.
However General Motors of Canada (NYSE:GM) sales were down 4.5 per cent from 38,766 to 37,012 in August.
Toyota Canada, meanwhile, increased sales 16.2 per cent with 17,865, up from 15,372 a year ago. Toyota's year-to-date market share also improved to 11.6 per cent from 10.3 per cent.
Toyota's luxury brand, Lexus, saw its sales increase 34.9 per cent to 1,001, up from 742 a year ago.
Meanwhile, GM's market share fell 2.8 percentage points to 25.9 per cent, according to DesRosiers figures. DaimlerChrysler slipped to 13.8 per cent from 14 per cent in 2005.
Honda sales were flat at 15,579 compared with 15,578 last year with a 8.4 per cent market share. Its premium Acura brand improved to 2,238, up from 2,103 a year ago.
Volkswagen Canada sales totalled 3,623, up 12.4 per cent from a year ago, while VW's premium Audi unit booked an 4.2 per cent gain to 663.
BMW sales were up 20.5 per cent at 1,755, Mercedes-Benz was up 18.5 per cent at 1,149 and Porsche was down 1.3 per cent at 157. Among other low-volume makers, Subaru gained 10.4 per cent to 1,438, Saab was down 15.6 per cent at 248 and sales of the tiny Smart car flat at 288.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

New Smart ForTwo rises from the sand

Posted Sep 5th 2006 1:52PM by Damon Lavrinc
Many people maintain that each person is imbued with a talent that sets them apart from the rest. For Russian born Pavel Zasanyok, that gift has won him three sand sculpting world championships and when Smart wanted an inventive way to show off their newest ForTwo, DaimlerChrysler tapped him. Although Smart's newest city-car offering has been veiled in a cloak of secrecy, the sand architect got specifics from both the company and a matchbox-sized model. This, and other advertising ploys, is all in an effort to stir up excitement before the launch of the new ForTwo later this year.
While it may not be the most lightweight of materials, we can't help but wonder what our own hidden talent may be. Maybe we should reexamine this whole blog thing and explore our first love of Magnum P.I. inspired dioramas.

For more pictures go here.

Monday, September 04, 2006

Suzuki's Project Splash, Swift Sport headed to Paris

Posted Aug 14th 2006 9:08AM by Alex Nunez
Next month in Paris, Suzuki will be unveiling the Project Splash concept (they're calling it a "clinic model") , a modern-looking-tall-bodied hatchback based on the Swift subcompact. The Splash will show off a new 1.2-liter 4-cylinder gasoline engine and seat five passengers.Suzuki is keeping the rest of the info about Project Splash to itself for the time being, though they did release a design sketch (above). With the big shield grille, wide, thin headlamps, and downward-sloping roofline, we're seeing what appears to be some Audi Q7 influences. The car offers us a peek at the direction Suzuki's taking with an upcoming model, so we're very interested in seeing the finished product.
For more read full post here.

Saturday, September 02, 2006

Christine Wilcox's smart car looks friendly and is especially nice to your wallet

By VINCE DEVLIN of the Missoulian
Smart? That's the question Christine Wilcox's father wanted her to pose on her license plate after she bought a European-built, bread box-sized smart car. “But they don't do question marks on license plates,” Wilcox says.
So she settled for a plate that reads 𔄝 X 8,” the dimensions, in feet, of her tiny ride. It's so small the company that makes them doesn't even bother putting a capital letter on the car's name. That, evidently, would take up too much room.
First, the things a smart car is not:
- It is not a hybrid.
- It is not electric.
- You do not pedal it (as you do many of the modes of transportation offered by ZAP, the California company that imports smart cars and refits them to meet American standards).
- Oh, and it is not big.
But you figured that out already. Still, the two-seat interior of the eye-catching automobile is surprisingly roomy. And the gas-powered engine delivers 50 miles per gallon, an especially nice feature given Montana's high gas prices.
The 60-horsepower, three-cylinder turbo engine is mounted under the small hatchback area at the rear of the car. Wilcox, who is from Missoula, was just finishing two years of living in Spain when the smart car hit the European market in 1998. She instantly fell in love with the little thing. “People say it's so great, I'm being so fuel-efficient,” Wilcox says. “But the reality is I've wanted it forever. I'm not trying to be an environmental wonder woman. I got it because I wanted one.”
Read full article here.

Friday, September 01, 2006

Fun at the Phoenix & Firkin

Club smart car Toronto group met last night at the Phoenix & Firkin on Sheppard near the DVP.
Chatted about smarts, driving, market research and teaching over dinner. Discussed ways of encouraging more smart drivers to come out to Toronto events.
Above: Buttercup arriving in Fireball- photo by Spinner.