Saturday, January 30, 2010

India shuns scooters as cars take over

Production cut

The Bajaj scooter is an iconic Indian brand first launched in 1972.
Inspired by the Italian Vespa, these scooters captured the essence of a generation of Indians.
Entire families - husband, wife and two children - could be seen sitting on the Bajaj scooter, riding around small and big towns across the country.
They were so much in demand that there were waiting lists to buy one. Many sold at high premiums.
But as the country's economy grew rapidly, many people bypassed the scooter, instead buying fancy motorbikes or even cars.
So the parent company Bajaj has decided to do phase out scooter production.
After March 2010, the company, which is one of the largest two-wheeler manufacturers in the world, will stop producing scooters and focus on selling motorbikes.

Read full article by Shilpa Kannan at BBC News.

Car cram world record at Mall

By Danielle Nicastri
AUSTRALIAN and New Zealand rivalry was on display inside a two-seater smart car at Warringah Mall on Monday.
A group of Aussies broke the Guinness World Record held by the Kiwis with 16 when they squashed 18 inside the car for an upcoming Channel Seven TV series.
The feat involved hours of strategic planning and sleepless nights for two coaches, one of them Sarah Josephsen who also participated.
``It is like tetris, everyone is excited,’’ she said. The group comprised men and women from 19 years to late 30s from a St Leonards rock climbing centre and gym. ``We got all the bendiest and smallest people we could find over five foot and 18 years,’’ Sara said.
``We had five at the back and 13 in the front. it’s just a matter of getting it all together on the day. Having Guinness medals around our necks and being on television were huge selling points and it’s something to show your grandchildren one day,’’ she said.
Source: The Manly Daily

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Smart car starts leasing deals after big sales slide

Smart's new U.S. chief has only been on the job a few weeks and already change is afoot. It's needed, given how the minicar outfit has seen big sales declines. Now Smart cars will be available for lease.
The Smart ForTwo Pure coupe will lease for $169 a month. The lease term is 36 months, with allowance for 10,000 miles a year. You have to pay $999 down, a $595"acquisition" fee and first month's payment at the time of lease. The deal is good through Feb. 28.
Daimler Financial Services is handling the financing. Smart cars are made by Daimler - better known for the Mercedes-Benz - in France, but sold and now leased in the U.S. through Penske Automotive Group.
"Our new lease program allows customers added flexibility with financing options," said Jill Lajdziak [(pronounced La-Jek, picture left], the new president of Smart USA. It "allows Smart customers to enjoy leasing benefits such as low monthly payments, driving a new vehicle every two-to-three years and hassle-free vehicle turn-ins." Who is Smart's new chief with the hard-to-spell name?:
She came to Smart from General Motors, where she had headed the Saturn division -- now shuttered -- and replaced Dave Schembri, who got Smart started in the U.S.
"We have continued confidence in the brand based on the volume of vehicles sold since the Smart ForTwo went on sale and two years of residual value data to offer a lease option."
The recession, relatively stable gas prices and a not-exactly stellar record for reliability have hurt Smart sales. Sales fell 40.7% last year, Autodata reports.
Source: USA Today

Driving home in a future winner?

Less wheels,less size and gasoline free – at least somebody is thinking outside the box

By Mark Richardson

Is this the future of personal transportation?
The Triac electric commuter, seen here at the Detroit auto show, is the brainchild of Mike Ryan, president of California-based Green Vehicles, a two-year-old company with 15 staff so far.
It's a three-wheeler, which classifies it as a motorcycle and so gives it automatic access to almost every High Occupancy Vehicle lane. So it's a speedy commuter.
(I say "almost" because the Ontario Ministry of Transportation refuses to accept its mistake and still prohibits motorcycles with a single rider in the HOV lanes. I believe it's the only jurisdiction in the entire world to be so dumb.)
Being officially a motorcycle also means that there's no crash testing needed, which saves Green Vehicles a pile of start-up cash.
But because the driver is completely enclosed, the West Coast states of California, Oregon and Washington don't require its operators to wear a crash helmet or even have a motorcycle licence. After all, it has a steering wheel and pedals for the power and brakes.
Ryan wasn't sure about laws in the other states, or Canada.
The two-seater, $25,000 Triac can travel at up to 130 km/h for up to 160 km on a five-hour charge.
There are four on the road now and 16 more spoken for. Ryan wants to make 1,000 a year. Don't look for them in Canada anytime soon.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Tango: Trade Your Boredom for Freedom

The revolutionary Tango combines the speed and agility of a motorcycle with the security of a high-performance sports car.

The Tango's ability to maneuver through traffic is second to none. Being 5" narrower than many motorcycles, it can get through traffic like no other car in history. Where lane splitting is permitted (i.e., driving between lanes of stopped or slow-moving traffic), the advantage can be staggering. In extremely heavy traffic, a Tango or motorcycle can travel in 20 seconds the distance that cars travel in 20 minutes.

Official website.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Impossibly Cheap, Tiny Car Coming To American Market

By Laura Northrup

Back in the early '00s, I saw Smart cars zipping around my neighborhood in France and thought, "Europe is so weird! They'd never sell those in the US." But I was wrong. And the relative success of tiny cars like the Mini Cooper and, the Smart fortwo has led to the inevitable. The world's cheapest car, India's Tata Nano, is coming to America and Europe in about three years.

The Nano sells for about $2,500 USD in India, and will be more robust and safer before it shows up on the American and European markets. But it'll still be tiny, and cheaper than a base-model Hyndai Accent, currently the cheapest new car on the US market.

Read full story here.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

WiMAX smart car

Intel’s Smart car shows the capabilities of driving while connecting to the high speed Internet using a mobile WiMAX connection. It’s rigged with Centrino laptop computing technology and has a daylight viewable touchscreen display integrated into the dash.
There are two Webcams, including one hidden in the rear view mirror pointed at the driver and another directed out the front window. And the 5.1 surround sound system plus GPS navigation system keep you in the groove — it’s not always the destination, but the travel between.
Inside the car, we can make Skype voice and video calls, select music on demand or find episodes of TV shows using services available on the Internet.

View source.

View video here.

Monday, January 04, 2010

Daimler: Smart To Significantly Exceed 100,000 Car Sales 2015

FRANKFURT (Dow Jones)--Daimler AG (DAI) said Wednesday that annual car sales at its Smart brand are expected to significantly exceed 100,000 vehicles by 2015.

A spokeswoman for the German automaker said the brand's sales are anticipated to "considerably surpass" the 100,000 threshold by 2015, detailing statements made earlier this week during a company event in Abu Dhabi.

The sales chief of Daimler's core Mercedes-Benz Cars division, Joachim Schmidt, was cited by German media reports as saying at the event that Smart's car sales would be "somewhat above 100,000" vehicles annually in 2015.

In the January-to-November period this year, the Smart brand's global sales totaled about 107,000 vehicles compared with full-year sales of 134,800 cars in 2008.

The Mercedes-Benz Cars division, which comprises the Mercedes-Benz, Smart and Maybach nameplates, targets annual car sales of 1.5 million vehicles in total by 2015, according to Schmidt.

By Christoph Rauwald, Dow Jones Newswires
Source: The Wall Street Journal, DECEMBER 16, 2009,

Sunday, January 03, 2010

Emergency services brace for NYE influx

Emergency services will be out in force in Sydney's metropolitan area on New Year's Eve, with an estimated 1.5 million people expected to attend celebrations in the harbour city.
The Police Commissioner, Andrew Scipione, says 2,500 police will be on duty in Sydney on New Year's Eve with the majority patrolling the CBD.
He says their main job on the night will be to see that people get home safely, and he has warned drunks that bad behaviour will not be tolerated.
Commissioner Scipione says police from a number of divisions will be out, including the public order riot squad.
"We'll be having about 130 commuter crime officers on the train system alone, backed up by about 350-odd transit officers, so many people will go out and enjoy themselves, unfortunately some will go out and they will be arrested and they will be dealt with according to the law," he said.
Read full story and watch video here.