Sunday, June 13, 2010

MINI Minor City Car to Rival Smart Fortwo, Toyota iQ?

After introducing a new crossover at the top-end of its lineup, MINI now appears to be readying a new entry-level model – reportedly referred to as the MINI Minor by BMW officials. Designed as a true city car, the new minier MINI would be built to compete against the Smart Fortwo and Toyota iQ models and would be comparible in size. In fact, this would give the car roughly the same footprint as the original MINI Cooper.
According to a report by AutoCar, MINI has long wanted to introduce a more compact model but struggled with how to make it profitable. Solutions to those problems may be had by looking at BMW’s upcoming Megacity car. Similar to the Megacity, the MINI city car would use traditional technology (rather than carbon fiber bodywork). It’s existence may also be the result of BMW’s push to develop three-cylinder engines. Reports have suggested the next generation of MINI Cooper models would use 3-cylinder engines, which could then also be used in a MINI city car, keeping development costs low and helping reduce production costs through economies of scale.
An inside source at the company told AutoCar that the mini car project hasn’t been given the green light just yet, but that a concept model could be shown in the next 12 months.
View source.

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Ticket cancelling manual released

Once-secret guidelines explain possible escapes from that parking fine
By Robyn Doolittle - Urban Affairs Reporter
If you are old, have a medical condition and are religious you have a good chance of beating a parking ticket in Toronto.
The excuses that work with bureaucrats were made public Tuesday night when city council voted to release the holy grail of how-tos: the Parking Ticket Cancellation Guidelines.
According to the previously confidential report, city staff can cancel tickets for drivers on compassionate grounds, especially if they live more than 100 kilometres from Toronto.
Other potentially acceptable excuses are that the driver was attending worship, confused over which side of the street to park, or got multiple tickets for the same offence in a 3-hour window.
The 18-page report details exemptions for fast-food delivery, nursing agencies, tour buses, taxicabs, disabled drivers and delivery vehicles, among others.
Like police, fire and ambulance services, city councillors on “city business” can have tickets cancelled for virtually any infraction.
So why did city council make public some of its deepest secrets?
“Myself and Councillor Moscoe have been trying to get it released for a long time, and staff have constantly been saying ‘It’s confidential, it’s confidential, it’s confidential,” said Councillor Denzil Minnan-Wong.
Read full story here.

Sunday, June 06, 2010

Motorola brings hands-free driving campaign to cities

by Caroline McCarthy

NEW YORK--Motorola has gone into high gear for National Safe Driving Month, and if you live in one of four U.S. cities you might even be seeing them on the roads.
Earlier this week, Motorola launched a free mobile app to decipher the country's various laws about cell phone calling and texting while behind the wheel. This weekend it's kicking off its "Get Smarter" campaign on the streets in New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, and San Francisco where locals will be offered lifts in super-compact Smart ForTwo cars where they can get a product demo of Motorola hands-free gadgets like the H17txt, a headset that reads your text messages out to you in real time and lets you set an auto-response to let your contacts know that you're driving. (Interested customers can follow @motomobile on Twitter to find out where they might be able to hitch a ride.)
On Thursday evening, a company rep picked me up in one of the logo-wrapped Smart cars and gave me a lift downtown, encouraging me to check out the H17txt in the process. We couldn't use it on my iPhone, unfortunately, because the "Motospeak" technology that powers it is only compatible with Android and BlackBerry devices. But on the Android phone that Motorola had brought for demonstrations, the headset clearly read out my test text message of "all your base are belong to us."
The funny irony is that by choosing to launch this campaign in cities like New York, Motorola may actually not be reaching its target market. The situation isn't this extreme in Chicago, Minneapolis, or San Francisco, but in many parts of the New York metro area people just don't drive very much. Paying for a parking space by the month is exorbitant, traffic is reliably horrible, and the subway system is good enough so that it's often faster to take the train than to catch one of the city's (many) taxicabs. Here, typically, when you hear about regulating the use of electronics behind the wheel, it's referring to taxi drivers, who have been banned from using cell phones, and even hands-free headsets, on the job since January.
But distracted driving remains a problem in New York. Nick, the Motorola rep driving me from midtown to Tribeca in a Smart ForTwo, said that in a single day behind the wheel he'd "already seen one accident."

Friday, June 04, 2010

CCTV car will clamp down on school parking

By Tom Patterson
SCHOOL run problem parkers in South Tyneside will be put in the picture later this month – and face hefty fines.
A CCTV camera car is being wheeled out to catch parents who create a danger outside the borough's schools.
The Smart Car, fitted with CCTV cameras, is to undergo a two-week test programme at problem areas over the next few weeks and be fully introduced in June to enforce keep-clear zones outside schools and, later, bus lane restrictions.
The vehicle is being provided by APCOA (UK) Ltd as part of the company's contract to enforce parking regulations in South Tyneside.
Coun Jim Perry, South Tyneside Council's lead member for environment and transport, said: "Parking outside schools in the morning and at home time is a major problem.
"It creates a dangerous situation for children. Our road safety team has been working with headteachers to identify schools where there are serious parking concerns.
"These will be the first to benefit from this enforcement.
"The primary aim of the Smart Car is to improve road safety around our schools.
Read full story here.