Sunday, November 10, 2013

Nissan BladeGlider concept set for Tokyo Motor Show debut

The Nissan BladeGlider will make its debut at the Tokyo Motor Show later this month.

It may seem like a car suitable for Rick Deckard as he tracks down aliens masquerading as human beings, but Nissan will be taking to this month’s Tokyo Motor Show to showcase the wild and absolutely crazy BladeGlider concept.

The BladeGlider shares a shape inspired by the DeltaWing racecar and Nissan’s own ZEOD RC concept, which will be competing in next year’s 24 Hours of Le Mans. A peculiar shape it may be, but its lightweight and narrow front track, coupled with the wide rear end, does wonders for reducing drag and considerably improving high-speed and cornering stability.
Of course, it helps to have doors that swing upwards and underbody aerodynamics that help keep the rubber glued to the tarmac. The BladeGlider’s fighter jet-like stance lends to a one-plus-two interior layout with the driver smack-dab in the middle, similar to the McLaren F1. A lithium-ion battery and carbon fibre bodywork help keep the weight down, translating to a 30/70 front/rear weight distribution. Detailed specs haven’t been announced just yet, but Nissan says the BladeGlider shares much of its engineering with the ZEOD RC, packing electric motors at each wheel.
It might be countless years until we see a production version of the BladeGlider, but Nissan wants to make it into a reality. After all, Nissan says it hints at the future of its electric car.
The Tokyo Motor Show opens its doors on Nov. 20.
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Monday, August 26, 2013

Chuggabug Tour Day 10: Auburn, IN to Toronto, ON

Always hard to tackle, a long last day home via Detroit. From Auburn we cut across to the Ohio Turnpike and splurge $4 on the toll which rushes us to Toledo, Ohio. A pitstop for gas then stock up on Goldenberg's peanut chews from Rite Aid.
We have no delay at the border and within 20 minutes are back in Windsor, ON. We stop at the Dutton ONroute for coffee and diesel. We can't help questioning why our provincial government is in the food court business. The amount of travel information provided is minimal and there are no staff to answer questions.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Chuggabug Tour Day 9: Springfield, IL to Auburn, IN

We overnighted at the Drury Inn in Springfield, IL, a chain that provides a hot breakfast and a 17:30 Kick-back, consisting of light supper and drinks (including alcohol). Great view of the adjacent smokestacks.
Next morning we leave Route 66 behind, heading across endless farm country. We pass an Alcoa plant and a Subaru factory before stopping at Barnes & Noble in Fayetteville, IN. This cavernous bookstore has a questionable business model. I purchase "Nothin' but Blue Skies: The Heyday, Hard Times, and Hopes of America's Industrial Heartland" by Edward McClelland. The book discusses the concepts of ruin-porn (photographing derelict buildings) and rust-belt-chic.
First rain of the tour so we stop at J D's Riverside Café, in Whitley, IN, in a downpour. Salsa and tortilla chips.
We press on to Auburn, IN, in time to tour the Auburn, Cord, Duesenberg Automobile Museum at 1800 South Wayne. (The change from Central to Eastern time means we have lost an hour in the day.) This is rust-belt-chic at its finest - an exquisite art deco building, where the cars were once made, celebrating the largely defunct Indiana motor industry, which contains a wonderful collection of the three marques, plus a smattering of other vehicles including an Indiana-made Crosley Hotshot once owned by Frank Lloyd Wright.
To the Quality Inn, walking to Wal-Mart for bagel take-out supper. RLT.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Chuggabug Tour Day 8: Springfield, MO to Springfield, IL

We normally try to avoid chain restaurants but a US road trip just wouldn't be complete without a breakfast at the Waffle House. We stopped at one in St. Robert, Missouri and it didn't disappoint. A friendly Viet Nam vet helped us map a route over the Mississippi while avoiding the bulk of traffic through St. Louis. Route 30 was a great choice and we made good time. We diverged off the Interstate Highways driving along various alignments of Route 66 in both Missouri and Illinois. Nothing matches the bump-thump of Portland Concrete and the brick road near Auburn, Illinois really channels the ghosts of Route 66.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Chuggabug Tour Day 7: Fort Smith, AR to Springfield, MO

We drive north through the Ozarks and are impressed with the trim town square in Bentonville, AR, home of Wal-Mart. A museum housed in the first Walton's 5 & 10 cent store tells the story of Sam Walton's rise from humble beginnings to the owner of 1,960 Wal-Mart, Sam's Club and Supercentres that employed 380,000 people at the time of his death in 1992. Parking and museum: no charge.
Eureka Springs is a resort community strung out on winding roads in the hills. $5 parking and nothing entices us to stop. After lunch at a poorly-operated restaurant in Branson, MO, we agree it's not the place for us.
We check into the Best Western Rail Haven Motel on Route 66 in Springfield, MO, featuring at-the-door parking, where two Ford cars from the mid-fifties and vintage gas pumps greet you as you drive in. After downtown tour to Steak-N-Shake for supper, 1158 E St Louis, for burger, veggie melt, strawberry/banana shake and coffee, $20 incl tip.

Chuggabug Tour Day 6: Joplin, MO to Fort Smith, AR

From Joplin, MO, we drive to Darryl Starbird's National Rod and Custom Car Hall of Fame just outside Afton, OK. A superb collection of "one of a kind" cars from the 50s to the 80s. Excellent displays about the Hall of Fame members and their cars are richly illustrated with photos and magazine clippings.  En route we revisit Galena, KS, and stop to admire the elegant facade of the Coleman Theater in Miami, OK. Pitstop at Wal-Mart for grits to take home and "Cars" DVD.
Lunch at Nana's Cafe, Jay, OK. Down home cooking including deep fried okra.
At Fort Smith, AR, we are disappointed that, contrary to advertisements, the trolleys are not running. Staff at the Comfort Inn cheer us up with kind offers and the best laundry experience we've ever had at a hotel.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Chuggabug Tour Day 5: Kansas City, KS to Joplin, MO

Heading south of Kansas City, KS, we find small towns in various stages of dereliction. At Fort Scott we briefly tour the historic site that gives the town its name. Established in 1842, the fort has successively served many roles in early settlement, the Civil War and railroad development.We sit at the counter of the Nu Grille where short order cooks are going full out to cater to the Sunday brunch crowd. One guy looks up and quips: "You guys are still sharing pie? I haven't done that since High School."  I suggested he find someone to share pie with;  he might enjoy it. Our waitress adds: "We tell him that all the time."  Back on the "Mother Road" at Galena, KS, we have lunch at "Cars on Route 66" in the converted Kan-O-Tex service station. Trudi has her photo taken with Tow Mater and friend, stars of the movie "Cars."

Chuggabug Tour Day 4: Kansas City, KS & Kansas City, MO

Very interesting day sightseeing in Kansas City, Missouri. I took this photo of the city with Union Station in the foreground from the World War I Liberty Monument. Inside the station, we visited the "National Geographic Real Pirates" exhibit which highlights artifacts from the wreck of  the Whydah, a former slave and pirate ship. Next we toured the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art which was one of the reasons for this trip. We drive back through Country Club Plaza, a 15 block district of high end shops and restaurants in stunning Spanish architecture.

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Chuggabug Tour Day 3: St Charles, MO to Kansas City, KS

Driving westward on Highway 94, which follows the Missouri River to the north, we stop to fill up at McKittrick, MO, where the diesel at BP is just $3.599 per gallon. At Jefferson City, the Missouri State Capitol (seen here) we enjoy "Three Story Coffee" sitting outside the Via Roma Cafe. A guy in the most beat up jallopy we've seen in a long while asks, "Did you get that car out of a cereal box?"
At the Drury Hotel we get spruced up and take a taxi to the New Theatre Restaurant where we're treated to Director's Box seats by the star of Buddy: The Buddy Holly Story, Zachary Stevenson.  The service, food and especially the show are stellar, never to be forgotten.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Chuggabug Tour Day 2: Indianapolis, IN to St Charles, MO

We visit Lucas Oil Indianapolis Raceway Park, in Clermont, IN, home of the NHRA Nationals, before the Indianapolis Motor Speedway Hall of Fame which has a very impressive car collection. Driving southwest out of Indianapolis, through endless fields of corn and soy beans we feel the call of the "Mother Road" and connect with Route 66 at Litchfield, IL. After enjoying cherry turnovers and coffee at Jubelt's Bakery, established 1922, we stop for a photo op at Soulsby's Service station at Mount Olive, IL. We check into the Country Inn at St Charles, MO, and walk through the charming historic downtown for dinner at the Little Hills Winery and Restaurant where the action on the street provides entertainment.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Chuggabug Tour Day 1: Toronto to Indianapolis, IN

Leaving home at 5:40 am payed off as we blast out of the GTA and breakfast at the TA truckstop just outside Woodstock, ON, about 7:15 am. We cross the Ambassador Bridge, paying the $4.75 toll, and waste no time getting away from Detroit, travelling south to Toledo, OH.  The region has become known as the rust belt but Ford Mustangs, La-Z-Boy furniture and Jeeps are still made locally. The weather is on our side and we opt to take state highways rather than the interstate from Fort Wayne, IN, to Indianapolis, IN, stopping at the farmer's market in Huntington, IN, (pictured here) to pick up some fresh fruit and home-made goodies. Sandwich at Starbucks on arrival.

Sunday, July 07, 2013


Smart car off roadSmart has always been known for their witty commercials and clever marketing angles. The Mercedes-Benz-owned micro-car maker is at it again, this time in a brash video that shows the diminutive Smart car on an off-road adventure.
The Smart car first attempts a steep hill-climb, then takes on some bolder crawling, followed by a river crossing. None of it ends well for the rear-engined, rear-wheel-drive fuel miser.
The point the automaker is trying to prove rings true, but you'll have to wait until the very end of the video to get the hook.
Watch the commercial on Autonet here.

Saturday, July 06, 2013

Car sharing in Toronto: AutoShare vs. car2go vs. Zipcar

Car sharing in Toronto is suddenly an industry with a wealth of options (as long as you consider "three" a wealth of options). With car2go arriving on the Toronto scene not too long ago, casual drivers now have an another alternative shaking up the former AutoShare/Zipcar duopoly. But does it really offer a better option? Well, that depends on what you're looking for. If you need a car for a move or delivery, the smart fortwo cars in car2go's fleet probably won't cut it. But if you're a bit of a commitment-phobe and are also anti-annual fee (and in this you could benefit from by-the-minute billing), this new car sharing option might be worth a second glance. Here's a breakdown of how the three companies compare.

Read full article here.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

smart times 13 - Switzerland

23 to 25 August 2013 

Buochs, on Lake Lucerne, Switzerland


Camping: This year camping will be available from 16 to 26 August. As camping is free of charge please 

understand that each participant can only book one camping space. Please use the registration form to


Opening party: We will kick off the first evening as usual with a big opening party. After welcoming the 

nations and welcoming the clubs we will celebrate the 10th birthday of the smart roadster together. 

smart parade: Then on Saturday things will really get going with the heart of the smart times event, the

smart parade. The route will take us through four parishes and two cantons – let’s beat the record number of

cars set in Antwerp! 

Test: Get behind the wheel of the smart fortwo electric drive or hop on the saddle of the smart ebike. 

For more details click here.

Mechanical engineering students building micro car

BANGALORE: Mechanical engineering students of the Nitte Meenakshi Institute of Technology here have designed what they claim is the world's smallest car and are close to completing a prototype. Their KAPPA-47 is a four-wheeled micro car, with a wheelbase of 47 inches, less than the 50-inch wheelbase of the Peel P50 micro car which is widely acknowledged as the smallest car to be mass produced.
A team headed by Prof. Kiran Aithal S comprises final-year students -- Anjum Naveed, Aymaan Ataaz, Prajwal K L and Sachin Pinto. The students had put 14 hours a day for two months on their project in a Malleswaram garage. "We are building a very economical car and it has features like a reverse gear and a rear-end engine which aren't included in the Peel P-50," said Aymaan.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

How Mercedes Turned Pigeon Poop Into Respect for Its Smart Car

By Bob Lord

What’s a brand to do when it literally becomes the butt of a joke about pigeon poop?
That was the problem faced by Smart USA, which takes a lot of ribbing for its small, eco-friendly vehicles. When one Twitter user joked that a bit of pigeon excrement had totaled a smart car, some number crunching led to the calculation that it would actually take 4.5 million pigeon “craps” to do in the Tridion Safety Cell, which provides the main structure of the car. When an infographic with this research was tweeted, everyone from Buzzfeed to Mashable picked up the story. It even hit the top spot on Reddit twice in a 24-hour span. Almost overnight, this “Humor the Haters” social media campaign turned negative comments about the Smart USA (DAI) brand into respect.

Besides being funny and quick, the “poop tweet” was the kind of real-time response that big companies, with their many layers of approval, haven’t been good at. It was made possible by another skill that enterprises haven’t historically mastered: strong collaboration between tech and marketing. Because Smart’s social media and tech teams sit together, the right messaging was rapidly developed and the right infrastructure was put in place to support all the sudden attention. Thus the traffic resulting from an unpredicted 333 percent spike in searches on “tridion safety” didn’t crash the site.

Read full story here.

Friday, June 14, 2013

Microcar Meet will draw quirky, tiny vehicles to Forest Grove this weekend

microcar.JPG Mark Hatten, center, sits in his Messerschmitt microcar at the 2012 Great Pacific Northwest Microcar/Minicar Extravaganza. The Messerschmitt is one of two iconic microcar models.

What: 2013 Great Pacific Northwest Microcar Extravaganza
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, June 16
Where: McMenamins Grand Lodge, 3505 Pacific Ave, Forest Grove, Oregon

For information including registration to participate in Friday and Saturday pre-show events with your car, visit or call Mark Hatten at 503-331-7132.

Read more here.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The timeless allure of microcars

Outsize personality

Microcars have held the limelight of late. The world’s largest privately held collection went under the hammer in the Southeastern US state of Georgia in February, bringing more than $8 million in total sales. The heyday of these cars was surely in the mid- to late 1950s, when post-war Europe turned to creating mobility solutions for the masses. The original Mini and Fiat 500 may be the most recognisable machines from this era, but these four-seaters were downright behemoths compared to the two-seat, low-displacement conveyances surveyed here. Powered by everything from tiny two-stroke engines to advanced electric motors, these microcars are the banner-flyers for the breed. (BMW Group)


Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Liverpool Fab Four

A smart forfour spotted outside the former Liverpool College of Art,68 Hope Street, Liverpool, once attended by John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe.

Thursday, March 14, 2013