These days, the online world seems to be mostly full of scary things and overly-opinionated people shouting at each other. With that in mind, let us give you a few minutes of calming solace as we bring you something small, cute and utterly inoffensive: the Skoda Element. It’s not - I’m afraid - a production car, rather a one-off piece of work created by a group of students from the Skoda Vocational School. Taking a Citigo and completely reworking the bodywork, the students have created a door-less, open-top, all-electric beach buggy, and it might just be the most adorable car we’ve ever seen. … [Read more...] about The Skoda Element Is The Adorable Beach Buggy The World Needs Right Now
April 20: According to a report by a global research firm Ipsos, Indians have again emerged as the second most confident people about their economy globally. This is on account of rising hope that the Indian economy will grow faster than expected with the Reserve Bank of India cutting the repo rate and lower inflationary pressure. According to the Ipsos Economic Pulse of the World Survey, India's economic confidence further jumped up by 5 points to 79 percent in March 2012 compared to the previous month, to retain the second most economically confident nation title after Saudi Arabia which tops the table with 89 percent.The Ipsos survey was conducted in March 2012 among 18,775 people in 24 countries. Mick Gordon, CEO of Ipsos in India, said: "India has overtaken Japan to become the third-largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity (as per IMF report) and is heading for accelerated growth following Reserve Bank of India cutting repo rate by 50 bps and inflation moderating to … [Read more...] about Ipsos study puts India as worlds second most economically confident country
The Indian automotive industry is the sixth largest in the world having deep forward and backward linkages with several key segments of the economy. The industry has a strong positive multiplier effect which acts as a key driver of economic growth. As India rapidly emerges as a global sourcing hub for automakers across the globe, the Indian automotive industry is also fast transforming to meet the expectations and stringent norms of its diverse customers. The well-developed Indian auto industry produces a wide variety of vehicles - passenger cars, light, medium, heavy commercial vehicles, multi-utility vehicles, two-wheelers, tractors and other off-road vehicles, while the Indian auto component sector manufactures a complete portfolio of products which include engine parts, drive transmission and steering parts, body and chassis, suspension and braking parts, equipment and electrical parts, besides others. The components industry grows in tandem with the vehicle industry and with the … [Read more...] about Auto components – Made in India for the world
Sanjay Bandopadhyay, the CEO of the National Automotive Testing and R&D Infrastructure Project (NATRiP), and the former joint secretary of the Union Ministry of Road Transport and Highways, speaks to Shobha Mathur on benchmarking new projects with global standards, undertaking crash testing in India, building roads scientifically and a scrappage scheme. You have recently taken over as the head of NATRiP. What is the current readiness of the safety and testing infrastructure under the organisation?We are developing the automotive design and testing centres but many of the centres are already operational. There are different timelines for different facilities. Many arms of the centres will get completed in December 2015 and some in June 2016 like the infotronics laboratory and crash testing labs. The high-speed testing track will come up in two years. NATRiP has seen a lot of time and cost overruns and spillovers in completion of centres and labs. What is your view on this?This is … [Read more...] about ‘The facilities coming up under NATRiP are the best in the world.’
Mobility improves quality of life by providing access to people, places and experiences. It also enables economic advancement by providing access to goods and markets. These are considered self-evident truths here in the developed world but can mobility also transform quality of life and economic development for the world’s poorest people, such as rural Africans? Imagine a solar-powered EV service that is operated and maintained by a village entrepreneur. This could address the need for many women to individually walk to collect wood from the forest (or to collect water from a well) and provide time for education or to make goods that generate income. High insolation loads in Africa can permit a low speed, lightweight vehicle to travel daily between adjacent villages. This could facilitate access to fertilizer distribution centers, to markets for crops and crafts, and to healthcare that may not exist in the village. The business is funded from users as it enables them to sell … [Read more...] about Sustainable mobility for the world’s poorest people
Hidden deep in the bowels of a rather boring story on how the China’s Traffic Control Bureau wants to implement “nine measures to better manage autos and supervise drivers” (story brought to you by the China Securities Journal via Gasgoo) is an interesting nugget of information: “The number of motor vehicles owned by Chinese citizens is of 199 million according to this year’s figure, 85 million of which are cars.” Now THAT is interesting. The number previously published was just motorvehicles. Everybody knew that that included gobzillions of two- and threewheelers. The true number of cars on China’s roads and hence the crucial cars per thousand number was anybody’s guess. If we accept (don’t, it’s wrong), the China population number of 1,338,612,968 as published by the CIA factbook, then we have 63 cars per thousand. Using the widely assumed population number of 1.5b for China doesn’t change the number much: 56 cars per … [Read more...] about Here Is Why The World’s Largest Car Market Will Get Much, Much Larger
Just like yesterday night, April 7th, it was raining in Detroit on the night of April 7,1947. There was extensive flooding on the Rouge River and 83 year old Henry Ford had spent part of the day at he beloved Greenfield Village, making sure that it was not damaged. The next day he was planning on touring Ford facilities in southeastern Michigan to see how the flood had affected his factories. After returning to Fair Lane, the estate that Henry and Clara built on the Rouge, the two had dinner by candlelight, as the flood had also knocked out the estate’s powerhouse. That must have been a disappointment to Henry, as his primary interest seems to have been power. Before his automotive ventures, Ford was chief operating engineer of the Edison Illuminating Co. of Detroit. At dinner, Henry and Clara discussed the 100 mile trip he was planning for the next day. As was his custom, he retired to his bedroom at 9 p.m. A little bit after 11, Henry called Clara to his bedside. He complained … [Read more...] about An Interpretation. Did He Make the World A Better Place, Or Not?
It’s long form Saturday! Most of you probably thought you would never see the day Bertel writes a fiery manifesto for the Electric Car. Today is your day. Yesterday, we were first to run with the story that Beijing most likely will become EV capital of the world. Not because Beijing scientists have developed the miracle battery. Not because Chinese EVs suddenly go 400 miles on a single charge. Physics did not change. Beijing changes. Months ago, new car buyers in Beijing stopped dreaming about buying a new car.That dream was shattered. Now suddenly, an EV has become the only car a new car buyer can buy and drive tomorrow. Or on Monday. If one would be on sale. Here is what happened: In Beijing, the car market has completely collapsed. That does not grab you? Then what if the car market had come to a complete halt in Australia? Beijing has about the population of Australia and had car sales approaching those of Australia. Why did the Beijing market collapse? Because the city … [Read more...] about Why Beijing Will Become The World’s Electric Vehicle Capital
Calm and cautious Toyota has a better sense of humour than you might give it credit for. This is a company that’s quietly having a laugh at the expense of its biggest international rivals, VW and GM; lesser domestic enemies, Nissan and Honda; plus neighbouring Korean upstarts, Kia and Hyundai. Most of these competitors are louder, bolder and cockier. But in terms of annual vehicle production, sales, profits and market value, they lose and Toyota wins. It is the undisputed world champion of motor manufacturing. Also, it’s not doing bad in Blighty. Toyota GB is celebrating 50 successful years here, 25 of them building Toyotas at Burnaston. Its dealers are rated in the top two of our Driver Power survey. The cars get five-year warranties that most Japanese makers refuse to offer. Wonder why? • "The London Motor Show will be a sell-out success" True, Toyota has adopted an ultra-cautious ‘born to be mild’ approach to design over the decades. But it’s had … [Read more...] about “The world’s number one vehicle producer needs the world’s number one designer”
Thousands of cars and lorries thunder along this stretch of road in south west Germany every day, yet few drivers will notice the small brown heritage signs lining it. On them are four simple words: Bertha Benz Memorial Route. It might not seem much, but these words should carry real weight for those travelling along the route, as without the trailblazing wife of car maker Karl Benz, modern-day motorists might have a tougher journey to work. • UK fuel prices on the up That’s because 39-year-old Bertha took her husband’s new creation – the Motorwagen – along with her two teenage children to visit her mother and a newly born niece 70 miles away. It was during this trip that Bertha made the first ever fuel stop at the Stadt-Apotheke – or town pharmacy – in Wiesloch, Baden-Wurttemburg. That car – the Benz Patent Motorwagen – and the subsequent journey kick-started the automotive revolution, with the three-wheeler celebrating its 130th … [Read more...] about Filling up on history: we visit the site of the world’s first fuel stop
The Volkswagen Golf GTi may be what many consider the definitive “hot hatch,” and most enthusiasts credit it with popularizing the idea of a functional yet fun-to-drive and economical daily driver. From its roots have sprung countless pocket-sized performance variants, right up to today’s current Focus RS. But the Volkswagen Golf was far from the world’s first hatchback. It wasn’t even close. So where did the idea of a hinged-rear body panel begin? More than 40 years prior to the launch of the GTi, another innovative car introduced the world to the idea of the hatchback, among a few other new features. Are you surprised that it was French, after our Matra article last month? Until 1934, Citroën had produced cars much like every other manufacturer at the time: rear-drive, body-on-frame construction. But in 1934, the French company introduced a new concept with its Type 7A model. The drivetrain moved entirely to the front, with the 1303cc inline-four … [Read more...] about Citroën Traction Avant 11CV Commerciale – The World’s First Hatchback?
Posted on 05.14.2015 14:00 by Ciprian Florea + It’s been nearly five decades since the Lamborghini Miura started the mid-engined supercar craze, and this exclusive automotive niche has evolved beyond the wildest dreams. All motors have been replaced by turbocharged engines, standard transmissions gave way to Formula One-based units, and aerodynamics reached a point where very few improvements can still be made. More recently, carmakers turned to electrification to improve performance and reduce fuel consumption and emissions. Technology continues to set new standards with each year, while luxury features have become mandatory for success. In all, there’s a huge gap between the 1966 Lamborghini Miura and the 2014 Ferrari LaFerrari, one that was hard to predict a few decades ago. My goal here is not to list everything that changed, but, just to make a point, it’s important to stress that top speed alone has increased dramatically. While supercars barely made it … [Read more...] about Six Reasons Why The McLaren F1 Is Still The World’s Coolest Supercar
On December 1, a B-sized sedan went on sale in India without a single car in the showroom. It is called the Etios, it is made by Toyota, and sight unseen, it already received 12,000 pre-orders as of today. Production of the Etios will start on December 20 in Toyota’s factory near Bangalore, India. Boring story so far? While in Toyko for the rest of the year, I had a chance today to talk to Toyota’s lead engineer of the Etios, Yoshinori Noritake. And a much bigger story emerged: Toyota is engineering and building new cars, made for the special demands and targeted at the world’s new growth markets. Developed markets may not apply. Noritake is a soft-spoken, humble man. None of the often arrogant hubris I grew up with in Europe and in the U.S. Dressed in a dark blue suit with a light blue tie, he explains that the Etios is not a car taken from the Toyota rack and sold in India under a new name. It is a brand new construction from the ground up. It is not even a car for … [Read more...] about Review And Talk With The Head Engineer: Toyota Etios, BRIC Spec
We’ve been quite vocal in our opinion of “Car of the Year” awards such as those sold handed out every year by Motor Trend. Even worse are those awards bestowed by non-automotive rags where a COTY announcement ranks right up there with their pronouncements of the years trendiest sunglasses or the best place for killer mojitos. Yet, for whatever reason, Esquire has decided the world needs yet another of these useless (to everyone but their advertising department) awards. At least “the magazine for men” is up front about their selection criteria and admits “picking a car of the year is not a scientific business.” They have their “own set of priorities.” They explain a Car of the Year “should be able to stir the ol’ loins . . . it should also be attainable for most men . . . be sharp enough to impress a date and restrained enough to park next to your boss . . . [be] thrilling but not profligate, handsome but not faddish . . … [Read more...] about Just What the World Needs—Another COTY Award
When crude-oil prices topped $40 a barrel—that was August 20, 2004—all the experts were sure it couldn't stay that high. But less than a year later it was higher still, hitting $50 a barrel on July 24, 2005. "Unsustainable," said the experts. Then just six weeks later U.S. prices popped to $72 in response to Hurricane Katrina. Unfazed, the experts held firmly to their "plentiful oil" scenario. John Browne, who heads BP, the world's second-largest oil company, told one financial magazine, "Very long run, we still think the range of oil prices is $20 to $35." So BP doesn't rush into new developments; Browne says they have to be profitable at $20 oil to get the go-ahead. This cheap-oil future the experts so confidently predict is based, in part, on the assumption that Saudi Arabia, the oil-rich kingdom and largest exporter, will always be the swing producer—that means always able to crank up its flow to quench shortages, and always willing to cut its output, and … [Read more...] about One-Quarter of the World’s Oil, and No Audit Report
It’s long form Saturday! Most of you probably thought you would never see the day Bertel writes a fiery manifesto for the Electric Car. Today is your day. Yesterday, we were first to run with the story that Beijing most likely will become EV capital of the world. Not because Beijing scientists have developed the miracle battery. Not because Chinese EVs suddenly go 400 miles on a single charge. Physics did not change. Beijing changes. Months ago, new car buyers in Beijing stopped dreaming about buying a new car.That dream was shattered. Now suddenly, an EV has become the only car a new car buyer can buy and drive tomorrow. Or on Monday. If one would be on sale. Here is what happened: In Beijing, the car market has completely collapsed. That does not grab you? Then what if the car market had come to a complete halt in Australia? Beijing has about the population of Australia and had car sales approaching those of Australia. Why did the Beijing market collapse? Because the city … [Read more...] about Stick And Carrot: Why Beijing Will Become The World’s Electric Vehicle Capital
Just like yesterday night, April 7th, it was raining in Detroit on the night of April 7,1947. There was extensive flooding on the Rouge River and 83 year old Henry Ford had spent part of the day at he beloved Greenfield Village, making sure that it was not damaged. The next day he was planning on touring Ford facilities in southeastern Michigan to see how the flood had affected his factories. After returning to Fair Lane, the estate that Henry and Clara built on the Rouge, the two had dinner by candlelight, as the flood had also knocked out the estate’s powerhouse. That must have been a disappointment to Henry, as his primary interest seems to have been power. Before his automotive ventures, Ford was chief operating engineer of the Edison Illuminating Co. of Detroit. At dinner, Henry and Clara discussed the 100 mile trip he was planning for the next day. As was his custom, he retired to his bedroom at 9 p.m. A little bit after 11, Henry called Clara to his bedside. He complained … [Read more...] about Henry Ford: An Interpretation. Did He Make the World A Better Place, Or Not?
I stumbled upon this car at the Packard Proving Grounds‘ fall open house. Of late I’ve been enamored of classic dual cowl phaetons. Forget Lamborghinis, if you want to make a statement, a dual cowl phaeton from the late 1920s or early 1930s is the definition of arriving in style. While getting some photos of a burgundy red Packard phaeton, I noticed that the classic behind the Packard was a Duesenberg, or rather it had a Duesenberg hood ornament. It turns out that it’s a one-off replica of a Duesenberg built for a man who owns a real Duesey. There are forgeries and then there are fakes. Owners of fine art paintings, oriental rugs and collectible precious jewelry will sometimes have replicas created for display purposes while the originals sit safely in a vault built to the satisfaction of insurance underwriters. Part of me asks what’s the point of owning something if you can’t enjoy it, but then do you really want your friends to be walking on a 17th … [Read more...] about Faux Past: Duesenberg Murphy Roadster Replica by AAT – The World’s Most Elegant Econoline Van
TTAC’s Twitter followers already know that I’m at the 2011 APEC Transport/Energy Ministerial Meeting in San Francisco, rubbing elbows with key decision-makers from the world of energy and transportation across the Asia-Pacific region. Earlier today I had the opportunity to sit down with Better Place CEO Shai Agassi, the intense, formidable CEO of Project Better Place. I’ll be writing about that conversation shortly, but many of the major points are covered in the speech Agassi gave shortly afterwards to assembled ministers, media and businesspeople. The speech boils down Better Place’s hugely ambitious plan to tackle one of the most complex challenges the world faces: transportation’s dependence on oil. If you’re looking for an Al Gore-style “green” speech, keep looking. Agassi tackles the problem from an economic and technological approach, and he makes a case that is well worth about 17 minutes of your time. If you’re not familiar … [Read more...] about The Case For Better Place: Shai Agassi Addresses The APEC Transport/Energy Ministerial Conference
The ad says that cotton is “the fabric of our lives.” It wasn’t the fabric of my youth, I can tell you that. There were the blue school uniforms, seemingly forged in a single piece from iron-strong polyester, hot in the summer and abrasive in the winter. There were suits and ties in rough wool to wear during the weekends, sweaters in soft Lacoste velour and miserable Brooks cable knit, and the instantly dirty, plasticized leather of the Nike “Burt Bruin” shoes on my feet. And, of course, there was M-B Tex, eternal and unchanging, perennially youthful even as the car surrounding it disintegrated into flakes of chromed rust. You have to understand this: there was only really one acceptable Mercedes-Benz to own, and that was the W123-chassis 240D. The S-Class was for bounders, social climbers, and the irresponsible. I can still remember gagging with personal agitation as my father refused to even test-drive a W126 560SEL. “Not the message I’d want … [Read more...] about What The World Needs Now… Is A Wallet Made From Real MB-Tex… And GTO Trunk Fabric…