By Jim Taylor, Editor MACS ACtion Magazine
Happy anniversary– tenth in this case – to Mini USA. The wee beastie first appeared on the west coast in 2002 with one model which both updated a proven concept and paid some design homage to the original iconic Brit box.
A decade later, Mini offers six distinct models (some not so mini, either) and an extensive list of customization items to make any owner happy. Like the original, the car can be made to appeal to almost anyone from eco and economy fanatics to spirited drivers and weekend racers.
Azure Dynamics, a Canadian company focused on developing electric powertrains for the Ford Transit Connect Electric plus other vehicles has filed for protection from creditors and acknowledged that it may have to file for bankruptcy if it can’t reorganize successfully. For now, production of the Transit Connect Electric has stopped although it may restart if the restructuring plan is approved.
The company joins several others suffering a similar fate in the field of electric and plug-in vehicles. Bright Automotive folded in February, Think USA’s parent company went broke earlier in Norway, California based Aptera closed at the end of last year, and even e-supercar maker Fisker is rumored to be teetering on the edge due to funding problems.
Nissan recently announced that they will be re-introducing their heritage name Datsun as a brand on various models of economy vehicles to be sold in emerging markets but not in the U.S. The name disappeared here in 1981.
Some suspect the company’s new move is to prevent “diluting” the perceived value of the Nissan and Infiniti brand names with a line of lesser equipped vehicles.
The view here is that’s a shame; anyone old enough to remember the original Datsuns— including the bulletproof 510, the original 240Z , and an insanely useful small pickup truck— will vouch for the marque’s cachet, sportiness and economy in an era of painfully bloated and inefficient offerings from some competitors.
Cadillac is introducing an extensive list of new safety features to be included in at least the next XTS sedan and possibly other products as well. Perhaps the most interesting (?) is what has already been nicknamed the “butt buzzer” by some.
The driver’s seat will produce patterns of vibrations in either or both seat bolsters to alert the driver who drifts out of a lane or threatens a fixed object while parking. A variety of sensors and detectors provide reference information to trigger the warnings. The system is location-specific; drift over the right line and your right thigh gets a message. Front and rear collision threats trigger a different buzz pattern in both bolsters.
A company spokesman compared it to someone tapping your shoulder to get your attention.
Everybody appreciates a little help in a crowd, but we gotta’ ask: do we really need this?
Ford has said it will end production of the long-lived E-series vans and replace them with variants in the Transit Connect line. Within the family of planned engines, the company has included a small diesel for 2013 as well as a turbo V-6.
The remarkable part is that Ford says that choosing either one of the two new engines will take 300 lbs. off the weight of the trucklet and could provide as much as 25% better economy. No details yet on the exact nature of the diesel.
The Federal Trade Commission recently clamped down after more than 25 state attorneys-general complained about robo-call scams for extended auto warranties and credit card ploys.
Yeah, they finally went after the folks who called you at dinner time and reminded you that your car warranty had expired.
After an investigation, SBN Peripherals, doing business as Asia Pacific Telecom, was ordered to pay $5.3 million in fines and to stop making telemarketing calls forever. The FTC says the company made more than 2.6 billion automated calls in less than two years, and that at least 12.8 million (!) of those calls resulted in a consumer response, often with people being scammed for useless products.
Natch, the evil doers don’t have the $5.3 million handy so the FTC emptied one Hong Kong bank account of about a million dollars, imposed a variety of liens and took some financial interests in property parcels and buildings, and confiscated a selection of vehicles including an ’04 Corvette and an ’05 BMW. Enjoy your dinner.
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