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Saturday, 20 September 2008

Why I am against World Car Free Day

Next Monday, Septembre 22, will be World Car Free Day. Creating an occasion like this already points out one of the modern world villains: the automobile. This dirty, pollutant machine, responsible for stress and heart attacks in the heavy traffic of the big cities. This huge source of expenses on fines, fuel and taxes. This murderer, to be accounted for the shameful quantity of deaths on roads every year. Summing up, this unbeliavable evil for mankind. It is so despisable that even some carmakers, involved in this social responsibility speech, are proposing a "rational way" of using their vehicles, like carpooling. Maybe they should stop producing cars and get into the cigarettes business, possibly less harmful. But I don't see cars like that. On the contrary, I seize this opportunity to defend these poor scapegoats made of steel and plastic. I love automobiles and what they represent and I would like to explain why.

Human beings have always had the need to move, to know new places, and we have always done that in a very limited way, on foot, until we found out we could ride a bull or a horse and go a littler farther. Later, we found out we could put two or more horses together pulling a carriage to go farther and faster to the places we wanted to go. To anyone who thinks this was a nice way to live with nature, with no pollution, it is wise to be aware London, in 1850, was the biggest Ocidental city of the world, with 1 million inhabitants and 450,000 vehicles, all of them pulled by horse. Streets were so full of manure (horse shit, it you prefer) breathing health problems were the main cause of death. Life expectancy was not bigger than 39 years.

A little later, in 1886, Karl Benz puts an engine in one carriage and takes mankind to a new stage of mobility, to an amazingly enhanced ability to beat time and distances, to a new and always increasing condition of comfort, safety and quckness. Few people may remember, but the automotive industry is one of the most dynamic ones, perfecting and improving itself in a very fast pace, as Volt has shown us.

Anyway, mankind's problem is to always try to find someone else to blame instead of admitting its own blame. It is not due to the lack of a urban occupation policy that traffic is chaotic: cars are responsible for that. Cattles and bulding construction are not world's biggest CO2 emitters, increasing greenhouse effect: vehicles are. Deaths caused by car accidents are not to be accounted for people that are not prepared to drive or are so confident doing so that they car text-message, read the newspaper or drink behind a wheel. It's all goddamned cars' fault.

Has anyone ever discussed what replacing a house for an apartments building causes to traffic? Suddenly, in a block were 50 people were living, you have 8,000. Isn't it natural to have streets flooded with cars, as well as sidewalks, shops and movie theatres?

If old cars are very pollutant, why do our governments do not stimulate people to buy new vehicles by giving them a good discount if they give their old cars as part of the payment? Everyone prefers to have a newer, safer and cleaner vehicle.

If public transportation was the solution for everything, Tokyo, the biggest city of the world, would not have its 28 million inhabitants pulled into trains by agents wearing white gloves. There must be a healthy limit to how many people can live in a single place. If there isn't, WHO should think about it.

This all represents our hypocrisy, our old habit of thinking consequences are, in fact, causes to all problems. We chase our own tails instead of giving things a careful analysis, one that really can help us solve all situations.

Carmakers think it is not fair to have their five or seven-seaters used by only one person? Why don't they create cars for only one person or two, such as smart fortwo or the upcoming Toyota iQ (which can carry more, but in a reduced space) and Pompéo? Are vehicles too heavy? Loremos has created a lightweight vehicle for four people that is able to run 67 km on 1 litre of diesel and an electric version is on its way. Are petrol reserves running out? Honda already has the fuel cell vehicle FCX Clarity on operation, besides ethanol, which is successfully used in Brazil as a renewable source of energy. In all situations, cars are presenting solutions that to not eliminate them.

So don't tell me anything about this stupid idea called World Car Free Day. I will not give up on cars and on what they represent: the wonderful conquest of an affordable, almost unlimited, comfortable, convenient, safe and self-determined mobility. They may become electric, electronic, individual, but I am sure it will still have at least three wheels, a steering wheel and the will to take me wherever I want and need to go.

This is why I am sure automobiles will continue to be my daily trip partners, permanent membres of modern life, unless anyone finds out a safer, faster or more convenient way of moving us around. Teletransportation, for example...

In place of a World Car Free Day, I propose a World People Free Day, an idea that sound so stupid as the first. If cars have been pointed out as villains of problems it has not caused, it won't take long for people to be in the same spot, like the suicidal soldiers in Monty Python's "Brian's Life", who kill themselves instead of solving the problem they are fighting against.

If I had to propose something really useful, I would propose the World Hypocrisy Free Day. Perhaps this way we can deal with important questions with the right level of information. This is the basis for right decisions and acts, not for empty acts that make people feel better about themselves while the world continues to decay.

ZAP Alias will be produced in Kentucky

ZAP's sportscar, the new Alias, is still in development, but it already has a place to be produced: Kentucky, more specifically in the city of Franklin. Created by Integrity Automotive, the plant will demand US$ 100 million in investments and is expected to be ready to operate in one year. Alias, which is likely to be badged as a Detroit Electric, will be able to reach a top speed of 160 km/h and can sprint from 0 to 100 km/h in 7.7 s.

If you like the style of the car and live in the USA, you can already order yours with a US$ 1,000 deposit, but be prepared to pay the whole price, US$ 32,500, MSRP, as soon as Alias is ready for delivery. Not exactly cheap, but this is common for new technologies.

Source: ZAP

Alfa Romeo Coelus, a view of Alfa Romeo's future flagship

What will the next Alfa Romeo 169 look like? If it depends on the Slovak designer Jan Bujnak, it will be like this concept car, named Alfa Romeo Coelus. According to Bujnak, the design was inspired in past vehicles (the tail lights strongly reminds us of the 156). This is a nice example on a nostalgic idea that does not harm up-to-date machines. Who would not like to see this beauty on the streets?

Source: Car Body Design

Friday, 19 September 2008

Lamborghini presents another piece of its new supercar puzzle

Three days after it presented and announced the first image of its new supercar, Lamborghini presents us another piece of the vehicle, more specifically the left front side of it. Besides the little Italian flag, necessary to make sure the German Audi has not taken the Italian soul from Lamborghini cars, the lines of the hood of the car are longer than they would be in regular supercars (if a supercar admits this word in any way). This may confirm the latest rumours about the car, or else, the assumption it would be a four-door vehicle.

We still believe this car can be the replacement for Murciélago, although the hood lines are really intriguing. We'll soon have more pieces for this puzzle, and we cannot say we do not like it!

Source: Lamborghini

Thursday, 18 September 2008

Saab unveils its new concept car, the 9-X Air

Saab will present at the Paris Motor Show its new concept car, the 9-X Air, a convertible that, as other concept vehicles from the Swedish automaker, seek inspiration in airplanes. Instead of a regular open top, 9-X Air has a canopy top.

The new 9-X Air is powered by E85 engine able to deliver 200 bhp (147 kM), a 0 to 100 km/h time of 8.1 s and only 107 g/km of CO2.

Source: Saab

Ferrari California will be presented in a live transmission today on internet

A new Ferrari will be presented today. California is the first coupe-cabriolet from Maranello, or else, the first convertible from Ferrari to present a folding metal top, but this is not the only reason to make this car special. It will also be the first Ferrari ever presented live on internet, precisely at by 10 pm (Italy's time). Sign of the times...

The presentation will occur simultaneously in two places, Maranello and Los Angeles. In each of these locations, more than 1,000 special guests will be present. In Italy, the presentation will take place at a new production line building. It has been designed by French architect Jean Nouvel, winner of the Pritzker Architecture Prize 2008.

Ferrari's president, Luca di Montezemolo, and Ferrari F1 drivers, Kimi Räikkönen and Felipe Massa, will attend the party, as well as Michael Schumacher, who has helped develop the new coupe-cabriolet.

Source: Ferrari

Tuesday, 16 September 2008

Chevrolet Volt is revealed as GM's biggest bet for next 100 years

As we have already told you, GM has celebrated its 100 years today. Two presentations were eagerly expected for this day: Chevrolet Volt and Corvette Centennial Concept, said to be Corvette's seventh generation, or C7. The new Corvette Centennial did not appear, but Volt's presentation was the climax of the 100 years celebration. According to GM, this is the model that will be mass-produced.

To the ones that remember the concept, the design change may be disappointing, but it GM justifies them as legal and aerodynamical requirements. Whatever the reason was, Volt kept the idea that made it so extraordinary: it still is an electric car able to run long distances at an affordable price.

This can be accounted for its ion-lithium batteries, first of all. Recharged in regular home electricity supplies, they allow Volt to run 60 km only on their charge. This range is enough for 78% of North-American drivers not to use a single drop of fuel in their daily needs. Yes, that's right. Volt uses petrol or E85, but it still is an electric car. This fuel is used in case battery power gets too low. When this happens, a combustion engine (Family-0, three-cylindre, one-litre, turbocharged) acts like a generator and feeds electricity to the batteries in order to power the 150 bhp, 370 Nm electric engine that moves Volt ahead. With this generator, Volt can run up to 1,030 km and save 1,900 litres of fuel every year.

The sad part it that Volt will only be sold in 2010, maybe even later, in the first quarter of 2011. In the meantime, its design may get older, especially if the car continues to appear so often. Anyway, we already know what to expect: a 4.40 m long, 1.80 m wide and 1.43 m tall notchback with a wheelbase of 2,69 m and 301 l of luggage capacity. Top speed is limited at 161 km/h, to preserve the batteries' charge.

GM has said it wants to reinvent the automobile. With Volt, it certainly has taken the biggest step the mainstream auto industry has ever tried to take in its history. And with great chances of success.

Source: GM

Lamborghini presents small piece of its new sportscar

Lamborghini has presented today what promises to be one of the stars at this year's edition of Paris Motor Show: its new sportscar. At least this is what the company has stated in its press release. "It's not just a new Lamborghini. It's a new world."

We can understand that a new Lamborghini not necessarily mean a new production vehicle, but Murciélago needs a replacement, so we can expect this "new world" to be exactly in that position. Anyway, the picture of the car detail is included among Lamborghini's concept cars.

All the information we need will be disclosed on October 1st. While we wait, we can see this is an image of the back of the car, with a dual exhaust pipe and design cues clearly taken from Reventón. Good genes, for sure!

Source: Lamborghini

GM celebrates 100 years; check out the possible stars of the party

GM celebrates today its 100th anniversary. People expect two great car reveals to make this party rock: Chevrolet Volt and Corvette Centennial Concept:

Keep posted with us to all about this celebration.

Source: GM

Monday, 15 September 2008

Riccardo Patreze takes his wife for a ride in a Civic Type-R

This video speaks for itself. In fact, Riccardo Patreze's wife speaks for everyone, and she swears so much in Italian that even someone who does not understand a word in that beautiful language will get the picture. All due to a little ride around Jerez de la Frontera in a a Civic Type-R...

Source: 1civicfan via AutoBlog

Peugeot Prologue Concept: another French diesel-hybrid crossover

This year's edition of Paris Motor Show will have plenty of diesel-hybrid crossovers. Besides Citroën Hypnos and Renault Ondelios, Peugeot will also seize the international event to present its idea for a similar vehicle. And it is so similar to the others we could almost miss the fact that this crossover will be mass-produced under the name 3008.

Although very little information has been disclosed, we know this vehicle will be powered by a 200 bhp powertrain that uses electricity and a diesel engine. Considering Citroën and Peugeot belong to the same company, PSA, Hypnos also has a 200 bhp diesel-hybrid powertrain and that its combustion engine is a 2-litre turbodiesel, the same powertrain must apply to Prologue.

Hypnos and Prologue may share engines and technology, but Peugeot's concept car manages to be greener: while the first vehicle emits 120 g/km of CO2, the second one achieves 109 g/km.

Source: Peugeot

Porsche reveals a little piece of Panamera GT

Porsche has been testing its four-door coupé, Panamera, for a while. The car has even been seen almost with no camouflage, but it has never been seen uncovered. This image has been provided by Porsche itself, although not the way we wanted it to be. Only a piece of its front end appears, next to the other four vehicles Porsche produces, Cayman, Boxster, 911 and Cayenne.

Although many fans do not like the design Panamera has presented through its spy-photos, Porsche believes the four-door coupé will help it achieve 100,000 car produced per year. Panamera will present V6, V8 and hybrid powertrains. It will also feature all-wheel drive.

For the ones that want to have more images of the car, even if they are only prototypes, it is worth checking out the site Porsche has prepared for its new product:

Source: Porsche

Sunday, 14 September 2008

Volkswagen considers producing Microbus in the USA

Volkswagen has once recreated the Microbus as a concept-car, aiming to mass-produce it, but plans were dismissed in 2005. Anyway, dismissed plans do not necessarily have to remain in the shelf forever. According to a VW executive, the company plans to find a way to have the Microbus concept produced in the future plant that is being built in Chattanooga, Tennessee, in the USA.

The interview was published by the Sydney Morning Herald and confirms that the nostalgic trend on automotive design will still go on for a while. In fact, for as long as new cars lack the oldtimers charm.

Source: German Car Blog