Archive for May, 2007

iPod Generation NOT “down” with British Auto Brands?

Tuesday, May 29th, 2007

While reading an article from LeftLane News, we got quite a laugh after learning that many of America’s youth (the young-ish looking people with tattoos and iPods stuck to their ears) don’t recognize the Land Rover brand as British, nor do they recogize a competing brand, Lexus, as Japanese!

The article follows:

“58.4 percent of U.S. college students surveyed by Anderson Analytics believe Land Rover is an American brand. Only 18.5 percent of respondents correctly identified the marque as British.

Land Rover LR2


VW=Girly-wagen ???

Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

We found this press release from VW of America recently:

25 April 2007

AUBURN HILLS, MI – Volkswagen of America, Inc. is pleased to announce that it is considered among the “Top 12 Most-Respected Generation Y brands” according to a recent study by Outlaw Consulting, a San Francisco-based research firm that follows the habits of 21- to 27-year-olds. The list is published in the April 19 issue of Women’s Wear Daily. The list, reports that Generation Y knows about being fashionable yet economical, considers itself interesting yet simple and views Volkswagen as a top trendsetting brand.

2007 VW Eos Convertible (in blue).


Test Drive: 2007 BMW 328i Sedan

Saturday, May 12th, 2007

BMW 2007 328i Silver Sedan

Few carmakers enjoy the kind of brand loyalty that BMW enjoys. BMW has been in the states since 1975. Since that time, the cars have evolved and have set themselves apart and technology innovators.

BMW has come under criticism during the tenure of chief designer Chris Bangle. This tenure has been the single biggest disgrace to BMW since 1975. That’s not to say that every vehicle since his arrival has been terrible. The E46 3 series was a solid and non-revolutionary design. But in 2002, he introduced the most radical change ever seen at BMW. The 2002 7 series was criticized roundly as being ugly in the front and absolutely hideous in the back. So bad was this design that it has since been labeled the “Bangle Butt”. The latest 7 series is less drastic, but the influence of Bangle remains clear.

Most recently this influence can been seen in the redesigned BMW 3 series. Oddly, the redesign didn’t just cover the exterior of the car but the interior as well. We drove the 2007 BMW 328i and found it to be a well engineered, if painfully redesigned automobile.

Land Rover: It Doesn’t Just LOOK Rugged

Tuesday, May 8th, 2007

British motor companies have had their good years and their bad years. Most will agree that the competitive automotive industry of the 21st century has negatively impacted Ford’s Premier Automotive Group. PAG includes Volvo, Jaguar, and Land Rover, having recently sold Aston Martin.

Milestones are therefore something to be treasured in this pressure-filled environment and today’s milestone is no different. Land Rover announced that they had produced four million Land Rovers. Number 4,000,000 was donated to the Born Free Foundation – represented publicly in part by British Actress Joanna Lumley. Ironically, in this age of green cars, this 4 millionth gas-guzzling SUV is designated for a conservation society of all places. In fact, it will be used to save animals washed ashore during mating season along the British coastlines. It makes us wonder if these are the same people who criticized Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson for driving a Land Rover up a tall Scottish mountain – an impressive feat for any vehicle.

4 Millionth Land Rover with British Actress Joanna Lumley

No matter, the lesson here is that Land Rovers are around and built to last. Despite changes in ownership over the years, Land Rovers are consistent and of reputable quality. The most surprising and impressive statistic is that over 80% of Land Rover Defenders ever produced, are STILL on the road. 25% of Land Rovers produced have been produced in the last 6 years. That’s a significant boost in production for a company that’s been around since 1948, yet another impressive feat for a British carmaker.

Source: Ford Motor Company.
Photo courtesy Ford Motor Company

Weekend Video: Radar Love

Sunday, May 6th, 2007

To wind down the weekend, BTKM located a video from Golden Earring. The perennial classic is Radar Love. Turns out Dan Neil of the L.A. Times covered this topic earlier in the week:

HIGHWAY stripes are 10 feet long and 30 feet apart. That means one stripe every 40 feet. No one really knows how this fundamental increment of civil engineering came to be. Well, I say no one knows — I’m sure somebody knows, but that person works in the historical division of the federal Department of Transportation.

This is a person to avoid at parties.

There are some wondrous synchronisms hidden in that white-stripe measure. At 55 mph, for instance, a car is traveling 80.66 feet per second, which means that two white stripes slip by every second. This tempo — 120 “beats” per minute — syncs up almost exactly with what is widely regarded as the best driving song ever, “Radar Love” by Golden Earring.

Fair enough, Dan. To get a feel for what he’s talking about, check out the video:



A World Conference to End Road Deaths? How Novel.

Saturday, May 5th, 2007

The BBC recently reported that British Prime Minister Tony Blair and F1 racing legend Michael Schumacher have been talking. The two want to but an end to crashes that result in highway deaths. Traffic deaths kill more young men than any other cause, except HIV/AIDS.

To put the problem in perspective, the BBC notes that 1,200,000 people are killed each year in traffic accidents. Of those, 400,000 are under 25 years of age. 66,000 people are seriously injured in traffic accidents every day as well. In Africa, BBC claims that 70% of the children injured are providing the main source of income for the family. Such injury can be devastating to the injured and those dependent upon the income.

Red Mini Cooper Crash

Photo courtesy BMW.

Schumacher proposes the “Make the Roads Safe” campaign. Aside from the obvious goal, the aim of the summit/conference/meeting/rendezvous would to bring nations together to enact legislation and program that would decrease the accident rate.

At BTKM, we think that specific objectives should be laid out. This could include:

1) Mandatory training for all drivers. Even experienced drivers could benefit from additional training. Take the U.S. for example, where virtually no Americans are trained to drive at speeds in excess of 75 miles per hour. In such instance, the real danger is not the speed it is the inability of the driver to cope with the speed and anticipate and react to problems in the road ahead.

2) Mandatory testing. Drivers of all ages, whether they are 16, 66, or 106 years of age should go through specific and credible testing every other year. This assures that the drivers continue forth in good health and well being towards other drivers.

3) Improved awareness and engineering at car markers. All automakers must be aware of the need to improve safety to the public on both sides of the windscreen. Government must work to encourage companies to build safer cars. In addition, government must provide encouragement and incentive to buy newer cars, which are safer and which must be equipped with passive and active safety devices.

4) All cars currently on the road must go through tedious and complete checks to determine car safety. This would include visual and mechanical inspection by approved departments of motor vehicles safety in the respective localities. Cars failing to meet these strict requirements shall required to be fixed, updated, or removed from road use.

5) Governments must provide assurance that all roads are properly maintained and made safe. Roads being build or refurbished for future use shall be capable of holding cars traveling at distances in excess for 155 miles per hour.

6) All governments and automakers should meet annually to discuss improvements to the regulations. Audits should be conducted in all localities annually to assure compliance with regulations set forth at the summits.

This may not be the end all, be all of road safety but there is no doubt that with the enactment of these rules alone, fatalities and serious injury on roads can be significantly reduced. We will never be able to eliminate all road deaths but prudent and reasonable resolutions like the ones outlined below can lead to better prevention.