Archive for May, 2008

Volvo issues safety tips for drivers, and America yawns – who’s listening?

Saturday, May 31st, 2008

How safe is YOUR driving?

From the folks at Volvo – the same people who have promised to eliminate car injuries and deaths in the next 12 years, come some safe driving tips for the summer. Though some analysts have predicted record low numbers of summer travelers, the following tips might even be useful in taking the kids to daycare in the morning. Some are just a little humorous.

On the other hand, all drivers could start with a refresher course of the rules of the road. A pamphlet you can pick up at your local DMV when they tell you to get your car smog checked this summer! Start with this one: unless you are passing someone stay to the right lane of the road – a great tip for all Buick drivers! 

  • Limit the noisemakers. Parents are more and more turning to “road trip babysitters” such as GameBoy’s, portable DVD players and iPods to keep their kids happy and busy on long trips and when traffic gets bad. Practice moderation with this in your car. Set rules around wearing head phones or only having one thing playing at a time. The beeps and tones that these machines make can be block out the sounds of a beeping horn or even an oncoming emergency vehicle’s siren.
     
  • Pack low. See more. When the trunk or hatch gets full with bags and coolers, kids tend to squeeze stuff on to the back shelf of the car or pile their hatch area right up to the ceiling of the car. This can take away some key sight lines. At every stop, take an inventory of what has crept into these sight lines and take 30 seconds to repack your stuff before you get back on the road.
     
  • Stick together. Sometimes on road trips, it can be as dangerous out of the car as it is in the car. Rest stops, restaurants and gas stations that your family has never been to before pose risks such as not knowing when and where to look for oncoming cars. Unfortunately, public places on the open road can also be hangouts for people preying on young kids. Never send a child under 18 to a rest room by him or herself. Form teams of at least two to head inside. As alert as you are on the road, be equally as alert when you make stops.  
     
  • Avoid rival sibling arguments. Let’s face it, kids that have to sit in cars for a longer time than they are used to alongside their brother or sister may pick a fight with their sibling. These family moments can be dangerous to parents behind the wheel because their instincts tell them to break up the fight just as they would if they were in their living room. Stern warnings to riders about fighting in the car need to be made crystal clear before you put the car in drive. If things get really out of hand, pull over and deal with the situation on the side of the road or at a gas station.  
     
  • Keep the car seat safe for your youngest passengers. The best car seat is the one that fits your child properly, is easy to use and fits in your vehicle correctly. Install the car seat in the vehicle’s backseat. Infants under 20 pounds or younger than one year old, should ride in a rear facing car seat. Check to see that the safety belt holds the seat tightly in place and make sure the harness is buckled snugly around your child. Some new cars, including Volvo’s, now offer integrated car seats. Visit www.volvocars.com/us/experience/Pages/safety.aspx to learn more about child safety in cars. At http://www.nhtsa.gov/ you can find ease of use ratings for child seats on the market today.  
     
  • Never leave your child alone in car. Young children can overheat quickly in a warm car. Older children can loosen their seat belt, climb into the driver’s seat, figure out how to undo the parking brake and potentially cause an accident.  
     
  • Keep small toys in check. Children may get upset and throw their small toys at you, potentially causing you to lose control of the car and cause an accident.  
     
  • Engage kids in ride safe ideas. Kids have great ideas and they are more likely to own them if they come up with them. Ask each kid rider to come up with their idea to keep their family safe on their road trip.

Source: Volvo

LOTW: If you have to ask, you can NOT afford it!

Friday, May 23rd, 2008

This week’s link come to us from the LA Times’ Dan Neil.

The article discusses
LA Times Article

Lamborghini last year launched the ad personum program to provide individually tailored options to their cars. In January 2008, then went a step further by releasing the following:

LAMBORGHINI UNVEILS FASHION INSPIRED TRENDS FOR THEIR
GALLARDO AND MURCIÉLAGO MODELS AT THE DETROIT AUTO SHOW

Lamborghini Launches The Matte Trend, Proposing A New Dark Blue For Exteriors And Natural Tuscan Leather For Interiors As New Personalization Options

Automobili Lamborghini will present three brand-new examples of vehicle personalization, intentionally drawing inspiration from the most glamorous trends of the world of fashion, at the upcoming Detroit Auto Show on January 13-26, 2008.

The proposed individualizations are part of the Ad Personam personalization program. The vehicles are based on the concept of “think of the impossible” and offers Lamborghini customers the ability to create their own “original”, perfectly tailor-made super sports car.

The Gallardo Spyder will be presented in an innovative Ad Personam matte brown paint, Marrone Apus, now available on standard vehicles in the wake of the enormous success met by the Reventón, the very first Lamborghini offered with a matte finish.

Marrone Apus, an elegant shade halfway between brown and black, gives off exquisite golden reflections in the sunlight due to a pigment able to imbue the paint with an iridescent look.

The interior also exhibits a new shade of brown Alcantara, named Marrone Gaia which is used to upholster the seats. The fabric is combined with Marrone Janus and Bianco Polar leather, with the addition of Pianolac used to cover the center console and steering wheel.

A new shade of light blue, Blu Cepheus, also joins the Ad Personam program. It is proposed for the exteriors of the Murciélago LP640 Coupé and Roadster in Detroit. This pale blue is reminiscent of the naturalistic environment and is deliberately inspired by the purity and transparency of polar ice, in addition to depicting one of the most glamorous shades in fashion today.

This shade also benefits from the same iridescent effects of the matte paint. The same pigment selected for Marrone Apus is used in this case to attain and exalt a more primary blue when reflecting sunlight. Blu Cepheus is iridescent in the light just like icebergs, although it maintains its monochromatic nature.

Another novelty of the Ad Personam program is the leather selected for the interiors of the Murciélago LP640 Roadster. This leather covers the elegant seats of this super sports car, an Italian leather, in keeping with Tuscany’s prestigious tanning tradition. It is untreated, inspired by the natural leather found on horse saddles and leads to natural changes in color over time, a tendency that confirms its natural state and total absence of treatments.

“Lamborghini is strongly focusing on the Ad Personam personalization program due to the importance of offering customers the widest range of possibilities for individualizing their cars. This allows them the ability to reflect their own personality and style,” states Stephan Winkelmann, president and CEO of Automobili Lamborghini. “Many of our customers take advantage of this program as a tool for owning an even more exclusive Lamborghini.”

LOTW: Supercar Fun Club

Friday, May 16th, 2008

This week’s Link of the Week is pretty cool. Because of their rarity, non-millionaire fans of supercars can often find it difficult to get behind the wheel of the world’s flashiest and fastest cars. Even millionaires find it difficult to choose with a record number of supercars available for public consumption.

If you’ve ever wanted to spend the day “testing” a variety of supercars at supercar speeds, there’s a new option for you. 

It’s called Supercar Life.

The LA Times has written about the program here: http://www.latimes.com/classified/automotive/highway1/la-fi-garage26apr26,0,4314202.story

LOTW: Training for a Racing Career

Friday, May 9th, 2008

http://www.wired.com/special_multimedia/2008/pl_motor

Wired has posted an excellent article on how race car drivers physically prepare for for a race. You’ll be amazed how important every single muscle is to a racer.

Busy Times at Porsche, VW Gets Gobbled Up

Tuesday, May 6th, 2008

Pac-Man

It’s been absolutely a hectic time in Germany these days. Recent weeks have seen a remarkable number of events coming out of the Stuttgart, with Porsche announcing an increased stake in Volkswagen. Currently Porsche owns around 31 percent of VW, but will move to bring their control to over 50% by year’s end. Strategically, Porsche stands to benefit from increased sharing with VW/Audi’s research and development departments. Additionally, they will be able to secure long-term projects with suppliers. Recently, the Porsche Cayenne has shared a platform with the VW Toureg and Audi Q-series vehicles. VW in turn has managed to clear a path to integration between it’s stakes in Scania and MAN.

Former CEO of Porsche NA

Porsche North America’s Peter Schwarzenbauer has announced that he is leaving to pursue an executive opportunity with Audi of America/Canada. Schwarzenbauer is known for having pushed Porsche NA into an enviable position as the worlds top sportscar maker. He noted some time ago that Porsche NA would never offer incentives (source: http://wardsauto.com/ar/stupid_incentives_porsche/). Key will be to see if Porsche is able to maintain that stance in a severe market downturn such as that currently unfolding in the North American market. 2008 may prove especially tough for the 911 first because of the recession and second because there is a new model due out for 2009.

Some dealers, however, have indicated incentives. Porsche of North Scottsdale in Scottsdale, AZ had offered the Cayman at a near $3,000 discount during April.  This come as something of a surprise as Porsche had announced in March that sales were strong:

“In the first six months of the current financial year 2007/08 (August 1, 2007 to January 31, 2008), a pretax Group profit of 1.658 billion Euros was achieved. The prior year result on a comparable basis was 1.341 billion Euros. This includes the proportional VW result for the fourth quarter of 2006 of about 272 million Euros and it is adjusted for the one-off effect of the revaluation of VW stake that resulted in an appreciation of 521 million Euros. Calculated on a comparable basis the Group result after taxes increased from 0.897 billion Euros in the previous period to 1.295 billion Euros in the reporting period.

Operating result before taxes grew in line with the increase in the turnover and sales figures. Turnover grew by 14 percent to 3.49 (prior year: 3.07) billion Euros and sales reached 46,736 vehicles versus 39,265 units in the comparable period for the prior year. The expansion of the dealer network, in particular into the new markets, and also the increased attractiveness of Porsche’s product range contributed to these successes. The new top models of the successful 911 sports car series introduced during the reporting period, the 911 Turbo Cabriolet and the 911 GT2 were received with great enthusiasm by customers. And the Cayenne series was successfully expanded with the especially sporty Cayenne GTS which Porsche showed at the 2007 International Automobile Exhibition in Frankfurt.

However, the reporting period was once again affected by special factors, first and foremost the contribution to the result provided by hedging transactions in connection with the acquisition of VW shares. This rose from 791 million Euros to 850 million Euros. In line with the 22.5 percent holding in VW’s equity, the VW result attributable to Porsche reached 484 million Euros versus the prior year figure of 275 million Euros. The prior year figure was revised and increased by the proportional VW result for the fourth quarter of 2006 so as to ensure comparability.”

Porsche found out at the beginning of April that demand was indeed, falling. Porsche stock stumbled, and the company released this information:

“Porsche’s stock fell by as much as 5 percent in German trading after the company reported its U.S. sales dropped 24 percent in March, Bloomberg News reported Wednesday. The value of Porsche’s stock is down 17 percent for the year so far.

Porsche’s sales decline showed luxury buyers are now being affected by the economic slump and are bargain hunting, according to Edmunds.com’s analysis of March and first-quarter sales.

Sales of Porsche’s expensive 911 models plummeted by 76 percent in March and were sliced in half for the quarter compared with the same period a year ago. Similarly, sales of its less-expensive Boxster and Cayman sports cars were halved as well.

Sales of the reduced-price Cayenne GTS kept Porsche afloat. The German sports-car maker introduced an upgraded version of the standard Cayenne SUV but at a lesser price in February, which proved to be a smart move as Cayenne sales were the only Porsche models to see an increase. Also up were sales of certified pre-owned Porsches.

Worldwide, Porsche’s sports car sales are down as well.

Porsche had expected slower U.S. sales and announced in January plans to pare back inventories.”

Despite the dislike of the Cayenne by many enthusiasts, the SUV does seem to be keeping Porsche in the black. That car alone is probably most responsible for the takeover of VW Group, and bringing Porsche into the mainstream of the automotive industry.

Sources: IHT article
Porsche

LOTW: GearsGarage

Friday, May 2nd, 2008

Gears Garage

If you’ve ever said to yourself, “damn, I wish there was a Facebook or MySpace for people who love cars!”

Well, wait no more! Check out this week’s link:

http://www.gearsgarage.com/