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BMW Documentary

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  • On 11, Jul 2011

“CNBC will air an hour-long program this Wednesday on the brand behind the roundel called “BMW: A Driving Obsession,” which the news channel bills as “the fascinating story behind a once small, struggling company that transformed itself into a global luxury car powerhouse.” The four featured highlights will take looks at BMW World, art cars, the BMW tech center and Rolls-Royce.

The page’s breathless descriptions – “…where every dimension of the cars and company is engineered in search of perfection” – make us think this might be more for the casual car follower, not the enthusiast, but it’s safe to say our DVRs will be reporting for duty come showtime.

The program gets four airings this Wednesday, July 13 starting at 9 p.m.t EST, but you can get previews now with a few extra-feature videos already on the CNBC site.”

Source: www.autoblog.com

Ken Block Gymhkana World Tour

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  • On 11, Jul 2011

“Ken Block is coming to a town country near you, and he’s bringing the world of Gymkhana with him. Block has decided to bring Gymkhana to the people with a three-stop tour that will see his Ford Fiesta going through a lot of rubber around the world.

The Monster World Rally team will first head to Vienna, Austria, where the Gymkhana World Tour kicks offs on July 10. A live audience will be treated to a Gymkhana run that will in turn be filmed for a new soon-to-be-YouTube-sensational video.

From Austria, Ken Block and his crew will move to Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, California. This July 23 stop on the tour is the week prior to X Games 17, after which Block will stick around to try and pilot his Fiesta to Rallycross gold. Following that, the Gymkhana tour heads Down Under to bring tire-smoking antics to the birthplace of Hoon. Ford Australia will welcome Block in Melbourne for the weekend of September 2-3 just prior to Rally Australia.”

Source: www.autoblog.com

Suzuki’s Plan to Deal with Quakes?

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  • On 09, Jul 2011

“Japanese automakers are continuing to evaluate their strategies for coping with natural disasters after this year’s earthquake and tsunami, and for Suzuki, that apparently means packing up shop and moving to higher ground. According to Automotive News, the manufacturer is investing around U.S. $494 million to move its factories and research centre away from the coastal city of Hamamatsu. The report notes that scientists estimate that there’s an 80 percent chance that an 8.0-magnitude earthquake will befall the coastline between Tokyo and Nagoya in the next 30 years, but for Suzuki, the larger concern is radiation contamination associated with a failing nuclear reactor.

Currently, the company’s facilities are located near the Hamaoka reactor, which is receiving modifications to protect against the kind of meltdown seen elsewhere in the country. Suzuki plans to purchase around 67 acres of land 10 kilometres from the coast and 48 kilometres from the reactor for its new complex. It’s also investigating new locations both in Japan and abroad for its manufacturing facilities.”

Source: www.autoblog.com

Ford Being Sued Over Sync System

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  • On 09, Jul 2011

“Eagle Harbor Holdings has named Ford in a lawsuit, contending that the automaker infringed on seven of its patents after talks between the two companies stalled out in 2008 – and the claimed infringements strike right at the heart of Ford’s recent tech expansion.

In addition to claiming that Ford cribbed its technology for Active Park Assist, Stability Control, Blind Spot Information with Cross Traffic Alert and MyKey, the small Bainbridge Island, WA tech firm claims that the technology behind Ford’s incredibly popular SYNC infotainment system. Specifically, the voice control and remote MP3 player connection technology.

According to Eagle:

“Our representatives began meeting with Ford in 2002 to discuss and disclose our patented automotive systems technology and its applicability for use in Ford vehicles,” said Jeffrey Harmes, general counsel for Eagle Harbor Holdings, LLC. “These meetings continued until 2008, when Ford stopped communications with us. In early 2009 we informed Ford that its automotive audio systems infringed on our patents. In March 2010, we again informed Ford that its automotive electronics systems, including Ford SYNC, infringed on our patents. Unfortunately, despite our many efforts to communicate with Ford and resolve these issues, Ford continues to refuse to license its use of our patented technology. Ford is ignoring our patent rights and continues to use, without permission or license, Eagle Harbor’s technology.”

Those talks also included Volvo – at the time, owned by Ford Motor Company – but it’s unclear if Eagle will pursue the recently sold Swedish automaker for similar tech infringement.

A Ford spokesperson tells Autoblog, “We were just served with this lawsuit late last week and we have not yet had an opportunity to review the details. We believe it would be premature for us to comment until we have had a chance to do so.”

It’s unlikely that Ford will have to stop production of its SYNC and advanced safety-equipped vehicles, but if Eagle wins the suit or settles out of court, we wouldn’t be surprised to learn of the Blue Oval cutting a hefty check.”

Source: www.autoblog.com

Suzuki and VW Upset

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  • On 09, Jul 2011

“There seems to be a bit of a domestic disturbance between Suzuki and Volkswagen. According to The Truth About Cars, VW is a bit upset that the corporate tie-up between the two automakers hasn’t borne more fruit. If you believe the whispers sneaking around the web right now, the German company even went so far as to leak its frustrations to the German press, saying that partnership is “a big disappointment” and that Suzuki expects full access to VW tech without having to reciprocate. Suzuki, meanwhile, says that’s not the case.

Osamu Suzuki himself took to his company’s blog to say that the two automakers entered into the agreement as equal partners, and that Volkswagen has no say over how Suzuki conducts its business. What’s more, the engineers at the Japanese company didn’t find any Volkswagen tech worth borrowing, and that if it decides it needs any assistance, it will look toward other manufacturers.”

Source: www.autoblog.com

Mexico’s Mastretta MXT Heading for Production

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  • On 09, Jul 2011

“The 2011 Mastretta MXT, Mexico’s homegrown sports car that took a Top Gear slagging, is ramping up production. The company is on track to produce 100 vehicles by the end of 2011, and that figure will double next year. Speaking at the Guadalajara International Motor Show (SIAG), Daniel Mastretta announced the first production MXT will be delivered by the end of July.

Despite what Clarkson, May and Hammond had to say about Mexican cars and cuisine, co-founder Daniel Mastretta didn’t fire back at Top Gear with anger. In fact, the comments on the popular show helped publicize the MXT and spurred the company to make improvements to the vehicle. The aluminum chassis MXT features a turbocharged Ford Duratec four-cylinder and MTX transaxle, but as Lotus has proved with the Elise, plebian pieces with a light load can translate into thrilling performance. Mastretta is holding 30 percent of its Toluca, Mexico factory output back for the Mexican market, while the rest of the coupes will head out for other lands.

Vehicles will soon be put in the hands of media for evaluation drives. That’s a vote of confidence by the manufacturer in its product and Mastretta can count us among the interested parties who are eager to see what this car is capable of.”

Source: www.autoblog.com

Volkswagen Continues its Buying Spree

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  • On 08, Jul 2011

“There’s plenty of room to get lost in the Volkswagen Group. In addition to the VW brand, the group controls Skoda, Seat, Audi, Porsche, Lamborghini, Bentley and Bugatti. But we can’t forget its truck divisions. In addition to being Europe’s largest automaker, VW is also one of its largest producer of trucks as well, producing VW commercial vehicles while holding nearly three-quarters of the shares in Swedish truckmaker Scania and a significant stake in MAN as well.

That last bit’s about to increase, though, as a new deal in progress will see Volkswagen increase its holdings in MAN SE from 30.5 percent to 55.9 percent. According to Bloomberg, the deal is still pending regulatory approval, but is expected to lead to increased cooperation between Scania and MAN, helping both companies reduce overhead.

The latest move in Volkswagen Group chairman Ferdinand Piëch’s expansion plan, the takeover will make the German industrial giant that much bigger. Both Volvo (which also produces Mack and Renault trucks) and Daimler (which owns Freightliner, Mitsubishi Fuso, Thomas, Sterling and Mercedes-Benz trucks), each hold about 21 percent of the European truck market. But because MAN and Scania together account for some 30 percent of European heavy-duty truck sales, the acquisition is expected to catapult VW into position as the largest truckmaker in Europe.”

Source: www.autoblog.com

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