AutoGuide News Blog
The AutoGuide News Blog is your source for breaking stories from the auto industry. Delivering news immediately, the AutoGuide Blog is constantly updated with the latest information, photos and video from manufacturers, auto shows, the aftermarket and professional racing.
For all the talk of “tax cuts” in our national discourse, Americans have nothing on our friends in former Soviet bloc states. These photos from the Ukraine show a novel method of getting around the high tariffs placed on imported used vehicles in many parts of the world.
According to photos, vehicle importers in the Ukraine have taken to cutting vehicles in half and then re-welding them back together once the vehicle has cleared customs. Importers apparently save a substantial amount of money – import taxes on new vehicles can be roughly 43%, but if the vehicle is sawed in half, the pieces can be imported as “spare parts” and the amount paid in taxes is reduced dramatically.
Frankly, the prospect of driving a vehicle that was welded back together is downright frightening. Evidently, some people are willing to take that risk just to save a buck and look good in a BMW at the same time.
[Source: Today I Learned]
The federal government, under the jurisdiction of Homeland Security, started investigating the importation of grey-market Nissan Skylines, tracking down their owners and even seizing the cars.
According to import laws, only a select few R33 Skylines from 1996 to 1998 can be legally brought to U.S. shores. The rest came by an importer that failed to import cars with spectacularly disastrous results; the cars weren’t DOT-certified, failed to meet crash and emissions standards, and the importer went out of business. As a result, the owners are faced with “contraband” cars.
One such owner has two Skylines, both with extensive paperwork and one that was old enough to be exempt from vehicle importation laws. The other, however, was deemed illegal and was to be seized—but when federal agents arrived, the owner had a surprise: “I made it very clear that my intent was to retain ownership for the time being and export the vehicle from the country,” he said on a forum post, “and that I had already made arrangements for a sale to be conducted as well as export of the vehicle.”
With the sale of his illicit Skyline, the owner now seeks to challenge these convoluted import laws, many of which were changed after the owners imported their cars.
The Skyline community will not be taking this lying down, either, and have already reached out to get the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) involved. After all, how many people in America own Skylines—a handful? Enough to fill a Nissan Elgrand or two? Let’s hope they aren’t a strong enough threat to national stability that would get the Department of Homeland Security involved in their fight against JDM motoring.
Officially unveiled as the Mazda MPS at the Geneva Auto Show earlier this month, the U.S.-spec MazdaSpeed3 will make it’s North American debut at the New York Auto Show on April 9th.
We don’t expect much to change from the Euro version, so don’t plan on any more power from the direct-injection 2.3-liter turbo-four. Power is rated at 260ps (256hp) and 280 ft-lbs of torque. Thankfully, the MazdaSpeed3 doesn’t need more power.
This is enough for a 0-62 mph run of 6.1 seconds, so the run to 60 might be able to get under the 6.0-second mark.
The engine does get some advancements though. For starters, emissions are reduced thanks to a new single-nanotechnology catalytic converter. As well, the 2.3-liter engine gets 0.5 liters/100km (0.1 mpg) better fuel economy.
In terms of technological advancements, the MAzdaSpeed3 has plenty of them. For starters the new engine features an advanced boost controller that reduces peaks for a more linear power delivery. The left and right drive shafts have been modified to reduce torque steer. The six-speed manual transmission now has wider ratios than before and the tranny uses a low-viscosity fluid to reduce shift effort.
With the new body and chassis, the 2010 MazdaSpeed3 is naturally better, however, it also gets large stabilizer bars, stiffer springs and shocks. As well, it now features 18-inch wheels with big brakes – 12.6-inches up front and 11-inches in the rear.
We’ll bring you full details in our New york Auto Show coverage starting April 8th.
Full Euro-spec details after the jump: