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Made in Germany ... Except Not
Cultural stereotypes aside, Germany is known for its advanced technology, engineering prowess and top-quality manufacturing. The land of beer, bratwurst and BMW is especially famed for its automobiles, which are renowned the world over for their driving dynamics and Autobahn-proven performance.
Police in Portugal have broken up a theft ring that exclusively targeted Smart Fortwo . The thieves were (not surprisingly) affiliated with an independent Smart repair shop, and the perpetrators had their stash of stripped down cars and spare parts seized as well.
According to police, Smarts can be easily disassembled using an allen key, screwdrivers and other hand tools. Some cars were left stripped in the streets, while others were turned into new cars using fake VIN numbers and a Frankenstein mish-mash of parts from other vehicles.
Some owners ended up buying cars and parts back from the chop shops on the black market. Steering wheels were a hot ticket, as they cost nearly $1000 new, but went for much less thanks to the five-finger discount available on the stolen variety.
As Nissan strives to sell the Leaf electric car at an affordable price point, the company is expressing concerns that the current subsidies offered by governments to encourage EV adoption will expire after three years, hurting sales and pushing the cost of electric vehicles back into unattainable territory.
“My assumption is that they won’t be cut off but they might be pared back,” Nissan Vice-President Simon Thomas said. “There’s no obligation for governments to extend those programs beyond the definitive agreement — and in some countries we don’t have a definitive agreement.”
Nissan is struggling to keep the Leaf below 30,000 euros. The car will make its debut in Portugal and the Netherlands this December, because the two countries offer a 5,000 euro credit for electric vehicles. However, the company said in an interview with the Wall Street Journal that the cars would turn a profit, likely around the third year of production.
[Source: Business Week]