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The city of Murcia, Spain may really be on to something here. Officials want to cut down on smog and traffic congestion and they want get there by promoting public transportation. You may ask yourself “But what’s so darn-tooting special about that?” The twist on this initiative is that citizens who give up their cars will get a lifetime pass to the city’s new tram system.
The city is going above and beyond to reach their goal of cutting emissions and traffic. Here’s how it works: Once citizens of Murcia turn in their car (old or new) that’s been fully paid for, they can register for a lifelong tram ticket.
But Murcia isn’t stopping there. Once a car is exchanged for a pass, that car will be put on display around the city. Showcasing some pretty interesting creativity, the car will be placed in a certain spot, and then slowly disassembled to make them “disappear” (think of it as a car strip tease). The public can get in on the fun – all they have to do is post a comment on the project’s Facebook or Twitter accounts, and a piece of each car is removed and broadcast on webcam.
Another way the city is using these exchanged cars in a creative way is by using them as art installations. As homage to the lack of parking spaces in Murcia, these cars are placed around town in difficult parking areas, occasionally parked on top of each other.
What do you think of Murcia’s idea to cut down on traffic and pollution? Would you trade in your car for a lifetime public transportation pass?
The Q3 will be built in Martorell, Spain, in a plant normally reserved for SEAT. Volkswagen recently spent about 330 million Euros in upgrading the facility in anticipation, and is betting big on the Q3: hopefully it can reclaim the crown of Europe’s favorite premium SUV away from the BMW X1.
“The Q3 production is an example of how we are making use of synergies within the Group,” said Frank Dreves, an Audi board member. “The Martorell factory is an extremely productive facility with a highly skilled workforce, and one that meets the exacting quality standards of our brand.”
The Audi Q3 starts in Germany at €29,900. Word’s still mum on whether handbag-dwelling chihuahuas will be glaring down the precariously close bumpers of left lane “hogs” on this side of the Atlantic.
Look, most of the time we try our absolute best to find the bright side of things no matter how awful they might be. But this time, this Rolls-Royce Phantom spotted in Marbella, Spain, has us completely speechless.
Known as a popular place for the rich and famous, Marbella can be home to many tasteless creations as evidenced by this Phantom. The purple, white and yellow paint scheme is further accented by the similarly-themed wheels (that doesn’t fit the car’s large body at all we might add) and gold grille and Spirit of Ecstasy emblem.
But the interior is where it completely blows our mind. It’s been overwhelmed with pink – yes pink – upholstery on the dash, headliner, door panels, and more. We’re speechless, speechless we say.
GALLERY: Rolls-Royce Phantom in Marbella
Ferrari launched its first official store in Barcelona, coinciding with Spanish driver Fernando Alonso’s, Formula one contract extension, set to last until 2016.
The store opened at number 44 Paseo de Garcia in the heart of Barcelona with Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa hosting the event with a brand-new Ferrari FF. This store joins other prestigious locations such as Rome, New York, Abu Dhabi, London and Johannesburg.
The store will features a section designated to the Scuderia racing team as well as men’s, women’s and children”s clothing. The bottom floor area will feature Ferrari’s GT and F1 section. Historic and contemporary Ferrari art work can be found throughout the store, reminding shoppers of the company’s rich racing history.
[Source: Motor Ward]
The Infiniti G37S coupe is a rather accomplished luxury sportscar, and is hence quite popular in North America. In Europe, where the brand is relatively new, Infiniti can use all the help it can get to spread the word.
To do that, Infiniti of Spain and Portugal have prepared a G37S coupe rally car. Not for racing however, but to serve as a safety car for the Rallies Championship of Spain.
Dubbed the “Infiniti Work Zero Car” it features Recaro racing seats and seatbelts, fire extinguishing system, Vimesa roll bar, Bilstein dampers, Galfer brake pads, sirens and other equipment found on safety cars these days.
The mechanicals are untouched, with the familiar 320-hp, 3.7-liter V6 engine, mated to a six-speed manual gearbox.
The move comes as a bit of a quid pro quo for Audi, since SEAT’s Exeo flagship is a re-badged Audi A4, and with SEAT’s flagging sales presenting an issue for Volkswagen’s overall profitability, the excess production capacity could be put to good use building a product that will surely be a hit. The move will also add between 700 and 1,200 jobs in a region that has been hit hard by the global recession.
The Q3 will share a platform with the upcoming Porsche Cajun, but the P-Car will be built at a separate facility in Leipzig, Germany.
Despite being an ultra-niche vehicle, interest in the Nissan GT-R always remains strong, and car enthusiasts have been fretting about whether Japan’s natural disasters have impacted production of the revised GT-R.
According to an interview with David Reuter, Nissan Americas vice president of communications, supplies of the GT-R are safe, with roughly 70 percent of North America’s allocation on the ground already. “There are no shortages of anything specific at this point,” he told Inside Line. “As we work through the final assessments, we’ll have a better idea if we have any dips to smooth over with individual vehicle lines.”
Reuter also confirmed that the Nissan LEAF is safe, with 1,500 cars either in transit or at the port. Infiniti vehicles, which are all built in Japan, are considered most at risk for production disruption, but Reuter said that a 50-day supply of vehicles exists.
While companies like Nissan have emerged unscathed, General Motors announced major cutbacks at plants in Spain and Germany due to a shortage of Japanese made parts. While Japan’s automakers may be sending a positive message for now, the long-term situation could potentially get much worse due to factors beyond the control of the auto industry.
[Source: Inside Line]
In a move reminiscent of the OPEC crisis in 1974 in the U.S., Spain is lowering its national speed limits as a result of the ongoing crisis in Libya, as fears over that country’s oil supplies continue to rise, pushing prices upward.
According to the BBC, Spain is particularly vulnerable, not only because it imports much of the oil it uses, but also because around 13 percent of said black gold actually comes from Libya.
As a result, the country is looking to curb fuel usage and one way the Spanish Government figures it can do that is by lowering the national speed limit from 120 km/h (75 mph), down to 110 km/h (68 mph).
During the night of March 6/7, work crews across the country began placing new ‘lower’ speed limit stickers over existing signs, more than 6000 in total. The government says that the move is temporary and is planned to remain in effect until early June, however, the main opposition party in Spanish politics, the right leaning Partido Popular isn’t happy. It claims the gains in fuel savings will be negligible and accused the government of nannying the population, stating, “what next? Will the government make people go to sleep earlier to reduce their consumption of light?”
Other government moves already in place in an effort to save fuel, include lowering the cost of passenger railroad travel, plus subsidies for low rolling resistance tires and more energy efficient lightbulbs.
SEAT, Volkswagen‘s Spanish subsidiary, has been given five years to restructure or else VW will be forced to shut down or sell the ailing Spanish brand. While SEAT’s cars are known for offering excellent value with an emphasis on performance rather than luxury. But despite positive reviews from auto journalists, this hasn’t translated into sales for the brand, with sales falling 8.5 percent in 2009. SEAT’s Spanish factory is only working at 60 percent capacity, something VW considers unacceptable. The factory is capable of producing 500,000 cars a year and must be run at 80 percent capacity to turn a profit.
After losing $140 million year-to date, Volkswagen is at the end of its patience with the group, and SEAT head James Muir is aware, describing the last-ditch effort as “the last attempt for SEAT as a brand.”
“Is that hashish in your race suit, or are you happy to see us?” was probably what Spanish police said to drug smugglers at the helm of a fake Dakar rally truck. The graphics-laden and off-road prepared truck had blended in with support trucks along an official rally route, in hope of delivering its load to the Spanish island of Ibiza in time for the summer party season.
Just what did police find? More than 1,760 lbs (800 kg) of cocaine, 15,000 ecstasy pills, marijuana, guns, and $64,000 U.S. in cash.
“The vehicle had been totally transformed to adapt it to its supposed participation in the competition as a support truck, with publicity and logos of the event painted on its side,” read a police statement.
Its drivers were fully kitted out in race suits, with official-looking route maps and race documents to hide their motives. In total, seven suspects have been arrested, all from Spain.
Since we have no footage of the criminals in action, after the jump we’ve placed a video of a Kamaz Dakar truck hooning in the snow with ex-F1 driver David Coulthard at the wheel.
*Note: the above image is of a Dakar support truck, not the actual one used in the case.
Sadly, Michael Schumacher will not return to Formula 1 this weekend, although there is a possibility that the 7 time World Champion will be back in 2010. Schumacher today posted on his personal website that he could not return to the sport after recent testing at Ferrari’s private track in Mugello revealed fractures in his neck from a motorcycle crash earlier this year.
“I am disappointed to the core,” wrote Schumacher. “I am awfully sorry for the guys of Ferrari and for all the fans which crossed fingers for me. I can only repeat that I tried everything that was within my power. All I can do now is to keep my fingers crossed for the whole team for the coming races.”
So with Schumacher out of the running to replace the injured Felipe Massa for this weekend’s race in Valencia, Spain, Ferrari was left to choose between two less than ideal candidates, Marc Gene or Luca Badoer. Gene hasn’t raced an F1 car since 2004, and it’s been a decade since Badoer last did. Still, today Badoer got the call from Ferrari head Luca di Montezemolo that his services were needed back in the big leagues.
Schumacher’s announcement, however, does not mean that a comeback is impossible; at least according to di Montezemolo who is pushing for a rule change that would allow Ferrari to run three cars in 2010, one of which would be piloted (at least in part) by Schumacher.
[Photo Credit: Kappakstur]
On June 8 auto journalist Gerhard Plattner and co-driver Franz Doppler will attempt to set a world record, driving from Africa, through Europe to Asia in just 72 hours. The duo will depart from Rabat, Morocco in an Audi A3 TDI e, traveling 3,044 miles (4,900 km) through 13 countries before the adventure ends on the Asian side of Istanbul.
The small 105hp Audi will undergo a genuine torture test while en route, testing its safety, efficiency and comfort. “The A3 has ideal characteristics for all three continents. Nevertheless, any attempt to break a record also requires a lot of good luck, especially regarding the weather and traffic,” said Plattner at a press conference during the Audi Forum Ingolstadt.
The route will take both Plattner and Doppler by ferry to Spain, where they will drive along the Mediterranean coast of Spain, France and Italy before crossing the Alps into Germany. There they will proceed on to the Balkans and then over the Bosporus to arrive on the Eastern side of Istanbul.
Plattner already holds several records, including the fastest drive around the world (in an Audi S2).
In total he has driven more than 4.3 million miles.
Official release after the jump:
In an exclusive interview with Automotive News, Volkswagen North America CEO Stefan Jacoby let slip precious few details about the secret new sedan that is slated for production. But he did admit its existence, even saying that the final design of the vehicle had been agreed upon in just the past few weeks in Wolfsburg.
Whether it will look anything like the sketches that leaked out in February (pictured above), has not been confirmed.
What else we do know is that the vehicle will use VW’s 2.0-liter and 2.5-liter engines and will cost a very-reasonable $20,000.
The vehicle is slated to be produced in VW NA’s new Chattanooga, Tennessee plant with sales beginning in the Spring of 2012.
As for what else will be built at the plant, there is the possibility of a VW version of the upcoming Audi Q3 – although that may no longer be likely after VW announced a “project” had been put on hold in the U.S. after it decided to award the SEAT facility in Spain the contract to build the Q3.
Most likely to be built at the new facility are the two new Polo models that Jacoby has already confirmed are coming. With the current Euro-spec Polo deemed too small for the U.S. market, VW plans to bring a sedan and hatchback version of the Polo, but not until 2011. And where better to build a North American spec vehicle than in North America.
Spanish SEAT site confirmed as Q3 production facility
Audi CrossCoupe Quattro Concept, which will inspire the Audi Q3
Audi has just confirmed production of the Q3 starting in 2011. The news comes as Audi AG announced the selection of the SEAT facility in Martorell, Spain as the location where the upcoming crossover will be built.
Little is known about the Q3 other than that it will slot in under the new Q5 in Audi’s lineup of SUVs. Audi describes it as a “coupé-like five-door SUV with seat positions, wheel size, and ground clearance characteristic of a typical SUV.” It is expected to be a versatile platform and yet have a sporty driving dynamic. As for the design, it is expected to be influenced heavily by the Cross Coupe Quattro concept vehicle (pictured above).
The new Q3 production facility will create 1,200 jobs in Spain. Unfortunately, however, this decision means that any plans to produce the vehicle in the United States have been put on hold. Currently it is not yet confirmed if the Q3 will be sold in North America.
With production starting in 2011, Audi will also begin sales of the car in Fall of the same year, with an expected sales volume of 80,000 units annually.
Official release after the jump: