Land of the Free a captive to lobbyists for Luddites

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Awards to dealerships and car dealer groups are common and often both appreciated and promoted by their recipients. A new award nomination that recognises the work of state dealer lobbyists, however, is not likely to get that appreciation, or publicity, at least from dealers in those four states.

Instead, it’s likely to please Tesla owners and advocates, who do not have to buy or shop for their electric cars at a conventional franchised dealership. That’s because the award in question is called the ‘Luddite Award’, after the 19th-century British artisans who protested against industrial progress and the increased use of automated machinery.

The word luddite now generally refers to anyone who rejects progress and modernity, wishing instead to cling to the old ways. The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation 10 named 10 nominees for its 2014 ITIF Luddite Awards  this month, highlighting “a growing array of interests, some economic, some ideological, now stand resolutely in opposition to innovation.”

Tesla store that opened last year in London's Westfield Mall

Tesla store that opened last year in London’s Westfield Mall

Among them was the following, somewhat unwieldy entry: “Arizona, Michigan, New Jersey and Texas Take Action to Prevent Tesla From Opening Stores to Sell Cars Directly to Consumers.”

Those are the four states that passed laws last year restricting or banning the showroom and online sales model of electric carmaker Tesla Motors. Among the other nominees are entries as disparate as France banning Amazon’s offer of free shipping on books, the movement against utilities installing “smart meters,” a crackdown on AirBnB by New York State, and efforts to curtail or ban ride-sharing by Nevada and Virginia.

Many of the nominees take advantage of the commercial opportunities offered online and by smartphone apps, but disrupt conventional business models in the process. Lobbyists for the established businesses are often behind efforts to constrain or ban the new business models.

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AirBnB, for instance, lets individual or corporate owners and residents of apartments and homes rent out a place to sleep to strangers. But it also lets travellers circumvent the considerably more expensive, and far more regulated, hotel and motel industry.

Ride sharing similarly cuts into the commercial taxi business, as does Uber, another disruptive business. And that appears to be the concern of the lobbyists for state dealer groups: Any alternative to the franchised dealership model potentially threatens the now-legally-mandated insertion of a third-party business (the dealership) between a manufacturer (the carmaker) and a customer for its product (the car buyer).

This Tesla dealership in Los Angeles means that California won't be a candidate for the Luddite of the Year award

This Tesla dealership in Los Angeles means that California won’t be a candidate for the Luddite of the Year award

ITIF writes in its nomination: “It is clear that these state laws are designed to protect franchise dealers at the expense [of] innovation and competition. State lawmakers should look out for the best interests of consumers and overall productivity, not protect the business model of auto dealers.”

Any member of the public can vote for their choice of the single “most egregious anti-innovation action/proposal of the year.” The overall winner will be announced on February 5th.

The ITIF’s report concludes: “While we can’t stop the Luddites from engaging in their anti-progress, anti-innovation activities, we can recognize them for what they are: actions and ideas that are profoundly anti-progress, that if followed would mean our children will live lives as adults nowhere near as good as the lives they could live if we instead embraced, rather than fought, innovation.

This story comes from greencarreports.com. Click on video for full weekly round up of news concerning electric vehicles.

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Bentley Bentayga front runner in ausauto ‘autospeak’ 2015 awards

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It had to happen! A Bentley SUV? It’s no joke. According to the company, the all-new and ground-breaking luxury SUV is set to be revealed to the world later this year. And the name? No, it’s not the Bentley Sloanie, or the Bentley Taxdodger, but…wait for it…it is, in truly boring Anglo-German style, it’s the Bentley Bentayga.

And in true, traditional automotive manufacturer, convoluted, ubber-hype known as autospeak: “it’s the natural world, along with the company’s founder that inspired the name…”

“Crowning the northern hemisphere, to the north of Bentley’s birthplace in England, is the dramatic beauty of the Taiga, the world’s largest transcontinental snowforest. To the south, the rugged peak of the Roque Bentayga, in the subtropical Canary Islands draws attention from all directions and a challenging climb rewards with spectacular panoramic views of a rich and diverse landscape.”

Crewe to the Canary Islands is a bit of a stretch, but as we said, that’s autospeak for you. And so it goes on…”This sector-defining SUV will be able to introduce Bentley’s renowned modern British luxury to limitless destinations with an impressive combination of on and off road performance”.

“Bentayga is a name that reflects what we know our SUV will do better than any other car in the world, combine the best automotive luxury with outstanding performance to take the Bentley experience to new environments,” says chairman and CEO Wolfgang Dürheimer.

More info on the new Bentley Bentayga that will go on sale next year @ www.bentleybentayga.com.

New online training video from Monroe

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As a part of Monroe Australia’s major commitment to ride performance product checking and fitment training, a new video is now widely available online to suspension specialists, general automotive repairers and those that can do major repairs on their vehicles

The nine-minute training video provides important information relating to the design and function of Monroe shock absorbers along with detailed technical advice for repairers, fitters and re-sellers. All information is supported by detailed graphics and animation created by Monroe technical personnel.

According to Monroe Australia’s Brydon Tweddell, the company is dedicated to providing the best possible training support to the industry.

“Be that online, or through our organised personal training sessions, we hope that our trade customers will take the time to view this new training video as it provides some great technical information about our shock absorbers.”

CLICK HERE to view.

Second generation headlamp reflects new technology

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Narva and LED headlamp manufacturer Truck-Lite have launched what they claim is a ground-breaking new 7” H4 headlamp that has heaps of enhancements over the first generation lamp including stealth-styled reflectors that result in the superior white light of LED technology for park lights, low beam and high beam.

The complex reflector design accurately and evenly distributes light for the best visibility pattern possible, targeting the most important areas of the road where traditional projector systems can’t reach.

“As with other Narva lamps, the product is extremely shock and vibration-resistant and features a virtually unbreakable polycarbonate lens that has been treated with a special non-yellowing coating to ensure the lamp stays clear and well-protected.

“Encasing the solid state internals is a military-grade housing which employs die-cast aluminium construction, for corrosion and impact-resistant longevity,” said a company spokesperson.

The headlamp has ‘E’, ADR and IP68 approval and meets EMC-R10/CISPR 25 requirements; pre-wired H4 connector that is a direct fit for traditional headlamp wiring adaptors; low operating temperature and carries a three-year warranty.

Narva---Trucklite-7''-L.E.D-Headlamp-Insert-72102Originally designed for US military vehicles such as the Hummer, the 7” LED lamp is suitable for a wide range of vehicles including light, medium and heavy-duty trucks, off-road vehicles, classic cars and motorcycles.

Further details @ http://www.narva.com.au or @ www.facebook.com/narvaaustralia

Cats thrive among the desert dunes

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A lifetime living and working in some of Australia’s harshest and most isolated regions has taught Neil Dunn a simple, uncompromising principle about endurance. The way he sees it, you either have what it takes to survive and succeed in tough country, or you don’t.

He applies the same steadfast principle to machines of every sort and for the past couple of years he reckons that Cat trucks have been showing all the inherent strengths needed to endure a life lived hard midst the wild extremes of South Australia’s Strzelecki Desert.

image118540_bNeil is founder and managing director of Dunns Earthmoving, a remarkably resourceful and self-reliant company operating from a remote base roughly 100km west of Moomba in the rich oil and gas fields of the Cooper Basin. The scale of the operation forged by Neil and wife Sue is as surprising as it is isolated.

With two publicly listed oil and gas companies as its chief clients, Dunns Earthmoving has evolved dramatically in little more than a decade.

It started in 2003 as a simple two-man operation living rough in desert isolation with a few pieces of second-hand earthmoving plant. The business now employs more than 100 resilient and variously skilled people who maintain and operate an immense equipment inventory of trucks, service and support vehicles. Almost every form of earthmoving plant from bulldozers to scrapers, graders, excavators and skid-steers is involved on almost a day-to-day basis.

Sue Dunn claims it’s an enterprise built from the ground up by the resourcefulness and tenacious work ethic of her husband, born and raised in drought-ridden cattle country and ingrained with a natural affinity for remote and arid regions.

As Neil is quick to point out it’s not easy country with summer temperatures regularly at 50 degrees Celsius and winter nights well below freezing.

“We specialise in remote area earthmoving and road works, repairing existing roads and making new ones when we’re basically just given a GPS location after all the environmental studies and cultural heritage sites have been identified and then we carve a track through virgin country.

“On top of that we do the earthworks for drill rigs, tank farms and basically anything else that needs a machine or a truck to move dirt. It probably sounds simple enough but there’s a lot to it. You need to know what you’re doing. This country is very unforgiving.”

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With hundreds of oil and gas wells dotted across a massive expanse of the Cooper Basin, Dunn teams operate from self-contained mobile camps in a radius of several hundred kilometres in every direction from the main base where around 50 people are permanently stationed.

Equipment reliability is everything and Neil’s preferred brand in earthmoving equipment is Caterpillar despite the operation’s isolation and entrenched self-sufficiency, Neil points to the back-up of South Australia Cat dealer Cavpower and his high regard for Cat’s dependable C15 engine as the initial considerations in choosing to add Cat trucks to the fleet.

His first Cat truck, a CT630 day cab model, arrived in early 2013 and although there were initially “a few annoying little things”, three spacious CT630LS models have since joined the operation to haul a wide variety of trailers including heavily laden water tankers and low loaders.

image118539_aOn the ability of the Cat trucks to cope with such demanding conditions, a blunt Neil Dunn says the brand simply wouldn’t get a second chance if it weren’t already showing acceptable levels of endurance.

“There’s no doubt about it, they wouldn’t be here if they weren’t doing the job,” he concludes with absolute authority.

Meeting regional challenges with global technology

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The 18th Asia Pacific Automotive Engineering Conference and Cars of Tomorrow conference is to be held at the Crown Promenade Hotel, Melbourne from 10-12th March. Run in conjunction with Australian Automotive Week, the combined event, branded as the Automotive Engineering Technology Hub, will also feature a Supplier Showcase involving around 40 manufacturing, technology and engineering consulting companies.

The hub is expected to attract an audience that includes automotive OEMs and suppliers, research, academia, trade, purchasing, product planning and marketing plus about 100 international delegates involved in the Victorian government’s inbound trade mission.

According to Adrian Feeney, president of the SAE-A that is organising the event, the Automotive Engineering Technology Hub highlight future trends in vehicles and fuels that will enable companies to capitalise on upcoming opportunities.

“It is particularly timely for companies in the struggling Australian automotive manufacturing sector, and provides the opportunity for them to leverage global connections, right here on their doorstep.”

Meeting Regional Challenges with Global Technology, is the theme for the 18th APAC that will reflect the rapidly changing automotive and engineering world and highlight trends and technologies in gaseous fuels, electric powertrain, heavy commercial vehicles, mining, safety and manufacturing.

kazuo-okamotoThe keynote address, Technologies for Sustainable Mobility will be given by Kazuo Okamoto, senior advisor to the board of Toyota Motor Corporation and Hino Motors in Japan.

Brad Smith, entrepreneur and founder of braaap Motorcycles, will speak about the trials and success of building his company from the ground-up. braaap is Australia’s biggest motorcycle brad-smithmanufacturer that offers a lifetime warranty on all their bikes.

Representative of Toyota, Hyundai, Kia and Indian Oil will cover topics such as chassis design, safety, performance modelling, high strength steels, self-healing paints and hydrogen compressed natural gas fuel performance.

Hosted by the SAE-A, AutoCRC and Future Climate Australia, The Cars of Tomorrow conference will be run in conjunction with APAC at which Tali Trigg, transport energy analyst at the International Energy Agency, Tali Trigg, will be present Future Fuels and Technology, their likely scenarios and timelines’ and Phil Gott, senior director, IHS Automotive (USA) will lead a discussion on Future Mobility: Rethinking how we move people and goods.

Other conference presenters include John Boesel, CEO, Calstart (USA); Garry Connelly, deputy president, FIA Institute in Australia; and Professor Chris Ryan, director, Victorian Eco-Innovation Lab.

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More information @ www.sae-a.com.au

Forty-one vehicles top US$1m at US auction

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Three cars moved into the top 100 most expensive cars ever sold at auction during the Scottsdale Auction week and a total of 41 cars sold for more than $1 million. An overview by gizmag provides a complete listing of the major sales, prices, images and links to all the auction descriptions.

The week of Scottsdale sales saw US$292,800,000 change hands across all of the auctions, an 18% increase on the previous year. Clearly there’s plenty of money in this marketplace.

The figure of 2532 of 2939 lots sold equates to an 86% sell-through rate and is also a high, but many unsold cars were bid to amounts that would have purchased them six months ago and the average high bid of unsold lots more than doubled from 2014.

The first of a new generation, the Carrera 6 Type 906 redefined the concept of a modern Porsche race car.

The first of a new generation, the Carrera 6 Type 906 redefined the concept of a modern Porsche race car.

Sellers are continuing to expect their cars to maintain stratospheric appreciation while the ever-more-educated buyers aren’t quite as bullish although steady growth is expected throughout the year. The number of high net worth individuals continues to grow by around 10% per annum and greater percentages of investment portfolios than ever are being allocated to investments of passion.

There is no more compelling investment of passion than sticking your boot into a gas pedal and knowing that the V6/8/10/12 snarling back at you is not just accelerating like there’s no tomorrow, but that its price is doing exactly the same because it is appreciating better than your share portfolio.

1966 Ferrari 275GTB Competizione

1966 Ferrari 275GTB Competizione

This marketplace can be expected to continue to grow, but it’s only logical that those who have seen their investments grow at ridiculous rates for the last few years will be wanting to take a profit and invest in the many more moderately priced cars that are just as much fun to drive and don’t make one nearly as nervous in traffic.

Conversely, if it doesn’t sell for a certain price, then the enthusiast buyers will happily drive it for another year or two. The enthusiast market cuts both ways. It is, after all, still about having fun and the wonderful story associated with the third car on this list is a great reminder of that.

Cars are meant to be driven, and if you’re investing for the long term and not for the driving pleasure, may we suggest the scientific instruments market will offer better returns over the next decade.

The advent of the internet and the ability to bid at auto auctions from remote locations will also drive this market over the coming years as investing in automobiles no longer requires a trip to Arizona, London, Paris, Florida or Monterey at a specific and perhaps inconvenient time. Registering, watching and bidding over the internet is now heading for prime time so however you look at it, this marketplace has plenty of growth in it yet.

This 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 with coachwork by Scaglietti was delivered new in 1967 to film director John Frankenheimer.

This 1967 Ferrari 275 GTB/4 with coachwork by Scaglietti was delivered new in 1967 to film director John Frankenheimer.

NRMA MotorServe joins with Tafe to train apprentices

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It’s not much of an offer, but then we should be thankful for small mercies, especially when it involves an insurance company. NRMA MotorServe and Sydney TAFE are to train 18 apprentice mechanics over the next four years with the goal of offering positions anywhere across the NRMA business. Which is a pretty good deal for the insurer in that it gets to train skilled technicians for the cost of a sponsorship that is tax deductable.

Two of the 18 apprenticeships have been offered to women to bolster the current ratio of female mechanics in a workforce that includes 70,000 male technicians and just 607 females.

Three hundred and fifty applications were received for Certificate III in Automotive (Mechanical – Light Vehicle) Apprenticeship Program. The training is being delivered in partnership with the Automotive Centre of Excellence, part of Sydney TAFE.

“The fourth year provides the opportunity for our apprentices to master their mechanical skills, while focusing on future career development within the many business units across NRMA,” said MotorServe’s Malcolm Trenfield.

The NRMA MotorServe network was established in 2007 and has 19 centres across NSW and the ACT.

British Bloodhound on the trail of a world land speed record

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Bloodhounds are reputed to have the shortest lifespan amongst popular breeds of domestic dogs, so it follows that if you’re going to do something as dangerous as an attempt on the world land speed record in a vehicle named Bloodhound then it pays to take extra precautions.

And that’s exactly what project director Richard Noble and driver, or should we say pilot, Andy Green are doing in preparation for the Bloodhound Supersonic Car’s attempt to crack 1000mph (1609km/h) to set up a new land speed record.

In an age where statics are applied to almost any activity it’s no surprise that acquisition and analysis of data will play a huge part in the success of the project.

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Last autumn an L39 jet aircraft flew multiple passes down Bloodhound’s specially-prepared South African desert track, synchronised with a Jaguar coupe driven by Richard and a Jaguar XF saloon, at closing speeds of up to 650mph (1046km/h).

The cars carried the same equipment that will stream data, voice and imagery, live from the Supersonic Car during test runs and record attempts in September this year and again in 2016.

According to Richard and Andy the ultimate goal of the whole project is not only setting a new world record but to inspire a younger generation about science, technology and engineering by sharing a unique adventure.

Over 5700 UK primary and secondary schools have signed up to use the free Bloodhound Education resources in their classrooms. The educational outreach programme also runs in South Africa with more than 600 schools already participating and more than 100 ambassadors signed up to help use the project to inspire young people about studying maths and science.

Getting back to the car, there will be more than 300 sensors plus three streams of 720p video transmitting live through single channel from the jet and rocket powered vehicle as it blasts down the desert racetrack during the test.

By way of comparison, a modern F1 car transmits 150 channels of data over a single radio channel during a grand prix weekend. Each run by Bloodhound SSC will generate information equivalent to 125 MP3 music tracks played concurrently.

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Beaming data at over 1000mph (1600km/h) will push available communications technology to the limit. To meet the challenge, MTN and Poynting Antennas have created a bespoke 4G LTE (Long-Term Evolution) network for the project, based on known and trusted mobile telephone technology. The 800MHz signal is highly focused, rather than broadcast, to ensure the network has ‘link budget’ capable of streaming four megabytes per second of data live from the car as it covers a mile in 3.6 seconds (a kilometre in 2.25 seconds).

During the test, the signal captured by engineers on the track will eventually find its way onto the internet ready to be viewed by schools, colleges and other audiences worldwide.

For this test, custom-made Poynting antennas with Sierra Wireless Air Prime embedded LTE modems were mounted on the Jaguar XF, replicating the kit that will be built into the SSC’s tail fin. Simulated Bloodhound data and footage from four high-resolution Stemmer imaging cameras, equipped with unique BJR lenses, was streamed live from the Jaguar XF during the high-speed passes.

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Driving in tandem, the coupé used digital VHF radio technology specially calibrated to ensure clear voice communication from the ground team to both Andy Green in the supersonic car and Jaguar’s two rapid response vehicles. The test ensured that there were no frequency clashes across the spectra the team will be utilising over the 54 square mile (142 square km) area of Hakskeen Pan.

Flying above the cars in the L39 Jet, the project’s IT manager Sarah Covell measured signal strength from the 60m tall solar-powered MTN mast nine miles (14.5 km) from the track. The activity confirmed that the project’s entire radio infrastructure is now in place, ready for high-speed testing planned to begin in September.

The Bloodhound, currently being assembled in Bristol (UK) has three power plants, a Rolls-Royce EJ200 jet from a Eurofighter Typhoon, a cluster of Nammo hybrid rockets and a 550 bhp supercharged V8 Jaguar engine that drives the rocket oxidiser pump. Between them they generate 135,000 thrust hp, equivalent to 180 F1 cars.

Roll out is said to be on schedule this northern hemisphere summer when the car will undergo runway testing up to 200mph (321km/h) at the Aerohub, Newquay. The backup team will then move to South Africa to begin high speed testing with the target of reaching 800mph (1287 km/h) and retuning to UK to review the data before returning to South Africa in 2016.

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TomTom rider shows Alice the way to a new wonderland

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“Alice came to a fork in the road. ‘Which road do I take?’ she asked.
‘Where do you want to go?’ responded the Cheshire Cat.
‘I don’t know,’ Alice answered.
‘Then,’ said the Cat, ‘it doesn’t matter.”
 

Now, if only Alice had access to a motorbike and got her information from a TomTom rather than a tom cat, she could hop on the bike, switch on the all-new TomTomRider and select an exciting ride of twists and turns equal to any journey through a rabbit hole.

The TomTom Rider helps bikers like Alice discover and explore new routes by simply selecting an area on the map to ride and leaving it to TomTom to suggest the most exciting round-trip. Bikers can also build excitement before setting out by creating and sharing touring adventures with friends and uploading direct to their navigation unit.

According to the company’s Winnie Kwan, every ride is a chance for adventure: “So we have designed something that gives bikers more ways to create and discover exciting routes, from the freedom of cruising the open road, to the thrill of leaning into the tightest curve on the highest peak.

“The stylish, yet rugged TomTom Rider has been completely redesigned for life on the road, with an innovative rotating mount that allows bikers to switch to portrait view to see more of the bends ahead.”

The unit has a glove-friendly; interactive screen and Bluetooth-enabled audio instructions delivered to the headset or helmet, giving bikers more freedom to just enjoy the ride.

So, as the Cheshire Cat also told Alice: “If you don’t know where you are going any road can take you there”….but it’s much more fun with a TomTom Rider. 

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