Former parliament member convicted in Volkswagen corruption case

In a Volkswagen case, a former member of the German parliament and labor leader of the car company, Hans-Juergen Uhl, was fined 39,200 euros (52,130 dollars) by a German court yesterday after he admitted to having been involved in a bribery and corruption scandal at Europe’s leading car maker.

The municipal court of Wolfsburg sentenced Uhl, 55, to the fine after finding him guilty of aiding and abetting a breach of fiduciary duty and lying under oath.

Uhl, a work council chief at Volkswagen between 1990 and 2006, admitted accepting visits from prostitutes paid for with company cash and lying about it earlier in the case.

“I regret what I did and take responsibility for it,” said Uhl, who recently laid down his parliamentary mandate and quit the Social Democrat party (SPD) because of his involvement in the scandal.

In view of his confession, the court, which had originally planned five days for the trial, declined to interview any witnesses and handed down the sentence after just one day.

Earlier, Uhl had told the court that he had “lost grip on reality” and that, in retrospect, he was “aghast” at his own behavior.

In January, Volkswagen’s former head of human resources Peter Hartz was given a two-year suspended jail sentence and a fine of 560,000 euros for his role in a bribery scandal involving lavish holidays and prostitutes.

Hartz, the architect of extensive German labor market reforms and the former head of personnel at Europe’s biggest car maker, avoided prison under an agreement struck with the prosecution under which he gave full testimony and admitted paying bribes.

2008 Citroen C5 II Uncovered Prior To Its Frankfurt Debut

This is it: Citroen’s brand-new Mondeo fighter, the C5 that’ll make its first public appearance at the upcoming Frankfurt Motor Show in September. However, since three months is a lifetime in the world of automotive journalism, French car magazine Auto-Journal took the liberty to enlighten us with a whole series of photos featuring a totally undisguised 2008 C5.

While it would be foolish, to say the least, to draw any final conclusions on the C5’s appearance, judging by what we see here, Citroen’s new five-door liftback abandons the first generation’s sober looks in favour of a more dynamic shape, inspired from the latest C4 and C6 models. Likewise, the 2008 C5’s interior blends several characteristic details we find in other Citroens like the C4 & Picasso derived, fixed steering wheel hub that in theory, lets the driver operate several functions of the car without removing his or her hands from the wheel, but in practice, proves a huge annoyance. –Continued: Click “Read More…” below

No word on technical specs, but if there’s one thing we can be sure of is that, like the current model, the new C5 with be equipped with a will be equipped Citroen’s technologically advanced, hydropneumatic suspension.

Pics via: Autojournal

Oil Tycoon Planning World’s Largest Windarm

T. Boone Pickens wants to build the largest wind farm in the world. You might assume that with a name like T. Boone Pickens, this guy would be some kind of oil tycoon.  Funny thing is, you’d totally be right.

You know wind power has made it big when Texas oil moguls start getting into the business. And, of course, everything is bigger in Texas.

Pickens’ wind project will stretch over 200,000 acres in four Texas panhandle counties and produce over 4000 megawatts of power…enough to power around one million homes.

Of course, these plans don’t always become reality, but the prospect of a four gigawatt $6 billion solar plant is pretty freakin’ exciting. If approved, the plant would begin construction in 2010. And that may be the first time in my life saying "Thanks" to an oil tycoon.

Via BusinessWeek

Waves Could Power the World 2X Over

Ever sit by the ocean, and watch a buoy or a seagull bob up and down without end? The energy it
takes to move all that water up and down is massive. Prevailing winds,
temperature differentials, strong weather and even the rotation of the
Earth all contribute to the never-ending crash of waves against the
shore, and viewed from a certain perspective, that’s a lot of energy
going to waste:

The World Energy
Council has estimated that approximately 2 terawatts (2 million
megawatts), about double current world electricity production, could be
produced from the oceans via wave power. It is estimated that 1 million
gigawatt hours of wave energy hits Australian
shores annually and that 25% of the UKÂ’s current power usage could be
supplied by harvesting its wave resource.

The image above shows average yearly wave-power energy in various parts of the world in kilowatts per METER!

same ocean currents that fueled the economic growth of the 18th and
19th centuries may now help power the countries that prospered as a
result – with the best sites in the world lying off the shores of
developed countries, look for this alternative energy to (I can’t help
myself) make some waves in the coming years. Scotland, Portugal,
Australia and Hawaii already have installations underway or in place,
and feasibility studies are being undertaken by Spain, Norway, USA and
New Zealand.


Mazda’s Simple Engine Mod Burns 20% Less Gas

Mazda’s new Miller-cycle engine will power the new Mazda2, (named the Demio for the US).

Mazda Motor Corporation has developed a new, naturally
aspirated 1.3-liter Miller-cycle gasoline engine, which will power the all-new Mazda2
when it goes on sale in Japan
in July 2007. The Miller-cycle engine
usually depends on having a really big super charger but Mazda has figured out
a way to use the Miller-cycle on a normally aspirated engine.

The Miller-cycle is a fancy name for a simple change in the
valve timing for an engine.  It allows
the compression stroke of a 4-cycle engine to begin later than typical. Less power wasted on compression means more

In combination with MazdaÂ’s first continuously variable
transmission (CVT), the engine enables the new Mazda2 to offer 54 mpg US, an
improvement of approximately 20% compared with MazdaÂ’s current 1.3-liter
engine model.

In addition to the new powertrain, the all-new Mazda2 has
been made approximately 220 lb lighter than its predecessor through a strict weight
reduction program, which results in quick handling to go along with the
significantly improved fuel economy.

can see no reason that the Miller-cycle engine can’t be used to improve
the efficiency of larger engines and/or engines in hybrids.  I wonder
what the carbon footprint of a Miller-cycle hybrid car running on
cellulosic ethanol would be?

Via Green Car Congress

Readers Of Motor Klassik Name Mercedes CLS, SL And G Models ‘Classics-To-Be’

In a recent survey conducted by Motor Klassik, readers of the trade journal named the Mercedes CLS, SL and G-Class models ‘classics-to-be,’ placing each at the top of their respective classes in the ‘upper medium,’ ‘convertible’ and ‘offroader’ segments. Other Mercedes models mentioned in the survey included the SLR McLaren in the ‘sports car’ category, the Maybach 57/62 in the ‘luxury’ category and the smart fortwo in the ‘mini cars’ category, with each of the aforementioned earning second in their respective classes.

BMW X6 Crossover Renderings

We might not have formed a clear idea yet to as how the upcoming X6 crossover will look like -no thanks to BMW’s more than perfect camouflaged X6 prototypes, but at least there’s no shortage of CGI’s around the net. The above rendering comes from Italian webzine, Infomotori, with the artist proposing a sporty look for the mid-size crossover with a coupe-like roofline and “M” style bumpers and rims. His guess is as good as ours.-Follow the jump for more pictures

Source: Informotori , Via:

Volkswagen Golf is the top buy online, an online car broker, names Volkswagen Golf as the most popular car bought.

The Peugeot 207 is also very popular as it followed Volkswagen Golf in the list. So is the Audi A3, while cars like the Mazda MX-5 and Ford Focus have always featured in its annual top 10. Newer family cars such as the Ford S-MAX and Volkswagen Touran have become more recent favorites.

“We have always sold the Volkswagen Golf in large quantities, while more recently the Golf Match has proven very popular. The car is bought both as a first car and second car and offers practicality with German build quality and a good resale value,” explained Richard Sanders, managing director of

The average price of cars bought through has risen from £15,000 in 2002 to £17,000 in 2006/07.

“Consumers are just as happy to buy a car online as they are with a lower value item such as a TV. A new car is the same no matter which UK main dealer supplies it, and our job is to find the dealer keenest to pick up extra business. We also speak to all our customers about things like delivery times and specification, so despite ordering online they still get to speak to a person,” said Sanders.

Volkswagen to trim down spending in North America

Volkswagen AG, Europe’s largest car maker, will reduce discounts and warranty claims, and concentrate on the sales of the most profitable models to make up for their loss in North America.

“We have a better financial result this year than last year, categorically,” said Adrian Hallmark, Volkswagen of America’s executive vice president. “We’ve cut costs, we’ve reduced incentives and we have hedged.”

Volkswagen sales have fallen in the U.S. this year as the company prepares new models for 2008. The company only sold 91,743 vehicles in the U.S. in the first five months, a 4.4 percent drop from a year earlier. Sales in 2007 will be flat, Hallmark reiterated.

Hallmark has a long-term goal of increasing U.S. sales to 400,000 to 600,000 vehicles a year. Last year, the car maker sold 235,140 cars and SUVs in the world’s largest market. Volkswagen’s U.S. sales record, set in 1970, was 569,696 cars and vans.

Volkswagen expects to increase U.S. sales next year with the introduction of a compact sport-utility vehicle, a new Passat coupe and a minivan built with DaimlerChrysler AG. The car company will also reintroduce a diesel Jetta in 2008. Volkswagen this year pulled the diesel, which accounted for 30 percent of U.S. Jetta sales last year, to switch to new technology.

Volkswagen’s North American loss in 2006 was 607 million euros, after a loss of 317 million euros in the first half. The company will no longer give profit figures by region when it reports first-half earnings on July 27.

Worldwide, the company reported a first-quarter profit after cutting labor costs. The Volkswagen brand had earnings before interest and tax of 386 million euros compared with an operating loss of 49 million euros a year earlier.

Volkswagen has lowered North American costs by decreasing spending on warranty claims by two-thirds over the last two years and focusing on sales of more profitable vehicles, Hallmark said.

“The car maker will double Rabbit sales this year to 20,000 vehicles while reducing Passat sales. The incentive costs for selling 2,600 Passats in the U.S. are eight times as high as selling the same number of Rabbits,” Hallmark said.
Hallmark plans to shorten delivery times from European and Mexican factories by one week by the end of the year. It now takes six weeks to get vehicles from Mexico and 14 weeks from Germany. Hallmark also said that it would cost $35 to $40 per week in transit for a Passat.

Hallmark, 44, replaced Executive Vice President Len Hunt as head of Volkswagen’s U.S. operations in late 2005. Volkswagen made changes in North America after sales plummeted and losses deepened. Hallmark had been running sales and marketing for the Bentley luxury-car division.

“Hallmark was moved from Bentley, where he was very successful, and has had one clear mission: Get Volkswagen’s U.S. operations into shape,” said Stephen Pope, head of equity research at Cantor Fitzgerald in London, who has a `buy’ rating on the stock. “The benefits of the hard work are being seen and when the new models come through it will auger well for the sales.”

66 Bottles of Beer on the Roof

Once while traveling through the southern US I saw a DIY solar hot
water heater made from an old Chevy, that was up on blocks, painted
black and the proud owner had run 200 feet of garden hose through the
interior.  It provided enough heat for his family to shower he said.

the "Weird Asia News" blog we get the story of a man who made his
family a solar hot water heater from 66 recycled beer bottles.  He
should have called, I could have helped him empty the bottles.

Weird Asia News:

A Chinese farmer has made his own solar-powered water heater out of beer bottles and hose pipes.


“I invented this for my mother. I wanted her to shower comfortably,” says Ma Yanjun, of Qiqiao village, Shaanxi province.

MaÂ’s invention features 66 beer bottles attached to a board. The
bottles are connected to each other so that water flows through them.

Sunlight heats the water as is passes slowly through the bottles
before flowing into the bathroom as hot water, reports China Economy

Ma says it provides enough hot water for all three members of his family to have a shower every day.

And more than 10 families in the village have already followed suit and installed their own versions of MaÂ’s invention.

Via: BoingBoing, Wierd Asia News

Building a Better Brick

Henry Liu, a retired civil engineer, has won the Popular Science 2007 Invention Award for producing a replacement for the more than 9 billion clay bricks manufactured in the US each year. Manufactured from fly ash,
a byproduct of coal combustion with a worldwide surplus production
running in the hundreds of millions of tons each year, these new bricks
are as strong and safe as the bricks we’re all used to seeing, cost 20%
less to make, and are far more environmentally friendly.

‘n’ Busted: clay bricks are fired in a kiln at over 2000°F (1100°C).
New Hotness: Liu’s new building material is cured in a 150°F (66°C)
steam bath after exiting a 4000 psi (28,000 kPa) press, saving massive
amounts of energy and reducing the carbon footprint for builders
considerably. In addition, the new bricks are easier to use which will
save bricklayers time, and homebuilders money. To top it all off, the
bricks may also improve air quality.

Having recently passed federal safety standards in the US, Liu will begin licensing his technology to manufacturers in 2008.