Welcome back ladies and gentlemen; I hope you all had a fantastic Memorial Day weekend. To kick things off this bright May morning we have a recap of the F1 race that transpired in Monte Carlo over the weekend. As usual, if you have it TIVO’d and plan on catching it later, read no further; otherwise, keep reading for the full press release.
Day: June 8, 2007
It’s been a relatively slow week for Mercedes reviews, with by our count no more than three publications weighing on a Merc model. As it turns out, this week’s manufacturer-sponsored event gave testers the opportunity to strap themselves in behind the wheel of the roughly $200,000 CL65 AMG, meaning we have three looks at what’s undoubtedly one of the most covetable new Mercedes models currently available.
While we’re on the topic of spy photos, The Car Connection recently published another batch of pictures depicting what they’re calling the 2009 SL testing in various climates. Not content with merely providing disguised SL photos however, they also published the watermark-laden rendering you see above – a rendering which attempts to show what an SL with CLS headlights and a new grille would look like. I have to be honest: I’m not diggin’ it. I hope for the sake of SL owners the final product looks better than the photo; typically, however, renderings emanating from the Lehmann camp aren’t too far off base, so we’ll see.
Another story making the rounds yesterday was a new batch of spy photos depicting upcoming small SUV, the GLK-Class, testing on the Nurburgring alongside the BMW X3. As you’ll see in the photo, the GLK matches up pretty closely in terms of size with the BMW, and in likelihood will match pretty closely in terms of performance as well. Aside from the photos, there’s really nothing more to reveal that you haven’t already heard. It’s based on the same platform as the new C-Class; it’s expected to use the same 3.5-Liter V6 paired with Mercedes’ seven-speed transmission featured in the C; and of course, it features 4MATIC four-wheel drive technology.
As luck would have it, yesterday, the one day I couldn’t make it into the office due to what turned out to be a four hour dental appointment, was one of the busiest days for Mercedes news that we’ve had the past couple of weeks. So to those of you who sent us tips yesterday: a huge thanks; don’t worry, we see ’em, and I’m doing my best to cover them all as quickly as possible. First up comes a story that’s already been published on what appears to be every other automotive blog in existence: the news that Mercedes tuner KICHERER has released the SL K 60 Evo Black tuning package for the SL600. Boasting an enhanced V12 outputting 605hp/445kW, the SL K 60 Evo is capable of accelerating from 0-62 mph in 4.3 seconds, 0-124 mph in 14.2 seconds, and attaining an electronically-limited top speed of 186 mph…
In military news, the Canadian Defence Ministry has just ordered 82 armored Mercedes-Benz Actros trucks, with the option to purchase another 26 units of the model. The Actros, which feature a four-axle all-wheel-drive chassis, are fitted with a specially armored cab, and provide an exceptionally high level of protection for the Canadian soldiers from mines, hostile fire and roadside bombs during their various UN peacekeeping missions. A few features of the model include the ability to cope with uphill gradients up to 70 percent and a lateral incline of up to 30 percent; the ability to traverse water courses with a depth of 750mm (up to 1200mm with special equipment); and of course, state-of-the-art protection from both ballistic and blast threats.
DaimlerChrysler has announced today that they will unveil the first prototype of the company’s diesel-electric hybrid Mercedes-Benz Citaro bus to the general public during the second half of 2007. The prototype power source, which Daimler says ’embodies highly sophisticated diesel-electric series hybrid technology,’ will allow emission-free operation in battery-only mode, and will be installed in a Citaro G articulated bus. As for when we’ll see the hybrid Citaro introduced to the market, series production is scheduled for 2009.
Thanks to the rising sales of the new BMW X5 and Mini hatch, BMW Group managed to increase sales in May 2007 by 7.0 percent to 128.408 units. According to the worldâ€™s largest premium carmaker, BMW-brand sales rose 5.8 percent from a year earlier to 108,488 units, while Mini sales increased by 14.0 percent compared to May 2006, climbing up to 19,864 cars. As for Rolls Royce, the British brand sold 56 vehicles, exactly the same as last May. Comparatively, the Mercedes Groupâ€™s (Mercedes-Benz & Smart) sales rose by 2.9 percent in May 2007 to 116.000 cars (partially due to the introduction of the new C-Class and Fortwo) while Audiâ€™s sales advanced 10.0 percent in May 07 to just over 87.000 units.
- Brand: – May 07 – Difference May 06/07 â€“ YTD 07 â€“ Difference YTD 06/07
- BMW Group Automobile: – 128.408 – +7,0% – 580.043 – +2,1%
- BMW: – 108.488 – +5,8% – 494.712 – +1,9%
- MINI: – 19.864 – +14,1% – 85.110 – +3,5%
- Rolls-Royce: – 56 -0% – 221 – +3,3%
- BMW MotorrÃ¤der: – 12.289 – -1,1% – 47.632 – +9,1%
Convertibles and folding metal roof coupe-cabriolets are the latest trend right now in the UK, with the recent statistics from the Society of Motoring Manufacturers and Traders indicating that registrations are now over 100,000 units a year, three times the number a decade ago.
Industry figures also show that petrol engined models dominate with a 70 percent of sales, but Volkswagen beg to differ.
Volkswagen introduced their Eos Coupe-Cabriolet range last July with petrol and diesel engine options. The petrol models currently account for 51 percent of Eos sales but next year Volkswagen UK expects that the diesel variants will be on top by accumulating 54 percent of sales. This is definitely far from the 20 percent Eos diesel sales forecast Volkswagen had last July when the range was initially launched.
This year, Volkswagen is expecting to sell 5,500 Eos models in the UK. The UK is the third largest market for Eos in world after Germany and the USA.
Most of the coupe-cabriolet sales in the UK comes from the business user-chooser customers. The folding metal roof technology apparently makes them feel safer and more secure so companies now allow these types of vehicles on their car choice lists.
High mileage company car users affect the increasing sales of diesel powered models, hence Volkswagen predicts that next year their diesel Eos models will beat other petrol versions.
Currently, the single best selling Eos model is the 2.0-liter TDI.
There are two new Volkswagen convertibles that are will set new trends in droptop technologies, the Beetle and the Eos.
The Beetle convertible inherited the same Beetle external feature, only thing is that it comes with a soft top that folds back like that of a baby buggy. According to some, it has the distinctive look of Beetle convertibles, which was called Cabriolets or Cabrios before. Statistics say that nearly 70 percent of owners are women.
The Eos is on the other hand, was named after the mythical Greek goddess of dawn. And as the source of its name, this convertible comes with cutting-edge technology. Its metal roof is not only retractable but also has an integrated sunroof. According to Volkswagen, the design of the Eos is muscular. They also aim to market it to 40 something college graduate.
There are numerous differences between the two vehicles, like their speed.
The Eos can run up to 60 mph in 6.5 seconds thanks to a 3.2L V-6 of 250 horsepower. The Eos also comes with a 2L turbocharged four that takes around a second longer to 60 mph.
The Beetle on the other hand is not as fast but can very well compete with other cars. Because of its 2.5L inline five-cylinder engine of 150 horsepower it can catch up with the Eos in 10.4 seconds.
The Eos’ V-6 gets 22 mpg in the city or 29 on the highway. The Beetle ragtop with its five-cylinder power plant comes in almost the same 22/30. The difference is that the Eos is bigger.
They differ in the price too. The Beetle soft top starts at $22,120. On the other hand, Eos with the four-banger starts at $27,990 and with the six starts at $36,850. Meanwhile, the Eos V-6 is a bit higher at $40,930.
When the snug hardtop is down on Eos, there’s a rollover protection system that elevates mini-rollbars in accidents. The Beetle also has automatic rollover supports. For its safety features, both cars have anti-lock brakes and vehicle stability control systems.
The Beetle’s windshield is thrust away from the driver but its severe rake produces a wide expanse of upper dashboard. It’s not unlike being in a convertible minivan. With the top down, the view to the rear is restricted.
Base on a road test, the steering of the Beetle is quick but curves are taken without almost no road feel. While the Eos can go around curves with glue-like adhesion with little body roll. The steering is also quick and accurate with agile handling. The 12-way heated seats helps soak up the bumps and makes for fine cross-country driving. One disadvantage though is that it does not have a lot of cargo capacity to offer motorists.
In Volkswagen’s first supplier conference held in Mumbai, the topic was the German car company’s partnership with India. It was back in 2006 when Volkswagen signed an agreement with the Maharashtra government stating that a plant will be built at Chakan near Pune. The new plant reportedly has a capacity 110,000 vehicles annually and will begin production by the end of 2009.
In a company release, the plant will be including a a press shop, body shop, paint shop and assembly lines. It also said that setting up the plant will generate 2,500 new jobs.
Mr Joerg Mueller, President of Volkswagen India Pvt Ltd said, “Our objective is to establish Volkswagen as a local manufacturer and long-term business partner in India.”
Mr Pierre Bruedgam, the Executive Director, Procurement, VWIPL, explained, “We will start our sourcing activities soon to find potential partners for Volkswagen in India with local as well as global perspective.”
The conference was attended by 250 suppliers from India and abroad last Wednesday.
The all-knowing (or at least oft-correct) Worldwatch Institute has just released a report saying that they expect the cost of solar panels to drop 40% in the next few years. The recent explosive growth in the solar power industry has caused a world-wide shortage of silicon that will soon be ending.
Silicon manufacturers are currently strugling to keep up with demand, but high prices means that new silicon manufacturing plants are being built all over the world at break-neck pace. This is and isn’t a good thing. We should all be hoping for some simple-to-manufacture silicon alternative because silicon is somewhat environmentally costly to produce. But not as environmentally costly as more coal-fired power plants.
But, in short, there will soon be a world-wide surplus of silicon, driving raw material prices for solar way way down, up to 40% in just three years. Worldwatch estimates that the threat to traditional utilities by solar will be signficant by 2010, and they will be either looking to get in on the game themselves or muscle solar out through some dirty underhanded tactics.
But for the average EcoGeek, this is pretty exciting. By 2010, you might have an inexpensive solar roof charging your sleek and stylish Chevy Volt plug-in.