More carmakers caught in headlights of VW engine-rigging scandal

More carmakers caught in headlights of VW engine-rigging scandal
Volkswagen has admitted it installed illegal software into 11 million 2.0 liter and 3.0 liter diesel engines worldwide (AFP Photo/Josh Edelson)

Volkswagen emissions scandal

Iran's 'catastrophic mistake': Speculation, pressure, then admission

Iran's 'catastrophic mistake': Speculation, pressure, then admission
Analsyts say it is irresponsible to link the crash of a Ukraine International Airline Boeing 737-800 to the 737 MAX accidents (AFP Photo/INA FASSBENDER)

Missing MH370 likely to have disintegrated mid-flight: experts

Missing MH370 likely to have disintegrated mid-flight: experts
A Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777 commercial jet.

QZ8501 (AirAsia)

Leaders see horror of French Alps crash as probe gathers pace

"The Recalibration of Awareness – Apr 20/21, 2012 (Kryon channeled by Lee Carroll) (Subjects: Old Energy, Recalibration Lectures, God / Creator, Religions/Spiritual systems (Catholic Church, Priests/Nun’s, Worship, John Paul Pope, Women in the Church otherwise church will go, Current Pope won’t do it), Middle East, Jews, Governments will change (Internet, Media, Democracies, Dictators, North Korea, Nations voted at once), Integrity (Businesses, Tobacco Companies, Bankers/ Financial Institutes, Pharmaceutical company to collapse), Illuminati (Started in Greece, with Shipping, Financial markets, Stock markets, Pharmaceutical money (fund to build Africa, to develop)), Shift of Human Consciousness, (Old) Souls, Women, Masters to/already come back, Global Unity.... etc.) - (Text version)

… The Shift in Human Nature

You're starting to see integrity change. Awareness recalibrates integrity, and the Human Being who would sit there and take advantage of another Human Being in an old energy would never do it in a new energy. The reason? It will become intuitive, so this is a shift in Human Nature as well, for in the past you have assumed that people take advantage of people first and integrity comes later. That's just ordinary Human nature.

In the past, Human nature expressed within governments worked like this: If you were stronger than the other one, you simply conquered them. If you were strong, it was an invitation to conquer. If you were weak, it was an invitation to be conquered. No one even thought about it. It was the way of things. The bigger you could have your armies, the better they would do when you sent them out to conquer. That's not how you think today. Did you notice?

Any country that thinks this way today will not survive, for humanity has discovered that the world goes far better by putting things together instead of tearing them apart. The new energy puts the weak and strong together in ways that make sense and that have integrity. Take a look at what happened to some of the businesses in this great land (USA). Up to 30 years ago, when you started realizing some of them didn't have integrity, you eliminated them. What happened to the tobacco companies when you realized they were knowingly addicting your children? Today, they still sell their products to less-aware countries, but that will also change.

What did you do a few years ago when you realized that your bankers were actually selling you homes that they knew you couldn't pay for later? They were walking away, smiling greedily, not thinking about the heartbreak that was to follow when a life's dream would be lost. Dear American, you are in a recession. However, this is like when you prune a tree and cut back the branches. When the tree grows back, you've got control and the branches will grow bigger and stronger than they were before, without the greed factor. Then, if you don't like the way it grows back, you'll prune it again! I tell you this because awareness is now in control of big money. It's right before your eyes, what you're doing. But fear often rules. …

Friday, January 31, 2014

Tata Nano, other Indian small cars fail crash tests, says safety body

The Tata Nano, billed as the world's cheapest car, and a host of other top-selling small models from India have failed their first independent crash tests, a global safety group said on Friday.

The low-cost Nano car manufactured by Tata of India, on display during a
motor show in Indonesia.  (AFP/Bay Ismoyo)

NEW DELHI: The Tata Nano, billed as the world's cheapest car, and a host of other top-selling small models from India have failed their first independent crash tests, a global safety group said on Friday.

The five entry-level vehicles -- including the country's best-selling small car the Suzuki-Maruti Alto 800, as well as the Ford Figo, the Hyundai i10 and the Volkswagen Polo -- scored no stars out of five for protection.

The tests, carried out by the New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP), saw the basic models, all without airbags, driven at 64 kilometres an hour (40 miles) into a block simulating a head-on collision.

All would leave the driver facing life-threatening injuries.

"It's worrying to see levels of safety that are 20 years behind the five-star standards now common in Europe and North America," said the head of NCAP Global, Max Mosley, the former chief of international motorsport.

NCAP also tested the cars in a crash simulation according to United Nations standards -- a frontal collision at the slightly slower speed of 56 kilometres an hour -- and none of them passed.

Small vehicles are the biggest segment of the price-sensitive Indian car market, which is coveted by global brands and domestic manufacturers as working-class consumers upgrade from two- to four-wheelers.

The NCAP said the five vehicles it tested accounted for about 20 per cent of all new cars sold in India annually.

The Tata Nano was the brainchild of the former boss of the Tata conglomerate Ratan Tata who wanted a cheap car for the masses. But it has flopped since its launch in 2009, partly due to poor marketing.

The NCAP tested only the basic models of the cars in question and it said the Figo and Polo would provide much better protection if fitted with airbags, which were an optional extra.

But the Nano, the i10 and the Alto had "inadequate" structures that meant that even air bags would "not be effective in reducing the risk of serious injury".

As a result of the tests, Volkswagen has withdrawn its Polo model without airbags, NCAP said.

The models tested were bought locally and any exports from Hyundai, Ford and Volkswagen, which have factories in India, would be subject to safety regulations in their final market.

Tata has said it would like to export the Nano but has previously raised safety problems as an impediment.

Footage of the crash tests can be viewed here.

Thursday, January 30, 2014

First Porsche revealed to be an electric car from 1898

BBC News, 28 January 2014

This is the first Porsche-designed vehicle, which had been stored in
an Austrian garage since 1902

Global Car Industry

Luxury automaker Porsche has revealed the first car designed by its founder was electric, in a show at its museum in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen, Germany.

Ferdinand Porsche's design was dubbed the Egger-Lohner electric vehicle C.2 Phaeton model, or the P1 for short.

The car, made in 1898, was recently unearthed in an Austrian garage, where it had been stored since 1902.

The 22-year-old Ferdinand Porsche, who would start Porsche in 1931, designed the P1 for carmaker Jacob Lohner.

After a trip to the US, Ludwig Lohner, the owner of that firm, became convinced that the age of the horse and carriage was ending, and he asked Ferdinand Porsche to come up with an electric drive train.

The first Porsche featured a rear-mounted electrical engine which could
reach speeds of 21 miles per hour

Ferdinand Porsche designed an "octagonal electric motor" that was powered by electric batteries and suspended amidst shock absorbers in the rear of the vehicle.

Using a complicated series of gears, the car was driven using a 12-speed controller, which had six forward gears, two reverse gears and four gears with which to brake the car.

The P1 took to the streets of Vienna, Austria, on 26 June 1898.

The P1 could reach speeds of up to 21mph (34km/h) and travel up to 49 miles on a single charge.

The car could be styled as an open-air chassis or a coupe.

The first Porsche was the most energy-efficient car in an 1899 Berlin
road race

The young Mr Porsche eventually entered the P1 in a Berlin road race, which took place on 28 September 1899.

Competitors had to travel a total of 24 miles with four passengers (including the driver).

The P1 beat out the other competitors handily, crossing the finish line a full 18 minutes before the next car.

In a detail that seems almost too good to be true, the P1 won another accolade: least amount of energy consumed.

The car is on display as part of an exhibition at the Porsche museum in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen, Germany.

Mr Porsche was working for car builder Jacob Lohner, who asked him to
design an electric drive train

At the Porsche Museum in Stuttgart-Zuffenhausen, Germany, the plastic
placeholders show the original design

Ferdinand Porsche stamped each part of the vehicle with P1, to
differentiate it from other models

Fiat Chrysler to go Dutch, Wednesday 29 January 2014

(Deutsche Welle)
Car giant Fiat Chrysler Automobiles is to base its parent company in the Netherlands, the newly merged company said on Wednesday.

However, the Dutch establishment will be the legal entity only – the company will be resident for tax purposes in Britain and the company’s common shares will be listed in New York and Milan. 

The decision to establish Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV in the Netherlands follows a ‘review of the options for the most appropriate governance and corporate structure,’ the company said in a statement.

Related Article:

Monday, January 27, 2014

Top manager of India's Tata motors Karl Slym dies in Thailand

Deutsche Welle, 27 January 2014

The managing director of India's biggest carmaker, Tata Motors, has died in Bangkok where he was attending a meeting. Thai police say they believe that Karl Slym committed suicide when he fell from a high-rise hotel.

Karl Slym, a 51-year-old British citizen, died on Sunday after falling the 22nd floor of Shangri-La hotel, where he had been staying with his wife.

Slym had been in Thailand to attend a board meeting of Tata's Thai affiliate, the company has confirmed.

"Tata Motors deeply regrets to announce the untimely and tragic demise of its Managing Director, Karl Slym, in Bangkok earlier today," said a statement on Sunday.

"Karl Slym was in Bangkok to attend a meeting of the Board of Directors of Tata Motors Thailand Ltd."

Note found, say police

Police said investigators had found a note left in the room, which was being analysed to confirm whether it was written by Slym. The note apparently referred to domestic problems.

"Initially, we can only assume that he committed suicide," said police lieutenant Somyot Bunnakaew.

"We didn't find any sign of a struggle. We found a window open. The window was very small so it was not possible that he would have slipped. He would have had to climb through the window to fall out because he was a big man. From my initial investigation, we believe he jumped," Bunnakaew said.

Indian press reports on Sunday speculated, however, that Slym might have lost his balance and plunged to his death.

Slym hired to revive Tata

Slym was hired in 2012 to revive Tata's flagging sales and market share in India, the world's sixth-largest automotive market by unit sales, and led its operations in international markets like South Korea, Thailand and South Africa.

His death sent stocks falling on Monday by more than six per cent, closing at 347.80 rupees on the Bombay Stock Exchange.

"His death comes at a time when the company seems to be close to turning the corner," Anil Sharma, an analyst with researchers IHS Automotive, told the Reuters news agency.

"It comes before his efforts bear fruit. We should be able to see the results in a year or two," said Sharma.

Provided leadership

On his personal Twitter profile, Slym described himself as a "Britisher who just can't stay away from India!! Crazy for most sports and loves to know whats going on everywhere!! And hearing from everyone!!"

Tata Chairman Cyprus P. Mistry said Slym was providing leadership in the company during a difficult market period, describing him as "a valued colleague who was providing strong leadership at a challenging time for the Indian auto industry."

"In this hour of grief, our thoughts are with Karl's wife and family," Mistry said.

jr/ipj (Reuters, AP, AFP)

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Colombia's Medellin rides cable car to a better future

Google – AFP, Ariela Navarro (AFP), 25 January 2014

Picture showing the Metrocable cable railway in Santo Domingo neighbourhood
 in Medellin, Antioquia department, Colombia, on January 5, 2014 (AFP/File,
Fredy Amariles Garcia)

Medellín — Medellin's "cable car of the poor," soaring over the slums of Colombia's second largest city, has revolutionized this former drug lord fiefdom and inspired other violent Latin American cities.

The city of 2.5 million, long considered one of the most dangerous places on the planet, has seen crime rates fall and neighborhood life return thanks to new public services in some of its poorest areas.

At the center of the strategy to reclaim the slums is a transportation system that now includes subways, the cable car, hillside escalators and even public libraries at metro stations.

Picture showing the Metrocable cable
 railway in Santo Domingo neighbourhood
 in Medellin, Antioquia department,
 Colombia, on January 5, 2014 (AFP/
File, Fredy Amariles Garcia)
It "creates a sense of belonging," said Juliana Correa, communications director for the Metro de Medellin.

"Before, the people of the hillside slums would say, 'I'm going down to Medellin.' Now they feel part of the city," he said.

At the Acevedo station, where the subway and Metrocable meet, a huge library welcomes residents from the gritty neighborhoods surrounding it -- and also tourists who ride the cable car for the spectacular birds eye views of the city.

"This was a very violent neighborhood, not that busy, so there was no transportation," Luz Valdes, at a small grocery store just outside the station, told AFP.

"Now there are many jobs and many tourists from far away visit the neighborhood because it's very nice with the Metrocable and library."

'Dark, long night'

It is all a far cry from just a few years ago.

Medellin went through "a dark, long and painful night", the mayor, Anibal Gaviria, told AFP, referring to the 1990s, when the drug lord Pablo Escobar unleashed a wave of violence.

Then, the city had a startling homicide rate of 380 per 100,000 inhabitants and the dubious distinction of being known as the murder capital of the world.

Last year, the murder rate was 10 times lower according to the mayor. Other studies support the claim that there has been a sharp drop in violence.

To change the dynamic local governments have employed a kind of "urban acupuncture," bringing to bear a welter of programs designed to reach long neglected shantytowns.

With an $88 million budget in 2014, the plan provides transportation at critical points and promotes education, culture, health and the deployment of security forces.

People chat next to a section of the
covered outdoor escalators at Comuna
13, one of the poorest neighbourhoods
of Medellin, Antioquia department,
Colombia, on January 5, 2014 (AFP/
File, Fredy Amariles Garcia)
The Metrocable opened in 2004, and the subway system has also added on a bicycle rental service.

But the most striking initiative is a system of outdoor escalators that has served Comuna 13, one of the poorest and most violent areas in Medellin, since December 2011.

Instead of trudging up 350 concrete steps, residents take escalators now.

"Projects such as the Metrocable, the metro, the escalators and the libraries imply the presence of the state in places in the city that had been abandoned," Gaviria said.

'Cable car of the poor'

None of this is to say that Medellin does not still have considerable problems. In Comuna 1, which is served by a cable car, gangs maintain a discreet presence.

But Ferney Navarro, a resident of 32 years, told AFP: "There is more control from the authorities.

A man walks with his mules past the
 Metrocable cable railway station in
 San Javier neighbourhood in Medellin,
 Antioquia department, Colombia, on 
January 5, 2014 (AFP/File, Fredy
Amariles Garcia)
"Seeing so many tourists coming, the government has had to tighten control. Before we were totally abandoned, but now we have more protection."

A study by Columbia University in the United States found the homicide rate in the slums of Medellin where Metrocable serves dropped by 66 percent between 2003 and 2008.

This decrease coincides with a sharp drop in homicides in Colombia -- from 78 per 100,000 population in 1991 to 32 in 2012.

The rate, however, remains well above the Latin American average of 15.6 , according to the Organization of American States.

A secret of Medellin's success has been its ability to adapt initiatives that have worked elsewhere in the world.

At the same time, the city has become "an inspiration for other cities living difficult times," said the mayor.

Thus the Metrocable -- "the cable car of the poor" -- has been replicated in Curitiba, in southern Brazil, and Caracas, capital of Venezuela.

Since 2010 in San Agustin del Sur, in the west of Caracas, a Metrocable carries more than 40,000 people a day on a nine-minute ride from the foot of a mountain to the populous neighborhoods overhead.

That initiative's success led Venezuelan authorities to begin building another cable car serving Mariche neighborhood in February 2012.

Another is scheduled for December this year for Petare, the largest slum in the Venezuelan capital and one of the most overcrowded in Latin America.

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Tesla makes electric debut in China market despite hurdles

Want China Times, Xinhua 2014-01-25

A Tesla on show at the CES in Las Vegas, Jan. 8, 2014. (Photo/Xinhua)

US electric vehicle maker Tesla made its debut in China this week amid applause over its lower-than-expected price tag, but consumers are still concerned about issues such as battery charging.

The company plans to have showrooms and maintenance centers open in more major cities in east China this year as part of its outreach to consumers in the world's largest auto market, Veronica Wu, Tesla's vice president, told Xinhua on Friday.

She also said CEO Elon Musk wants to double Tesla's auto production this year and sees China as a key driver of its global auto sales growth.

Despite these ambitions, its efforts to build a strong presence in China face many hurdles.

Wu said pre-orders of its Model S in China have been dynamic in the past few months, but prospective car buyers in China are still resistant to the idea of driving a purely electric vehicle, mostly out of concern that it is hard to find places to recharge the car.

At Tesla's Beijing showroom — the first and so far only one in mainland China — Xinhua reporters found customers gathering around the company's popular Model S, with some venturing inside to try driving an electric vehicle.

A sales representative at the showroom said people who check out the Model S come with a broad range of questions, but the most frequently asked is where to charge the car, especially when running long-distance trips.

Tesla has said it will build free-to-use charging stations along expressways linking Beijing and Shanghai. The Model S can run up to 500 km after an hour of charging at one of these stations.

The insufficient infrastructure will likely hold back Tesla's sales and expansion in China. But Wu expressed confidence in the Chinese government's commitment to advancing its green initiatives. "Based on our contacts with officials in central and local governments, we find that authorities are very open to discussions about sustainable solutions to problems posed by growing automobile ownership," she said.

Wu labels Tesla's commitment to the Chinese market "unprecedented" compared with many multinational firms such as Apple and Motorola that she has previously worked for.

Tesla marked its entry to the highly competitive Chinese auto market with an online announcement on Thursday that the price of its Model S constitutes only its original price in the United States and unavoidable taxes and shipping costs.

Yet competitive pricing alone does not promise strong sales in China. A host of big Chinese cities have moved to cap the growth of automobile ownership to alleviate traffic congestion and air pollution.

Authorities have been encouraging purchases of hybrid and electric cars by granting more quotas and subsidies for buyers, but Tesla has yet to make the official list of cars eligible for such preferential policies.

Wu said Tesla is in talks with relevant government departments over this issue, recognizing that Tesla's inclusion on the list would make its cars much more attractive to Chinese consumers.

She said the company has grand vision for its China business, even though its current China-based team of less than 30 people is building from scratch.

Wu also said she felt encouragement from the fact that China has seen "leapfrog development across many industries in the past" as an unsatisfactory status quo in many sectors has led to faster adoption of the latest technologies.

Kingston Chang, Tesla's general manager in China, also added, "Though we sell cars, we are more of a tech company and we are in a business consistent with China's goal of developing more sustainably. This means huge opportunities for us going forward."

Related Article:

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Army Helicopter Goes Missing Over Borneo

Jakarta Globe, January 22, 2014

A US Bell 412 in flight above Mojave, California. (Wikimedia Commons)

A military Bell 412 helicopter carrying ten soldiers went missing on Wednesday over the jungles of North Kalimantan while on an inland logistical operation.

The helicopter had left from Tarakan, bound for Long Iram in the district of Nunukan, when it lost contact with a control tower at Malinau airport some 15 minutes after takeoff, a soldier who declined to be identified told news portal

“Its last contact was with the Malinau airport air traffic center at around 1:45 p.m.” the soldier said.

The helicopter, which took off from Tarakan at 1:30 p.m., was slated to return by 4:00 p.m. As of 6:00 p.m., its whereabouts remained unknown.

“We cannot yet ascertain what has happened to the helicopter, but according to the information that we have now, it cannot be contacted,” the soldier said.

The military command in neighboring East Kalimantan, which oversees the fledgling North Kalimantan province, declined to comment immediately.

The Bell 412 is a utility helicopter manufactured by Bell Helicopter.

Related Article:

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Unpaid diplomatic traffic fines? Then no tax-free petrol card, Tuesday 21 January 2014

Foreign diplomats who don’t pay their traffic fines will no longer be able to use a special petrol card which entitles them to tax-free fuel, Nos television reports on Tuesday.

The justice ministry cannot force diplomats to clear unpaid fines, which have reached over €700,000 over the past four years.

By ending entitlement to the card, diplomats will have to keep receipts and fill in forms in order to claim back the tax, the broadcaster reports.

Belgium also uses a similar method which has led to an improvement in the payment of fines, Nos said.

German car world dismayed at auto club vote-rigging

Deutsche Welle, 20 January 2014

Germany's main automobile club, ADAC, has apologized for falsifying results of its annual award. But car lovers across the country are questioning the club's credibility after the vote-riggging.

Germany's ADAC auto club on Monday conceded that its credibility has received a considerable dent after revelations that a top official had manipulated the figures in a poll on the nation's favorite car.

"We've got our work cut out for us to repair the tarnished reputation," said ADAC managing director Karl Obermair at a televised news conference in the southern city of Munich.

"We're very sorry," he said. "This strikes at the very core of our existence. Our goal is to restore our credibility."

His remarks come after it emerged over the weekend that Michael Ramstetter, the editor of the club's popular "ADAC Motorwelt" magazine, had massively manipulated the number of votes in a poll to determine Germany's favorite car. The daily Süddeutsche Zeitung reported that the figures, which last week gave the prize to German carmaker Volkswagen's Golf model, had been exaggerated by ten times.

Volkswagen has announced that it is considering returning the prize, which is seen as having a major influence on German car buyers' decision-making.

'Full confession'

Pledging a full investigation, Obermair said Ramstetter had "made a full confession to having, in an incredibly brazen way, manipulated upward the number of votes ... this year and, he says, in recent years, too."

The magazine had reported that 34,299 people voted for the Golf, when it had only been 3,409 votes. However, according to ADAC, although the number of votes submitted had been manipulated, the ranking itself had not.

The vote-rigging has triggered a storm of protest, with Germany's Justice Ministry calling on the club to clear up the matter in the interest of consumer protection.

"Anyone whose evaluations have an influence on people's buying habits has a special responsibility to consumers," Justice Minister Heiko Maas said.

Overall credibility under scrutiny

Ferdinand Dudenhoeffer, a car expert at the Universtiy of Duisburg-Essen, said that other reports on issues regarding the safety of cars and road networks contained in the ADAC magazine would also have to be scrutinized again in light of the scandal.

"The car breakdown statistics and tunnel safety reports need to be re-examined," Dudenhoeffer said.

"If there are lies told about the 'Yellow Angel,' other areas can't be ruled out," he added. "Yellow Angel" is the name of the annual award for the country's favorite car.

ADAC, Europe's largest and most influential car club, has more than 18 milion members. In addition to the magazine, it also provides roadside assistance to motorists and sells commercial services from car rentals and insurance to holidays and long-distance bus services.

tj/mkg (AFP, Reuters, AP)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Flying car spreads its wings in Slovakia

Google - AFP, Tatiana Jancarikova (AFP), 19 January 2014

Photo taken on December 17, 2013 shows Slovak engineer Stefan Klein
posing with his car models in Bratislava, Slovakia (AFP/File, Samuel Kubani)

Bratislava — Mankind's primordial dream of flight is taking off with a new twist as a Slovak prototype of a flying car spreads its wings.

Inspired by the books about flying by French authors Jules Verne and Antoine de Saint Exupery, Slovak designer and engineer Stefan Klein has been honing his flying machine since the early 1990s.

"I got the idea to start working on a vehicle of the future at university, but honestly, who hasn't dreamt of flying while being stuck in the traffic?" Klein told AFP.

Photo taken on December 17, 2013 shows
 Slovak engineer Stefan Klein during an
 interview with AFP in Bratislava, Slovakia
(AFP/File, Samuel Kubani)
"Flying's in my blood -- my grandfather and my father flew ultra-light aircraft and I got my pilot's license before I was old enough to drive a car," said Klein, who has designed cars for BMW, Volkswagen and Audi and now teaches at the Bratislava-based Academy of Fine Arts and Design.

His elegant blue-and-white vehicle for two is six metres (20 feet) long so it fits neatly in a parking space or a garage and tanks up at any filling station. But once it reaches an airport it can unfold its wings within seconds becoming a plane.

Dubbed "the world's prettiest and best-designed airborne automobile so far" by US aviation magazine Flying and design, an innovation website, the Aeromobil also has the distinction of originating in Slovakia, the world's largest per-capita car producer.

"So far there have been about twenty attempts to manufacture a flying car around the globe," the president of the Slovak Ultra Light Aviation Federation, Milan Ciba, told AFP.

"Among them, Aeromobil appears very viable," he said.

Other models include the US-based Terrafugia's "Transition" flying car expected to be launched on the market within a year, while the helicopter-type Dutch PAL-V gyrocopter could go on sale in this year.

Klein's dream took to the skies in September when he piloted the Aeromobil during its first wobbly test flight.

Once airborne, the it can reach a top speed of 200km/h (124 mph) and travel as far as 700 km (430 miles), consuming 15 litres (4 gallons) of petrol per hour.

"A combination of a car and a plane will always lose against the competition when we start comparing energy consumption," Jan Lesinsky from the Slovak University of Technology told AFP.

But would-be users could glide by long lines and security checks at airports, saving time on medium-distance journeys.

Klein and his team are currently working on the next generation of Aeromobil that will go into production in a few months and hopefully receive Slovak Ultra Light Aircraft Certification (SFUL).

"Would-be users would have to follow the legislation already in place for ultra light aircraft," SFUL president Federation Milan Ciba told AFP.

"Pilot/drivers will need to have both a driver's and pilot's licence with at least 25 flying hours," he added.

An enthusiastic pilot himself, Klein remains down to earth when looking to the future.

"I don't expect Aeromobil to go into mass production, it will always be an alternative means of transport," Klein said.

"It can, however, be very interesting for countries with vast areas lacking infrastructure like Russia, China or Australia," he added.

Flying cars will most likely take off among pilots licensed for ultra-light aircraft, says Ciba.

"It would make their lives so much easier -- they would be able to park their car/aircraft at home, drive to the airport, take off, land and drive to their destination without switching vehicles," he muses.

China developing world's largest amphibious plane

Want China Times, Luis Weng and Staff Reporter 2014-01-19

An illustration of the new Jiaolong-600. (Photo/China Aviation
Industry General Aircraft Co)

China recently unveiled the model of the head of the Jiaolong-600, the country's new large amphibious aircraft, which is expected to become the world's largest, reports the state-run China News Service (CNS).

The new plane, currently under development, is a single-hull comprehensive rescue airplane with a four-turbine propeller, and is similar in size to the Airbus A320, CNS said.

The plane's maximum take-off weight is 48 metric tonnes, which surpasses the 47.7 metric tonnes of Japan's US-2, currently the world's largest amphibious plane in service.

The Jiaolong-600 is designed to have a cruise speed of 555 kilometers per hour and a maximum range of 5,300 kilometers, and can draw 20 metric tonnes of water in just 12 seconds, CNS said, adding that the plane can carry up to 50 people during rescue missions.

China began developing the Jiaolong-600 in 2009 as the last generation of amphibious aircrafts in the Harbin SH-5 range — which entered into service during the 1980s — no longer meets the demand for rescue missions.

Besides Japan's US-2, the global market for such planes is dominated by Russia's Beriev Be-200 and Be-103, Canada's Bombardier 415 and the French-built Akoya.

Demand in China for the Jiaolong-600 is estimated to be 60 units, while a different model for the overseas market is also expected to be announced, according to CNS.

Friday, January 17, 2014

The car of the future, today

Bangkok Post – AFP, 16 Jan 2014

Cars that park themselves, radar-guided safety sensors and infotainment systems with web access; automakers are competing for customers who now expect constant innovation.

The Chrysler 200s is introduced at the
2014 North American International Auto
Show in Detroit, Michigan, January 13,

The speed at which the new features are migrating from premium models downward and spreading among brands is accelerating as automakers jostle for attention in an increasingly crowded market.

"The hottest new technology in cars today is voice-to-text functionality that reads a driver’s emails or texts as they come in and allows the driver to dictate a response without looking away from the road," Karl Brauer, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book, told AFP.

Automakers have aligned themselves with tech giants to lure customers with increasingly complex -- but hopefully still intuitive -- systems to transform their consoles into souped-up smart phones.

Navigation has been upgraded to integrate online consumer reviews from sites like Yelp, and guide motorists to roadside businesses.

Touch screens reminiscent of an iPad have been added to consoles outfitted with apps like Pandora music streaming.

Then there are proprietary apps aimed at fixing life's little problems.

Touch a button on your phone and your lost car will pop up on a map. Still can't find it in the parking lot? Tap again and the phone will honk your horn. Locked the keys inside? Another button opens the door.

Worried that your teenager is driving too fast or hanging out with the wrong crowd? There's an app that will send you a text message if they surpass a chosen speed or leave a designated area.

The real challenge for automakers is to make sure all of this technology doesn't become a dangerous distraction, said Art St. Cyr, head of product planning at American Honda.

Keeping it out of the car simply isn't possible: people are too attached to their smart phones and "don't want to be disconnected," he said.

"The key is to reduce the cognitive load," St Cyr told reporters on the sidelines of the Detroit auto show.

Voice activation certainly helps, but automakers have also invested in developing safety systems that can compensate for distracted or sleepy drivers.

Initially available only in luxury cars and then premium models, complex collision-avoidance technology is being introduced to the mass market.

Chrysler is decking out a new midsized 200 sedan -- unveiled in Detroit Monday with an entry price of just $21,700 -- with a full spectrum of safety features previously only available in pricier models.

Video cameras mounted onto the windshield detect lines in the road to warn drivers if they are straying out of a lane and electrical steering wheels will even kick the car back into position.

Radars mounted under the grill can see through fog to measure the distance to the nearest vehicle, register a change in speed and then slow down or even stop the car if a driver doesn't notice the looming brake lights.

And a blind spot monitor will sound an alert if a driver misses a blinking light in the side view mirror and flips the turn signal.

Rear view cameras are becoming standard features even on entry-level models like Honda's new compact Fit and Kia is stepping up the game by adding front and side views to the K900 which was unveiled in Detroit.

Plenty of premium models are helping drivers with pesky parking problems by measuring distances and controlling the steering wheel for the perfect parallel -- or even perpendicular -- parking job.

BMW takes it a step further in its new electric i3 which hits showrooms in a few months.

Not only does it help to search for parking spots big enough to squeeze into, it will then completely take over the job by controlling the steering, braking and acceleration.

Automakers are also competing with simpler features like a vacuum cleaner in Honda's top-selling Odyssey minivan, a sensor that will pop the trunk of a Mercedes, Ford or Cadillac when your hands are full, and "EZ-lift" tailgates on the new GMC pickup.

But the biggest innovations are under the hood, said Bob Carter, head of automotive operations at Toyota Motor Sales USA.

Complex hybrid engines have become commonplace and people are even getting used to seeing purely electric cars like Nissan's Leaf on the road.

The holy grail of green cars -- hydrogen fuel cell engines that emit nothing but water vapor -- is already on the road in test markets and will be hitting Toyota showrooms next year. Rivals Ford, Honda, BMW, Daimler, and Renault-Nissan won't be far behind.

"To bring it to the floor is over 20 years of research," Carter told AFP in an interview on the sidelines of the show.

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