Continues its challenge request to -- and gentle taunts against -- Porsche
Not familiar with the recent history of this back and forth? Let's recap:
Jim McDowell, head of MINI North America -- and a former Porsche executive, we might add -- sent out the original Atlanta challenge to Porsche North America honcho Detlev von Platen via a video on MINI's Facebook page. The stakes? Should Porsche prevail, McDowell would wear a black T-shirt with the inscription "We did not beat Porsche" at his next public appearance; if MINI wins, he would wear a different black T-shirt proclaiming "We beat Porsche." (The original video is posted after the jump.)
Did we mention McDowell took out a full-page advertisement in The New York Times detailing the challenge?
Porsche then responds with an open letter (see it after the jump) declining the offer, which includes the lines: "While your challenge seems like a fun and lighthearted campaign, we'll stick to racing the way we have over the decades. We welcome you at Sebring, Le Mans, Daytona or any other sanctioned race where there is more at stake than T-shirts and valet parking spaces."
MINI continues the push with its training montage video, posted after the jump.
Of course, like the Cadillac CTS-V challenge -- in which Mercedes-Benz and BMW both declined to participate -- the MINI challenge is really a lose-lose for those not organizing the event (i.e., in this case, Porsche). MINI is not supposed to win, so if it loses, hey, no big deal -- McDowell wears a T-shirt but gets a laugh, plus good marketing. And if it does win -- wow. An instant marketing coup. In either case, Porsche, just by participating, opens itself up to similar challenges by any number of manufacturers -- all of which can point to the fact that Porsche, should it decline, must be doing so out of fear of their cars, since it has accepted such challenges in the past.
Still, wouldn't that be fun to see? A bunch more after the jump.
America's perpetual link to the Middle East.
Land Rover leads the Race Across America team.
The Race Across America sends team of cyclists, riding in relay format, across the more than 3,000 miles of terrain that is a West- to East Coast drive across the United States. Teams can cover up to 500 miles in a day, meaning the cross-country trip -- on a bike, remember -- typically ends in six to nine days.
Jetta to go partially electric in 2012.
"'VW as a brand takes the electrification of the automobile very seriously, and we have a longtime strategy for growing that business,' [VW product strategist Toscan Bennett] said. 'The Jetta hybrid is our first entry in that strategy.'”
Mercedes delivers a no-excuses sports car.
How do you say “animal” in German?
That beastly description came to mind during my weeklong test of the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG, a snarling, snapping, 563-horsepower homage to Benz’s classic 300 SL gullwing of the '50s. Judged strictly on performance, the SLS is quite simply the best -- and certainly the purest -- Mercedes sports car in history. Yes, better than the departing Mercedes SLR McLaren, though the SLS’s controversial styling can’t match the drama of that supercar.
By Diana T. Kurylko, Automotive News
It's not as easy as plug, charge, unplug and go--a lesson Mini learned at the onset of its electric car trial.
It took Mini up to seven months to get all the local approvals and proper electrical hookups for the 450 lessees of the Mini E electric car. The pilot test project began in April 2009 and was scheduled to end this summer. But participants can choose to continue for another year and then lease a second electric car that parent company BMW will put into a trial in 2011.
The participants are in New York, California and New Jersey, where parent BMW of North America is based.
Before any lessee could drive the Mini E, a 220-volt charger had to be installed in the lessee's garage--and that's where the problems began.
Mini thought installing the required high-voltage charge box would take about 30 days from the time a lessee took delivery of a car. In California, which has experience with electric cars, some of the municipalities approved the necessary permits in days.
But the process was considerably slower elsewhere.
"There are 30,000 municipalities responsible for permits in the U.S.," says Rich Steinberg, manager of electric vehicles operations strategy for BMW. "Some had never seen a permit for an electric car, and some had arcane rules."
Where do tires go when they die?
(Written by Jacob Gordon of Treehugger.com)
Michelin, with an eye on the next generation of hybrids and electric cars, has been working to make tires more energy-efficient. But the tires themselves can still have a serious impact on the planet: Each year in the U.S. we toss out roughly one tire per person. These used to get plowed into landfills and amassed into mountains (which seemed, inevitably, to catch fire). But we’ve moved beyond that -- at least, it would seem so.
Ask the average person what a tire is made of, and he'll likely say rubber. In fact, only 17 percent of a passenger car tire comes from plant-derived rubber. The rest is synthetic rubber, i.e. petroleum. That’s why tires burn so well. With the rise of laws that forbid dumping tires in landfills, they have become an increasingly popular fuel for power plants, cement factories and other industrial furnaces. Tires have more energy density than coal and about the same energy density as heavy fuel oil.
Audi's Sound Concept vehicle.
The German automaker's Sound Concept adds 62 speakers -- five woofers, five tweeters, 52 midrange speakers -- into a Q7 with the aim of creating a physical principle known as "wave field synthesis." For the layman, this essentially means creating a nonlocalized virtual starting point for sound waves, driven by individually powered speakers. In even more layman's terms, it means that no matter your position in the car, or how much you move when you're in there, it sounds like you're in the ideal listening position.
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Clifford Atiyeh has spent his entire life driving cars he doesn't own. Raised in Volvos, he has grown to love fast, irresponsible vehicles of all kinds. He is the senior news editor at MSN Autos and also reports for Car and Driver, Road & Track, The Boston Globe and other publications.
In the garage: 21-speed Iron Horse, 2002 Jeep Wrangler X (not his)
Doug Newcomb has covered car technology for over 20 years for outlets ranging from Rolling Stone to Edmunds.com. In 2008, he published his first book, "Car Audio for Dummies" (Wiley). He lives and drives in Hood River, Ore., with his wife and two kids, who share his passion for cars and technology.
In the garage: 1996 Chevrolet Impala SS, two 1984 Chevrolet Blazers, 2008 Honda CR-V
James Tate learned to drive stick at age 13 in a 1988 Land Cruiser - in La Paz, Bolivia. He's since been a mechanic, on a pit crew and has wrenched on every car he's owned since his first 1989 Honda CRX Si (and won't stop until the car is a 1973 Porsche 911 RS). His work has appeared in Car and Driver, Popular Mechanics, Automobile and others.
In the garage: 1995 Porsche 911 Carrera, 1988 BMW M5