31st October 2008

TG Live: first night

So Top Gear live kicked off last night at Earl’s Court in London – the first show in a world tour with all the swagger of a stadium rock band, but more cars.

After a suitably dramatic pyrotechnic build up and a bit of cocking about backstage, Jeremy was first into the arena – sideways in the Top Gear-tuned BMW 3-series the boys used in the Britcar 24hr race a couple of series ago.

James made a typically leisurely entrance in his homemade Lexus police car followed by Hammond pulling half the set down with his stretched MG limo.

What followed was like the telly show on some mentalist big stage trip – lots of awesome cars precision choreographed using every inch of the arena for J-turns and powerslides. Like a day at the TG test track really, but in front of 6,000 people. And, amazingly, no crashes.

Stig’s entrance was typically sideways in a red F430 – a moment only upstaged by Richard’s terrifying tribute to Evel Knievel. Well, terrifying’s one word for it. We’ll try to track down some video for that over the next week or so and you’ll see what we mean.

Then something amazing happened – a genuinely democratic moment with the Cool Wall. The audience voted using cards and Jeremy only vetoed, well, all of them. But at least he let the audience drive our reasonably priced car – every single one of them – using some complicated computer trickery and some coloured pieces of card. We’ll leave you to ponder that.

Next up, dancers, drums, a parade of supercars and a donutting black cab (really) built us up to a finale that had us all worried in dress rehearsals – Stig doing battle with two motocross bikes and a flame-spitting dragon-robot thing that properly shocked the audience.

Anyway, the tour continues in the capital until November and the up to Birmingham before setting off literally around the world, so we’ll hold fire on any more spoilers for now.

If you want tickets check out the Top Gear Live website, but be warned London’s sold out already. If you can’t make it, we’ll be posting pics and backstage gossip here on Transmission – and hopefully a bit of video too.

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31st October 2008

Toyota US truck exports

Toyota US truck exports


31st October 2008 10:38

I see Toyota is going to start US exports of some of its US-made trucks. They’re not exactly what you would define as ‘world vehicles’ but it’s not too surprising that the firm is looking to leave no stone unturned in finding customers for the things – which aren’t exactly hot sellers in the US right now. The Middle East and South America are being targeted for them. The Middle East is still awash with money and customers for big SUVs, despite the recent collapse in the price of oil.

And the cheap dollar makes exporting out of the US more attractive, too.

In fact, with places like China, India and now even Russia cooling off, maybe automakers will be taking a closer look at other places. ASEAN springs to mind. 

Is there going to be a ’hard landing’ in some of the BRICs? Have they risen too far, too fast and are therefore a little more vulnerable/risky than some other places right now? 

US: Toyota to start truck, SUV, exports

ANALYSIS: ASEAN top six up 19.2%



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31st October 2008

Showing The Payback For Improving Efficiency During Difficult Times


Via
Forbes

You Gotta Have A Plan

By Ed Sperling

With a recession looming, uncertainty in the credit markets and wild gyrations on the stock market, most companies are battening down the hatches to weather the storm.

That means it won’t be long before the chief information officer gets a knock on the door–or more likely an e-mail–to come talk to the chief financial officer and CEO about what he or she is doing to cut costs. The general rule of thumb is that it’s better to have a plan than to be given one. And it’s better to say how you’re going to cut costs than to be told your budget is being cut.

Forbes.com caught up with James Kaplan, principal in the New York office of McKinsey &Co., who has just completed an in-depth study on managing information technology (IT) in a downturn.

Forbes.com: Why should the CIO be concerned about a downturn?

James Kaplan: When business slows, there’s a natural instinct to cut IT costs.

Is that because IT is one of the largest budget items?

The size of the expenditure varies greatly by industry sector. If you’re in financial services or telecommunications, it can be a large percentage of revenue or operating expenses. In manufacturing, it’s usually rather small. But in many cases, the instinct to cut IT in a downturn stems from the perception that it’s largely discretionary. There’s also uncertainty around the value. In organizations where there is more uncertainty and doubt about the value derived from IT, there is more of a tendency to cut when times get tough.

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    31st October 2008

    Lotus Esprit S1/S2

    Just to get the inevitable out of the way right up front–yes, the Lotus Esprit S1 was the basis of James Bond’s submersible car from the film The Spy Who Loved Me. Yes, it was a great movie–probably my favorite of the Roger Moore era–and yes, submarine cars are worthy of lust regardless of their other qualifications. More on that later.

    I have always lusted after the earliest Lotus Esprits on their own merits, quite apart from their fictional submarine capabilities. The first Esprits were light, responsive, excellent handlers … and drop-dead gorgeous. The Esprit would eventually evolve into Lotus’ first bona-fide supercar, but in uniquely Lotus fashion–without the excess of the Ferrari Testarossa and Lamborghini Countach.

    When it debuted in 1976 to replace the quirky but ungainly Europa, the Esprit was a light, efficient sports car, weighing less than 2,200 pounds–lighter than a Kia Rio. This featherweight packed a punch by the standards of the era, with an amidships-mounted 160-horsepower four-cylinder running through a five-speed gearbox. This combination of power, light weight, and mid-engined configuration combined for handling as sharp as the Giugiaro-sculpted lines.

    And, oh, what lines. I’m clearly a fan of stylish 1970s wedges–after all, I’ve already honored such purposeful wedges as the Lancia Stratos, Fiat X1/9, Triumph TR8, and the aforementioned Countach. Well, the Esprit just might be the prettiest of the lot. In today’s world of bloated cars, the original Esprit’s elegant angularity stands out as both aggressive and delicately beautiful. Oh, and it’s a hatchback. The proportions, the detailing–everything about the Esprit is just right.

    Except the interior, perhaps. Like other mid-engined sports cars and, especially, exotics, the Esprit had a reputation as being claustrophobic and uncomfortable. It was a different era, in which sporting machines were not expected to be daily drivers and grocery getters. Unlike today’s sumptuous Ferraris, the Esprit made no real pretensions of luxury.

    The Esprit’s original 160 horsepower made for a nice sports car, but the addition of a turbocharger in 1980 ushered in the age of the Esprit as a true exotic. With 210 horsepower on tap, and only 10 pounds of weight to saddle each horsepower, the Esprit Turbo could top 150 mph and do the 0-60 sprint in the mid 5-second range. That was serious, hard-core performance in the early 1980s–as fast as the fastest Porsches, Lamborghinis, and Ferraris. The Lotus fanatics may kill me for this, but in a way the turbo Esprit was an upper-class Dodge Daytona Turbo Z–a four-cylinder David slaying the big-engine Goliaths with the help of light weight and a turbocharger.

    The advent of the turbocharger marked the end of the original S1 and S2 Esprits. The S3 bodystyle would slowly evolve until 1988, when a dramatic redesign somehow managed to completely change the Esprit’s visual character without diminishing its appeal. The car would later receive a V-8 that pumped out more than twice the original’s horsepower. Thanks to those tweaks, added to the original Esprit’s innate goodness, the Esprit soldiered on in production as a slinky, sweet-handling sports car until 2004–a mind-boggling production run of 28 years, more than a quarter of a century.

    All Esprits are worthy of lust, and I’ll probably hit on the rounder 1988 redesign at some point, but my adrenal glands really kick in for the original S1 and S2 Esprits. The combination of simplicity and elegance is a seductive one, and I’d drive one in a heartbeat–even without submersible capability.

    I can hear some of you saying, “Okay, that’s all well and good. But what I really want to do is cruise along underwater in a heart-stirring white Lotus.” Fair enough; I have two treats for you, one immediate and one delayed. For those in need of immediate gratification, I’ve attached the car chase from The Spy Who Loved Me below–it doesn’t include all of the underwater scenes, but it has enough to inflame Esprit passion.

    The next tribute to submerged white Loti comes tomorrow (Friday).

    The picture of the gorgeous orange Esprit comes courtesy of Flickr user flakacars; Flickr user hegg has an excellent collection of photos of the beautiful yellow Esprit, and the image of the white Bond-style S1 Esprit comes from Flickr user marion.macleod‘s photostream. The picture of the die-cast Bond car comes from Flickr user nickstone333–I have one just like that, but in slightly less pristine condition.

    –Chris H.

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    31st October 2008

    Thank You Seattle Subaru Owners!





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    http://best.king5.com/all-wheel-drive-auto-independent-subaru-expert/biz/138450

    We came in third on King 5’s best of Seattle for the best auto repair shop in the Western Washington area.

    But more importantly we finished first in votes when it comes to Independent Subaru repair and Maintenance in the greater Seattle area.

    A big thank you goes out to our customers who took the time to vote for us and our commitment to you is to always make sure we are deserving of the confidence you have our work.

     

    Thank you!

     

    Justin & Randy


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    31st October 2008

    Big Brown Bag: Infiniti Offers Special Edition 2009 G37 Convertible Through Bloomingdale’s

    NASHVILLE, Tennessee — As the holiday season nears, fashion fans and car enthusiasts alike will be watching their mailboxes for the arrival of Bloomingdale’s annual holiday catalog, this year set to include an eight-page spread of the 2009 Infiniti G37 Convertible.

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