Ferrari to unveil hardtop roof for 458 Spider model

Briefs: Valentino Rossi is immortilised in print, Toyota looks for electrifying lap and Chrysler appoints a Middle Eastern chief executive.

Ferrari is looking to usurp the Frankfurt Motor Show crush by launching its 458 Spider to a select audience a week before the start of the German festival of new cars next month.

But those select few are in for a shock. While most people have been expecting a traditional folding cloth roof to steer well clear of the California's market for folding metal roofs, Ferrari found another way.

Sources insist it will drive the 458 Spider down the path it once took with the 575M SuperAmerica with its odd, folding glass roof.

Insiders say the 458 will use a similar roof that will simply flip back 180° when you want sunshine and fresh air. It then sits flat - and upside down - on top of the 458's engine cover.

The chromatic glass system also allows the roof to let in just the right amount of light for the weather conditions, while the 4.5L V8 and the seven-speed twin-clutch gearbox do the rest.

The 458 Spider will replace the F430 Spider, which ended production in 2009. The Frankfurt Motor Show is scheduled to run from September 15 to 25.

Ducati mark Valentino Rossi coup with collection of vivid artworks

Motorsport legend Valentino Rossi is being immortalised in an art collection by Cultwork, an official Ducati licensee.

The nine-time Grand Prix world champion is the focus of five pieces of colourful artwork created by a Polish artist, Patryk Kuleta.

The pieces mark Rossi's arrival in the Ducati team and his return to an Italian motorcycle since 1999. The five are called: The Fight, 46 Reasons, First Ride, Front Runner and Perpetually Stronger.

Cultwork boss Patrick Ashworth said: "Owning a limited edition artwork from the Valentino collection allows fans of Valentino Rossi, Ducati and MotoGP to have a piece of history hanging on the wall of their home or office.

"Each of these artworks are limited to 46 pieces, so only a handful of fans will be fortunate to own one of these incredible artworks, which are available on different media such as canvas, plexiglass, di-bond, crystal or fine art paper."

Rossi joining the Ducati team this year in a historic moment for the Italian motorcycle brand and the new collection is part of the official Ducati Art collection, sold exclusively at

Toyota aims to electrify Nurburgring

Toyota, famous for its staid Prius family of hybrid cars, will try to break that mould with plans to set the lap record for electric vehicles at the Nürburgring's Nordschleife circuit on August 29.

Toyota Motorsport says it has developed a fully electric race car, based on a Radical-style two-seat chassis, with an electric drivetrain capable of a 260kph top speed and acceleration to 100kph in just 3.9 seconds.

The record for electric cars on the 21km circuit is nine minutes 1.388 seconds, set in May by Peugeot with its EX1 concept, which itself knocked off 50 seconds from the previous EV lap record with an average speed of 136kph.

"We are extremely confident we can break the record by some distance, which is an indication of how EV performance is continuously improving," said Rob Leupen, the director of business operations for Toyota Motorsport. "Our mission is to advance this technology, not only in motorsport but in the automotive sector in general, to deliver products with more performance and better durability for our customers."

Toyota also says its car is ideal for a single-make EV race series, hinting that the car maker might have more plans in the works for developing a new series or producing cars for another party.

Luxury brand Cadillac launching new, entry-level model in 2012

General Motors' Cadillac range is about to expand its model line-up next year with a new entry into the compact luxury segment.

The General Motors North America president, Mark Reuss, released a sketch of the model, code-named ATS, recently.

To be released in summer 2012, Cadillac insists the ATS will be a rival for other entry-level luxury cars such as the Mercedes-Benz C-Class and the BMW 3 Series.

The trend in automotive downsizing made Cadillac realise that there was room in its line-up for a smaller car and it is also expected to compete with a premium C-segment from Ford, wearing a Lincoln badge.

The ATS will be produced at Lansing Grand River, the same Michigan assembly plant that builds the award-winning Cadillac CTS saloon, coupe and wagon.

The plant received a $190 million (Dh698 million) investment and 600 jobs were created to support the production of the new model.

Car giant Chrysler appoints Middle Eastern chief executive

A Lebanese graduate of the University of Detroit Mercy has been named the new chief executive of Chrysler/Lancia brands.

Saad Chehab takes over at the helm as part of a strategic development after Fiat became the majority shareholder in June.

Chehab has also been appointed a member of the new group executive council that has been formed in line with the objective of enhancing operational integration of the two companies.

Born in Beirut, Chehab graduated and worked with Ford before joining Chrysler as its head of sales and advertising.

As a result of Chehab's and other Chrysler chiefs' efforts, the company increased sales, paid back loans from the US and Canadian governments ahead of schedule and delivered quarterly profits.

He takes up his post on September 1 and will split his time equally between Italy and the US.

Chrysler recently reported US sales of 112,026 for July 2011 - a 20 per cent increase on last year.

Published: August 11, 2011 04:00 AM


Editor's Picks
Sign up to:

* Please select one