Bristol saved by EV firm
Bristol Cars has been saved from the brink of disappearing into oblivion by the Swiss company Kamkorp Autokraft, part of the Frazer-Nash Research group.
The link between Frazer-Nash and Bristol goes back to the founding of the company in 1946 as an offshoot of Bristol Aeroplane Company.
Bristol had to make 22 of the company's 27 members of staff redundant last month when the firm went into administration.
Frazer-Nash Research Limited is a Surrey-based research and development company specialising in hybrid and electric powertrains.
William Chia, the director of operations at Swiss company Kamport, told The Telegraph newspaper: "Bristol Cars is a British institution and an important part of our national motoring heritage. Over the next few months we will start to reveal the details of our plans to combine Bristol Cars' tradition and iconic marque with Frazer-Nash's pioneering technology to showcase our cutting-edge electric and range-extended powertrains."
Bristol is so exclusive that only 9,000 cars have been built in nearly 65 years.
Rolls records huge sales growth, limited edition car due in Dubai
AGMC, the Rolls-Royce dealer for Dubai, Sharjah and the Northern Emirates, has recorded a sales growth of 178 per cent in the first quarter of 2011, compared with the same period in 2010.
"Such strong results not only reiterate the continued passion our discerning Dubai clients have for Rolls-Royce cars but also confirms that the emirate remains at the forefront in terms of its appreciation for true luxury," said Mohammed El Arishy, brand manager of Rolls-Royce Motor Cars at AGMC.
"We are pleased with the robust results achieved in the first quarter and we look forward to maintaining this momentum throughout the remainder of the year," El Arishy added.
The achievement coincides with two unique Spirit of Ecstasy Centenary Collection Phantom models ariving in Dubai. This year is the centenary of the Spirit of Ecstasy figurine. Rolls-Royce is producing 100 Spirit of Ecstasy Centenary Collection Phantom Family models, and two of these exclusive cars will reach Dubai this year, with the first arriving next month.
The special edition Phantom is distinguished by a number of features, including unique paint colours, commemorative plaques, special instruments and a souvenir statuette of the "graceful little goddess" for every owner.
Bright sparks' new plug idea
Tomorrow a team of researchers from Japan will be presenting a laser that can be used to ignite the fuel/air mixture in a combustion chamber, and therefore a replacement for the spark plug.
The spark plug has not changed much in 150 years. The plug sends a spark across a gap between two metal electrodes; that spark ignites the compressed air/fuel mixture in the cylinder, causing a controlled mini-explosion that pushes the piston down.
The team from Japan's National Institutes of Natural Sciences (NINS) has developed a system that can focus two or three laser beams into an engine's cylinders at variable depths. That increases the completeness of combustion and also prevents the issue of degradation with time, as spark plugs only ignite the fuel mixture near the spark gap, which reduces the combustion efficiency, and the metal that makes them up is slowly eroded as they age.
"In the past, lasers that could meet those requirements were limited to basic research because they were big, inefficient, and unstable," Takunori Taira of the National Institutes of Natural Sciences in Okazaki, Japan, told the BBC.
So far the laser-ignition system has not been installed, but the scientists are in negotiations with a large spark plug manufacturer.
Kia expands Georgia output, with Optima to be third model
Kia has announced that it will expand its production at Kia Motors Manufacturing Georgia (KMMG) with the addition of the Optima.
The West Point, Georgia plant is scheduled to begin producing the 2012 model year Optima in the third quarter of 2011, and KMMG is currently accepting applications for a third wave of hiring to support the increased production. The total number of team members at KMMG is expected to reach nearly 3,000 later this year.
"The success of the West Point, Georgia plant and the high-quality Sorento CUV built there underscores the attention to detail and commitment to quality and craftsmanship exhibited by each KMMG team member and is the primary reason for Kia Motors' decision to add Optima to the plant's production line," said Byung Mo Ahn, group president and CEO, Kia Motors America (KMA) and KMMG.
Optima sales have almost doubled since its November debut, which helped the firm claim a 36 per cent sales increase on the year.
US dealers for Fiat behind schedule, but 500s selling fast
Forty of the planned 130 Fiat dealers in the US are now able to sell cars, Laura Soave, the head of Fiat in North America told attendees of the New York International Auto Show last week.
Soave, who was at the auto show to unveil the 500 Cabrio, admitted the dealership openings were behind schedule, but stated: "I would love them to be open at all of the same time. But the first impressions are unbelievably important to us so we want to make sure that we get them correct."
Still, Fiat sold 500 of its Fiat 500s in March, the month it began selling the microcar in North America.
"The longest any car has sat on the lot is 19 days, which is one of the fastest turning times," Soave added.
The Fiat 500 Cabrio, which goes on sale starting at $19,500 (Dh71,621), $4,000 more than the base model. The cloth-top roof comes in red, black and tan.
"The Fiat 500 Cabrio is the only four-seat cabrio in the market priced below $20,000," Soave said.