1st Gear: The Saab story continues as Saab Automobile, the Swedish carmaker that last week agreed to partner with China's Hawtai Motor Group, said the deal has failed to secure government approvals, sending its shares down the most in a month. "Since it became clear that Hawtai was not able to obtain all the necessary consents, the parties were forced to terminate the agreement with Saab Automobile and Spyker with immediate effect," Saab's owner, Zeewolde, Netherlands-based Spyker Cars NV said in a statement. "The parties will continue their discussions about a possible cooperation, however now on a non-exclusive basis." Victor Muller, chief executive officer of Spyker, said by telephone from China today that local authorities would not clear the deal, and declined further comment. The agreement would have let Hawtai produce Saabs locally for the Chinese market, starting in 2013 with Saab's upgraded 9-3 model. The deal also required the approval of the European Investment Bank and the Swedish National Debt Office, which is guaranteeing a loan to Saab from the EIB. Muller said May 3 he expected the deal to be fully cleared within six to 12 weeks. Saab said today it continues to work on securing short and medium term funding, including talking with "various" Chinese partners. This is as far of a result as you can get from Muller's expressed statement he gave when he sat down to talk to me earlier this week. At least this time it won't be the "media's fault" for a "run on the bank." One can't help but wonder how many more lifelines this company can get, although its biggest phone-a-friend will come when or if Sweden allows Russian banker Vladimir Antonov as an investor.
2nd Gear: Car Magazine reports that when the new Mercedes S-class arrives in 2012 there will be four versions of the new S codenamed W222. In an attempt to cover an even wider segment of the luxury car market, the new 2012 S-class will be offered in four different bodystyles: standard wheelbase saloon (2012), extended wheelbase saloon (2013), coupé (2013, replaces the CL), and a four-seater convertible (2014). They also claim all future rear-wheel drive Mercs will be based on a brand new components set known as MRA, short for Mercedes Rear-wheel drive Architecture. MRA is subdivided into 93 different modules which is a good indication of how flexible this matrix can be. The only two fixed points are the front and rear firewalls in relation to the axles and the drivetrain. And speaking of the drivetrain, the line-up will supposedly stretch from the 204bhp four-cylinder to the EU6-rated V12 dyno-tested at 544bhp. Not enough grunt? Then you may have to wait for the spicy AMG menu which will supposedly be good for an astonishing 650bhp. Whoa.
3rd Gear: Ringing ears in New York perked up last week when the city announced that its new taxicab platypus, the Nissan NV200, would include a so-called "low-annoyance" horn, which promises to reduce ear-splitting honks. The New York Times tests out what a "low-annoyance" horn might sound like. We're fans of the Jackie Mason ourselves. But that's mostly because Koch sounds like a freakin' wuss.
4th Gear: The United Auto Workers is confident Chrysler will be expanding its workforce to cover extra demand for its vehicles in 2011. UAW Vice-President General Holiefield believes Chrysler will add shifts to its U.S. plants — and that means up to 3000 new jobs at the recovering-from-bankruptcy U.S. carmaker.
5th Gear: BMW has kicked off the marketing campaign for its redesigned 1 Series hatchback range, which will go on sale in Australia in October. The Bavarian luxury brand has launched a website featuring videos of same-sex siblings who have contrasting personalities, tying in with the F20-generation 2012 BMW 1 Series launch campaign's ‘One origin, two originals' slogan. So what's the BMW 1M? The wicked red-headed stepbrother?
6th Gear: There are over 50,000 stray dogs running loose in the streets of Detroit, and only 23 animal care workers to rescue them. And when dogs are rescued by city workers, over 90% of them picked up in Detroit are euthanized. There are simply not enough resources, funding, rescue workers, or people who are willing to adopt. Detroit Dog Rescue was born earlier this year to help rescue and place abused, unwanted and abandoned companion and stray dogs. If you want to help, give a little bit here. Also, if you want to know more, check out this piece by local Detroit NBC affiliate, WDIV.
⏎ Michigan traffic deaths are up! [Detroit News]
⏎ BMW turns engineers loose to save energy. [Automotive News]
⏎ For California Mille drivers, a mobile triage unit. [New York Times]
⏎ Oh, and that terrifying shot from up top? It was of lightning striking a flight landing at Heathrow. Don't worry, everyone's fine. [KNS News via Daily Mail]
Today in Automotive History:
On this day in 1957, race car driver A.J. Foyt (1935- ) scores his first professional victory, in a U.S. Automobile Club (USAC) midget car race in Kansas City, Missouri. [History]
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