1st Gear: Automotive News is reporting that tiny electric car maker Think Global AS filed for bankruptcy Wednesday in its home market of Norway after attempts to keep the company going through recapitalization and restructuring failed, the company said in a statement. It is the fourth time Think has collapsed financially in its 20-year history. It turns out people don't like buying ugly little electric cars.
2nd Gear: Bloomberg is reporting this morning that Saab Automobile, the Swedish carmaker that halted production because of a cash shortage, won't be able to pay wages to employees because it lacks sufficient short-term funding. Saab and Zeewolde, Netherlands-based owner Swedish Automobile NV are in talks with various parties to raise cash, the company said today in a statement. The options include the sale and lease-back of the factory in Trollhaettan, Sweden. "There can however be no assurance that these discussions will be successful or that the necessary funding will be obtained," said Swedish Automobile, which was previously known as Spyker Cars NV. But who will buy them? Leading contenders include a consortium led by Swedish real estate firm Hemfosa Fastigheter AB and...umm... nobody else.
3rd Gear: A group campaigning to end Saudi Arabia's ban on driving by women called on Subaru to pull out of the kingdom until the prohibition is lifted. The announcement yesterday followed U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's statement of support on June 21 for women who challenged the ban by driving in Saudi Arabia. Clinton called them "brave," saying, "I am moved by it and I support them." Saudi Women for Driving, which had asked Clinton for her backing, organized a show of defiance by women who drove in the country June 17 and encourages them to continue operating cars. "It is our hope that this will put huge pressure on the Saudi royal family and shine a bright light on the ‘gender apartheid' in our country," the group said of its call for Subaru to exit the kingdom. "It's a chance for the company to live up to its brand and make a huge difference for nearly 13 million of us Saudi women."
4th Gear: World Car Fans has translated an Autobild report that Alfa Romeo will storm the beaches of the 2013 North American International Auto Show with five models. We're told we can expect the 4C, Giulia, Giulietta, a five-door MiTo and a Jeep-based crossover. There's also word of a new rear-wheel drive Spider — based on the Giulia or next-generation Chrysler Sebring — for 2014.
5th Gear: Nissan has announced 2011 financial year forecasts and the Japanese automaker expects annual operating profits to fall 14.4% due to supply disruptions caused by the March 11 earthquake, but on the bright side is expecting a 9.9% growth in sales. The forecast beat analyst estimates and is also higher than forecasts from quake-affected rivals Toyota and Honda. Thank you, Renault!
6th Gear: Hot on the heels of releasing the new Coupé, MINI has now launched a one-off racing version of its new model to grab the headlines by competing in the Nurburgring 24 hr race in Germany. The MINI Coupé Endurance is powered by a tweaked version of the John Cooper Work's 1.6-liter turbo engine, sending 247 bhp to the front wheels via a racing six-speed sequential gearbox. Peak torque climbs to 330 Nm during overboost conditions, and the Coupé Endurance is capable of topping 150mph. Hell, for that, we don't even care if it looks like a frat boy!
⏎ Cro-Magnon Chevy Camaro Goes Topless, Still Carries Club. [Bloomberg]
⏎ As 3-D Falls From Favor, Director of ‘Transformers' Tries to Promote It. [New York Times]
⏎ Incentives Diet: Buy This, Not That [Kicking Tires]
⏎ Noble will deliver the first example of its all-new Noble M600 to its first customer next month. [Autocar]
⏎ Red Bull not worried about diffuser ban. [Top Gear]
⏎ Want some heavy-duty driving? Try a tank. [Bloomberg via Detroit News]
⏎ A Hybrid for His Holiness? 'No Comment,' Says Mercedes-Benz. [New York TImes]
Today in Automotive History:
On this day in 1902, German automaker Daimler-Motoren-Gesellschaft (DMG) first registers "Mercedes" as a brand name; the name will gain full legal protection the next September. [History]
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