Friday Fluff: The Links That Got Away

December 19, 2008
Mercedes-Benz with Julia Stegner

Mercedes-Benz with Julia Stegner

It's been a busy week at Between bailout news, holiday shopping, and random morsels of car-related goodness, a lot of stuff has crossed our desk since Monday. Here are a few of the choicest bits that we haven't been able to cover in full detail:

Toyota probably posts first loss since 1938: In its first year of operations, Toyota lost money. That's to be expected. What's not expected? That Toyota has posted gains for each of the 70 years since. Now, the company is likely to post its second loss ever. Which doesn't sound good at all.

GM goes out for Chinese: GM may (or may not) be in a bad way here at home, but in China, the company has opened up a new production facility. That's...good news, right? Can we stop worrying now?

CNN has slow news day: Otherwise, why would they waste 800 words on an essay entitled "How a shutdown really saves Chrysler money"? Really? A shutdown will cut labor costs and reduce inventory? Does NASA know about this?

There is an upside to this "market correction": Yes, economies around the world seem to be in a tailspin, but look for the silver lining. Although things may totally suck for divorce lawyers, caterers, NASCAR, and your waistline, psychics, OB-GYNs, and stores that sell Spam (the kind in a can) are doing great.

French president Sarkozy is amped about electric cars: Or at least, he's so enchanté with the developers of said cars that he's sitting on a government report questioning their viability. The report, which was meant to be published around the time of the Paris Auto Show, argues that modifications to cars of the combustion engine variety would prove cheaper and nearly as efficient. If you can handle a 129-page PDF in written in technical French, you can read it for yourself.

Mercedes-Benz gets fashionable: Speaking of models (Sarkozy's married to Carla Bruni, remember?), Mercedes-Benz has announced that catwalker Julia Stegner will serve as the face of its fashion division, beginning with the launch of the new CLS Grand Edition during Berlin Fashion Week in January. Said Stegner: "Mercedes-Benz and fashion - they really fit together well. I think Mercedes-Benz cars are chic - just like fashion." Perfect match.

Steve Jobs lets go of the wheel: Apple Anthony Jannarelly is toying with designs for a robotic car called the iMo. It looks kinda like the original iMac, but with two wheels, an electric engine, gyroscopic technology, and the ability to transform. It can even drive and park itself. It looks cute, but we really hope it crashes less frequently than iTunes.

Holy crap, people are repairing their cars: We have it on good authority that people are no longer throwing out their automobiles when the timing belt goes; they are choosing to repair cars instead of replacing them. Apparently, it has something to do with this global economic meltdown we've all been hearing so much about. Unfortunately, indie garages don't always have access to the same repair manuals as dealers do, so a group in Massachusetts is threatening legal action to make that happen. That's potentially good news for Bay State drivers, but, um, should the rest of us be doing something?

Public school drivers' ed was not like this: Lotus has launched its new Lotus Driving Academy, with a stated goal of creating better drivers--not just of Lotuses, but of all cars. Best of all, it's open to anyone with a driver's license! Worst of all, it's in England, which is not where we are.

--Richard Read

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