Auto Blog

TUESDAY, MAY 26, 2009, 2:50 P.M.

Summertime News

Memorial Day weekend produced enough sunshine to call it summer, the seasonal anti-depressant strong enough to cast even the most horrific auto news in a more flattering light. Throw some cow on the BBQ, crack a beer and get ready for four pieces of pleasantly prepared car chow that’s fit for the season of taking it easier. 

Well, this first one mixes the beans a bit. GM spokesman Terry Rhadigan wants you to know that there will indeed be a Chevy Camaro CONVERTIBLE! But if all goes well it won’t hit the streets until early 2011 because the supplier of the convertible tops closed. 

Damn you recession! 

"The convertible was never canceled," Rhadigan told Automotive News. "It was retimed. ... We always thought it would be one year after the coupe. Instead we are going two." (1)
 

Fine, that’s okay. Just thinking about a topless Camaro is enough to keep the dream alive through this time next year… actually, it could be sales of the much buzzed about V6 Camaro that keeps the muscle machine alive long enough to see a convertible option in a year or so. Mark “early 2011” on your calendars gentlemen, keep that buzz going. 

Moving on, Jet Skis have always been a staple of summer time fun, but you were probably increasingly concerned with how noisy and polluting they are. As it turns out, good times with family and friends on two stroke personal watercrafts terrorizes lakes and their unsuspecting waterfront homeowners. Coming to the rescue, ECOWatercraft is offering what they claim is the world’s first all-electric Jet Ski. From ECO: 

“In 1998 it was reported that a seven hour ride on a 2 stroke Jet Ski kicks out more pollution than an old model car driving 100,000 miles. Jet skis are one of the top pollutants to water in the United States. It was estimated in 2001 that air pollution from Jet skis imposes at least 240 million dollars a year in healthcare costs to Americans. The ECO will produce absolutely zero emissions. No more gasoline expelled into the water or toxic fumes making swimmers nauseous.” (2)

Adding an eerie pleasure to the electrified experience, the ECO is completely silent when it races around the water. Imagine a Jet Ski without the high pitched wail of a two stroke engine; all you can hear is the water splashing and sloshing the sounds of good clean fun.

Speaking of attempts to clean up motorsports this summer, if there was ever a way for NASCAR to appear as though they had something to do with fuel conservation it might have been the inclusion of the Toyota Camry hybrid as the pace car for the 50th running of the Coca-Cola 600 on May 24 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. It marked the first time a hybrid has led the pack as the official pace car for an entire NASCAR Sprint Cup race. 

To earn the spot the Camry had to pass the performance tests required at LMS such as reaching speeds of nearly 100 mph by the end of turn two from a dead stop near the pit-road exit, a distance of about a quarter mile.

“It’s a tribute to the torque and other performance characteristics of the Camry hybrid that allows it to meet NASCAR’s requirements for pacing the longest race of the season,” said Ed Laukes, Toyota corporate motorsports marketing manager. (3)

In addition to it’s first break out appearance at the Coca-Cola 600, the Camry hybrid is also scheduled to take the pace car position at the Oct. 17 race at LMS, at Infineon Raceway on June 21, at Chicagoland on July 11, at Watkins Glen on Aug. 9 and at Martinsville on Oct. 25. 

If all the racy exposure can convince NASCAR fans not to disregard the 33 mpg Camry like a crumpled can of Budweiser, they could get to work winning the fuel sipper by drinking copious amounts of Coca-Cola. Somewhere in the southeast, a “golden can” of Coke is waiting to be found in 50th anniversary 12 packs redeemable for the actual car that was used in the Coca-Cola 600. 

One place the lucky Charlie (Wonka reference) won’t be able to impress crowds of people with his new ride is in New York City’s Times Square. According to AP reports, portions of the formerly congested area from Broadway to 42nd Street up to 47th and 33rd to 35th will be closed to cars from now on to cut down on pollution, traffic and pedestrian accidents. (4). From autoblog.com: 

“To kick off the new arrangement, NYC has planned something of a block party in the Square, where they'll play a movie on a giant screen and street performers will entertain the crowds. They're even going to set out beach chairs so folks can cop a squat and soak it all in.” (4)

That’s summer time news, served up fresh. 

(1) http://wot.motortrend.com/6516223/auto-news/confirmed-by-gm-chevrolet-camaro-convertible-coming-in-2011/index.html
(2) http://ecowatercraft.com/Why_Electric_.html 
(3) http://www.autoweek.com/article/20090421/nascar/904219980
(4) http://www.autoblog.com/2009/05/26/report-cars-officially-banned-from-new-yorks-time-square/




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