x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Dubai Le Mans team raise awareness of blindness

Volkswagen delivers a commuter bubble, Land Rover's new Defender, Qatar hosts baja and more Motoring news.

Nils is a modern equivalent to the Isetta of the 1950s. Courtesy of Volkswagen
Nils is a modern equivalent to the Isetta of the 1950s. Courtesy of Volkswagen

Dubai-based Le Mans team Storholm Racing will help raise awareness of an eye charity and a project to cure blindness by putting their logos on its car.

The team has eschewed having lucrative sponsors adorn the car to instead highlight the plights of two worthy UK causes.

The London Project to Cure Blindness and the Moorfields Eye Charity both aim to combine cutting-edge knowledge and technology from the laboratory, clinic and operating theatre to help develop new treatments for blindness.

Both rely on donations to support their vital research.

Dr Lyndon da Cruz, a retinal surgeon at Moorfields Eye Hospital, says: "What could be more pertinent than all the colour, action and excitement of a famous car race to remind us how lucky we are to have the gift of vision?

"Storholm have put financial gain aside to spread the message about eye care and the ongoing innovative work being conducted to help protect one of our greatest gifts."

The team will show its support for the good causes as it races at Silverstone this month and at Petit Le Mans, in Georgia, US, next month.


Volkswagen delivers bubble car concept ideal for commuters

Volkswagen is to reveal its modern-day bubble car for city driving.

The Nils concept is like an electric equivalent of a Formula One car in terms of its design, as it's a single-seater with a rear-mounted engine and outboard wheels.

Unfortunately, its performance doesn't quite match that of an F1 car, but it is economical and green, with a range of 65km.

Nils has been designed with commuters in mind and when you consider that, between Berlin and Munich, 74 per cent of commuters drive fewer than 26km to work and 90 per cent of them do so alone, it's an ideal car for that demographic.

A 5.3-kWh lithium-ion battery pack outputs 33hp, giving acceleration to 100kph in about 11 seconds and a top speed of 130kph. It's not exactly speedy, but it does the job, especially as the vehicle is so light due to the fact it's made from aluminium, polycarbonate, and other lightweight materials.

Inside the minimalist cabin a display screen gives speed, range and energy flow, while a second display is a portable navigation and entertainment unit.

Nils will debut at the Frankfurt Motor Show this month.


Land Rover's new Defender

Land Rover has announced it will release an all-new version of its Defender model in 2015.

The British car maker rarely changes designs on its models, a feature of the company since the first Land Rover was produced in 1948.

The Defender, whose name has been in use since the 1990s, was last altered in 2007 but the company has confirmed a concept car - the DC100, upon which the new Defender will be based - will be shown in Frankfurt this month.

Land Rover's director of design, Gerry McGovern, says: "Replacing the iconic Defender is one of the biggest challenges in the automotive design world; it is a car that inspires people worldwide.

"[The DC100] isn't a production-ready concept but the beginning of a four-year journey to design a relevant Defender for the 21st century."

John Edwards, Land Rover's global brand director, adds that the company was "determined that the new Defender will be true to its heritage, while meeting the requirements of a changing global market".

Land Rover and its sister brand Jaguar are owned by Indian multinational conglomerate Tata Group. Ford sold the brands to Tata in March 2008.


Qatar to host international baja for cars and motorcycles

The Qatar International Baja will run at the end of November, the Qatar Motor and Motorcycle Federation (QMMF) has confirmed.

The two-day baja is a candidate event for inclusion in the FIA World Cup for Cross-Country Rallies and is open to cars (T1, T2, T3 and Category 2WD) and bikes (450cc, quad, women and open) corresponding to the relevant FIA and FIM criteria.

"We ran a successful baja for two seasons before the Asian Games in Doha in 2006 and had to withdraw from the series in 2006 to accommodate the games," said Nasser Khalifa Al-Attiyah, president of the QMMF. "Now we feel is the time to return to top flight cross-country rallying and we are looking forward to hosting this baja in November."

The event takes place between November 24 and 26 and the entry fee for a car is Dh1,514, rising to Dh3,026 for teams. Motorcycles cost Dh1,010 for a single entry and Dh2,017 for a team.

For info, visit www.qmmf.com.


London hotel opens luxury suite dedicated to Jaguar vehicles

A London hotel is opening a suite that is entirely dedicated to Jaguar cars.

Set to open this month, the Jaguar Suite at Taj Hotels 51 Buckingham Gate is a novel partnership between the car maker and the hotel, both of which are owned by Indian company Tata.

The 170sq m suite has two bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms, a kitchen, living and dining areas, all of which are kitted out with Jaguar paraphernalia.

Jaguar design director Ian Callum created the room by using materials taken from the cars and custom-made wallpaper.

Pictures, models and historic Jaguar items adorn the walls, while a line of the brand's badges are also on display, amid the wood-panelling and Jaguar damask.

The hotel follows in the footsteps of London's Belgravia club, which has a Bentley Room, where walls have been decorated with photographs of classic Bentley racing moments.