ReviewThe highs and lows of an incredible year of motoring, from the Tat Nano launch to the Big Three bailout.
Rocking our world
10 Indian automaker Tata steals a large bolt of the North American International Auto Show's thunder with a cheeky announcement. Days before the Detroit event, Tata used a small Delhi motor show to announce plans to produce the Nano. With a planned price of US$2,500 (Dh9,150), they are hoping it will be the world's cheapest new car. 13-27 The North American International Auto Show kicks off in Detroit in flashy style. Michigan's Kid Rock performed with Mary J. Blige at the GM Style event, a fusion of fashion, music and a few cars. Another headline-grabbing stunt was the launch of Chrysler's Dodge Ram with a cattle drive through Detroit - although a ram is a male sheep.
7 Force India launches their cars and livery for the 2008 Formula One season. 2008 was the first full season for the ambitious Indian-owned team. The team recorded no podiums, racked up 17 race retirements and had car reliability issues.
11 The Abu Dhabi-Dubai motorway at Ghantoot was the scene of a shocking car crash that made international headlines. More than 200 cars were involved, 92 cars caught fire, five people were killed and 277 people were injured. The accident happened at 6.45am in thick fog. 16 The 2008 F1 season launches with the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne. It was the first F1 race under the much-talked-about new rules, including the elimination of traction control. Lewis Hamilton won the race for Mercedes-McLaren. 26 Hot on the heels of the Nano announcement, it is revealed that Tata would buy Jaguar-Land Rover from Ford. Tata paid US$2.3 billion (Dh8.5 billion) for the two marques. Since Tata acquired Jaguar-Land Rover, it has asked the UK government for a US$1.4 billion (Dh5.4 billion) loan to secure the company's future, and by Dec 22, press reports claimed UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown may intervene with a loan in the New Year. It was also reported that Tata had enough cash to postpone any bailout until 2009. 29 UK tabloid News of the World reports that Max Mosley, president of the FIA, took part in Nazi-themed sadomasochistic activities. Mosley sued the paper and won Dh440,000 in damages on July 24.
20 Danica Patrick becomes the first woman to win an Indy Car race. The Phoenix, Arizona native won the Indy Japan 300, her 50th start in Indy racing. 24-27 The Jordan Rally was the first time an Arab nation had been invited to join the World Rally Championship since 1976. The winner was Team BP Abu Dhabi's Mikko Hirvonen with co-driver Jarmo Lehtinen.
6 Journalists from around the world hit Portugal to get an early taste of the much-anticipated Nissan GT-R. Plenty of grey imports were spotted in the UAE ahead of its GCC launch. 22 Ford announces cuts in its second quarter production schedule in response to sales slumps caused by rising fuel prices. Car production for Ford was cut by 13 per cent with a 17 per cent cut in truck production. 31 19,000 GM North America staff on an hourly rate accepted an offer to leave their jobs on or before July 1.
5 Dubai Government starts a pilot programme with hybrid taxis from GM. GM claims the hybrid Chevrolet Tahoe taxis are up to 50 per cent more fuel-efficient than petrol- engined cars. 17 UAE's Ministry of the Interior announces that, as of January 2009, new laws will ban 20-year-old cars from the road, refuse transfer of registration on cars older than 10 years old, scrap taxis older than five years and introduce new limits for carbon emissions from every vehicle. 25 The 2009 Formula One Grand Prix calendar is announced with Abu Dhabi listed as the last race of the season. The Yas Marina Circuit will host the final race on Nov 1.
1 The Dubai RTA legalises carpooling to reduce congestion and pollution. In order to legally give someone a lift, a website was set up (www.sharekni.ae) with a long list of rules about drivers not profiteering, and only taking passengers who are registered with the website. By September, only 110 people were actually sharing lifts via the scheme, according to an RTA spokesperson.
19 A stunning black 1938 Alfa Romeo is named Best In Show at the Pebble Beach classic car show. Other show-stoppers include TV host Jay Leno's mammoth 20-litre 1953 Chrysler Tank Car. Leno jokingly described the car's green credentials: "Actually, most people don't know this is really a hybrid. It starts off running on gas - then you get on the freeway and it runs on even more gas."
20 UK dealers start selling the new MGs which went back into production with China's Nanjing Automotive Corporation. The two-door MG LE 500 comes in six colours and production is set at around 45 cars a week. 29 The Singapore Grand Prix is the first GP to be run at night under lights. Renault's Fernando Alonso claims victory on the 61-lap Marina Bay street circuit.
4-9 The Paris Motor Show shows off dazzling machinery from Europe and Japan with, not surprisingly, no real talking points from the States. There were concept cars aplenty, including the Lamborghini Estoque, the Mercedes Concept FASCINATION and the Mini Crossover. 15 Yas Marina Circuit, the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix's island track, is launched at Emirates Palace hotel.
3 Lewis Hamilton is crowned world's youngest F1 world champion in Brazil at the age of 23 and Ferrari wins the constructors' championship. Hamilton won the world championship by the smallest of margins, ending the season on 98 points with Ferrari's Felipe Massa coming in second on 97. 15 The National launches its new Motoring section as part of the newspaper's Saturday edition.
1 It is announced that the laws banning the renewal of registration of cars more than 20 years old would be postponed. At the time of going to press, The National learnt that the rest of the new registration laws - such as the ban on the transfer of registration of cars older than 10 years - are also on hold. 2 US car company CEOs announce they will accept a salary of $1 if the US government bails them out. 5 Honda quits Formula 1. 7 French driver Sebastien Loeb wins the 2008 World Rally Championship in his Citroen with co-driver Daniel Elena. BP Ford Abu Dhabi came second with Finnish driver Mikko Hirvonen scoring 103 points and winning in Jordan, Turkey and Japan. 12 The Bush administration says it will intervene to prevent the collapse of General Motors and Chrysler, and by Dec 19 approved a $17.4 billion lifeline to GM and Chrysler.
15 Suzuki announces it will pull out of the World Rally Championship. The Japanese automaker had been involved in WRC since 2002 and cited a drop in global sales as the reason for their withdrawal. 16 Subaru announces it will also pull out of the World Rally Championship for the same reasons. 17 The Abu Dhabi Motor Show opens with eight cars launched by General Motors in defiance of the events in the US, and 19 new cars were launched overall. A total of 48,567 people visited the show and ticket sales were up by 250 per cent on the 2006 show.
20 President Bush's radio address to the US defends his decision to hand a financial lifeline to General Motors and Chrysler, saying that to let the American auto industry collapse "is not a responsible course of action." firstname.lastname@example.org