x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

The week in motoring: Death knell for Volkswagen graveyard in Florida

Plus Harley riders raid UAE; the final blow to Saab; Chevy has best ever sales year; and Porsche opens world's largest service centre in Abu Dhabi.

The Ursaab was developed immediately after the Second World War. Bloomberg
The Ursaab was developed immediately after the Second World War. Bloomberg

Many Volkswagen owners in Florida have, for years, known where to go if they needed spare parts - but not for much longer.

In operation since 1986, Sunray Bugs in Dade City is a graveyard of almost 800 Beetles, Trekkers, Golfs, Polos and various other VW models.

But when a resident complained about the number of cars lying around Sunray Bugs' 40,500 square metre grounds in 2009, county officials got involved.

Despite owner Leroy "Corky" Yager being there for more than two decades, it was ruled that the junkyard was illegal.

The property was ordered to be cleared by August 2010 but, after a few missed deadlines, Pasco County moved in last month and crushed more than half the vehicles on site - an estimated 200 tonnes of scrap metal.

Sunray Bugs now has until February 15 to clear the rest of the vehicles and Yager, his employees and volunteers are now working hard to meet the deadline.


Harley riders in raid on UAE

The UAE will be invaded next month by the near 50-strong Grand Lyon Harley-Davidson club, which will be on a motorcycle "Raid".

The group of riders - the second-largest Harley group in France in terms of member-base, behind only its Parisian equivalent - will be zigzagging its way across the country from February 11 to 21.

Around 46 riders will arrive in Dubai and take in the city's sights before doing likewise in Abu Dhabi before then heading for the oasis city of Al Ain.

Here riders will appreciate the beauty and the 12 kilometres of twisting road that takes them to the summit of Jebel Hafeet on one of the best driving roads in the world.

The club, which has taken part in more than 120 similar "Raids" across the world, will then cross into Oman for five days before returning to the Emirates to take in Fujairah, Dibba and Sharjah en-route back to Dubai. It's the French motorcycle club's first visit to the GCC.

The adventure is a boon for UAE tourism authorities as the riders will be filmed by French television station Liberty, which regularly pulls in 1.7 million viewers.


Final blow for Saab as museum cars are to be sold at auction

As Saab winds up its operations, another sad blow to the once-powerful Swedish car maker is that it is selling off vehicles from its museum to the highest bidder.

Among the cars being auctioned off as part of a move to liquidate the company's assets is the first car it ever produced, the Saab 92001, or Ursaab, as well as cars from as recent as 2010, the 9-5 saloon.

There are also models such as a red 95 estate from 1959 and a white 900 convertible from 1983.

Concept cars such as the 9X from 2001 and two of the rare Sonetts from 1956 are also present.

Notable by its absence is the PhoeniX, a concept designed for the 2011 Geneva motor show and one that was due to represent the vision for the company's future.

In total, more than 100 vehicles will be removed from the museum in Trollhattan, Sweden, and will be sold by Delphi, a law firm handling some aspects of the car maker's bankruptcy process. Delphi is already soliciting bids for cars.

The auction comes at a time when several board members of Swedish Automobile, Saab's parent company, have resigned over disagreements about finances.


Chevrolet in best ever sales year

Chevrolet achieved its best ever global figures in 2011 after selling 4.76 million cars worldwide.

The strong year also drove parent firm General Motors' global sales to more than nine million vehicles - 7.6 per cent up on 2010 and taking the company's market share to 11.9 per cent.

The US led the way for Chevy with sales of 1,775,812, up more than 13 per cent on 2010. China posted record sales of 595,068, up 9.5 per cent. Other markets that posted significant year-over-year increases include Vietnam (79 per cent), Russia (49 per cent), Turkey (30 per cent) and Germany (21 per cent).

"Chevrolet's impressive growth in both established and developing markets is the result of a strong new product lineup that meets the diverse needs of consumers around the world," says GM chairman and chief executive Dan Akerson. "In addition to Chevrolet's record-setting sales, the entire lineup of GM vehicles is meeting customer needs for fuel-efficient cars and work vehicles as well as unmatched luxury."

Chevrolet is building its global presence by delivering cars such as the Cruze, Sonic (Aveo) and Spark, the new mid-size global Malibu, and crossovers and trucks such as the Orlando and Colorado.


Another UAE 'largest in the world' as Porsche opens facility

The words "and this is the world's largest" can often be heard spoken in the UAE and now there's another reason to speak them.

Porsche has opened its largest service centre in the world in Abu Dhabi, which is part of a Dh55 million state-of-the-art Porsche Centre.

The new facility in Mussafah covers 6,000 square metres and can accommodate more than 200 vehicles, with a whopping 50 working bays available.

"This is an exciting day for us as we move into our brand new facility and celebrate the arrival of the new 911," says Ahmed Al Dhahry, vice chairman of the motors division at Ali & Sons Co. "The opening of the facility is Porsche Centre Abu Dhabi's next step towards achieving customer service excellence."

The centre opening coincided with the launch of the new 911 Carrera and Carrera S Coupé, which contain a 350hp 3.4L boxer engine and a 400hp 3.8L boxer, respectively.