x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

This week in Motoring: Mini in PR gaffe over cold weather in Europe

Plus Chevy Sonic used as musical instrument; Honda loses false fuel claims case; drifting contest on Abu Dhabi Corniche; and Zanardi targets Daytona return.

An advertising agency for BMW that named the recent European cold front "Cooper" after its Mini has had to backtrack following the deaths of more than 360 people as a result of the weather system.

What was meant to be a cheap PR stunt by Sassenbach agency has backfired after the weather killed people across Europe, with Ukraine and Poland worst hit.

Germany's meteorology institute allows the sponsorship of weather systems as a means to fund weather monitoring in Berlin.

Sassenbach's website had said that naming the cold front after the car, costing it just Dh1,100, was a "wind and weatherproof idea" but now the Munich-based ad agency is refusing to comment further on the unfortunate correlation between the weather system and the car it aims to publicise.

BMW, Mini's parent company, has been forced to issue a statement saying it deeply regretted that the weather front had taken on "catastrophic proportions" and killed so many people.

People have been found dead in the street in some countries as temperatures plunged to as low as -38C.


Chevrolet Sonic used as musical instrument in desert rock video

Famed for their choreographed treadmill video for Here It Goes Again, which became a YouTube smash in 2006, Chicago rockers OK Go are at it again with an elaborate car-instrument video for the single Needing/Getting.

The band teamed up with Chevrolet to film a four-minute video (some of which was used as a commercial during the Super Bowl) where a Chevy Sonic outfitted with pneumatic arms designed to play instruments races through the desert outside Los Angeles, using the vehicle to play more than 1,000 instruments set up over a 3.2km stretch.

The Sonic was driven by lead singer Damian Kulash, who took stunt driving lessons to be able to handle the car in the desert terrain.

The remarkable video took four months of preparation and was shot over four days. Each piano in the video had the lowest octaves tuned to the same note so that they would play the right note no matter where they were struck.

The video has already amassed more than one million hits on YouTube; it's still got a way to go if it's to match the Here It Goes Again video, which has more than 50 million hits.


Honda loses fuel claim case

Honda has lost a court case in the US and has been forced to pay out US$10,000 to a lawyer who contested that its hybrid Civic lived up to fuel consumption expectations.

The case involving Heather Peters, 46, from Los Angeles, could spark a flood of lawsuits that potentially could cost the Japanese car maker up to $2 billion (Dh7.35bn), she says.

Peters filed the suit in the small-claims court in LA stating that the American-spec 2006 hybrid only delivered 30mpg (7.84L/100km) instead of the promised 50 to 60mpg. Honda contested the claim but was forced to pay Peters $9,867.

"At a bare minimum Honda was aware that, by the time Peters bought her car, there were problems with its living up to its advertised mileage," said Los Angeles Superior Court commissioner Douglas Carnahan.

"Sometimes big justice comes in small packages. This is a victory for Honda Civic owners everywhere," said Peters.

A proposed class-action settlement would hand the 200,000 Honda owners affected $100 to $200 each and a $1,000 credit to buy a new car, but Peters hopes owners will take the US arm of Honda to small-claims courts, which could cost it $2bn. Honda said it will appeal the decision.


A good reason to drift down to Abu Dhabi Corniche next week

You may see some crazy manoeuvres on the roads of the UAE at times but it's nothing compared with the Red Bull Car Park Drift event being held in Abu Dhabi next week.

Back for its third year in the capital, the event features some of the Middle East's top drifters who will be judged by rally and hill climbing champion driver Abdo Feghali as well as a panel of experts who will be looking out for drifting ability, car appearance, crowd reaction and tyre smoke.

Launched in Lebanon five years ago, Red Bull Car Park Drift has evolved to include competitions in Saudi Arabia, Oman, Jordan, Egypt, Iran, Bahrain and the UAE.

After 13 dates of regional heats across the region, the drifting culminates in a thrilling July final in Lebanon, where an overall winner will be determined.

This exhilarating event arrives in Abu Dhabi on Friday, February 17, at the Beach Car Park on the Corniche from 7pm.


Alex Zanardi targets motorsport return at 2013 Daytona 24 Hours

Alex Zanardi, the racer who lost both legs in a crash in 2001, has said he wants to compete at next year's Daytona 24 Hours race.

The Italian resurrected the idea after attending the 22nd birthday bash of the Chip Ganassi race team in Minneapolis, US, recently.

The two-time CART champion has turned his attention to paracycling in recent years and hopes to compete at the Paralympics later this year.

"I really want to go motor racing again, I miss clutching the steering wheel of a racing car," Zanardi told Autosport.

"[At the party] I found myself, among others, with [Jimmy] Vasser, [Juan Pablo] Montoya, [Dario] Franchitti and [Scott] Dixon. The idea of doing it all together [Daytona] popped up again: five champions from the outfit reunited in the same team.

"At the moment it's just an idea we all like. But the conditions would be there next year and I'm certain BMW and Target would be ready to support us."