x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Week in Motoring: Fire destroys Dh1.2m Lamborghini Aventador

Plus: Mercedes as a life coach; Maserati to increase Italian production; women hit wrong pedals more often; and GMC is Middle East sales boost.

The Alfa Romeo 4C will be built by Maserati. Chris Ratcliffe / Bloomberg
The Alfa Romeo 4C will be built by Maserati. Chris Ratcliffe / Bloomberg

Picture the scene: you're test driving a brand new Lamborghini Aventador out on the open road, appreciating its knuckle-whitening capabilities, when suddenly, a fire erupts from the rear.

You manage to pull over and flee but are left to watch helplessly as the Dh1.2 million supercar burns to a cinder.

That was exactly what happened just south of Los Angeles, California, this week and the two-and-a-half-minute video is spreading on the internet just as quickly as the fire itself did, with more than 82,000 hits on YouTube in just one day.

The test driver is thought to be an internet millionaire who managed to escape and is then seen in footage looking on with other passers-by as the fire department attempts to put out the flames. He wasn't too perturbed though as he posed for a photo with the vehicle after the fire was put out.

The Italian marque is investigating the cause of the fire but has not established a reason yet.


Mercedes as a life coach

Don't have time for that daily workout, what with all that traffic and commuting? Or is the drive to work cutting down on your sleep time? Mercedes-Benz may be able to bring a little balance to your life.

The German car maker is using a recent study it did with long-haul truckers called TopFitTruck to develop a programme of both exercise and rest for car drivers. The programme, called Active Comfort, is being developed in conjuncture with musicologists, scientists, sleep researchers and human biologists, and targets both the rest and exercise needs of busy commuters.

The TopFitTruck test bed incorporates a pillow for the steering wheel with a perfume atomiser for relaxing powernaps - while the truck is stopped, assumedly. The stereo system also recognises when the driver is awake or asleep and plays either invigorating or relaxing music depending on the mood.

And to keep the trucker in shape, the vehicle has elastic straps that can be attached to the ceiling and floor that the driver can use to exercise, all the while watching instructional videos on the infotainment system.


Maserati to increase production in Italy as it aims for 50,000 sales

Maserati is ramping up its plans to produce more cars in its Italian facilities, but not all of them will carry its famed trident logo.

The Italian premium car maker, which is owned by Fiat, has recently announced plans to its staff that it will be building the stunning Alfa Romeo 4C GTA, a two-seat sports car that debuted at last year's Geneva Motor Show, at its factory in the northern town of Modena.

This is ahead of Fiat stablemate Alfa's return to the US market next year.

In addition, a four-door Maserati will be built at its factory near Turin as the company strives to increase its unit sales to 50,000 per year by 2015.

Maserati is planning to expand its range of vehicles as demand for luxury cars increases in China, India and other fast-developing nations. A Maserati SUV is set to go on sale in the latter half of next year, and will be built at a Chrysler plant in the US.

Companies such as Fiat and PSA Peugeot Citroën have been struggling in Europe up against strong sales from German marques such as Volkswagen, BMW and Mercedes-Benz.


Maybe it's the high heel shoes

A recent report by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration fires another salvo into the debate on which sex is the better driver.

The report, released last month, found that of all accidents involving pedal misapplication (pressing the throttle when you should have pressed the brake), almost two thirds of drivers were women. The results are based on statistics taken in North Carolina, which recorded 2,411 wrong-pedal crashes between 2004 and 2008.

In offering an explanation for the higher number of women involved in these crashes, the report states: "Possible explanations might include greater exposure by women where these crashes occur most often (car parks); a poorer "fit" in their cars due to shorter stature, which may increase the likelihood of a pedal application error; or a disproportionately high rate of one or more functional deficits that contribute to pedal errors, such as neuropathy."

The report also finds that driver inattention and distraction were contributing factors among all age groups in this type of crash, with most of the drivers - male or female - involved in these crashes being older than 76 or younger than 20.


GMC sells 10,790 vehicles in Middle East in just three months

GMC has recorded sales growth in the Middle East of 44 per cent in the first quarter of 2012, the company announced.

A total of 10,790 vehicles were sold in the region in the first three months of this year, which is the US firm's best first-quarter sales results since 2008.

GMC's performance has been boosted by sales of the GMC Terrain crossover, which achieved its highest sales month in March since its launch in early 2011. The Yukon and Yukon XL SUVs also did well, with sales up 38 per cent and 25 per cent respectively.

The Acadia crossover was up 22 per cent and the Denali range was up 31 per cent but it was the Sierra pickup that registered the biggest sales jump - 67 per cent.

"We are confident that GMC can maintain this sales growth throughout 2012 with the introduction of the Terrain in Saudi in May and the launch of special Heritage Editions later this year," says Fadi Ghosn, GM Middle East's chief marketing officer.