Wednesday, 20 May 2009

AUTO HEADLINES

Porsche moves to restart Volkswagen talks

The family owners of Porsche have pushed to restart stalled merger talks with Volkswagen.

The move came as thousands of workers at the debt-ridden sports car manufacturer gathered to protest against Ferdinand Piech, the Volkswagen chairman.

The feuding Porsche and Piech families are expected this week to discuss getting the derailed negotiations back on track, according to people familiar with the situation.

The move came after Volkswagen at the weekend suspended merger talks with Porsche. It said that Porsche’s management had hampered the talks by not being fully transparent about the sport carmaker’s financial situation. (Financial Times: May 19).

RAC takes the toll out of motoring this Bank Holiday

RAC says it is giving motorists something to smile about over the Bank Holiday weekend by paying for 3,000 cars to go through the M6 Toll.

Recent RAC research shows that more people are planning to stay in the UK this year, so the motoring organisation says it will bring some cheer and goodwill to the weekend by paying for 1,000 lucky motorists tolls every day throughout the Spring Bank Holiday.

The gesture will see RAC covering the cost of 3,000 motorists toll fees, from Saturday (May 23) to Monday, May 25 inclusive. The offer will be open to drivers heading both North and South on the main M6 Toll plaza over the weekend and lucky drivers will be selected at random by toll staff to have their toll paid as they go through the manned booths - £4.50 on Saturday and Sunday and £4.70 on Monday.

The initiative comes as RAC shares its Bank Holiday traffic and travel predictions. Set to be one of the busiest this year as school half term and the Bank Holiday coincide, RAC predicts that millions of motorists will hit the road and the traffic will build up on all major routes throughout the weekend. Traffic will be heavier still if the sun shines and families flock to the beaches.

Meanwhile, the AA says that drivers can expect a 50% increase in journey times on Friday (May 22) as commuters, holidaymakers and large numbers of caravans hit the road at the start of the Bank Holiday weekend.

As cars get stuck in tailbacks, the AA estimates that 80,000 breakdowns in the UK could be prevented this weekend if drivers check their cars beforehand.

Problems such as overheating are made worse as 80% of motorists do not even regularly check their car’s coolant level, according to an AA poll of more than 14,500 motorists. (RAC/AA: May 19).

Daimler buys stake in electric carmaker

Daimler has bought a near 10% stake in Tesla, the Silicon Valley-based maker of electric-powered sports cars, the two companies said in a statement.

The deal marks a further push by the maker of Mercedes-Benz luxury vehicles into battery-powered cars, and represents a vote of confidence in Tesla, a pioneer in electric cars that has struggled to raise funds during the credit crunch.

The companies, which already co-operate on electric versions of Daimler’s Smart car, will work together on batteries, electric drive systems, and vehicle projects. No price was given for the stake in privately held Tesla. (FT.com: May 19).