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From Russia with love
Mazda has become the first Japanese carmaker to establish a production facility in the Russian Far East. The partnership with Sollers is based in Vladivostok and will commence production of the CX-5 next month, with initial capacity of 50,000 units a year. The factory is currently limited to assembly only but the next step will be paint and panel facilities. The next model to be added to the factory will be the new Mazda6 (pictured), which made its global debut at the Moscow Motor Show in August. In his remarks at the opening ceremony, Mazda president and chief executive officer Takashi Yamanouchi highlighted the growth of the Russian car market, with annual sales almost at the three million mark and the potential for Vladivostok to become a hub within the East Asian economic environment.
Saab still lives
National Electric Vehicle Sweden (NEVS) has finalised its purchase of the main assets of failed carmaker Saab, including the automobile, powertrain and tools divisions. NEVS said that the transaction was conducted as a cash transaction but has not disclosed the amount. The acquisition includes intellectual property rights for the Saab 9-3, its platform technology and the factory facilities in Trollhattan, Sweden. Chinese-owned NEVS plans to launch an electric version of the 9-3 within 18 months. The company has been testing in China and Japan for some time but, with the purchase of the Trollhattan plant, will complete work on the car in Sweden. NEVS has confirmed that the Saab name will still be used for the new vehicle range, albeit with a new logo.
Popemobile goes electric
High on technology, perhaps less so on dignity: Renault has presented Pope Benedict XVI with a new Popemobile, based on the Kangoo Maxi van and powered by a zero-emissions electric motor. A second, similar vehicle was also donated to the Corps of Gendarmerie of Vatican City. The new Popemobile is designed for use at the papal summer residence. It carries a coat of arms on the door and has a lithium-ion battery and 44kW electric motor that can power it for 170km. The police version is very similar, although naturally wears a different livery. Both vehicles seat up to four and include an opening roof, removable side windows and power-folding door steps.
If driving a Toyota GT86 is on your bucket list – and there’s every reason it should be – then you can resort to a rental. Possibly as thanks for taking all those Corollas, Avis has been able to add the in-demand GT86 to its premium fleet. It’s the second upmarket Toyota offered by Avis, which already carries the very fashionable FJ Cruiser. The GT86 can be booked in advance by customers in Auckland, Wellington (from mid-September) and Christchurch. It’s an ideal scenario, really. The GT86 is a car that demands to be driven hard and, as we all know, rental cars can be driven harder and faster than any other kind.