Thrown under the bus
Last week we reported on a bizarre but weirdly clever public transport solution to China’s rampant urban traffic congestion; the Transit Elevated Bus, or TEB.
This retro-futuristic invention is designed to straddle two lanes of motorway and hover over the top of slow-moving traffic in an effort to leap-frog commuters ahead of backed-up traffic to their destinations on time. But all of a sudden this week, the project has been labelled a fraud. Huh?
Last week Chinese state media was falling over itself to applaud the strange invention, after its designers reported a successful run on a controlled test road in Qinhuangdao, Hebei Province.
But now, in an about-turn, the official line is the transportation unit is a “complete scam” that will “defraud innocent investors”.
The change in stance has been exacerbated by Qinhuangdao officials who now deny any knowledge of the test or an official link with the project. In response, the company responsible for the TEB’s development — TEBtech — has issued a release saying the test run wasn’t a road test, but a component of internal testing.
The claim has seen further TEB testing abandoned, and the big Thunderbirds-style transportation unit now apparently hidden away behind a giant steel structure.
The video that accompanied the unveiling showed the vehicle moving only at a snail’s pace, but TEBtech insists it is capable of travelling at up to 60km/h; a claim which now — along with other performance boasts, one assumes — has been thrown into doubt.
What a shame. While a strangely elaborate solution — and not without its impracticalities; bridges for example — we liked the TEB’s Jetsons-ish aesthetic.
Is Honda hatching a baby supercar?
Honda’s Acura NSX
This is the sort of newsy discovery that generally sends automotive websites into meltdown. According to an American media outlet, Honda has just applied for a trademark application to the European Union Intellectual Property Office for the letter combination “ZSX”.
Beer has been spilt in consternation and beards have been stroked in rumination: the best conclusion anyone can draw is that perhaps we’re about to see a cut-price baby NSX.
This is good news for anyone who might find the US$150,000 retail sticker (NZ$208,000) on the NSX a bit of a stretch. But just how much less could Honda (or Acura in the US, where the hybrid supercar is badged under Honda’s luxury arm) sell a ZSX for?
Porsche 718 Cayman money ($123,900 in New Zealand) would be a good start, although should right-hand drive NSXs — er, sorry, ZSXs — make it here you can bet they’ll cost substantially more than that. To stretch the Porsche comparison a beat longer, we’re still thinking mid-level 911 money.
So what of the potential power available from a baby NSX? The current supercar features an electric motor-assisted twin turbo 3.5-litre V6. Italian car blog Automoto claims a source within Honda told it a ZSX would likely be powered by a version of the 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbo found in the Northern Hemisphere-market Civic Type R, working with electric motors on the front and rear axles, just like the full-bore NSX.
That same source alleges we might see a supposed ZSX as early as next year, at the International Auto Show in Detroit.
The Mack pick-up truck concept at Pocono Raceway. Picture /Nascar
Here’s an efficient way to get the crew to the work site. Oh wait, no sorry; we mean the opposite of that.
Last week at the Pennsylvania 400 Nascar Sprint Cup race, the ceremonial laps were led by a double cab Mack “pick-up truck”; a new one-off concept created by Mack Trucks’ Customer Adaption Centre (CAC). Yes, it isn’t just Rolls-Royce or Maserati that will adapt a vehicle to their customers’ express wishes.
The Mack (affectionately called “Jack” after the company’s co-founder John M. Mack) is based on a mid-range Mack Granite construction spec model and features a 13-litre MP8 engine uprated to produce 596kW (800hp) peak power and 3769Nm of torque.
In addition to the custom-fabricated “mega crew” body, other mods featured include 46-inch tyres on customised wheels, an eight inch custom exhausts system, All Wheel Drive and a seven-ton winch.
The truck completed a lap of honour at Ponoco Raceway sporting a large American flag. We’re disappointed Mack didn’t go the whole hog and fit fireworks to its flanks, while Eddie van Halen performed a guitar solo as two bald eagles swooped overhead.
Missed opportunity there.
1900 YEAR Mack Trucks founded
45 COUNTRIES In which Mack Trucks are sold
1932 YEAR Mack’s bulldog mascot makes its way on to the bonnet of every truck
1 OWNER Mack is a subsidiary of AB Volvo, which purchased the company in 2000