The Good Oil: Big Apple rides suit you down to a T

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Is nothing sacred? The New York City Taxi and Limousine Commission is eliminating the word "taxi" from the Big Apple's cabs. They'll be identified by a yellow capital T in a black circle. And, of course, they'll still be yellow. "Even the greenest of greenhorns will know that it's a taxicab," growled a commission spokesman, dismissing worries that visitors will be confused. The cabs are also to lose their passenger-door fare panel. The information will instead be displayed on the cab's video screen. All this change comes hot on the heels of the decision to make Nissan's NV200 the city's exclusive taxi vehicle, from next year.

MTA members share practical advice

The Motor Trade Association (MTA) is broadening its public appeal. The nation's umbrella organisation for garages and workshops has revamped its website to provide motorists with "hints and tips on everything related to motoring, including how to stay safe on the road". The site's On the Road section has tips for motorists, from a women's guide to checking cars, to how to lower fuel costs and a tyre checklist.

"We receive a lot of information and advice from our members on how motorists should care for their vehicles and we think it's important to pass this expert knowledge on to them," a spokesman said. See it all at www.mta.org.nz

Ford set to challenge Toyota's US hybrid dominance

Ford is spending almost US$170 million to develop more vehicles that utilise electric power for the US market in a bid to zap Toyota's hybrid's leadership. About 75 per cent of all hybrids sold in the US are from Toyota. Ford will soon have six vehicles with electric motors for sale, with more to come. The Focus Electric is available in some states and a C-Max hybrid is poised to go on sale. The C-Max Energi plug-in follows in November, followed by the Fusion hybrid and Fusion Energi plug-in, along with a Lincoln MKZ hybrid.

Freelander will get more grunt up front

Land Rover's Freelander 2 will get the Evoque's 2-litre turbocharged petrol engine in a facelift that's expected in New Zealand early next year.

The new engine has more grunt, longer servicing intervals and better fuel efficiency. The revised Freelander was unveiled at the Moscow International Motor Show this week.

Other changes include: a revised interior with a seven-inch touch-screen; what Land Rover calls passive start, which replaces the key dock; an electric parking brake that adjusts brake force depending on the slope; a voice activation system with visual prompts; and rear-view camera capability.

The name game

Nissan is considering bringing Datsun back for a line of low-priced vehicles made and sold in emerging markets. The name, then spelt Datson, was introduced in 1931 for a new, smaller Dat. Nissan changed the "son" to "sun" after it bought the company in 1933.

Chrysler closes in on big Hyundai

After years of being mauled for their shortcomings by the hold-nothing-back US Consumers' Union, large sedans are scoring well. And look what's collecting the accolades; not a Caddy, Merc or Lexus, but once again the Hyundai Genesis. And the new Chrysler 300 V6 with eight-speed transmission has jumped ahead of its domestic arch rivals and is not far behind the Hyundai. In another survey, by the American Customer Satisfaction Index, Lincoln emerged as top brand for 2012, beating last year's joint winners, Lexus, Toyota and Cadillac.

We are the world

*In Florida, the Miami-Dade County has confessed to finding, in storage, 298 brand-new vehicles that had been purchased in 2006 and 2007, but which had never been used.

So it's red-face day at forgetful city hall.

*Police outnumbered workers when Suzuki's factory in Manesar, India, reopened after violent riots in which one manager died.

According to reports, the factory reopened with more than 1200 police standing guard over a workforce of ... 75. The Alto small car is made at the factory.

*Good news here, old chap; Bentley is considering offering an optional third-row seat for the au-pair or the butler in the super-luxury, super-snooty, super-expensive SUV it's developing.

*In the United States, in an attempt to reduce accidents caused by distracted driving, the television show Glee has joined with the Department of Transportation and the Ad Council to produce public service announcements aimed at catching the attention of younger drivers. The message: "Stop the Texts. Stop the Wrecks."

- NZ Herald

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