Snoozemobiles growing in popularity
Car-rental operators in Japan report that an increasing number of their clients are renting cars but logging an unusually low mileage. They make their money more from the distances their clients travel, so they looked into the problem.
It turns out that people are increasingly using car rental services for other reasons, like to sleep in, or as a quiet, comfortable place to talk on the phone. Others used cars to have lunch in or watch TV.
It only costs 400 yen ($5.50) to rent one for 30 minutes, and it can be picked up from one of the tens of thousands of parking lots across Japan. The trend can be traced back to the aftermath of the 2011 tsunami, when people started renting cars just to charge their mobile phones. (Via Oddity Central)
End of the road for Volkswagen Beetle
After eight decades, Volkswagen is shutting down production of its Beetle model this week at its plant in Mexico. As recognisable as the Coca-Cola bottle, it was also a never-realised Nazi prestige project, a symbol of Germany's postwar economic renaissance and an example of globalisation, sold and recognised all over the world.
It was also an emblem of the 1960s counterculture in the US. Hitler wanted a "people's car" that would spread auto ownership the way the Ford Model T had in the US. Austrian engineer Ferdinand Porsche was hired, but the project was halted because of World War II and the factory started producing military vehicles.
Production started again after the war and by 1955 the millionth Beetle — officially called the Type 1 — had rolled off the assembly line and the United States became Volkswagen's most important foreign market, peaking in 1968 at 40 per cent of production.
It was a decidedly alternative car to own in a car culture dominated by size and showmanship. The New Beetle — a different design from the original — was resurrected and has been manufactured in Mexico since 1998.
Volkswagen, recovering from a scandal over cars rigged to cheat on diesel emissions tests, is gearing up for mass production of the battery-driven compact ID.3, which it hopes will bring electric mobility to a mass market. (Source: AP)
Gavin Sheehan, from the North Shore, writes: "An Australian friend of mine was coming to New Zealand and was telling the girl in his local shop about his plans. Having a not-so-subtle dig at how little New Zealand is, he said to her: "I'm going to stay with Gav ... surely you know him?" She asked for my surname and he told her. Laughter followed as she told him that we were school mates and even dated!"