I Can Pinpoint The Moment I Fell In Love With The Mazda RX-7

Have you ever had a moment with a car? Just a brief couple of minutes in which you fell positively, uncontrollably head over heals for an automobile? I did one night in Hong Kong a while back, and now I can’t stop thinking about first-generation Mazda RX-7s.

Last Christmas, I flew to Hong Kong to visit my brother Mike, a geologist working in the rocky Special Administrative Region of China. On the flight over, and throughout the trip, I learned a lot about Japanese car culture by reading Ben Hsu’s book Classic Japanese Performance Cars.

One of my favorite chapters talked about how 47 engineers at a little former-cork company in Japan turned the quirky and troublesome rotary engine into something truly majestic. I am, of course, talking about Mazda, and one of the cars that brought the company into the hallowed halls of true automotive giants was the original RX-7.


Reading about the incredible history of the Japanese auto scene while simultaneously walking through Hong Kong and witnessing some of the most priceless gems I was reading about was a life-changing experience. I was seeing Mitsubishi Pajero Evolutions, Nissan Fairlady Zs, Skyline GT-Rs, classic Toyota Celicas, Nissan Pulsar GTI-Rs and a whole lot of other things that really enhanced my appreciation for Japanese car culture.

But it was on the final night of my trip, as my brother and I headed towards the river to go fishing, that we spotted something that truly moved me. It was a first-gen RX-7 idling in front of a gas station.

Read more: http://jalopnik.com/i-can-pinpoint-the-moment-i-fell-in-love-with-the-mazda-1795692540

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Michigan ponders its automotive future in the connected age

Few people take cars more seriously than Michiganders. I’ve been to the home of BMW in Germany. I’ve been to Kia’s HQ in Korea. I’ve seen Honda’s goods in Japan. No one, from the factory worker to the executive in her pinstriped suit, is more obsessed with cars than Michigan Inc. That’s why it was interesting this week to see the state have a moment of introspection four hours north of the Motor City on a scenic island called Mackinac.

Ironically, cars are not allowed here. Normally a tourist trap, it played placed host to the Mackinac Public Policy conference this week. While politics took center stage (I may be the only person here not considering a run for governor) the evolution of the industry through connectivity and data was a theme of the conference.

If you’re reading this in New York, Silicon Valley, or one of the automotive heartlands listed above, you do care about this. If Michigan rethinks its approach to the car business – and makes moves to become more competitive – that affects you the consumer and enthusiast. It’s jobs. It’s technology, and it’s a competition to see who’s going to be the leader. More than a century after Henry Ford made mass production a thing, more than 70 years after Detroit’s Arsenal of Democracy helped win World War II, and nearly a decade after the historic bankruptcies of General Motors and Chrysler, the car business is on solid footing again and looking to the future.

What’s next? Michigan is still home to thousands of auto workers, tech centers (including gleaming facilities built by Toyota and Hyundai), and the headquarters of the three American carmakers. Just because the economy is good doesn’t mean it’s a given connected cars and mobility advancements are going to come from this state. A lot of it’s not. Tesla, Uber, Lyft, Faraday Future, and other transportation mediums have spouted up other places.

Michigan leaders and Detroit’s carmakers understand this reality. Reflecting on the past means admitting the future is not a given, a key undertone this week in Mackinac. It’s about using existing resources, like skilled labor, to move forward. “We do have the number of technicians and technical expertise here in this state,” says Stephen Polk,” conference chair and former CEO of auto data firm R.L. Polk & Co.

To that end, Ford is placing increased emphasis on a division called Smart Mobility, which is an in-house unit focusing on autonomy, connectivity, and forward-looking ideas. It’s “evolution of the transportation system as a shared services model,” says John Kwant, Smart Mobility vice president. The division was unveiled in March 2016. In May, Ford tapped Smart Mobility’s head, Jim Hackett, to be its new CEO.

Michigan also recently announced plans to install infrastructure on a busy part of Interstate 75 north of Detroit to test car-to-grid technologies in partnership with auto supplier 3M. As part of a longer play, Dassault vice president Ingeborg Rocker suggested Detroit, which has struggled for decades with developing a mass transportation system, could skip more conventional means and go straight to a larger scale autonomous-vehicle test.

It’s not about being parochial. The guy in San Francisco or Atlanta might not care where his car his made and doesn’t care about jobs in Michigan. But if that car, or thinking more broadly – mobility solution – offers him something compelling, something different, he might start to think about Michigan’s signature industry in a positive way that affects his life. Like past generations did.

Nationally, many might not know GM has an alliance with Lyft, or Ford has plans to produce an autonomous vehicle for ride sharing in 2021. FCA has the industry’s only plug-in electric minivan, the Chrysler Pacifica. Explaining these advancements is crucial. “We are still the head of the auto industry,” Polks says. “At the end of the day, the products are going to prove the message.”

Perhaps it’s working. Ride-sharing startup SPLT moved its headquarters from New York to Detroit to be a part of the Techstars new business incubator. A key reason for the move: The region’s knowledge base in connectivity. “What we see is a new shift in mobility, where access and automation is as important as how you get there,” SPLT co-founder and CEO Anya Babbitt says.

Who embraces this shift fastest and in the most compelling manner will prove to be the winner. The competitors from Europe, Asia, and Silicon Valley are formidable, and clearly, Michigan is still in the fight, too.

Read more: http://www.autoblog.com/2017/05/31/michigan-automotive-connected-future-mackinac/

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Companies urged to address trust concerns over driverless cars

Fewer than one in five UK motorists would trust driverless cars built by technology giants, according to new research.

Google has built cars to test self-driving software and there is growing speculation that Apple is to enter the automotive industry.

But a study by analysts Inrix found that just 18% of UK motorists would trust technology firms to build autonomous vehicles and to secure connected car data.

Many drivers say they do not trust the technology. (Philip Toscano/PA)

The report found that drivers have more faith in established car manufacturers, with 27% trusting them with their personal information.

Inrix chief economist Dr Graham Cookson said: “The UK is charging towards a transport revolution and time is ticking for Silicon Valley’s tech giants to address data security and privacy concerns.

“Consumers are more aware than ever of keeping their data safe, and the fact that they trust traditional car-makers over tech giants with their in-car data sends a powerful message.

A prototype Nissan Leaf driverless car. (Philip Toscano/PA)

“While UK drivers are more sceptical of today’s tech titans, traditional car-makers still need to do more to show consumers the benefits of their connected and, in the future, autonomous vehicles to secure a concrete foothold in this highly lucrative market.

“As connected and autonomous vehicles become an essential part of brands’ business model, the stakes have never been higher.”

Over half (53%) of UK drivers believe autonomous vehicles will be widely available within a decade, but just 17% say they would be likely to buy one.

Driverless cars will be on UK motorways in the next three years. (Rui Vieira/PA)

Some 5,054 drivers in the UK, Germany, France, Italy and the US were surveyed for the study.

Driverless cars will be deployed on UK motorways in the next three years.

The Driven consortium of technology firms said the project – described as the most complex autonomous vehicle trial anywhere in the world – will culminate in driverless cars travelling from London to Oxford by 2019.

Read more: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/uk/companies-urged-to-address-trust-concerns-over-driverless-cars-35745271.html

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Ford to replace CEO Mark Fields with James Hackett

Shake-up comes after board worries that company is falling behind rivals in move to autonomous and electric vehicles

Ford Motor Company chief executive Mark Fields will leave the carmaker as part of a shake-up. Photograph: Reuters

Ford Motor Company chief executive Mark Fields will leave the carmaker as part of a shake-up. Photograph: Reuters

Ford has replaced its chief executive Mark Fields, shaking up its key executive posts amid investor concerns the car company has failed to expand its core automotive business while falling behind rivals in developing autonomous and electric vehicles.

The US carmaker said Mr Fields (56) is being replaced by Jim Hackett (62), who looks after Ford’s subsidiary that works on autonomous vehicles.

Mr Hackett was a long-serving chief executive of Steelcase, the office furniture company, and joined Ford last year as head of its smart mobility unit which includes driverless technology.

“Jim Hackett is the right CEO to lead Ford during this transformative period for the auto industry and the broader mobility space.,” said Bill Ford, executive chairman.

Other changes will see Jim Farley, the Europe, Middle East and Africa president, and Joe Hinrichs, Americas director, assume larger roles.

Mr Farley has turned round Ford’s European business, bringing it back to profit at a time when General Motors has been pulling out of the market, while Mr Hinrichs has overseen strong sales of Ford’s F-150 series of pick-up trucks.

The move to replace Mr Fields, which was first reported by Forbes, comes two weeks after he was criticised during the annual shareholders meeting for Ford’s worsening financial results.

During his three years at the helm, Mr Fields has seen Ford shares drop by 40 per cent.

Last week he announced the company was cutting 1,400 jobs, partly in response to mounting concerns from investors and directors over the company’s share price.

But analysts say that on his watch the company has failed to cut costs at its units making trucks and sport utility vehicles.

Ford’s profits for the first quarter fell $1.5 billion to $2 billion in its automotive segment, while it lost market share in the US. In contrast, Ford’s rival GM posted rising profits that beat expectations, with profits rising $700 million to $3.4 billion.

There were also concerns over Ford’s approach to the long-term trends that are sweeping the car industry. Under Mr Fields’ leadership, Ford has taken starkly different approaches to the future of the industry when compared with other carmakers.

Car companies are investing in electric and driverless technology and businesses that allow consumers to share or book car rides. While GM has already released a mass-market electric car, the Chevrolet Bolt, and will begin testing fleets of autonomous vehicles later this year, Ford is perceived as lagging behind in both technologies. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2017

Read more: http://www.irishtimes.com/business/transport-and-tourism/ford-to-replace-ceo-mark-fields-with-james-hackett-1.3091731

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Is that convertible a Spider or a Spyder?

Quick — off the top of your head, what makes an open-top two-door a Spider? And why is it sometimes spelled “Spyder?” And while we’re on the subject, how did the term come to be attached to cars in the first place?

We’ve got the answer to that last question, and we’ll get to that in a moment. If you want to finally settle the contentious Y vs. I debate, though, bad news: As far as we can tell, there’s no definitive answer to why some automakers say spyder, others use spider and why a few have gone with both — sometimes at the same time.

Historical consistency is no sure guide here. Ferrari has used “Spyder” in the past; see the 250 GT California Spyder for one prominent megabucks example. Maserati used to build a Spyder, but it now calls its convertible the GranCabrio. Weirdly enough, the Italian alphabet lacks the letter “Y,” which might explain why Ferrari uses “Spider” these days … but not why Lancia, which introduced the B24 Aurelia Spider in 1954, released the Beta Spyder (aka the Zagato) decades later — right around the time it sold a sunroof-equipped “Spider” variant of its wedge-shaped Montecarlo.

In any case, Spider is what Alfa has gone with in the past — stretching all the way back to the prewar Alfa Romeo 8C Spiders, among the first cars to use the term that we could find — and Spider is what it calls its open-topped 4C variant (which is more of a targa, but that’s another discussion for another day).

Fiat, for its part, has stuck with Spider for both old and new 124s.

At the same time, Lamborghini has no problem defying Italian orthography with its Gallardo and Huracan Spyders. Or does it only do so because it’s a part of the Volkswagen Group, which uses the Y-spelling for its Audi R8 Spyder, plus open-topped Porsches like the 918 Spyder and the wonderful Boxster Spyder (to say nothing of the 917 Spyder variants and the 550 Spyder)? BMW is set to call its convertible i8 a Spyder; perhaps it’s a German thing.

Further, and probably because of the grabby unconventional spelling, “Spyder” seems to be the preferred spelling attached to truly exotic cars — and, at the opposite end of the spectrum, aspirational vehicles from normcore marques. On the one hand, you have the Spyker C8 Preliator Spyder and the Panoz Esperante Spyder GT; on the other, you have the Toyota MR2 Spyder, Mitsubishi’s Eclipse and 3000GT Spyders and the Chevrolet Corvair Monza Spyder (which, of course, could be had as both a convertible or a coupe).

If there’s a point here, it’s that there’s really no particular justification for either spelling of the word that we can identify. At this point, we’d guess that any automaker that has picked one will stick with it.

1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider by Touring rear 3-4

RM Sotheby’s sold this 1939 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Spider by Touring last year for nearly $20 million. It has a disappearing top.

What is easy enough to prove is that the word itself is, as are many other automotive terms, a relic from a horse-drawn world.

A spider — or more accurately, a spider phaeton — is a type of lightweight horse-drawn carriage. As a variant of the phaeton, also a name coachbuilders carried over to their automotive works, the spider phaeton was meant for sport and show, not cross-country touring; typically, any top it had provided only basic protection from the elements, and unlike some true “convertible” carriages, it lacked permanent side windows.

The exact origin of the spider name is somewhat murky. Some sources say the spider was developed by a certain Archibald Holmes of Dublin around 1860; others suggest that the variant arrived in Europe via America. Parallel evolution occurring on both sides of the Atlantic can’t be discounted.

In any event, with sparse bodies riding on tall, spindly wheels, these things do come off as spidery. Take a look at this baby, a drilled disc brake-equipped (!) model offered by WCC Carriages:

Spider phaeton carriage

The original spyder.

Spidery, right?

As to why the term made the jump to sports cars, we have our suspicions. Early automobiles at all price points tended to be roofless or convertible. As the car developed and closed body styles grew in popularity, open cars became discretionary purchases (much like the original spider phaetons, which were meant for speed and sport). To help define their offerings in a crowded field, automakers borrowed names from the past or invented new ones.

Hence, the roadster (named after the roadworthy horse), barchettas (ultra-focused performance cars so named for their resemblance to “little boats”), speedsters (self-explanatory) and, of course, spiders. A few spiders emerged before WWII, but the name really seemed to take off with the explosion of sports cars that accompanied the postwar economic boom. For whatever reason, carrozzerias latched onto the word. Later, automakers from Chevrolet to Mitsubishi stuck it on their cars to cash in on that Italian glamor.

Over the years, the word has been attached to so many cars of so many varying degrees of hardcore-ness that to try to rigidly define “spider” is an exercise in futility. The meaning of automotive descriptors evolves over time, and marketing departments tend to speed up the process exponentially. Generally, though, we’d say that — in contrast to a convertible — a spider is a car that is designed to be driven open to the sky. If there’s a top in the picture, it’s meant as backup, not something meant to enable all-weather, all-season use.

With its sporting aims and somewhat impractical roof, the Porsche Boxster Spyder gets closer to the original intent of the term than probably any other recent mainstream offering; if you go a little further off the beaten path, there are niche offerings like the Drakan Spyder that more or less fit the bill, too.

But if you want the authentic spider experience with absolutely no doubt as to the appropriateness of the nomenclature, you’re gonna end up with something pulled by a team of fine horses. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

Read more: http://autoweek.com/article/car-life/convertible-spider-or-spyder-and-what-heck-spider-anyway#ixzz4iNLEnR00

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Nissan signal blocker to help motorists driven to distraction by mobile phones

The Nissan Juke feature can eliminate distractions caused by incoming calls, messages and social media notifications
The Nissan Juke feature can eliminate distractions caused by incoming calls, messages and social media notifications

A car manufacturer has developed a compartment that blocks mobile phone signals.

Nissan says the prototype Signal Shield, built into the arm rest of its Juke crossover vehicle, will eliminate distractions caused by incoming calls, messages and social media notifications.

The box works on the principle of the Faraday cage – invented in the 1830s – which uses material such as a wire mesh to shield its contents from electromagnetic fields.

All mobile, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi signals are prevented from reaching inside the compartment once the lid is closed.

Penalties and fines for illegal phone use by drivers doubled to six points and £200 on March 1 following a series of high-profile cases and research suggesting the practice is widespread.

Nissan Motor GB managing director Alex Smith said: “Mobile phone use at the wheel is a growing concern across the automotive industry, and indeed society, particularly with the high number of pushed communications such as texts, social media notifications and app alerts that tempt drivers to reach for their devices.

“The Nissan Signal Shield concept presents one possible solution for giving drivers the choice to remove all smartphone distractions while driving. This is about delivering more control at the wheel, not less.

“Some drivers are immune to the activity of their smartphone, but for those who struggle to ignore the beeps and pings, this concept provides a simple solution in this very connected world we live in.”

An RAC survey of more than 1,700 UK motorists found that the proportion who admit to using a hand-held phone behind the wheel increased from 8% in 2014 to 31% last year.

In October, lorry driver Tomasz Kroker was jailed for 10 years after killing a woman and three children by ploughing into their stationary car while distracted by his phone on the A34 near Newbury, Berkshire.

Twenty-two people were killed and 99 seriously injured in accidents on Britain’s roads in 2015 where a motorist using a mobile was a contributory factor, Department for Transport figures show.

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: “Our research shows that hand-held phone use by drivers has reached epidemic proportions.

“As mobile phone technology has advanced significantly, many people have become addicted to them. However, the use of a hand-held phone when driving represents both a physical and mental distraction and it has been illegal since 2003.

“The Nissan Signal Shield is a good example of a technology that can help drivers be phone smart.

“For those who can’t avoid the temptation, this simple but pretty clever tech gives them a valuable mobile-free zone.”

Read more: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/business/news/nissan-signal-blocker-to-help-motorists-driven-to-distraction-by-mobile-phones-35676292.html

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Nissan develops signal blocker for mobile phones

Victorian invention, 21st century application. Nissan has adopted a technology that’s almost 200 years old to create a concept solution for reducing smartphone distraction at the wheel.The beauty of the design is its simplicity. The Nissan Signal Shield is a prototype compartment within the arm rest of a Nissan Juke that is lined with a Faraday cage, an invention dating back to the 1830s. Once a mobile device is placed in the compartment and the lid closed, the Nissan Signal Shield creates a ‘silent zone’, blocking all of the phone’s incoming and outgoing cellular, Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connections.

The concept is designed to give drivers a choice about whether to eliminate the distractions caused by the millions of text messages, social media notifications and app alerts that are ‘pushed’ to smartphones each day. A growing problem, the number of drivers admitting to handling their phone in the car has increased from 8% in 2014 to 31% in 2016, according to the RAC.

Users are becoming habitually more tempted to check text messages and notifications as they appear on their phone’s screen, even if they are driving. Nissan’s own research found almost one in five drivers (18%) admitted to having texted behind the wheel.

All Nissan crossovers are available with Bluetooth connectivity to allow drivers to make and receive hands-free phone calls when it is safe to do so.

NissanConnect, or Apple CarPlay on the all-new Nissan Micra, enable further integration with a phone’s apps.

The Nissan Signal Shield concept provides optional connectivity, giving drivers the choice between being able to contact and be contacted from the road, or creating a ‘phone-free’ space and time. It means a digital detox and a drive that’s free of incoming distractions. If drivers want to listen to music or podcasts stored on their smartphone, they can still connect to the car’s entertainment system via the USB or auxiliary ports. The device will maintain wired connectivity even when in the Nissan Signal Shield compartment.

To restore the phone’s wireless connections, drivers just need to open the arm rest to reveal the compartment – which can be done without taking eyes off the road or touching the phone itself – and the phone can reconnect with the mobile network and the car’s Bluetooth system. The innovation works on the principle of the Faraday cage, an enclosure made of a conductive material, such as wire mesh, which blocks electromagnetic fields. It is named after the pioneering English scientist Michael Faraday, who invented it in the 1830s.

When an electronic device, like a smartphone, is placed inside, any incoming electromagnetic signals – such as cellular or Bluetooth data – are distributed across the cage’s external conducting material and so prevented from reaching the device. Alex Smith of Nissan said; “Nissan produces some of the safest cars on the road today, but we are always looking at new ways to improve the wellbeing of our customers. Mobile phone use at the wheel is a growing concern across the automotive industry, and indeed society, particularly with the high number of ‘pushed’ communications, such as texts, social media notifications and app alerts that tempt drivers to reach for their devices.

“The Nissan Signal Shield concept presents one possible solution for giving drivers the choice to remove all smartphone distractions while driving. This is about delivering more control at the wheel, not less. Some drivers are immune to the activity of their smartphone, but for those who struggle to ignore the beeps and pings, this concept provides a simple solution in this very ‘connected’ world we live in.”

RAC road safety spokesman Pete Williams said: “Our research shows that handheld phone use by drivers has reached epidemic proportions. As mobile phone technology has advanced significantly many people have become addicted to them. However, the use of a handheld phone when driving represents both a physical and mental distraction and it has been illegal since 2003.

Read more: http://www.galwayindependent.com/motoring/topics/articles/2017/05/10/4139696-nissan-develops-signal-blocker-for-mobile-phones/

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Nissan kicks off new UEFA Champions League campaign

Nissan has kicked off a new campaign that offers UK fans the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to attend the UEFA Champions League Final on 3rd June 2017 with football legend David Ginola. The #GetThereWithGinola campaign aims to create a unique experience that extends the reach of Nissan’s partnership of the UEFA Champions League beyond traditional ticket give-aways.

Image result for nissan

The new campaign challenges entrants to submit the most original and ambitious entries with suggestions including baking a football stadium cake, wearing a football kit to a work meeting or penning a football limerick about the UEFA Champions League. Submissions can be made through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram with the #GetThereWithGinola hashtag.

With a number of global brands sponsoring this year’s UEFA Champions League, Nissan was keen to standout by offering a money-can’t-buy experience that creates deeper engagement with football-mad consumers. To help drive exposure and engagement among the target audience, the campaign brings on board the former French international midfielder, David Ginola. Despite reaching the semi-finals with Paris St-Germain in 1995, Ginola, named ‘el Magnifico’ by the Spanish media, never played in a UEFA Champions League Final, and the competition enables entrants to join him in finally experiencing the pinnacle of European club football.

Chris Marsh, Marketing Director Nissan Motor GB comments: “We wanted to use our sponsorship of the UEFA Champions League in a different and creative way that would excite UK football fans ahead of this year’s final in Cardiff. By offering a truly unique prize – winning the chance to go to the Final with the football legend Ginola, we’re able to give our fans unexpected access to Nissan’s UCL sponsorship.”

Nissan has created a short video featuring David Ginola to mark the opening of the competition that will be shared through Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Read more: https://www.automotiveworld.com/news-releases/nissan-kicks-new-uefa-champions-league-campaign-gettherewithginola/

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€15 million allocated by Government for Cork docklands development

Major investment in Cork’s docks are needed, not only by that city, but by Ireland too, writes Seán Kearns.

As Port of Cork sets off in the sunset, new dawns await for the city’s quays.

As part of a concerted effort by the Government to tackle the housing crisis, the Minister for Housing, Planning and Local Government, Simon Coveney TD, has announced the details for a special housing infrastructure fund.

The Local Infrastructure Housing Activation Fund (LIHAF) provides funding for local authorities in the sum of €224 million to be financed on a 75%/25% basis between the exchequer and local authorities.

The fund is intended to unlock zoned lands for housing that are currently held up by infrastructural deficits such as lack of suitable road access, high voltage lines, drainage and transport links.

It is noteworthy but not unexpected that the majority of the funding (€112m) is targeted at the Dublin local authorities where the greatest need for housing is identified.

The second level of funding goes to Cork City Council and Cork County Council which is allocated €46m.

The remainder is allocated to Limerick, Waterford and the Dublin region commuter counties.

I believe that this funding approach is an example of how the Government can go some of the way to establishing a national regional balance in recognition of Corks importance in the future planning development of the country.

We have had previous attempts at regional planning that were highly politicised such as Charlie McCreevy’s decentralisation plans and the National Spatial Strategy (NSS) 2020 which took the Late Late Show approach to planning with a plethora of “gateways” and “hubs” that delivered one for everyone in the audience.

These approaches were scattered, unfocussed and were based on constituency rather than planning needs. This NSS plan was published in 2002 and since then Dublin has grown enormously and the regional towns and cities have declined.

In February this year, the Minister launched a consultation paper for a new national planning framework, ‘Ireland 2040 — Our Plan’.

The document lays out the current status quo whereby the Dublin City Region accounts for 40% of the population and 49% of economic output.

By comparison, The London metropolitan area, a global city of 14 million people, contains 22% of the UK’s population and accounts for 32% of its GDP.

Other countries of similar population size and economic profile to Ireland (Denmark, New Zealand, Scotland, and Finland) also have large city regions that dominate their population and economic output.

However, Ireland, by comparison, has become effectively a single city state depending on the capital to drive economic growth.

The growth of Dublin has been phenomenal over the last 30 years, and is most welcome as it is necessary to have a city with a large enough population to drive economic activity with a diverse population and a concentration of physical and human infrastructure.

However, Dublin has effectively sprawled into the neighbouring counties creating dormitory towns throughout Leinster, and is facing housing and infrastructural bottlenecks to such an extent that the 2040 plan consultation document raises concerns about the future competitiveness of the Dublin region.

Cork city, the second largest city in the state, has had growth levels consistently below the national average and, according to the 2016 census, now has a population of 125,000 people within the city boundaries.

This compares not too favourably to a 1967 population of 122,000.

When compared to the national growth rate over the last 50 years, Cork has effectively reduced significantly in size and is only a competitor to Dublin, a city over 10 times its size, in imagination rather than reality.

By comparison, the population of Cork County has grown significantly to 417,000. While the population of Cork city has declined in recent years, the population of the commuter towns surrounding the city have boomed in population.

Essentially, Cork County Council has been drawing people, investment, and government infrastructural spending away from the city centre, and the proposed amalgamation of Cork City and County Council as outlined in the 2016 Smiddy Report will, I believe, exacerbate this urban decline.

Due to vociferous opposition by senior politicians in Cork, the Smiddy Report has been directed by the Minister to be examined by an expert advisory group, chaired by the former chief planner for the Scottish Government, Jim McKinnon.

We await the result of this deliberation with bated breath as the future of Cork city will be decided here.

The future of Cork city is of national as well as regional importance. It has been a regional centre for centuries for the agricultural and maritime industry.

From 1917 to the mid-1980s, it was the centre of Ireland’s automotive industries based around the Ford and Dunlop factories in the Cork Docklands.

Read more: http://www.irishexaminer.com/property/15-million-allocated-by-government-for-cork-docklands-development-448979.html

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1917 – 2017: Ford celebrates 100 years in Ireland

1917 - 2017: Ford celebrates 100 years in Ireland

Actor Aidan Quinn in the advertisement for Ford

It is exactly 100 years since Henry Ford established the Ford factory on the Marina in Cork city, and Ford Ireland plans to mark the centenary through a number of exciting initiatives in 2017.

Ford has launched an extensive and impactful new marketing campaign based around the company’s Irish centenary.  Irish-American actor Aidan Quinn features in a campaign which is already becoming familiar to Irish motorists.

Continue reading below…

There are many activities, promotions and events planned throughout the year, with one of the highlights being a Gala Dinner Event at City Hall on April 21 to mark the actual centenary.

Commenting on the centenary, Ciarán McMahon, Chairman and Managing Director of Ford Ireland, said: “Ford has a unique heritage in Ireland, not only through the company’s close family links with Cork but also through the Cork Ford factory and of course many decades of much-loved Ford cars and vans on Irish roads.  And we are still to the forefront in the automotive sector in Ireland with the widest network of dealers, providing employment, directly and indirectly, to some 1,000 people across the country”.

“Ford vehicles were and still are an ubiquitous sight on the streets and roads of Ireland all through the 20th century and right up to the present day,” Mr. McMahon went on.  “The brand’s constant popularity meant that almost every Irish person grew up with a Ford car in the family or had aunts, uncles and neighbours who drove a Ford.”

“The factory is sadly no more, but Ford remains one of the best-selling brands in both the car and van market in Ireland,” he added. “Several of our models including the Fiesta, Focus and Transit are segment leaders while the all new Mustang is in a class of its own.

“The company is also looking to the future as we plan for the next century of business in Ireland,” said the Ford Ireland chief. “Ford is the company with the largest test fleet of autonomous driving vehicles in the world, and in 2017 we will start testing autonomous vehicles across Europe.  The company is moving from traditional vehicle manufacture to being a smart mobility solutions provider as we tackle the global mobility challenges of the 21st century.”


Ford Family Roots in Cork

The Ford Motor Company was set up in Michigan by Henry Ford in 1903. True to his roots, just 14 years later Henry opened the first purpose-built Ford factory to be located outside of North America at the Marina in Cork.

Henry’s father, William Ford, emigrated from Ballinascarty in Co. Cork (50km from Cork City) with his parents and siblings in 1847 during the Famine; Henry was born in Michigan in 1863.  Growing up on the family farm, Henry developed a strong interest in mechanics. At first, he concentrated his efforts on making work easier for farmers but he soon came to realise the potential of the motor car as a force for good for the development of societies across the globe.  Although he cannot be credited with inventing the motor car, Henry Ford was the man who brought motoring to the masses: the affordable yet rugged vehicles he was producing through his newly invented production-line manufacturing technique – which has since been copied by practically every vehicle and machinery manufacturer across the globe.

‘Bringing it all back home’ – Ford factory established in Cork 1917

When it came time to expand the business to Europe, there is no doubt that Henry’s Cork roots played an important part in his decision to open a plant in Cork.  In his own words, he hoped that the new Ford plant ‘would start Ireland along the road to industry’.  The setting up of the Ford plant in Cork was the first example of foreign direct investment in Ireland, many decades before the term was even coined.

The company that he legally established was entitled Henry Ford & Son Ltd. and that continues to be the legal name of Ford in Ireland to this day – the only Ford entity in the world to include the full name of the company’s founder in its title.

When the Cork Ford plant became fully operational, Europe was just emerging from a catastrophic World War and Communist Russia was in the midst of a huge modernisation programme so tractors were the vehicles that were most urgently needed.  The Fordson tractor was the main product produced by the Cork plant, which in 1929 became the largest tractor factory in the world.  However, the factory also produced passenger models, including the iconic Model T. Indeed, the last Model T ever produced by Ford anywhere in the world rolled off the Cork factory production line in December 1928.

In addition to the Model T, the Cork factory also produced all the other main Ford vehicles that were sold in Europe from the 30s right up to the 70s and 80s including the Model A, Model BF and Model Y; Prefect; Anglia; Escort; Cortina; and Sierra.

With Ireland’s accession to the EEC in 1973, Ireland had to comply with new rules that lifted the previous restrictions on imports of fully built motor vehicles into the country; this, combined with a depressed car market in the late 1970s and early 1980s meant that the plant became no longer viable and, regrettably, it closed its doors in 1984.

In the intervening years, Ford has continued to be a strong player on the automotive scene in Ireland and the company has the widest network of dealers in the country with 52 dealerships.

Read more: http://www.leinsterleader.ie/news/motoring-news/234386/1917-2017-ford-celebrates-100-years-in-ireland.html

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