Holy Batmobiles–Caped Crusader’s car nets €3m


This could just be The Joker’s most cunning plan yet. Crank up the price of the Batmobile to a point where even billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne can’t afford it anymore and Batman has to get the bus. Kapoooww, Caped Crusader!

Well, perhaps that’s reading too much into it, but the Batmobile has just sold for auction in the US for the eye-watering price of €3.16 million.

Holy exchange rate, Batman!

The car, as driven in the original 1966 TV series starring Adam West and Burt Ward as Batman and Robin, was created by legendary car customiser George Barris, who based it on a Lincoln concept car called the Futura.

The car, and a pile of original documentation and design drawings, were sold to car collector Rick Champagne, who has promised to tear down a wall of his Arizona home and put the famous car in his living room.

Aston mark 100 with V12 high rise

For Aston Martin, marking its centenary year was not just a matter of cranking out some special edition models with “100” centenary badges on them (although they have done that too).

Instead, the sports car maker decided to helicopter one of its Vanquish V12 cars to the top for the 1,000-foot high Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai. It’s the first time a car has ever been placed on the helipad on top of the iconic hotel, and with 10-feet for every year of Aston’s history, you might think it particularly appropriate. The fact Aston is owned these days by a Gulf-based investment conglomerate probably had some influence on the location too, not to mention the fact that when you’re selling a €300,000, 6.0-litre V12 supercar, a publicity stunt in a major Arab state is hardly a bad move.

Daimler to invest in BAIC for China boost

Daimler wants to buy a stake in the car unit of its Chinese partner BAIC Group this year as part of a drive to bolster its sagging position in the country, two sources close to the plans said. “The investment will come ahead of the planned IPO (initial public offering) of BAIC Motor, and Daimler is set to be the only automotive anchor investor,” one of the people said.

BAIC is planning to take its BAIC Motor unit public in late 2013 or in 2014 and Daimler – owner of luxury marque Mercedes-Benz – could take a stake of roughly 10 per cent ahead of that flotation, giving it greater exposure to the Chinese market, the sources said. “Daimler would benefit from the potential rise of the shares in the IPO, while BAIC Motor would be able to present a strong anchor investor, which may help attract other investors,” the person said.

China has become Mercedes-Benz’s third-biggest market after the United States and Germany, but the carmaker has fallen far short of its two larger rivals BMW and Audi, part of Volkswagen, in vehicle sales there.

GM haven’t given up on electric

The figures tell the tale: 57,000 sales out of just over 14 million. That’s how many electric cars sold in the United States last year, causing more than a few people to announce the second death of the electric car.

But General Motors’ US president Mark Reuss has come out fighting for the battery car, saying he expects Americans to embrace the technology more and more.

“The electric vehicle is not dead. We at GM believe the public will accept and embrace electric vehicles. Some people already have,” said Reuss.

He also promised that not only would the next generation of Chevrolet Volt, sold here as the Opel Ampera, have a greater battery range, it would also be thousands of dollars cheaper, as the company are now able to make batteries and electric drivetrains more efficiently.

Toyota’s new chairman

The man who led the development of Toyota Motor Corp’s Prius hybrid car is set to become the Japanese automaker’s chairman as early as this year in a boardroom shuffle that should do little to lessen president Akio Toyoda’s grip.

A final decision to appoint Takeshi Uchiyamada (66, left)) to what is effectively the second highest position in many Japanese firms has not yet been made and the promotion could still be postponed for a year.

But it’s already been an “established direction” and a “given” since last year that Uchiyamada, vice chairman since June, would replace Fujio Cho, who has been chairman since 2006, said an executive who did not want to be named.

Uchiyamada, an experienced vehicle engineer, was a prime mover behind the first-generation Prius in the 1990s – a car that has gone on to become the world’s best-selling hybrid.

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