GM announces plans to build new small car in U.S.

As reported earlier this morning, GM no longer plans on importing subcompact cars from China. The Detroit automaker said that it will build up to 160,000 units of subcompacts per year at an existing U.S. facility.

GM has now released a statement saying that it plans to build a future small car in the United States utilizing an idled UAW-GM facility.

While GM didn’t specify which vehicle it will built at the facility, it said that the new small car will join its fuel-efficient lineup including the Chevrolet Cruze and the Volt. We’re putting our money on the upcoming Chevrolet Spark.

“Small cars represent one of the fastest growing segments in both the U.S. and around the world,” said Fritz Henderson, General Motors President and CEO. “We believe this car will be a winner with our current and future customers in the U.S.”

GM said that the re-tooled plant will be capable of building 160,000 units annually with a combination of small and compact vehicles.

Concept car flashback: Ford 021c (1999)

Ford 021c concept(Credit: Ford Motor Company)

Way back in 1999, Ford put Marc Newson, a furniture designer who'd never designed a car before, in charge of developing a concept for the Tokyo Motor Show. The resulting vehicle, the 021c Concept, was hated by all. It was just too quirky, too unlike

First 2009 Mini E delivered to venture capitalist in California

Peter Trepp, a venture capitalist focusing on the green industry, has become the first owner/customer to get the new 2009 MINI E. BMW is leasing a total of 500 units of the electric Mini Cooper for about $850 a month.

Trepp, owner of number 111, has no idea why he was picked as the first one to receive the MINI E; however, having a blog about his electrical experience with the MINI E probably helped boost his chances a little bit.

Trepp picked up his car on Friday and drove home 30 miles without a problem in the LA traffic. He already threw a party for some 100 friends to show off his new MINI E. The 2009 MINI E will become the third car to join the Trepp household, which currently has a Toyota Prius and an Audi Q7 SUV.

MINI United Festival receives 25,000 fans from around the globe

The 50th annual MINI United Festival took place last week at the famous Silverstone race track on England. Every year, a large crowd of MINI fans and not only, attend the event with many participants bringing their MINIs from as far afield as Russia, the USA and South Africa.

This year, there were over 25,000 MINI loyal fans present at the festival who spent their time in racing activities, music festivals and lifestyle presentations.

As we reported last week, with this occasion, MINI has created two special editions vehicles, Mayfair and Camden, two cars derived from the popular Cooper, Cooper S and Cooper D models.

MINI Festival 2009

Overall, a great event for MINI and its fans and it can only get bigger next year.

MINI United - a magnet for fans from around the globe. 25,000 enthusiasts from more than 40 countries converged on Silverstone to wish MINI a happy 50th birthday.

Munich/Silverstone. The third edition of what has already become the legendary MINI United Festival was held this year from 22 - 24 May in glorious sunshine at the Formula One track in Silverstone, England. 25,000 fans from more than 40 countries made the pilgrimage to the world’s premier gathering of its kind. They arrived in over 10,000 MINI models, most of them lovingly individualised. Numerous German fan clubs made their way to the venue, mostly setting out by car on the long journey to the UK. Even for participants from as far afield as Russia, the USA and South Africa, no effort or cost was too great to ensure they could pay personal tribute to the British classic on its 50th birthday. Likewise determined not to miss out on this winning mix of racing action, music festival and lifestyle spectacular were a whole raft of celebrities.

As part of the world premiere for the new Mayfair and Camden special models, the now 75-year-old Mary Quant - British style icon and inventor of the miniskirt - disclosed a long-guarded secret: the designation “mini-skirt” is not derived from the celebrated brevity of the garment; it was her much-loved car that inspired her to choose this name.

To mark the 50th anniversary, MINI also took the wraps off a reinterpretation of George Harrison’s flamboyant model. This one-off, presented to Olivia Harrison on Saturday night, fully met the precise design brief of the Beatles’ widow. She accepted the MINI on behalf of the Material World Charitable Foundation, a charity which George Harrison founded in 1973. The car will be auctioned this year to raise funds for the foundation. “George was a huge MINI fan and he would have enjoyed this new version. The fact that the 50th anniversary celebrations for MINI will also benefit our foundation has made it an enjoyable as well as meaningful collaboration,” said Olivia Harrison.

But there were plenty more unique models to get pulses racing among the fans. British fashion designer Paul Smith again presented the model created by him, while the designs by David Bowie, Kate Moss, Missoni and the acclaimed illustrator and graphic designer Alan Aldridge were also on display. Similarly drawing approving looks were the original cars from films like “The Italian Job” and “Austin Powers”.

The major highlight of the United Festival was the appearance of “modfather” Paul Weller, erstwhile frontman of the two legendary bands The Jam and The Style Council and now a longstanding and highly successful solo artist. “As I’ve been driving MINI all my life, I was delighted to be able to join in the 50th birthday celebrations,” said Weller. As a tribute to the British artist, the band Twisted Wheel performed a cover version at the festival of one of his classic numbers, “That’s Entertainment”. The track will be exclusively available from the MINI website: