Jamaica Observer http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/ JamaicaObserver.com, the most concise and in-depth website for news coverage on Jamaica and the Caribbean. Updated daily 7 days a week, 24 hours a day en-us copyright Jamaica Observer, 2011 JUTC unleashes the Golden Dragon http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/auto/JUTC-unleashes-the-Golden-Dragon_75199 The Jamaica Urban Transit Company (JUTC) on Saturday officially launched its new Golden Dragon buses, 35 of which were recently introduced to the bus company&rsquo;s fleet.<br /> <br /> In a ceremony at the company&rsquo;s Lyndhurst Road complex in Kingston, Transport and Mining Minister Mike Henry led a chorus in support of the very compact 39-seater Chinese-made units.<br /> <br /> Henry said the Golden Dragon buses were a well-needed addition to the company&rsquo;s recently depleted fleet and represented continuity in governance, as the idea for their acquisition had been raised from his first time as transport minister, and the People&rsquo;s National Party in Government had carried through with the idea, which allowed for the recent acquisition of the new buses under a new Jamaica Labour Party Administration.<br /> <br /> However, he rapped the management of the bus company up to May of this year for having failed to acquire new buses after the 230 that were left on order by the JLP Administration in 2012, and compounding the situation with what he described as a &ldquo;dismal failure&rdquo; to secure an adequate and timely flow of spare parts to properly maintain the fleet, resulting in a residual fall in the daily bus run-out numbers.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;&hellip;three years on, and the effects of very poor forward-planning and gross mismanagement landed the new management of the company with a major bus run-out challenge, because for quite some time, no more new buses where acquired for the service, and, as if adding insult to injury, the flow of critical spare parts to service the fleet was allowed to dry up,&rdquo; said Henry.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;As a result, from January of this year, the run-out levels have dwindled,&rdquo; he added, noting that &ldquo;it has become the job of the new management and the new Administration to seek to reverse the situation, which is a goal that is now being actively pursued.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> He said that after major challenges during the less demanding summer holiday months, the present management was able to swing things around and put out enough buses to largely meet the basic expectations of commuters since the school year began in September.<br /> <br /> The Golden Dragon buses, he added brought variety and flexibility to the JUTC fleet, with the much smaller and more compact units being directed mainly to service the hilly upper St Andrew routes, where the traditional JUTC buses have largely been challenged by the demanding terrain.<br /> <br /> JUTC Chairman Gregory Mair cited the &lsquo;big deal&rsquo; which the commuting public across the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region (KMTR) enjoy, with the very low-priced JUTC service at first-world standards on offer through Government subsidy and the best possible efforts of the bus company.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Only the public transportation systems in the developed world are on par [with] or ahead of what the JUTC offers to its commuters daily. And very few, if any of these systems, provide services at costs as low as the fares that are charged by the JUTC,&rdquo; Mair said.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;There can be no doubt, also, that within the context of the Kingston Metropolitan Transport Region, the JUTC offers the safest and most secure option for public transportation,&rdquo; he added.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Overall, the JUTC is attuned to customers&rsquo; needs and has responded favourably to calls from the market, and has increased passenger satisfaction as a result,&rdquo; Mair said.<br /> <br /> The JUTC&rsquo;s Managing Director Paul Abrahams thanked the company&rsquo;s workforce for delivering well under sometimes very demanding and stressful situations.<br /> <br /> He said the narrower and shorter Golden Dragon buses, which come with some more advanced technological applications than the other buses in the fleet, will help to ease the conditions under which some of the company&rsquo;s operations are conducted, especially in upper St Andrew and the wider Corporate Area. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13312641/230714__w300.jpg Local News Monday, September 26, 2016 12:00 AM DRC finale on Sunday http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/auto/DRC-finale-on-Sunday_74936 Drivers Rallysport Club (DRC) will hold its third and final sprint of 2016 on Sunday in Bog Walk, St Catherine, starting at 11:00 am.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;This sprint will determine the winner of the DRC Sprint championship,&rdquo; Warren Lamey, event organiser, told Auto.<br /> <br /> The event is scheduled to run the same format it did for the second sprint, with a massive 1.6-kilometre course which the drivers will have to complete three times. The course is deeper into the Tru-Juice Orchards and features several spectacular jumps that are spectator favourites.<br /> <br /> Expected to be out is Kyle Gregg, who will be using this last chance before Rally Jamaica in November as a shakedown session.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;After our mechanical issues last time out, we discovered there were more problems, so we&rsquo;ve sorted them out and will be using the sprint to make sure the car is ready for the end of year rally,&rdquo; Gregg explained.<br /> <br /> While the number of four-wheel-drive competitors appears to be thin on the ground, Lamey is expecting the two-wheel-drive class to pick up the slack.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Spectators can expect a three-way battle between Maurice Whittingham, Bobby Marshall and Raynor King,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> &mdash; Rory Daley http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12978039/204642_w300.jpg Local Auto Friday, September 23, 2016 2:00 AM Tenth time&rsquo;s a charm http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/auto/Tenth-time-s-a-charm_74871 THE 2017 Honda Civic is like an old friend. It&rsquo;s been lurking in the background for years but a chance get together quickly reminds you why it was your fave.<br /> <br /> For its 10th iteration, the Honda Civic has grown up, but not losing the key elements that brought it to the forefront of everyone&rsquo;s attention in the first place, its fun and sporty nature. Externally, the car is curved like an athlete with a low, sleek, swooping line that defines the front grille all the way to its futuristic rear, with its massive rear light clusters that hint at the first letter in its model name. More significantly, it joins the new Japanese design language of individualist, but retaining key brand elements. The Civic isn&rsquo;t a scaled down Accord, but there&rsquo;s no mistaking it for anything else but a Honda.<br /> <br /> Where one might confuse it for its bigger brother, the Accord sedan of old is inside, as the step-up in interior quality is significant. Even in cloth trim there&rsquo;s plenty to look at, as the angular design theme continues adding an elegant bridge that combines with the centre console. Go &lsquo;full hog&rsquo; on price and the stitched leather trim, in its various colourvariants, and sunroof will leave no driver or passenger wanting for luxury.<br /> <br /> The friendship continues as the old-school Civic&rsquo;s performance character shines through. Drop down into the driver&rsquo;s seat and one can adjust it to sports car levels, meaning a low, firm, but comfortable driving position helped by a steering wheel that adjusts for depth and rake, leaving a clear view of the digital instrument panel. In the Civic&rsquo;s case, smaller is better. Space isn&rsquo;t an issue, but the Civic feels more intimate as all major function are easily within reach and can be controlled from the seven-inch touchscreen that does triple duty, providing a predictive back-up camera and infotainment controls. The digital binnacle and steering wheel mounted buttons mimic the main infotainment as well, meaning you&rsquo;ll never really need to take your eyes off the road.<br /> <br /> And on the road is where the Civic shines. In a case of smaller is better, the average owner will be more than happy with the 1.6-litre naturally aspirated motor. Those seeking to run down memory lane will head straight for the VTEC Turbo badged 1.5-litre version. Some may balk at the CVT option, but slam it into sports mode and drivers will be reacquainted with their old friend, that VTEC surge as the virtual rpm needle sweeps towards the redline. There&rsquo;s also a new element, low-end torque as provided by the turbocharger. This gives the Civic a new-found urgency it previously lacked. In normal mode, and paired with the electronic braking system, traffic becomes a breeze as the car applies and holds the brakes for you once at complete stop. <br /> <br />   http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13306445/230172_57310_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13306382/230173_57429_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13306442/230174_57312_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13306443/230176_57313_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13306441/230175_57314_repro_w300.jpg Auto Friday, September 23, 2016 2:00 AM Henry calls for ACT-ION http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/auto/Henry-calls-for-ACT-ION_74957 BY BALFORD HENRY Observer senior reporter balfordh@jamaicaobserver.com Ministerof Transport and Mining Mike Henry believes the newly tabled version of the Road Traffic Act is the last and should be in place by year-end.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The gestation period for the bill has been over 10 years. It is time for the baby to be delivered,&rdquo; Henry told Auto yesterday.<br /> <br /> He said he craved the indulgence of his colleagues in parliament to ensure that &ldquo;this time around&rdquo; it is passed.<br /> <br /> Henry said he is satisfied that the new Bill tabled, when the House of Representatives resumed last week Tuesday, has the reinforcements he had argued for to expand its capacity to capture the realities of modern traffic arrangements.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;It has both a medium- and a long-term approach in terms of road safety and how we can cut the current accident rate,&rdquo; said Henry.<br /> <br /> He had called for the Bill to address issues like smoke emission from motor vehicles as a necessary prerequisite to a healthy society. He also raised concerns about the provisions for insurance coverage for vehicles which damage or destroy road furniture, including signs, barriers and other road safety instruments.<br /> <br /> The National Road Safety Council (NRSC), which is chaired by Prime Minister Andrew Holness, revealed that there were 279 road fatalities since the start of the year.<br /> <br /> Paula Fletcher, NRSC executive director, said the figure is &ldquo;unacceptable&rdquo; and has called for more responsibility to be shown by road users.<br /> <br /> Senior superintendent in charge of the Traffic and Highway Division of the Jamaica Constabulary Force (JCF), Calvin Allen, explained recently that the JCF has recorded over 200,000 breaches of the current Road Traffic Act up to June this year.<br /> <br /> Allen said under the current &lsquo;Operation Zero Tolerance&rsquo; initiative of the Island Traffic Authority, the Transport Authority and the JCF, over 1,655 vehicles and 300 motorcycles were seized across the island. However, despite these successes, the carnage on the roads has continued.<br /> <br /> Most people believe the best solution to reducing the road carnage is to have the Bill passed and implemented quickly. However, a lot will depend on the cooperation of parliamentarians, as the government is hoping that a show of unity, with the Bill having straddled two administrations, is important to show strength of conviction. <br /> <br /> There are also fears that the level of fines for breaching the provisions in the Act could lead to other policing problems. But Henry believes that the Bill will go a long way to addressing the most serious problems, and his hoping to have it in place by the end of 2016. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12778458/191712_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12757863/191298__w300.jpg Local Auto Friday, September 23, 2016 2:00 AM Pike heads ATL rental division http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/auto/Pike-heads-ATL-rental-division_74799 MARK Pike has been appointed to the position of general manager and head of business for ATL Automotive&rsquo;s car rental division.<br /> <br /> Come November, Pike will be in charge of Enterprise Rent-A-Car, National Car Rental, and Alamo Rent-A-Car brands in Jamaica; a groundbreaking agreement that brings the entities to facilities in locations across the country for the first time ever. <br /> <br /> Pike heads the new team having joined from affiliate company Sandals Resorts International (SRI) where he developed skills in the Hospitality and Tourism Industry, spanning diverse experiences in hotel management, community tourism and corporate hospitality management. <br /> <br /> A third-generation tourism practitioner with over 15 years&rsquo; experience, Pike spent seven years at SRI under the leadership of CEO, Adam Stewart and Wayne Cummings, director of business processes, with responsibility for implementing and managing corporate initiatives, mainly in the areas of talent, development, business process improvement and sustainability which impact the luxury hotel chain.<br /> <br /> Adam Stewart, chief executive officer of SRI and the ATL Group said: &ldquo;Mark is one of our company&rsquo;s rising stars. His humility, passion and dedication to excellence was there for all to see from the moment he joined us as a young man over seven years ago and he has since developed his talent to become a truly exceptional part of our company. His skill set is exactly what this exciting initiative demands and he, along with the rest of the team, will ensure that the Enterprise, Alamo and National operations run perfectly and offer our local and overseas customers the finest car rental service Jamaica has to offer.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Pike will assume leadership of all business operations, leading the implementations of strategies for talent development, sales performance, operational excellence, customer service excellence, brand integrity, and business growth. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;I am greatly honoured to be entrusted with this exciting new role and, while the groundwork preparing for our November opening started some time ago, I cannot wait to open our doors and start providing the kind of experience that these world-leading brands expect. We&rsquo;re forming a team of committed and talented individuals and it will be my privilege to lead them,&rdquo; Pike said.<br /> <br /> Born in Mandeville, Manchester, Pike holds certification in project management, is a certified chartered director from the Caribbean Governance Training Institute &mdash; a certified community tourism trainer, and holds a first-class honours tourism degree from the University of West Indies, where he was instrumental in founding the UWI Tourism Society. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13306440/230039_57318_repro_w300.jpg Local Auto Friday, September 23, 2016 2:00 AM Magna offering milestone deals http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/auto/Magna-offering-milestone-deals_74795 Magna Motors Dealership Limited has kicked off its first anniversary celebrations with a massive sales promotion; discounts, free service, and giveaways up to October 1.<br /> <br /> The anniversary special will feature a factory clearance on all 2016 models, inclusive of zero down payment, a special six per cent interest rate with NCB for 24 months, and 8 1/2 years to repay. Plus, up to 70 per cent off insurance and two years of free servicing by Hyundai-certified technicians at the world-class Hyundai Service Centre, located at 22-24 Balmoral Avenue, Kingston 10.<br /> <br /> Juan Vargas, managing director at Magna Motors Dealership Limited, is proud to be celebrating this milestone. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;This is our way of saying thank you to our customers who have been with us on our journey and our way of extending the Hyundai family in Jamaica. We entered the market with the aim of laying a foundation for the world-class Hyundai global standards and to reflect our premium philosophy in everything that we do, from customer service, sales, through to after-sales service,&rdquo; he said. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;We have brought the Hyundai narrative to where it needs to be, and we will continue to maintain the superlative standards and brand experience that our customers have come to know and enjoy.&rdquo; <br /> <br /> From September 26 through to October 1, Hyundai owners will benefit from a 30 per cent discount on servicing at the Hyundai Service Centre. On October 1, the culmination of the sales promotion, the Hyundai showroom at 27 Old Hope Road will feature a fun family affair with giveaways, coffee, and a slice of the Hyundai anniversary cake. Activities at both locations will run from 9:00 am - 5:00 pm. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13306411/230036_w300.jpg Local Auto Friday, September 23, 2016 2:00 AM JRDC on track http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/auto/JRDC-on-track_74861 IN an effort to bolster its competitor numbers, the Jamaica Race Drivers Club (JRDC) held its second free track day on September 4 at Dover Raceway in St Ann.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We had 22 drivers attend the track day,&rdquo; Leroy Spence, event coordinator, told Auto.<br /> <br /> With the first track day taking place earlier this year at JamWest Speedway in Westmoreland, Spence is already planning a third for the upcoming Heroes Day race meet. The track day is open to all, as long as they meet the minimum safety and competency requirements.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The next track day will focus on race day preparation,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> Spence was also clear about his goals.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;For the active participant currently in Bracket 45, I&rsquo;d like them to focus on their skills and not their cars. You know, invest in themselves first and not performance parts on eBay,&rdquo; he explained.<br /> <br /> To do this, Spence opted for a dynamic shift, making the track day more about the theories behind speed, with 90 per cent of the time spent in class and 10 per cent actually on the track. The change resulted in very positive feedback as it offered new information to the majority present and refreshed the knowledge base of the B45 veterans there.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I&rsquo;m hoping to develop the on-track manners of all that take part with a very driver-centric programme,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> The track days are the breeding ground for the next generation of Jamaican racers as many transition into the B45 group which offers street cars, with the proper safety equipment, the ability to race at Dover on a time- indexed lap of 1 minute 45 seconds. Breaking that lap time results in a penalty for a competitor. <br /> <br /> Spence expects the female contingent to grow next year.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I was impressed that six of our participants were female,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> Out of that number, he expects that two to three of them will join B45 in 2017.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;They were definitely interested, but the logistics of getting all the necessary equipment by the October meet was just not possible.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> &mdash; Rory Daley http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13306358/230140_57316_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13306361/230139_57315_repro_w300.jpg Local Auto Friday, September 23, 2016 2:00 AM Courtney Hedge masters Honda http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/auto/Courtney-Hedge-masters-Honda_74796 COURTNEY Hedge began his career as an electrician at Honda Jamaica in May 1998. Showing potential and eagerness to learn, he was encouraged to train in other fields such as alignment, braking and engine work in the service department.<br /> <br /> Always keen to know more, when Honda started an online university in 2001 for technicians to advance their skill level to that of a Master Technician, Hedge took full advantage of this opportunity and completed a number of self-studying modules online. Upon completion, Honda asked him to attend the training centre in South Florida to continue the technical aspect of the programme. Spanning three two-week periods, he completed the skilled modules in 2011, 2012 and 2013, upon which he was awarded the title of Honda Master Technician for the Latin America & Caribbean region. <br /> <br /> three years later, Hedge will represent Jamaica as one of only 16 Master Technicians for the Latin America & Caribbean region at the Honda Top Tech Competition, the first ever of its kind for the region. To be considered eligible, he underwent the ultimate test as Honda sent a one-hour test to all Master Technicians to complete, and the first 16 persons who finished the test with the highest score in the fastest time were eligible for the next round of the Honda Top Tech Competition, LAC.<br /> <br /> As excited as he is to participate, he believes experience is on his side based on the number of vehicles he&rsquo;s had a chance to work with as well as how he trains and proclaims: &ldquo;Honda is built on the power of dreams and this also perfectly describes my journey to where I am now. I never thought I would be travelling to Florida to represent Jamaica but thanks to the support of ATL Automotive and my Honda Jamaica team. I have learnt so much and grown in my field and they continue to boost me up.&rdquo; <br /> <br /> Hedge continues to learn on a daily basis with the support of his team. He raps with other technicians and asks them to drill him on questions regarding all topics of servicing and plays a leadership role in teaching 11 other service technicians at Honda as well as Volkswagen, Audi, BMW and MINI, brands within the ATL portfolio. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;Courtney is one of the best in the LAC region and is always actively working to develop his team members. He is very passionate about sharing his knowledge with colleagues,&rdquo; said service manager Steve Chin.<br /> <br /> Sam McKenzie, head of business at Honda Jamaica, commended Hedge on his achievements.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;It has been a great pleasure watching Courtney mature and garner experience, not just on his own initiative but with the support of his team who are with him every step of his journey towards being the Top Tech for the LAC region. When he travels to Florida to compete, he knows he won&rsquo;t be alone as his team will be supporting and cheering him on from home.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> The winner of the Honda Top Tech Competition will move forward to the Championships being held in Cleveland, Ohio, in May 2017. <br /> <br /> Honda Jamaica is located at 47-49 Hagley Park Road, Kingston and ATL Automotive West, Units 1-3 Bogue City Centre, Montego Bay. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13306360/230038_57308_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13306357/230034_57309_repro_w300.jpg Local Auto Friday, September 23, 2016 2:00 AM Public urged to give feedback on new Traffic Act http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/auto/Public-urged-to-give-feedback-on-new-Traffic-Act_74901 MINISTER of Transport and Mining Mike Henry is encouraging the public to provide feedback on the new Road Traffic Act now before Parliament.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Go on the website and tell me what is wrong, what is right, what must be added or subtracted,&rdquo; he urged. <br /> <br /> Noting that he is prepared to articulate this feedback when the Bill is debated in the House of Representatives on September 28, Henry said he would be pushing to have it passed in a timely manner. <br /> <br /> Henry was addressing the launch of the Road Traffic Safety Standard JS ISO 39001 by the Bureau of Standards Jamaica (BSJ) at the agency&rsquo;s multipurpose facility on Winchester Road in Kingston this week.<br /> <br /> The Bill, which can be accessed on the Ministry&rsquo;s website, was retabled in the House last week. The legislation was passed last November and should have gone before the Senate. However, with the dissolution of Parliament ahead of the February General Election, the Act, among other items, fell off the legislative agenda.<br /> <br /> The updated law will repeal and replace the existing Road Traffic Act of 1938 and will establish new road traffic offences as well as provide increased penalties for current offences.<br /> <br /> Meanwhile, the standard developed by the International Organisation for Standardisation has been adopted by the BSJ as a practical tool to guide Government, vehicle fleet operators, non-governmental organisations and others to contribute to reducing death and injuries from road accidents.<br /> <br /> Henry hailed the adoption of the standard, which he said will be focusing on the specific requirements for road traffic safety management systems, and will also outline processes needed for the development and implementation of the Road Traffic Safety Policy.<br /> <br /> He said this is particularly important considering increases in the number of road fatalities, with 277 persons killed on the roads so far this year. Road crashes, he said, cost the Government $1.6 billion per year, accounting for almost two per cent of the country&rsquo;s gross domestic product.<br /> <br /> Chairman of BSJ&rsquo;s Standards Council, James Rawle, noted that the ISO 39001 is widely regarded as a major contributor to the United Nations Global Plan for the Decade of Action for Road Safety, which lists road safety management as one of its five pillars. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;It is flexible and useful to all types of organisations, and implementation will, among other things, increase safety, reduce environmental impact, reduce cost and build the brand image of the organisation,&rdquo; Mr. Rawle said.<br /> <br /> He added that it will also complement existing road safety programmes and regulations by providing a structured and holistic approach to road management. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13306253/230260_57374_repro_w300.jpg Local News Friday, September 23, 2016 2:00 AM Audi Q5 teased ahead of Paris show http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/auto/Audi-Q5-teased-ahead-of-Paris-show_74881 Audi has released a teaser video of its new Q5 crossover before it heads to the Paris auto show next week.<br /> <br /> As showcased in the video, narrow headlights dominate the new front end. Out back, the Q5 receives new tail lights, which appear to have unique lighting elements that correspond to the turn signal. Lines and creases make it clear that the shape of the Q5&rsquo;s back end has changed a bit, though cut lines seem to suggest the model will retain its signature clamshell liftgate.<br /> <br /> Now that the Q7 has been completely revamped, it&rsquo;s about time Audi changes up its mid-range sport. The Audi Q5 is still in its first generation, which launched in the U.S. for the 2009 model year.<br /> <br /> Expected to arrive for model year 2018, the second-generation Q5 will likely bring a more potent turbo-four engine and improved technologies, including an available, fully digital virtual cockpit instrument cluster. As we&rsquo;ve said in past reviews, the interior is starting to look dated compared to the competition.<br /> <br /> The Audi Q5 reveal comes on the heels of minor changes to the Q3 compact crossover, which features noticeably different design cues compared to the Q5. <br /> <br /> Source: Audi Germany http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13306444/230201_57317_repro_w300.jpg Local Auto Friday, September 23, 2016 2:00 AM PHOTO FINISH: Sizzlin Simone! http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/auto/Sizzlin-Simone-_74869 Simone McGowan is no stranger to the automotive world. As brand marketing manager for Jamaica Tuner Magazine, she is a regular on the circuit.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;I love cars,&rdquo; she told Auto.<br /> <br /> However, she also loves fashion design. Her label is Marlene Simone.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;It&rsquo;s classy, sexy and chic,&rdquo;she said.<br /> <br /> She recently showcased her line on the recently concluded StyleWeek. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13306339/230167_57355_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13306338/230166_57356_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13306336/230165_57357_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13306337/230164_57358_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13306340/230162_57360_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12798329/193507__w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13306342/230163_57359_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13306343/230168_57354_repro_w300.jpg Local Auto Friday, September 23, 2016 2:00 AM Honda 125 Monkey Bike Revealed? http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/auto/Honda-125-Monkey-Bike-Revealed-_74910 Honda&rsquo;s venerable Z50 Monkey bike was arguably the world&rsquo;s most popular entry to motorcycling for youngsters in the 60s, and likely the most widely used pit bike in history.<br /> <br /> Now, following the huge success of the 125cc Grom, Honda appears poised to launch a big brother to the Monkey with the same engine. Mechanically, the Gromlin (not the official name, but it should be) owes more to the Grom than the original Monkey bike, but the Z50 styling is spot-on and the engine is already certified for use in major markets worldwide. The frame, wheels, brakes and suspension are straight from the Grom, while the new Monkey&rsquo;s subframe accommodates the traditional twin shocks. Look closely and you will see the tubular new swingarm also replicates the original Z50 layout.<br /> <br /> The patent drawings show some variations on the original concept shown in Thailand and Japan back in 2015, suggesting this is truly the evolution of a production model. Despite the familiar Monkey profile, the Gromlin is obviously a larger machine, given the engine size and 12-inch wheels. So, it won&rsquo;t likely slide easily into the back of your Datsun 510 Wagon, but will into the rear of, say, a Honda Ridgeline.<br /> <br /> The high exhaust pipe is another styling nod to the original Monkey, but now the skid plate hides something big, which we must assume is the catalytic converter. The fuel injection system hides behind the air filter housing on the right, with a similar cover on the left.<br /> <br /> Since these renderings provide details like the lights, mirrors, and licence plate bracket, we&rsquo;re calling the Gromlin more than just another concept exercise. And whatever the model name turns out to be, we expect to see it in the showrooms sometime next year. As more information is made available we&rsquo;ll be sure to pass it on. Until then enjoy poring over the pictures and let us know what you think of this little guy.<br /> <br /> &mdash; Yahoo News<br /> <br /> http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13306257/230269_57378_repro_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13306256/230268_57389_repro_w300.jpg Local Auto Friday, September 23, 2016 2:00 AM High expectations in MoBay http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/auto/High-expectations-in-MoBay_74178 MONTEGO BAY, St James &mdash; Heavy afternoon showers in this tourism resort city could not put a damper on the Honda 10th Generation launch here at the showroom of ATL Automomotive West on Wednesday.<br /> <br /> After weather improved later in the afternoon, the steady stream of patrons who flowed into the facility could not conceal how impressed they were with the latest collection of Honda Civics on display.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;This car is going to do really well,&rdquo; predicted well-known Montego Bay businessman Anthony Pearson, who was among the viewers who were blown away by the new fleet of Honda Civics on display. <br /> <br /> Meanwhile, Shaunette Swaby McDonald, sales manager ATL Automotive West, expressed high expectations for the 2016 model Honda.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We expect that car to do well overall. Jamaica was waiting for it. The new shape and features that come to life. I am very excited,&rdquo; she declared. <br /> <br /> She added: &ldquo;Most of the customers were just excited to see what this car looks like and for the people who never knew what it was going to look like, they are pleasantly surprised. But overall everybody was excited.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> The vehicles are available at three different levels, some of which boast turbo, fog lights, leather seats, among other features.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The three different levels appeal to all different earning power. The one we are about to unveil is the leather seat. It&rsquo;s like a pearl type white, which actually captures the eye and makes you want to look some more,&rdquo; an impressed Swaby McDonald remarked. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;.... it appeals to all different types of people: professionals, non-professionals, the young and the old and I believe that Jamaica will love and enjoy this car.&rdquo; <br /> <br /> Meanwhile, despite the heavy downpour, some viewers milled around, enjoying the pulsating background music and servings of refreshment, courtesy of CPJ.<br /> <br /> Personnel from FirstCaribbean International Bank were also on hand to provide financial services to potential buyers. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13289509/228893_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13289510/228891_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13289508/228892_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13289507/228894_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13289512/228890_w300.jpg Local Auto Friday, September 16, 2016 2:00 AM A decade of Civic http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/auto/A-decade-of-Civic_74206 ATL Automotive launched the 10th-generation Honda Civic on Wednesday simultaneously at both its Hagley Park Rd, Kingston and Bogue, Montego Bay showrooms. The 2017 car represents a further refinement of one of Honda&rsquo;s oldest nameplates.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We know it will be a hit and we invite everyone to call and book a test driver; or just come see it yourself,&rdquo; Sam McKenzie, head of business &mdash; Honda Jamaica, told Auto.<br /> <br /> The new Civic blurs the lines between luxury, sportiness, and everyday practicality. While defined as a compact sedan, it&rsquo;s anything but such, offering plenty of passenger and cargo space to match or best its class rivals. Available only as a four door, it offers two engines: a 1.6-litre naturally aspirated; and for the first time ever on a Civic, the combination of the legendary VTEC and turbocharger in a 1.5-litre motor putting out 170bhp. All cars come with a CVT transmission and are decked out with convenience features expected from vehicles higher up in the market, such as remote engine start LED daytime running lights, Android Auto, Apple CarPlay, WiFi connectivity, and HDMI Imputs to allow full use of the 7-inch Touchscreen.<br /> <br /> Other luxury features available on the highest trim level turbocharged model include leather-wrapped interior, fog lamps and a sunroof.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;This 10th-generation model will reignite the market, as it had lost traction in previous years,&rdquo; McKenzie added.<br /> <br /> To attest to this fact, McKenzie pointed out that the sales reception to the new Honda Civic has been remarkable and beyond expectations.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Based on the feedback so far, and the fact that the first two shipments have been presold, it&rsquo;s a great insight to how it&rsquo;s being received in Jamaica,&rdquo; he explained.<br /> <br /> The local success of the new model mimics its worldwide reception to rave reviews, especially about its fierce new design language inside and out. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13289565/228887_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13289563/228888_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13289566/228870_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13289567/228869_w300.jpg Local Auto Friday, September 16, 2016 2:00 AM Ford, Volvo, Rolls-Royce skipping Paris show http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/auto/Ford--Volvo--Rolls-Royce-skipping-Paris-show_74226 MUNICH/LONDON &mdash; Ford Motor Co and Rolls-Royce are among the companies skipping the Paris auto show, as the once-unmissable event succumbs to changes sweeping the auto industry.<br /> <br /> Instead of spending out millions of dollars to woo consumers to crowded exhibition centres, automakers are reaching out to buyers where they like to spend time &mdash; on Instagram, blogs and the beach.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;There used to be the feeling that you had to be at every motor show,&rdquo; said Andy Palmer, CEO of Aston Martin, which is also missing the Paris event later this month. &ldquo;But there are sometimes better ways of doing it than just always spending money on show after show after show.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> Volvo won&rsquo;t be in Paris either, as its scales back on car shows globally to market more directly to buyers.<br /> <br /> Most of BMW Group&rsquo;s top executives will be at a board meeting discussing electric car strategy rather than trumpeting about the models available now. Volkswagen Group will rein in spending at the show, dispensing with its opulent Group Night gala event and a stand for its Lamborghini supercar unit.<br /> <br /> Participating at a car exhibition can cost millions of dollars as brands try to outdo one another. Audi spent more than 10 million euros ($11.2 million) to erect a temporary pavilion, complete with indoor track, at the 2011 show in Frankfurt, which alternates with Paris as the industry&rsquo;s annual marquis event in Europe. Celebrities such as Justin Timberlake are often hired to appear at car show events and stands typically feature an array of freebies for visitors.<br /> <br /> Rolls-Royce on the beach<br /> <br /> The massive exhibitions, which rose to prominence when the car was the ultimate symbol of individual freedom and success, are losing out as manufacturers increasingly find that models and loud music aren&rsquo;t the best way to sell cars. While the costs of the elaborate stands are a factor, changing consumer behaviour and the evolution of cars into computers on wheels are prompting automobile marketers to look elsewhere.<br /> <br /> Ford said it&rsquo;s &ldquo;taking a new approach to marketing in France&rdquo;, inviting consumers to one-day test drives across the country this summer instead of exhibiting at the Paris show. Europe&rsquo;s third-biggest car brand is boosting investments in such &ldquo;experiential marketing&rdquo; by 50 per cent this year, and is also spending more time at technology-focused events, such as Paris&rsquo;s Le Web conference on digital innovation.<br /> <br /> Rolls-Royce this summer treated fans to cocktail parties, test drives and fashion viewings at the beach in the ritzy Porto Cervo bay in Sardinia, Italy. Some events were tailored for bloggers and Instagramers who then put photos, videos and opinions online.<br /> <br /> Mitsubishi Motors, which will be at Paris, is also trying to appeal to buyers not motivated by sitting in a stationary car at a crowded stand. The carmaker developed a website that lets users take a virtual night-time test drive of the new Mirage G4 sedan on their smartphones.<br /> <br /> Lamborghini snub<br /> <br /> Auto shows remain a top draw for car fans. Attendance at the 2016 Detroit auto show, North America&rsquo;s biggest, totalled more than 815,000 people, the highest since 2003. Frankfurt reported a rise in 2015 ticket sales compared to the previous event, and the Paris show in 2014 attracted 1.25 million visitors, making it the industry&rsquo;s most popular showcase. This year&rsquo;s edition will attract the likes of Mercedes-Benz, Ferrari and Jaguar. But foot traffic at stands doesn&rsquo;t necessarily translate into sales.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We are revising our strategy&rdquo; concerning auto-show attendance, a Lamborghini spokesman said by email. &ldquo;The world is continuously changing&rdquo; and the supercar maker &ldquo;intends to anticipate these changes&rdquo;, the spokesman said. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13289590/228903__w300.jpg Local Auto Friday, September 16, 2016 2:00 AM Volkswagen to unveil electric car http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/auto/Volkswagen-to-unveil-electric-car_74233 One<br /> <br /> year on from the emissions scandal and VW is making bold claims about its future EVs as it targets a fully electric range of up to 600km (372 miles). VW&rsquo;s line-up of all-new electric vehicles will begin production in 2019 and go on sale the following year. We&rsquo;ll get our first look at the Paris Motor Show later this month.<br /> <br /> The new VW EV will be based on a new platform called MEB, developed exclusively for electric cars using lithium-ion batteries. Teased in an image that shows a covered car next to a Beetle and Golf Mk1 during a press conference, the concept model looks set to be a revolutionary step in VW&rsquo;s production development. <br /> <br /> Speaking at VW&rsquo;s Wolfsburg headquarters, sales and marketing boss J&Atilde;&frac14;rgen Stackmann told Auto Express: &ldquo;We regard electric mobility at VW as a key positioning item for the future and believe VW will be a major player in this field for the future. We see a mega challenge to do this in a short time.&rdquo; <br /> <br /> At the conference, a slide was flashed up indicating where VW&rsquo;s range of new EV&rsquo;s would sit against rivals. A minimum range of 400km (248 miles) appears to be what VW is targeting. This is likely to be for small A and B segment cars, while the &lsquo;scalable&rsquo; range tops out at 600km (372 miles). VW also confirmed EVs would be developed for &lsquo;big growing segments&rsquo;, indicating that the 600km range is likely to be reserved for SUVs that can accommodate the larger battery.<br /> <br /> By the time VW&rsquo;s first EV goes into production in 2019, the brand is also confident that the production and manufacturing costs of electric vehicles can be dramatically reduced compared to what they are today. It&rsquo;s likely these cost savings will be passed onto the consumer so VW can market and sell future EVs at a more accessible price point, similar to the cost of a conventional petrol or diesel vehicle.<br /> <br /> Currently, assembling an e-Golf compared to a diesel-powered equivalent takes 60 to 90 minutes longer, while the cost of the assembly process is also 15 per cent higher. VW bosses also claimed that the cost of the lithium-ion battery also has the potential to be reduced by around 30 or 40 per cent. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13289591/228904_w300.jpg Local Auto Friday, September 16, 2016 2:00 AM Telsa&rsquo;s autopilot system under probe http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/auto/Telsa-s-autopilot-system-under-probe_74220 BEIJING, China (AP) &mdash; Tesla faces new scrutiny in China about its vehicle&rsquo;s autopilot system after State television broadcast allegations that a man killed in a crash had activated the driver-assist feature of his car.<br /> <br /> The State broadcaster CCTV aired a report Wednesday about a January crash that killed 23-year-old Gao Yaning. The report included apparent dash cam footage of the car slamming into a slow-moving orange truck.<br /> <br /> An official interviewed in the report said the car&rsquo;s autopilot feature was active at the time of the crash. CCTV reported Gao&rsquo;s family has sued Tesla in a Beijing court, though the lawsuit was not available in online court records. Officials at the court did not answer the phone on Thursday, a Chinese holiday.<br /> <br /> Tesla said in a statement that the car was too damaged in the wreck to transmit data to company servers, and that Gao&rsquo;s family had not cooperated with the company&rsquo;s investigation.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We have tried repeatedly to work with our customer to investigate the cause of the crash, but he has not provided us with any additional information that would allow us to do so,&rdquo; it said.<br /> <br /> A spokeswoman for the company did not respond to questions about what the car had reported before the crash.<br /> <br /> The nationally broadcast report was a potential setback for Palo Alto, California-based Tesla&rsquo;s efforts to expand in China, the world&rsquo;s largest auto market. Tesla has explored building a manufacturing plant in China, but under national regulations that would require it to partner with a domestic company.<br /> <br /> Both in China and the US, Tesla has faced scrutiny and criticism over its marketing of driver-assist features. Last month, the company revised language on its Chinese website that it said would make clearer to drivers that its autopilot system was not self-driving.<br /> <br /> The US National Transportation Safety Board and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are investigating the May death of a 40-year-old Tesla driver in Florida. The Tesla driver-assist feature was engaged during the crash of the Tesla Model S sedan. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13289576/228902_w300.jpg Local Auto Friday, September 16, 2016 2:00 AM Volvo touts new V90 Cross Country http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/auto/Volvo-touts-new-V90-Cross-Country_74219 VOLVO unveiled the &ldquo;adventurous&rdquo; V90 Cross Country high-riding station wagon, the latest model in its $11-billion revival under Chinese ownership that has resulted in record global vehicle sales, as well as profit margins on par with Mercedes-Benz.<br /> <br /> Volvo says the variant of the V90 wagon provides added ruggedness and ground clearance to better handle tough climates and rough roads, while still offering the premium features found in its top model line.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The V90 Cross Country takes the elegance of the V90 and transforms it into an all-road car that delivers safety, comfort and performance in a capable and adventurous package,&rdquo; Volvo Car Group CEO Hakan Samuelsson said in a statement on Thursday.<br /> <br /> The fourth and final member of the Swedish carmaker&rsquo;s new 90-series family will be produced alongside its sibling models, the V90, S90 sedan and XC90 SUV, in Torslanda, near Gothenburg, Sweden, starting this autumn. All four models use Volvo&rsquo;s new scalable product architecture, which will also underpin the new-generation XC60, V60 and S60.<br /> <br /> Key rivals<br /> <br /> Europe is expected to be the top global market for the new model, which will compete against the Audi A6 all-road quattro and a high-riding version of the Mercedes E-class wagon that Mercedes will debut at the Paris auto show later this month.<br /> <br /> The V90 Cross Country is set for its public unveiling at the Los Angeles auto show in November. The wagon replaces the XC70 which ranked sixth in Volvo&rsquo;s global sales chart last year with a volume of 30,175 units.<br /> <br /> Market analyst IHS Automotive doesn&rsquo;t foresee the V90 Cross Country achieving that level of sales. It forecasts that Volvo will sell about 11,000 units of the car a year worldwide from 2017 until 2020, with a peak volume of 11,998 in 2018. By comparison, IHS predicts that Volvo will average about 38,700 global sales of the V90 each year during the same time period, with a peak volume of 45,155 in 2017.<br /> <br /> Felipe Munoz, global automotive analyst at JATO, also expects the V90 to be more popular than its high-riding sibling. &ldquo;As it is neither an SUV nor a real station wagon, the V90 Cross Country could be more vulnerable to the SUV growth than the V90,&rdquo; he said in an e-mailed statement. According to JATO&rsquo;s data, premium large SUV registrations in Europe grew 29 per cent last year to 210,000 units, while demand for premium large station wagons rose just 1.4 per cent at 195,000 units.<br /> <br /> Munoz also was sceptical about the V90 Cross Country&rsquo;s chances of winning as many customers as the XC70 in North America, which Volvo says accounted for half of the global volume for the third-generation XC70 produced from 2007 until this year.<br /> <br /> A Volvo source countered that argument by telling Automotive News Europe that the company &ldquo;sees no reason why the new model can&rsquo;t compete in the US&rdquo;. The source said that Volvo used to be a top player in the US&rsquo;s niche market for high-riding station wagons, but in recent years the automaker has fallen behind Subaru. Volvo aims to regain its position in that part of the US market, the source added.<br /> <br /> Off-road features<br /> <br /> A key differentiating factor of Volvo&rsquo;s Cross Country models is increased ground clearance, which is supposed to enable year-round off-road driving capability. The V90 Cross Country has been raised by 65 millimetres compared with the V90. Volvo says the car&rsquo;s increased approach and departure angle helps protect the front and rear when driving on steep slopes and uneven surfaces.<br /> <br /> Volvo added that the V90 Cross Country&rsquo;s all-wheel drive system features a compact and lightweight coupling from US-based supplier BorgWarner Inc. that distributes the engine&rsquo;s power between the front and rear wheels. Under normal, dry conditions, nearly all of the power is distributed to the front wheels, but up to 50 percent of the engine&rsquo;s torque can be instantly redistributed to rear wheels when required.<br /> <br /> 20 years<br /> <br /> Volvo developed its first Cross Country station wagon 20 years ago to combine functional flexibility and rugged capability and provide an alternative to the SUV and front-wheel-drive cars. The first model &mdash; the V70 XC &mdash;arrived in 1997.<br /> <br /> The second-generation V70 XC, which arrived in 2000, offered bolder styling and higher ground clearance. When Volvo&rsquo;s first SUV, the XC90, debuted in 2002, the V70 XC received a new all-wheel drive system and was renamed the XC70 to better align with its larger sibling. The third generation of the Cross Country line arrived in 2007 and was made until this year. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13289575/228901_w300.jpg Local Auto Friday, September 16, 2016 2:00 AM &lsquo;Use roads with care&rsquo; http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/auto/Use-roads-with-care_74179 THE National Road Safety Council (NRSC) is appealing to motorists, passengers, pedestrians, cyclists and pillion riders to be extremely careful, responsible and courteous on our roads for the last quarter of 2016 and even beyond.<br /> <br /> According to Paula Fletcher, NRSC executive director, as at Wednesday, September 14, there were 273 people who died as a result of 225 fatal road crashes since the start of 2016.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Two hundred and seventy-three deaths due to road crashes in Jamaica is unacceptable. We need to be more responsible on our roads for the last quarter of 2016 and onwards. Together, as a nation, we have the power to play our part to record less than 300 road fatalities for 2016. Taking personal responsibility for our safety is the first step in this direction. We can do this by obeying all rules of the road, including: driving within the speed limit, not overtaking recklessly, using pedestrian crossings, or if there is none, cross only when and where it is safe to do so. We should also desist from using cell phones while walking or driving. Using safety devices is critical to safe travel. Too many persons are being flung from vehicles and suffer severe injury as they hit the pavement and/or are run over in a secondary crash. In addition, motorcyclists and their pillion must wear their helmet,&rdquo; said Fletcher. <br /> <br /> As we open the new school year, NRSC is urging road users to observe all the rules of the road and to look out for our children.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The council believes parents and guardians should teach their children a safe route to and from school, schools should have talks on this subject as part of their orientation exercise and road safety should be a key item on the agenda at PTA meetings. Additionally, the council is imploring of schools to make arrangements with the Police Traffic Headquarters to schedule a date for road safety presentations at their schools,&rdquo; said Fletcher.<br /> <br /> NRSC is also appealing to parents and guardians to not send young children unaccompanied on the road, as children do not always have the ability to safely navigate the complex and ever- changing traffic environment. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;It costs Jamaica approximately $2 billion in hospital expenses per annum for road crashes. This is not the full cost of crashes, as it doesn&rsquo;t include costs such as funeral and rehabilitation expenses, insurance and funds to replace damaged road furniture. Most of all pain, grief and suffering also has its associated costs,&rdquo; she said.<br /> <br /> NRSC wants us do all we can to reduce the bloodletting on our roads as we cannot continue to lose our loved ones, friends, neighbours, community members and co-workers. We are losing our potential leaders, workers, and importantly contributors to the development of safe and secure families.<br /> <br /> Let us all do our part to make road safety a way of life. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13251165/225492__w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12585124/181452__w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13289422/220813_w300.jpg Local Auto Friday, September 16, 2016 2:00 AM 23 students injured in bus crash http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/auto/23-students-injured-in-bus-crash_73489 THE Clarendon police yesterday appealed to students in the parish to use only authorised public passenger vehicles following a two-vehicle collision in Vernanfield in which 23 students from the Garvey Maceo High School in the parish were injured.<br /> <br /> The accident, which happened around 9:00 am, reportedly involved a Toyota Picnic motor car and a Toyota Hiace minibus which was not licensed to operate as a public passenger vehicle. The bus driver reportedly fled the scene and was being sought by the police.<br /> <br /> The police&rsquo;s Corporate Communications Unit reported that one student, who was classified as serious, was airlifted to a hospital in Kingston, while the others were treated at the May Pen Hospital. <br /> <br /> Yesterday, Minister of Transport Mike Henry called on the Transport Authority to determine the circumstances of the crash as the bus was licensed to carry only 15 passengers.<br /> <br /> Henry said it was a clear case of overloading, and as such wants the Transport Authority to conduct their investigation with a view to ensure that public passenger vehicles are not overloaded at the loading points or excess passengers removed. He also said operators should face the consequences of their actions should they choose to disobey the rules of the road.<br /> <br /> Henry, who expressed relief that there were no fatalities, said he was very concerned about passengers being transported safely and promised to step up efforts to launch the Urban/Rural transport system as soon as possible. <br /> <br /> Henry, meanwhile, advised passengers to be responsible for their own safety by not allowing themselves to be &ldquo;packed into buses and taxis like sardines&rdquo;. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13276424/227645__w300.jpg Local News Saturday, September 10, 2016 2:00 AM North-South Highway drops discounts; motorists to pay more Monday http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/auto/North-South-Highway-drops-discounts--motorists-to-pay-more-Monday_73495 MOTORISTS will Monday begin paying more to use the North-South leg of Highway 2000.<br /> <br /> However, the new rates are as result of the removal of discounts given to all users of the highway in March this year, as the operators have decided to forego a toll increase to which they are entitled. <br /> <br /> Transport Minister Mike Henry, who made the announcement yesterday, had negotiated the discounted rate in March after public outcry over the high toll costs to use the highway, which stretches from Caymanas in St Catherine to Ocho Rios, St Ann and has cut the travel time from Kingston to Ocho Rios by more than 30 minutes.<br /> <br /> Under the concession agreement , the toll operators were entitled to increased rates in September 2016. However, Minister Henry said, in a news release late Thursday, that he was able to negotiate a better rate for motorists using that corridor, which saw the removal of the discounts instead of the increase rate applied for.<br /> <br /> The new rates are to be published next Wednesday by Jamaica North-South Highway. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13199712/221105_-_w300.jpg Local News Saturday, September 10, 2016 2:00 AM Panton wins in B&rsquo;dos again http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/auto/Panton-wins-in-B-dos-again_73367 BY RORY DALEY Observer writer The Jamaican pair of Jeffrey Panton and Michael Fennell Jr continued to be featured at the top of Barbados Motorsport when they won the Barbados Rally Cub Summer Nights Rally, on August 27, for the second-consecutive year.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We have now won every event entered in Barbados for the past two years, with the exception of a second place at King on the Hill in 2015,&rdquo; Panton told Auto.<br /> <br /> The RUBiS/Sandals Barbados/KIG-sponsored Ford Focus WRC06 blitzed the field, taking nine stage wins of the 11 across three venues familiar to the Rally Barbados faithful. The key was survival as many of the cars in the top class dropped out due to mechanical issues, from which Panton himself was not immune.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;We had tyre, suspension issues and a leaking hydraulic system, making it quite miserable,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> Behind him, the top names fell like flies as Roger Hill&rsquo;s Toyota Corolla WRC retired due to suspension damage, followed by Roger Skeete whose Subaru Impreza WRC 12B suffered launch control failure. This left only the two-wheel- drive cars to offer competition, but even wounded, they were no match for the Ford Focus and by morning Panton claimed victory over Bajans Dane Skeete and Barry Mayers.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Night rallying is so much more attractive to a spectator as you can see the spotlights in the air coming for a mile before you see the car, and at the same time the exhaust and brake rotor glowing are a sight to behold,&rdquo; he added.<br /> <br /> After winning the Barbados Rally Cub Summer Nights Rally, the Jamaican rally pair has no intention of stopping.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;In 2015, we were actually the points leader and at the end of the year to be crowned drivers champion; however, we had not entered the championship formally at the beginning of the year and hence didn&rsquo;t qualify. We have the championship left to win and have already made the commitment to participate in all rounds for 2017 with the aim of accomplishing the task,&rdquo; Panton said. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13273665/227310_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13273660/227340__w300.jpg Local Auto Friday, September 09, 2016 12:00 AM Nissan&rsquo;s new Frontier http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/auto/Nissan-s-new-Frontier_73362 BY RORY DALEY Observer writer When it comes to small, light pickups, few companies have the vast experience that Nissan does. And with its main rivals already on the market, the 2016 Nissan Frontier draws heavily on their skills to remain competitive.<br /> <br /> Design-wise, there is no mistaking the Frontier for anything else. The visuals scream pure machismo with angular cuts everywhere, wiping away the long history of the traditional box shape associated with the class. In its top trim, the Frontier&rsquo;s daytime running lights add an even more aggressive fang-like appearance. There is even a subtle hint to man&rsquo;s fascination with speed, as the tailgate features a small integrated spoiler to help with the age-old problem of aerodynamic empty bed drag.<br /> <br /> Drag wouldn&rsquo;t be a problem if the Frontier was slow, but it&rsquo;s not. With 180 horsepower on tap from its 2.5-litre turbocharged four-cylinder engine, power is plentiful and beautifully matched to the seven-speed automatic gearbox. With a tiptronic function, drivers can dip further into the powerband on their own. Nissan&rsquo;s electronic four-wheel-drive system means a quick turn of a dial and extra grip can be gained with clear acknowledgement on the high-resolution screen in the centre of its binnacle.<br /> <br /> And that&rsquo;s where the Frontier crosses over into new territory. Just like the exterior that banishes the old conformity to rectangular design, something reinforced by the bulging bonnet arches seen from the driver&rsquo;s seat, the interior and ride refinement would put many sedans to shame. Picking a bit from rivals, there are three trim levels and two body styles. The Frontier starts in a workhorse trim available in two body styles &mdash; single and double cab &mdash; and two drivetrains &mdash; two- and four-wheel drive. The mid-spec trim hints at what&rsquo;s at the top as it goes straight into the new market reality: the lifestyle pickup.<br /> <br /> Turn the Frontier on and one is greeted by a start-up animation in the binnacle. Drop into the comfortable cloth-trimmed seats &mdash; leather wrapped at the third tier &mdash; and drive away with all the modern conveniences you&rsquo;d expect from a modern sedan. Cruise control &mdash; got it. Nice stereo with full iPod integration, it&rsquo;s there. Auxiliary power for modern devices and rear A/C vents are all there. More significantly, that sedan feel continues on or off the road. Despite its necessary raised height, the Frontier&rsquo;s cabin retains a sense of comfortable disconnect from whatever its doing at the time.<br /> <br /> Ultimately, underneath the Frontier, its mechanicals are pure capable pickup, but layered above is the passenger-friendly double cab &mdash; there is no single cab past the base trim, as the Frontier is expected to work as hard as it plays. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13273722/227313_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13273796/227314_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13273797/227312_w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13273798/227311__w300.jpg http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13273795/227315_w300.jpg Local Auto Friday, September 09, 2016 12:00 AM RUBiS invests in road safety http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/auto/RUBiS-invests-in-road-safety_73372 Petroleum marketing company RUBiS Energy Jamaica has invested heavily in road safety training programmes as they continue to champion the seriousness of road fatalities in Jamaica. RUBiS has been consistently involved in road safety awareness, most recent of which was a partnership with other stakeholders in the staging of Road Safety Month, June, to spread awareness about the severity of what is now a national crisis. The licensed gasoline blending, bulk distribution and importing company has also published a Road Safety Manual, which is accessible to the public with tips and other information about safe road usage.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;RUBiS Energy Jamaica is fully aware of the seriousness of safe road usage as we have been committed to the fight against the alarming rise in motor vehicular incidents and fatalities. To that end, we have not only partnered with other stakeholders in spreading the message of road safety, but we have also incorporated Road Transport Safety Management and other safety programmes as part of our own operations,&rdquo; said Alain Carreau, CEO, RUBiS Energy Jamaica.<br /> <br /> Carreau explained that, to date, more than 100 RUBiS staff members and haulage contractors have benefited from Safety Training Programmes such as Smith Defensive Driving Course, Safety Orientation, and Journey Management.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;All our vehicles, including our petroleum- distribution fleet, are thoroughly inspected, with ongoing monthly checks to ensure compliance, and we have implemented a Road Transportation Safety Awards incentive programme to foster continuous improvement in road safety performance,&rdquo; said Carreau.<br /> <br /> Jamaica&rsquo;s roads are set to increase in pedestrian usage and motor vehicular traffic as students return to their schools through their respective modes of transit. Safe road usage needs to become a priority, as with increased usage there is an increased risk of incident and fatalities.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Jamaicans need to encourage and practise smart, safe road usage for the protection of our students. Road Safety is everyone&rsquo;s responsibility. RUBiS has experienced a downward trend in road accidents from 2013 to present through application of our road safety policies. With a national effort, Jamaica too can realise this in reducing the National Road Fatality Index,&rdquo; said Carreau.<br /> <br /> RUBiS has shown their commitment to road safety through their impactful programmes and continued support of awareness initiatives. Visit the RUBiS Energy Jamaica Facebook page Facebook.com/rubisjamaica for more information about RUBiS&rsquo;s safety programmes and tips for safe road usage. http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/12558684/179632_w300.jpg Local Auto Friday, September 09, 2016 12:00 AM Sunday meet for RC racers http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/auto/Sunday-meet-for-RC-racers_73366 Season seven of the Jamrock Remote Control Car Club&rsquo;s (JRRCCC) Island Nitro Series is slated to start on Sunday, September 11 at Sovereign Centre on the Boulevard, Washington Boulevard in St Andrew.<br /> <br /> The series, which caters to gas-powered racing cars, is scheduled to start at midday. Admission is free for spectators. <br /> <br /> &ldquo;The series has been very good for the club as this season we&rsquo;re seeing several retired drivers dusting off their old cars to come and participate,&rdquo; Denise Burton-Clarke, JRRCCC president, told Auto.<br /> <br /> The format for the races are two rounds of quality for each of the three classes, followed by a 25-minute final, which sees exciting pit stops.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;The cars can only go five minutes on a full tank of gas, so they have to stop,&rdquo; she explained.<br /> <br /> According to Burton-Clarke, pre-registration for the five-round series that ends in May 2016 has been strong. For club members, registration is $1,500 with $500 required for every class after that. Non-members pay $2,500 and $1,000, respectively. The Island Nitro Series hosts three classes, 1/8 scale Nitro GT, 1/8 scale four-wheel drive Open and 1/10 scale Sedan. Jason Givans, Franklyn Thomas and Burton-Clarke are the respective class champions.<br /> <br /> For Thomas, he will be defending his hard-fought title in 1/8 scale 4WD Open with his Serpent 977 rc car.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;Some upgrades are out for the car, so I&rsquo;ll be getting them because I&rsquo;ll be up against several competitors bringing brand new cars,&rdquo; he said.<br /> <br /> While the upgrades to his car may level the playing in terms of speed and handling, Franklyn credits teamwork as the real key to victory.<br /> <br /> &ldquo;A lot of races are won and lost in the pits, so we&rsquo;ll be fine-tuning things like when to come in and how to refuel faster.&rdquo;<br /> <br /> &mdash; Rory Daley http://www.jamaicaobserver.com/assets/13273659/227345_w300.jpg Local Auto Friday, September 09, 2016 12:00 AM