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Safety systems supplier Mobileye raises $890 million in IPO

08/05/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Safety, Tech, Earnings/Financials, Middle East

Financial Markets Wall Street Mobileye IPO

Israel-based vehicle safety technology company Mobileye (NYSE: MBLY) has successfully launched its Initial Public Offering on the New York Stock Exchange, raising approximately $890 million to value the company at a reported $5.3 billion.

You may have never heard of Mobileye, but that doesn't mean its system isn't in your car. The company, which lists its headquarters in the Netherlands (much like Fiat Chrysler Automobiles and the Renault Nissan Alliance) but operates its R&D center in Jerusalem, develops and produces safety systems for automobiles that combine cameras (instead of radar) and software algorithms to detect other vehicles, pedestrians and lane markers (among other objects) to keep the car on the straight and narrow. While it sells systems (often purchased by fleet operators) that can be retrofitted to existing vehicles, a large portion of its business is in selling its devices to automobile and truck manufacturers for installing in their products on the assembly line. Mobileye lists among its customers General Motors, Ford and Chrysler; Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi and Hyundai; Audi, BMW, Volvo, PSA and Jaguar Land Rover. The company is said to be developing its own autonomous vehicle prototype.

The IPO launched on Friday was the largest ever fielded by an Israeli company in the United States and makes it the fifth largest company trading on Wall Street. While Israel accounts for the third largest number of companies listed on the NASDAQ, Mobileye chose the NYSE instead, opening trading at $25 per share (higher than the expected $21-23 per share) to raise $890 million for the company's principal owners and stockholders. After a fierce day of trading that saw its stock jump as much as 58 percent to $39.40/share, it closed at $37/share for an increase of 48 percent.

While the company included outside shareholders in the IPO, it was the company's founders who benefited the most. Mobileye was started in 1999 by Professor Amnon Shashua and Israeli businessman Ziv Aviram. Shashua studied at Tel Aviv University, the Weizman Institute of Science and MIT, lecturing at the Technion Israel Institute of Technology and the Hebrew University of Jerusalem before founding Mobileye with Aviram, who had previously run local operations like Keter Publishing and the Gali shoe chain. The two were said to have made $92 million between them from the IPO.

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Aston Martin Lagonda super sedan officially teased

07/25/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sedans/Saloons, Sports/GTs, Aston Martin, Middle East, Luxury

Lagonda sedan

Ask anyone who's anyone about Aston Martin and they'll tell you about exclusive and highly desirable two-door luxury GTs - the kind James Bond would drive - but it would be all too easy to forget about the other side of the equation. The company's full name is, after all, Aston Martin Lagonda Ltd., but while the latter name is seldom used, it's about to make a rare comeback.

The British automaker has just confirmed "strictly limited series production" of a new Lagonda saloon, previewed by the two teaser images you see here. The super sedan will be built in the same facility that previously produced the One-77 supercar at the Aston Martin factory in Gaydon and will be available in strictly limited quantities by invitation to select customers exclusively in the Middle East.

Lagona sedanAston Martin has revealed precious few technical details of the new project, but the design clearly pays tribute to the iconically wedge-shaped 1976 Aston Martin Lagonda sedan designed by William Towns, with elements from the recent Zagato-designed Centennial editions evident as well. It will be based on Aston's ubiquitous VH platform that underpins just about everything it currently makes, and given the proliferation of the company's long-serving 6.0-liter V12 engine, we figure it's safe to say that'll provide the motivation as well, with at least the same 565-horsepower output as the Vanquish and the new V12 Vantage S Roadster, if not more.

The announcement, of course, hardly comes as a surprise. Just a few months ago we spotted a disguised prototype for this very vehicle undergoing testing, and Aston has been toying with the idea of a Lagonda revival since the debut of the rather controversial Lagonda crossover concept at the 2009 Geneva Motor Show to mixed reviews. There was since talk of partnering with Mercedes-Benz to revive the Lagonda line along with Maybach, but that ultimately fell through - although the two are still collaborating in other areas, including the provision of a new line of engines and other technologies.

Lagonda was originally founded independently in 1906, was acquired by legendary Aston chief David Brown in 1947 and has popped on and off the radar screen ever since. It remains unclear whether the new sedan will revive the Lagonda handle as a nameplate or as a separate brand, but you can delve into the press release below to read what Aston has confirmed thus far.

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Dubai Roadster already attracting orders ahead of debut

07/13/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Convertibles, Sports/GTs, Middle East, MISC

Dubai Roadster

We would generally advise against buying a car sight unseen, but when it comes to some supercars, the entire year's production run is often spoken for before the car is even unveiled. Which is fine, in some sense we guess, when it's coming from a known manufacturer like Ferrari or Lamborghini. The Dubai Roadster, however, does not come from such a company. It doesn't even come from a region that's known for making cars. In fact the only time Dubai ever seems to come across our radar is when its police force acquires a new supercar, some special-edition Rolls-Royce, Bentley or Bugatti is unveiled there, the Emirs buy part of a Formula One racing team or someone gets the bright idea of building a supercar there.

That's what we saw with the Lykan Hypersport from W Motors, and now another contender has apparently joined the fray. It's called, simply enough, the Dubai Roadster, and the design calls for a 400-horsepower V8 engine mounted in the front of an aluminum (or potentially titanium) tube frame overlaid with carbon and fiberglass bodywork.

The first prototype isn't even complete yet, the design existing at present only in a few renderings, bearing the logo of the upcoming world's fair in the gulf emirate. But according to The National, buyers are already calling up Rashid Al Shaali - the two-time UAE Time Attack champion behind the project - with their checkbooks open.

The finished product is scheduled to debut at the Dubai Motor Show next year, at which point Al Shaali reportedly aims to have 25 vehicles ready for sale at around 400,000 Emirati dirham, equivalent to nearly $110,000 at today's exchange rates. Given the wealth localized in the Emirates and the cost of developing such a car from scratch with no infrastructure, however, we wouldn't be surprised to see the price spiral upwards by the time it's done.

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Saudi Arabia may institute higher fuel economy standards; keep 45-cent/gallon gas

07/11/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Government/Legal, Middle East

ARAB OIL BOOM

When it comes to global oil production, Saudi Arabia is one of the absolute leaders, producing nearly 10 million barrels of crude every day. That means it can offer its citizens gas prices of about 45 cents per gallon. Despite this remarkably low price, though, the controversial, monarchical Middle Eastern country has just announced a series of reforms for the auto industry that will see American/European/Chinese-style fleet fuel efficiency standards come into effect.

According to Green Car Reports, the Kingdom's fleet standards are more lenient than those in the US and considerably easier to meet than Chinese or European standards. Fleets will need to return an average of 12 kilometers per liter (about 28.2 miles per gallon) by 2020. In the near term, though, vehicles will need to feature fuel economy labels as early as next month, and will need to meet more stringent fleet standards by late 2015 or early 2016. The push to increase fuel efficiency of Saudi cars is so intense that the country is even considering a program like Cash for Clunkers, in a bid to get older, less fuel efficient cars off the roads.

As for the motivation behind this sea change, it's a fairly simple one to break down - Saudi energy demand is increasing at a rate that the economy can't support, with a steady four-to-five-percent increase every year, according to Green Car Reports.

While we can get behind the reasoning and the new standards, what we don't understand is why fuel prices will remain at 45 cents per gallon. As GCR points out, this is not unlike the American model, where prices are intentionally kept lower while higher standards are mandated. But with such a ridiculously low fuel price, it seems odd that there isn't a proposal for at least a small price increase to help curb demand.

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Enjoy a look at the World's Fastest Police Fleet in Dubai

06/06/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Videos, Police/Emergency, Middle East

Dubai Poilce Supercars

Last year, it seemed like nearly every month there was news of an additional hypercar joining the fleet of the Dubai Police. It was shocking enough when the force showed off its Lamborghini Aventador, but the armada kept growing to include even more exotic vehicles like an Aston Martin One-77 and eventually even a Bugatti Veyron. To understand the point of building this assortment of supercars, the crew from Vocativ went behind the scenes with the Dubai Police and into the immaculate warehouse where the cars are kept.

The Veyron and Aventador are just the headline-grabbers. When their Audi R8 and Nissan GT-R are getting short shrift, you know it must have a wild collection. The video is a fascinating look inside the force and gets some insight into why the Dubai Police would spend around $6.5 million to build this collection. It certainly isn't to catch speeders... Scroll down to learn what it's all about.

Continue reading Enjoy a look at the World's Fastest Police Fleet in Dubai

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Meet the first all-female Palestinian racing team [UPDATE]

05/11/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Videos, Middle East, Racing, TV/Movies

Speed Sisters from Palestine

UPDATE: The issue of the Arab-Israeli conflict is a highly divisive and complex issue - one into which we did not intend to enter and would gladly leave to the relevant parties to sort out. Autoblog would like to apologize if we've inadvertently offended anyone's political, religious or ethnic sensibilities, and hope you enjoy the video just the same, in isolation from the conflict.

We are living in a fantastic time for movies about cars and motor racing. The Fast and Furious franchise brings mindless action, and movies like Rush show there can be a more intellectual side to motorsports. There's even room for some interesting documentaries, as well. Havana Motor Club is trying to tell the story of racing in Cuba, and a new doc called Speed Sisters explores the first all-female, Palestinian racing team.

Speed Sisters is still in production, but there is already a trailer. The movie focuses on five women from the Speed Sisters racing team and how they use motorsports to deal with the challenges in their lives. In a broader context, it's an examination of modern life in the Middle East for women. It's a sophisticated approach, but even if the politically related stuff doesn't interest you, it looks like there's plenty of racing action too.

As auto enthusiasts, it's great to see this renaissance of car films, from the big-budget action movies to the more intimate documentaries. Speed Sisters looks to be a great addition to the group. Scroll down to watch the trailer.

Continue reading Meet the first all-female Palestinian racing team [UPDATE]

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Meet the first all-female racing team in Palestine

05/11/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Videos, Middle East, Racing, TV/Movies

Speed Sisters from Palestine

We are living in a fantastic time for movies about cars and motor racing. The Fast and Furious franchise brings mindless action, and movies like Rush show there can be a more intellectual side to motorsports. There's even room for some interesting documentaries, as well. Havana Motor Club is trying to tell the story of racing in Cuba, and a new doc called Speed Sisters explores the first all-female, Palestinian racing team.

Speed Sisters is still in production, but there is already a trailer. The movie focuses on five women from the Speed Sisters racing team and how they use motorsports to deal with the challenges in their lives. In a broader context, it's an examination of modern life in the Middle East for women. It's a sophisticated approach, but even if the politically related stuff doesn't interest you, it looks like there's plenty of racing action too.

As auto enthusiasts, it's great to see this renaissance of car films, from the big-budget action movies to the more intimate documentaries. Speed Sisters looks to be a great addition to the group. Scroll down to watch the trailer.

Continue reading Meet the first all-female racing team in Palestine

Read more..

Lexus launches supercharged LX 570 in Middle East

05/01/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Sports/GTs, SUVs, Lexus, Middle East

Lexus LX570 Supercharger

The Lexus LX SUV is a very muscular, old-school vehicle. Based on the Toyota Land Cruiser, it's still a big, body-on-frame SUV, but inside it offers acres of leather and luxury tech. The brand's Kuwaiti distributor is taking it machismo even further for the local market with the new LX 570 Supercharger.

As the name suggests, the upgraded SUV grafts a supercharger onto the LX 570's 5.7-liter V8 to boost it to 450 horsepower, from 383 hp in the naturally aspirated version in the US (or 362 hp in the standard Kuwaiti version), and it uses the same six-speed automatic as the standard model. To signal the improved strength, much of exterior chrome is replaced with black trim. It also wears special 20-inch wheels and a rear spoiler. The interior is fitted with crimson leather seats and red-accented carpet. It also gets an aluminum sill plate that says "Supercharger." Like the standard Kuwait-spec LX 570, it has two fuel tanks with a total combined capacity of 36.46 gallons, which should help satiate the likely thirsty, forced-induction V8.

The LX 570 Supercharger won't be rumbling down streets outside of the Middle East, though. According to Lexus spokesperson Bill Kwong, this is a project by the distributor in the region. The supercharged engine also has "issues with emissions" in the US, especially in California, he told Autoblog. Too bad, it would be an interesting Range Rover alternative.

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Race Recap: 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix is racing like you dream about

04/07/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Infiniti, Mercedes Benz, Ferrari, Renault, Middle East, Racing, McLaren

2014 Bahrain F1 grand prix graphic

Well. What a race.

The first line of last year's Bahrain Grand Prix recap was, "The sand, the wind, the penalties, the contact and the one crash - all of them collided to make the Bahrain Formula One Grand Prix a surprise affair from day to day and lap to lap." This year the sand stayed mostly off the track and the wind limited its gusts to the back side around Turn 11, but everything else carried over into this 2014 F1 season.

There were penalties issued, penalties given, contact from the first lap and an astonishing crash that made the race even more exciting than it already was. Or rather, two races, because the Mercedes AMG Petronas cars are so good - and both their drivers are so good - that every pilot is still racing for third unless one of The Silver Arrows trips up. But even the race for third was riveting. As well as that for fourth, fifth, sixth, and every position back to about eleventh, all through the race. At times it seemed like the producers were so unused to having to follow actual on-track passing that they weren't sure which camera to switch to; there was so much action for all 57 laps, sometimes two or three passing moves on the same lap to go along with the close racing throughout, that we saw more passes in replays than live.

And it all began when Lewis Hamilton whipped out his magic third gear...

Continue reading Race Recap: 2014 Bahrain Grand Prix is racing like you dream about

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Motorsports: Bahrain's Sakhir circuit names first corner after Michael Schumacher

03/04/2014   [Original: Autoblog]
Category: Motorsports, Middle East

Michael Schumacher wins the 2004 Bahrain Grand Prix

Organizations don't typically name a location after someone until after they've died. Michael Schumacher may be fighting for his life and still in a coma following the massive head trauma he incurred in a recent skiing accident, but he's still with us and we hope will make a full recovery soon. That technicality, however, hasn't stopped the owners of the Bahrain International Circuit (where an official F1 test session is under way this weekend) from naming the first corner after the seven-time world champion.

Schumacher has a longstanding connection to the track popularly known as Sakhir. The German driver consulted on its layout and construction. He also won the inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix there in 2004 with Ferrari (pictured above), setting the lap record that still stands today. And when he came out of retirement to drive for Mercedes in 2010, his first race back on the grid was at Bahrain.

The decision to name the corner after Schumi was made "with the support of his family," according to track chairman Zayed Al Zayani in the statement below. Schumacher's manager Sabine Kehm added, "I am convinced Michael will love the idea." It's not the first time a racing circuit has named a corner after Schumacher, however: turns 8 and 9 at the Nürburgring grand prix circuit are similarly known as the Michael Schumacher S.

Continue reading Bahrain's Sakhir circuit names first corner after Michael Schumacher

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