Midlands International Auto Show 2012

Written By: Jessica Mangiameli

The International Auto Show 2012 kicks off its tour in Detroit on Monday, January 16th.

One of its many stops is at the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, Nebraska on Thursday, January 19th through Sunday, January 22nd. The Midlands International Auto Show offers citizens the chance to see new and upcoming models from many different auto manufactures all in one place. The auto manufactures roll out their new models and designs in hopes of attracting potential buyers.

A list of the manufactures that will be presenting their new designs include: Acura, Audi, BMW, Buick, Cadillac, Chevrolet, Chrysler, Fiat, Dodge, Ford, GMC, Honda, Hyundai, Infiniti, Jaguar, Jeep, Kia, Land Rover, Lexus, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Mini Cooper, Mitsubishi, Scion, Smart, Sprinter, Subaru, Toyota, Volvo and Volkswagon.

2012 Gucci Fiat 500C

2012 Gucci Fiat 500C

Some of the hot models offered at the Midlands International Auto Show include the new and luxurious Gucci inspired edition of the Fiat 500C. The Fiat 500C compares in size to the Mini Cooper and is a four seat vehicle. The 2012 Gucci Fiat 500C is expected to appeal to the female population, mainly for the designer logo embroidered amongst the car. The car has been featured in a TV commercial this past winter featuring Jennifer Lopez. Another featured vehicle is the 2012 Hyundai Veloster which is a two door hatchback and is replacing the Tiburon. It is considered to be competition for the Mini Cooper and Scion tC. Another new featured model is the 2012 Buick Verano.  This smaller Buick features all the luxury that people have come to expect from a a full sized Buick.

In addition to the new vehicles being presented, the Midlands International Auto Show will also offer a peek at two storm chasing vehicles. The cars are best known for their use on Discovery Channel’s “Storm Chasers”. The two vehicles to be featured are the Dominator 1 and the Dominator 2.  The Dominator 1 is built on a 2008 Chevy Tahoe frame while the Dominator 2 is built on a 2011 GMC Yukon XL frame.  These two vehicles are sure to be a big hit for young audiences and old, especially since they are the actual cars used in the Discovery Channel show.

The Midlands International Autoshow will be opened to the Omaha, Nebraska public on Thursday – Sunday (January 19th – 22nd) and is located at CenturyLink Center Omaha 455 N. 10th St.

Thursday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

$9 adults (ages 13 and older)
$5 ages 7 to 12
$6 ages 65 and older and anyone with a military ID
Free, ages 6 and younger

Get more information on the Midlands Auto Show at www.OmahaAutoShow.com

After A Year Off, Suzuki Releases New Motorcycle Models In US





Suzuki is bringing a new lineup of motorcycles into the United States for 2011 after taking 2010 off due to weak demand, a bad economy and a glut of unsold 2009 models. The economy still hasn’t turned around but it is unclear whether demand and/or inventory situation has changed. Maybe it has. Maybe Suzuki just feels it can’t be seen by American riders as giving up on the market. Brand loyalty and market share is important in the industry, so maybe Suzuki is just willing to exacerbate the glut and gut things out until Americans start spending again like only they can. There’s also the fact that this is Suzuki’s 50th anniversary year of international racing, and you don’t want to waste a PR opportunity like a semi-centennial.

According to a July 19 Suzuki press release, the 2011 motorcycle models will include new versions of the V-Strom, the Hayabusa, the Boulevard S40 and M109, the RM-Z250, the RM-Z450, and the TU250.

It’s not just Suzuki’s U.S. market that’s suffering in this drawn out economic downturn. Most motorcycle manufacturers’ numbers have plummeted, and dealers have to be struggling. Who knows, maybe the market will turn around (although it doesn’t seem like it). And maybe Suzuki won’t release new U.S. models again in 2012. Maybe an every other year thing will become the norm. I, for one, am staying tuned.

Narrowing The Gas-Electric Motorcycle Gap: Brammo


In a further sign that electric motorcycles are catching up to their gas-powered counterparts, and aren’t just a short-lived, unrealistic fad, another maker has announced the impending release of new models that narrow the gas-electric gap.

Brammo, builder of the Enertia powercycle, announced July 15 it will release the Empulse line of electric sport bikes next year. There will be three models in the line. Each will reach and sustain speeds of 100 miles per hour, Brammo says, and go farther without a recharge. The Empulse 6.0 will get 60 miles per charge, the 8.0 will get 80 miles and the 10.0 will go 100 miles. They will also be the first production electric motorcycles with water-cooled engines. Brammo touts the technology not just for its power and range capabilities, but also for its production economy, making all-electric technology competitive in price as well as performance.

The electric motorcycles are expected to sell from $9,995 for the 6.0 to $11,995 for the 8.0 to $13,995 for the 10.0. They will also be eligible for tax incentives that, according to a Brammo press release, could make the final 10.0 price as low as $7,000 depending on the state. The electric bikes will be sold at authorized dealers, including Best Buy stores.

Motorcycle Deaths Down For First Time In 11 Years

Sign of the times

After 11 consecutive years of dramatically increasing motorcycle fatalities, U.S. biker deaths dropped by more than 10 percent in 2009. While it probably seems like some of the best motorcycle safety news in more than a decade, the surprising drop may not be all that much about safety.

According to the Governors’ Highway Safety Association, a couple likely reasons for the welcome decline include less motorcycles due to the economy and weather, and fewer new riders than we’ve seen in a long time buying motorcycles to join the pack. The association’s chairman says the group would like to see three to five years of declining deaths before claiming any kind of trend happening. The GHSA says more training and enforcement could do the trick, since more than half of motorcycle crashes don’t involve another vehicle.

This kind of improvement has happened before on a grand scale, it just didn’t last. From 1980 to 1997 motorcycle deaths dropped about 60 percent, but the consistently huge fatality increases after that more than wiped out those gains.

A GHSA report highlights a few things that could make this latest swing a positive trend. They include: increasing helmet use, reducing alcohol impairment, reducing speeding, increasing training for more riders.

Weak Motorcycle Market? Not in Vietnam

Bikes bikes bikes

The weak economy apparently hasn’t dampened the buying power of the Vietnamese, at least not when it comes to their purchases of a popular mode of travel there – motorcycles. Honda announced last week that surging demand in the southeast Asian nation is leading the manufacturer to increase production by half a million units per year. That will bump up the overall Vietnamese production capacity to 2 million bikes annually.

Through a joint venture, Honda has a motorcycle plant in Vietnam and the bump in production will come from a $70 million investment in that facility. The capacity upgrade is expected to come online sometime in late 2011. About 2.26 million bikes were sold in Vietnam last year, making it the fourth largest motorcycle market in the world behind China, Indonesia and India. It is also one of the most popular nations for automatic transmission bikes, with about three quarters of a million of those sold in 2009. Honda holds 63 percent of the Vietnamese motorcycle market share and its sales have increased every year since the joint venture’s 1996 establishment.

For some perspective on the motorcycle market’s growth in Vietnam, consider that Honda’s global sales actually fell slightly last year. In North America, they fell by nearly half.

A Harley-Davidson Cafe Racer?

Race you to the cafe

When one thinks of a café racer, it’s generally not a Harley-Davidson that comes to mind. A Yamaha? Sure. A Honda? Definetly. Heck, even a Triumph. But a Harley? Not really. I mean, it’s been done but still, the two terms have always seemed kind of the antitheses of one another. But not anymore.

Harley has announced it is about to put out its sportiest new bike, modeled after the café racers of yore, in the United States. If a large segment of Harley riders already deride the Sportster, I can’t wait to see their take on the XR1200X, with its slim, higher-riding and uber-sporty design.

To oversimplify, café racers are bikes, generally 70’s Japanese models, cut down in every possible way to maximize speed, comfort be damned. Though there seems to be more and more of these modified motorcycles out there every day, they first became hip decades ago, and now that retro aspect is part their draw. But these are exactly the kind lightweight bikes that the U.S. hog crowd has always guffawed at. The XR1200X, in fact, was only made for export markets initially. But the Harley-Davidson brass, likely seeing modified café racers all over the place, pronounced them a good fit for American buyers. Café racer with modern technology, no modification necessary. They’re set to come out later this year as 2011 models.

It’s Not Easy Being An Outlaw; Feds Unseal Indictment

It’s not easy for the more notorious motorcycle gangs these days. They not only have to look sufficiently badass, they have to be badass. Then they have to curb their badassery in the presence of police. As if that weren’t enough, they have to battle rival gangs for badass rankings and territory. To top it all off, the feds are busting them for their battles of badass supremacy.

According to a June 15 press release, a federal grand jury in Virginia has indicted 27 members of the American Outlaw Association gang (commonly known as the Outlaws) on numerous felonies. One of those indicted include Outlaws National President Jack Rosga, aka Milwaukee Jack. The indictment charges participation in a criminal enterprise with a wide array of alleged crimes ranging from attempted murder to drug dealing and witness intimidation.

In a quote that summarizes the charges, US Attorney Neil MacBride says the gang’s “entire environment revolves around violence.”

According to the 12-count indictment, the Outlaws have been waging a violent and intimidating effort to expand the territory where it allegedly controls criminal enterprises like drug trafficking, largely against biker gangs such as the Hell’s Angels. The defendants — from Wisconsin, Main, Montana, North Carolina, Tennessee, South Carolina and Virginia — are all in custody.

Ride Them All; French Company Has New Motorcycle Rental Model

Taking a ride

Can’t decide between any number of Ducati models? Maybe a triumph? Hell, have ‘em all. A motorcycle rental and tour company based in Cannes, France, is rolling out a new way to ride: fractional ownership.

For 2,000 Euros (about $2,400 US), a rider becomes a member in the Columbus Club, and gets credits for 2,300 Euros ($2,780 US) he or she can spend on Columbus bike rentals. Columbus International’s motorcycles are generally less than a year old, fully insured and always maintained. They carry a full lineup of Ducati’s (soon to including the new Multistrada 1200) as well as a smattering of other makes such as BMW and Triumph. Rental rates range from 155 Euros to 195 Euros per day, although there will soon be a Hollister model going for 345 a day.

Columbus International touts the riding conditions in the south of France: scenery, 300 annual days of sun and a moderate climate.

The business model brings to mind U.S. companies like Zipcar and makes one wonder whether motorcycle dreams can’t be realized in this fashion the world over. Of course, most riders would like to see a pricing scheme a little more in line with car rentals at least. Columbus International says it’s “better than buying,” but with their plan, a rider would get 10-15 riding days in a year for a price that could finance outright ownership of any of their bikes.

Still, Columbus International’s “Columbus Club” idea is a way for riders to stop dreaming about all the bikes they’ll never get to straddle, and start riding.

Sorry ‘Bout Those Eardrums, Eh; Edmonton To Fine Loud Motorcycles

Ear protection

The city of Edmonton, Alberta, is set to join many others in North America in trying to curb the boom and roar of excessive motorcycle noise. The bylaw targets bikes that exceed 92 decibels at idle and 96 decibels over idle. Fines would be $250 if the law is passed, with repeat offenders facing up to $10,000 charges.

A lot of riders consider noise to be one of their motorcycles’ most important and effective safety features. Bikes aren’t visible enough in a lot of road scenarios, but if an engine could compete with a jet plane on the noise factor, car drivers couldn’t help but be aware of it. And certainly, some loud riders just like the sound, or enjoy forcing people to give them some attention, but mostly it’s a matter of safety.

It’s a matter of safety for those who want to regulate it too, however. Hearing damage is often permanent and a lot of these riders don’t realize or don’t believe that they cause it every time they drive by a pedestrian or child playing in a yard. But they do, and while rider safety is important, no safety measure can be made at the price of permanent damage to others.

26 Miles? Please. Motomarathon aims for 1,600

Touring for sport

On foot, a marathon is just over 26 miles. On a motorcycle, it’s bit longer.

Apparently, a “motomarathon” reaches 1,600 miles. At least, that’s how far riders participating in next month’s Centopassi Motomarathon will be asked to ride, no matter how numb their butts may get.

The Centopassi (Italian for 100 passes, although there are not really 100 involved here), is the inaugural event in the Rocky Mountain region’s long-distance sport-touring motorbike season. Organized by the Motomarathon Association, the series consists of several four-day rides in and around the Rockies.

This first event, held June 25 thru 28 at a pace of about 400 daily miles, will begin and end at the Peleton Community in Boulder, Colo. The routes to be ridden are kept sealed, to be distributed to riders the night before each leg. At the end of the day, participants must submit digital pictures as proof of having been at each set checkpoint along the way.

Event sponsors include Ducati North America, Aerostitch and Wolfman; representing bikes, motorcycle clothing and bike luggage, respectively. Ducati North America CEO Michael Lock says these kinds of long distance sport-touring events are perfectly aligned with the spirit of Ducati’s new Multistrada 1200, a four-riding-mode motorcycle the company is now rolling out to rave reviews.