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Recently, the finance arm of PSA/Peugeot-Citroën was in such debt trouble that it was pricing itself out of the car loan market. The rates it was paying to service its debt, which was rated one step above junk, were so high that it was forced to charge car-buying customers higher rates than they could find elsewhere. This was adding to Peugeot's already impressive woes by sending revenue out the door to competitors.
Two months ago a deal was worked out with the French government whereby the state would provide 7 billion euro ($9 billion USD) in bonds to guarantee the finance arm's loans. The French government could nominate someone to join the Peugeot board, Peugeot would guarantee more French jobs, and on top of that deal, other banks would provide non-guaranteed loans. The government would take no equity stake in the car company.
Although not yet finalized, the arrangement is meant to create some breathing room for Peugeot Finance to lower its interest rates for customers, and a government-nominated board member, Louis Gallois, was recently named to Peugeot's supervisory board. The arrangement was also openly questioned by at least three competitors: Ford, Renault - which is 15-percent owned by the French government after it received state aid - and the German state of Lower Saxony, itself a 15-percent shareholder in Volkswagen.
The 2015 Mustang is one of the most hotly anticipated vehicles of the moment, and Ford continues to leak out interesting little details about its newest pony car. The latest info doesn't have anything to do with its quarter-mile time or handling, but if any of that goes drastically wrong, the innovative new glovebox-mounted airbag may prevent passengers from knee injuries.
All variants of the 2015 Mustang get the active knee airbag as standard, and it's the first vehicle in Ford's lineup to receive the system. The setup is actually quite simple and ingenious. The glovebox is made from a plastic outer panel that is attached to the inner door. Sandwiched between them is this new injection-molded plastic bladder that folds flat when in use. If the passenger-side airbag deploys, the system springs into action to act as a cushion for your knees. Compared to a traditional knee airbag that has to fully inflate, this arrangement is 65 percent lighter and can use a 75 percent smaller inflator. It's also basically invisible when you look at the glovebox door.
Ford spokesperson Ed Saenz declined to tell Autoblog whether the system will appear in other vehicles in the Blue Oval's lineup but said, "We're considering other applications." Provided it's effective, the approach seems too simple not to make its way to other products. Scroll down to watch a video showing how the glovebox-mounted knee airbag works.
In the 1950s and early 60s, the dawn of nuclear power was supposed to lead to a limitless consumer culture, a world of flying cars and autonomous kitchens all powered by clean energy. In Europe, it offered the then-limping continent a cheap, inexhaustible supply of power after years of rationing and infrastructure damage brought on by two World Wars.
The development of nuclear-powered submarines and ships during the 1940s and 50s led car designers to begin conceptualizing atomic vehicles. Fueled by a consistent reaction, these cars would theoretically produce no harmful byproducts and rarely need to refuel. Combining these vehicles with the new interstate system presented amazing potential for American mobility.
But the fantasy soon faded. There were just too many problems with the realities of nuclear power. For starters, the powerplant would be too small to attain a reaction unless the car contained weapons-grade atomic materials. Doing so would mean every fender-bender could result in a minor nuclear holocaust. Additionally, many of the designers assumed a lightweight shielding material or even forcefields would eventually be invented (they still haven't) to protect passengers from harmful radiation. Analyses of the atomic car concept at the time determined that a 50-ton lead barrier would be necessary to prevent exposure.