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Auto blogTue, 03 Sep 2013 10:30:00 EST
A new skyscraper under construction in London is apparently to blame for some mysteriously melting car parts on the city's surrounding streets. The 37-story building at 20 Fenchurch Street, nicknamed the "Walkie Talkie" for how it looks, features a convex side of glass windows that apparently concentrates the sun's rays like a kid with a magnifying glass. Instead of smiting ants, however, the building was caught focusing its sun-sourced laser death beam on an innocent Jaguar XJ parked on Eastcheap street. The intense heat managed to melt a sideview mirror, plastic C-pillar cover and Jaguar emblem (scroll down for an image of the damage).
Fortunately, the construction company, Land Securities, had some scruples and reportedly left a note on the car for its owner reading "Your car's buckled, could you give us a call?" They've also since apologized and agreed to pay for the £946 done - about $1,500 - in damages by their blazing hot building. A joint statement with the Canary Wharf district in which the building's located was also released. In it, the developer acknowledges concerns about the reflected light and says it's looking into the matter. The city has also decided to close a few parking bays that could be in the building's line of fire, so to speak, until a solution can be engineered. Since news of the melting Jag broke, other vehicle owners have also come forward claiming the building, re-nicknamed the "Walkie Scorchie," has damaged their cars, as well.
This isn't the first shiny-new-building-attacks-cars story we've heard - architect Frank Gehry's Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles was built amidst concern that its polished ribbons of stainless steel were blinding motorists and causing accidents, along with raising the temperatures of nearby buildings with its reflected light. The building's surfaces were later given a matte polish.
The heads of Jaguar Land Rover are having a busy couple of weeks opening factories. Just days after inaugurating the company's first overseas plant in China, the automaker's new Engine Manufacturing Center in the UK is being inaugurated, as well. The plant near Wolverhampton, England, marks the first time in decades that JLR is building its own powerplants in-house. Further signaling the importance of this launch for the business, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip were on hand and even tweeted about it.
The factory's first major project is to build JLR's latest Ingenium four-cylinders, starting with the 2.0-liter diesel version. "Our new Engine Manufacturing Centre is an important step in advancing the competitiveness and capability of the UK automotive sector. The production of in-house engines will support the expansion of the UK supply chain providing critical mass for inward investment," said Trevor Leeks, plant operations director in the automaker's announcement.
Opening the doors to the Engine Manufacturing Center has been years in the making for JLR. The plant was first announced in September 2011 and broke ground in June 2012. Building it cost the company 500 million pounds ($800 million) and created 1,400 new jobs. Of course, being a state-of-the-art factory, considerations were made to make the place as energy efficient as possible. That meant installing the UK's largest solar array with 21,000 panels to produce about 30 percent of the site's electricity needs.
Every automaker has its own agenda when it comes to concept cars. Some roll them out just to showcase where it's heading. Others create them to gauge public opinion for a potential production model. Still others only showcase a concept car to preview a model that's already well underway. Jaguar is just such a company.
In the last several years, Coventry has only produced a handful of concept cars, and each of them - the C-X16 that foreshadowed the F-Type, the C-X17 that previews the upcoming crossover and Project 7 that is now entering limited production - has led straight to the introduction of a new, commercially available model. Except for one: the C-X75.
The extreme lightweight supercar was set to succeed the XJ220 with a number of advanced technologies, but unfortunately Jaguar ended up pulling the plug to watch from the sidelines as McLaren, Ferrari and Porsche got all the attention for their new hybrid hypercars. But that doesn't mean that some of the technologies initially developed for the C-X75 won't find their way into other Jaguar products.