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Auto blogWed, 21 Nov 2012 10:01:00 EST
The 2011 earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan took quite the toll on the automotive industry in that nation. Not content to lean on that tragedy as excuse for slagging sales, the Japanese automakers are planning on a major production expansion in North America. The aim is to reclaim the market share lost from the Tsunami-based dip, and overcome a dollar/yen exchange rate that makes exporting to America unprofitable.
Following the Tsunami, Japanese automakers ramped up production in their North American facilities to compensate, but according to Automotive News, Nissan, Honda and others have all reported plans for still-further increased production in the year ahead. As part of this ramp-up, Mazda will open a facility in Salamnca, Mexico before March of 2014. Part of that increase in output is 50,000 units of a Toyota-badged compact car, which Mazda will produce.
Other Mexican production facilities opening include a Honda plant, which will open in Spring 2014 in Celaya, and a Nissan plant, set to open later this year in Aguascalientes. Nissan also said that it will need another plant in North America within the next five years. According to Nissan Boss Carlos Ghosn, the company aims to raise its stake in the US market from 8 percent to 10, and adding production will help achieve that goal. Even Mitsubishi is aiming to boost production at its Normal, Illinois plant. Production of the Outlander Sport is currently at 50,000, which Mitsubishi wants to raise to 70,000.
The McLaren F1 is most famous for holding the production-car top-speed record for over a decade, but it also made a name for itself by being one of the only production cars with a central driving position, a feature that's extremely rare. But in the world of custom cars, anything can happen. We're not sure if Dubai-based shop King of Customs was inspired by McLaren or is poking fun at backseat drivers (perhaps the builder or the commissioner just has quite the imagination), but its custom fifth-generation Nissan Patrol (the foundation of the Infiniti QX80 in the US) sports utility vehicle takes the term "central-driving position" to the next level. In the Patrol's case, "central" means that the driver's seat and controls are located in the second-row seating area.
It's a pretty clean conversion - if pointless - and we have to wonder how safe it is to drive such a vehicle. The front seats are now passenger seats, and the front airbags have been taken out and replaced with screens, according to King of Customs' Facebook page. So if the driver's view outside is impaired and the SUV is involved in a crash, you'd better hope nobody is up front. The screens on the backs of the front-seat headrests at least provide views from the side-view mirrors via cameras, the shop claims.
Watch the video below, marvel at the extreme impracticality of it all and see the thing drive.
Okay, so we may not be talking about a classic, all-conquering Nissan Skyline GT-R here. But the sub-Godzilla-trim Nissan Skyline GTS-T is still a car, after all. And, as a car, if someone asked you to lay a bet on it versus a mobility scooter (Hoveround, Rascal, you know the type) in a drag race, you'd probably take that action.
Unless, of course, that drag race were happening on YouTube, in which case you'd put your money away and open up your laptop. On the Internet it's best to never bet against the wild underdog.
We don't mean to spoil the following video for you, but come on. When you saw Skyline vs. Scooter in that headline, you had a pretty good idea of what was to come, didn't you. Needless to say, mobility scooters fitted with Suzuki GSX-600F engines are pretty quick. Strap in and scroll down.