There are a number of prestigious auto shows taking place in the U.S. each year. The New York Auto Show and the Detroit Auto Show are some of them, even if the latter has declined in importance along with its host city's financial crisis striking hard during the last years. The two aforementioned auto shows are some of the most popular auto events in North American, and not only; of course, car enthusiasts from all around the world are also following the events. The Los Angeles Auto Show might be relevantly less historical as an event, but it has steadily gained ground in popularity and significance in the last years.

This year, the LA Auto Show was held between the 22nd of November and the 1st of December. More than 50 world and North American vehicle debuts stole the attention of the visitors eager to explore the latest developments in technology and design of their most favorite car brands. Let’s take a look now at some of this year’s highlights, as they were presented in the international press.

Starting with concept cars, one thing is for sure: we have a winner! Designed for PlayStation’s hit Gran Turismo (a video game that has been discussed probably more than any other in the recent years), the Mercedes-Benz AMG Vision Gran Turismo looks like coming from our wildest futuristic dreams. Especially its wheels are designed exactly the way most of us would have imagine the wheels of the car of the future. Unfortunately we won’t be seeing, or admiring to put it better, this car out in the streets except if we’re talking about Gran Turismo’s virtual streets…
Another vehicle that didn’t pass unnoticed is the Ford Edge Concept. This concept car represents the future of driving, with cars taking more driving responsibilities, while the drivers will be sitting for a coffee in the driver's seat and relaxing. I know that some of you can’t wait for the time when driving will be a much less worriless and tireless experience; however, we’re still not there yet. The Ford Edge Concept, though, is equipped with an obstacle-avoidance system. Furthermore, it is able to send warnings to the driver and, generally speaking, it enjoys semi-autonomy from the driver. Well, it’s surely a start!
Moving to all-electric hybrid cars, the BMW i8 poses as the uncontested winner among its competitors. The German brand has been experimenting with all-electric cars for quite some time now, but with the introduction of the BMW i8 it now seems that it has moved to the next level. Its price surely indicates that this supercar from the future cannot be available to everyone, as $135,000 sound quite a lot for us, commoners. Nonetheless, the day that plug-in hybrid cars will be widely available must not be so far. In case you run a business and this supercar has just opened your appetite, then you can always search for your ideal company car by BMW and earn in prestige!
The 2014 MINI was also presented at the show. This is the third generation of MINI cars since 2000, when the legendary icons entered a new era in their long and successful history. BMW was the company that led MINI into the future and the trip doesn’t seem to end anytime soon. The new MINI is larger in size, but its design stays the same; always cool, always elegant!
Many more cars impressed the experts and the visitors alike, including the Porsche Macan, the 2014 Hyundai Tucson Fuel Cell, the Jaguar F-Type Coupe or the 2014 Lexus IS350 AWD among others. This year's car 'harvest' has been quite generous, however my gut feeling says that next year will have in store many more debuts and surprises! Let's wait and see! Till then, drive safely!
We live in a world where everything we used to know seems to rapidly change. The tremendous speed at which information circulates signifies also the speed at which things around us are changing. Many things that we used to take for granted are bound to change in times like ours, when certainties and long term predictions are simply impossible. The times we live in are characterized by brand new developments; never before people could communicate with each other that easily, even if they were separated by thousands of kilometers. Never before we had the democratization of knowledge that free internet brought to us. And the list is endless.
Everything is changing: nowadays, countries are less strong than before and multinational corporations make decisions that affect the lives of millions. This is the reality at the moment; whether we like it or not, it already happened. And this is precisely why I think that the crucial issue of corporate social responsibility must be addressed seriously and responsibly.
Today, corporations must act responsibly and take into consideration that the planet itself counts on their wise decisions. We cannot act naïve or pretend to; corporations aim to maximize their profits, otherwise we would have called them non-profit organizations! However, we have reached the moment when decisions must be taken only after careful consideration concerning the environmental impact of those decisions. Climate change is not a euphemism; it is a painful, dangerous and absolutely true fact. The fight against climate change is one of the most important struggles of the human race in the history of mankind.
There is no alternative!, as the late Margaret Thatcher would have put it. We must act now to protect the environment; consequently, ourselves too. The influential Canadian magazine Maclean’s seems to have understood this and this is why it recently published its list of the Top 50 Socially Responsible Companies for 2013 in Canada. The list is a result of the partnership of the magazine with the sustainability research company Sustainalytics.
The list measures the annual performance of brands in terms of their performance in a broad range of environmental and social strategies. To make it more clear, these companies are not Canadian but rather international and multinational companies with a strong brand presence in Canada, or they are Canadian-listed. The list categorizes the top 50 companies across 10 industries: banks, energy & utilities, food & beverage, industrials, materials, retailing, technology, telecom-electronics, textiles, footwear & apparel and finally transportation & logistics.
Let’s now take a look at some brands that made it to the list. If we were to start with cars, I don’t think that it will surprise anyone that BMW and Ford made it to the Maclean’s list. BMW has already proven its interest and focus towards a sustainable future due to its experimentation with the future of cars, which, it goes without a saying, is electric. Moreover, the BMW Group Supplier Innovation Awards aims to make the brand’s suppliers to think of sustainable solutions.
Ford Motor Company also made it to Maclean’s list. That was hardly a surprise as only that year the 2013 Ford Fusion Hybrid was awarded in the annual Green Living Show, Canada’s largest consumer show dedicated to a greener, more sustainable, lifestyle. Furthermore, Ford has set a goal to reduce its gas emissions by 30% by 2025 in what must have been a clear proof that Ford deserved to be in the list.
In the industry of food & beverage, the presence of Starbucks on that list also sounds like the way to be. The American coffee company is well known as a “green friendly” brand that doesn’t hesitate to conduct campaigns that aim to bring solutions to big social problems. More specifically, and always according to Maclean’s list, Starbucks has achieved LEED certification (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) for many of its stores around the world. Moreover, Starbucks has already announced that it plans to volunteer 1 million community service hours in the near future!
Other famous food & beverage brands that made it to the list include Kellogg and Pepsi. The former will provide more than a billion (!) breakfasts by 2016, part of its Breakfasts for Better Days Hunger Relief Initiative, while the latter makes the difference with its One Simple Thing program that allows Pepsi’s employees to pursue a work-life goal, such as flexible working arrangements, for example.
In the crucial field of industrials Philips stands out for being one of the few companies that publishes its environmental performance along with its financial report. We shouldn’t forget that transparency is a key issue that big corporations should address in order to be truly convincing to our eyes that their strategies are respectful to the environment and the common good. General Electric Company made it to Maclean’s list also because it donated $5 million in total to the Robin Hood Foundation for the victims of hurricane Sandy and to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.
As for the technology field, Dell was included in the list for terminating the use of mercury in the manufacturing of its new notebooks, among other things. Cisco Systems Inc. on the other hand was rewarded for its more than satisfactory 96% of all new products that include “design for environment” standards. As for Intel Corp. it actually tripled its percentage in reducing greenhouse-gas emissions from 20% that had originally predicted to 60%!
There are many more companies that made it to this prestigious list by Canadian magazine Maclean’s. One thing is for sure, though: governments and civil societies must always try to make sure that doing “business as usual” should include social responsibility and environmental friendly strategies. In that way, we can all together hope for a better and sustainable future…

2014 MINI Goes Partying

There are only a few days left till the brand new 2014 MINI will make its official first public appearance. On the 18th of November the new MINI will be presented at the Oxford Plant, the factory where MINI cars are assembled in the U.K. at the moment. The Oxford Plant is the place where MINI was born in the first place thanks to the imaginative and creative mind of Sir Alec Issigonis. So, it only makes sense that the latest MINI car will be revealed there. The big night will be celebrated also with the live performance of the pop band Fenech Soler.

MINI is not so conventional, though. That means that one night couldn’t have been enough for the always hungry for more MINI aficionados and for the managers of this successful brand, which seem to always be ready to take new challenges. Therefore, the surprise in store for the audience is that the new MINI will be presented three times and on three different continents within a few days. Sounds great, don’t you think!? After the show in London, MINI will travel to Los Angeles or the city of angels as they used to call it. Alternative rockers Passion Pit will honor this special night celebrating the MINI, as they will be singing their tunes to the happy few that will have a taste of MINI’s charms before us.

Last, but not least, is Shanghai. China is a huge emerging market for car sales and, as a matter of fact, MINI’s sales are steadily growing in Asia’s most populous country and the world’s second largest economy. Since quite recently, all MINI models are available for sale for the first time in China. Indeed, the future for car manufacturers seems bright in China. The party for the 2014 MINI will be taking place in Shanghai on November 21st. This time, the quirky dance pop band Gossip will entertain the visitors and guests.

What’s more than this, some lucky Mini Cooper fans will have the chance to take this trip on three continents for free. Go ahead and try your luck!

2014 MINI Cooper: What is it all about?

Dubbed the ‘new original’ by the brand’s advertising campaign, the new MINI will meet the audiences with a few changes. The goal for the MINI executives was simple: to make driving an easier and more pleasant task. Let us now see what they changed.

Firstly, MINI 2014 will have a head-up display system. Through a small color screen the driver will be provided, whenever is needed, with information such as the car’s speed, traffic signs or local speed limits. This is, indeed, the future of driving. Drivers will no longer feel lonely as they drive, their cars will always be there for them! Apart from the entertaining side of the story, it goes without a saying that driving will also become a much safer activity.

Secondly, the new MINI will make parking easier and we know that this is one of the biggest fears for so many young drivers. Its new Parking Assistant will use information from both sensors and a video camera in order to assist the driver in the sometimes troubling case of parking. MINI’s setup will be able to find a proper parking spot with the driver having to take care of only the accelerator and the brake functions. You see? Parking was never easier before!
Finally, the new MINI will use for the first time an engine sourced from BMW, the company that owns the MINI brand. That is certainly great news, considering the huge degree of trust customers have on BMW’s technological expertise.  

The new 2014 MINI will certainly be available for sale in the first months of the coming year. Go for it! enjoy it!