This is the Motoramic Dash, a daily roundup of the most interesting news in the automotive world.
Outside the United States, the "Top Gear" franchise extends to a globetrotting live stadium show featuring a sampler pack of host idiots, the Stig in something exotic and high quality vehicular stunts. This year, the Top Gear Live brain trust says it will attempt a world first: driving a double loop-the-loop, like a life-size Hot Wheels track. It's much harder than it looked on your bedroom floor.
Just how dangerous are these stunts? According to the Top Gear Live people, they built a remote-controlled but full-size buggy to practice the single loop dozens of times before they allowed a driver to attempt it. For the stunt to work, the driver has to enter the loop at a specific speed; lock out the accelerator pedal with a hand switch so that the G-forces don't cause him to stomp on the pedal and crash; regain enough speed in the short space at the end of the first loop to hit the right entry speed for the second one, and hope nothing goes wrong like a suspension grind or blacking out.
The first attempt will be run on Saturday in South Africa, and if it's successful, I'm sure someone will give the stunt a U.S. passport.
Other news from around the industry this morning:
GM chief labors to get rebuilt carmaker into gear: Ignore the political chattering over GM. If you want to know what worries Wall Street and people who know the auto industry about GM, it's in this piece laying out how much of the terrible old GM remains in place -- and how workers took to bathroom walls over changes to their pension plans. (Wall Street Journal)
UAW organizers target Nissan plant: Workers in Canton, Miss., make $1.50 an hour less than workers in Smyrna, Tenn. The last time the UAW tried to organize at Nissan, workers heard a personal video message from CEO Carlos Ghosn suggesting the company would move future work elsewhere if the workers organized. (Detroit News)
Shaky battery maker claims breakthrough: A123 Systems, the largest American-based builder of lithium-ion batteries, says it has a breakthrough chemistry that could eliminate the need for heating and cooling systems for battery packs. A123 is also on the ropes, and needs some new sources of income. The phrase "Hail Mary" comes to mind. (New York Times)
Sony to make movie based on Tonka trucks: Simply called "Tonka," this will be some kind of animated thing. I'm holding out for the epic "Hot Wheels vs. Matchbox" showdown. They'll already know how to do double loop-the-loops.