The world’s fastest specimens

June 30, 2008

Fastest Mobike – Suzuki-Hayabusa Top Speed – 305 kmph.

Fastest Plane – SR-71 Blackbird Top Speed – 3529 kmph.

Fastest Snake – Black Mamba Top Speed – 16 to 19 kmph.

Fastest Computer – Roadrunner Top Speed – 1000 trillion calculations per second.

Fastest Train – TGV (France) Top Speed – 515 kmph.

Fastest Reptile (on land) – Spiny-tailed iguana (Costa Rica) Top Speed – 35 kmph.

Fastest Bird – Peregrine falcon Top Speed – 200 kmph.

Fastest Car – SSC Ultimate Aero TT Top Speed – 412 kmph.

Fastest Animal– Cheetah Top Speed – 115 kmph.

Fastest Man – Usain Bolt (Jamaica) Top Speed – 100 m in 9.72 seconds


World’s 10 biggest shopping malls

June 26, 2008

1. South China Mall

Located in Dongguan, this mall has leasable space for over 1,500 stores in approximately 6.5 million square-feet of total floor area. It has seven zones modeled on: Amsterdam, Paris, Rome, Venice, Egypt, the Caribbean, and California. Although the mall opened in 2005, it still suffers from lack of retailers. Much of the retail space remains empty. Analysts say that the main reason the mall is so far largely unoccupied is that it is located in the suburbs of Dongguan, which is not well connected by China’s public transport system.

2. Golden Resources Shopping Mall

Located near the Fourth Ring Road in Beijing, China, the Great Mall of China has a total area of 7.3 million square feet (680,000 square meters) spread over six floors. It is 1.5 times the size of the Mall of America. It was completed on October 20, 2004 after 20 months of construction.

3. Central World

This is the largest shopping mall and office complex in Bangkok owned by the Central Group. Spread over 800,000-square-metre, the mall is the largest shopping centre in south-east Asia and is larger than Hong Kong’s Ocean Terminal. Originally called the World Trade Centre, the eight-story mall opened in 1990.

4. The SM Mall of Asia

Also known as MOA, this is the largest shopping mall in the Philippines. Spread over an area of 407,101 square meters, the mall opened on May 21, 2006.The mall is owned and operated by SM Prime Holdings, under the management of Henry Sy, a Chinese-Filipino business tycoon. One of the mall’s main attractions is the first ever IMAX theatre in the country. The mall features the Philippines’s first Olympic-size (61 by 30 meters) ice skating rink.

5. Dream Mall

Located in Kaohsiung, Taiwan, this is the largest shopping mall in Taiwan and the second largest in Southeast Asia after the Mall of Asia in Manila, the Philippines. Spread over an area of 400,001 square meters, the mall was designed by international architecture firm RTKL, based in Baltimore, Maryland and opened on May 12, 2007.The mall contains restaurants, movie theatre, gym, and entertainment facilities, including a Ferris wheel nicknamed Kaohsiung Eye.

6. West Edmonton Mall

Located in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada this mall is spread over an area of 3, 50,000 square meters. It has over 800 stores and parking for more than 20,000 vehicles. More than 23,000 people are employed in the mall. The mall receives 28.2 million visitors per year and between 60,000 and 150,000 shoppers daily depending on the day and season. The mall’s amusement park was originally called Fantasyland, until The Walt Disney Company took the mall to court, claiming ownership of the name, which is used in its theme parks such as Disneyland.WEM subsequently renamed the attraction Galaxyland.

7. Cevahir Shopping Centre

Opened on October 15, 2005, it is a modern shopping and entertainment centre located in the Sisli district of Istanbul, Turkey. Spread over an area of 348,000 square meters, Cevahir Mall is the largest shopping centre in Europe, and the seventh largest in the world. The project, originally a trade complex, including retail centers and three skyscrapers with 40 and 48 floors to replace one of the city’s old bus depots, was designed in 1987 by American architects Minoru Yamasaki & Associates. The foundation stone was laid in 1997; however, it took eight years to complete only the shopping section due to numerous delays.

8. SM City North EDSA

This is one of the biggest and first shopping malls in the Philippines and one of the biggest shopping malls in the world spread over an area of 331,861 square meters. This is the first major shopping complex established by Henry Sy and his company SM Prime Holdings, the largest retail corporation in the country. Since its establishment in 1983, it has done several major expansions and renovations, and features a bowling alley, food court, garden, entertainment centre and 12-theatres.

9. SM Megamall

This is a large shopping mall in the Ortigas business district of Metro Manila, the Philippines, owned and operated by SM Prime Holdings. The mall is spread over an area of 331,679 square meters. One of the first ice skating rinks in the country can be found in this mall. For conventions and functions, the mall houses three SM Megatrade Halls on its top floor. The Bridgeway connecting the two main buildings of the mall contains several eateries.

10. Berjaya Times Square Kuala Lumpur Shopping Mall

Berjaya Times Square KL is tagged as the ‘world’s largest building ever built in a single phase’, with 7.5 million square feet (700,000 square meter) of built up floor area. The mall within is spread over an area of 320,000 square meters. Currently, the mall has space for more than 1,000 retail shops, 1200 luxury service suites, 65 food outlets and other attractions like Asia’s largest indoor theme park, Cosmo’s World and Malaysia’s first-ever IMAX 2D & 3D theatre. The Kuala Lumpur Monorail’s Imbi station is linked to the building by a footbridge.

India’s top 10 companies

June 23, 2008

1. Indian Oil Corporation

Indian Oil Corporation Ltd. is currently India’s largest company by sales with a turnover of Rs 201493.85 crore (Rs 2014.93 billion) , the highest-ever for an Indian company. IOC is also ranked in Fortune ‘Global 500’ listing. It is also the 20th largest petroleum company in the world. Established in 1959 as Indian Oil Company Ltd, Indian Oil Corporation Ltd was formed in 1964 with the merger of Indian Refineries Ltd (est. 1958). Indian Oil and its subsidiaries account for 47 per cent petroleum products market share, 40.4 per cent refining capacity and 67 per cent downstream sector pipelines capacity in India. The Indian Oil Group of companies owns and operates 10 of India’s 19 refineries. These include two refineries of subsidiary Chennai Petroleum Corporation Ltd and one of Bongaigaon Refinery and Petrochemicals Limited.

IOC’s maxim is ‘Bringing Energy to Life’.

2. Reliance Industries

“Between my past, the present and the future, there is one common factor: Relationship and Trust. This is the foundation of our growth.” These are the words of the founder of Reliance, Dhirubhai Ambani. Reliance Industries, is the largest private sector company in India. It is the second biggest company in India. The Reliance Group, founded by Dhirubhai H. Ambani (1932-2002), is today headed by Mukesh Ambani.

A Fortune Global 500 company, the group’s activities include exploration and production of oil and gas, petroleum refining and marketing, petrochemicals (polyester, fibre intermediates, plastics and chemicals), textiles and retail. Reliance is the largest polyester yarn and fibre producer in the world and among the top five to ten producers in the world in major petrochemical products. Major companies are Reliance Industries Limited (including main subsidiaries Reliance Petroleum Limited and Reliance Retail limited) and Reliance Industrial Infrastructure Limited.

Reliance’s maxim is ‘Growth is life’.

3. Bharat Petroleum Corporation

BPCL is India’s third largest company. Listed in the Fortune 500 & Forbes 2000 listings, BPCL calls itself a ‘MNC in PSU garb’. Way back in 1976, the Burmah Shell Group of Companies was taken over by the government of India to form Bharat Refineries Limited. On 1st August 1977, it was renamed Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited. It was also the first refinery to process newly found indigenous crude (Bombay High), in India.

After nationalization in 1976, Bharat Petroleum charted out a rapid growth path. Turnover, profitability and financial reserves have grown significantly over the years. Bharat Petroleum produces a range of products, from petrochemicals and solvents to aircraft fuel and specialty lubricants, besides supplying fuel directly to hundreds of industries, and several international and domestic airlines.

4. Hindustan Petroleum Corporation

Hindustan Petroleum Corporation of India Ltd is a Fortune 500 company. The corporation operates 2 major refineries producing a wide variety of petroleum fuels and specialties, in Mumbai and Vishakhapatnam. HPCL holds an equity stake of 16.95 per cent in Mangalore Refinery & Petrochemicals. In addition, HPCL is planning to set up a refinery in Punjab.

HPCL also owns and operates the largest lube refinery in India. The history of HPCL dates back to 1952. The company was incorporated in the name of Standard Vacuum Refining Company of India Limited on July 5, 1952. On 31st March 1962, the name was changed to ESSO Standard Refining Company of India Limited. In 1974, Hindustan Petroleum Corporation Limited came into being after the takeover and merger of erstwhile Esso and Lube India Undertaking, Caltex Oil Refining Ltd and Kosan Gas Company. HPCL is thus a result of the merger of four organizations.

HPCL’s maxim is ‘Future full of Energy’.

5. Oil and Natural Gas Corporation

ONGC is the fifth largest company in India. It is also has the distinction of being highest profit making corporation in India. ONGC is a Fortune Global 500 company which contributes 77 per cent of India’s crude oil production and 81 per cent of India’s natural gas production. The company was incorporated on June 23, 1993 is an Indian public sector petroleum company.

It was set up as a commission on August 14, 1956. Indian government holds 74.14 per cent equity stake in this company. ONGC is engaged in exploration and production activities. It is involved in exploring for and exploiting hydrocarbons in 26 sedimentary basins of India. It produces about 30 per cent of India’s crude oil requirement. It owns and operates more than 11,000 kilometers of pipelines in India.

ONGC’s maxim is ‘Making tomorrow brighter’.

6. Steel Authority of India Limited

SAIL is the sixth largest company in India. Steel Authority of India Limited (SAIL) is the leading steel-making company in India. It is a fully integrated iron and steel maker, producing both basic and special steels for domestic construction, engineering, power, railway, automotive and defence industries and for sale in export markets.

SAIL is ranked amongst the top ten public sector companies in India in terms of turnover. SAIL manufactures and sells a broad range of steel products. The government of India owns about 86 per cent of SAIL’s equity and retains voting control of the Company.

 SAIL produces iron and steel at five integrated plants and three special steel plants, located principally in the eastern and central regions of India and situated close to domestic sources of raw materials, including the company’s iron ore, limestone and dolomite mines. The company has the distinction of being India’s largest producer of iron ore and of having the country’s second largest mines network. This gives SAIL a competitive edge in terms of captive availability of iron ore, limestone, and dolomite which are inputs for steel making.


NTPC is the 7 the company in India. NTPC Ltd is the largest power generating company in India. A public sector company, it was incorporated in 1975 to accelerate power development in the country as a wholly owned company of the government of India. At present, the government of India holds 89.5 per cent of the total equity shares of the company and the balance 10.5 per cent is held by FIIs, Domestic Banks, Public and others.

In a span of 32 years, NTPC has emerged as a truly national power company; with power generating facilities in all the major regions of the country.NTPC was incorporated in 1975. In the last 31 years, it has grown into the largest power utility of India. NTPC is the sixth largest thermal power generator in the world.

NTPC’s maxim is ‘Powering people’s progress’.

8. Tata Motors

Tata Motors is the 8th largest company in India. Tata Motors recently created history in India Inc history acquiring luxury auto brands — Jaguar and Land Rover — from Ford Motor for $2.3 billion dollars. The company is also the world’s fifth largest medium and heavy commercial vehicle manufacturer, and the world’s second largest medium and heavy bus manufacturer.

Tata Motors has gained worldwide recognition under the leadership of its managing director Ravi Kant. Established in 1945, Tata Motors today has 4 million vehicles on Indian roads, since the first rolled out in 1954. The company’s manufacturing base is spread across India – Jamshedpur (Jharkhand) in the east, Pune (Maharashtra) in the west, and in the north in Lucknow (Uttar Pradesh) and Pantnagar (Uttarakhand). A new plant is being set up in Singur near Kolkata in West Bengal to manufacture the world’s cheapest car, the Rs 1 lakh Nano.

Tata Motors is the first company from India’s engineering sector to be listed in the New York Stock Exchange. In 2004, it acquired the Daewoo Commercial Vehicles Company, Korea’s second largest truck maker. Tata Motors and Fiat Auto formed an industrial joint venture at Ranjangaon (near Pune in Maharashtra, India) to produce both Fiat and Tata cars and Fiat power trains for the Indian and overseas markets.

9. Tata Steel

Tata Steel is the ninth largest company in India with a sales turnover of Rs  25117.78 crore. Established in 1907, Tata Steel is the world’s 6th largest steel company with an existing annual crude steel capacity of 28 million tons. It has operations in 24 countries and commercial presence in over 50 countries. Founded by Jamsetji Nusserwanji Tata, Tata Steel completed 100 glorious years of existence on August 26, 2007. The first private sector steel plant which started with a production capacity of 1, 00,000 tons has today transformed into a global giant.

The company also has three Greenfield steel projects in the states of Jharkhand, Orissa and Chhattisgarh and proposed steel making facilities in Vietnam and Bangladesh. Through investments in Corus, Millennium Steel (renamed Tata Steel Thailand) and NatSteel Asia, Singapore, the Tata Steel has created a manufacturing and marketing network in Europe, South East Asia and the Pacific-rim countries.

Tata Steel’s vision is to be the global steel industry benchmark for value Creation and corporate citizenship. Tata Steel is one of the few steel companies in the world that is Economic Value Added (EVA) positive. It was ranked the ‘World’s Best Steel Maker’, for the third time by World Steel Dynamics in its annual listing in February, 2006. Tata Steel has been conferred the Prime Minister of India’s Trophy for the ‘Best Integrated Steel Plant’ five times.

10. Sterilite Industries

Sterlite Industries, a part of Vedanta Resources, a London-listed metals and mining major, is India’s tenth largest company in terms of sales. Sterilite Industries had a sales turnover of Rs 24,376.83 crore (Rs 243.76 billion) in 2007. Sterlite Industries (India) Limited was acquired in 1986, bringing together several metal related activities managed by the Agarwal family. Sterlite was listed on the Bombay Stock Exchange in 1988 and on the National Stock Exchange in 2004.

Vedanta was listed on the London Stock Exchange in 2003. Vedanta has two copper businesses, the first based in India and the second at Konkola Copper Mines in Zambia, which was acquired in November 2004. The copper business in India is held within Sterlite Industries (India) Ltd. There is some captive copper mining, but the business is principally in smelting and refining. Sterilte has plants in Tuticorin in Tamil Nadu and Silvassa. Sterlite owns two copper mines in Australia. In 2005-06, Sterlite had a domestic market share of some 43% of copper sales.

World’s 10 most expensive pens

June 19, 2008

1. The Limited Edition Mystery Masterpiece

A joint creation between Mont Blanc and Van Cleef & Arpels, this is the most expensive writing pen ever created. It costs $730,000. Each pen has 840 diamonds and more than 20 carats of gemstones set in a Van Cleef & Arpels patented ‘Mystery Setting’ that conceals the stone settings. There are three variations of the pen, set either with rubies, sapphires or emeralds, and accented by diamonds. Artisans took over 18 months to create this pen.

2. La Modernista Diamond Pens

It was made by the Swiss company Caran d’Ache in 1999 as homage to architect Antonio Gaudi. The fountain pen was sold in Harrods, London, for $265,000.La Modernista Diamonds is made of rhodium-coated solid silver components. It boasts of an 18-carat rhodium-coated gold nib and is set with a total of 5,072 Wessel ton diamonds weighing in at 20-carats, as well as and 96 rubies totaling 32-carats.The pen was hand-made by master jeweler Robert Perron and it took him six months to complete this true masterpiece of writing instruments.

3. Ripple HRH Limited Edition Visconti fountain pen

Made of 18K white gold and diamonds and with two-tone 18K gold nib, it costs $57,000.It has double reservoir filling system and is sold in two variations — white gold and black. Another distinguished Visconti pen is the Forbidden City HRH Limited Edition fountain pen. Made of black resin, 18K gold and diamonds and boasting of Power Filler innovative filling system invented by Visconti, it is sold for $42,200.

4. Grayson Tighe Limited Edition fountain and roller ball pens

These pens are sold for a price of $22,000 to $24,000. They are 18K gold Victorian royalty executive custom made collector’s pens. The nib of Grayson Tighe fountain pens is custom hand-made in Germany with 18K yellow gold. It’s engraved with a specially designed Acanthus leaf, tipped with iridium, and two toned with rhodium. Grayson Tighe roller ball pens have an advanced refill that has a 1 Year cap-off time.

5. OMAS Limited Edition Pens

These pens are sold for $16,500. The Corinthian style votive monument erected by Lysicrates is recreated on the cap and the Laocoon sculpture dominates the barrel. The clip of the pen is one of the columns of the votive monument. The cap has a pure diamond set on the end of it.

6. David Oscarson Pens

Of this lot, the Pierrot White Fountain Pen is the most expensive costing about $4,900. Through Pierrot White Fountain Pen, David Oscarson has introduced a unique collection representing the old world craftsmanship in an attractive range of designer pens. In fact, David Oscarson is the first pen making company to integrate five colors of hard enamel and three levels of guilloche on each fountain pen, which is finished in rhodium vermeil with natural backgrounds.

7. La Dona Menagerie Fountain Pen

Handcrafted by Cartier, these pens belong to the most exquisite designer range of writing instruments priced at about $4,000. Cartier La Dona Menagerie is named after the 1940’s, cine star Maria Felix, who was also known as ‘La Doa- the Mexican Marilyn Monroe.’ It was on her request; the luxury jeweler’s designer Cartier customized a crocodile necklace in gold. This necklace inspired Cartier to design and develop 888 individually numbered fine pieces of La Dona pens, the second offering in the Menagerie Collection. Made of expensive materials, such as gold, Cartier pen has a gold-plated nib, which is carved with a crocodile head.

8. Fifth Avenue roller ball and fountain pens

Each of the 1,929 luxurious New York Fifth Avenue roller ball and fountain pens hand-made by S T DuPont required about 160 hours of supervision. Result was taupe- and brunette-colored lacquer fountain pens worth $2,400. These pens are embellished with a gold and silver relief overlay, which features a central globe design.

9. Graf von Faber-Castel Pens

The core feature of the Graf von Faber-Castell Custom Pens is wood in different variations. In Pen of the Year 2008, the outer layer of the barrel is made of Indian satinwood. No fewer than 84 Satinwood rectangles are hand-cut for the filigree herringbone pattern. The pen is crowned by a chessboard-facted citrine gemstone, Platonized fittings and an 18-carat bicolor gold nib, carefully run in by hand. It comes in a wooden case with a brochure and a certificate for the pen collector. It’s priced at $2,000.

10. Conway Stewart Westminster Teal Pen

Priced at $1,800, British Pen Company Conway Stewart has released the latest version of this popular pen this time in teal enamel. The pen takes its design cues from the palace of Westminster with its Gothic style engraving on the cap and barrel. The small diamond-shaped recesses mimic the detail on the palace and the tiny oak leaves are a symbol of England. The pen is available in an edition of 100 fountain pen or roller ball writing modes

Simple ways of combating the global warming

June 18, 2008

The UN guide to Climate Neutrality outlines ways for people to combat global warming

1.  Go for jogging in a park rather than on an electric treadmill.


2. Use a wind-up alarm clock rather than an electric one – Save 40 grams of CARBON DIOXIDE (CO2) a day.


3. Dry clothes in a washing line rather than in a dryer – Save 2.3kgs of CARBON DIOXIDE (CO2) per load.


4. Use a non electric tooth brush – Save 48gms of CARBON DIOXIDE (CO2) a day.


5. Heat bread rolls in a toaster rather than in a owen for 15 minutes – Save 170 grams of CARBON DIOXIDE (CO2) each time.


6. Take a train rather than a car for a daily commute of 8 Kms – save 1.7Kg of CARBON DIOXIDE (CO2) a day.


7.  A return flight across the Atlantic is equivalent to running a car for a year for each passenger.


Fantastic ‘Green Cars’

June 13, 2008

Some ‘green’ cars have already hit the market, while others are in the pipeline. Read on to get a glimpse of a few of these new breed of cars.

Nissan Pivo 2 concept car

The vehicle resembles a futuristic bubble car and is powered by advanced compact lithium-ion batteries. The car can travel about 78 miles (about 124 km) on a single charge and plugs into a regular home electric socket. The car’s cabin part can turn in a full circle. Its wheels too can turn at 90 degrees to allow the car to drive sideways as well as forward. Each of the four wheels is powered by the company’s advanced electric in-wheel 3D motor. It’s a ball-shaped vehicle that can easily be manoeuvred into tight spaces while parking without backing up. The robotic bubblehead in the cabin can detect the driver’s mood by analyzing changes in facial expressions. The robotic head can also say programmed phrases such as, ‘relax, don’t worry,’ if the driver seems upset. The driver’s facial expressions are analyzed by the robotic bubblehead’s digital camera eyes and a microphone that studies the driver’s voice for changes in volume and speaking speed. The Japanese automaker says that although the Pivo 2 is fully functional, it is too expensive to hit showrooms at this point.

Nissan’s Mixim all electric concept car

At the 62nd Frankfurt Motor Show, Nissan showcased its Mixim Concept Car: a compact vehicle for young drivers. The driver sits centrally, with two seats behind, while the steering wheel and controls are inspired by computer gamers. The car is powered by Nissan’s electric motor/generator that uses compact lithium-ion batteries. Sitting on a 2530mm wheelbase, Mixim is 3700mm long, 1800mm wide and 1400mm high. Despite being a concept car with no guarantee of being turned into a series production model, Mixim’s development is in line with the Nissan Green Program. It produced for sale; it is expected to be priced in the range of $12,000 to $15,000.

The NmG (No More Gas) Personal Electric Vehicle

Developed by Dana Myers of Myers Motors of US, NmG, a three-wheel electric vehicle, designed halfway between a car and a motorbike, offers room for just one person and the battery only stays charged for 30 miles (48 km).The car can achieve a speed of over 75 miles per hour (120 kmph) at a cost of $0.02 per mile. It needs to be plugged in into a 220-volt socket to be fully recharged in 3 hours. Available in many bright colors, the car is priced at $36,000.

Toyota i-REAL

The Toyota i-REAL is a one-seat electric vehicle that wraps around the passenger’s body and runs at a maximum speed of 30 km per hour in the high-speed mode and moves slowly among pedestrians at same eyesight height in the low-speed mode. The ‘car’ uses three wheels, two at the front and one at the back.

The Chrysler ECO Voyager

Chrysler’s ECO Voyager luxury electric concept car, marries an American design with fuel cell range-extended electric vehicle technology. The four-seater car is driven by an electric motor, with power supplied by a lithium-ion battery pack capable of a daily commute of about 40 miles (64 km).The electric motor develops 200 kilowatts (268 horsepower), enabling acceleration from 0 to 60 miles per hour (96 kmph) in less than 8 seconds.

Honda Civic Hybrid

The Honda Civic Hybrid is a hybrid version of the Honda Civic sedan. The Civic Hybrid, a four-seater, features a lightweight, low-friction 4-cylinder engine complimented by a DC electric motor that’s less than 2.5″ wide. Power for the motor is stored in a compact battery pack behind the rear seat. The battery comes with an 8-year/80,000-mile (128,000 km) warranty. The car’s interior is equipped with an automatic climate control with air-filtration system. Media reports claim that the car could be launched in India late this year or in early 2009.

Tara Tiny Series

Jostling along with Tata Nano, this July, will be Tara International’s Tara Tiny and Tara Titu: zero emission, electric cars that cost only Rs 99,000.At the moment, four variants of electric cars are ready at the Tara International factory at Palta, a few kilometers from Kolkata. These are Tara Tiny, Tara Titu (two-seater and four-seater, respectively), Tara Shuttle, and Tara Carrier. While Tara Tiny and Tara Titu are priced at Rs 99,000 (approximately), Tara Shuttle and Tara Carrier are priced at Rs 500,000 (approximately). The company will also launch electric bikes priced between Rs 12,000 and Rs 35,000. The running cost of these cars is about 40 paisa per km, while the two-wheeler’ running cost will be as low at 15 paisa per km. (100 paisa = 1 rupee).

Dodge Zeo Concept Car

The Dodge ZEO is a four-passenger, 2+2 sport wagon from the Chrysler stable. With a larger lithium-ion battery pack on board, the ZEO has a 250-mile driving range. The steering wheel, column, and instrument cluster is treated as a single freestanding design element in the ZEO, and the instruments are displayed on a thin blue acrylic viewing screen. According to Chrysler, ZEO’s 268-horsepower, rear-drive motor will get you to 60 miles per hour (96 kmph) in 5.7 seconds.


Launched in 2001, the REVA is a battery electric vehicle designed for low speed manufactured by Bangalore-based Reva Electric Car Co. A fully automated (no clutch, no gears), two-door hatchback four-seater, the car can be charged by plugging on to any 15 ampere socket. It is powered by a 37 kW AC induction motor that drives the front wheels, and uses sodium nickel chloride batteries. Unlike most electric vehicles, it has an onboard charger to facilitate easy charging. A full battery charge takes less than seven hours and gives a range of 80 km. In quick-charge mode (two-and-a-half hours), the car is good enough for 65 km. A full charge consumes about 9 units of electricity. Climate control seat and remote controlled AC has been recently incorporated to the car’s features. Customers can choose from over 2,000 shades and can customize their REVA by mixing and matching these features. The car is fitted with a wireless tablet or an embedded appliance that integrates into a high-resolution single touch-screen display stating speed, state-of-charge, range and sensor inputs as well as personal communication tools like GPS-based in-vehicle navigation, a GPRS modem for Internet and e-mail and Mp3 music. The car comes in two models — REVAi Standard, REVAiClasse. Another REVAi Special Edition is about to hit the market. The first two variants are priced at Rs 306,000 (ex-showroom Chennai) and Rs 340,000, respectively.

Toyota Prius

This is a hybrid electric midsize car developed and manufactured by the Toyota Motor Corporation. Priced at $21,500, the car can charge its battery from a household electrical unit. The Prius first went on sale in Japan in 1997, making it the first mass-produced hybrid vehicle. The Prius is sold in more than 40 countries and regions, with its largest markets being those of Japan and North America.

Renault Megane

This is a small family car produced by Renault-Nissan, priced at $27,990. It is available in several countries in various versions: 3-door hatchback, saloon, coupe, convertible, and station wagon. Renault-Nissan has also teamed up with Project Better Place, a Silicon Valley start-up, to introduce all-electric vehicles and a network of charging points in Israel and Denmark by 2011.

Smart Fortwo ‘bionic’ cabrio

A micro hybrid drive, this car, from Daimler AG, is a two-door convertible, two-seater. There are three roof removal options and one can set it to any position one wants while the car is in motion with flick of a switch. Production delivery of the car is expected in 2010. It will feature 30 kW (41 hp) output and a top speed of 70 mph (112 kmph). It will be capable of 0-30 mph (0-48 kmph) in 6.5 seconds. This electric car can travel up to 72 miles (116 km) between charges. It typically takes about 8 hours for a full charge. It is priced at $22,900.

World’s top business centers

June 12, 2008

According to a study titled ‘MasterCard Worldwide Centers of Commerce Index, the following are the top business centers of the world. All the cities have been rated on seven different parameters, including legal and political framework, economic stability, ease of doing business, financial flow, business centre, financial flow, knowledge creation and information flow and livability, MasterCard said.

#1: London

At rank 1, London reigns supreme among the top commercial cities of the world. London scores highest in the financial flow, knowledge creation and information flow. London is also ranked high in the business centre criteria. It is ranked 3rd in terms of ease of doing business and 9th in legal and political framework. London did not fare as well in livability criteria (rank 24th), and economic stability (rank 20th). A strong economy and a vibrant financial market are its strengths.

#2. New York

New York ranks second in the list of top global business centers. These global cities connect markets and commercial activity across the world. New York is ranked top in North America. It beats London in the legal and political framework dimension and economic stability and livability. New York, however, ranks lower in financial flow and business center dimension.

#3. Tokyo

Tokyo ranks third in the list of top ‘Worldwide Centers of Commerce’. More and more Asian cities rapidly growing attracting big business and a place in the global business world. Tokyo scores very well in the dimensions of financial flow, business centre, livability and knowledge creation and information flow where also it was ranked 3rd. However, Tokyo scored considerably lower than London and New York in legal and political framework, economic stability and ease of doing business

#4. Singapore

Singapore ranks fourth in the list of top business centers. Two Asian cities top the list in terms of ease of doing business. Singapore tops with an index value of 82.82 and in terms of business centers, Singapore is ranked at the third spot with an index value of 62.58.

#5. Chicago

Chicago ranks fifth in the list of top business centers in the world. In terms of knowledge creation and information flow, Chicago ranks among the top 10. More universities, MBA programmes, research institutions and numbers of researchers drive this dimension of knowledge creation.

#6. Hong Kong

Hong Kong ranks sixth in the list of top commercial centers. In terms of ease of doing business, Hong Kong is ranked second with an index value of 80.37. Cities in Asia were not generally major centers of commerce in the second half of the 20th century, with the exception of Tokyo and subsequently Hong Kong and Singapore.

The very strong rise of Shanghai in the 2008 Index reflects the equally spectacular rise of China. While Shanghai was likely the dominant Asian commercial centre before World War II, it faded for many decades until China’s economic reforms of the 1980s catapulted it back to global prominence, the report states.

#7. Paris

Paris ranks seventh among top global business centers. In Europe, it ranks at No. 2 after London. With a score of 79.17, London tops the list in Europe also but there is a big gap between it and other cities, Paris has a score of 63.87 and Madrid has a score of 58.34.

#8. Frankfurt

Frankfurt has slipped to No. 8 among the world’s top commercial centers. It stood in the seventh spot in 2007. The city ranks at No. 3 among European cities.

#9. Seoul

Seoul ranks ninth among the world’s top financial centers. The booming Chinese and Indian economies reflect the economic power to Asia. The strong presence of Asia/Pacific, Middle East and Africa cities is further evidence of the growing influence of the region not just in manufacturing and services, but also in broadly based commercial strength, the study said

#10. Amsterdam

Amsterdam ranks tenth among the list of top commercial centers in the world. It ranks among the top ten in legal and political framework. It also ranks high in the business centers criteria and economic stability.