In the name of
If you think that all the electronic advancements
in skid control, ‘swervability’ and such were purely the province
of the engineers, then think again. The engineers, in conjunction with
the electronic wallahs come up with all these advances, but it is the
ad-men who have to interest the prospective customers in these gizmos.
Try this list for size -
Ford Motor Co.: AdvanceTrac
General Motors: StabiliTrak
BMW AG: Dynamic Stability Control (DSC)
DaimlerChrysler AG: Electronic Stability Program
Honda Motor Corp.: Vehicle Stability Assist (VSA)
Nissan Motor Co.: Vehicle Dynamic Control (VDC)
Toyota Motor Corp.: Vehicle Stability Control (VSC)
So the next question is - are they all the same?
Does some small company in the Black Forest in Europe or Detroit (or
heaven forbid - China) make these things? In answer to that - no, they
are control systems designed and built by the manufacturers, or
through some company licensed by the manufacturers. “There are 22
names out there,” Bill Kozyra, CEO of Continental Teves N.A., says.
“It’s difficult enough for consumers to understand what the
technology is.” Right on, Bill!
To try and make it easier for the consumer, the
Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) soon will recommend one name for
the industry: electronic stability control, or ESC. The group often
recommends standard names for technology such as antilock brakes.
Manufacturers universally used the term “ABS” because it was
adopted before they had time to create brand names for it, SAE
spokesman Steve Yaeger says.
Not so with stability control. Each manufacturer
considers its version of the technology unique and thinks it has too
much brand pulling power to drop its own name. However, this is
currently not the case, as all the stability control mechanisms are
optional (costly) extras, other than on a few premium brands. The
customers are not buying, no matter what it is called. Four years
after stability control’s introduction in the United States, the
adoption rate is about 10 percent, Continental Teves says. With the
customer unsure of the benefits vis-เ-vis the price, they can
use whatever acronyms they like. The spin doctors will have to do a
better job than just coming up with a catchy set of initials.
Sauber and its
I was recently able to interview Sauber F1 drivers
Heinz-Harald Frentzen and Nick Heidfeld, and undoubtedly both were
nice guys, but without any real ego. I asked both of them who they
thought was the best driver in Formula 1 and I was amazed by their
answers. Both totally ducked the question with words like, “I
don’t believe I should judge the others.” See Arr Ay Pee!
I really expected them to say, “Me, of course,
and after me Michael Schumacher’s not bad.” You see, I believe
that all top sportsmen need a sizable ego. In fact, a damn big one as
they need 100% faith in their own ability to be the ‘best’ or else
they won’t make it to the top.
While I like Heinz-Harry as a person, I think the
lack of a 110% ego has stopped him achieving what he might have done.
Heidfeld on the other hand came across as fairly colourless, and I
doubt if his F1 career will go further.
In some ways, it was rather ironic, with both of
these guys being dropped for the 2004 season. Drivers for Sauber next
year are Giancarlo Fisichella, coming over from Jordan, and (at the
time of writing this) the other seat will most probably be taken by
Felipe Massa, returning after a year as test driver with Ferrari.
Hopefully with a little more maturity and more miles under his belt,
Massa will have a better year with Sauber this time than he had a
couple of years back. Here’s what happened to Massa, on his way up
Felipe Massa began his racing career in karts at
the age of nine, competing in national and international championships
for seven years. He won the Italian and European Formula Renault
championship in 2000, before progressing to the Formula 3000
Euro-Series for the following year. He won the championship after
winning six of the eight races, and was soon behind the wheel of the
Sauber C20 at Mugello.
Having impressed the Swiss team with his feedback
and speed, Massa was signed for the 2001 season, and the twenty year
old made his F1 debut as partner to Nick (now unemployed) Heidfeld.
Depending on how you looked at it, Felipe Massa was
either the biggest revelation of 2002 or the biggest disappointment.
Ever since Kimi Raikkonen, another Sauber discovery, came into F1,
there has been concern within the sport that some of the youngsters
coming in haven’t served the correct ‘apprenticeship’.
Certainly, some of Felipe’s performances in 2002 aided their
Basically the Brazilian, though talented, was just
a little too wild getting into all manner of incidents, many of them
unnecessary. At one race he spun so many times that he admitted to
giving himself a headache. As the season went on it was clear that he
was getting on the nerves of his rivals, his team-mate, and more
importantly his boss. Therefore it wasn’t too surprising when Sauber
decided to drop him in favour of Heinz-Harald (now also unemployed)
Frentzen for 2003.
Sauber was keen to retain Felipe as test driver but
the Brazilian wanted to race. As the number of vacant seats diminished
it looked as though the Brazilian was out of luck, then suddenly he
was being linked with the second seat at Jordan. However, just as it
seemed the deal was done, it all fell through and Ralph Firman took
the final ‘free’ seat.
Twenty-four-hours before Ferrari was due to launch
its 2003 contender, the Italian team revealed it had signed Felipe as
test driver. That’s how fortunes can change in F1. Undoubtedly Massa
has done better at Ferrari than he would have done, running around at
the back of the field in a yellow Jordan. Anyway, the red race suit
King/Extended Cab pick-ups,
The extended cab chassis pick-up has been in Thailand for a
few years, but this style of vehicle is only now becoming known down-under. The
Australians of course have their own way of looking at things, and our
down-under correspondent, John Weinthal has just spent a week doing the
“crew-cab” experience, while pretending he is taking the workers to the next
job site! The vehicle in question is produced by General Motors and sold as the
Holden Crewman SSV8. Here are the words from Weinthal.
recently launched the longest vehicle ever to bear its name - the unique
four-door, five seater sedan-based Crewman. This vehicle redefines the
combination car and ute (pick-up) class, previously owned by Japanese designs,
although most are Taiwanese-built these days. These include Holden’s own
Rodeo, the Nissan Navara, Toyota Hilux, Mitsubishi Triton and the Ford and Mazda
clones - the Courier and B Series.
“Crewman is the most versatile sedan-ute combo so far. It
is a veritable car and ute in one. Crewman comes either as an auto only 152kW
six cylinder in Base and S specs, or as a look-at-me SSV8 with the lusty 225kW
Gen 111 engine with either a four-speed auto or six-speed manual gears.
is adding these unique Australian models to its expanding range of rebadged
imports like the Japanese Jackaroo, Rodeo and Cruze, Euro Astra and Vectra,
Zafira from Thailand and the occasional Yank such as the ill-fated Mexican-made
“Crewman is an undoubtedly clever device. It is a genuine
first which will surely find a steady stream of buyers. As a work vehicle
Crewman is best in its six cylinder Base and S variants, for these have claimed
one tonne payloads. The independently rear suspended V8SS has only a 750kg
“Prices run from AUD 32,490 through AUD 38,740 for the
auto-only sixes to the SS’s AUD 46,140 - be it auto or manual. (1.25 million
baht at straight currency conversion rates.)
“As I said at the start, until now tradesman, farmers and
others requiring four-door five seater comfort with open load carrying capacity
had to go Japanese. These overtly workhorse carryalls will continue to attract
many, especially those requiring genuine tough-going four-wheel-drive.”
(Thank you, John, and it is interesting to see that the world
is catching up with Thailand, though there are many more reasons to buy a
pick-up here, more than just practicality, and much of that is to do with tariff
and taxes, Dr. Iain.)
Two weeks ago I asked about the famous 1928 supercharged
Mercedes 38/250 which was known as the SSK. What did the K stand for? Should
have been easy for all the German readers, but you’ll have to be quick to beat
MacAlan Thompson and his web-crawling spiders! It was also made easier by the
fact that I forgot to put this section in last week, so you had two weeks to get
the answer! The correct answer was that it stood for “kurz” (short), not for
So to this week. And perhaps we could call it “Dem’s is
da brakes!” Four wheel brakes are not new, in fact the first servo assisted
four wheel brakes were fitted to the Type H6 Hispano-Suiza in 1919. However,
these were not hydraulic. Hydraulic four wheel brakes were pioneered by
Duesenberg in the Model A of 1921, but it was 1924 before they were fitted to a
mass-production vehicle - the Chrysler 70. In 1925, four wheel hydraulic brakes
were fitted to two British marques. I want to know their names. What were they?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email [email protected]