With the price of Gow Hah (95 octane fuel) now into
the 18 baht per litre bracket, and heading inexorably towards 20 baht,
what can you do to lower your fuel bill? Lots, actually, but is it
To start with, check that your car really does need
95 octane. The owner’s manual will tell you. You can probably use
91, which is cheaper. Or even a 50/50 mix of 95 and 91. Using higher
octane fuel than the engine actually needs does not give you more fuel
economy. It is just more expense.
Gasohol? Right now I’d give it careful
consideration only. I would wait and see what happens with other
vehicles, similar to your own, letting them be the mobile guinea pigs.
Or perhaps bunny rabbits.
Another certain way of improving the vehicle’s
fuel consumption is to make sure the engine is in tune. How long is it
since you had a service that included plugs, points, ignition timing,
valve clearances and the like? To get the best fuel economy, the
engine must be in its best state of tune. Inefficiency makes for fuel
wastage. The engineers say you can save up to 30 percent here. But
that is in extreme situations only. Like one plug that doesn’t fire!
Another factor that influences the fuel economy is
the rolling resistance of your tyres. Running under-inflated uses
fuel. Bringing your tyre pressures up to a few psi above recommended
levels will help. There’s another 5 percent here.
Aggressive driving (speeding, rapid acceleration
and braking) wastes fuel. It can increase fuel use by 33 percent at
highway speeds and by 5 percent around town. Cruising at more than 100
kph also lowers fuel economy by as much as 20 percent. Steady cruising
is the answer of course. Better for fuel economy, and the comfort of
Of course, the vehicle you drive also affects the
fuel consumption, and I found the following examples given by the US
Environmental Protection Agency.
First off, the top three gas guzzlers!
Lamborghini L-147 Murcielago
Aston Martin V12 Vanquish
Bentley Continental GT
Since all of these vehicles will cost more than 20
million baht in this country, I think any estimate of their fuel
economy is a total waste of my time and yours! When you’ve splashed
out the equivalent of 10 three bedroom houses and bought your Lambo
Murcielago, do you care about its fuel consumption? I doubt it. I
The US EPA does also publish a list of fuel
efficient vehicles, and not surprisingly, the hybrid vehicles are on
the top of the list. The pundits suggest that we should choose from
the good fuel economy vehicles and think of the money we save.
However, it’s not that simple from the overall point of view.
Take for example, their number 1 fuel miser, the
Honda Insight. This little gem costs 3.7 million baht. Compare this
with the Honda Jazz that costs about 0.6 million baht, a saving of 3.1
million. I will now consult my crystal ball and suggest that in five
years, the Insight will be worth 1 million baht, and the Jazz 0.2
million. You will have lost 2.7 million baht on the Insight and 0.4
million baht with the Jazz. So the Insight owner will have ‘lost’
2.3 million baht more than the Jazz owner in the five years (ignoring
servicing, insurance and other standard expenses). That breaks down to
460,000 baht a year.
So will the Insight owner save more than 460,000
baht per year in fuel costs? This is not possible. Not even the Lambo
Murcielago owner will spend 38,000 baht a month on fuel.
I have always said that fuel is the cheapest part
of motoring. Depreciation is the most expensive. Think about it.
For interest only, here is the EPA ‘good guys’
list, but I have only published vehicles that can be purchased here:
Honda Insight (Hybrid)
Honda Civic (Hybrid)
Toyota Prius (Hybrid)
Toyota Rav4 2WD
Ford Ranger Pickup 2WD
Mazda B2300 2WD
One important factor for any race team to continue
to improve is stability. That is stability in management, funding (and
dare I say it - the driver line-up) and engineering, including supply
Ferrari has done so well in the last few years relates in many, many
ways to that stability. Now look at Toyota which has changed
everything, including its drivers and toilet cleaners practically
every year. And look where Toyota are on the manufacturers
championship! And look at Jaguar, who has had more management and
driver changes than anyone else, with mutterings now that Klien is on
the way out. I agree that he is not scoring points for the team and
hits things more often than his experienced team mate (who does score
points), but what did they expect by taking on a rookie ‘pay
driver’? Rather than sacking him, they should bite the bullet and
have him driving and testing as many days as they can.
One team that has risen to the top is BAR. With
Dave Richards, a true proven manager now at the helm, and a little
stability in the driver line-up, now that the over-rated (in my
opinion) and highly overpaid Canadian prima donna has gone, BAR have
been on the podium almost every race.
In Germany at the GP, it was announced that Honda
will continue to supply engines to BAR till the end of the 2007
season. “This season we are realizing concrete progress in this new
challenge and are aiming to reach our initial goal of getting our
first victory,” said Takanobu Ito, managing director of Honda Motor
“In order to consistently win races in the
future, we have made a new multi-year contract with BAR in which we
will supply engines and conduct joint development of chassis
technology,” he said.
“The flourishing partnership between BAR and
Honda is now starting to show in our on track performance and
Honda’s commitment to our future will ensure both long term
stability and the continued competitiveness of the team,” added BAR
team principal Dave Richards.
The second place at Hockenheim bears witness to
that last remark!