Last week I said that during the hostilities (a lovely
euphemism for WW II) there was no real motor racing, but after the war, motor
sport began afresh, mainly using pre-WW II race cars. The first post-war race in
the UK was run at Ballyclare. I wanted to know, who was the driver, and what car
did he drive? It was Thailand’s Prince Bira and he was driving an ERA.
So to this week. Four wheel drive is commonplace these days,
but this was not always the case. What was the make of the first four wheel
drive to run in a hill climb? Clue, the car was crashed on its second outing,
driven by a man with the same name as the car.
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email [email protected]
Delphi plans massive wage cuts or no more union contracts
Delphi Corp. in the US wants its 25,000 United Auto Workers
(UAW) represented employees to accept wage cuts from $27 an hour to as little as
$9.50 an hour or the company will ask the US Bankruptcy Court in New York to
terminate labor contracts.
Delphi also is demanding an end to the company’s job bank,
which pays about 4,000 idle workers. The supplier also wants major new employee
cost-sharing on health care, reduced holidays and the right to sell, close or
consolidate any of its 45 U.S. factories and support centers.
These are all hefty proposals, and obviously ones that the
rank and file will not be happy to agree with.
Delphi is not commenting on the proposal, except to say that
the provisions are needed for the company to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy
protection, said Lindsey Williams, Delphi corporate affairs manager. Delphi,
North America’s largest auto supplier, put its U.S. operations under Chapter
11 protection Oct. 8.
Delphi proposes paying one group of production workers $9.50
an hour and another group $10.50 an hour. Skilled workers would earn $18-$19 an
hour. A wage of $9.50 an hour is equal to $19,760 a year without overtime, just
$410 above the national poverty threshold for a family of four.
The proposal says that Delphi plans to implement the agreement Jan. 1. It
would run through Jan. 1, 2012 and Delphi said it sought Chapter 11 protection
to relieve losses from high labor costs and from operating unnecessary plants.
Toyota aiming to be Number 1 in 2006
The usual yardstick to compare the different manufacturers is
to look at production figures. This kept GM and Ford at the top of the list for
many years, until Toyota quietly slid past FoMoCo and into second place.
Other yardsticks looking at the profitability of the various
companies saw Toyota at the top, as GM and Ford became embattled with financial
problems, but GM still manufactured more than Toyota.
However, the Japanese press claims that Toyota is poised to
overtake GM, and will be the world’s number 1 as far as output is concerned,
in 2006. To do so, it will raise its production to more than 9.2 million units,
the Japanese business daily reported.
Toyota has decided to increase its global production volume
by 12 percent next year compared with the 8.3 million units projected for this
year, a 900,000 unit increase which, incidentally, is more than Mazda’s annual
domestic output, said Nihon Keizai Shimbun.
Daihatsu and Hino Motors of the Toyota group have not
completed their plans for next year, but they expect to raise their total
production from the 2005 projection by about 900,000 cars amid strong domestic
sales. Meanwhile, General Motors is expected to fall short of its global
production of a projected 9.12 million units for 2005 due to a drop in sales and
factory closures, the newspaper said. However, the General is still looking
strong in Asia, with China and Thailand returning good figures. 2006 could be
Tokyo Motor Show hints at another Lancer Evolution
Automotive News reports that the Lancer Evo Series looks as
if it will carry on past the Evo IX which is currently awaited.
At the show, Mitsubishi rolled out their Concept-X which
everyone believes is another teaser for the next Lancer Evolution. Don’t think
of “Concept Ecks”, say “Concept Ten”.
The word is that Mitsubishi wants to broaden its base to
include more than male performance enthusiasts. So it will offer a car that
looks more elegant than the current model. An automatic transmission may also be
available, remembering that the current Lancer Evolution is equipped only with a
“The overall shape is close to the production model,”
said Akinori Nakanishi, chief designer for Mitsubishi Motors Corp. “We want a
more mature looking, upscale and sophisticated model.”
The redesigned Evolution Lancer will be on a new platform. Nakanishi said
that there will be more interior room than the current model and the new
four-cylinder engine will produce at least 300 bhp, up from the current 286 bhp.
Upscale or sophisticated, call it what you like, but 300 bhp spells performance
LF-Sh concept shows a new, sharp look for Lexus
The Lexus brand has certainly made its mark throughout the
world, with some of the newer models looking very desirable. However, the first
model and flagship is certainly starting to show its age. Again at the Tokyo
show, Lexus, which is looking to challenge Mercedes-Benz and BMW, unveiled a new
look for its top of the line sedan.
Lexus LS 400
This was the LF-Sh concept which points the direction for the
redesigned LS 460 production car, due next spring.
Kazuo Okamoto, executive vice president for R&D of Toyota
Motor Corp., said the LS 460 will have a newly engineered V8 engine, as well as
an all-wheel-drive hybrid V8 edition with the equivalent power of a 6-liter V12.
But the car’s styling is as important as its mechanicals.
The new edition continues Lexus’ expressive “L-Finesse” theme. Lexus wants
a family resemblance that avoids small, medium and large versions of the same
car. Lexus sources also have confirmed there will be a long wheelbase edition of
the new LS.
Okamoto, who was closely involved in engineering the first and second
generation LS sedans, said, “It is not at all like any other car. The
flagship’s driving performance, compared to the (Mercedes) S class or (BMW) 7
series, can excel over these other makes. The generation to come will have the
same impact and shock as the first generation LS 400.” Big words from a little
man, but never underestimate what Toyota can do. The “Big Three” did and
look where that got them.
A Daihatsu Mira for disabled drivers
There are those unkind persons who
say that when you get out of a Daihatsu Mira after an extended
drive, you will probably be a cripple, but the company has
pre-empted all this by showing the Mira Selfmatic.
This is a current shape Daihatsu Mira which has
been adapted to allow people in wheelchairs to get behind the wheel
and drive again.
The usual way to get wheelchairs into motor
vehicles is to have ramps to roll up from behind the vehicle, or to
have driver’s seats that can swing out of the car to allow the
invalid to shuffle over from wheelchair to driver’s chair.
The Daihatsu people have come up with something
much more practical for the problem. Instead of having to change
chairs, the Selfmatic has its own wheelchair which is then taken
completely into the vehicle where it becomes the driver’s seat.
Kiyotaka Yamaguchi, Daihatsu’s senior chief
designer, is proud of the aptly named Mira Selfmatic, the car for
those with disabilities. According to Yamaguchi, “There are a lot
of young guys who have been in motorcycle accidents and lost the use
of their legs. They want to drive a real car. And they want to go on
dates - but they don’t want their mother to go with them to help
them in and out of the car.”
To drive the Selfmatic, a person in a wheelchair
rolls into position by the driver’s open door. A lift then brings
the entire customized wheelchair into the car behind the steering
wheel. The wheelchair is locked in place, and the driver is ready to
go. The entire operation takes about 35 seconds.
Apparently it took Daihatsu’s engineers and
designers three years to get it to work. The lift had to fit the
size and price limits of a standard Mira car. The four-seater goes
on sale in Japan on Nov. 14, at a price of 2 million yen, or USD
17,773 at current exchange rates.