Last week I asked which car company was still offering wooden wheels as factory
equipment in 1939. The answer was Mercedes Benz!
So to this week. What was the world’s first successful radial tyre? Hint - it
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
Scrappage - is this the way to go?
Many years ago, to buy a new vehicle in Singapore you had to hand in
another vehicle for scrap. This was done to keep the motor car population at
sensible levels in the small island state. Of course, the question was ‘what do
you do if you haven’t got a car to scrap’? The simple answer was that the dealer
would supply it, to comply with the regulations, and you drove away in your new
A similar incentive scheme is being offered in Europe today for vehicles more
than nine years old, but not to keep the number of cars down, but to stimulate
new car sales, with an additional spin-off that the new cars have to be
‘greener’ than their ten year old forebears.
Sales in Germany rebounded in February in response to the $100 billion
government program offering a scrappage bonus of about $5000 for cars over nine
years old and this has also been followed by some other countries which are
offering similar subsidies to boost sales of new cars.
Just when you thought you had it sussed
The FIA has done it again! Just when it looked as if the teams
and the FIA had come to some agreement on the F1 rules, the World Motor
Sports Council (WMSC), a branch of the FIA, comes in and turns everything
upside down again, with some questionable (at best) and confusing (at worst)
rules for 2010.
Luca di Montezemolo, Ferrari president and chairman of the Formula One Teams
Association (FOTA) has said his members are stunned by the new developments,
in particular, the primary proposal from the World Motor Sport Council for a
voluntary budget cap for next year, primarily in the hope of attracting new
Teams will then have a choice between freedom to spend, but forced to adhere
to the existing technical constraints, or enjoy a degree of freedom to
innovate technically, but within the $42 million cap.
The $42 million will cover all expenditure of any kind, including drivers’
salaries. In addition, anything subsidized or supplied free will be deemed
to have cost its full commercial value, with rigorous auditing procedures to
be applied. So don’t send vouchers for free dinners to anyone in the teams,
or it will come off the budget!
“It has been carefully costed,” insists Max Mosley, the boss of the FIA.
“The cars will be much less refined in detail, because the teams will not be
able to spend huge sums on minute advantages. But from the grandstand or on
television they won’t look or sound any less Formula One than the current,
ultra-expensive cars. They will also be more interesting to the
technically-minded because of the special features which will allow them to
compete against teams with much bigger budgets.”
The thinking is that you can opt for the budget cap, but get some
engineering freedoms, or you can spend what you like, but have far tougher
This might have sounded fine around the table, but to exploit the allowed
freedoms will cost big bucks - but the $42 million cap will effectively stop
The other rule is that the World Championship will be decided on which
driver has the most wins in the season, not the most points. This can mean
that the driver who comes second can have more points than the championship
winner! With a win being 10 points, any driver who scores nine wins from the
17 races will be the world champion, even though he may have only scored 90
points. If, for example, another driver comes second for 17 races, he will
have scored 152 points. Brilliant thinking FIA.
International Motor Show
The 30th Bangkok International Motor Show is open to the public until
Monday April 6. Next week I will have a full section on the show, but as a
preview, I can let you know that there will be the new RHD version of the new
Mercedes E Class, the Mini Cooper S convertible, the new Mazda MX5, the new
Nissan Teana, and the new BMW 7-Series.
Concept cars include the Lexus IS 250C and the BMW M1 Hommage released on the
30th anniversary of the iconic M1, while the exotics are headed by the 30
million baht Aston Martin DBS (as used by James Bond, and has only been shaken
and not stirred).
The Chinese invasion has begun with Geely, Naza, Polarsun and Chery all
represented. This low end of the market will generate much interest in the
depressed market economy.
The organizers report 130 companies are exhibiting this year in the show which
has the theme “Green life on wheels”. Personally I don’t care what color they
paint the Aston Martin DBS, I’ll take it as it is!
The world’s two fastest-growing car markets bounced back last
month, with total vehicle sales up 24.7 percent in China and 12 percent in
India over the same period last year.
Too soon to be called a global recovery, the figures are the first sign of
an upturn and will gladden the hearts of embattled car-makers around the
India’s passenger car sales grew for the first time in five months (rising 22
percent) in response to a cut in lending rates, but commercial vehicle sales
declined by 32 percent. Businesses are hurting in the Indian sub-continent.
Ten of India’s 13 car-markers posted gains, and two - Maruti Suzuki and Hyundai
- set records, according to figures released by the Society of Indian Automobile
China surpassed the US as the biggest car market in the world almost by default
last month, but the China Passenger Car Association reported on Monday sales of
607,984 passenger cars in February, up from 456,901 in February 2008.
Official market figures released last night by the China Association of
Automobile Manufacturers show total vehicle sales of more than 800,000 units for
the first time in eight months.
As well as selling 827,600 units in February, vehicle production in China also
rose in February - by 23.1 percent to 807,900 units.
These figures point to a significant response to government sales incentives,
including halving the purchase tax on cars with engines smaller than 1.6 liters,
from 10 percent to 5 percent. Is there a message here for the Thai regulators?
GM China, which will launch 10 new models in the next two years, had previously
predicted the Chinese market would grow by only three percent. GM, despite being
on a US government cash lifeline, had reason to celebrate with Indian sales of
its Chevrolet Spark and U-VA hatchbacks rising by 19 percent in February.
Ford expects to exceed the industry growth rate in China after exceeding sales
expectations for its recently launched Fiesta light car by 17 percent in January
Last year, the Chinese market recorded single-digit growth after a decade of
double-digit growth, but the market appears to have responded to government
incentives aimed at encouraging buyers to trade polluting vehicles for more