Last week I asked what and when was the first private car designed and built in
the USSR? It was the NAMI-1, a small twin cylinder tourer in 1926.
So to this week. When you hear the term ‘People’s Car’ you think of VW, but
another country also produced their ‘People’s Car’, which was the first private
car built in that country. What country was it?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
British motoring ‘criminals’
Over 40 percent of UK motorists admit to talking or texting whilst
driving, despite this being banned since 2003. Not only that:
72 percent of motorists also admit to eating and drinking behind the wheel
85 percent listen to loud music
64 percent use a sat nav
93 percent change the CD or radio station whilst they drive - all of which can
actually result in penalty points.
If that’s not enough, more than 60 percent of drivers admit to shouting and
gesticulating at other motorists and nearly a quarter smoke whilst driving -
something which could potentially be banned in the near future.
90 percent of motorists in the survey also admit to driving over the maximum
limit whilst on the motorway.
64 percent admit to driving over the limit whilst in a built up area.
So where do we all stand on those statistics? The ‘guilty, your Honor’ queue
starts behind me!
Battery swapping technology set for EVs
Electric vehicles are coming. And sooner than you think. The
world was brought to its knees more than once by the pimps at the pumps and
their arbitrary pricing of oil, working on the “what can the market stand”
Better Place to exchange batteries?
California-based firm Better Place held the first public demonstration of new
technology that can swap over an electric car battery in less time than it takes
to fill a car with petrol.
The system operates via a conveyor belt shuttle system positioned in a pit
beneath the car. Robots remove the depleted battery, the shuttle moves along to
position a new battery under the car and another robot installs it. Better Place
says the process takes less than a minute.
It is claimed that drivers would only use the battery switching stations
occasionally, as most would re-charge their cars daily via plug-in recharging
outlets in homes, offices or shopping centers.
The current crop of plug-in electric prototypes have a range of between 60 km
and 160 km, but it is expected that will have improved by the time the Better
Place infrastructure is in place in 2012.
Better Place plans to use only renewable energy for its recharging network and
claims to have interest from a number of providers.
It plans to set up a charging plan similar to mobile phones, where electric car
owners can subscribe to a usage plan of their choice. While mobile phone
providers charge for minutes, Better Place would charge for kilometers.
In a press announcement in Yokohama, Japan, the company’s founder Shai Agassi
said Better Place had the same business model as the large oil companies, but
sold “clean kilometers” rather than dirty ones.
“For nearly a century, the automotive industry has been inextricably tied to
oil. Today, we’re demonstrating a new path forward where the future of
transportation and energy is driven by our desire for a clean planet and a
robust economic recovery fueled by investments in clean technology, and one in
which the well-being of the automotive industry is intrinsically coupled with
the well-being of the environment,” he said.
Red Light cameras
Technology is catching on in policing. Rather than pay the man in
brown, you can now get a nice letter from the prosecutors and pay them
instead. We came across this the other day when my wife got a letter
advising that she had gone through a red light in Bangkok, and here was a
pic of her car to prove it, and now kindly pay up.
Interestingly, the car in the pic was an Avanza, such as my wife did own
last year, but the number plate was not the same! She, incidentally could
prove she had not been in Bangkok on the date/time in question. And even
more interesting was the fact that when we sold the car in January (as a
wreck) we had officially deregistered it, and handed in the number plates.
My wife paid a visit to the registrations people here and was given the
contact details of the person owning the red light running number plate,
whom she contacted and forwarded the prosecution slip. We shall see what
However, if they put a red light camera on any intersection in Thailand,
they would more than cover the cost of the equipment in two days. Agree? And
it would get rid of gridlock. Wouldn’t that be nice?
A mirage of massed Mira’s
Took a trip out to the Bira circuit a couple of weekends ago to
watch the Super Club cars. This turned out to be very much a ‘club’ meeting
with lots of cars and plenty of camaraderie. I was particularly taken with a
massed field of Daihatsu Mira’s in all different colors. Some were
turbocharged, some seemed to be bog stock standard, but they were all out
there and having fun.
pink Mira at full noise
In the pits there were many interesting vehicles, including a 1973 RS Carrera,
complete with duck tail, but instead of the 2.7 engine, the cover stated 3.2.
There was another 1976 Porsche 911, complete with Turbo-style whale tail
(increases the impression ratio, I always used to say about mine)!
The Westfield which I track tested a couple of months ago was also competing,
and novice driver Julian Dobrijevic came home with a well deserved third place.
The next Super Club meeting is scheduled for 27 and 28 June, but I suggest you
check with the circuit website www.bira.co.th before you head on out.