Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

Eastern Seaboard plant to build Mazda2 sedan, as well as hatchback

There is much interest being shown by the new Mazda2 which is being built at the AutoAlliance Thailand (AAT) plant in the Eastern Seaboard Industrial Estate (ESIE). This will be followed by its sibling, the Ford Fiesta.

Mazda2 sedan variant

The new AAT passenger car plant is expected to produce about 50,000 Mazda2s a year for ASEAN markets and wider export. The new plant represents a total initial investment of more than $US500 million and was built on the same site as the existing pick-up plant at the ESIE.
The new passenger car plant’s production capacity is 100,000 units per year. Combined with the annual output from the pick-up plant, AAT’s production capacity, including complete knock down (CKD) units, will expand to 275,000 units from its existing annual production of 175,000 units. Its future is assured.
The export market for Thai-made vehicles is very strong, especially to Australia as the Free Trade Agreement between Australia and Thailand means Mazda’s light car will have a five percent tariff advantage over some competitors.
Mazda Australia has confirmed it will import a Mazda2 sedan alongside its Mazda2 hatch when its switches production of its popular light car from Japan to the new factory in Thailand from mid 2010.
Once primarily the source for one-tonne pick-ups for Australia, Thailand is increasingly making its mark in light car production. Honda Australia imports the Honda Jazz hatch and City sedan twins from Thailand, while Ford Australia has confirmed it will source the currently German-built Fiesta in both hatch and sedan forms from the same AAT plant as the Mazda2 from mid next year. Nissan also will build its Micra replacement in Thailand, while the replacement for the Toyota Yaris is also expected from Thailand.

Autotrivia Quiz

Old Quiz Car

New quiz car

Last week, to try and bamboozle the Googlers, I printed the following photo and asked what car it was.. It was not an MGA as everyone presumed, but was an MG EX 182 which ran at the Le Mans 24 Hour. It was a fore-runner of the MGA.
So to this week. What is this car?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]
Good luck!


Button and Hamilton at McLaren-Mercedes
As reported widely, Jenson Button has turned his back on BrawnGP, the team that gave him the car to win the 2009 championship. The words “kick” and “in the teeth” come to mind here, but the spin doctors associated with Button assure us that all that Jenson was doing was to get a good financial contract for the next three years. After all, he was making eight million dollars with Honda in 2008, when his salary fell to the meager pittance of only three million dollars in 2009. The poor dear.
All that this proves is what a bunch of overpaid prima donnas F1 drivers have become (and just how stupid were Honda). None of them are worth salaries in the millions of dollars, and I was glad to see that Raikkonen priced himself out of the market with demands for over 20 million.
Mind you, footballers, tennis players, golfers, netball players, rounders players (known in America as “baseball”) are similarly grossly overpaid.
The first outing in 2010 for F1 is in Bahrain March 14 (Grand Prix at 7 p.m. Thai time) and we shall see then just how good Mr. Button really is, and also whether the Cosworth engine can deliver the horsepower and whether all these new teams actually arrive on the grid.
As always, we live in interesting times!

A new BMW Six - but it’s a bike!
BMW released stunning images this week of a new concept motorcycle that nobody saw coming, featuring the resurgence of an engine configuration we all thought was long-dead. In recent years Triumph has stamped itself as the master of modern triples, and now BMW has made a clear statement of intent that it’s bringing the inline six back to the bike world. The Concept 6 showcases a brand-new 1600 cc engine that is 10 cm narrower than any previous production six, and produces truly prodigious power and torque throughout the rev range. And it’s housed in a cafe racer body that has to go down as the sexiest motorcycle design BMW have ever produced. Sensational stuff.
The new BMW transverse straight-six will further expand the K-Series in the foreseeable future. The first model to be introduced will be an innovative and luxurious BMW touring machine.


The Concept 6 engine - 1600 cc of pure, 6-cylinder grunt. The Concept 6 design team was determined not to let the engine grow sideways, like the Honda CBX of a few years ago - and it looks like they’ve done a good job keeping it acceptably narrow. Each cylinder is still slightly oversquare (its bore is slightly larger than its stroke), which will help it spin up and develop horsepower at higher revs, but the stroke is relatively long compared to the ratios used in BMW’s inline fours, keeping those cylinder bores as narrow as possible while retaining the ability to rev.
There is very little space in between cylinders, and the alternator and other electrics have been relocated from the side of the engine back behind the crankshaft in the spot above the transmission.
With a capacity of 1600 cc, and all the extra exhaust headers and gear required by an inline six, it is still going to be a very heavy powerplant, but BMW have used a trick from their K-series sports bikes to neutralize the negative effects from the center of gravity the engine could have on the bike’s handling. With the engine tilted forward by 55 degrees, the main bulk of the cylinder bank is kept low, pushing the centre of gravity down and forward, which should help keep the bike’s handling.
Peak output will reportedly be similar to the K1300 series engines - somewhere around 170 horsepower - but the big six has a massive 130 Nm of torque from just 2000 rpm. For reference, the Suzuki GSX1400 peaks at about 125 Nm at around 4700rpm.
The BMW Concept 6 Cafe Racer is the variant the enthusiasts are hoping will be produced. Without displaying acres of header chrome a la the Honda CBX it remains an understated bike, but the overall styling is sensational, particularly in the way the tank integrates with the miniature front fairing. Even the tail-light is beautiful - extending directly from the rider’s rump.
The front suspension is a Duolever system like on a K1300R, and the rear swingarm doubles as a shaft-drive and the torque reaction is nullified by its Paralever ‘ankle.’ The primary cue that the bike is a six-cylinder comes from the three flared exhaust chambers that exit low and wide just behind the rider’s feet - a muscular look that is echoed in the chunky intake ducts peeking out beneath the tank.
The Concept 6 sweeps aside the rest of the BMW range in terms of exciting design - and even tops the fantastic Lo-Rider concept for pure visual thrill. In typical BMW style, it looks more like a finished bike than a concept - and the kind of bike only BMW could build. Maybe, if we all wish hard enough...

Ride like Rossi around Bira
Graham Knight has kept me informed as to his HighSideTours dates for 2010. These are serious (but with a lot of laughs) training for motorcycle riders wishing to bring their skills up to competition level.

HighSideTours coming off L-Plates

Here are the proposed event dates for 2010. By ‘proposed’ Graham says that he is still flexible and can still change them at customers request. So if you and a few mates were planning on coming and the current dates do not quite match just email Graham (newsletter or info and he can change them if they have not already been booked by another group and the track is available. First come first served!
January 18/19/20
February 16/17/18
March 15/16/17
April 5/6/7
May 17/18/19
June 21/22/23
July 19/20/21
August 16/17/18
September 20/21/22
October 12/13/14
November 22/23/24
December 20/21/22