Last week I asked an MG history question. What was the difference between the
rear suspension on the MG TB as opposed to the MG TC? The correct answer was
that the TB had a sliding trunnion rear spring, whilst the TC had the more usual
hangers at the rear of the leaf spring.
So to this week. Who made this electric car? The year was 1978.
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
Natter Nosh and Noggin
The monthly car enthusiasts meeting will be at Jameson’s Irish Pub on
Soi AR next to the Nova Park development. The car (and bike) enthusiasts meet on
the second Monday of the month, so this time it is Monday December 14 at
Jameson’s at 7 p.m. This is a totally informal meeting of like-minded souls to
discuss their pet motoring (and motorcycling) loves and hates. Many interesting
debates come from these evenings. Come along and meet guys who have a common
interest in cars and bikes, and enjoy the Jameson’s Steak night special, washed
down with a few beers.
Can Porsche, as we know it, continue?
I have the distinct feeling of dread for the continuation of Porsche
as a manufacturer with individual excellence after receiving this press release
from Volkswagen: Wolfsburg, 24 November 2009 - Prof. Dr. Martin Winterkorn,
Chairman of the Board of Management of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft, and Hans
Dieter Pötsch, Member of the Board of Management of Volkswagen
Aktiengesellschaft responsible for “Finance and Controlling”, will join the
Board of Management of Porsche Automobil Holding SE effective November 25, 2009.
They will exercise these duties in addition to their functions on the Board of
Management of Volkswagen Aktiengesellschaft. Prof. Winterkorn will become CEO,
Pötsch will assume responsibility as CFO.
911 for 2010
The conditions for their appointments at Porsche were met when the Supervisory
Boards of both companies approved the contracts of implementation relating to
the comprehensive agreement on the creation of an integrated automotive group
with Porsche. These contracts specify the binding provisions governing the
organizational, structural and legal details of the union between the two
Approval of the contracts of implementation marks a further important step
towards an integrated automotive group with Porsche which is to be completed
during the course of 2011. The next milestones are a 49.9 percent participation
of Volkswagen in Porsche AG which is planned for realization by the end of 2009,
and the Extraordinary General Meeting of Volkswagen AG on December 3, 2009.
Prof. Dr. Winterkorn commented, “All major issues concerning the creation of an
integrated automotive group have now been settled. By 2011, we will have joined
forces to form a new, strong group with an unparalleled model range and the
highest technological competence. We are seizing a unique strategic opportunity
for all parties. With the integration of Porsche, Volkswagen is systematically
continuing its successful multi-brand strategy. Porsche will benefit from new,
additional openings for growth.”
Sifting through all that, it is apparent that two head honchos from VW are
taking up the reins as the governing and “controlling” forces in Porsche. I am
also left wondering where the “new, additional openings for growth” are going to
be coming from. VW and Porsche do not have a synergy in the marketplace for VW
to offer new opportunities to Porsche - unless we end up with a VW with a
Porsche badge on it. Last time this was done, was when an “Audi” came out with
Porsche badges and was called the Porsche 924. There are still Porsche
enthusiasts who refuse to even acknowledge the 924 as a ‘real’ Porsche.
Changing fortunes at BMW and Toyota?
The world recession has been felt in all quarters of the motor
industry, but those who thought that Toyota and BMW were above the financial
problems may have to think again.
As the world enters the post-recession phase, the marketplace has begun to
change and consumers are looking for smaller, more fuel-efficient and cheaper
Where does that leave BMW, to start with? It certainly has smaller,
fuel-efficient vehicles in its 1 Series and the Mini, but they are definitely
not bargain basement. It would also be very difficult for BMW to retool and
produce a small economy car. Having spent the last decade trying to equate its
branding with being up-market, it would appear that it could be caught in a
cleft stick over this turn in the marketplace.
Toyota is also in a precarious position. Having become the largest auto
manufacturer in the world, just as the auto industry slipped into recession,
Toyota might have just found that the price of reaching so high globally might
have been a little too much.
Having staked its reputation and sales on the quick-silver characteristic called
“Quality”, it now appears that Toyota has an Achilles heel in that area. Look at
these statistics, according to the US press - Toyota has had to recall 4.26
million vehicles to repair accelerator problems, and in 2005, recalled more
vehicles (2.38 million) than it sold in the United States that year (2.26
Toyota, for the first time since Adam was a small boy, recorded a loss and is
still not out of the woods (or should that be the cherry blossom trees?). What
must be even more galling, is that Ford is quietly making a profit, and
increasing market share. Even Honda is not in as much financial doggy-doo, and
that nasty upstart Hyundai is getting top marks in the quality stakes and
increasing its market share probably at Toyota’s expense.
What has happened with the global financial crisis is that the recession that
pushed GM and Chrysler Group LLC into bankruptcy and fueled Ford’s evident
resurgence, has also accelerated change in the motor industry. Having emerged
from its bankruptcy, suddenly GM is a big player once more. Its labor costs are
competitive; its product portfolio is revamped and geared more to customer’s
needs and wants, it is doing very well overseas, and it is coming out of debt,
to make it a competitor once more. Toyota will need to move swiftly to improve
both its image, and its sales.
Road Safety data as scandalous as
The recent ‘Climategate’ scandal comes as no surprise to those at
the Association of British Drivers (ABD). For many years they have been
questioning the data on man made global warming because the issue has been
used as the main excuse for very heavy motoring taxes, underinvestment in
the British road system, restrictions on movement and speed of travel.
Climategate is a prime example but is part of a much bigger picture of
scandalous abuse and hiding of statistics by government funded bodies.
Statistics are frequently hidden or manipulated with government approval to
play up certain issues. A leading example is the role of speed in accidents
where statistics on accidents caused by all sorts of things are lumped
together as ‘speed related’, even when they occur below the speed limit or
are caused by drunks or drug users in stolen cars. This is then used as an
excuse for draconian enforcement of often unrealistic limits against those
travelling at perfectly safe speeds. These limits themselves are set by
highly questionable ideas based upon very shaky science again decided by
government funded scientists using often hidden and/or manipulated data.
ABD spokesman Nigel Humphries said, “The whole issue of the Freedom of
Information Act and those responsible for its implementation must be subject
to a public enquiry, as must all issues of manipulation and hiding of
statistics by government funded bodies and scientists.”
As Bob Lutz of GM said, “Global warming is a crock of sh*t.”
Suzuki jumps in with a Splash
Suzuki states that it has committed $200 million towards building
their eco compact car in Thailand from 2012. With the manufacturing
incentives by the government (finally?) stabilized, Suzuki Motor Corp is now
taking advantage of the Thai government tax incentives available under its
so-called “eco-car project”.
Under the eco-car program, global manufacturers receive cuts of up to 90
percent in import tariffs on components and materials used for producing the
vehicles. Specifications include a petrol engine displacement of 1.3 liters
or lower (1.4 for diesel), compliance with the Euro 4 emissions standard,
maximum CO2 emissions of 120 g/km, and maximum fuel consumption of 5 L/100
The Thai government also offers a corporate tax exemption for at least five
years if annual production volume of cars under the program reaches 100,000
within the first five years of operations.
Suzuki announced last week that it would commit $200 million to the construction
of a new plant in Rayong province, with production of a still-to-be-specified
1.3 liter compact car to begin in March 2012.
Suzuki expects to build 10,000 cars by the end of that first year.
The most likely candidate for production at the Thai plant is the Suzuki Splash,
a five-door, five-seat hatch slightly larger than the Indian-built, four-seat
Splash is currently produced in Hungary, and demand for the model in Europe has
taken all the production, consequently the idea of getting a government
assistance to build another Splash plant makes much sense.
The new plant could allow Suzuki to export vehicles from Thailand to places such
as Australia as Thailand also has the free-trade agreement in place with
Australia, which makes Thai-built cars a better financial proposition than those
from Japan or India.