Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

The electric BMW

The BMW ActiveE Concept is an electric BMW 1 Series Coupe built using the knowledge gained from the year-long Mini E fleet trials. The 125 kW motor is located in the rear axle/differential, the lithium ion batteries recharge in three hours, offers a range of 160 km and with regenerative braking can add as much as 20 percent to the range.
BMW claims the ActiveE achieves acceleration figures of zero to 100 km/h in less than 9 seconds, and the maximum speed is electronically limited at around 145 km/h.
The battery pack(s) are spaced throughout the car, including where the usual internal combustion engine, propshaft and fuel tank would normally be located. Weight is always a problem with battery powered vehicles, but by using lightweight components and the lithium-ion battery cells, the vehicle curb weight is limited to about 1800, and the positioning of the battery packs makes the vehicle’s center of gravity lower. A weight distribution of near 50-50 is claimed.

Electric motor in the rear

The new synchronous electric motor produces 125 kW, but it’s the exceptionally broad torque of 250 Nm available over an unusually broad load range that makes it particularly effective. Maximum torque is available from a standstill as is typical for electric motors, but unlike asynchronous electric motors, the new power unit provides a high level of torque at higher engine speeds and with increased load, the torque only decreases gradually. The torque curve at higher engine speeds is therefore not dissimilar to that of an internal combustion engines.
The KERS operation works as soon as the driver’s foot is removed from the accelerator, with the electric motor performing the function of a generator, converting the kinetic energy into electric power and storing it in the battery pack.
The lithium-ion batteries of the BMW Concept ActiveE have their own liquid cooling system and intelligent battery management system, which are key elements in increasing both the storage capacity and the durability of the battery cells. These systems also ensure that the long range can be maintained largely independent of external climatic conditions. The high storage capacity is the decisive factor in achieving as long a range as possible.
The lithium-ion battery pack of the ActiveE can be recharged using a range of power sources. In addition to using a high amperage wall box - a supply system installed in the user’s home optimized to reduce charging times - it is also possible to use conventional power outlets or publicly accessible charging stations made available in co-operation with energy suppliers.
As a next step, the BMW Concept ActiveE will now be used in a trial fleet of electric vehicles. These vehicles are likewise intended for everyday use by private and select fleet customers as part of a large-scale field test. The insights gathered in the process will be fed into the development of an electrically powered serial production vehicle which the BMW Group will put on the market under a sub-brand of BMW in the first half of the next decade.

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked why is Lt. Zebulon Pike remembered in motor sport circles? He gave his name to Pikes Peak, famous for the US hill climb. Incidentally, he didn’t get to the top of it either!
So to this week. Since Michael Schumacher is the flavor of the month, what year did Schumi stand on the podium for every race?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]
Good luck!


Will he or won’t he? And then he did!
The motor racing scene is certainly buzzing with the return of seven times F1 champion Michael Schumacher. With Mercedes now running a ‘factory’ team (which was once Honda and then Brawn GP last year), the idea of having two German drivers in Schumacher and Rosberg in the German car against Brits Hamilton and Button in the British McLaren is the publicist’s dream.

Michael Schumacher

Much has been postulated as to whether Schumacher will still have the ability, now that he is 41 years of age. Of course he will still have “it”. How does Schumacher do in the (so-called) Race of Champions? Right up there and beating the new ‘young Schumi’ hot-shot Vettel. How old was Fangio when he was winning world titles? He was 40 years old when he won the first of his five world championships and his final one in 1957 when he was 46. (By the way, never forget that Fangio won 47 percent of all the races he started in, a record that still stands today).
Schumacher still has the ability, but does he have the “need”? That is the only factor which is open for debate. He doesn’t need to race for money, he has more than he can spend (though he can send some this way, if he likes). Everything depended upon whether he really wanted to. He did, and we are all now looking forward to a season which should be electrifying. Only problem he will have is moving all the Ferrari’s out of the garage at home, so he can fit the AMG SLS in.

Fancy this in your garage?
One of the regular correspondents, Kevin Maguire, sent me an email about this German firm called ‘Style Your Garage’ which creates posters for garage doors that make it look as if it is actually showing the interior of your garage, and what’s in it!
Prices range from $199 to $399 for the double-door! All but guaranteed to make passersby take a second look!

I only fly it on Sundays

China buys Sweden
It is goodbye to the solid, dependable, safe Swedish Volvo, to be replaced by the new bamboo and rice paper model after Ford sold Volvo to Chinese car maker Geely.
Ford has indicated the definitive accord would be signed early in 2010 with Geely, a former refrigerator parts supplier that has grown into one of China’s largest automakers since launching its car business in 1997.
The official release from Ford states: “Ford Motor Company confirmed today that all substantive commercial terms relating to the potential sale of Volvo Car Corporation have been settled between Ford and Zhejiang Geely Holding Group.”
The ‘sleeping giant’ is no longer sleeping with Chinese automakers having already eaten MG/Rover and heavy machinery maker Tengzhong buying Hummer brand from General Motors.
State-owned Beijing Automotive Industry Holding (BAIC) failed in its bids for GM units Saab and Opel but will purchase the intellectual property rights for some Saab assets.
According to reports in Swedish media and the Financial Times, the price of the transaction will be around $US2.0 billion, less than a third of what Ford had paid for Volvo in 1999. Not what you’d call a great decision in retrospect.

Want to give your Vios some extra oomph?
There are a number of CK formula one engines available for sale (5.3 million baht). Due to the nature of these engines, the sellers will offer complete track/build support.

F1 engines for sale

The CK engine is a 3 liter V10. Max revs 17,800. Max power 840 bhp. Weight 92.5 kg. Lifetime 700 km, more at reduced rpm. These engines were fitted to the late Stewart Grand Prix chassis, and all Jaguar Racing chassis. Approximate cost of rebuild per engine 530,000 baht.
If you still have some change left over there is a BMW Megatron engine available for only 854,000 baht, but the advert says it does need a rebuild! This engine produced around 900 bhp in the 1988 Arrows A10, but being a four cylinder should be easier to squeeze into the Vios.
Either engine certainly beats dropping a 4AG twin cam engine in the family shopping trolley.

Want a Mk 1 Escort?
Ford Motor Company stopped producing Mk 1 Escorts around 1980, but up till then they were one of the preferred cars for race and rally. The record of these cars is almost unsurpassed, and many a young driver has had an Mk 1 Escort at the start of their careers.

Racing Escorts 1975

Well, if you have a soft spot for these cars, take a look at these photographs, taken outside a small workshop in Jomtien (Thepprasit Soi 8) where there were three Mk 1’s and an Mk 2 Cortina. Some were for sale at around 275,000 baht, and some were more modified than others. There were no Lotus Twin Cams evident, which quite frankly is a good thing. The more modern Toyota T/C engines deliver more power and are certainly more reliable. The favorite engine swap in Australia was to put a Mazda rotary in the engine bay.
None of the cars was in concourse condition, but good value at the price, considering the age of these cars now. You can race these in the ‘classic’ category at the 3K meetings at Bira circuit as well. If you want to know more, give them a ring on 089 009 1730 or email [email protected]

Toyota T/C fits nicely

Escorts for sale

Santa injured in mid-air collision
Another from Kevin Maguire and since it is that time of the year, I thought you might find it as whimsical as I did. caption No reindeer were injured in the making of this cartoon.