Last week I asked what was the connection between the famous
aviator Louis Bleriot and automobiles? The connection was acetylene gas lights
for the early motor cars, which first were used in 1898. Louis Bleriot
apparently made the best ones.
So to this week. Did Karl Benz work for Gottlieb Daimler, or
did Gottlieb Daimler work for Karl Benz? Their legacy is of course the Daimler-Benz
company which builds the Mercedes cars.
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email [email protected]
Nissan first in with the eco
Siam Nissan Automobile Co (SNA) launched Thailand’s first
locally produced eco car, the Nissan March, a petrol miser.
SNA president Toru Hasegawa said the Nissan March is a small
vehicle with a 1,200cc three-cylinder engine with carbon dioxide emissions less
than 120 grams and able to use fuel more efficiently at around 5 liters per 100
Ugly Nissan March
Nissan expects to increase vehicle production in Thailand
from the previous 63,000 units in 2008 to 200,000 by 2012.
Nissan is also the first contender in the eco-car market
among the six companies that have received investment privileges to make these
vehicles in Thailand.
The March has a base starting price of 375,000 baht, with six
variants priced up to 537,000 baht for the full spec model.
The March comes with either a five-speed manual transmission
or the Xtronic continuously variable transmission (CVT). The manual transmission
versions will be offered first and the CVT versions from early June.
Thailand joins China, India and Mexico as one of the global
manufacturing hubs for the March, which is also known as the Nissan Micra in
Europe and some other markets. Nissan was thus able to utilize the development
work done by its other manufacturing regions.
Toshiyuki Shiga, chief operating officer of Nissan Motor Co.
said that, “Producing and selling the eco-friendly Nissan March in Thailand, as
well as exporting it to other countries, will create jobs and contribute to the
country’s progressive auto industry development.”
Nissan aims to sell about 20,000 units of the five-door March
hatchback in Thailand this year and to export 70,000 to ASEAN, Oceania and Japan
within 12 months of the debut. The manufacturer claims it had 5,000 pre-launch
bookings even before it announced specifications and price.
Having looked at the Nissan March in the metal at the motor
show, I can report that it is dead-set ugly. It takes just as much time and
effort to make a good looking car, so why make an ugly one? Nissan should shoot
the design team
Some notes from the Bangkok
International Motor Show
While I am writing this, my motorcycle correspondent Alan
Coates and I are at the Bangkok International Motor Show at BITEC (Km 1 Bangkok-Trat
Road), which will be running until April 6. We will be giving you a detailed run-down
on the offerings at the show itself over the next couple of weeks, but here are
a few preliminary jottings and impressions. Let me start with Press Day and the
Push-up bra time!
I must be getting old, but I go to motor shows to look at
motor cars. If all I want to do is to ogle at some dizzy dame with a push-up bra,
in a ridiculous outfit, then are many streets in Chiang Mai which could more
easily cater to my taste or push-up perversions. In those self-same streets, I
could even handle the merchandise, without a push-off, never mind a push-up.
However, after sifting through the 31st Bangkok International
Motor Show, there were some gems amongst the frizzy hair and come hither looks.
Along with the world’s economic melt-down, many dealerships seemed to have
indulged in an automotive ‘pass the parcel’ and the exotics seem to have been
snapped up by small enterprises, and their offerings were not in the main halls
populated by Toyota, Honda, Mazda and Mercedes, but hidden away beside
motorcycles and a couple of ocean-going motorboats. Rolls-Royce, Bentley,
Ferrari, Porsche, Lotus and a wonderful red Audi R8 were there if you looked for
them. Venture down through the tools and accessories and Mr Meguiars presented
the eager auto buff with a brilliant black Lamborghini Gallardo, which just
looked sensational. Mind you, also hidden away, and should have been ritually
buried before the show opened, were the unbelievably crass Mitsuoka’s complete
with faux Rolls front on an original Nissan Teana donor car.
You have to feel sorry for Volvo, falling from Ford’s table
before grace was even over, and also falling from the main hall to be banished
to the basement with the Wuling Scorpions as bed-mates. Yes, how the mighty have
The Japanese auto industry, when you give it free rein, can
come up with some amazing machinery. Tonka toys for bigger boys seemed to be one
of the themes, with the incredibly ugly Suzuki and Toyota Rin being at best
tongue in cheek automotive jokes. Or I hope that was the reason.
Scotsman contemplating a Chery
One Japanese offering which had generated much interest was
the Nissan March (Micra in some countries), their entry level Eco-car. Having
stolen a march (couldn’t resist the pun) on the other manufacturers, they showed
their new little baby in a depressing range of colors, when this should have
been the time to show them off in outrageous colors like Mazda had done with
their Mazda2 variants.
Cheery Chery, the Chinese automaker was exhibiting their
wares again this year, though the Chery QQ seemed basically unchanged from last
year. Taking a leaf from the history books and E.L. Cord’s strategy to shift old
stock from the 1930’s, stickers and stripes were applied with gay abandon,
including a Bumbee Tartan model for impecunious Scotsmen.
More on the motor show next week.