Last week I asked how do you know if a ‘Traction Avant’
Citroen built between 1938-1940 and post-war 1948-1955 was built in the UK and
not in France (and it wasn’t the placement of the steering wheel)? The correct
answer was they were equipped with leather seats and wooden dashboards, very
popular in the UK, had a 12 volt electrical system and were distinguished by a
different radiator grille and different bumpers. Some models also had a sliding
So to this week. What car did Bob Lutz and Carroll Shelby put
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email
[email protected] Good luck!
Benz going Gangbusters
In the middle of all the banking crises, doom, gloom and
disaster comes the news that Daimler-Benz second quarter revenue was up 28
percent and the unit sales of cars and commercial vehicles was also up by 27
If you think those were good figures, try this – sales
revenue in China was up 182 percent. The Chinese are hardly barefoot on bicycles
any more – they’re driving to work in a Benz! Even Asia as a whole was up by 85
Last year, Daimler-Benz were in the red, but they have
managed an amazing turnaround. After some sales glitches in the past, this is
certainly a staggering result for the German automaker.
BMW to expand production
BMW is making overtures to the Thai government regarding
having a production base in Rayong for electric vehicles. BMW currently has the
Mini E which is being trialed throughout the world, including Hong Kong and also
has the Mega City Vehicle project which is slated to reach dealerships in a
couple of years, another electric vehicle.
BMW Mega City Vehicle.
These electric vehicles do not come under the Thai eco-car
legislation and BOI privileges, as that is solely for small capacity gasoline
engines, so it will require some lateral thinking from the government
departments involved, not renowned for thinking sideways.
BMW has had excellent returns in the past 12 months, despite
the global crisis and internal Thai conflicts, quoting a 56 percent increase in
sales in Thailand. The manufacturing output from the Rayong plant is predicted
to top 3,000 vehicles this year, a 50 percent increase over last year’s 2,000
GM increasing their stake
locally as well
With the Thailand sales figures for its vehicles showing a
very positive trend, GM’s president of GM Thailand and GM South East Asia
Operations, Martin Apfel, has announced that his company is forging ahead with
the diesel engine plant in Rayong.
This plant will supply the region with the new diesel
engines, and with SEA sales rising almost 23 percent, this bodes well for the
Thailand enterprise. The predicted continuing increase is expected to include a
USD 1.6 billion annual budget for local components, all of which gives local
Thai industry a more secure future.
The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) says pedals and
Pimms don’t mix, and cautions that if you are planning to have a few drinks at a
party this summer don’t cycle home.
Although drink-driving is socially unacceptable, many people
wouldn’t think twice about cycling home after consuming more than the legal
blood-alcohol limit for driving.
Neil Greig, IAM Director of Policy and Research said,
“Cycling crashes are underreported, and we need more research into
hospital-based records to see how big this problem really is. A lot of cyclists
that fall off under the influence just go to ER, meaning the police never record
“Many people will have a bit of a wobble on the way home, but
while you may be of less risk to other road users than when in a car, you could
easily fall into a dangerous situation or cause someone else to swerve and crash
to avoid you. If your cycling does result in a collision you are likely to come
“It is often the case that people who have had a couple of
extra drinks will be cycling home in the dark, increasing the danger involved.”
In the UK, anyone riding a bicycle under the influence of
drink (or drugs) to such an extent as to be incapable of having proper control
of it on either a road or other public place, can be fined up to ฃ1,000.
So if you’re planning to use any public right-of-way with
excessive levels of alcohol in your body this summer, then you are better off in
a cab or getting a lift, says the IAM.
Obviously the worthy members of the IAM have never been to
Pattaya. Motorcycles are dangerous enough, but pushbikes are suicide – unless
you are the well-publicized gent in the gold lame outfit and the pink ostrich
feathers who pedals along Second and Beach Roads most afternoons. (If you
haven’t seen him, his photo is featured in my book “Farang, The Sequel”.)
The Volt is reality
The Chevrolet Volt now has a price tag (in the US) of
$41,000. The project has been developed over the last four years, and it seems
that the initial sales will be in specially selected states in the US, beginning
with California. The car should be available in the GM dealerships later this
Whilst $41,000 does not sound too much for us in Thailand,
that price is around $5,000 more than a Cadillac in the US.
The Volt differs from the Nissan’s electric car, the Leaf, in
that it has an on-board four cylinder gasoline engine which can generate
electricity to extend the range of the vehicle from 64 km on battery alone, up
to around 500 km.
Performance figures are also good, with a top speed being
quoted as 160 kmh and a zero to 100 kmh time of 8.5 seconds.
Recharging will be overnight for the Americans on their 110