Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

More cheapies coming

With Nissan going well with sales of their Nissan March, this fact has not been missed by the other manufacturers. Toyota have a cheapie they plan to sell in India, called the Etios (where do they get these names from, I wonder) which just might find its way into the Thai domestic market.

Toyota Etios

This appeared to be confirmed when Yukitoshi Funo, an executive vice-president of Toyota Motor Corp in Japan, said this week that a low-cost car would be sold in Thailand and similar models would be offered in emerging markets including China, India and Brazil.

Now if this new small car is the Etios destined for India this December, it is very similar in length to the Nissan March and the engine size at 1.2 liters should all get this car into the Thai eco-car fold. “It’s too early, as more discussions will be held to conclude which type of low-cost car will be built or sold here,” said a spokesman for Toyota Motor Thailand.

One of the supposed worries is that the Etios may not have the specification level expected in Thailand and despite price, and would not fire up the low end marketplace.

Industry watchers claim that Toyota have a car in design stage for Thailand and other SE Asian markets, but this would not be ready for release until 2012 or 2013. This might be giving Nissan and others too great of a head start, and with the eco-car regulations stating that by year five of the model life, the manufacturer has to be producing 100,000 cars a year, a late start does not help Toyota in achieving this.

Are male drivers better than female ones?

New research has shown that, if nothing else, three year old boys are better drivers than three year old girls.

The experiment involved over 70 pre-school boys and girls who took part in a series of controlled tests. The research was conducted using electric Roary the Racing Car ride-ons at world-famous motorsport circuit, Brands Hatch.

Women Drivers!

Results were analyzed based on concentration, spatial awareness, dexterity, control and overall speed in a series of three trials. The examination included a straight race from start to finish, a reversing test and a maneuvering challenge around cones. The findings showed that although girls were slightly quicker off the mark at the start of the race, boys were 34 percent better at concentrating and demonstrating visual-spatial skills whilst driving in a straight line. Although, girls overall speed was five percent faster than boys when racing straight, boys were 20 percent better than girls at maintaining their line.

According to child psychologist, Donna Dawson, boys and girls develop significant differences in brain structure, hormones, and are influenced by culture and society a lot more after this age.

Surprisingly, the reverse test revealed that the boys were 17 percent better than girls at doing two things at once such as moving and steering whilst looking over their shoulder. However, the pre-schoolers were too young to find it necessary to apply lipstick at the same time as driving.

Autotrivia Quiz

What was the only wicker bodied car to go into production in 1924? An easy one! And it’s not the 1897 Hugot or the 1928 Chevrolet.

I asked what was the only wicker bodied car to go into production in 1924? An easy one! And it was not the 1897 Hugot or the 1928 Chevrolet. It was the Hanomag company in Germany, which prior to 1924 had been building railway locomotives. The Hanomag had a 500 cc single cylinder engine in the rear and they sold 16,000 of the metal bodied ones, but only a few hundred of the wicker ones.

Cruzing electrically

General Motors has announced it has a demo fleet of electric Chevrolet Cruzes to research the market in Korea.

The project involves a fleet of electric vehicles based on the Chevrolet Cruze. The electric Cruzes will operate in South Korea’s capital, Seoul, and they are the result of shared development with GM Daewoo, LG Chemical and LG Electronics.

Electric Cruze

The project will provide real-world data on customer acceptance of battery electric vehicles, studying driving patterns and charging behavior while sharing costs and resources.

The Cruze EV demo fleet will be powered by batteries from LG Chemical and propulsion systems (motor/inverter) from LG Electronics.

The Cruze EV is equipped with a 31 kWh battery that generates maximum power of 150 kW. The demonstration fleet will be monitored closely to determine the amount of real-world range achievable by a vehicle of its size. On specific test schedules conducted by LG Chemical, the demonstration vehicles may achieve a range of up to 160 km. The vehicles can go from 0 to 100 km/h in 8.2 seconds with a maximum speed of 165 km/h, all of which look perfectly suitable for normal commuting.

On a standard household 220-volt outlet, the Cruze EV can be fully recharged in 8 to 10 hours. Part of the demonstration fleet’s task is to test a “quick charge” application that could reduce the charge time significantly.

“Speed Kills” - or does it?

Having been involved in motor racing for 45 years at a rough count, I do get rather tired of the assertion by legislators that “Speed Kills”. The modern F1 car shows that “speed” does not necessarily “kill” at all.

However, some statistics have come to light in the UK which throw a new light on road fatalities and counters the “Speed Kills” mania. The latest figures from the department of transport reveal 2,222 people were killed on UK roads in 2009. 95 percent of crashes do not involve exceeding the speed limit and 83 percent of deaths (around 1,844 people) occur within the speed limit.

Speed kills?

The 17 percent of deaths where exceeding the speed limit was ticked as a ‘factor’ are of course a significant number, around 378 people. However we must remember that a ‘factor’ is very different from a ‘cause’ and officers are instructed to tick the ‘speeding’ box even if the vehicle that caused the crash was not speeding but another vehicle involved was or might have been.

What we are not told is just how many of these 378 deaths are caused by sober, otherwise legal, drivers travelling a few miles per hour above the speed limit and how many were caused by drunk, drugged, unlicensed, drivers of stolen cars or those travelling at reckless speeds.

The prime target of UK road safety policy at present is licensed drivers exceeding speed limits by a small amount. These make up the vast majority of camera prosecutions. The Association of British Drivers (ABD) has called upon the authorities to reveal exactly how many ‘over speed limit’ deaths are caused by such drivers. Only when the full facts are revealed can we tell if current policy is correctly targeted or should emphasis be shifted. The ABD has tried for many years to obtain true figures on this issue and have continually met with obstruction. We have called for an independent road accident investigation board manned by ex-marine and aviation industry accident investigators. Perhaps with a new government in charge we may see a more honest approach?

In a Sunday Telegraph interview, Paul Garvin, then County Durham Chief Constable, said, “Having looked at the accident statistics in this area [County Durham], we find that if you break down the 1,900 collisions we have each year only three percent involve cars that are exceeding the speed limit. Just 60 accidents per year involve vehicles exceeding the speed limit. You then need to look at causes of these 60 accidents. Speed may be a factor in the background but the actual cause of the accident invariably is drink-driving, or drug-driving. The cause of accidents is clearly something different than exceeding the speed limit and we ought to be looking at those other factors”.

It would then seem that politicians, the world over, do not understand statistics in any way whatsoever. Take the annual carnage in Thailand, called Songkran. 80 percent of the deaths over the Songkran holidays come from motorcycle accidents, in which, in the vast majority, no helmet has been worn. This would surely give the authorities the direction in which to go to be able to decrease the road toll. But no, just like the UK, the authorities will find the wrong tree to bark up.

Motorcycling in a Kombi van

Received some pictures from Jerry in the USA of some very different sidecars. This one in particular appealed, with its scaled down VW Kombi van alongside the motorcycle.

Others included a scaled down army tank, a red mini-Ferrari, a large Red Bull drink can, a small WW2 plane and a narrow Citroen 2CV.

A different Kombi