by Dr. Iain Corness
Bira this weekend
Mk1 Escort shell waiting paint.
The Nitto 3K meeting with the Retro cars is scheduled for
September 9. We are still hopeful that the Securitas Mk1 Ford Escort will be
rebuilt in time. Anybody got a spare quick steering rack in the bottom of their
cupboard? More next week!
The Thai-Australia FTA in action
Ford Territory from Down-Under.
Everyone’s rough idea of what a Free Trade Agreement (FTA)
means, is that two countries can export/import to each other without duty,
keeping the costs down for both countries. Unfortunately, it doesn’t quite work
Despite the supposed FTA, Thailand imposes a 60 percent “registration” penalty
on foreign cars with petrol engines over 3.0 liters in capacity, but this is
reduced to 50 percent for diesel engines over 2.0 liters. A ‘rose’ by any other
name, it would seem.
However, Ford Australia has sent 100 of its locally built and designed Ford
Territory SUV to Thailand. These were all top of the line AWD ‘Titanium’ diesel
variants with which FoMoCo is gauging public interest with an eye towards more
substantial export deals down the track. Apparently, Ford were very pleased with
the reception the Territory SUV received at the Bangkok International Motor Show
The Thai export deal is a slight reversal of a familiar flow for Ford Australia,
with a growing number of vehicles including the Fiesta, Focus and Ranger - plus
the forthcoming EcoSport and Escape SUVs - all sourced from Thailand, the
third-largest source of vehicles for the Australian new vehicle market
surpassing locally manufactured vehicles.
To the end of July, 84,508 Thai-made vehicles were sold in Australia, only
beaten by Japan (234,429) and Korea (84,724), but ahead of Australia’s own
domestic production (79,433).
Ford Australia president and CEO Bob Graziano said, “Building on the success of
the Territory in Australia and New Zealand, we expect the Territory Titanium
model to do well in Thailand. It’s clear Thai customers want the roominess of a
seven-seater and the features available in the Territory Titanium.”
A USD 11 million Ford?
A 1967 Gulf/Mirage Ford GT40 was sold at auction in the US
for USD 11 million plus auctioneer’s fees. Before the auction, the vehicle was
estimated that it would reach upwards of USD 8 million.
These days, any GT40 will command huge dollars, and this particular GT40 is one
of only two surviving production lightweight GT40 models.
The car’s history also includes an extensive race career throughout the late
1960s and early ’70s from Daytona to Le Mans, as well as the Le Mans trials at
the hands of Jacky Ickx. The car was also used as a camera car in the classic
1971 Steve McQueen film, Le Mans, adding to the overall value.
It was presented in the Gulf team colors of Powder Blue with a Marigold stripe,
the GT40 lightweight had a 320 kW mid-mounted V8 engine and five-speed manual
The list of cars which were sold by RMA Auctions of Monterey California, will
make you weep, as they sold more than USD 30 million in other rare and
collectable vehicles including a 1962 Ferrari 250 GT SWB California Spyder (USD
8.58m); a 1955 Ferrari 410 S (USD 8.25m); a 1956 Ferrari 250 GT LWB Berlinetta
‘Tour de France’ (USD 6.71m); a 1938 Horch 853A Special Roadster (USD5.17m) and
a 955 Aston Martin DB3S that reached USD 3.69 million.
Honda’s Jazz Hybrid goes the other direction
Honda Thailand released its hybrid version of it Jazz a few
weeks ago, and now has revealed that the hybrid version will also be exported to
Thailand’s hybrid Jazz should make its debut at the Australian International
Motor Show in Sydney on October 18, the Australian-spec model being produced in
Thailand alongside the conventional-engined version, taking advantage of the
free-trade agreement between the two countries, where Australia does not have a
similar “registration” penalty as Thailand has for importing vehicles.
Honda has said it is aiming to sell 10,000 Jazz Hybrids in Thailand - where it
starts from 768,000 baht - and an equivalent number in Malaysia, once production
commences there next year.
Thai specifications show the Jazz Hybrid is powered by Honda’s familiar 1339cc
four cylinder i-VTEC engine producing 65 kW of power at 5800 rpm and 121 Nm of
torque at 4500 rpm, combining with a 10 kW/78 Nm electric motor and driving the
front wheels through a continuously variable transmission.
Idle-stop technology and a low-speed EV mode are fitted, helping the Jazz hybrid
deliver combined-cycle fuel consumption of 4.7 L/100 km and CO2 emissions of 110
grams per kilometer (if you are interested in these numbers), based on internal
The hybrid chassis set-up is as the conventional model, including the use of a
MacPherson strut front suspension, torsion beam rear axle, electric power
steering system and standard 15 inch alloy wheels.
In Thailand, Honda is the first to offer a hybrid car in the sub-compact segment
and has put a five year/unlimited mileage warranty on the hybrid system,
including the electric motor, IPU (intelligent power unit), battery and wiring.
The driver can activate an ECON switch that takes the car into “super economy”
mode, resulting in a four percent reduction in torque, smoother CVT shift
pattern, increased regenerative braking and altered air-conditioning operation.
The IMA system, battery pack and power control unit are located under the rear
cargo floor, which according to Honda has meant no change in either seating
flexibility or cargo space.
Thai-spec models come with dual front airbags and ABS brakes with electronic
brake-force distribution, although Australian models will have traction and
stability control and curtain airbags to enable a good ANCAP rating down-under.
Electric power steering
As mentioned in the piece about the
new hybrid Jazz, this car has electric power steering. About eight years
ago, I made the prediction that “European cars, because of their smaller
sizes and lighter weight have utilized electric steering sooner than across
the Atlantic, but I expect electric power steering will replace traditional
hydraulic power steering units within the next five to seven model years.”
It now seems that I was right when I looked into my crystal ball.
(Unfortunately, it does not give out lottery numbers!)
Since hydraulically activated power steering has been around since 1951 when
the Chrysler Crown Imperial was the first car offered with the new concept,
we should have got it right by now. And we have got it right, to the point
that we have developed another system which uses less energy than hydraulic
pumps, and in today’s energy conscious environment, less energy used is
savings at the petrol pumps.
Today’s systems use electronics and electrics and has dispensed totally with
the hydraulics. This was first seen in the Honda NSX sports car and Honda
again introduced the system on the S2000 sports car. Smaller, lighter
electric units are also used on Honda’s Hybrid Insight sedan (petrol saving,
of course). And the Jazz!
However, Honda was not the lone pioneer here, as Saturn used electric power
steering on the Vue SUV and the Ion sedan. GM’s 2004 Malibu used Delphi’s
new E*STEER unit. Dephi’s system was also used in the 2000 Fiat Punto and
Volkswagen’s 2001 Lupo 3L TDI. Other OEM vendors of electric power steering
systems are Visteon with EPAS used in the MGF and ZF Freidrichshafen AG with
As opposed to electric power steering, four-wheel steer has also been around
for a while, but these have been mechanical systems. Honda offered it on the
Prelude but dropped it later, and more recently it was offered on the
full-size GM pickups and SUVs. For large vehicles like a pickup truck, this
reduced the turning circle from something akin to that of a sea-going oil
tanker to that of a small car. However, these mechanical systems were
expensive and physically complex.
Four-wheel steering systems of the 1980s were in essence, essentially
mechanical, with the wheels linked at pre-determined angles to make up for a
vehicle’s tendency to understeer. Towards the end of the 1990s,
manufacturers such as Nissan were beginning to develop solutions based on
electrically and even hydraulically-operated actuators to take the dynamic
performance of their vehicles forward. Electronic control of rear wheel
steering has enabled handling to be fine-tuned even further, notably in the
case of rear-wheel drive vehicles.
Auto engineers know there are many advantages with electric/electronic
systems in automobiles, and one significant savings lies where electrical
and electronic components actually replace conventional mechanical and
electromechanical components. Such is the case with electric power assisted
steering systems, steer-by-wire, and active steering systems, including
electro-hydraulic power steering, magnetic power steering, intelligent
steering systems, active rear-steer systems, four-wheel steering systems,
steer-by-wire, and multi-axle steering systems. This is a complex area of
engineering that covers active, passive, and semi-active suspension systems,
electromagnetics, damper suspension, digital suspension control, and
vibration and handling control systems.
These advances have been acknowledged, but complexity and cost has stopped
them becoming universally adopted, but as electronic systems become more
sophisticated and costs become more affordable, many of these advancements
are now becoming available in mid-range production automobiles.