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Automania by Dr. Iain Corness
 

Lamborghini to roll out their fastest Lambo ever

Lambo Sesto Elemento.

Lamborghini will show their fastest ever car, in Lamborghini’s 50 year history, at the 2013 Geneva motor show in late March.
This new car will have the latest in lightweight carbon fibre production techniques - Lamborghini is one of the leaders in carbon fibre - the new supercar is expected to be built in very limited numbers, somewhere between 2 and 10, depending upon firm orders.
Research and development head at Lamborghini Maurizio Reggiano says the car will be road-ready. “It will be a homologated car and we want it to be a tribute to the forthcoming 50th anniversary of Lamborghini.”
It is expected that the new secret Lambo will be quicker than the Sesto Elemento which covers 100 km/h in 2.5 seconds. Neck braces recommended!
“One-off is part of our strategy,” says Reggiano. “Usually we present something because we want to produce or sell it.”
He says buyers of one-off Lamborghinis - each typically paying multiple millions for the privilege of having something unique - are often loyal customers and pay for the car prior to production, “the majority of the time without seeing the car”.
Another Lamborghini which will be made is the Urus SUV, tipped to become one of the fastest off-roaders in the world.
Revealed first as a motor show concept car, the Urus could become Lamborghini’s first turbocharged and first hybrid vehicle. However this is some way away yet with Lamborghini chairman Stephan Winkelmann says the Urus could go on sale in 2017.


Alonso’s new car

Ferrari F138.

Scuderia Ferrari launched their F138 F1 car last week. This took place in Ferrari's home town of Maranello, Italy. The event was attended by Luca di Montezemolo, Stefano Domenicali, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa. The new car, which will be driven by Alonso and Massa during the 2013 Formula One season, was revealed to a packed room of international journalists all eagerly awaiting the first glimpse of the Ferrari F138. (My ticket must have got lost in the post.)
The F138 is the 59th car built by Ferrari specifically to take part in the Formula One World Championship. The name comes from a combination of the current year and the number of cylinders, to mark the fact that this is the eighth and final year of competition for the V8 engine configuration.
This car constitutes the Scuderia's interpretation of this year's Technical and Sporting Regulations, which in fact are substantially the same as those from last season. Therefore the F138 can be seen as an evolution of the F2012, in terms of its basic design principals, although every single part has been revised in order to maximize performance, while maintaining all the characteristics which were the basis of last season's extraordinary reliability.
Shell is again the supplier of fuel and oils. The roots of that partnership date back to 1929 when Shell supplied fuel and lubricants to Enzo Ferrari himself. Ferrari and Shell contested the first Formula One season together in 1950 and last season they celebrated their 500th race together. The technical partnership with Shell has led to continued progress on the fuel and lubricants front, aimed at increasing performance in overall terms and also on maintaining it throughout the engine's life, as well as reducing fuel consumption.
“Formula One engine regulations are currently frozen so the only way to maximize performance of the engine is through improvement in fuel and lubricant - even half a horse power is important, every little bit counts,” said Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal Scuderia Ferrari.


And that reminds me…

A ‘fuelish’ tale
Many years ago I was running a standard Isuzu Gemini in a tightly controlled formula. Like everyone else, we would be looking to see what little tricks could be turned to give an advantage. For most teams that meant trying to alter cam timing and compression without being found out by the scrutineers. For me, I began looking at the fuel we used.
The F1 circus came to Australia for the Grand Prix. After the GP weekend, somehow, a drum of the special F1 fuel was left behind by the Williams team, and it made its way to Brisbane, 2000 km away, where I was waiting. This fuel was really special, very much more efficient thermodynamically than 97 octane, or even 115.
Taking Gemini to the rolling road dynamometer we tipped in the F1 fuel and looked at the horsepower numbers. Instant horsepower, and big grins all round. The weekend would be very successful, we predicted.
We rolled out for practice, and I could feel the extra urge immediately. However, the extra urge only lasted three laps. The crew set about working out why it stopped, and it turned out that the fuel was not getting to the engine. But why not? There was plenty in the tank, and so we began to take out each fuel line looking for the blockage.
It was then we found that the F1 fuel was eating the inside of the standard fuel lines, making gummy deposits all the way along the hoses. F1 cars, of course, do not run rubber/neoprene fuel lines, like production Isuzu Gemini’s do!
We had outsmarted ourselves, but at least we did find a good use for the F1 fuel. It was the greatest way to get the BBQ coals burning. After dousing in F1 fuel, you tossed a match at the BBQ from about 20 paces away. Whooompa, and the BBQ was ready! Technology wins again!


Can the ugly duckling turn into a swan?

Ssanyong.

I have written before that Ssangyong should have shot their sstylist, for that awful ugly duckling monstrosity called the Ssanyong Sstavic with its boat-like behind.
Honestly, how they managed to sell any at all is a mystery, but you do see the odd one floating around the local roads.
The Korean company, which was saved from bankruptcy by Indian manufacturer Mahindra and Mahindra in 2011, has announced that the replacement for the Sstavic (called Rodius in some markets) will be powered by 3.2 liter petrol and 2.0 liter diesel engines. The diesel is the same 114 kW/360 Nm four-cylinder unit as employed in the Korando and Actyon - the only Ssangyong models still on sale in most places after the demise of the Rexton large SUV and the Stavic.
Ssanyong’s publicity blurb states, “Based on its design philosophy ‘robust, premium, specialty’, the new front line emphasizes Ssangyong’s boldness and its spacious body combines dynamics with sophistication. Styled to be fit for outdoor, off-road driving as well as on-road driving with its streamline-shape of the radiator grille and headlamp, the new Rodius/Stavic also offers a whole package of convenience and practical values by fulfilling various needs from business, leisure, and travel.”
The new car will be released at the Geneva Show at the end of March, and we might even get to see it at the Bangkok International if we are lucky.
Hmm, a SSanyong for all sseasons!


Honda joins the expansion

Does the future of the Thai auto industry look good? You betcha! The latest to join the expansions is Honda which is going to spend B. 17 billion on a new assembly plant at Prachin Buri and another three billion baht on expansion of the current Ayutthaya assembly plant. This will provide for an output of 300,000 units per year by 2014.
According to the local Honda president, Hiroshi Kobayashi, the new Prachin Buri plant is modeled on another new plant in Japan, with the emphasis being “green”. This new plant will initially produce 120,000 units annually, bringing Honda production to 420,000 units by 2015. Most of these will be sub-compact small cars, with around 50 percent of the output earmarked for export to ASEAN, Oceania, Middle East and Africa.
The new plant will also be looking for an additional 2,500 workers, which could be a problem in the short term, with there being a chronic shortage of skilled labor in Thailand.


Suzuki an early Myanmar investor

Early news from CEA boss Kevin Fisher, who reported that Suzuki are building a new plant next door to his new CEA yard in Myanmar. This plant will supposedly be operational by mid-year, though other sources have said that the date for being fully operational could be some years off. Permission has been granted by the Myanmar government for Suzuki to recommence manufacture, after the cessation in 2010 of the business license.
Suzuki will also be re-opening its Yangon plant and the aim is to produce 100 light trucks a month. This output is for domestic sales, there being no indication, at this stage, that Suzuki might be looking at tapping the export market from Myanmar.
The Yangon plant had assembled 6,000 cars and 10,000 motorcycles between 1999 and 2010.


New Chevrolet Corvette goes topless

Topless Corvette.

The hard-top version of the new Chevrolet Corvette was released at the Detroit Motor Show last month, but GM have now leaked images of their new Corvette Convertible, which will be released at the Geneva Motor Show next month.
Details are scarce on the convertible, including whether the car will be offered with a soft or folding hard-top lid. However, the same 6.2 liter V8 engine that develops 335 kW of power and 610 Nm of torque will be fitted with the choice of six speed auto or seven speed manual. (The power gives the hard-top a 0-100 km/h in less than four seconds.)
The styling is very sharp and angular, getting away from all the swoopy designs currently all the rage, and I like the look of it.
That’s all the good news. The bad news is that it is only for LHD markets. GM denied it was planning a right-hand-drive variant, “I’m telling you there is no plan,” said Tim Lee, General Motors president of international operations and the vice-president of global manufacturing, at the Detroit motor show.


Hello Sweetie, I’m Sylphy

Sweet Sylphy.

Nissan is excellent at one thing - picking ridiculous names for their cars. I’m no macho man, but I am damned sure you won’t catch me driving a Cedric. Or for that matter, a Tiida - just what on earth is a Tiida? But nothing daunted, the Nissan Stupid Names department has now come up with Sylphy!
The Americans and the Aussies said “No thanks”, and the US call theirs the Sentra and in Australia it is the Pulsar (but it is made in Thailand).
After China, Thailand is the second country to get the Sylphy, with a 1.6 liter producing 85 kW and a 1.8 down with 96 kW. The Thai lineup consists of 1.6 S, 1.6 E, 1.6 V, and 1.8 V, all with standard features like air conditioner, CD player (the 1.8 V gets a color display audio system), electric windows and electrically adjustable and folding mirrors, with dual airbags across the range. There is a navigation option for the 1.8 V and dual zone climate control with rear air ventilation, pricing starts from B. 746,000 - 931,000 so it is right in the Corolla territory. Looks OK, but Oh that name! Since the Aussie Pulsar is made here, perhaps they might throw in the Pulsar name badge if you asked nicely.


From the Thai Auto Book

Nissan Thailand will build a new 11 billion baht factory next to the Samut Prakan factory on 150 rai, a move aimed at sustaining Nissan’s growth across Southeast Asia.
The new plant will have an initial production schedule of 75,000 vehicles a year when it starts up in August 2014, doubling to 150,000 within a few years.
The factory will produce pickup trucks, which are no longer built at Nissan’s existing factory after production was moved to the Mitsubishi Motors plant in Laem Chabang, Chonburi.
At full capacity, Nissan will have an annual production capacity of 370,000 vehicles (excluding the 60,000 Navara pickups now built at Mitsubishi’s factory).
That is all good news for Thailand, and with Toyota stating that they are going to be spending 12 billion baht to build a factory to produce their own eco car, it will not be long to wait to see Thailand in the top five car producing countries in the world.


Blowing in the wind?

Blow up here.

French car conglomerate PSA Peugeot Citroen is showcasing a set of bold future technologies including a hybrid drivetrain that uses compressed air rather than batteries to store energy and will become production reality in 2016.
Now, the compressed air idea has been around for a while too, even advertised in an inventions magazine in 1928. However, as recently as 2000, CNN reported on a Korean company that had created a car engine that ran on air. The engine, which powers a pneumatic-hybrid electric vehicle (PHEV), works alongside an electric motor to create the energy source. The compressed air drives the pistons, which turn the vehicle’s wheels. The air is compressed using a small motor, powered by a 48 volt battery, which powers both the air compressor and the electric motor. Once compressed, the air is stored in a tank.
The manufacturer also said the compressed air system could reduce the cost of vehicle production by about 20 percent, because there was no need to build a cooling system, fuel tank, spark plugs or silencers.
Round about the same time, a French company (MDI), and called Zero Pollution Motors in South Africa, produced a two cylinder compressed air engine. They called the vehicle they installed it in, the e.Volution, and even showed it at South African Auto show in 2000, and again at the Paris show in 2002. The cars generated much interest at the time, and the Mexican government was purportedly signing a deal to buy 40,000 e.Volutions to replace gasoline and diesel-powered taxis in the heavily polluted Mexico City.
The claims for e.Volution were quite substantial. It would travel for 200 km before needing another charge of compressed air. The e.Volution was powered by a two-cylinder, compressed-air engine. The basic concept behind the engine was unique in that it could run either on compressed air alone or act as an internal combustion engine. Dual fuel capabilities.
The compressed air was stored in carbon or glass fiber tanks at a pressure of 300 bar. This air was fed through an air injector to the engine and flows into a small chamber, which expands the air. The air pushing down on the pistons moves the crankshaft, which gives the vehicle power, very similar to the way burning fuel pushes down on the pistons to move the crankshaft in internal combustion engines.
Air tanks fixed to the underside of the vehicle can hold about 300 litres of air. When your air tank nears empty, you can just pull over and fill the e.Volution up at the nearest air pump. Using a household electrical source, it takes about four hours to refill the compressed air tanks. Well, that was the theory anyway.
Come today, and among the exhibits at the PSA Innovation day, held at its research and development center on the south-western fringe of Paris, was the company’s new modular global platform and a low-cost diesel-electric mild hybrid system that will feature on production cars from 2017.
The Hybrid Air system was developed with Bosch, which has experience in hydraulic energy recovery and traction systems for heavy trucks, and is claimed to deliver fuel savings of up to 45 percent in city driving or 35 percent overall.
A hydraulic pump powered by regenerative braking, or the petrol engine, stores the energy as compressed air in a cylinder in the car’s transmission tunnel.
The stored energy is later used to power a hydraulic motor that drives the wheels through the car’s transmission.
In zero-emissions mode, which PSA says runs for 80 percent of urban driving but has not indicated a maximum driving range, the petrol engine switches off and the hydraulic motor alone drives the wheels at up to 70 km/h.
PSA says Hybrid Air makes full hybrid technology more affordable, the pressure accumulators do not eat into interior space, and as a mechanical system it is reliable, robust and easy to maintain.
Quite frankly, I cannot see this compressed air system working. With the limited size of a tank that can fit in the transmission tunnel, it will not propel a car any decent distance. I think PSA are huffing and puffing, to be honest.


MG to go world-wide for 7-eleven

MG6.

A few weeks ago I wrote on the alliance being formed by Chinese conglomerate Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC) and the CP Group (which also owns 7-eleven) to build MG in Thailand.
However, pre-empting the Thai-made MG’s, SAIC is saying it will launch MG in Australia around Easter 2013. Spokesman for SAIC, Xiaomin Xi, head of right-hand-drive markets for SAIC, said that the brand will launch over the Easter weekend. Xi says the distributors and the head office are working closely with existing owners and enthusiasts via the MG car club, stating the launch event will take place on the back of the club’s national meeting in Toowoomba, Queensland, on the last weekend of March. It will be interesting to see just how well a Chinese MG will be accepted by the MG enthusiasts.
Xi says the company is working to add dealers in Brisbane and Newcastle, and confirmed that the brand will initially only offer the MG6 sedan and hatchback, with power coming from a turbocharged 1.8 liter engine producing 118 kW of power and 215 Nm of torque. Hardly enough to blow your flat cap off.
According to the MG UK website, the 6 can lumber from 0-100 km/h in 8.4 seconds, and return consumption figure of 7.5 L/100 km.
The MG6 is about the size of a Mazda3 sedan at just over 4.6 meters long and 1.8 m wide, and has a class-competitive boot size of 498 liters.
It is not clear what safety equipment will be standard on the MG6 destined for Down-under. The MG UK site suggests all models have six airbags (dual front, front-side and full-length curtains), as well as stability control.
There is no indication yet what price the MG6 will be offered, but the car was recently launched in New Zealand significantly cheaper than the Toyota Corolla.


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]

Lamborghini to roll out their fastest Lambo ever

Alonso’s new car

And that reminds me…

Can the ugly duckling turn into a swan?

Honda joins the expansion

Suzuki an early Myanmar investor

New Chevrolet Corvette goes topless

Hello Sweetie, I’m Sylphy

From the Thai Auto Book

Blowing in the wind?

MG to go world-wide for 7-eleven