by Dr. Iain Corness
Why buy an eco-car?
News this week that Mitsubishi is expanding their production
facilities to increase the output of the Mirage eco-cars. Mitsubishi have stated
that despite the first owners rebate having expired, eco-cars are still very
cheap and they expect demand to continue.
So why does Somchai buy an eco-car? Hands up all those who said “price”. I
honestly do not believe that the buyers of eco-cars are saying that this small
car will be good for the environment and the emissions are such that fairy
penguins will increase in numbers. I also do not believe that the public buys
eco-cars because they do not use much fuel and we save the world’s oil reserves
for the next generation (to worry about).
No, the real and only reason is price and not particulates. Would anyone like to
JD Power casts doubt
It appears that every manufacturer is touting just how
‘green’ they are, with Hybrids on the lot today and EV’s just around the corner
tomorrow. But is that concept one which reflects reality? Or is it some sort of
hype to boost sales, when their variants with internal combustion engines are
The study ‘Drive Green 2020: More Hope than Reality’ concludes global hybrid and
EV demand is likely to account for only a small proportion of total vehicle
sales over the next decade, despite multi-billion-dollar investments and
fast-paced development in the car industry, according to global marketing
information company JD Power and Associates who commissioned the research.
JD Power’s research postulates that hybrids and EVs combined will account for
just 7.3 percent - or 5.2 million units - of the 70.9 million passenger vehicles
forecast to be sold in 2020. In other words, 92 percent of new vehicles at the
end of the next decade will still be gasoline/diesel powered. So much for the
oil supply dwindling. JD Power’s study obviously does not feel we will be forced
into driving EVs.
However, Nissan-Renault, for example, is expecting EVs alone to account for
around 10 percent of total vehicle sales by the end of the decade - while JD
Power estimates only 1.8 percent. But even if we accept Nissan-Renault’s
figures, that still leaves 90 percent conventional gasoline/diesel power.
EV’s are still being developed (Nissan Leaf, Chevrolet Volt, Tesla for example),
but it looks very doubtful that they will be a dominant part of the automotive
50 years of Porsche
Porsche rear view for 50 years.
The iconic Porsche 911 reaches its half century this year,
and courtesy of the Porsche factory, here is the legend from the start through
The Initial 911 (1963)
Successor to the Porsche 356, the 911 prototype was first unveiled at the
Frankfurt IAA Motor Show in 1963 as the 901, and renamed the 911 for its market
launch in 1964 (as Peugeot had taken all three digit numbers with a zero in the
middle). Its air-cooled six-cylinder boxer engine delivered 130 hp, giving it an
impressive top speed of 210 km/h. Starting in 1965 you could also opt for the
four-cylinder Porsche 912. In 1966 Porsche presented the 160 hp 911 S, which was
the first to feature forged alloy wheels from Fuchs.
Either of them will do!
The 911 Targa, with its distinctive stainless steel roll bar,
made its debut in late 1966 as the world’s first ever safety cabriolet. The
semiautomatic Sportomatic four-speed transmission joined the lineup in 1967.
With the 911T of the same year, and the later E and S variants, Porsche became
the first German manufacturer to comply with strict US exhaust emission control
regulations. The Porsche 911 became more and more powerful as displacement
increased, initially to 2.2 liters (1969) and later to 2.4 (1971). The 911
Carrera RS 2.7 of 1972 with 210 hp engine and weighing less than 1000 kg remains
the epitome of a dream car to this day. Its characteristic “ducktail” was the
world’s first rear spoiler on a production vehicle (and my personal favorite).
The G-Series (1973) - The Second Generation
The G model was produced from 1973 to 1989, longer than any other 911
generation. It featured prominent bellows bumpers, an innovation designed to
meet the latest crash test standards in the United States. One of the most
important milestones was the 1974 unveiling of the first Porsche 911 Turbo with
a three-liter 260 hp engine and enormous “whale tail”. The next performance jump
came in 1977 with the intercooler-equipped 911 Turbo 3.3. At 300 hp it was the
best in its class. In 1983 the naturally aspirated 911 Carrera superseded the
SC; with a 3.2 liter 231 hp engine. Starting in 1982, the 911 Cabriolet was
available. The 911 Carrera Speedster, launched in 1989, was evocative of the
legendary 356 of the fifties.
The 964 (1988) - Classic Modern
In 1988 Porsche came out with the 911 Carrera 4 (964). The 911 platform was
radically renewed with 85 percent new components. Its air-cooled 3.6 liter boxer
engine delivered 250 hp. Externally, the 964 differed from its predecessors only
slightly, in its aerodynamic polyurethane bumpers and automatically extending
rear spoiler, but internally it was almost completely different. It came with
ABS, Tiptronic, power steering, and airbags, and rode on a completely redesigned
chassis with light alloy control arms and coil springs instead of the previous
torsion-bar suspension. A revolutionary member of the new 911 line right from
the start was the all-wheel drive Carrera 4 model. In addition to Carrera Coupé,
Cabriolet and Targa versions, starting in 1990 customers could also order the
964 Turbo. Initially powered by the proven 3.3 liter boxer engine, in 1992 the
Turbo was upgraded to a more powerful 360 hp 3.6 liter power plant.
The 993 (1993) - The Last Air-Cooled Models
The 911 with the internal design number 993 remains the one true love of many a
Porsche driver. The integrated bumpers underscore the smooth elegance of its
styling. The front section is lower-slung than on the earlier models, made
possible by a switch from round to poly-ellipsoid headlights. The 993 was also
agile with a newly designed aluminium chassis. The Turbo version was the first
to have a bi-turbo engine, giving it the lowest-emission stock automotive
powertrain in the world in 1995. The hollow-spoke aluminium wheels were yet
another innovation of the all-wheel drive Turbo version. The Porsche 911 GT2 was
aimed at the sports car purist. An electric glass roof that slid under the rear
window was one of the innovations of the 911 Targa. But the real reason
dyed-in-the-wool Porsche enthusiasts still revere the 993 is that this model,
produced from 1993 to 1998, was the last 911 with an air-cooled engine.
The 996 (1997) - Water-Cooled
The 996, which rolled off the assembly line from 1997 to 2005, represented a
major turning point in the history of the 911. It retained all the character of
its classic heritage, but was an entirely new automobile. This comprehensively
redesigned generation was the first to be driven by a water-cooled boxer engine.
Thanks to its four-valve cylinder heads it achieved 300 hp and broke new ground
in terms of reduced emissions, noise, and fuel consumption. The exterior design
was a reinterpretation of the 911’s classic line, but with a lower drag
coefficient (cW) of 0.30. The lines of the 996 were also a result of component
sharing with Porsche’s successful Boxster model. Its most obvious exterior
feature were the headlights with integrated turn signals, at first controversial
but later copied by many other manufacturers. On the inside, drivers experienced
an entirely new cockpit. Driving comfort now also played a greater role
alongside the typical sporty characteristics. With the 996 Porsche launched an
unprecedented product offensive with a whole series of new variations. The 911
GT3 became one of the highlights of the model range in 1999, keeping the
tradition of the Carrera RS alive. The 911 GT2, the first car equipped with
ceramic brakes as standard, was marketed as an extreme sports vehicle starting
in the fall of 2000.
The 997 (2004) - Classicism and Modernity
In July 2004 Porsche unveiled the new generation 911 Carrera and 911 Carrera S
models, referred to internally as the 997. The clear oval headlights with
separate blinkers in the front apron were a visual return to older 911 models,
but the 997 offered more than just style. It was a high-performance vehicle,
with a 3.6 liter boxer engine that turned out 325 hp while the new 3.8 liter
engine of the Carrera S managed an incredible 355 hp. The chassis was also
substantially reworked, and the Carrera S came with Porsche Active Suspension
Management as standard equipment. In 2006 Porsche introduced the 911 Turbo, the
first gasoline-powered production automobile to include a turbocharger with
variable turbine geometry. A model update in the fall of 2008 made the 997 even
more efficient thanks to direct fuel injection and a dual clutch transmission.
Never before had the 911 series made such extensive allowances to suit drivers’
individual preferences, and with Carrera, Targa, Cabriolet, rear or all-wheel
drive, Turbo, GTS, special models, and road versions of GT racing cars, the 911
family ultimately comprised 24 model versions.
The 991 (2011 through to today) - Refined by Experience
This car, known internally as the 991, represents the greatest technical leap in
the evolution of the 911. Already the class benchmark for decades, the new 911
generation raised performance and efficiency to new levels. A totally new
suspension with a longer wheelbase, wider track, larger tyres and an
ergonomically optimized interior - it all adds up to an even sportier yet more
comfortable driving experience. Technically, the 911 is the epitome of Porsche
Intelligent Performance - even lower fuel consumption, even higher performance.
This is due in part to the smaller 3.4 liter displacement in the Carrera basic
model (yet developing 5 hp more than the 997/II), and to its hybrid
steel/aluminium construction, which significantly reduces curb weight. Other
innovations include Porsche Dynamic Chassis Control (PDCC) and the world’s first
seven-gear manual transmission. The design of the 991 has likewise met with high
critical acclaim. With its flat, stretched silhouette, exciting contours, and
precisely designed details, the seventh generation of the Porsche 911 Carrera
remains unmistakably a 911 that has once again succeeded in redefining the
standard for automobile design. It is the best 911 of all time - until the next
The above is for all Porsche enthusiasts, and there are many in Thailand.