LaFerrari - pardon?
Finally the new (and for the time being) ultimate Ferrari has
been unveiled at the Geneva show, and as predicted it is a hybrid with
performance that will blow everything away this side of F1.
However, what was not predicted, was that Ferrari would outsource and go to
Nissan’s famous Department of Silly Names to get the name for this new supercar.
“LaFerrari”. Just what sort of name is that? Oh well, it could have been worse
like “Cecil” I suppose.
This is Ferrari’s most extreme road car to date featuring technologies drawn
from Formula 1, including a petrol-electric hybrid drivetrain with KERS-style
kinetic energy recovery.
The LaFerrari will be built in a strictly limited production run of just 499
cars - 100 more than the Enzo - all of which will find their way into the eager
hands of Ferrari collectors the world over. Read Ferrari collectors with bags of
cash. At least 1.3 million euro which comes out at around 50 million baht, and
then add on customs, excise and tax for just being rich. And they won’t take my
Mira as a trade.
Because an electric motor provides maximum torque from minimal revs, Ferrari’s
engine development team was able to optimize the V12 petrol engine’s performance
at higher revs, resulting in a more constant supply of power and torque
throughout the wide rev band.
The 590 kW/700 Nm 6.3 liter V12 internal combustion engine has a very high
13.5:1 compression ratio and revs to 9250 rpm. This is paired to a 120 kW
electric motor, for a combined system potential of 708 kW and 900 Nm, which is
enough torque to drag City Hall down to Beach Road. Power is sent to the wheels
via a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.
Actually, the LaFerrari has two electric motors, one powering the driven wheels
and the second the ancillaries - and a battery pack attached to the floor of the
chassis, consisting of cells assembled in the Scuderia Ferrari department
alongside the KERS for the F138 Formula 1 car.
The battery pack weighs 60 kg and is recharged by both brake and engine
regeneration - the latter feeds excess torque energy straight to the cells.
Ferrari claims it to be its fastest road car to date, with a zero to 100 km/h in
less than three seconds and a 0-200 km/h time of under seven seconds.
You do not move the driving seat to get comfortable, as it is fixed. You move
the pedal box, a feature that Ferrari say was developed in consultation with
Ferrari F1 drivers Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa, who played an “active role”
throughout the entire development process. Since Massa in particular, is about 1
cm off being called a dwarf, I wonder how 6 footers will go?
The styling team was led by Flavio Manzoni, with the need to pair aerodynamic
lessons learned from Formula 1 with the requisite sex appeal of a Ferrari.
According the Ferrari president Luca di Montezemolo, this new car gives,
“Excellence in terms of technological innovation, performance, visionary styling
and the sheer thrill of driving. Aimed at our collectors, this is a truly
extraordinary car which encompasses advanced solutions that, in the future, will
find their way onto the rest of the range, and it represents the benchmark for
the entire automotive industry. LaFerrari is the finest expression of our
company’s unique, unparalleled engineering and design know-how, including that
acquired in Formula 1.”
That may be so, Luca, but it still is a silly name!
A Lekky Landy
Word coming through from the UK is that Land Rover has been
playing with all-electric Land Rover Defenders.
“This project is acting as a rolling laboratory for Land Rover to assess
electric vehicles, even in the most arduous all-terrain conditions,” said Antony
Harper, Jaguar Land Rover’s head of research. “It gives us a chance to evolve
and test some of the technologies that may one day be introduced into future
Land Rover models.”
Land Rover has built seven of these all-electric variants, with lithium-ion
batteries and Land Rover states that the lithium-ion battery pack gives the
Defender a range of just 80 km between recharges, but Land Rover says the car
can go up to eight hours between charging if doing low speed off-road driving.
That is quite ludicrous, and I have no idea why Land Rover would even bother
writing press releases about this. 80 kays! Come on!
Land Rover has ruled out putting the EV Defender into production, but says the
seven cars are part of the company’s long-term plans for hybrid and
electrification. The new Range Rover will be the first Land Rover hybrid, when
the diesel-electric variant of the Vogue goes on sale later this year.
That makes a little more sense, but you will never sell expensive SUV’s that can
only go 80 km before running out of volt juice.
Is Indonesia a threat?
The Automotive Focus Group (AFG) reports that Indonesia is
looking to knock Thailand from its perch as the top vehicle sales country for SE
Some sources in Australia are suggesting Indonesia could pass Thailand to become
the largest vehicle market, by unit sales, in Southeast Asia.
When looking at vehicle producers, however, Thailand is in the world top 10,
while Indonesia is lagging seven years behind Thailand.
According to official figures, Indonesia and Thailand produced more than a
million vehicles for their domestic markets for the first time last year but the
Thais are still far ahead in quality, quantity and value to the national
The Indonesian vehicle sector had a break-out 2012, but Thailand domestic sales
grew to 1.44 million units, propelled by the government’s rebate to first car
buyers. Including exports, the Thailand gross figures for production were 2.45
Indonesia’s figures were 1.2 million vehicles in the domestic market, but only
250,000 for export, well behind Thailand’s numbers, though up 40 percent mainly
through the mini-MPV built in Indonesia.
GM is returning to Indonesian manufacturing, after an eight year break, with a
Chevrolet mini-MPV, manufactured in Brazil but designed, the company says, for
The Indonesian government is trying to capitalize on the potential through the
Low Cost Green Cars program, which would remove or partly rebate the luxury tax
applying to all new private vehicles.
The scheme was announced last year with Toyota (which has 36 percent of the
domestic market), Daihatsu, Suzuki and Honda all immediately committing to the
plan, and now joined by Nissan (using the Datsun nameplate for low cost
vehicles). However, the government has not set the guidelines for the
manufacturers, but there is much potential when they do, looking at the
population of Indonesia.
Is the MINI a disco on wheels?
At the international motor show in Geneva, Harman, the
premium global audio and infotainment group, announced two new additions to the
line-up of MINI models featuring Harman/Kardon sound.
The latest members of the MINI family to be equipped with the distinct
Harman/Kardon audio experience are the brand new R61 Paceman - available since
December 2012 - and the MINI Clubman Bond Street Edition, which made its debut
appearance at Geneva.
To maximize the fun factor and complement the character of this classic car, the
MINI models feature a high-performance Class-D 480-watt DSP amplifier which
delivers richly layered audio to the ten vehicle speakers, and weighs in at just
1.3 kilograms. Loudspeaker positions are optimized in each MINI model, providing
listening pleasure to all vehicle occupants in both front and rear seats: with
crystal-clear treble tones and rich bass sounds, driver and passengers can enjoy
an unforgettable sound experience, with all the realism that characterizes a
live performance, says Harman.
The fidelity comes from special metal matrix diaphragms that have a sandwich
structure made from an aluminum core with a ceramic surface to produce a
top-class, high-fidelity music experience. Two 26 mm metal matrix tweeters in
the A-pillars are supported by two 100 mm midrange speakers in the door panels.
The innovative ALumaprene diaphragms have excellent damping characteristics for
a fine-tuned frequency response, and are designed to deliver the optimum balance
between stiffness and weight.
Harman Kardon acoustic specialists have also integrated two bass speakers in the
front door panels. With a diameter of 150 mm, these door woofers ensure high
fidelity sound reproduction and excellent dynamics of even the deepest bass
rhythms. The rear side panels feature two more 26 mm metal matrix tweeters and
two powerful 150 mm × 230 mm midbass speakers (woofers).
There’s enough sound pressure there to blow your doors off! But pity about the
price in Thailand.
for the Retro racers
The Retro Ford Escort.
It has only just been a little over two months of a layoff,
but the racing season 2013 has started up again for many of the classes running
in Thailand, including the Retro race cars.
The season’s opener is running this weekend at the new Bonanza circuit in Khao
Yai. In fact, we will be running at meetings promoted by the Nitto 3K people and
others by the GPI Pro Series covering Bonanza, Kaeng Krachan (out near Cha Am)
as well as Bira.
The calendar then looks like this:
March 8-10 Bonanza
May 3-5 Bira
June 29-30 Bira
July 5-7 Kaeng Krachan
July 27-28 Bira
September 6-8 Bira
September 28-29 Kaeng Krachan
October 26-27 Kaeng Krachan
November 1-3 Bonanza
December 6-8 Bira.
Pencil those dates into your calendar.
So you can see we will be doing a fair bit of traveling during the year. Highly
developed race cars like our Escort cannot be driven on the road for long
distances, even though it is road registered (and in livery will attract the
unwelcome attention of the BiB as well)!
For us, however, the layoff was very busy, mainly with sponsors, but the
mechanical side saw us remove the entire rear axle system and sending it to
Bangkok to get the Limited Slip Differential worked on. This had given up at the
last meeting (December 2012) and requires expert hands to get the limiting
factor worked out. The other item was electrical (always a ‘black art’ in my
opinion) with its second alternator giving up charging. The World Championship
winning Red Bull F1 team also did their alternators in, so we are in good
company! We are having an experienced auto electrician look at the entire wiring
system, as well as replacing the offending alternator.
The sponsor line-up looks good, with most of last year’s sponsors remaining with
us including CES, B-Quik, the Pattaya Mail, Hemaraj, EBC Brakes, AA Insurance
Brokers and the Sausage King. However, the big news for us is the fact that
BBX/Acorn Distribution has come on board as naming sponsor for 2013. In addition
we have landed Stonefish Wines (a lovely drop from Australia) as another new
sponsor. There will be more who are currently yet to make the decision.
Safer vehicles - or just more things to go wrong?
What is in store for the motorists in the next decade? These
examples are not “concepts”, but the technology is here now. For many OEM’s
(Original Equipment Manufacturer), the integration of the new technologies is
the only item slowing its adoption. That and the price, of course. In the
competitive marketplace of today, the base cost is always a dilemma. The answer,
however, is to make all the new technological applications ‘delete options’. And
since the new car buyer is not really aware of what is coming, this makes it
easier for the automaker.
One such example is emergency brake assist. The technology is simple. It is
easily programmed into the vehicle for it to appreciate how much traction it
has, as well as how many meters it is going to take to brake in time to avoid an
accident. However, if you are still too fast, further braking is too late. But
this is where Emergency Steer Assist (ESA) comes in. Yes, saved by the alphabet
Designed to complement emergency braking systems, ESA works with your electric
steering rack to vary the torque by direction, thus very convincingly
“suggesting” the proper steering wheel motion. Suppose you need to swerve left -
the torque in the clockwise motion is greatly increased (resistance), but it is
very easy to turn the wheel counterclockwise. Similarly, during the maneuver
recovery phase (you may know this as a tank slapper), the inverse is true, the
steering working in tandem with ESC (electronic stability control, mandatory on
all cars in Europe since 2011) to control the after effects of the swerve.
A new type of tyre sensor, called Intelligent Tyre System/Fill Assist, mounted
on the inner tyre tread (as opposed to the wheel), measures tyre pressure,
temperature, g-force and load. It weighs only a few grams. When a heavy load is
detected, for example, the system can notify the driver that more air pressure
is needed to optimize gas mileage, handling and safety. The sensors also
communicate with ABS and ESC, so that these systems can optimize for a given
tyre pressure or vehicle load. Very much F1 technology brought to the daily
According to market research company JD Power and Associates, new car sales
should reach 17.2 million in the USA and Canada in 2013. How many of these will
have the new “fail-proof” technology, I wonder? Adoption of these technologies
has never been Thailand’s forte.
And just when you thought there was a “pure” manufacturer
GM and PSA Peugeot Citroen will jointly develop
people-movers, a compact SUV and a new platform for the next generation of
Opel/Vauxhall, Peugeot and Citroen light cars under a strategic partnership
formed almost a year ago.
PSA’s Peugeot brand will get a new compact SUV as part of the deal, which is
likely to replace the Mitsubishi ASX-based 4008, although there was no mention
of Citroen getting a replacement for its similar C4 Aircross.
Development of new B-Segment (light) people-movers will be led by GM but
developed on PSA platforms to replace Opel’s Meriva, and could become the next
Citroen C3 Picasso while providing Peugeot with a product to sit below its 3008
The current Opel/Vauxhall Corsa light car is based on a platform shared with
Fiat’s Punto and is overdue for replacement.
GM and PSA also intend to co-develop a new generation of high performance,
efficient three-cylinder petrol engines based on PSA’s three-pot engine that is
already doing service in the 208 light car. (Giddy yet?)
The strategic alliance between GM’s loss-making European operation and the
struggling French conglomerate, announced in February last year, aims to cut
costs and boost economies of scale.
At the vehicle development announcement in Brussels, GM vice chairman Steve
Girsky and PSA chairman Philippe Varin also outlined their intentions to further
expand their alliance to make the most of opportunities in growing markets such
as Latin America and Russia.
PSA is no stranger to vehicle sharing, having partnerships with Toyota,
Mitsubishi and BMW. In some societies she would be considered a ‘tart’.
Mitsubishi has a deal with PSA enabling Peugeot and Citroen to sell rebadged
i-MiEV electric cars and the BMW Group has a long-standing four-cylinder engine
sharing arrangement with PSA.
Apart from Corsa sharing Fiat Punto underpinnings, GM Europe’s partnerships are
largely in the commercial vehicle sector, sharing mid-sized and large vans with
Renault-Nissan and its compact Combo van based on Fiat’s Doblo - which is also
sold in the US under Chrysler’s commercial brand, Ram.
And after all that, the cars will probably be made in Thailand anyway!
GM putting some Spin on it.
GM in a Spin.
The Thai Auto Book reports that General Motors Indonesia has
completed its USD 150 million refurbishment of its car plant in Bekasi, a
satellite city east of Indonesia’s capital Jakarta.
The plant, with a 550-strong workforce, is set to begin commercial production of
the Spin seven-seater compact MPV for sale locally and for export to other
markets in the ASEAN region. A further 250 workers will be added by year-end.
The Spin is based on the similarly-named model produced by GM in Brazil but will
get a smaller 1.5 liter engine instead of the 1.8 engine fitted to the Brazilian
model. It will also have locally-made components, including some trim parts.
The plant will have the capacity to produce 40,000 vehicles a year once a second
shift is introduced. The company expects sales to increase significantly in
Indonesia with the new model from last year’s 5,643 units.
This puts the Chevrolet Spin directly against the now aging Avanza from Toyota,
and for my money looks a lot better.
Toyota and Subaru produced a sporty, now Toyota and BMW for another
Toyota and BMW had previously signed MOU’s to build a sports
car and work together on hybrids and fuel cell technology.
This year, the heads of the two companies signed further agreements in Toyota’s
home city of Nagoya, Japan, to work on four projects at the cutting edge of
The result of all this is that BMW and Toyota have agreed to formally work
together on lithium-air batteries - seen as the next big thing to replace
current lithium-ion batteries - along with a new sports car platform, a new
generation fuel cell vehicle system and lightweight construction methods.
This deal follows other agreements signed over the past year to share technology
and engines, including small BMW-built petrol and diesel engines in Europe from
A joint statement released after the event said, “The companies agreed to set-up
a feasibility study to define a joint platform concept for a mid-size sports
vehicle that is to be completed by the end of 2013.
“The two companies aim to combine each other’s technology and knowledge at a
high level to maximize customer satisfaction.
On hand to sign the agreement with Toyota president Akio Toyoda, BMW chairman
Norbert Reithofer said Toyota and BMW shared the same strategic vision of future
“In light of the technological changes ahead, the entire automotive industry
faces tremendous challenges, which we also regard as an opportunity,” he said.
“This collaboration is an important building block in keeping both companies on
a successful course in the future.”
The partners’ agreement to work on developing lithium-air batteries now has
their goal to produce “a lithium-air battery with energy density greatly
exceeding that of current lithium-ion batteries.
“BMW Group and Toyota Motor Corporation are to share their technologies and to
jointly develop a fundamental fuel-cell vehicle system, including not only a
fuel cell stack and system, but also a hydrogen tank, motor and battery, aiming
for completion in 2020,” the statement said.
The BMW-Toyota tie up follows technology and manufacturing sharing agreements
between Mercedes-Benz and Renault-Nissan and General Motors and PSA Peugeot
Citroen last year.
And after all that, the cars will probably be made in Thailand anyway!