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Automania by Dr. Iain Corness
 

MotoGP to Thailand?

An interesting item from the Automotive Focus Group following the news that the much publicized Bangkok F1 GP appears to be dead in the water. However, Southeast Asia has a very large appeal for motorcycle manufacturers due to its strong sales and cheap labor force and MotoGP racing is exponentially growing in its appeal in this part of the world. There is also a Thai competitor, which helps.
MotoGP’s organizer Dorna’s Carmelo Ezpeleta said, “There are other projects in Asia also,” and this other project could be the Buriram International Circuit in Thailand that is about 400 km north of Bangkok.
Representatives of the new track, which was designed by Hermann Tilke, recently met with Ezpeleta for talks at Mugello who said that a spot for a race in Thailand could be made available on the 2015 calendar.
Newin Chidchob, the former Thai politician from Buriram province and president of Buriram United, said that he decided to construct the new racing circuit because he is a “motorsport lover, especially motorcycle racing because there are no circuits in Thailand that are able to cater to world-class events.”
The circuit will be completed and ready for use by October 4 of next year at a cost of US$60 million.
Since Dorna has no intention of adding more races to the calendar, to make room for an event in Thailand, Dorna could axe one of the American rounds, which they are already considering, with Indianapolis already making noises that MotoGP is no longer feasible, or one of the four Spanish races.


Will Telematics Systems open doors for car theft?

In the last few years there has been a rise in thefts of late-model cars where criminals have used hand-held tools, such as key programmers and immobilizer overrides, to steal them without needing the original key.
The speed with which these devices perform their attacks on the embedded software, via the OBD port, has transformed electronic theft from a minority method to, in some markets, the dominant method used by thieves to steal the most targeted models.
The proliferation of theft tools available today illustrates both the ingenuity of the attackers and the complacency of vehicle manufacturers.
A growing number of vehicle manufacturers today offer telematics systems to provide the connectivity demanded by a new generation of buyers. Some of these systems already offer services which could potentially be manipulated by an attacker to steal cars, such as remote door unlock and remote engine start.
This report shows that vehicle manufacturers and their telematics service providers should take heed of emerging academic studies which have demonstrated that remote attacks can result in a criminal manipulating vehicle systems. Reverse engineering vehicle CAN messages, frequently to override security protocols, is already mainstream research for aftermarket companies. This level of knowledge, combined with any single exploitable weakness in the telematics platform, would provide an attacker with almost any remote control functionality they desire.
This report looks at how vehicle telematics systems could be used to facilitate car theft in the future. It considers how criminals may remotely access or start the car and whether such attacks could be performed entirely over-the-air, or whether the vehicle would firstly need to be compromised by some alternative method. It also examines the explosion in internet facilitated crime to consider what the automotive industry should know about today’s cybercriminals.
To read full report go to this URL http://www.sbd.co.uk/files/sbd/pdfs/522IB.pdf?dm_i=1ICZ,1MR0C,7YAJQE,5OL00,1


What did we learn from the German GP?

Well, we learned that Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) is a lucky b*stard, a certain cameraman in the pits is another lucky one, and Mark Webber (Red Bull) would be one of the most unlucky drivers in F1.
Right from the start, when pole sitter Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) fluffed it and was swamped by both Red Bulls, there was very little doubt about the final result, being a win for Vettel. All doubt was removed when Webber’s crew did not bolt on his right rear tyre securely, with the wheel coming off in pit lane, hitting a cameraman who fractured ribs and a shoulder blade. Red Bull were also fined 30,000 euro for the poor (dangerous) pit work.
Second and third places for the “Lotus” duo of Raikkonen and Grosjean were deserved, with both drivers looking as if they could challenge Vettel towards the end of the race, but this was not to be, as the fall-off in tyre ‘stiction’ precludes any real battles.
Fourth went to the man who is always lurking in the shadows, Fernando Alonso, (Ferrari) complete with Viva Zapata moustache. His team mate (Felipe Massa) once again demonstrated why he should not get his contract renewed for 2014, spinning on the third lap and then unable to continue.
After making a pig’s ear of the start, Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) plugged away in the middle of the pack, and at no time looked like the driver who had scored a triumphant pole the day before. His team mate Nico Rosberg suffered an even worse fate, not even making it into the final round of qualifying, following a miscalculation by the Mercedes pit. For goodness sake, these are supposed to be professionals!
Amazingly, both McLarens (Jenson Button and Checo Perez) made it into the points, by keeping their tyres in good condition for more than eight laps! However, at no time were they going to be able to get on the podium.
Drive of the day was probably Mark Webber in the second Red Bull who came from dead set last to seventh, after the lost wheel incident.
Last two points positions went to Rosberg and Hulkenberg (Sauber) who was reputedly competing pro bono. Things are a little tight down there in Sauberland.
It was a make or break situation for Pirelli. If there had been any tyre failures, such as we saw in Silverstone, the previous week, the Grand Prix Drivers Association were ready to boycott the event. So it came down to the usual complaint that the results in F1 these days depend on the tyres lasting more than eight laps. Anything older than that and the drivers are unable to use the power and road holding. A rubber lottery at best. The FIA continue to bleat about lowering the costs involved in F1 - so give the teams tyres that will last the race distance and there is a cost saving straight away.
The result increases Vettel’s points score to 157 with Alonso on 123 from Raikkonen on 116, Hamilton 99, Webber 93 and Rosberg 84.
In the Constructors’ stakes, Red Bull have 250 to Mercedes’ 183, with Ferrari third on 180, Lotus on 157, Force India on 59 and McLaren on 49.


How much is the CEO worth?

How much is the CEO worth, or rather, how much is the CEO being paid, particularly compared to the rank and file under the CEO’s vision?
One of the poorest is Toyota’s boss, Akio Toyoda who received a total of $1.86 million in salary and bonuses. This remuneration also includes dividends from shares he owns in the company, which was founded by his great-grandfather.
Carlos Ghosn, head of rival Nissan, Japan’s number-two automaker, retained his ranking as possibly Japan’s best-paid CEO, raking in almost 10 million dollars. Ghosn’s raison d’etre being that “Companies must employ and retain top leaders,” which he told investors last year in response to questions on his pay package.
However, if you think Carlos is doing well, in the United States Ford chief executive Alan Mulally was paid $21 million in 2012, while General Motors’ chief Dan Akerson received $11.1 million.
The salary gap between a firm’s lowest and highest-paid workers in Japan tends to be a fraction of levels seen North America and Europe, where top pay has attracted a growing chorus of criticism.
However, Europe has been restraining such pay rises. In April, shareholders in Swiss private bank Julius Baer flatly rejected the bank’s plan for executive compensation in a non-binding vote, amid outrage over huge pay packages.
That came just a month after Swiss voters massively came out in favor of a new law limiting executive pay and bonuses, among various measures taken across Europe to shrink CEO pay.
Earlier this year, a government auditor blasted the US Treasury for approving high levels of top-level pay at firms bailed out in the financial crisis.
Is the writing on the wall?
In Japan, CEO compensation of around $1.0 million or less is not uncommon while some executives take pay or bonus cuts if the firm has not performed. Last month, Sony said dozens of senior executives including CEO Kazuo Hirai would give up their bonuses this year to atone for a slump in its embattled electronics unit.


Aston Martin sells off 35 percent

Aston Martin and Investindustrial have finalized a deal that will see a 35 percent stake in the automaker sold to the European private equity group.
Investindustrial is paying 150 million GBP for the stake and has promised to add further capital increases in the coming years.
As part of the deal, Investindustrial, together with existing Aston Martin shareholder Investment Dar, will inject more than half a billion GBP of much needed funds into Aston Martin’s coffers over the next five years.
The investment is aimed at funding Aston Martin’s growth plans, which is expected to center on expansion into new markets, particularly China, where the automaker is looking to expand beyond sports cars with new models falling under its historic Lagonda brand.
Unlike its rivals, Aston Martin doesn’t have the resources of a rich parent company to fund its operations, which is part of the reason it has failed to match their growth and came close to receiving a credit downgrade watch from investment rating firms.
Aston Martin sold roughly 3,800 cars in 2012, which earned it just over $100 million before interest and tax expenses. The automaker expects to do much better in 2013 due to this year being the first full year of production for new models such as the Vanquish and Rapide S.
Though it’s yet to be confirmed, CEO Ulrich Bez, who has led Aston Martin since 2000, is reported to be resigning to an ambassadorial role this summer and set to announce a successor soon. It’s not clear if the news is related to Investindustrial’s buy into the automaker.


Accessories to-go at 7-Eleven

With the partnership between the Chinese SAIC MG and 7-Eleven in Thailand, the distributor of MG, what will be in store for us (or will that be “in the store” for us)? Apparently, like the MINI drivers, MG will be promoting the fact that owners can individualize their cars with a long list of add-ons and accessories.
In the UK, the MG3 will have a 77 kW 1.5 liter four-cylinder petrol engine driving the front wheels. According to MG, it will use a five speed manual gearbox.
Now to pimp your MG wheels, the MG will have a choice of 10 external paint colors and up to 10 different stick-on decals, including the iconic Mini-inspired British flag, and a smattering of smiley faces.
“Roof, side and bonnet graphics will allow owners to personalize their own MG3.” Interior trims, wheels, vents, surrounds and mats will all be available in a choice of designs, colors as well.
According to MG, the range will start with 16 inch alloy wheels, and include signature “hockey stick” LED daytime running lights set around a black mesh grille, and sportier body plastics. It includes blacked-out pillars to give the look of a floating roof - another MINI signature.


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

MotoGP to Thailand?

Will Telematics Systems open doors for car theft?

What did we learn from the German GP?

How much is the CEO worth?

Aston Martin sells off 35 percent

Accessories to-go at 7-Eleven