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Vol. XII No.17 - Sunday August 25 - Saturday September 7, 2013


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Update by Saichon Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
Automania by Dr. Iain Corness
 

Spa this weekend

Spa GP

F1 resumes with Spa this weekend. After the mid-year four week holiday, F1 returns to one of the best tracks on the calendar - Spa Francorchamps in Belgium, a circuit that everyone enjoys (are you listening, Bernie).
Now we get a real race circuit, with Eau Rouge being the corner for those with big hearts (and large cojones). Remember Webber’s pass on Alonso around the outside of Eau Rouge a couple of years ago! Will Vettel be dominant again? Will Hamilton keep his hot blood in check? Will Button smooth his way to the top, as there is plenty of chances for rain. We will know by Sunday night.
The race will start at 7 p.m. our time.


ASEAN can kill the Vietnam auto industry

The auto industry in Vietnam is still very young, having begun around 20 years ago with government investment.

The forthcoming ASEAN Free Trade Area (AFTA) which will abolish auto import taxes in 2018, could see the death of the auto industry in Vietnam, and a significant boost for Thailand.
ASEAN + will waive taxes on car imports between ASEAN member countries, as well as Japan, South Korea and China, who are party to the agreement.
The tax cut poses a real threat to Vietnam’s fledgling auto industry, which is unable to compete with the price and quality of imports.
Ngo Van Tru, Deputy Head of the Heavy Industry Department of the Ministry of Industry and Trade in Vietnam said, “If we do not make immediate measures, Vietnam would become a big auto importer in the region.”
The auto industry in Vietnam is still very young, having begun around 20 years ago with government investment. However, under ASEAN + that gives their auto industry only five years to catch up with others in the group, including Thailand. If their auto industry stumbles, then local production will stop and Vietnam will become an importer, such as Thailand was around 50 years ago.
There are currently 18 auto makers that belong to the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers Association (VAMA). Approximately 30 others have a combined investment of over USD 1 billion and an output around 200,000 cars per year.
While the target for local diesel production was set to reach 100,000 units by 2010, Truong Hai is the only company to invest in a diesel factory which will begin production in 2014. However, will that actually happen? Previous forecasts were for 100,000 gearboxes and 100,000 transmission systems for production in 2010. Don’t hold your breath. No investment has been made.
Other comparisons do not look good for Vietnam, which has only 210 auto parts manufacturers, one fifth of Indonesia’s production base and one fifteenth of Thailand’s.
According to Yoshihisa Maruta, the General Director of Toyota Vietnam, a long term development plan, stable policies and greater incentives for auto makers are needed to provide a necessary boost to Vietnam’s auto industry.
The GM Vietnam General Director, Guarav Gupta, called on the Government to develop a detailed plan to support the local auto industry and boost investor confidence.
It seems that the Ministry of Industry and Trade has revised the auto industry master plan in a bid to save the auto industry.
The Vietnam Automobile Development Plan, which looks as far as 2020, classifies market opportunities to help producers meet the demands of market segments. The plan aligns with current development plans to revolutionize the manufacturing sector, according to Tran Tuan Anh, Deputy Minister of Industry and Trade.
Anh said the Ministry has added three “breaking” solutions to the revised plan, including stable policies for the auto industry, producing environmentally-friendly vehicles (similar to the Thai eco-car concept) and creating favorable conditions for automakers.
According to the Vietnam Automobile Manufacturers Association (VAMA), domestic auto sales exceeded 49,800 units in the first half of this year, up 16 percent on 2012 figures.
Car and truck sales grew 22 percent and 13 percent respectively, from 2012. VAMA forecasts indicate sales will reach 112,000 units after a proposed 10-12 percent cut in auto registration fees.
Referring back to the forthcoming ASEAN + agreement, currently Thailand’s 2013 Thai domestic automotive market is projected at 1.3 million units or around a 9.5 percent decrease compared to the previous year and 10 times the Vietnam production.


Asia Cross Country Rally at Bira

X-Country Pick-ups

The Federal Tyres, Flex stores in Japan, and several Thai officials and drivers were at the Bira circuit for one of the special stages of the rally which went from Pattaya to Ubon Ratchathani then into Laos finishing at Pakse (10th-16th August).
Holder of the number 1 plate is last year’s winner, Thai national Nuttapon Angritthanon (Isuzu D-Max), closely followed by another Thai, Chamnan On-Sri (Mitsubishi Triton).
One well known competitor, but on two wheels rather than four, is the ex Moto GP rider Takuma Aoki, who these days has to use hand controls, having fractured his spine in a racing accident.
One interesting vehicle is the Japanese entry of the PHEV Mitsubishi Outlander of Takatsugu, with co-driver Kenji Ishida stating before the rally that they were a little concerned with water crossings and the plug-in electrics.
In the motorcycle division, again Thailand is tops with Manoch Abdullkalee with the number 1 plate, in front of teams from Japan, Cambodia and Sweden.
Last year there were 22 vehicles and 20 motorcycles that took part in this grueling Asian event.


Spa Francorchamps in the library

Paul Frere

I was very fortunate in being given a book on Spa Francorchamps 1948-1960, with a wealth of detail from the early days before Bernie and the F1 phenomenon. The circuit was the venue for the Grand Prix de Belgique, and it was immensely popular with the drivers of the day. See how many of these you can remember - Emile Cornet, Johnny Claes, Andre Pilette, Paul Frere, Jacques Scaters, Charles de Tornaco, Roger Laurent, Freddy Rousselle, Gilberte Thirion, Alain de Changy, Jean Blaton, Andre Milhoux, Olivier Gendebien, Lucien Bianchi and Willy Mairesse are mentioned in the foreword. Paul Frere was a noted journalist as well as a top race driver.


Buriram circuit signs with Japanese

The mover and shaker of Buriram, Newin Chidchob, has announced that his new track will be on the calendar for next year’s Japan Super GT championship.
The new track, to be finished by October 2014, will have the Japanese Super GT round in that month as well, so it could be tight, but Nevin is confident that all will be right for the Hermann Tilke designed track by then.
Buriram is already notable for its football club and Nevin states that “Buriram Province will become a sports city.”
With the future of our local Bira circuit still up in the air, local competitors may have to get used to the five hour trip to Isaan. Other tracks include Bonanza at Khao Yai (three hours), Kaeng Krachan (four hours) and the Enigma track (one hour).
Despite what you may have heard, I do not believe this track will be brought up to F1 standards, so that Thailand can join the F1 countries. To get a GP, takes more than just having a track. Fees in the realms of billions of baht have to change hands as well!
Which brings me to the future of our local Prince Bira track. It has supposedly been sold, but probably more likely for the sale to be under negotiation. These negotiations can go on for years. The Pro Racing Series has also shifted the rounds scheduled for the Kaeng Krachan circuit to now be held at Bira. This has been done because the motorcycle racing group who felt that KKC was a little too dangerous for them. However, the Bira Circuit has also seen a motorcycle competitor killed last meeting. All motor racing is indeed dangerous.
My reading of the subject is that Bira will continue as a race track into next year (but don’t shoot me if I’ve got it wrong).


Farting cows! Please give generously

If you have ever wondered about the paperwork required to do anything in Thailand, think about the Brits with their new Greenhouse Gases emissions regulations.
These new regulations require UK companies that are listed on the London Stock Exchange to report on their greenhouse gas emissions as part of their annual directors’ report. It includes reporting on greenhouse gases including methane and nitrous oxides, not just CO2 emissions. Affected companies will need to include a greenhouse gas emissions statement in their directors’ report for the first financial year ending after 30th September 2013.
The reporting shows GHG emissions across a whole fleet, by vehicle, by manufacturer and split out by greenhouse gas. GHGs are calculated from the actual fuel used where this is available. The regulations allow for GHGs to otherwise be calculated by miles travelled and vehicle type.
Farmers should not smile at this. Wait till the government starts bringing in legislation for farting cows!


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Spa this weekend

ASEAN can kill the Vietnam auto industry

Asia Cross Country Rally at Bira

Spa Francorchamps in the library

Buriram circuit signs with Japanese

Farting cows! Please give generously

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