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Vol. XIII No.13 - Sunday June 29, 2014 - Saturday July 12, 2014


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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
Automania by Dr. Iain Corness
 

Twizy puts lawmakers in a tizzy

Renault Twizy.

Many years ago I bought a Tuk-Tuk and imported it to Australia. A fun run-about. And as soon as the three wheels were on the bitumen, that’s when the trouble started.
Mr. Policeman would stop me and demand to know what it was. I would answer that it was a Thailand Tuk-Tuk, brought over for promotional purposes, and it was registered, complete with number plates and documentation.
There was obviously nothing in Johnny Hop’s book to cover Tuk-Tuk so I was told that if it was a motorcycle, I had to wear a helmet, and as I wasn’t wearing one, he was going to book me.
However, if it was a car, I had to wear a seat belt, and as I wasn’t wearing one he was going to book me. Friendly lot the Aussie coppers. The end result was that it was all too much hassle and I parked Tuk-Tuk outside my Thai restaurant and left it there.
However, that form of narrow thinking still exists. There is a group of vehicles now called ‘quadricycles’, and since they are registered for road use, they have to be tested by the Euro NCAP people and graded for passenger safety.
These vehicles, and the Renault Twizy is one, are in reality, up-market electric golf carts, to be used as city cars. Twizy’s four wheels and steering wheel would put it into the passenger car category, but its quadricycle classification overseas has enabled it to be developed, and sold, without the same degree of safety features - including side-impact beams and electronic stability control - required for homologation of regular cars in Australia, for example.
By its very nature the Twizy can not offer occupants the same degree of protection as a modern passenger car, and European NCAP quadricycle testing is not directly comparable with star ratings published for passenger vehicles.
However, Euro NCAP has highlighted that Twizy and three other quadricycles tested recently - all type-approved for use on public roads - “showed severe safety problems” in specific tests, including a 50 km/h frontal impact (down from 64 km/h on cars) and 50 km/h side impact (the same speed used when testing cars).
Reality is that these vehicles are four wheel motorcycles with electric battery power. Top speed is around 80 km/h, and the nearest comparison is with motorcycles, not cars. Side impact studies would show that Twizy is much safer than a motorcycle, so NCAP should be promoting the quadricycles, not putting silly rules in their way.
The battery powered two seater Twizy 80 model tested is classified as a ‘heavy quadricycle’ in Europe and requires the driver to have a license. It weighs 474 kg and produces a neck-snapping 13 kW of power and 57 Nm of torque.
Acceleration? It is capable of reaching 45 km/h from standstill in 6.1 seconds, on its way to an electronically limited 81 km/h top speed. Renault claims the vehicle has a driving range of up to 100km before requiring a recharge.
As well as developing a driver’s airbag and a harness-style seatbelt for the Twizy, Renault built in a three-point passenger seatbelt, four-wheel disc brakes, front and rear crumple zones and a ‘safety cell’ body structure.
A number of other manufacturers in Europe and Japan in particular are working on similar electrified vehicles, with some of the concepts and prototypes shown in recent years including the Honda MC-B, Toyota i-Road, Audi Urban Concept, Volkswagen Nils, Opel RAK-e and PSA Peugeot Citroen’s VELV.
One day, those people with legislative powers should look beyond the end of their noses.


What did we learn from the Austrian GP?

Well, we learned that it is possible to have a great circuit, with gradients and curves, and allow spectators access and grassy fields in which to camp. That is the true spirit of motor sport, involving the fans. Not like the swanky ‘artificial’ and very boring circuits set in the deserts, with fancy hotels that the enthusiasts cannot afford.
And Mercedes did it again. Another 1-2, with Rosberg scoring another victory over Hamilton. It must be said that Hamilton’s first lap was simply sensational, and he did keep the pressure up, but was never going to wrest the lead from Rosberg, even with the pits telling him he could use knob number 3 or something similar. Technology that is spoiling the competition.
Williams had their best results for many a year, and Valtteri Bottas enjoyed his first trip to the podium, though many had hoped Massa (the Brazilian dwarf - he really is amazingly small) would win. However, in today’s F1 you can go into the pits in first place and end up fourth when the three behind you finish their pit stops.
It should also not be forgotten what an incredible investment Dietrich Mateschitz has made for F1. His circuit and four of his cars competing. He deserves every accolade, it was just a pity that the on-track results were so poor, with only Ricciardo (AKA The Teeth) finishing. His German team mate, formerly known as The Finger, had an engine management problem and then almost took Ricciardo off when being lapped, and later in the race ran into another car and damaged his front wing and then retired. Not the kind of performance expected from the current F1 Champion driver.
And talking about champion drivers, Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) shows just what a champion can do with a not very good car, bringing the uncompetitive Ferrari home in 5th. Raikkonen in the sister car coming in 10th and 30 seconds behind Alonso. Ferrari will not put up with these lack-luster performances. Expect there to be a spare seat in a red car at the end of the year.
I have never been a great admirer of race stewards, and having had a couple of personal experiences with stupid decisions, this was really brought home with the penalty meted out to Esteban Gutierrez for an “unsafe release” in the pits. In this situation, the driver waited for instructions before he can leave the pit and finally gets the “go” instruction, so he did. Then got a “stop” because a rear wheel was not firmly attached. Pushed back to the pits, wheel bolted on correctly and then he can go. He had lost at least 20 seconds in that scenario, and about as many places. Surely that is enough? But no, the stewards apply another 10 second stop-go penalty on the driver, who is an innocent bystander in this case. Penalize the pit crew if you must, but not the blameless driver!
In the Force India team, Perez drove well to 6th outright, avoiding all possible shunts with Massa, while his team mate Hulkenberg followed him in 9th.
McLaren still in the doldrums, though Magnussen in 7th left Button 20 seconds behind him in 11th.
The final noteworthy item was Muncher Maldonado in the “Lotus” did not hit anyone or anything. Almost a new record.
The next race meeting is the British GP at Silverstone, 6th July.


Here comes the future of car insurance

Whiplash injury.

Fraudulent ‘slam-ons’ - road traffic accidents deliberately caused in order to claim for whiplash compensation - increased by 51 percent in 2013, according to claims fraud data from Aviva in the UK.
These induced accidents having a value of over 10m and are at the highest levels ever detected by the insurer. In total, Aviva has over 6,000 motor injury claims linked to organized fraud activity and is calling for stronger deterrents whilst warning motorists to be vigilant behind the wheel.
Aviva says Be Vigilant: How to minimise the risk of being targeted by the cash for crash fraudsters:
Stay alert: Pay attention to your driving and the cars/traffic around you.
Keep your distance: Keep a safe distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front. Allow sufficient space to stop or maneuver to avoid colliding with a vehicle in front.
Check the brake lights: A common trait in many vehicles involved in ‘crash for cash’ is failure of the vehicle’s brake lights. If you notice the car in front brakes and their lights don’t work, remain cautious, allow extra space between you and the vehicle, and perhaps distance your car from theirs.
Warning signs: Is the car in front moving particularly slowly or is it slowing down and speeding up for no apparent reason?
Driver Behavior: If the driver in front is focusing on the back of the vehicle, that could be a sign they are looking for an opportunity to induce an accident.
Passenger Behavior: Are the passengers in the vehicle in front turning around and looking at you for no apparent reason? They may be assessing an opportunity to induce an accident.
Collision Damage: Does the car in front look like it has been in other accidents - especially showing damage to its rear?
What to do if you are in an accident and are suspicious it may be fraudulent:
Stay calm. Don’t argue with the driver of the other vehicle and/or their passengers.
Call the police immediately while you are still at the scene of the accident, inform them you suspect the accident is a cash for crash scam and ask them to attend the accident scene.
Don’t admit liability to the other driver, passenger or anyone else that appears to be connected to them at the scene of the accident. Don’t agree to liability in writing, either.
Capture as much information as possible at the scene:
The make, model and registration number of the other vehicle.
The time, date, location and weather conditions at the time of the accident.
The full name, address and date of birth of the driver and each passenger in their vehicle, and whether they were male or female.
The total number of passengers in the other vehicle, to include where they were sat in the vehicle immediately after the accident.
Take pictures or video if you can, capturing any damage (or lack thereof) to the other vehicle and the scene of the accident.
Whether the driver of the other vehicle or any of their passengers are complaining of being injured and also if no one is complaining of being injured whether the driver was reading from a document when dealing with you, or hands you a document with their details already recorded - were they overly prepared for an accident?
How the other vehicle left the scene of the accident (e.g. driven or towed away). If towed or transported away, make a note of the vehicle and registration number of the vehicle that took the car away, to include whether it displayed any business name the names and addresses of any independent witnesses.
As if there isn’t enough of a problem just staying out of trouble in ordinary traffic! Now while this is a UK article that was sent to me, take it as a pointer to the future - it will happen here. You have been warned.


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Twizy puts lawmakers in a tizzy

What did we learn from the Austrian GP?

Here comes the future of car insurance

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