Spa this weekend
After the mid-year break, the F1 circus starts again, with this weekend’s race
at Spa in Belgium. F1 returns to one of the best tracks on the calendar - Spa
Francorchamps, 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 Mercedes be dominant again?
Will Hamilton keep his hot blood in check? Will Rosberg 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 - let’s hope for some real racing again.
BMW goes FWD
BMW 2 Series Active Tourer.
After being a staunch RWD manufacturer, BMW has swapped ends,
with the new 2 Series being the first of over 20 vehicles featuring Front Wheel
Drive (FWD). These will include 10 “MINI’s” and 12 BMW’s.
Last month, BMW launched the 2 Series Active Tourer, its first front-drive car,
based on its modular UKL architecture. The platform promises neat interior
packaging, fuel efficiency and economies of scale.
Front-drive BMW and MINI vehicles (BMW likes MINI in capitals to differentiate
from the true Mini’s designed by Sir Alec Issigonis) it is hoped will account
for 800,000 of the 2 million annual sales the BMW Group plans to achieve by
2020. Kai Lichte, the company’s spokesman for 1 and 2 Series models, says any
vehicle smaller than a 3 Series will use the FWD platform, which also
accommodates all-wheel-drive (AWD).
The Series 1 and X1 SUV are also tipped to go FWD at the next model change.
The X4 and X6 are to be joined by an X2, which is also tipped to be FWD.
The only junior model not yet confirmed for FWD is the 2 Series coupe, launched
late last year, which has been well accepted in the market-place. “Reaction to
the 2 Series was overwhelmingly positive and we just introduced those cars so we
have time to make a decision,” Lichte says.
Forward planning by the German marque is to have only two platforms for all
models: UKL for vehicles less than 4.5 meters long and a common rear-wheel-drive
architecture for the rest - ranging in size from the 3 Series compacts to the 7
Toyota joins the Hydrogen club
The Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCV) has come to the surface,
with Toyota saying that their FCV will be on sale during 2015.
The Toyota FCV Concept is a pioneer in the development of hydrogen-powered
vehicles. The concept boasts a driving range of at least 500 km and refueling
times as low as three minutes, roughly the same time as a gasoline vehicle.
With Toyota’s proprietary small, light-weight FC Stack and two 70 MPa
high-pressure hydrogen tanks placed beneath the specially designed body, the
Toyota FCV Concept can accommodate up to four passengers.
The Toyota FC Stack boasts power output density of 3 kW/l, more than twice that
of the current “Toyota FCHV-adv” FC Stack. In addition, the FC system is
equipped with Toyota’s high-efficiency boost converter. Increasing the voltage
made it possible to reduce the size of the motor and the number of FC cells,
leading to a smaller FC system with enhanced performance at reduced cost.
The new FCV will launch in Japan before April 2015, and preparations are
underway for launches in the U.S. and European markets in the summer of 2015.
In Japan, the fuel cell sedan will go on sale at Toyota and Toyopet dealerships,
priced at approximately 7 million yen (MSRP; excludes consumption tax).
Initially, sales will be limited to regions where hydrogen refueling
infrastructure is being developed. U.S. and Europe prices have not yet been
decided. Likewise, more detailed information, such as specifications, exact
prices and sales targets, will be announced later.
Toyota’s commitment to environment-friendly vehicles is based on three basic
principles: embracing diverse energy sources; developing efficient, low-emission
vehicles; and driving real and positive environmental change by popularizing
Hydrogen is a particularly promising alternative fuel since it can be produced
using a wide variety of primary energy sources, including solar and wind power.
When compressed, it has a higher energy density than batteries and is easier to
store and transport. In addition to its potential as a fuel for home and
automotive use, hydrogen could be used in a wide range of applications,
including large-scale power generation.
Toyota has been developing fuel cell vehicles in-house for more than 20 years.
Toyota’s fuel cell system includes a proprietary FC Stack, which generates
electricity from the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen, and
high-pressure hydrogen tanks. In 2002, Toyota began leasing the “Toyota FCHV”, a
fuel cell SUV, on a limited basis in Japan and the U.S.
Significant improvements have been made to the FC system since 2002. The fuel
cell sedan Toyota just revealed, for example, features performance similar to a
gasoline engine vehicle, with a cruising range of approximately 700 km
(according to Toyota measurements taken under the Japanese Ministry of Land,
Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism’s JC08 test cycle) and a refueling time of
roughly three minutes. When driven, it emits only the water vapor produced by
the reaction between hydrogen and oxygen.
Fuel cell vehicles contribute to the diversification of automobile fuels, emit
no CO2 or environmentally harmful substances during operation, and offer the
convenience of gasoline-powered cars. Toyota believes they have a great deal of
potential, and are ideal environment-friendly vehicles for promoting a
sustainable mobility society.
Toyota Group companies are also engaging in other hydrogen-related initiatives,
such as developing and testing fuel cells for use in homes, and developing fuel
cell forklifts and fuel cell buses.
The “Goodwood Revival” at the Bira Circuit
Prince Bira’s ERA
The Goodwood Revival began in 1998 and has become a huge
event in the UK, with all types of older vehicles on display, with many also
competing. Spectators wear clothes of the era if they wish, and it is a
wonderful three day motoring ‘escape’.
Having seen the numbers of older cars entered in some of the fun runs around the
Kingdom, it would be marvelous to get them all together at one venue, and I am
proposing that the Bira Circuit outside Pattaya would be ideal. This would be
like a combined Revival and the Goodwood Festival of Speed.
The concept I am working on would not be a “race meeting”, but a picnic event
suitable for families as well as enthusiasts. A Shine and Show style Concourse
d’Elegance, a ‘Horizontal Hill Climb’ with cars timed through the esses, for
example; areas for car clubs to display member’s cars, such as MG, Alfa Romeo,
Fiat, Mercedes and the rest. Most cars to conform to the “Retro” classification
of being manufactured pre-1985, so the BMW E30’s are in, the Ford Escorts Mk1
and Mk2, Toyota Levin (AE 86), Toyota DX, early VW’s, and that’s just off the
top of my head. There will be lots more. In fact, it should not be impossible to
get Prince Bira’s ERA for display as well - this would be the one that was shown
at the Bangkok International Motor Show a couple of years ago.
I believe that we could attract at least 200 classic cars to the first Bira
Revival, and make it an event that could grow each year.
What do you think, readers of Automania? I am looking for ideas, expressions of
interest and suggestions. Please contact me through the Mail, email
World’s Fastest Indian - again!
If you haven’t watched the movie “The World’s Fastest
Indian”, go and get a copy, available on DVD. It is the story of the singleness
of purpose shown by New Zealander Burt Munro with his 1920 Indian motorcycle and
his attack on the World Land Speed Record in 1967.
To the amazement of the organizers, Burt set the AMA Land Speed Record in Class
S.A. 1000, at 184.087 miles per hour, aboard his custom 953 cc 1920 Indian
streamliner motorcycle. If you were to look at last year’s list of records,
you’d also see Burt Munro, except that the speed listed would say 183.586 mph.
The explanation boils down to the use of a calculator. It seems the AMA made an
error when it originally calculated the average speed of Munro’s two timed runs.
John Munro, Burt’s son, noticed the discrepancy, pointed it out to the AMA and
they admitted the error and corrected it in the record books, adding another
interesting chapter in Burt Munro’s amazing feat almost 50 years ago.
2014 F1 driver salaries (pity I left my run a little late!)
1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull): $31.7 million
2. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari): $31.7m
3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari): $31.7m
4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes): $28.8m
5. Jenson Button (McLaren): $23.1m
6. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes): $17.3m
7. Felipe Massa (Williams): $5.8m
8. Nico Hulkenberg (Force India): $5.8m
9. Romain Grosjean (Lotus): $4.3m
10. Pastor Maldonado (Lotus): $4.3m
11. Sergio Perez (Force India): $4.3m
12. Adrian Sutil (Sauber): $2.9m
13. Kevin Magnussen (McLaren): $1.44m
14. Valtteri Bottas (Williams): $1.44m
15. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull): $1.1m
16. Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso): $1.1m
17. Jules Bianchi (Marussia): $720,000
18. Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber): $577,000
19. Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso): $360,000
20. Max Chilton (Marussia): $290,000
21. Kamui Kobayashi (Caterham): $216,000
22. Marcus Ericsson (Caterham): $216,000