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Vol. XIII No.24 - Sunday November 30, 2014 - Saturday December 13, 2014


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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
Automania by Dr. Iain Corness
 

Honda shows off its new FCV

Honda FCV

Honda has announced plans to build a new hydrogen-powered fuel-cell electric vehicle ahead of its debut at the 2014 Los Angeles motor show.
The Honda FCV Concept is set to be a successor to the FCX Clarity sedan, featuring improved efficiency in an aerodynamic package that follows lines pioneered by the original Honda Insight hybrid of 1997.
The manufacturer says the hydrogen-powered machine has 100 kW electric motor and a range of more than 700 kilometers from a new fuel stack that is 33 percent smaller than its previous efforts.
New packaging has made the FCV Concept the first car of its kind to combine all elements of its power train under the bonnet, leaving plenty of conventional space in the cabin and boot.
The car has room for five adults and is set to go on sale in Japan from March 2016 before arriving in the US and Europe.
The car is unlikely to come to Thailand, which currently lacks hydrogen refuelling stations necessary to run the new FCV, though anything might happen.
It offers an additional dash of practicality through a separate power exporter that should allow owners to pump up to 9 kW of energy into their home or business, reducing greenhouse emissions through conventional energy sources.
Honda says the car “can function as a small-sized mobile power plant that generates and provides electricity to the community in times of disaster or other events.”
Honda’s preview of its fuel cell car comes the same day that Toyota confirmed the name for its production-ready, hydrogen-fuelled Mirai sedan which goes on sale in Japan, the US and Europe next year.


Cadillac ATS-V goes head to head with sports sedans

Cadillac ATS-V

The soon to be released Cadillac ATS-V will compete against vehicles such as the BMW M3/M4, Mercedes-Benz C63 AMG and Audi RS 5.
The ATS-V for 2016, features rear-wheel drive and will go into production in the spring. It will be available in sedan and coupe styles. Cadillac says the ATS-V will include a 3.6 liter V-6 twin-turbocharged engine - the first offered in a Cadillac V-Series car - and new design and performance systems to boost performance. Cadillac says the car is track-ready from the factory floor and offers a sophisticated luxury driving experience on the road.
“Cadillac’s V-Series is the best example of Cadillac’s emerging product substance - and the purest expression of the passion at the core of the brand,” Cadillac’s new president Johan de Nysschen said.
GM’s luxury brand rolled out its high-performance V-Series in 2004, and the ATS-V is the first of the next-generation V-Series vehicles for the luxury brand. Cadillac is expected to show a new CTS-V early next year.
Cadillac is offering the smaller V-Series as a niche product, but knows it is important as it works to attract younger and more-affluent buyers. CTS-V Series sales represent about eight percent of overall CTS sales.
The ATS-V’s twin-turbo is rated at 455 horsepower and 445 foot-pounds of torque. Cadillac says the engine is tops in the segment for six cylinder output, traveling from zero to 100 km/h in around four seconds and has a top speed of more than 230 km/h. The engine is mated to a six-speed manual or a paddle-shift eight-speed automatic.
Engineers redesigned the chassis, suspension and drivetrain for the ATS-V. The car includes Brembo high-performance brakes, third-generation Magnetic Ride Control and is stiffer structurally. It has touring, sport and track driving modes, an available track aerodynamic package and rides on specially developed Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires.
The ATS-V will have GM’s performance data recorder available, allowing drivers to record high-definition video, with data overlays of their driving performance.
Designers changed nearly all exterior panels of the car including fascias, fenders, the lightweight carbon fiber hood with vent and rear spoiler, to support capability and aerodynamics.
“All of the design elements have a purpose,” Andrew Smith, executive director of Cadillac global design, said. “They contribute to lift reduction, enhanced cooling, reduced mass or all of the above.”
The interior features available 16-way adjustable Recaro seats in the front and cut-and-sew Cadillac elements throughout.
Analysts say the ATS could benefit from a special model to boost appeal. Cadillac rolled out its ATS compact luxury sedan in fall 2012 as a 2013 model and this fall began offering a Coupe version. But sales have stalled and are down nearly 19 percent this year through October.
“As the CTS and ATS struggle in sales, product clearly isn’t the issue,” Akshay Anand, a Kelley Blue Book analyst, said. “As Cadillac continues to undergo its brand transformation, staying in the limelight will be key as it attempts to take down German luxury marques. The ATS could really use a halo vehicle, especially since all its competitors have performance variations as well.”
On paper, this Cadillac concept looks as if it could be the halo vehicle required. My only misgivings lie with the fact that it looks too much like the Chevrolet Cruise.


Same Same but hardly different

Honda City.

I really wonder about auto stylists. How much original thought and design do they put into new cars, or is the time spent driving round competitor’s design studios to see what they are coming forward with? Remember the Bangle Bottom on the BMW’s? Everyone hated it, but it then appeared on the Toyota Camry and others. The origin was then forgotten.
This year’s styling cue is the sculpted body line angling up from the front wheel arch and up to the rear. Boring!

Mercedes Benz B series

MB CLS

Hyundai Genesis


What did we learn from Yas Marina?

Well, we learned that Mercedes lost one car but won two championships, Williams secured two podiums and Daniel Ricciardo was the best of the rest.
After a magnificent start, it was obvious that Hamilton was never going to be headed, and the only question mark was going to be reliability, but it was title aspirant Rosberg whose car harvested the energy recovery gremlins, leaving him a woeful 14th at the finish.
“A great day for England,” I was told by one of the audience in Jameson’s Irish Pub, echoing Prince Harry’s, “Lewis, you are a legend. Thanks for not making the British public sweat.” And so a second World Driver’s Championship (WDC) for Hamilton.
Afterwards the mass hysteria escalated in the post-race period, comparing Hamilton to the previous British double championship drivers Graham Hill, Jim Clark and Jackie Stewart (Our Nige, only won one WDC). So, did we learn something of Hamilton’s talent compared to those who went before? It is always difficult comparing drivers in different eras and in cars with different technologies. I suspect that the modern F1 cars are easier to drive than those from 30 years ago, as we see new faces in Friday practice sessions immediately up to speed, with no apparent learning curve. And let us not forget that the Mercedes cars this year have been one second a lap quicker than anything else, leaving Hamilton to only battle with one car - his team mate, who fell at the final hurdle.
However, Mercedes earned their Constructor’s championship and their WDC and are keeping their two drivers for 2015, there being no reason to change.
Surprise package for the race was Felipe Massa in the Williams, with a gritty drive to second place, besting team mate Valtteri Bottas again. Will the resurgent Williams continue as a threat in 2015? They certainly have the drivers if their designers can come up with the car.
Another satisfied driver was Daniel Ricciardo finishing fourth in his Red Bull in the race and third in the WDC, totally eclipsing Vettel who never got the opportunity to wave the finger aloft all year. He will be going to join Ferrari and have the dour Kimi Raikkonen as his partner. I cannot predict great things for that driver pairing.
The media was pushing hard to try and drum up enthusiasm for purported battles for seats for 2015, which would depend on the outcome of the Yas Marina race. Prime was the seats at McLaren, with Alonso leaving Ferrari after five years and returning to McLaren according to the paddock gossip - and ex-King Carlos of Spain who said, “He’s going to McLaren!” Of the two incumbents Button and Magnussen there is much discussion, and whilst Button has been head and shoulders above Magnussen, what must not be forgotten is what salary does each expect? Button is an ex-driver’s champion and very well experienced - but my spies would suggest that he has to decrease his salary demands if he wishes to stay. Uncle Ronster is going to announce the line-up December 1. Expect Button out and Magnussen to remain.
Force India is hanging in there, despite financial worries for its owner Vijay Mallya, and its drivers are hanging in there as well. Hulkenberg can always be relied upon, but without money for development, they will continue to be just also-rans. Other drivers and teams continue to amaze. Not for results or uncovered talent, but for the fact that they are still there, and that covers “Lotus”, Sauber, Caterham, Marussia and Toro Rosso.
2015 will be a watershed year for F1, and I am not sure that Jean Todt’s FIA has any real idea of the crisis, or what to do about it!


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Honda shows off its new FCV

Cadillac ATS-V goes head to head with sports sedans

Same Same but hardly different

What did we learn from Yas Marina?

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