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Update April 2018


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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
 
 
 
Automania by Dr. Iain Corness
 

April 14, 2018 - April 20, 2018

More on the Motor Show

Raptor.

MG ZS.

Porsche GT2 RS.

FOMM.

Speedpark.

There was much interest in the new Ford Raptor, being the latest version of the F-150 truck in the USA. However, our Raptor is built on the Ranger, and it is expensive. B. 1,699 of expense, and actually not for sale, being “available for customer bookings,” said the Blue Oval.

Is it the real deal? We will only know when they hit the streets or rough terrain. Much of the heralded equipment is not really new, such as a Watts linkage at the rear with trick coil over shocks, a skid plate and wait for it, a steering wheel with magnesium paddle shift (Wow) and an ‘on center’ mark (double wow). You also get a set of “aggressive” 17-inch alloy wheels (I presume they bark at you in the mornings – how I love PR-speak). The 2 liter twin turbo diesel engine at 157 kW is good on paper, delivering 500 Nm of torque and that is even better.

Then there was the Takano Cars with their E-Smart Porter. This is a sport hybrid EV truck which runs on six 12v lead-acid batteries. Very special lead acid batteries the young man told me and they cost 5,000 baht each. The distance it will travel before charging is around 100 km and the charging time is 8 hours, so don’t wait up. It also advertises that it has front and rear “breaks” and with six hulking great lead/acid batteries, it probably will. This bundle of technology will set you back 300-350,000 baht, the same young man told me as his Pretties were too busy posing.

Still on EV’s there was a well finished BYD (Build Your Dream?) on display, code name e6, running on 100 percent electric Lithium-Iron batteries. The charger is 3 phase and costs 130,000 baht, but will give the e6 its get up and go in 1.5 hours. The car isn’t cheap at 1.89 million baht.

One of the success stories locally has been the MG marque. Every day I will see at least 3 MG’s of the locally assembled SAIC/CP joint venture. Now they seem to have their act together with five models including SUV’s. The publicity blurb promotes the brand with “Passion Drives since 1924”. That is really stretching the (English) long bow.

There is no real link between Cecil Kimber and Morris Garages, which then became MG and SAIC’s current MG models. The new ZS has a more than passing resemblance to the Mazda range, and the other SUV, the GS is another big car clone but at 890,000 baht sits well in the price range. But is it an “MG”? For someone like me, steeped in MG history and having raced an MG for the factory, it is a step too far, but then all of life is change says my local monk.

Porsche was there with the latest model of the GT 2 RS, all 700 horsepower propelling the GT 2 RS to 60 mph in 2.7 seconds. I didn’t ask the price.

MINI (BMW like you to use all caps to distinguish it from the original Mini) distinguishes itself from its forbears by being very large and very much not “mini”. The Issigonis car had two doors and a bootlid, whilst the BMW ones can have up to five doors and big wheels. Undoubtedly the new ones are better made, quicker, more agile and more comfortable – but the original concept has been totally lost.

Showing my plebian roots I just couldn’t warm to the Rolls-Royce. An imposing chariot for the rich and famous, totally impractical and best left at home as a monument for Jeeves to clean and polish.

Many in the press room were impressed with the FOMM (First One Mile Mobility) which is a very small EV with 4WD. “Funky” is how I would describe it with two doors and four seats, though legless midgets will be adequately carried. FOMM is 2.5 meters long and 1.2 meters wide, so it will fit very easily into some of Bangkok’s holes in the bitumen (the ones with Venezuelan music coming from them). Plans are afoot to produce this Japanese Micro car here. The price for the tiny city car is 664,000 baht, but there was a show only price of 599,000 baht. At that price you would have to be looking at a mainstream eco-car. Sorry.

Of course there were motorcycles, ancillaries and polishes, purveyors of 120 dB of noise, with Miss Rocket Sound going through well-choreographed poses for an army of clickers. I did pause for a minute but the thought of elbowing through the massed photographers was not palatable, so you don’t get a little soft ‘porn’, sorry.

The show organizers (Grand Prix International) arranged to take the western journalists to the new Speedpark adjacent to the Impact Challenger. This was an eye-opener with the application of today’s technology. First off, the karts are electric so you don’t come away covered in two stroke grime. Pedals are instantly adjustable. Power is adequate and the torque range being electric is from about zero revs.

Now here’s the technology application. If there is a track blockage the speed of your kart becomes very slow, adjusted from the pits. No safety car, this is more like the F1 Virtual Safety Car, but controlled by the pit wall, not the driver.

You also get an electronic TV display and an electronic rewards card for next time. Definitely well designed and run. I will go again next year when my bones will be 100 percent. Prior warning to the other journalists.


What did we learn from Bahrain?

What did we learn? Well, we learned that Motor Racing is dangerous, especially if you are in the pit crew, after one of the Ferrari mechanics was hit by the equipment being used to change one of the rear wheels. The driver (Raikkonen) was given the “go” signal but the left rear wheel was stuck on the hub. The mechanic has fractured his lower leg (both bones) and will be out of action for three months. Ferrari has been fined 50,000 euros following the unsafe release of Kimi Raikkonen. I’m sure the mechanic is delighted.

However, it was Ferrari’s night with Vettel getting the finger out again after securing pole position and then the race. Second placed Bottas (Mercedes) ran him very close at the end, Vettel’s soft tyres being at the end of their usable life. Third placed Hamilton (Mercedes) had come from 9th on the grid and his finishing position was a combination of some excellent driving and some excellent luck.

This race was a fine example of the fact that you don’t win the race on the first lap, you only lose the race. Force India’s Perez saying afterwards, “We knew how important it was to stay out of trouble, but there was nothing I could do to avoid what happened. I made a pretty good start, but Brendon lost control of his car and spun me around. I had a lot of damage to the floor and that cost me performance.

Another early lap loser was Verstappen (Red Bull) who attempted to shoulder Hamilton out of the way, but ended up with a puncture and had to retire, all the while complaining about Hamilton.

Hamilton graciously put on his ‘elder statesman’ hat, saying, “He’s a young driver with fantastic pace, but he’s still learning and he doesn’t always make the right decision. Red Bull has a car that should be getting good results, and I’m sure if either Fernando Alonso or I was in it today, we would have scored good points. I went through that stuff when I was younger, so I know how it is.”

The front running Red Bull of Riciardo lasted two laps before it switched itself off. “I get really fired up for Sundays so now I’ve got two hours of adrenaline stored up inside me and I don’t know what to do with it. This sport can rip your heart out,” said the (un)happy Aussie.

Star of the race was rookie Pierre Gasly in the Honda engined Toro Rosso with a well driven 4th place. He led the middle pack beating Magnussen in the Haas, Hulkenberg (Renault), Alonso and Vandoorne (McLarens) and Ericsson (Sauber).

Once again, the results were dependent upon tyre choices. Perhaps this is old school, but I really want to see drivers in cars of similar performance battling it out, not rushing into the pits for softer rubber to “undercut” to gain an advantage.

Results

1 S Vettel             Ferrari

2 V Bottas           Mercedes

3 L Hamilton       Mercedes

4 P Gasly              Toro Rosso

5 K Magnussen   Haas

6 N Hulkenberg  Renault

7 F Alonso                          McLaren

9 S Vandoorne                   McLaren

10 M Ericsson                    Sauber


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what car had the same name as a very famous American President and cost GBP 115 including a set of tools. It was the Kennedy complete with its tool kit. Even the manufacturer knew it wasn’t reliable!

So to this week. It cost $2,300. It had a top speed of 23 km/h. It might have even run on loaves of bread. What was it?

For the free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]  or [email protected]


Update April 7, 2018 - April 13, 2018

Bangkok International Motor Show 2018

Motor shows are big business all over the world. Some of the famous are Geneva, Turin, Paris and New York. These motor shows are provided with some standing by the Organisation Internationale des Constructeurs d’Automobiles (OICA), the world body which provides accreditation to cities wishing to have their own motor show. The, OICA was founded 1919 in Paris, and is an international trade association whose members are 39 national automotive industry trade associations.

Bangkok has that accreditation and is not a ‘Johnny come lately’ with 2018 being the 39th Bangkok International Motor Show.

The man behind the concept of our motor show has been Dr. Prachin Eamlumnow, President of Grand Prix International (GPI) who nurtured and cajoled the industry until Bangkok’s event was of world standard and finally given the nod by the OICA.

The usual mainstays of the show, such as Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Ford, Isuzu, Honda, Toyota and Chevrolet have been joined by more exhibitors over the years such as Mitsubishi, Porsche, Maserati, Audi, BYD, Hyundai, Suzuki, FOMM, Aston Martin, MINI, Subaru, Land Rover, Jaguar, MG, Volvo and Rolls-Royce and now the Bangkok show has the first wave of the Chinese EVs which really does follow the theme of this year “The Revolution in Motion”.

Of course, as opposed to the F1 edict of no Grid Girls, the Motor Show had the usual crop of “Pretties” or ‘eye candy’ on the various stands, as well as an entourage of the Miss Motor Show girls, whose main function seemed to be to be able to sit motionless, maintaining a smile, and hoping their implants didn’t slip out of their push-up bras.

In addition to the vehicles on display there were some interesting seminars including one on Automotive Forecasting. Looking ahead has become necessary as if your business is standing still, you are in fact going backwards, the rate of change being so fast these days, spurred on by new technologies. Absolute volume growth will be dominated by China but there are new production hubs appearing in Iran and North Africa.

Autonomous vehicles (AV) have been scrutinized and the forecasters LMC Automotive predicting that AV’s will make a real world impact within a 15 year horizon. The first phase will be in 2020-2025. This will be followed up in 2025 to 2030. Looking even further ahead 2030-2035, LMC predicts that the individual ownership model will start breaking down as the sales of autonomous vehicles will rise to counteract the fall in sales of ‘conventional’ vehicles.

With the rise in EV sales, the next step is the Autonomous Vehicle, with some ‘toe in the water’ start-ups such as Tesla being the obvious ones.


Making your name plate stand out

Where’s my Suzuki Swift?

BMW X2.

Try this one for size.

The grille looks like 1950’s Japanese.

Exhibiting at Motor Shows is not an inexpensive affair by the time you add in rental and decoration of the space available, MC’s and ‘Pretties’, plus the legion of car cleaners polishing off the sticky fingers on the coachwork. That being the case, I wonder at just why so many manufacturers produce dreadfully dreary exhibition stands. More than one just line their show cars up in a long line, nose to tail, which does nothing to excite the senses and make me walk over and give the cars a second look.

Consequently I found a very interesting article written by Bob Lutz, the ex-GM executive, remembered for pushing the Chev Volt project and his wonderful quote, “Global warming is a crock of shit!” I warm to people like Bob Lutz.

Here is Bob’s introduction on his piece on an American auto show. “Walking through the North American International Auto Show left me with the proverbial Chinese-food feeling: I had ingested a lot but was left curiously empty.

Where were the spectacular introductions? Where were the jaw-dropping new concepts, boldly going where no designer had ventured before (and maybe for good reason)? Who was hiding the ‘segment busters,’ like a PT Cruiser or the un-loved Nissan Murano Cross Cabriolet? Even last year’s hum-drum show held a few nice surprises, like the Kia Stinger.”

A wonderful piece and sock it to ‘em Bob.

Of course Bob doesn’t have my next gripe. English language Press Kits. Our show is the Bangkok International Motor Show and there are still exhibitors with Thai language only information.

I went to the BMW stand and asked for English and was told “mai mee” (don’t have). In a fit of pique, I then asked if they had one in German. Another “mai mee” but they missed the sarcasm. BMW has a manufacturing plant here on the Eastern Seaboard. They can do better. The X2 is apparently a great new addition, but you didn’t read about it from me.

Yes, there were ‘pretties’ in all stands, and it’s a pity they don’t know their product. The girls had never heard of the Snell Company, even though they were wearing the gear.

Maserati was present again, but the SUV Levante is a really overinflated pig with a huge mouth and a set of teeth like Stonehenge in reverse. The Quatroporte was just so ‘right’ but they’ve lost the plot with this one, even down to the imitation port holes.

Suzuki did put a bit of thought and effort into their display, however, the new Swift is starting to look like everything else. Shame. A special one on display had a paint job suitable for people who lose their car in shopping centers.


Natter Nosh and Noggin

The Pattaya car club meets at Jameson’s Irish Pub on Soi AR next to Nova Park. The next meeting is on Monday April 9 at Jameson’s at 7 p.m. A totally informal meeting of like-minded souls to discuss their pet motoring (and motorcycling) loves and hates (plus lies and outright exaggerations). Come along and meet the guys who have a common interest in cars and bikes, and enjoy the Jameson’s specials, washed down with a few beers. Always a fun night. The Car Club nights are only on the second Monday of the month (not every second Monday)!


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked, what was stuck in ADM? Clue: 1930. It was Hans Stuck, the King of the Mountains driving an Austro Daimler for Ferdinand Porsche.

So to this week. This car had the same name as a very famous American President and cost GBP 115 including a set of tools. Start hunting, and no, it’s not a trump.

For the free beer at the next car Club meeting, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]  or [email protected] . Good luck!


March 31, 2018 - April 6, 2018

Incest – the game all the automakers can play

Indian Herald.

Automobile manufacturing is probably the most incestuous game in the world. I’m not talking about Chinese ‘knock-offs’ here, I mean cars and accessories that turn up with different brand names on different vehicles and built in different countries.

Where was your car manufactured, for example? If it is a Ford Ranger, Mazda, Isuzu or MG, then it was probably made here, but even a brief perusal of the world marketplace will show that your Audi was probably made in India, your Porsche Cayenne was built in Slovakia, but then again, it may have been Leipzig; your Mercedes G Class was built in Austria, and another old Fiat 500 knock-off also in Austria.

The all-British Aston Martin Rapide.

The British Triumph Herald bobbed up in India, and was called the standard Herald 20. The Standard 20 diesel in India used the British Triumph Herald as a basis and the extra diesels were sent to the UK for London taxis.

Now here’s an interesting one. Studebaker was able to import Volkswagens from Germany and sell them to Volkswagen of Canada at a lower cost to Volkswagen and Studebaker was still able to make $150 on each car imported.

Studebaker of Canada also attempted to import Datsun cars to North America. It was felt a second vehicle for Studebaker dealers would help increase showroom traffic and sales, and that one of Datsun’s larger models could serve as a Studebaker-badged replacement for its own aging design. Luckily for Datsun, the deal fell through.

Ever heard of Heuliez? A French company which assembled Opel, Citroen, Peugeot, and Renault.

Yes, they make cars in Finland, by a company called Valmet. They manufacture Mercedes-Benz, Porsche, Lada, Ford, Saab, Opel and Fisker and convertible roofs for Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Mini, Renault and Bentley. Had you ever heard of them?

Continuing on with the incestuous relationships, Magna-Steyr, a motor car manufacturer you’ve probably never heard of, build the new electric Jaguar, the i-Pace, plus many different models for separate automakers such as Toyota sports cars, the Aston Martin Rapide, and they have developed several cars on behalf of other manufacturers such as the Audi TT, Fiat Bravo, BMW 5 Series and Peugeot RCZ. Their workforce totals 12,500 and the factory is in Graz, Austria.

And there are still people who think that their VW was built in Wolfsburg by der elves!


Pedestrian killed by motor car

Charging Station.

The world’s media went berserk when a woman was killed in America by an Uber autonomous (self driving) car, although this one had a “driver” in the car as well. With every man Jack and his dog screaming for autonomous cars to be withdrawn, the media should do a little research and they would find a couple of interesting historical items.

Try these for a start. Bridget Driscoll (1851 – 17 August 1896) was the first pedestrian to be killed in a collision with a motor car in the UK. As Driscoll, her teenage daughter May and her friend Elizabeth Murphy crossed Dolphin Terrace in the grounds of the Crystal Palace in London, Driscoll was struck by a car powered by an Internal Combustion Engine, belonging to the Anglo-French Motor Carriage Company that was being used to give demonstration rides. The car was governed to 7 km/h, a “reckless speed” cording to some eye witnesses. But there was a fatality before poor Bridget Driscoll, as Mary Ward was killed in 1869 when she fell under the wheels of a steam car.

Drone delivery thin and crispy.

Back to today. The unfortunate lady stepped off the kerb at night straight into the path of the Uber car and neither the car’s electronics nor the human driver could avoid hitting the pedestrian.

More interesting numbers - The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents estimates 550,000 people had been killed on UK roads by 2010. More up to date figures from 2017 in the US gives me 5,376 pedestrians in 2015, who were killed by cars in the United States. This averages to one crash-related pedestrian death every 1.6 hours.

So why is one death in Arizona so newsworthy? Because it was an autonomous (electric) vehicle, the technology of which is threatening to the status quo of the automotive world. Europe is outlawing diesel engines, so what is next? The ICE (Internal Combustion Engines) will be the next to go, because the public anxiety over electric vehicle (EV) range is becoming less and less, as is the pollution decrease by going electric. EV is the future. There will soon be a charging outlet on your street corner.

However, the automakers are not really geared up for the electric revolution, and even less for the autonomous revolution.

Why? Well the first question to be answered is who is going to manufacture these forthcoming vehicles? The Detroit style classic assembly lines or some new technology Silicon Valley upstart like Uber, for example.

And in the situation of accidents with autonomous mode, who does the lawyers sue? You can’t sue an individual ‘black box’ or the human who wrote the computer program, can you?

Others who are adversely affected by autonomous cars are taxi drivers, and they are just the tip of the iceberg, as all other driving occupations, such as deliveries which will be done by an electric drone. UPS is talking three years, but it will be sooner.

The automotive marketplace is changing and the conventional automakers can predict their own demise, which is why any bad publicity regarding the new technologies is welcomed by Detroit, which by the way owns a major slice of the media giants.

New technology is always looked upon with suspicion, but the world gets used to it with time. My great grandmother used to put a plaster over the power points as she was sure this new fangled electricity would leak down the wall and discolor the wall paper! Autonomous electric vehicles are coming and won’t discolor the wall paper either.


Start Ya Bastard

De Tomaso Pantera.

I mentioned this wonderful aerosol before, genuinely called “Start ya bastard!” complete with Aussie epithets. It works too, as an added bonus. Writing about it reminded me of that wonderful skit by John Cleese as Basil Fawlty when his car wouldn’t start, “Come on! Come on! Start, you vicious bastard! Oh, my God! I’m warning you! If you don’t start, I’m going to beat you!” After the rant, Basil reappears with a tree branch and begins beating the bonnet.

What reminded me of Basil was Elvis Presley no less, who got out a gun and blasted his car because it wouldn’t start (I don’t know if that is covered by the Second Amendment). And what car was it? It was a De Tomaso Pantera.

Panteras were made from 1970 to 1991, and in the USA they were even sold through Ford of America’s Lincoln-Mercury network until 1975.

The Ford tie-up was the Ford V8 engine of 5.8 liters and up till 1974 De Tomaso had sold 6,000 Pants Tearers in the US, but the fuel crisis in the early 70’s and the poor build quality of the cars stopped further exports to the US.

The concept of the car was excellent. It had an all steel monocoque, the V8 Cleveland amidships, independent front and rear suspension and a five speed manual transmission.

The design was from the house of Ghia (using American Tom Tjaarda as the lead designer), the bodies built by Vignale in Turin and the cars assembled in the De Tomaso factory in Modena. It has been described as a triumph of style over substance.

However, the cramped cockpit, the heat inside the car and the fact that they would never pass the upcoming crash testing spelled the death knell for this interesting sports car. In 1970 it had a top speed of 250 km/h and a zero to 100 km/h of 5.7 seconds.


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked, who took two Italian economy cars and connected the fronts together with a simple ladder frame and made race winning cars? The answer was John Cooper and the cars were Fiat Topolino’s (AKA ‘Toppolovers’) with the transverse leaf front suspension.

So to this week. An easy one. What was stuck in ADM? Clue: 1930.

For the free beer at the next car Club meeting, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]  or [email protected] . Good luck!


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

More on the Motor Show

What did we learn from Bahrain?

Autotrivia Quiz


Bangkok International Motor Show 2018

Making your name plate stand out

Natter Nosh and Noggin

Autotrivia Quiz


Incest – the game all the automakers can play

Pedestrian killed by motor car

Start Ya Bastard

Autotrivia Quiz

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