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Update August 2018

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August 11, 2018 - August 17, 2018

King Rama X birthday marked by Micro car display

Microcar display.

Bangkok City Hall organized a microcar collection showcase to celebrate His Majesty King Rama X’s birthday anniversary.

Deputy Bangkok Governor Sakontee Pattiyakul presided over the opening ceremony.

Micro cars were very popular in the post war period, affordable with enough performance to be a good city car. For BMW, for example, the Isetta brought the company out of possible bankruptcy as the world economic situation was very tentative.

The exhibition was held in cooperation with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and Jesada Technik Museum to express the appreciation and loyalty of the Thai people to His Majesty the King.

The exhibition featured a microcar parade with some 100 microcars, minibuses, buses, and limousines at Khon Muang Plaza in front of Bangkok City Hall. (NNT)

VeeDub sets new record with an electric racer

VW electric racer.

Volkswagen set a new record at the Pikes Peak International Hill Climb last month using its battery-powered I.D. R Pikes Peak racer.

The futuristic I.D. R was driven by French ace Romain Dumas, and the electric machine climbed 19.99 kilometers to the summit in 7m57.148s, 16 seconds quicker than the previous all-time record set by rally champion Sebastien Loeb in 2013; who used a twin-turbocharged petrol V6 Peugeot prototype.

Combining 500 kW electric motors in a lightweight platform weighing in under 1100 kilograms, the I.D. R showed performance to outstrip more than 100 years of petrol-powered machines on the mountain.

Dumas said, “Since this week’s tests, we have known that it was possible to break the all-time record. For it to come off, everything had to come together perfectly – from the technology to the driver. And the weather had to play ball too. “That everything ran so smoothly is an incredible feeling, and the new record on Pikes Peak is the icing on the cake. I still cannot believe that Volkswagen and my name are behind this incredible time.”

The victory is Dumas’ fourth at Pikes Peak, adding to outright victories at the 24 Hours of Le Mans for Audi and Porsche (both owned by VW these days).

Reflecting on the victory, Dumas said the electric racing car deserves to be viewed alongside Audi’s R10 TDI diesel and Porsche’s all-conquering 919 Hybrid machines which broke the mold at Le Mans.

“The I.D. R Pikes Peak is the most impressive car I have ever driven in competition,” Dumas said.

Volkswagen Motorsport director Sven Smeets said the Pikes Peak achievement represents “a fantastic day for Volkswagen. “The I.D. R Pikes Peak is the most innovative and complex car ever developed by Volkswagen Motorsport,” he said.

The project gives VW an important PR victory as it rebuilds its reputation in the US following its diesel emissions scandal. The push towards electrification is relentless and VW says it will launch a range of electric cars under its I.D. sub-brand in the near future.

Much has been made of ‘range anxiety’, but this is no different from the fear of running out of fuel with the normal internal combustion engines. With the advancement in battery technology, running out of electricity is much the same as running out of petrol. Currently (like the pun?) there are more petrol stations than charging stations, but that is changing daily. By 20 20 there will be one close to you, if you haven’t already got a home charging station yourself.

Nissan sets its sight very high

Godzilla re-born.

When Nissan first released the GT-R it was a complete show-stopper. The production version of the GT-R debuted at the 2007 Tokyo Motor Show, launching in the Japanese market on December 6, 2007. The U.S. official launch was seven months later on July 7, 2008.

I have driven the early cars and the performance was just staggering. There was a dial to show how much power you were putting to the front wheels compared to the rear. It became the ‘gold standard’ in saloon car racing, and the GT-R became known as Godzilla, winning everything. In typical form however, CAMS (the guiding body for racing in Australia) then promptly outlawed it!

The new version (for 2021) features a hybrid unibody assembled on ultra-low-tolerance jigs similar to those used in racecar construction. Alcoa aluminum is used for the hood, trunk lid and outer door skins, with die-cast aluminum front shock towers and inner door structures. Outer body panels are stamped using multiple-strike coining process for added rigidity and precision. The chassis is stiffened with a carbon-composite front cross member/radiator support.

Nissan design boss Alfonso Albaisa has confirmed the next-generation Nissan GT-R will be the “fastest super sports car in the world” when it’s finally introduced in around 2021.

Confirming that the new Nissan GT-R is in the early phase of design and engineering, Albaisa told Brit magazine Autocar that, internally, engineers are yet to decide how much electrification the Japanese supercar will come with, but that it was ‘likely’ to have a hybrid power.

Talking at the Goodwood Festival of Speed this year, the car-maker’s design boss was supposed to be there to launch the limited-run $1.4 million-plus GT-R50 by Italdesign but, despite the presence of the new special-edition, was happy to talk about the R35 GT-R replacement.

Interestingly, Albaisa was keen to stress the next GT-R would not take any design cues from the GT-R50.

Nissan’s design chief said that the future GT-R would retain a visual identity that’s unique among cars of its kind and that he was keen to keep the ‘brick’-like stature of the current car.

Despite the design process being well under way, Albaisa says the final styling of the GT-R is far from approved because serious work can’t begin until key decisions have been made.

Chief among them are decisions by engineers who have yet to finalize the powertrain, which has a knock-on effect on the next Nissan supercar’s all-new architecture.

“The challenge is on the engineer, to be honest,” he said. “We will do our jobs when the time comes to make the car something really special. But we’re not even close to that yet.” (So the other manufacturers can breathe easy – for a short time.)

I have been advised that even if an engineering package was decided this year the extensive development time needed to hone the Japanese supercar would mean an on-sale date of 2021, at the earliest.

Whenever it arrives, electrification is almost a no contest if Nissan is to achieve its aim of producing enough power to make the new GT-R the world’s fastest super sports car while meeting emission requirements.

“Whether we go to a lot of electrification or none at all, we can achieve a lot power-wise,” Nissan’s design boss said. “But we are definitely making a new ‘platform’ and our goal is clear: GT-R has to be the quickest car of its kind. It has to ‘own’ the track. And it has to play the advanced technology game; but that doesn’t mean it has to be electric.”

Helping inspire the next-gen GT-R will no doubt be the twin-turbo 3.0 liter V6 hybrid powertrain that Nissan created — but didn’t use — for its stillborn LMP1 GT-R race car that was set to compete in the 2016 World Endurance Championship before the car-maker pulled the plug on the campaign.

Natter Nosh and Noggin

The Pattaya car club meets each month at Jameson’s Irish Pub on Soi AR next to Nova Park. The next meeting is on Monday August 13 at Jameson’s at 7 p.m. This is 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, why did James Watt have a team of horses and what was the significance to the motor industry? That was really too easy as this was the birth of a measurement of power, and so “horse” power became the way to measure power.

So to this week. Please identify this car. It was a race car that broke the world land speed record. It was one of six cars built to improve its aerodynamics, with a 21,504 cm3 (1,312.3 in3), 200 hp (149.1 kW) inline-four engine. Of the six cars, two survive, one held by the manufacturer and the other belongs to a U.S. collector. What were these six cars, and what year they were campaigned?

For a free beer at the next car Club meeting (August 13) at Jamesons Irish Pub, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]  or [email protected] . And in addition, if you are a Pattaya resident, the closest correct answer will win a free voucher for Casa Pascal’s Breakfast BBQ. One local resident wrote back to say he had enjoyed the Casa Pascal BBQ brunch and went so far as to say it is the best breakfast in Thailand. Good luck!

August 4, 2018 - August 10, 2018

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles new CEO

Sergio Marchionne.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV appointed a new CEO after the health of long-time leader Sergio Marchionne unexpectedly deteriorated after surgery, finishing with his death last weekend. Although it has not been spelled out, I think he must have had a massive stroke.

The newly appointed CEO is Mike Manley, formerly head of the Jeep and Ram brands, and who took over as CEO of the Italian-American company effective immediately.

“Fiat Chrysler Automobiles NV communicates with profound sorrow that during the course of this week unexpected complications arose while Mr. Marchionne was recovering from surgery and that these have worsened significantly in recent hours,” the automaker said in a statement. “As a consequence, Mr. Marchionne will be unable to return to work.”

FCA Chairman John Elkann said in a statement he is “profoundly saddened to learn of Sergio’s state of health. It is a situation that was unthinkable until a few hours ago, and one that leaves us all with a real sense of injustice.”

“The iconic reign of Sergio Marchionne is over at FCA,” said Rebecca Lindland, senior analyst at Kelley Blue Book. “Mike Manley is a very worthy replacement, with his global expertise and experience running Jeep, especially the highly successful launch of the Jeep Wrangler this year. While running FCA is a wider, broader job than running Jeep and Ram, Manley has been a loyal and worthy lieutenant to Marchionne for years.”

“Mike Manley is a logical, solid choice to replace Marchionne in light of the success of Jeep and FCA’s future being dependent on the success of Jeep and other global brands,” said Michelle Krebs, analyst with Kelley Blue Book.

Marchionne’s health condition sped up the timeline for a succession decision. He had already announced he was planning to leave by early next year.

Marchionne, known for his rumpled sweaters and nonstop work habits, is one of the longest-serving CEOs in the auto industry. He was appointed in 2004 as the fifth Fiat chief in a two-year period. He managed to return the carmaker to profit in 2005 by cutting costs, laying off workers and then looking for a partner. The company had lost more than 6 billion euros ($7.04 billion) in 2003.

With the acquisition of Chrysler in 2014, completing a five-year process, he gave Fiat the global scale needed to survive. Still, as the world’s seventh-largest automaker, the company may lack the size it needs to compete in an industry being reinvented by the emergence of autonomous driving and electrification.

“The bulk of this business is producing earnings which are almost genetically predetermined,” Marchionne had said, “because of decisions that have been made in the past and which are now being executed in a market where that call has been made. The reality is 80 percent of the earnings of this house in 2022 are only going to come from the four brands that we heard about today.”

Those plans include efforts to leverage the highly profitable Jeep and Ram brands in the U.S. and abroad with higher-margin products that fill holes in their respective portfolios.

Electric technology hits the Eastern Seaboard

Charging station.

Numerous applications have been received by the Board of Investment (BoI) all related to the future of electric cars. If you thought that e-power was a long way away, think again.

Applications to the government body total 30 bn. Of that figure, 11 bn is from Nissan and 6 bn from Honda.

The spectrum covers BEV’s, HEV’s (Nissan, Honda and Toyota), PHEV’s (Mercedes and BMW), batteries (Nissan).

By 2020 you will be seeing a lot more EV’s on our roads, and our exports will be subsequently higher as the market expands world wide.

And here’s a hot tip: invent stand-alone recharging stations. I have no idea what technology would be involved – that’s why I said “invent”.

Porsche stuffs more neddies in Panamera, Cayman and 911

Porsche Speedster Concept.

VIN numbers are a way of identifying a model and much more than just a way to track a vehicle. Look upon VIN as a ‘secret’ code.

The news comes from VIN data submitted by Porsche to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the US.

The three new models are expected within the next year, and are the Panamera GTS, 718 Cayman T and the 911 Speedster.

The first of the upcoming new model Porsches is the Panamera GTS, available in both lift-back and ‘Sport Turismo’ wagon body styles. US vehicle information number data confirms that the model exists, suggesting it will retain a development of the 2.9 liter twin-turbo V6 used by the Panamera 4S, which has 324 kW of power and 550 Nm of torque. However, the GTS will get a performance increase to around 340 kW and 570 Nm.

The next Porsche detailed by the US VIN information is a 718 Cayman T set to sit between the Cayman and Cayman S. Porsche recently applied the ‘T’ category to produce the 911 Carrera T, a lightweight enthusiast-focused model that is 20 kg lighter than the weight of the entry-level Carrera – the smaller Cayman will undergo similar treatment. The T’s weight listed in the guide is identical to that of the current Cayman - however, this is thought to be due to the extra weight of the additional performance kit it is likely to gain. It will use a development of the 2.0 liter horizontally opposed four-cylinder engine as the base Cayman, which produces 221 kW of power and 380 Nm of torque.

The VIN decoder guide confirms the existence of the 911 Speedster, an open-top version of the track-days 911 GT3. It is heavily inspired by the 911 Speedster Concept revealed at the 2018 Goodwood Festival of Speed, meaning it will use a 4.0 liter naturally aspirated flat-six engine expected to produce 368 kW of power and 460 Nm of torque through a six-speed manual transmission.

The new models are expected to be launched in the US for the 2019 model year.

What did we learn from the Hungarian GP?

Well we learned that the Mercedes Number 2 driver (make no mistake about that, he is the Number 2) can be a Bott-Ass under pressure. Extreme pressure, but more than you and I would like to be harassed by.

Back to the front, and there were two races. One had Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) out front, on his own and nobody near him. The other race was between everybody else. In fact, Vettel in the Ferrari did come second, but 17 seconds behind Hamilton.

The Hungarian GP was notable in the fact that it rained during Qualifying and it ended up as a lottery as to where you went out for the important position setting lap. Hamilton did scrape in, in front of Bottas and the two Ferraris of Vettel and Raikkonen.

Come race day and it was imperative that at least one of the Ferraris get in front of Hamilton at the start, but neither did. In fact the two Mercedes kept station with Hamilton running away and Bottas riding shotgun to block Vettel and Raikkonen.

Back in the pack there was plenty of close racing, or running in single file to be truthful.

However, “running” was not what Max Verstappen (Red Bull) was doing, with his hand grenade Renault engine giving up after five laps. The team manager Christian Horner expressed his displeasure at yet another engine to go pop! They can do no worse with the Honda engines next year.

The other Red Bull saw Daniel Ricciardo grab it by the horns and drag it up from 13th to 4th, surviving a first lap thump and then a torpedo by Bottas on the second last lap, for which Bottas received a 10 second penalty.

As the Hungaroring is narrow, with many corners, it is very difficult for the drivers to pass each other, so this results in high speed processions, which it was for most of the runners. Even if nominally faster, the straights are not long enough for a driver to pass the car in front. If new owners Liberty Media wants action on the tracks, perhaps it is time to axe the Hungaroring. And while they are at it, Monaco should go too, or make it a no-points GP.

There is now an F1 Holiday with the next GP being at Spa in Belgium on  August 26. The annual seat shuffles should be over by then, with the non-performers being cast aside. Those drivers in danger of getting a DCM (Don’t come Monday) include Grosjean, Hartley, Vandoorne, Sirotkin and Stroll.

Those drivers wishing to drive for another team include Hulkenberg, Ocon, Perez (owed three Million dollars by FIndia,), Alonso, Sainz, Ericsson and Leclerc.

A complicating factor is the Force India team being placed in Administration, but hopefully the team will continue for the second half of the racing calendar.


1 L Hamilton Mercedes

2 S Vettel Ferrari

3 K Raikkonen Ferrari

4 D Ricciardo Red Bull

5 V Bottas Mercedes

6 P Gasly Toro Rosso

7 K Magnussen Haas

8 F Alonso McLaren

9 C Sainz Renault - 69 laps

10 R Grosjean Haas - 69 laps

11 B Hartley Toro Rosso - 69 laps

12 N Hulkenberg Renault - 69 laps

13 E Ocon Force India - 69 laps

14 S Perez Force India - 69 laps

15 M Ericsson Sauber - 68 laps

16 S Sirotkin Williams - 68 laps

17 L Stroll Williams - 68 laps


S Vandoorne McLaren Gearbox - 49 laps

M Verstappen Red Bull Engine - 5 laps

C Leclerc Sauber Collision damage

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked, which current F1 manufacturer used balsa wood in the hull? It was McLaren who used a sandwich of aluminium alloy and end grain balsa in their M2B of 1966.

So to this week. Why did James Watt have a team of horses and what was the significance to the motor industry?

For a free beer at the next car Club meeting (August 13) at Jamesons Irish Pub, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]  or [email protected] . And in addition, if you are a Pattaya resident, the closest correct answer will win a free voucher for Casa Pascal’s Breakfast BBQ. One local resident wrote back to say he had enjoyed the Casa Pascal BBQ brunch and went so far as to say it is the best breakfast in Thailand. Good luck!

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

King Rama X birthday marked by Micro car display

VeeDub sets new record with an electric racer

Nissan sets its sight very high

Natter Nosh and Noggin

Autotrivia quiz

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles new CEO

Electric technology hits the Eastern Seaboard

Porsche stuffs more neddies in Panamera, Cayman and 911

What did we learn from the Hungarian GP?

Autotrivia Quiz



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