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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

Update August 19, 2017

Servicing – a vexed question


The auto watchdog JD Power finds satisfaction with servicing declines. New vehicle owner satisfaction among those who utilize authorized after-sales service declined in 2017, as service customers increasingly expect more services and better value during service visits, according to the J.D. Power 2017 Thailand Customer Service Index (CSI) Study, released this month.

Overall service satisfaction for mass market brands averages 866 (on a 1,000-point scale), down from 873 in 2016. Although 20 percent of customers say their most recent service experience exceeded their expectations - an increase of 13 percent from 2016 - a similar proportion indicate that their service advisor was neither completely focused on their needs (20 percent) nor provided helpful advice (19 percent). The study finds that implementation of service standards has declined year over year, with fewer dealer staff reportedly taking the time to inspect the vehicle with customers before service (75 percent vs. 87 percent in 2016, respectively) and after service (93 percent vs. 97 percent, respectively).

“Most new-vehicle owners are generally satisfied with after-sales service but would prefer a more attentive service center representative, one who provides valuable advice on optimum and cost-efficient car maintenance,” said Siros Satrabhaya, country manager at J.D. Power. “While core quality standards are quite often met, and servicing time remains stable, dealer personnel need to go the extra mile in order to provide the highest possible customer service. With customers increasingly comparing authorized dealer service standards and value for money with those of non-authorized facilities, such as quick service chains, dealers need to step up and offer more personalized service. Examples would be transport options to and from their facility during service, express service and more flexible service times.”

Competition from non-authorized facilities is increasing, as 9 percent of customers indicate they have used such service centers for their new-vehicle service - up two percentage points from 2016 - and, more specifically, among 14 percent of customers in the Greater Bangkok region (an increase of 10 percent from last year). New-vehicle owners cite convenience and speed of service among the top reasons for visiting non-authorized facilities. Customer satisfaction with these facilities has increased considerably as the proportions of customers who are pleased (satisfaction score of 8 or 9 on a 10 point scale) and delighted (score of 10) has increased this year by 25 percent from 2016 (to 84 percent from 59 percent).

Despite a 7 percent increase year over year in the number of customers who make an appointment prior to their service visit (61 percent vs. 54 percent, respectively), the study finds that quality of interaction over the phone has declined. The time it takes for customers to speak with a service advisor once at the dealership has also increased, in addition to the time taken to complete the entire vehicle handover process - 32 percent said it took more than 10 minutes, compared with 20 percent in 2016.

The study also finds that, while the average service time remains stable with more than two-thirds (67 percent) of service customers’ vehicles (serviced on the same day) ready within two hours, satisfaction levels with service time are lower than in 2016 regardless of the actual time it took to complete the service. In addition, while in 2016 a slight majority (56 percent) said they used a “quick service” facility, only 32 percent in 2017 say the same.

Study Rankings:

Toyota ranks highest for a fourth consecutive year in overall customer service satisfaction among mass market brands, with a score of 879. Toyota outperforms competitor brands across all five CSI factors. All brands except Suzuki and Chevrolet have lower satisfaction levels in 2017 compared with 2016. Honda ranks second with a score of 864 and Mitsubishi ranks third with 863.

About the Study

The study, now in its 18th year, measures new-vehicle owner satisfaction with the after-sales service process at an authorized service center by examining dealership performance in five factors (in order of importance): service quality (29 percent); service initiation (26 percent); vehicle pickup (18 percent); service advisor (15 percent); and service facility (12 percent).

The 2017 Thailand Customer Service Index (CSI) Study is based on responses from 2,770 new vehicle owners who purchased their vehicle between January 2015 and May 2016 and took their vehicle for service to an authorized dealer or service center between July 2016 and May 2017. The study was fielded from January through May 2017.

The ‘take home’ message from the JD Power study is a report card saying “must try harder”. Shiny new premises may attract initially, but if the customer is not happy with the service there are many non-brand chains of quick service centers ready to look after your vehicle.

They still look fantastic!

E-Type racing.

The E-Type Jaguar has a timeless styling to it. It is difficult to take in that this design was penned in the early 1960’s. It remains an example of Jaguar’s motto of Grace, Space and Pace. The New York City Museum of Modern Art recognized the significance of the E-Type’s design in 1996 by adding a blue roadster to its permanent design collection, one of only six automobiles to receive the distinction.

There is a rather special one for sale right now, but you’ll have to dig deep. Built on December 7, 1961, and dispatched to Jaguar Cars New York on December 29, this 1962 Jaguar Series 1 roadster, which has been with one caring owner since 1982, is one of the first 2,086 left-hand drive examples produced with flat floor pans, (a feature that is believed to have ceased production in May of 1962) and is a beautiful demonstration of the restorer’s art at its finest. Its rotisserie restoration was commenced by JC Classics, Inc., of Burlington, Wisconsin, and completed by Ringbrothers in Spring Green, Wisconsin, in June 2017.

Inspired by its predecessor - the three-time Le Mans-winning D-Type - the E-Type was ahead of its time as a road car. In the mid-1950’s, even dedicated sports-racing cars were almost universally still based on a tube chassis wrapped in non-stressed bodywork and equipped with live rear axles and drum brakes. When the E-Type made its world-famous 1961 debut, its appeal was deeper than its curvaceous sheet metal; it was actually more advanced mechanically than the D-Type, and right out of the showroom was almost as fast at the top end. It had an exceptionally strong monocoque central structure, a sturdy rectangular-tube front subframe carrying the engine, front suspension and ancillaries, and an elegantly designed independent rear suspension with inboard disc brakes. And yet, in contrast, there was still nothing like a set of chromed knock-off wire wheels to finish off that gorgeous exterior. At the outset, the Jaguar E-Type satisfied the diehard enthusiast’s lust for a road car that not only looked like a racer, but also performed like one, all the while offering all the comforts of a GT machine; it still feeds that lust today as a true classic. The selling agents state (and correctly) that this 1962 E-Type Series 1 roadster proves the point that time has not depleted the E-Type’s charm, but enhanced it instead. Powered by the time-honored 3.8 L twin-cam inline 6 engine with 4-speed manual transmission, its black exterior finish and sharp red leather cockpit make a stirring pairing that play to the Jaguar’s classic beauty. Documented with a Jaguar Daimler Heritage Trust Certificate, this artfully restored Series 1 E-Type needs nothing but to be enjoyed in top-down fashion on a long, winding road.

Having driven a few E-Types in my time, they are better to look at than they are to drive. Your legs have to be bent to get into the driver’s seat and your feet fry, but would I have one in my virtual garage? Of course I would!

How much is this field worth?

Nissan Murano blows up a house!

Exploded Murano. (Photo/Courier Mail Brisbane, Australia).

A Nissan Murano TI 2011 model exploded in Australia, leaving the family devastated.

“The woman owner said, “We have absolutely nothing left. Thankfully, I acted quickly and evacuated my two kids, aged 5 and 6, the instant I smelt smoke.

“The car was stationary, with the engine off. It took seven minutes for the car to explode, from the first sign of smoke.

“The fire forensic investigator has identified the cause of the fire as a known issue of Nissan Muranos. Once their investigations are complete, we will be able to comment further,” Nissan said in a statement. If I had a Murano, I’d be asking Mr Nissan to look hard at my car.

Formula 1 Tuk-Tuk

The TAT was all excited by the fact that there was a Tuk-Tuk at the Hungarian Grand prix last month. Chattan Kunjara Na Ayudhya, TAT Deputy Governor for Marketing Communications said, “This little tuk-tuk was fondly nicknamed ‘the Beast’ by the Hungarian media given her age, history and stamina, and the sheer crowd-appeal was well beyond our expectations.”

“This Tuk-tuk and the man that drove her across two continents, Martin Mechura, was a highlight of the Hungarian F1 Village. The Amazing Thailand Pit Stop design that we have created in this, our fourth F1 event, evidently works well,” he added.

“I was so happy to see so many European F1 fans coming up to our team at the Amazing Thailand Pit Stop at Hungarian Formula 1 expressing not only their delight that we were there but also sharing their stories of their travels to the Kingdom,” said Chattan.

Martin Mechura, who hails from the Czech Republic, received a round of applause when he started up the tuk-tuk after an 18 month hiatus.

The appearance of the Thai vehicle at the F1 was to promote the fun of driving in Thailand, as well as underlining the uniqueness of Thai culture and the Thai way of life, which always contain an element of fun and relaxation.

With all due respect they wanted to demonstrate the fun of driving in Thailand, glossing over the fact that tuk-tuk driving is only for Thai nationality drivers, and Thailand has the second highest road toll figures in the world. “Fun”?

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what company was so concerned with quality that the front wishbones which were forged and hardness tested, all wore the examiner’s stamp.

It was the Lancia Flaminia. It is estimated that the company sold every Flaminia at a loss.

So to this week. Three brothers produced more supercharged cars in the 30’s than all other American manufacturers combined. What were their names?

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

Update August 12, 2017

The ultimate Road Warrior?

Dodge Demon.

Dodge has become well known for building amazing vehicles just stuffed full of neddies. The 8 liter Dodge Viper took the performance world by storm 20 years ago. Having driven one, it was just an amazing car which you steered with the right foot, not the steering wheel.

However, 20 years later Dodge came out with the Dodge Challenger Hellcat with 700 horses under the bonnet. We had just managed to get our heads around that when at the NY Auto Show last April Dodge comes out with the Challenger SRT Demon, with 840 BHP and boasting of being the fastest production car ever built, claiming an unheard of 9.65 second quarter-mile time at 225 kph through the traps.

To do those numbers, the Demon has 1.8 G launch forces and is speed limited to 270 kph. It will do well over 300 kph if you could let it go.

The Hellcat was modified with 25 major component upgrades including a larger supercharger (2.7 liters vs. 2.4 liters) and a higher redline (6,500 rpm vs. 6,200 rpm).

To produce 840 horsepower, Demon was outfitted with high-flow fuel injectors (that’s 101 pounds per square-inch - or 27 percent more than the 707 horse Hellcat’s 80 PSI). At full power, Demon is drinking 1.36 gallons per minute of high-octane unleaded gasoline - or nearly the same amount of liquid (two gallons per minute) that comes out of your shower head.

So powerful was the Demon’s supercharged V-8 that only a NASCAR-rated dynamometer could hold it for testing.

Demon is the first-ever production car to lift its front wheels - the result of a 2,576-pound weight transfer at launch to the rear which carries the fronts for a Guinness World Record wheelie of 35 inches long.

On 91 octane pump petrol, the Demon produces 808 horsepower and 717 pound-feet of torque. Add the available engine controller (found in the $1 Demon crate full of drag goodies) - calibrated for 100 plus, unleaded, high octane fuel - and you get the full 840 horse/770 torque numbers.

The Demon wears 12.6 inch- Nitto drag racing tires on all four corners (for optimum quarter-mile performance, Dodge recommends replacing the fronts with skinny “rollers” - also in the crate - for lower roll-resistance). An IndyCar’s race tires measure 10 inches wide in front and 14 inches in the rear.

To save 113 pounds of weight, the front and rear passenger seats were removed (they can be optioned back for $1 each).!!!!

For all its steroid-pumped power, the US$86,090 Demon still comes with Fiat-Chrysler’s standard five year/60,000 mile limited powertrain coverage.

Dodge will make 3,000 Demons for the U.S. and 300 for Canada. Deliveries begin later this year. And yes, the standard Dodge warranty goes with the car.

In answer to the question of ‘why’, it can only be ‘because we can’. I loved the Viper, but this Demon is at another level altogether. You would need a running account with B-Quik for tyres every week.

MINI EV for 2019

BMW i8.

MINI has committed to an electric future, not only confirming the debut of a series-production all-electric version of its three-door hatchback core model in 2019 but announcing that more such electrified variants will follow.

With internal combustion engines to be banned in the future by the UK government, a new battery powered hatch will be built in Britain, at Mini’s Oxford factory, but employ a powertrain produced in Germany at the same e-mobility plants that turn out similar items for parent company BMW’s electrified vehicles, including the BMW i3.

MINI has already launched a plug-in hybrid version of the Mini Countryman – the Cooper SE Countryman ALL4 – in the United Kingdom and Europe.

Although the new vehicle will be Mini’s first series production EV, it is the not the first all-electric car from them. In 2008, Mini rolled out 500 two-seat Mini E hatches on one-year leases in the United States as a toe-in-the-water exercise.

That version had a 150 kW/220 Nm electric motor driving the front wheels, drawing power from a 35 kWh lithium-ion battery – one of the first of its kind in the motor industry.

Driving range was said to be more than 240km. These figures are similar to those of the current BMW i3 since its update in October 2016. BMW says lessons from the Mini E played a crucial role in the subsequent development of the BMW i3 and BMW i8, which retails for a smidgeon under 12 million THB.

The company said it expects electrified vehicles to account for between 15 and 25 per cent of its of sales by 2025. “However, factors such as regulation, incentives and charging infrastructure will play a major role in determining the scale of electrification from market to market,” BMW said.

“In the future, the BMW Group production system will create structures that enable our production facilities to build models with a combustion engine, plug-in hybrid or fully electric drive train at the same time.”

The next electrified vehicle from BMW will be the i8 Roadster in 2018, followed by an all-electric BMW X3 in 2020 and the BMW iNEXT in 2021.

Whether we like it or not, electrification is inevitable, so you can expect re-charging stations to start popping up in the not so distant future. The UK is issuing advance notice of a 2040 date as the closing date for manufacture of vehicles powered by petrol/diesel engines. What happens to the resale value of “ordinary” cars after that date?

At the beginning of motoring, drivers had to buy petrol from the local pharmacies (similar to the Mom and Pop shops selling petrol here). The wheel will have gone full circle. Driving will be a dying art, I’m afraid.

15 year warranty?


F 12 Ferrari Berlinetta.

If you think Dodge is brave with its standard warranty for the Demon, how about Ferrari? The Prancing Horse now offers a vehicle warranty, which is one of the most comprehensive aftersales programs on the market, with up to 15 years warranty and seven years of free servicing.

Ferrari is promoting the option of extending its factory three year warranty to an industry leading 15 years, three years longer than its current optional 12 year aftersales program. However, to receive the full 15 year warranty, buyers will first need to opt into Ferrari’s full aftersales program.

An extended warranty will add two years to the factory assurance and, from there, a “New Power” warranty will provide coverage on all major components until the 12th year.

The newly-introduced New Power15 program will cover the following three years to 15 but will need to be renewed every 12 months a total of three times to receive the full maximum warranty time period.

For the final three years, Ferrari says the warranty will cover the engine, transmission, suspension and steering of the vehicle.

Not only limited to new-vehicle purchases, Ferrari also offers a warranty extension to its pre-owned models too, granted they pass specific mechanical and technical checks.

According to the Ferrari spokesman, “the New Power15 extended warranty can also be provided for cars on which the Ferrari extended warranty cover has not been taken up, or on cars with gaps in the cover”.

All new Ferrari vehicles retain a seven-year free maintenance program in which pricing of the new warranty program has yet to be disclosed.

The following figures are courtesy of Ferrari Australia -for the first six months of the year, Ferrari Australia has sold a record 101 vehicles – ranging from its entry-level California T to its flagship F12 Berlinetta – a 12.2 per cent jump year-on-year.

This puts the local arm of the iconic Italian supercar-builder on track to crack 200 annual units for the first time in history. Last year Ferrari sold 188 cars over the 12 month period.

Natter Nosh and Noggin

 The Pattaya car club meets at Jameson’s Irish Pub on Soi AR next to Nova Park on the second Monday of that month. The next meeting is on Monday August 14 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). Many did go to the Classic Car Show, some exhibiting and others just enjoying the atmosphere. Come along and meet the guys who have a common interest in cars and bikes, and enjoy the Jameson’s food, washed down with a few beers or what’s your fancy. Always a fun night. Be prepared to laugh a lot at some of the antics of the members (when they were younger)! Remember that the Car Club nights are on the second Monday of the month only (not every second Monday)!

Autotrivia Quiz

 Last week I stated that not too many people have won international motoring events driving a car they designed and built themselves, selling copies of his car, carrying his name. Jack Brabham won the World’s Driving Championship in one of his own cars, but who was this guy? It was Sydney Allard who won the Monte Carlo Rally in 1952 in one of his own Allards. He also competed at the Le Mans 24 hour events. In 1991 Sydney Allard was posthumously inducted into the International Drag Racing Hall of Fame

So to this week. What company was so concerned with quality that the front wishbones which were forged and hardness tested, all wore the examiner’s stamp.

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

Update August 5, 2017

Lotus reveal a Porsche Cayman rival

Lotus Evora.

Lotus, the British sports car maker has released the latest Evora called the GT430 which is a four seater, with the hope of beating the Porsche Cayman S.

The engine is a 3.5 liter supercharged V6 petrol engine that produces 320 kW and 440 Nm, an increase of 32 kW and 30 Nm over the Evora 400, getting the power down to the bitumen through a six-speed manual transmission.

The performance comes from weight saving as well as the increase from the engine output. Lotus claims several weight saving measures, from a titanium exhaust and carbon fiber body panels, that help reduce the kerb weight by 26 kg to a claimed 1299 kg.

Claimed Performance figures are a zero to 100 km/h in a 3.8 seconds running through to a top speed of 305 km/h.

Stylewise larger front apertures, new carbon fiber splitter, air blades and louvers combined with a bigger rear diffuser and large carbon fiber wing increase the Evora’s aggressive look, but do look like after-market add-ons.

The inside has been decked out with more carbon fiber and front race seats, while buyers have the option of either Alcantara or leather upholstery.

19 inch front and 20 inch rear silver or black alloy wheels with Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2 tyres.

Lotus is only going to build 60 examples of the Evora GT430 for international markets. You won’t see one in Thailand, until the Customs and Duties are finished with the latest supercars.

What did we learn from Hungary?

Well we learned (and saw) that Vunderkid Max Verstappen has yet to learn that you do not win the race on the first lap – you only lose the race on the first lap. His hamfisted barge into his team mate was described by Ricciardo, the aggrieved Red Bull team mate, as “amateur”. He was correct. To acknowledge the bungling, the FIA stewards hit Verstappen with a 10 second stop-go penalty. A certain degree of maturity is needed in the professional F1 jungle. Verstappen will have a big accident on the road to maturation.

The star of the show, and it was just that, a ‘show’, was Ferrari team leader Sebastian Vettel who led most of the 70 laps at the Hungaroring circuit. This was despite a steering problem which slowed him up towards the end. It was also facilitated by instructions from the Ferrari pit wall stopping the Ferrari number 2, Kimi Raikkonen, from attacking Vettel. Raikkonen mentioning that they are supposed to be racing drivers. Do not be surprised if Kimi walks away from Ferrari at the end of the year.

After being soundly trounced in Qualifying, Mercedes remained beaten in the race with Bottas in front of Hamilton, until Hamilton pulled rank and asked that Bottas move over and let him through to have a crack at Raikkonen. This did not work, even with the permission to turn the engine up, resulting in Hamilton handing the third place back to Bottas on the last lap. Good results by the team but thumbing the nose to the spectators. F1 really has become an entertainment event and that is all.

Verstappen drove well, when not involved in jousting, and finished fifth and within striking distance (pun intended) of the two Mercedes drivers. He will become a top driver when he matures.

Sixth and my driver of the day went to Fernando Alonso (McLaren) with the underpowered Honda engine. Hungaroring rewards chassis development and not engine, which is how Alonso managed to even get into the top 10. He is currently the best all-round driver in F1. Ponder on Raikkonen and Alonso swapping seats in 2018. A move that I believe Vettel would veto.

The seventh place went to the other Spaniard Carlos Sainz (jnr) who shows plenty of skill and aggression in his Toro Rosso, but was outfumbled by Alonso.

Eighth and ninth were claimed by the squabbling Force India twins Perez and Ocon who spent the entire race trying to unsettle each other.

The final driver in the points in 10th place was VanDoorne (McLaren), not a bad result until you look at what Alonso could achieve.

The make-weights had their own little battles with current bad boy and staying in after class Daniel Kvyat (Toro Rosso) managing to avoid collisions and  Jonathan Palmer in the second Renault actually finishing a race but too late to avoid being dropped at the end of the year.

Another driver who drove exceptionally well was Paul diResta (Williams) who had not driven an F1 car for four years, and with no qualifying laps jumped in at the last minute, kept his nose clean and was unlucky to have to retire with an oil leak.


1 S Vettel Ferrari

2 K Raikkonen Ferrari

3 V Bottas Mercedes

4 L Hamilton Mercedes

5 M Verstappen Red Bull

6 F Alonso McLaren

7 C Sainz Toro Rosso

8 S Perez Force India

9 E Ocon Force India

10 S Vandoorne McLaren

11 D Kvyat Toro Rosso

12 J Palmer Renault

13 K Magnussen Haas

14 L Stroll Williams

15 P Wehrlein Sauber

16 M Ericsson Sauber


N Hulkenberg Renault Gearbox

di Resta Williams Oil leak

R Grosjean Haas Loose wheel

D Ricciardo Red Bull Accident

BOI out to attract EV makers

Vera EV.

The Board of Investment (BOI) is dangling the carrot of tax-free holidays for up to 10 years for automakers who will set up production to build Electric Vehicles, of all types including Plug In Hybrids (PHEV’s), Battery Electric Vehicles (BEV’s) as well as Hybrid Electric Vehicles (HEV’s).

The tax holidays are also offered to parts manufacturers who make specific parts for EV’s. However, it is necessary to apply by December 29 (HEV’s) and by the end of 2018 for PHEV’s.

It has been reported elsewhere that Toyota will be the first to take up the BOI offer, with the promise of a 19 billion baht investment in EV manufacture.

EV’s currently on sale in Thailand include the Toyota Camry, Honda Accord, Nissan X-Trail and the Thai Vera, which has been the subject of examination in Pattaya by the Automotive Focus Group (AFG) here.

Anyone want an F1 engine? Honda? No thanks!

Some movement around the Honda F1 engine, which has been totally uninspiring in the McLaren chassis for the last two years. Questions being asked as to whether McLaren will continue.

Now add in the Sauber factor. Will Sauber want a Honda?

Honda are wanting an answer on the Sauber engine deal “now”, that’s according to their F1 chief Yusuke Hasegawa. Although Sauber announced at the Russian GP that they would race Honda engines in 2018, the deal was never finalized.

Monisha Kaltenborn’s departure soon after meant the deal was never formally signed with Honda now pressing for talks with new team boss Frederic Vasseur.

Asked when Honda needed to know whether it is on or not, Hasegawa replied “now”!

“As soon as possible. We cannot wait for next year’s preparations so we are working on it already and we really need to fix [a decision].

“From the plan point of view we are already working on [being ready for the Sauber supply in 2018].

“So we need to fix the plans, but we will just continue as we are for now. So far, no change.”

So where is McLaren in all this? It would take an enormous leap of faith to pin your hopes on the hopelessly unreliable Honda engine. But what else is there?

Well, there is always one year old Ferrari engines as have been used by Sauber up till now. Not as powerful as this year’s Ferrari engine, but very reliable.

My opinion is that Sauber will take the Ferrari engines for 2018, while McLaren will happily ditch the Honda boat anchors and pay for some 12 month old Ferrari engines as well.

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what is the commonality between a Roadpacer and a Parkway? Both were made by Mazda in Japan, but the amazing thing was both were given Mazda Rotaries. The Roadpacer body was a Holden made in Australia (as all Holdens used to be) and the Parkway was an all-Japan design which was not a success with only 44 built.

So to this week. Not too many people have won international motoring events driving a car they designed and built themselves, selling copies of his car, carrying his name. Jack Brabham won the World’s Driving Championship in one of his own cars, but who was this guy?

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

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Servicing – a vexed question

They still look fantastic!

Nissan Murano blows up a house!

Formula 1 Tuk-Tuk

Autotrivia Quiz

The ultimate Road Warrior?

MINI EV for 2019

15 year warranty?

Natter Nosh and Noggin

Autotrivia Quiz

Lotus reveal a Porsche Cayman rival

What did we learn from Hungary?

BOI out to attract EV makers

Anyone want an F1 engine? Honda? No thanks!

Autotrivia Quiz



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