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Update June 2018

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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

June 16, 2018 - June 22, 2018

Chinese EV startup moves into Indiana plant

SF Electric car.

A Chinese electric vehicle startup announced Wednesday that it is retooling an Indiana factory and hopes to conduct trial runs for two new lines of vehicles by the end of the year. 

State officials say SF Motors, a Silicon Valley-based subsidiary of China’s Chongqing Sokon Industry Group, plans to hire back some workers who were laid off when AM General halted operations at its Mishawaka plant last year.

The company says it will spend $160 million to buy, renovate and retool the factory, which will serve as the company’s main U.S. manufacturing plant. It plans to employ up to 467 workers.

To secure the deal, the state of Indiana is offering the company $3.8 million in tax credits and up to $500,000 for worker training. The state is also offering an additional $653,000 in tax credits through a program that encourages companies to take over existing out-of-operation facilities.

Saint Joseph County, where the factory is located, is also considering an economic incentives package for the company.

What did we learn from the Canadian GP?

The Canadian Grand Prix (French: Grand Prix du Canada) is the annual motor sport circus held in Canada since 1961. It has been part of the Formula One World Championship since 1967. It was first staged at Mosport Park in Bowmanville, Ontario as a sports car event, before alternating between Mosport and Circuit Mont-Tremblant, Quebec after Formula One took over the event. After 1971, safety concerns led to the Grand Prix moving permanently to Mosport. In 1978, after similar safety concerns with Mosport, the Canadian Grand Prix moved to its current home on Notre Dame Island in Montreal.

That is the history, but what was the situation this year?

Not another bore-fest! Yes, another one. However at least Lance Stroll (Williams) livened up the first lap by crashing into another car. I suggest Daddy Stroll pays Williams F1 by the number of laps son Lance manages as this will keep expenses down. The other piece of excitement was the dolly girl whose job it was to look glam and wave the checkered flag at the end, forgetting what lap it was (or perhaps ran out of fingers) and waved the flag a lap too soon. And as this was Canada they even managed to get a sacrificial groundhog to commit hogicide on Romain Grosjean (Haas). Liberty Media is doing a great job of providing ‘entertainment’. Pity the racing is so poor.

In the procession itself (sorry ‘race’) Vettel (Ferrari) just ran away and hid. The gap between him and Valtteri Bottas (Mercedes) who finished in second, was managed by Vettel, who was not at all likely to lose that Number 1. And the finger made its presence again at the end.

Third was Verstappen (Red Bull) who was also unable to pass, just running in the high speed procession. However, he didn’t hit anything which is a great step forward for the young Dutchman.

Next car was his team mate, the Monaco Meister Daniel Ricciardo who actually passed fifth placed Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) – but in the pits, not on the track.

Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari) was another who found it impossible to pass and in reality just toured around.

Last point scorer was Charles Leclerc in the Sauber, who has impressed everyone in this his rookie season. Punching well above his weight and will be driving for Ferrari 2020. (You read it here first.)

Drivers and managers are already looking at who should go where in 2019/20. Here are some possibilities: Ricciardo to Mercedes, Bottas to Ferrari, Grosjean to his kitchen and another recipe book, Sirotkin to Haas, Alonso to America, Hulkenberg to the USA and Indy and Raikkonen to Renault. All those transfers are quite on the cards.

However, back to F1 reality 2018, the downhill trend will continue while Liberty Media continues to push the ‘entertainment wheel barrow. There are plenty of entertainments out there. There is only one F1.


1 S Vettel Ferrari

2 V Bottas Mercedes

3 M Verstappen Red Bull

4 D Ricciardo Red Bull

5 L Hamilton Mercedes

6 K Raikkonen Ferrari

7 N Hulkenberg Renault

8 C Sainz Renault

9 E Ocon Force India

10 C Leclerc Sauber

11 P Gasly Toro Rosso

12 R Grosjean Haas

13 K Magnussen Haas

14 S Perez Force India

15 M Ericsson Sauber

16 S Vandoorne McLaren

17 S Sirotkin Williams


F Alonso McLaren

L Stroll Williams Accident

B. Hartley Toro Rosso Accident

An unbiased view of a Tesla

Tesla PD.

A friend in Australia just sent me this first hand report on a Tesla.

“My work doctor just took me for a spin last night at the end of my shift. This he had just bought in Sydney, a 2014 Tesla PD for AUD 104,000.

“Performance figures include 0-100 in 2.8 seconds, 2WD model, 4WD a little quicker. Forget Super Cars, this is head snapping.

“If you haven’t been in one, take a spare pair of undies.

“Has all gauges concerning battery life and distance left. Assured it will go 450 kays. 

“He reckons it will easily cover a week of home to work travel and is easily fully charged overnight and a fast charge of half an hour gets him from Newcastle to Sydney.”

Hamilton could quit after 2020

Lewis Hamilton the F1 Rapper.

One of the F1 websites reports David Coulthard believing that Lewis Hamilton could decide to walk away from the sport after the 2020 season.

Coulthard suggests Hamilton will quit F1 and concentrate on a music career. “I think it has got to be on his mind,” Coulthard said. “I think that he will go to 2020 which is [the end of] the current Concorde Agreement.”

“I think beyond 2020 there is every likelihood he may well be releasing his first [music] album which he has been working on,” the Scot continued.

Many commentators have voiced the opinion that Hamilton should make up his mind as to whether he is an F1 driver or a rapper, complete with gold chains and tattoos. 

We might have to wait until 2020 to see if we all have to wear our hats back to front! I am told by a reliable source that you can still buy baseball hats with the bill at the front.

The first significant all-electric vehicle


La Jamais Contente.

This significant vehicle was electric and the world speed record holder. La Jamais Contente (never happy) had two direct drive Postel-Vinay 25 kW motors, running at 200 V drawing 124 Amperes each. This fine beast was driven by a Belgian, Count Camille Jenatzy.

In 1899, to break 100 km/h was breathtaking, but there was much more to it. An old adage goes that motor racing was invented when we built the second car, and this could easily be applied to Count Jenatzy and Count Chasseloup-Laubat. Fierce rivalry ensued, with the objective being the first person on the planet to crack 100 km/h.

While we regularly beat their times on the way to the supermarket, in those days, pre-1900, it was not known what effects this would have on the human body. Nobody had gone so fast before!

Bystanders thought that it was likely that one could lose its sight and the body fluids could harden themselves and thus the organs could explode. Other ones were totally convinced that God would send out thunder and lightning to those who dare to challenge him in this way. Fortunately for us, and the two counts, that theory was wrong and nothing happened, even so the two characters involved of who will be the fastest man became afraid of their achievements and decided to not continue with their speed fight after the magic 100 km/h was reached.

On the way to 100 clicks, in 1895 the Frenchman Charles Jeantaud participated in the Paris-Bordeau-Paris race steering his electric car. In order to not lose time with battery recharge he was accompanied by a team that transported several fully charged batteries as he had to change them 14 times.

Back came Jenatzy. His racing car had two motors; one in every axle box of the front wheels of 25 kW each one, which directly connected with the wheels without any intermediate parts. In the first tests the Belgian went with such a speed that the person responsible for time measuring forgot to start the chronometer, and we will never know at what speed he went. On the second attempt everything had been officially controlled and checked: Jenatzy had reached the 105.85 km/h, a real record, a real fright and a real challenge. It took the world 36 months to break this record.

The next milestone to be passed by the EV group was ‘range’, a fear still in many consumer’s mind. In July 1899 Count Chasseloup-Laubat drove 140 km without recharging the batteries. A year later, Louis Krièger increased this figure to 170 kilometers with a car of his own brand. In 1900 the French BGS reached the 262 kilometers without any need of recharge. A year later, Louis Krièger increased the limit to 307 kilometers. These are figures some EV’s cannot equal today!

Count Jenatzy came to an inglorious end, being shot by his friend while hunting in the Ardennes forest. 

La Jamais Contente also looked to have an inglorious end too, as it had been allowed to deteriorate in the Compiegne Museum. However, fortunately a Belgian, Count Xavier Van der Stappen, generated funding for the building of a replica.

This replica is currently in the Belgian "Autoworld" Museum. According to Van der Stappen who managed the re-creation, it has been reconstructed based on plans provided by an engineer from the unrestored original car.

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked you to study the picture. This vehicle was built in 1888. However, its technology is up to the minute in many ways. I asked, who built it? It was the Flocken Elektrowagen with the pic from Franz Haag. 

So to this week. Both Genevieve and the Spyker were deemed ineligible for the London to Brighton run. Why?

For a free beer at the next car Club meeting, 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. Good luck!

June 9, 2018 - June 15, 2018

What’s it like to drive an F1 car?

Team VDS Lola T 430.

Most motoring enthusiasts have driven a ‘performance’ car at some stage. Remember, however, that everything is relative, and in 1950 an MG TC sports was exciting with wind in the hair, and in 1964 an E-Type Jaguar had exhilarating acceleration leading us to joke that you needed additional oxygen to drive one. It also took seven seconds to get to 100 kph from rest.

Then came the Lamborghini Diablo and posters on every workshop wall, and it ran out of breath about 250 km/h. Near F1 times? Not yet!

I have driven all those performance cars, and I have driven F1 cars of the day. These were also known as Formula 5000, hulking great open wheel race cars with a five liter Chevrolet V8 stuffed in the rear with 500 horsepower, and the one I drove was a Lola T430, a special built for Count Van Der Straten (VDS) team.

I was invited to drive the Lola by its owner Bob Minogue, at the Calder race circuit outside Melbourne Australia. 

The drive starts with trying to fit into a single seater cockpit. There are no tubby single seater drivers (monoposto)! Next is to find where the controls and instruments are placed. That was when I found out that when turning, my hand obscured the rev counter, a very important piece of equipment. Knowing what revs and what gear is very necessary, these cars do not have a speedometer and you are sitting in the midst of noise, thumps, bangs and mechanical clatter just behind your head from the engine.

Minogue described the drive as trying to throw a sledgehammer handle first, while sitting in a bath tub of petrol.

Sitting in an F1 car (of the day) the front wheels are very much in your line of vision, but as soon as you are moving, they become less intrusive. You are looking at where the front wheel needs to be placed relative to the apex. This is altered by the throttle opening, with the power available you can literally lift the front wheels towards the outside of the corner, giving classic understeer. To counteract this you brake as late as possible, as the weight transfer loads the front tyres, making them grip better and producing classic oversteer in the rear. You are looking for a balance at 160 km/h. F1 drivers can get very busy at times.

For acceleration, the F1 car just gives you a relentless push in the back, all the way to peak revs, where you pull firmly on the gear lever to select the next higher gear up until the gearbox has no more and you are looking at 300 km/h. Even today’s F1 cars peak at around 320 km/h.

Tesla in Autopilot mode crashes into California police car

Laguna Beach Police Department via AP

It is never a good idea to run into a police car, in any country. That by itself is notable and newsworthy, but when your car is a Tesla, this is BIG news. The following item came down the wire from AP:

Laguna Beach, Calif. (AP) - Authorities say a Tesla sedan in Autopilot mode has crashed into a parked police cruiser in Southern California.

Police Sgt. Jim Cota says the officer was not in the cruiser during the crash Tuesday in Laguna Beach. He says the Tesla driver suffered minor injuries.

The police SUV ended up with its two passenger-side wheels on a sidewalk.

Tesla's semi-autonomous Autopilot mode has come under scrutiny following other recent crashes. The carmaker says the function is not designed to avoid a collision and warns drivers not to rely on it entirely. ENDS.

It would seem that the entire world is resistant to change and the thought of an electric car that can drive itself has many people worried, and if you make your living as a taxi driver, I think I would be a little apprehensive too.

However, with “ordinary” cars involved in crashes all the time (especially in Thailand), is the world downplaying one type of motoring, while noisily pointing fingers at the newer technology?

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what do the Mitsuoka Orochi and the Chrysler Portofino have in common, not seen on ordinary cars? They both had gull wing doors.

So to this week. Study the picture.

This vehicle was built in 1888. However, its technology is up to the minute in many ways. Who built it?

For a free beer at the next car Club meeting, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] And in addition, the closest correct answer will win a free voucher for Casa Pascal’s Breakfast BBQ if you are a Pattaya resident. Good luck!

Breakfast with Automania

Where is the best breakfast in Pattaya? In my opinion it is the Casa Pascal BBQ breakfast buffet (which actually goes right through to lunch as well). The scope of Pascal’s breakfast defies description and currently there are over 50 items on offer covering bakery and pastry, dedicated breakfast items like waffles, pancakes and cereals and yoghurts, cold delicacies with smoked herring (from Pascal’s own smoker), pickled fish, ham, salami, pepper ham and mushroom, ham, cheese and several salads, many salad bar items, and the BBQ Grill on the terrace with bacon, ham, sausages, chicken and pork steaks, the egg station, hot dishes including two soups, one Asian and one Western, poultry, fish, pasta, hash browns (roesti) even baked beans. If you can fit it in, there are also desserts with caramel custard and the Oh so British Bread and Butter pudding amongst others.

This BBQ breakfast can be yours at no charge with a voucher from Automania for being the first correct answer (Pattaya residents only I am afraid.)

How much does all this cost with no voucher? B. 235 plus 7 percent VAT, and this is for an all you can eat deal, making this a fantastic bargain. Quite honestly it is almost impossible to beat these breakfast and lunch offers, and while you are there, take a look at the a la carte menu which will surprise you with its very reasonable prices (and you can also eat a la carte during the buffets if you wish). Casa Pascal has always been one of our favorites, and comes Highly Recommended by the entire Automania Gerry-at-Rix Racing Team. Meet us there for breakfast one morning.

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 June 11 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)!

June 2, 2018 - June 8, 2018

Toyota joins the Cross-Over party

Toyota C-HR.

My attention was brought to the new Toyota C-HR by two middle-aged gentlemen I met who waxed lyrical over their new purchases. About 30 minutes later I walked out of the Royal Cliff and was almost run over by a blue C-HR. I felt this had to be an omen.

My very first impression was that the blue marauder was a Nissan Juke, but there was the King Ranch logo of Toyota on the tail. However, similarities in size and bulbous bodywork put the C-HR firmly in the crossover category.

In many ways this has to be a ‘halo’ model for Toyota, better known as the manufacturer of motor cars with styling so bland you can lose your Toyota in the supermarket car park, amongst all the other Toyotas. However, the C-HR is anything but bland and makes the Honda HR-V, Mazda CX-3 and Nissan Juke look old fashioned. Styling tricks, such as door handles in the C pillars certainly look avant-garde, even though Alfa Romeo had this about 30 years ago!

The interior looks somewhat claustrophobic with the high window sills at the rear, and it is really a 4 seater (or cramped 5 unless your passengers are all Thai).

Performance is satisfactory and could be considered the benchmark in this crossover class because it feels more like a hatch than a scaled down SUV.

I can see why the gentlemen raved about their C-HR’s. If Toyota have managed to combine their legendary reliability with a sporty dynamic they will have another winner. Well worth dropping by the Toyota showrooms.

Finally, did the C-HR nomenclature ‘accidentally’ remind one of the Honda H-RV or does C-HR stand for “Car – Hurriedly Revised”?

GMH looking to Thailand for assistance

Chevy Colorado.

The Australian branch of Chevrolet (GMH) has identified the Thai-built Colorado pick-up as its “number one” model line with which to rebuild its business in Australia, following the company’s exit from local manufacturing last October and a poor start to the year that has seen GMH sales fall 22.5 percent.

Despite the downturns across the board, the Thai-built Colorado still stands as Holden’s top-selling vehicle. GMH has a media’s advertising campaign to assist the Colorado sales in 2018.

How the mighty has fallen, where once Holden was thought of as Australia’s own car, sales are now way behind its competitors. Sales figures to the end of April show that HiLux (16,230) and Ranger (13,664) remain the dominant forces in the category and that Triton (7870) has pulled well ahead of Colorado, which has only recorded 5407 new registrations so far this year. Navara is ahead of the Holden pick-up with 5699 units year to date, with D-Max (5108) and Mazda BT-50 (4424) close behind.

The reliability and build quality of Thai vehicles is well accepted in world markets these days.

Honda standardizes advanced driver-assist safety technologies

The first next-generation model to receive Honda Sensing, possibly the Jazz light car, will hit local showrooms in 2020.

However, there were some doubts as to whether “safety” was a saleable item these days. To investigate this, Honda Australia commissioned a survey of 1200 new-car buyers intending to purchase in the next two years, and it found that the local market required education on the importance and benefits of safety technologies such as the Honda Sensing suite.

However, speaking to journalists in Melbourne last week, Honda Australia director Stephen Collins revealed that the company was considering adding Honda Sensing to current-generation models, likely including the Civic small car and CR-V mid-size SUV.

Honda Sensing consists of forward collision warning, autonomous emergency braking, pedestrian detection, adaptive cruise control with stop and go functionality, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist and steering assist.

While most new-car buyers showed a general understanding of airbags, anti-lock brakes and safe body structures, their knowledge of newer safety technologies was low. For example, lane departure warning, lane-keep assist and blind-spot monitoring were identified by 12 percent of new-car buyers surveyed, while forward collision warning and autonomous emergency braking were identified by 10 percent.

However, once new-car buyers had the safety technology explained to them, their interest increased significantly. “With this knowledge, we plan to stagger the rollout of Honda Sensing and, at the same time, educate customers, ensuring they walk the journey with us and understand how Honda Sensing will complement their driving experience.”

B-Quik signs a lady

New signing Rahel Frey.

B-Quik will set another milestone as we enter the first lady driver in TSS Super Car class where we will see Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup mentors Rahel Frey and Adderly Fong joining Daniel Bilski in Super Car GTM+.

This year B-Quik is entering an Audi R8 LMS Ultra GT3 in Super Car GTM+, which was shared during the opening round, held in Sepang last month, by Daniel Bilski and Henk J. Kiks. It proved to be a solid debut for the pair in the new GT3 car and they enjoyed a trip to the podium.

In Buriram, on 1-3 June, Henk will switch across to the new second entry into GTM+ and we’re pleased that Frey will be available to pair up with Bilski for the two 1-hour races.

The Swiss racer knows the ‘R8 LMS GT3’ cars inside out so she’s clearly going to be an invaluable addition to the line-up. Her technical knowledge of the machine is unrivalled as she raced across Asia in the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup from 2013-16, building on the previous two seasons which she spent as an Audi factory driver in DTM.

Moving forward to the third round of the year in Bangsaen, Bilski will be partnered by another Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup mentor, Adderly Fong. His credentials speak for themselves and along with Bilski’s experience with both the car and the Bangsaen Street Circuit we’re confident this is a line-up that can get the job done.

Lastly, B-Quik Racing will make an entry into the final round of the Audi Sport R8 LMS Cup 2018, which takes place at Sepang Circuit on 24-25 November. It will neatly bookend a year that saw Bilski and B-Quik Racing enter the opening round of the ‘one make’ series in Adelaide back in March.

What did we learn from Monaco?

Well, we were soon reminded that Monaco is an anachronism and totally unsuitable for today’s F1 cars. It was a high speed procession led by a top driver in an ailing car. For the fact that Hamilton couldn’t pass Vettel who couldn’t pass Ricciardo you can also thank Pirelli who are now making tyres that have no relevance to motor cars as we know them.

Kimi Raikkonen summed up the racing at Monaco very succinctly. “Today nothing really happened in the race; to be honest, it was a pretty boring one. We know that on this track, once everybody has stopped, whoever is in front dictates the speed and no matter if he goes four seconds slower on a lap, there’s no way to pass unless somebody makes a big mistake or runs out of tyres. We end up following each other through the whole race.”

However, Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull) was easily the standout driver of the entire weekend, being fastest in every pre-race session, and again in Qualifying and again in the race itself. Monaco reflects a driver’s ability as opposed to most other circuits which reflect engine power. Red Bull, running Renault engines are about 40 BHP down on the Mercedes or Ferrari engines.

Ricciardo’s team mate Vercrashen showed none of his usual gung ho attitude and get out of my way, after crashing on the Saturday and missing the Qualifying session, so had to start from the rear of the grid. He also had further sessions with the Red Bull team management which has lost its patience with the unruly youngster who may be quick, but doesn’t finish.

All drivers suffered from degradation of the tyres, to the point that Vettel was unable to get the tyres warmed up after the Virtual Safety Car at the end of the race and dropped away from Ricciardo.

All drivers consensus was that the race was boring. We spectators are in complete agreement.


1 D Ricciardo Red Bull

2 S Vettel Ferrari

3 L Hamilton Mercedes

4 K Raikkonen Ferrari

5 V Bottas Mercedes

6 E Ocon Force India

7 P Gasly Toro Rosso

8 N Hulkenberg Renault

9 M Verstappen Red Bull

10 C Sainz Renault

11 M Ericsson Sauber

12 S Perez Force India

13 K Magnussen Haas

14 S Vandoorne McLaren

15 R Grosjean Haas

16 S Sirotkin Williams

17 L Stroll Williams


C Leclerc Sauber Collision

B Hartley Toro Rosso (collision)

F Alonso McLaren (gearbox) - 52 laps

Autotrivia Quiz

Marzal hexagons.

Last week I asked what car suffered from ‘hexagonitis’? Clue was 1967. It was the Lamborghini Marzal released at the 1967 Geneva Motor Show. An amazing styling exercise. When the car was pushed into the hall, everyone just stopped in their tracks.

So to this week. What do the Mitsuoka Orochi and the Chrysler Portofino have in common, not seen on ordinary cars?

For a free beer at the next car Club meeting, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]  or [email protected] . And as an additional treat, you can win a Casa Pascal BBQ Breakfast Buffet voucher as well. Good luck!

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Chinese EV startup moves into Indiana plant

What did we learn from the Canadian GP?

That is the history, but what was the situation this year?

An unbiased view of a Tesla

Hamilton could quit after 2020

The first significant all-electric vehicle

Autotrivia Quiz

What’s it like to drive an F1 car?

Tesla in Autopilot mode crashes into California police car

Autotrivia Quiz

Breakfast with Automania

Natter Nosh and Noggin

Toyota joins the Cross-Over party

GMH looking to Thailand for assistance

Honda standardizes advanced driver-assist safety technologies

B-Quik signs a lady

What did we learn from Monaco?

Autotrivia Quiz



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