BIMS sales show promise for 2019
How many cars were sold at the Bangkok
International Motor Show? There was no surprise on the Toyota stand, with 6110
orders taken during the 40th Bangkok International Motor Show (BIMS),
with only Mazda (5211 orders) and Honda (4910) getting close.
MG continues to grow in Thailand. Now well entrenched in
this country, MG continued to become a major player with 2225 orders. Compare
that to Nissan with 2255 and Suzuki at 2319 or Mitsubishi at 3019 orders.
One manufacturer which I expected to do better was Ford
with only 1836 orders. However, compare that to Chevrolet with only 532, but
both well beaten by Mitsubishi at 3019.
As in previous years, Mercedes outsold BMW, with 2405
orders taken versus 1569. Neither of these two German manufacturers have cars at
the lower end of the sales spectrum, and Mercedes does look more up-market than
At the stratospheric end of the market, there were 22
people with deep enough pockets to order a Maserati, 10 bought a Lamborghini, 9
ordered an Aston Martin, 6 (yes, six) ordered a Rolls-Royce, 5 wanted a Bentley,
but McLaren were out for a duck despite offering test drives to the well-heeled.
Minimizing risk in ride hailing
Chicago (AP) - Whenever Rachel Orden calls for an
Uber, the 20-year-old Michigan State University sophomore immediately walks to
the back of the vehicle to check the license plate number, then opens the door
and waits for the driver to say her name before getting in.
Even then, she devises a backup plan in case she feels
uncomfortable. "How could I get out? Could I unlock the door? Who do I have on
speed dial? Could I jump out safely if I needed to? All that goes through my
mind," said Orden, of Naples, Florida, who uses the ride-hailing service about
once a week, usually when going out at night. She said the March 29 slaying of
University of South Carolina student Samantha Josephson, who mistakenly got into
a vehicle she thought was her Uber ride, has made her even more cautious.
It also has prompted law enforcement agencies and
ride-hailing companies to intensify efforts to warn passengers against getting
in without checking to ensure both the vehicle and driver are legitimate.
Although no official tallies exist, there have been several high-profile cases
involving would-be robbers and assailants posing as ride-hailing drivers — often
Lyft said it also provides photos of the driver and
information about the vehicle, and some Lyft vehicles have a display on
dashboards that changes color to match the passengers' app to help them identify
their ride. "We ... are always exploring new, innovative ways to improve the
experience for all users, and most importantly, to keep our community safe," the
Are today’s cars too good?
I have a 10 year old car I drive to work. I have a 20 year
old car I keep for sentimental reasons. I have a 40 year old car that I have
modified for racing and put a “new” 20 year old engine in it.
Compare those cars with 10, 20, 40 year old cars of the
1960’s. Rust was the biggest problem with the cars four decades ago. Engines
didn’t last either. The power wasn’t there. Climbing some hills was a heart in
the mouth exercise. Brakes? Not all models had hydraulic brakes, but many were
still cable actuated. I can remember lying in the dirt, clicking over the
adjustment in the drum to try and get the rear brakes to act together.
Even windscreen wipers were exciting. The mid-50’s Ford
Customlines had vacuum operated wipers. Lift the accelerator and the wipers went
mad, but put the foot on the accelerator and the wipers stopped! Going up hills
in the rain was quite a task.
Steering was ‘vague’ at best as very few cars had rack and
pinion back then. Worm and peg was common. Did you push the peg out, turn it 90
degrees to take the slop out of the steering which had gone from 6 turns lock to
lock to 8 turns? Power steering? How strong were you?
Headlights? Remember the early VW’s with the 6 volt system.
At anything over 50 kph you tripped over your own headlights. Now we have car
headlights that can illuminate the other side of the moon.
An old Morry
In the rain we used to go out to enjoy sliding around the
roundabouts – now the on-board computer reduces the power to the driven wheels
to stop the slide.
The new cars may be very comfortable and smooth, but they
are dull to drive.
What did we learn from China?
I hope the Chinese enjoyed their Grand Prix, as from my
chair in Fletcher’s Folly, it was rather boring. It was the same old script, be
first into the first corner and you just leave the others behind.
Even though Bottas (Mercedes) had pole (again), he fluffed
the start (again) and trailed Hamilton (Mercedes) to complete another 1-2 for
the three pointed star (again). Bottas gave the reason he could not keep up as
“dirty air” (again).
Ferrari’s star Sebastian Vettel came third, but a long way
off the Mercedes silver arrows. Vettel was another who fluffed the start,
allowing the young rookie Charles Leclerc to climb into 4th behind
Verstappen (Red Bull). Unfortunately for the young lad, Vettel convinced the
Ferrari pit was that he was quicker than his team mate, resulting in Leclerc
being told to let Vettel through. After the pit stops, Leclerc then found
himself behind Verstappen and remained in that position to the flag.
Further back, Pierre Gasly (Red Bull) took sixth place
behind LeClerc while Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) took a lonely seventh ahead of
Sergio Perez (Force India now renamed Racing Point).
The final F1 points positions were wrapped up by Kimi
Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) and in 10th, Thai/Brit Alexander Albon (Torro
The bottom half of the field saw some action in the opening
laps, with “Torpedo” Kvyat (Toro Rosso) managing to hit both McLarens at the
same time, something we haven’t seen for some time. For his lack of judgment,
the stewards awarded a 10 second penalty on his race time, however he didn’t
finish so it didn’t matter.
George Russell and Robert Kubica in the Williams were the
final two running.
This was the 1,000th F1 Grand Prix since the
first which was held at Silverstone in 1950. Liberty Media, the owners of the F1
series missed a publicity opportunity to slot the Silverstone GP last weekend in
place of the Chinese, combining the 1st and the 1,000th.
One reason may be the fact that Liberty Media is a financial operation, not
Hamilton’s victory at the Shanghai International Circuit is
the 75th of Hamilton's career, his second of the 2019 season and sees him now
clear at the top of the driver standings for the first time this year.
The man of the meeting award went to Thai “luk kreung’
Alexander Albon who started from pit lane in the repaired Toro Rosso and
The extra point for the fastest lap went to Gasly (Red
Bull) who slapped on a set of soft tyres two laps from the end to get the point.
All fairly pointless.
Nissan shareholders OK ouster of ex-chair
Tokyo (AP) — Nissan shareholders approved the ouster
from the Japanese automaker's board of its former chairman, Carlos Ghosn, who is
facing allegations of financial misconduct.
The approval, which was expected, was indicated by applause
from the more than 4,000 people gathered at a Tokyo hotel for a three-hour
extraordinary shareholders' meeting. Other votes had been submitted in advance.
An internal investigation, revealed payments of a
consultation fee to Ghosn's sister for 13 years. The investigation has also
found too much power had been focused in one person, he said. Ghosn’s salary was
USD 16 million.
Ken Miyamoto, 65, a Nissan shareholder, said he was
disappointed. "It is really such a pity as he was a brilliant manager," Miyamoto
said of Ghosn before heading into the meeting. "I guess he became complacent as
people kept praising him too much."
Ghosn says he is innocent of all allegations and has
suggested the accusations were made by some people at Nissan hoping to remove
him from power.
He has been charged with under-reporting his compensation
in financial documents, and with breach of trust in having Nissan shoulder
investment losses and making suspect payments to a Saudi businessman. Ghosn says
the compensation was never decided on or paid, no investment losses were
suffered by Nissan, and the payments were for legitimate services.
Ghosn was arrested in November, released on bail in early
March and then re-arrested for a fourth time last week. The latest arrest was in
connection with fresh allegations that $5 million sent by a Nissan Motor Co.
subsidiary and meant for an Oman dealership was diverted to a company
effectively controlled by Ghosn.
Yokohama-based Nissan, which makes the Leaf electric car,
March subcompact and Infiniti luxury models, was on the brink of bankruptcy when
Renault sent Ghosn to turn it around two decades ago.
How the mighty have fallen. It is only a few years ago that
Ghosn was considered the white knight to save Nissan (and Renault) and was
lauded for the turn-around he had managed. Now he is being pilloried and he
hasn’t even been given his time in court.
The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Motors alliance now rivals
auto giants Volkswagen AG of Germany and Japanese rival Toyota Motor Corp. in
Last week I asked some MG history. The letters XPAG and
XPEG do have a connection with the pre-Chinese MG’s. What was it? The XPAG was a
1200 cc engine (as used in the MGTC) and the XPEG was 1500 cc (as used in the
So to this week. Why did Rolls-Royce change the color of
the two R’s?
For the Automania dehydrated beer this week (just add hops
and water and store in a dark cupboard), be the first correct answer to email
[email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!
Oslo (AP) - In a symbolic first, electric cars
outsold fossil fuel-powered ones in Norway last month.
Christina Bu, the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association's
general secretary, said Monday that 58.4 percent of new cars sold in the country
in March were battery-powered, calling it "historically high."
Bu added that electric cars' share of the market in the
first three months of 2019 was 48.4 percent and is expected to hover around 50
percent for the whole year.
"Norway shows the whole world that the electric car can
replace cars powered by gasoline and diesel and be an important contribution in
the fight to reduce C02 emissions," Bu said in a statement.
Norway, a wealthy European nation of 5.3 million, has
provided big incentives to boost electric car sales. It waived hefty vehicle
import duties and registration and sales taxes for buyers of electric cars to
boost sales. Owners don't pay road tolls and use bus lanes in congested city
The perks, however, are to be phased out in 2021.
Norway's Parliament has voted to require that all new cars
sold in the Scandinavian country be electric by 2025.
Countries around the world are trying to encourage more
people to buy electric cars as part of the effort to reduce carbon emissions and
fight climate change. China, the world's biggest auto market, has also provided
big incentives as it tries to clean up the country's air pollution problem and
gain a lead in new technologies.
(Should we all stock up on gasoline? Not really, there’s
plenty of oil to be sucked out yet.)
Chinese GP this weekend
The Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai is this weekend. After
an interesting race two weeks ago in Bahrain, with Ferrari obviously the better
car and youngster Leclerc the better driver, we sincerely hope that close
competition will continue. On a circuit where passing is possible, it will be
interesting to see just how the passers Ricciardo in the Renault and Max
Verstappen will go with his Red Bull.
The race will start at 1 p.m. Thai time on Sunday, and we
watch in Fletcher’s Folly, Siam Country Club Road. Get there at noon for lunch
and an ale or three.
The history of the Grand Prix is interesting, where the GP
has had problems from day 1. The race debuted on 26 September 2004, and was won
by Ferrari's Rubens Barrichello. The following year, it hosted the final round
of the Formula One championship, in which the newly crowned world champion
Fernando Alonso won and claimed the constructor's title for Renault. In 2006,
the Chinese Grand Prix was won by Michael Schumacher - his last victory in
In November 2008 the BBC reported a senior race official,
Qiu Weichang, as suggesting that the loss-making race might be cancelled (as
Singapore and Malaysia at present). Following a similar announcement about the
French Grand Prix, Qiu Weichang said that the race's future was under
consideration, and a decision would be made in 2009.
2010 came and went with no formal announcement of an
extension to the initial seven race deal struck in 2004. However, immediately
after the 2010 Shanghai race Bernie Ecclestone, who managed the contracts with
the various circuits, said of the 2011 calendar, “We are not dropping anything.
[It's] 20 races - getting ready for 25”.
It was only in February 2011 that a deal was agreed between
F1 and the organizers of the Chinese round of the world championship. Reasons
for the delay appear to have been over the fee paid to F1 to host the race.
After racking up losses year after year, the organizers of the race refused to
pay the fee required, reported to be amongst the highest paid to host an F1
race. F1 bosses appear to have reduced the fee and the new agreement to host an
F1 race ran to 2017. What happens now with Bernie out of the equation and the
new owners of F1 in charge? Watch this space.
My car of the show
During motor shows you walk for kilometers, hoping that
something leaps out at you. For me it was the Ford Mustang, all mean and yellow.
This was closely followed by the new Nissan Teana (which just gets better and
better with each iteration).
Whilst I am a fan of Aston Martin, the Valkyrie is a joke.
300 million baht and it is a track car only.
No, it is the Mustang for the weekends and the Teana as the
drive car during the week.
Hyundai finds new engine problem,
prompting another recall
Tom Krisher, AP Auto Writer
Detroit (AP) - Hyundai has found a new problem that
can cause its car engines to fail or catch fire, issuing yet another recall to
fix problems that have affected more than 6 million vehicles during the past 3 ½
The Korean automaker, under pressure from safety
regulators, is recalling about 20,000 Veloster cars in the U.S. and Canada
because fuel can prematurely ignite in the cylinders around the pistons. That
can cause excessive pressure and damage the engine, causing vehicles to stall
and in some cases catch fire, according to Hyundai documents posted Friday by
the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
It's a different problem from what has caused the rest of
the recalls since 2015 from Hyundai and its affiliated automaker Kia, which have
been plagued by engine failures and fires across the U.S.
The recall, which covers only the 2013 Veloster with
1.6-liter engines, is due to a software problem that has been found only in that
model year and not in other Hyundai engines, company spokesman Michael Stewart
said. Kia spokesman James Bell said in a statement that the automaker didn't use
any engines from the plant that made Veloster engines.
Jason Levine, executive director of the Center for Auto
Safety, a consumer group that has petitioned the government seeking more Hyundai
and Kia recalls, said the fire and engine problems keep spreading to more
"This recall raises the question of whether we are even
beyond the tip of the iceberg with these non-crash fires with both of these
manufacturers," Levine said. "How many times are we going to hear from either
Hyundai or Kia that these circumstances are unique to a particular model and
then have another recall or fire situation announced weeks or months later?"
Hyundai said in documents that it has been analyzing fire
claims from owners and reporting the findings to NHTSA, which in December raised
questions about the Veloster. The company traced the problem to engine control
software in vehicles made at the Ulsan plant in South Korea from April 26, 2012
to Oct. 16, 2013, according to documents.
While claims were high for the 2013 model, they decreased
starting in 2014, the company wrote. Software was updated on vehicles at the
factory in October of 2013, the company said. Hyundai wrote that it's not aware
of any crashes or injuries.
Dealers will install updated software on the recalled cars.
Owners will be notified starting May 13.
In February, Kia announced that it would recall the Soul
small SUV with the same-size engine due to fire and engine failure problems, but
Stewart said that was for a problem that was different from the Veloster.
The Soul recall covered nearly 379,000 vehicles from 2012
through 2016. Documents showed that high exhaust gas temperatures can damage the
catalytic converters, which control pollution. That can cause abnormal
combustion and damage pistons and connecting rods. A failed connecting rod can
pierce the engine block and cause oil leaks that can cause fires.
So far Hyundai and Kia have recalled about 2.4 million
vehicles to fix problems that can cause fires and engine failures since 2015. In
addition, the automakers are doing a "product improvement campaign" covering
another 3.7 million vehicles to install software that will alert drivers of
possible engine failures and send the cars into a reduced-speed "limp" mode if
problems are detected.
Both automakers are under investigation by NHTSA for
potentially being slow to fix faulty vehicles.
The Center for Auto Safety says it has found more than 300
Hyundai-Kia fire complaints in a government database, which is high compared
with similar vehicles. Levine has said fire complaints to NHTSA have come from
across the country, including a death in Ohio in April of 2017.
Last week I asked some Porsche history. What was the
difference between the 72 Porsche 911 and the 73 911 horn grilles? An easy one,
especially if you owned a ‘long bonnet’ Porsche. The 72 had chromed horn
grilles, while the 73 were black.
So to this week. MG’s seem to be everywhere these days, but
have zero connection with Cecil Kimber and the MG’s of old, no matter how the
current owners try and make out. However, the letters XPAG and XPEG do have a
connection with the pre-British MG’s. What was it?
K3 MG. A real
For the Automania dehydrated beer this week (just add hops
and water and store in a dark cupboard), be the first correct answer to email
[email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!
BIMS – the healthy program
Did your doctor tell you to get more
exercise? Jogging didn’t appeal? Too cold for swimming? Then try going to motor
At our Bangkok Motor Show (incidentally the
40th such show) I had walked from the hotel to the Challenger Hall twice before
the event was officially open. Of course, this was mainly due to poor
preparation on my part, in forgetting to take the thumb drive with me. Returning
to my room in the Novotel I then found I had brought the wrong set of keys from
my office, the set with no thumb drive attached. Turning back to the Press Room
I did the usual begging thing and a spare thumb drive was found.
It was a promotional USB drive and after
the euphoria of thinking I was now able to proceed, I found it wouldn’t play on
the Challenger Hall computer. It did however tell me to scan the thumb drive.
With my digital age ability, this was an impossibility. Normally I get my 13
year old son to do these tasks, but he was in school. More begging and a
computer savvy chappy got it all up and running.
And so it was into the show and more
walking. I was informed by someone a lot younger than me that the exhibition
hall was 600 meters in length, so up and back was one km. This meant that by
lunchtime I had already covered 4 km, and I hadn’t even got to the car
Returning after a quick coffee and a
sandwich I entered the exposition hall again and was waylaid by the Rolls-Royce
stand. There it was, in all its obese grandeur, the SUV to eclipse all other
SUV’s - the huge R-R Cullinan. Like a middle-aged matron, displaying her
necklaces willed to her many years before. A Toyota Fortuna with bling and
steroids. But it does have dinky hub caps that always stop the correct way with
R-R the right way up. That’s worth another million baht over the Fortuna.
SUV’s are the current fad, especially
expensive ones. SUV’s that are used to pick up children weekdays and groceries
at the weekend. Off-road? Only mis-judging and driving over the kerb in the
supermarket car park.
You can of course go the cheapie road and
get a Porsche Cayenne or a Bentley Bentayga or Maserati Levante. By comparison,
the Isuzu MU 10’s of the plebian SUV set.
While on the automotive weight watchers, it
is interesting to see that cars follow people. Obesity is the name of the game.
One of my favorite cars of a few years back was the Mazda MX-5. A true sportscar
for the masses. Small, light, perfectly balanced, with just enough power to make
driving fun. It has become so fat that it is now more of a sedan.
One concept group which took the interest
of the local motoring press was the MINe City EV. This is an all-Thai project,
using an electric motor generating 160 BHP and giving a maximum speed of 120
kilometers per hour. The battery is Lithium-ion 30 kWh which can power the MINe
for up to 200 km.
Motor Show MINe.
The charging time is 1 hour per 1 charge or
DC Quick Charger mode takes 15 minutes to charge to 80 percent. Standard service
charges are 50 baht for one hour, 80 baht for two hours, 110 baht for three
hours and 150 baht for four hours.
The car has a length of 3.3 meters, width
1.7 meters, height 1.6 meters, and weight 900 kg.
What else was there at the Bangkok
International Motor Show, which caught my attention? The best looking cars were
definitely on the Aston Martin stand, other than their jewel, the Valkyrie.
Designed by Adrian Newey, this had a nominal value of 300 million baht and only
25 examples will be built. Don’t believe it. Especially the one on the stand
which did not have an engine at all (supposedly a 6.5 liter V12 developing 1,100
BHP) using F1 technology in the suspension and brakes.
When the car does have an engine, it can
(reputedly) cover zero to 60 in 2.5 seconds and has a top speed of 402 km/h.
Well past take-off speed for your average Boeing.
One car that did arouse much interest was
the new (10th generation) Honda Accord which, for my money at least, is the top
affordable limousine style vehicle at the show, outshining the Toyota Camry or
the Nissan Teana. Styling is today, whilst Camry and Teana are looking dated.
Honda gives you two engine choices, the
first being a 1.5 liter V-Tec Turbo developing 190 BHP and torque of 243 Nm
while the second engine choice is 2 liters with two electric motors developing
215 BHP with switchable modes being electric battery, hybrid or engine power
If you are in the market for luxury and
style, have a good look at the Accord.
Hamilton lucks the win in Bahrain
Bahrain saw new Ferrari
signing Charles Leclerc dominant, setting pole position and streaking away from
team mate Sebastian Vettel. He was so close to his maiden F1 podium he would
have won easily but with 12 laps to go, an engine malfunction resulted in a loss
of 160 BHP, slowing him so much that Hamilton and Bottas (Mercedes) were able to
reel him in.
Ferrari team boss Binotto expects the fault
will have a straightforward fix and is not related to how the team runs its
engine. He showed confusion reigning supreme, saying after the race, “I think
what happened, even if we have not a clear understanding now and we are still
looking into it, it is a single problem that will be easily addressed. So it’s
not related to the way we’re using the engine mapping or whatever. It has to be,
let me say, a single component failure. We’ll find out.” Ferrari has two weeks
to fix it! Not as much as Leclerc wants it fixed.
Renault team principal Cyril Abiteboul
described the team’s double failure in the Bahrain Grand Prix as “frustrating
Abiteboul admitted the team has made “a
very bad start” to the season. (That was putting it mildly!) “Similar to
Melbourne, our qualifying in Bahrain was massively compromised by minor
electronics issues, which impacted both cars.
“Our race today came to a sudden stop so
close to the finish. These are issues we have previously encountered but
something we were unable to rectify in Bahrain. These problems are increasingly
frustrating and unacceptable as both cars have shown very good competitiveness
both over one-lap and race runs,” said Abiteboul, who added the team must “react
and shift our focus on reliability.”
Renault also managed automotive
synchronized racing, with both cars expiring with three laps to go, while in a
Back to the front runners and Vettel
(Ferrari) had another race to forget. Taking the lead at the start over his team
mate, he was hunted down and passed by Leclerc, to then fall into the clutches
of Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes), and then spin unaided, damaging his tyres so much
that the vibrations shook the front wing off!
A much better race in Bahrain with
scrapping (and scraping) all the way down the field. The usual first lap
suspects in trouble were Lance Stroll (Racing Point Indian Takeaway) and Romain
Grosjean (Hasn’t got it right yet). Surprises were McLaren being in the points
for most of the race, while Ricciardo’s strategist got it all wrong dropping the
Australian out of the points before the Renault imploded.
Songkran death days coming up
Bangkok – The
cabinet has acknowledged an integrated plan for road accident prevention and
reduction during the Songkran festival this year.
The Assistant Government Spokeswoman, Col.
Taksada Sangkhachan, said the plan was proposed by the Road Safety
Col. Taksada said the plan will be carried
out from April 11th to 17th, 2019, to ensure the safety of travelers throughout
the country during the long holiday of the traditional Thai New Year.
She said the authorities will launch
awareness campaigns about drink driving and how to drive safely.
(That plan is nowhere near enough. Once
again the powers that be are ignoring the 80 percent of road fatalities caused
by motorcycle riders with no helmets.)
Last week I asked for
knowledge on the Jaguar Mk7. British Jaguars used Grace, Space and Pace as their
motto. This was very much so in the early 50’s when Jaguar added the Mk7 saloon
to the XK 120 in the showrooms. There was another called the Mk7 M. What was the
difference between the two Mk7’s, and why? This was relatively easy.
Manufacturing in the early days of Browns Lane was somewhat haphazard. The Mk 5
chassis was used on the Mk7 and 7M so the underpinnings were the same. Mk 8 was
a 7M with uprated body (no central divider on the windscreen, for example). The
horn grilles are different and the fog lamps are in a different position on the
bumper bar. The electrics were also different between the two Mk7’s with the M
getting Mk8 wiring.
So to this week. Let’s look at some Porsche
history. What was the difference between the 72 Porsche 911 and the 73 911 horn
For the Automania dehydrated beer this week
(just add hops and water), be the first correct answer to email
[email protected] or
[email protected] . Good luck!