by Dr. Iain Corness
VW finds itself in bother
The popular press has been all agog with the news that VW has been fudging the
pollution tests for its diesel variants. The venom that is coming forward is
just one level below burning at the stake, or hanging, drawing and quartering.
A couple of weeks ago I commented on the fact that Dr Winterkorn was involved in
an internal power struggle with former chairman Ferdinand Piech, the grandson of
Ferdinand Porsche and patriarch of the Porsche family which owns 51 percent of
voting rights at Volkswagen. Dr. Piech lost that vote and now must be laughing
as Dr Winterkorn has to face the baying press and politicians.
But is this angst warranted? One of the regulars at the Pattaya Car Club
meetings, Chris Davison, has responded to the calls for blood with what I
believe is a very valid argument. Chris asserts: “If (stupid) politicians and
bureaucrats come up with unnecessary hoops for engineers to jump through then
you cannot be surprised if the clever people who really ‘make the world go
round’ find ways to fool the idiots.
“More strength to VW in this case.
“There is nothing so petty as a minor bureaucrat who finds that his ‘own’ little
regulation has been bypassed. VW devised a system to exploit the ‘rules’, their
vehicles passed the compulsory test as and when required. The engineers gave the
car the ‘software’ to pass the mandated tests as well as give proper performance
out on the road. The test-passing mapping of the engine would probably render
the vehicle undriveable in proper conditions.
“All the fuss is mere ‘bureaucratic pique’ that their petty regulations were
“And when you get to ‘pique noise’ you realize that you have reached the
pettiest end of the bureaucratic spectrum. The treasury will by crying into
their beer at the thought of the ‘Green Taxes’ they have missed! My heart bleeds
for them (NOT).
“It is well known that the official tests have no valid relationship to actual
‘on-the-road’ conditions. This is regularly commented on in various places and
has been since ‘Official’ tests were introduced and their results published for
‘Public Information’, so no one should be surprised when real life does not
match up to political cloud-cuckoo land.
“Politicians are rarely engineers or scientists so should have no input into
Thank you Chris. When one starts looking objectively, the accusatory finger may
be pointed at the wrong sources. Air pollutants originate from many human
activities. Most pollutants come from industries that manufacture chemicals and
other goods, from on- and off-road vehicles and power equipment, and from energy
facilities that burn oil, gas or coal. However, like car taxes, the motor car is
a sitting duck for the pollution crusaders and the regulators with their
arbitrary allowable emission levels.
VW has indeed broached the regulations, but are the “allowable” levels really
sensible? Or did some politician toss a coin in the air?
Will we be driving an Apple?
Brandon Bailey, Associated Press
San Francisco - Apple is speeding up work on a project that could lead to the
California tech giant building its own electric car, according to a new report.
The maker of iPhones and iPads is tripling the number of engineers on the
project, code-named Titan, and has set a “ship date” of 2019, the Wall Street
Journal said Monday. The newspaper said that could just be a target for
engineers to sign off on the design, not necessarily when a car would be
available for sale.
Apple declined comment Monday on the Journal report, which cited unidentified
While Apple has never officially confirmed it plans to build a car, there are
strong indications it’s at least interested in automotive technology. Apple has
hired a number of engineers with backgrounds in automotive and battery design.
Apple representatives also met in May with officials at an automotive testing
facility east of San Francisco. Site officials later confirmed to the Associated
Press that Apple requested information about using their facility.
And last month, an Apple attorney met with officials at California’s Department
of Motor Vehicles to discuss the state’s rules for self-driving cars. A
department spokesman confirmed that meeting to the Associated Press on Monday,
after it was reported by the Guardian newspaper.
“DMV often meets with various companies regarding DMV operations. The Apple
meeting was to review DMV’s autonomous vehicle regulations,” said Armando
Botello, the agency’s deputy director, in an email.
A number of automakers and tech companies, including Google and Uber, are
working on technology for autonomous and electric-powered vehicles. Google
announced last week that it’s hired former Hyundai U.S. CEO John Krafcik to run
its self-driving car program.
Analysts say Apple has the financial resources and ambition to design and build
a high-end vehicle, although some believe it’s more likely interested in
developing software for use in cars made by other companies.
“We believe the auto industry represents a significant opportunity for Apple,
but we also expect Apple to be deliberate as always in its product development
and testing,” said Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster in a Sept. 1 report.
What did we learn from the Japan GP?
Well, we learned that the man who can beat Nico Rosberg is
Nico Rosberg. After fluffing the start in his Mercedes, slipping from pole to
number four, he was never in the hunt for the top step of the podium. The body
language standing on the second step on the podium said it all. A broken man. He
can forget about world championship aspirations.
A worthy winner was Rosberg’s team mate Lewis Hamilton. After the first two
corners, he ran away and hid. However, I am a little tired of the adulation he
is receiving for having equaled Ayrton Senna’s 41 GP victories. Senna was killed
before he could add to his total. Even Vettel has 42 wins, and neither one is
anywhere near Schumacher’s 90 odd.
The start once again demonstrated the old adage that you do not win the race at
the first corner, you only lose the race at the first corner. Felipe Massa
(Williams), who has had more races than I have had hot dinners, should know that
by now, and Ricciardo should also know this. Two drivers who could have livened
up the action at the front of the field let themselves, their teams, and the
Vettel, of the one fingered salute, had to wave with three, but deserved his
third place. Never gave up and drove the Ferrari in a faultless manner.
Raikkonen was unimpressive in the second Ferrari coming in fourth. Kimi has
signed his contract for 2016, so he can go back to sleep again.
Valtteri Bottas (fifth in the surviving Williams), was unable to maintain his
position as a challenger to Rosberg and was passed by the Ferraris, after
looking secure in the early part of the race.
Another workmanlike drive from Nico Hulkenberg (FIndia) saw him lead both the
“Lotus” of Grosjean and Maldonado home. An amazing drive from the Venezuelan who
never hit anything, or anyone, all afternoon (for a change).
The final point scorers were the Toro Rosso twins, the feisty Max Verstappen and
Carlos Sainz Jnr. Verstappen, in particular, is willing to have a go and pulled
off some amazing passing maneuvers including an audacious one on his team mate.
The impetuousness of youth?
The also-rans included both Red Bulls, with Kvyat suffering from a lack of
set-up on his Sunday car, having comprehensively destroyed his Saturday one, and
Ricciardo trying to do the same to his on the Sunday. Much rumor as to which
power unit Red Bull will have for next year. Mercedes has said no, Ferrari are
reluctant, Renault nobody wants and Honda can’t even give theirs away for free.
The concept of Red Bull being bought by VW just went up in a puff of smoke,
leaving Red Bull in the hands of Dietrich Mateschitz, who is publicly bored with
the F1 scene (if he’s not winning). Watch this space.
After Honda was roundly chastised in Japan at the Honda circuit by both its
drivers, with Alonso even repeating “It’s embarrassing,” there would have been
at least a dozen Hara-Kiri mats and disemboweling swords ordered for Monday. It
is almost impossible to believe that the mighty Honda engineering department can
make an engine so far down on power that neither Alonso nor Button could prevent
being passed by cars that are usually back markers.
The next GP is in Russia on October 11.
German car-maker Borgward has made the next step in its comeback to the
automotive world after more than half a century away, with the unveiling last
week of its BX7 SUV.
A plug-in electric hybrid version and an up-spec TS luxury version will be part
of the brand’s return to the global automotive market next year, with hopes of
selling vehicles to the European region, as well as in China where the cars are
set to be built.
The venture, reportedly backed by Chinese commercial vehicle-maker Foton, has
lofty goals of selling more than half a million vehicles and expanding the range
Borgward CEO Ulrich Walker said the target was to turn the brand – resurrected
by Christian Borgward, president of Borgward AG and grandson of founder Carl F W
Borgward – into a major international automobile manufacturer.
Last week I mentioned that the quest for lightness is easily
found in Formula racing. In 1966 there was even one with a stressed skin plywood
hull. What was it? It was the 1966 Protos open wheel racer.
So to this week. What was remarkable about the clutch pedal on the Chaparral 2D
which won the 1000 km race at Nurburgring in 1966?
For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email