Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

Road rage increasing

caption Road rage

With the well publicized road rage that took place near the Suvarnabhumi airport, in which a pilot was shot, does this mean that we will see the same and more from now on? Unfortunately, I believe so, having encountered aggressive driving in Thailand on more than one occasion, with tailgating and flashing headlights.

Mind you, we are yet to get to the rage stage shown in the UK. In a national survey:
* Nearly 1 in 3 have been the victim of a road rage incident
* 50 percent are scared about driving on Britain’s roads because of other drivers
* Three quarters feel angry or stressed because of the way others drive
* Three quarters believe that the penalties for dangerous driving should be harsher

The survey, for leading car hire comparator, questioned people across the UK about their experiences on the roads, with three quarters saying they get angry or stressed because of the hazardous way other people drive.

No wonder, when the survey found that 92 percent have seen drivers speeding in a 50 km an hour zone; 80 percent have seen cars weaving around motorway traffic to get ahead; and 77 percent have seen drivers tailgating another vehicle at speed (over 110 km/hr).

Add to this the fact that 50 percent have seen someone drive up a one-way street the wrong way; and 17 percent have seen a driver reverse on a motorway, and the potential for tragic accidents is high.

Road rage incidents reported in the survey ranged from attacks on vehicles and verbal intimidation, to being pursued by another vehicle, being forced off the road, and physical violence, with some respondents punched, kicked and bullied.

Beyond aggression, the survey found that many drivers are still easily distracted. 93 percent of those questioned said they had seen drivers talking on a mobile phone, despite the known risks, while other distractions included drinking coffee; eating food; watching attractive women or men walking past; applying make up; messing with a sat nav or radio; and dealing with children arguing.

Three quarters of respondents believe that the penalties for dangerous driving should be much harsher to encourage more responsibility behind the wheel.

“It seems that despite all of the campaigns for safe driving, some people continue to put their own, and other people's, lives in danger through their actions on the roads,” adds Gareth Robinson, managing director of “It’s unbelievable to think that drivers would even contemplate reversing up the motorway or attacking someone, but they don’t seem to consider the potentially tragic consequences of their actions.

The sad part is all those examples of dangerous driving also happen here.
Post script - I have just visited a chap in hospital here, having been run off the road on his step-through in a road rage episode. He received a broken leg. It could have been worse. All very sad for Thailand, I am afraid.

Zero to 100 km/h under one second


No, it’s not an F1 car. No, it’s not supercharged, it’s not even a car - it is the KillaCycle, billed as being the world’s fastest electric motorcycle (not to mention the fastest EV of any type). Among other things, the owners advise other aspiring E-crotch-rocket-makers to use heated lithium-ion phosphate batteries in a well-designed pack, implement a good battery management system, and to use parallel power flows instead of gathering the current. I also suggest roping yourself to the seat to stop flying off the back of the bike.

The hype around the KillaCycle is only part of the interest in electric motorcycles, with experts now predicting that the magic 100 mph lap of the TT Circuit at the Isle of Man (IOM) will be broken this year. The top performer is the MotoCzysz (pronounced ‘MotoSiss’) which has been clocked at 260 kph and has already won the IOM TT Zero class last year and an e-race at Laguna Seca in the USA. The electric bike also produces 340 Nm of torque, which should definitely be enough to break the magic ton. My motorcycle correspondent Alan Coates will be at the IOM TT (as usual) again, and will report directly on the races. Watch this space.

Ferrari SUV?

PHOTO: (((pic 3))) Ferrari FF

The international press is going wild over the Ferrari FF, a four seater and 4WD and space for luggage in the rear section. In some ways a Porsche Panamera, styled by Pininfarina. It can comfortably accommodate four people and their luggage, thanks to the best cabin space and boot capacity (450 liters extendable to 800) figures in its category, including four door cars. A people carrier with performance which will make its official debut at the upcoming Geneva Motor Show.
The technology is all Ferrari, including the lightweight 4WD system, with the latest magnetorheological damping system, and a transaxle dual-clutch F1 style gearbox.
According to the news from overseas, Ferrari’s exclusive, patented 4RM (four-wheel drive) weighs 50 percent less than a conventional 4WD system, producing a weight distribution of 53 percent over the rear axle. Completely integrated with the car’s electronic dynamic control systems, the four-wheel drive technology delivers record levels of performance on all terrains and in all conditions via continuous and intelligent predictive torque distribution to all four wheels.
The FF is also equipped with the latest magnetorheological damping system (SCM3), as well as the most recent development in carbon-ceramic brakes from Brembo.
The engine is a new 6,262 cc direct injection engine which develops 660 hp at 8,000 rpm. The zero to 100 km/h is still in the supercar bracket at 3.7 seconds.
According to Ferrari, the FF is a very practical supercar with a wide range of uses covering everything from city driving, on low grip or snow-covered surfaces and even on the track.
Almost a bespoke tourer, there are six model-specific exterior colors and interior trim incorporating specially selected and treated aniline leather.
And yes, just by the way, you will need a very large wallet.

Depreciation - the financial killer

I think everyone knows that when you drive your new car out of the showroom, you just lost at least 15 percent of the purchase price as you hit the street. And then by the end of 12 months ownership, you will have lost a great deal more.
The following figures were derived from UK statistics, but a similar analogy can be made for Thailand.
The best performers of 2010
Daihatsu Terios 14 percent loss
Kia Picanto 20 percent loss
Kia Rio 22 percent loss
Fiat 500 22 percent loss
Volkswagen Polo 22 percent loss
Mazda 2 23 percent loss
The biggest losers of 2010
Maybach 57 44 percent loss
Maybach 62 43 percent loss
M-Benz SL-Class AMG 40 percent loss
Bentley Brooklands 36 percent loss
Ferrari 612 34 percent loss
Lamborghini Gallardo 31 percent loss
Bentley Arnage 30 percent loss
Ferrari 599 GTB Coupe 28 percent loss
Rolls-Royce Phantom Saloon 27 percent loss
Rolls-Royce Phantom Drophead 26 percent loss
The Parker’s depreciation report is an annual investigation based on the average private resale values for 12 month old cars with 16,000 km on the clock. For example, in 2010 the Kia Picanto lost just 1,247. Because of the low purchase price the depreciation for the Kia Picanto was around 20 percent meaning that sellers will get around 80 percent of the original purchase price after a year of ownership. A general trend shown in the results is that average depreciation for the year was slightly higher, at 34 percent, compared to 2009’s 33 percent average.

The ‘real’ fuel miser from VW


At the Qatar motor show Volkswagen showed the XL1 Super Efficient Vehicle concept following on from the L1 concept in 2009.

Side by side two seater, instead of the L1’s passenger behind the driver, the new car has an 800 cc twin-cylinder engine, as opposed to the L1’s 299 cc single-cylinder diesel engine. The new car is more efficient, using 0.75 liters per 100 km where the L1 used 0.99 L/100 km. The XL1's diesel engine produces 35 kW of power and 120 Nm of torque, while the electric motor generates 20 kW and another 100 Nm of torque. The engine mates to the small plug-in electric motor that can either power the car alone using battery power, or step in to assist the diesel engine when needed. The engine and electric motor provide drive to the rear wheels using a seven-speed dual-clutch gearbox.
To show just how economical this VW concept really is, the fuel consumption figure for the Toyota’s Prius hybrid is 3.9 L/100 km, round about four times greater than this new XL1.

Over 15,000km of driving, the XL1 will use a little more than 110 liters of fuel. By comparison, the Prius will use more than 580 liters of fuel.

The XL1 weighs 795kg, by using a carbon fiber skin and a range of weight-saving technologies that have the potential to make their way into more conventional Volkswagen models.

These include the bucket seats, which weigh just 40 kg each, and lightweight ceramic brakes. Plastic panels are also reinforced with carbon fiber.

Main metal components contribute 184 kg in weight. Other metal components include magnesium wheels and aluminium components for the shock absorbers, the steering system and brake calipers and the whole drive-train weighs 227 kg. The electric motor and its battery system add another 105 kg. Performance has the 0-100 km/h sprint at 11.9 seconds and the top speed is limited to 160 km/h.

According to Volkswagen, the XL1 uses technology that makes it “viable for series production”, suggesting it could go on sale within the next few years. “Although the XL1 is still very much a concept, its unveiling marks the next step towards the birth of a new class of super-efficient vehicles, while the advent of a process such as reinforcing plastics with carbon fiber is a significant milestone,” a VW spokesman said.