by Dr. Iain Corness
Saturday, Dec. 9 - Dec. 15, 2017
New-vehicle quality improves to historic high
J.D. Power finds Ford and Toyota
receive Initial Quality awards in three segments each; Honda receives one
The number of problems reported per 100 vehicles (PP100) by new-vehicle
owners has hit a record low this year, with the decline reported across all
vehicle component categories except vehicle interior, according to the J.D.
Power 2017 Thailand Initial Quality StudySM (IQS).
Overall initial quality
averages 83 PP100 in 2017-down four problems from 87 PP100 in 2016-and is
the best performance experienced by the industry since the study was
launched in 2000. All problems are summarized as the number of problems per
100 vehicles (PP100), with lower PP100 scores indicating a lower incidence
of problems and, therefore, higher initial quality.
Quality is consistent
or has improved in all vehicle component categories with the exception of
vehicle interior, as new owners report more problems related to the quality
of interior materials, as well as squeak or rattle noises from the
instrument and door panels and storage compartments. Problems with exterior,
however, remain the most frequently reported compared to other problems
measured in vehicle component categories.
“As car manufacturers
are competing more fiercely to preserve and increase their market share in a
stagnating market environment, product quality improvement clearly is an
area for focus,” said Siros Satrabhaya, Country Manager at J.D. Power. “It
is also gratifying for new buyers to receive better designed and better
built vehicles at a similar price. The shift in sources of dissatisfaction
toward usability issues is also noteworthy, particularly in relation to
vehicle interior, which has become the second-most-influential component
category regarding overall satisfaction with initial quality this year,
after driving experience.”
Those customers who
experience fewer problems with their vehicle have stronger intentions to
keep their vehicle for longer - the study finds that owners who expect to
keep their vehicle for more than 5 years experience just 79 PP100 on average
compared with 103 PP100 among owners who expect to own their vehicle for 5
years or less. Moreover, the former group is more likely to definitely
recommend their vehicle model and brand, compared to the latter group (69
percent and 59 percent vs. 57 percent and 46 percent, respectively).
Following are some of
the key findings of the study:
operation of features: Owners who received detailed explanations on the
operation of their vehicle features at delivery report fewer problems than
those who do not (83 PP100 vs. 91 PP100, respectively).
Engine performance: The
problem most frequently reported in 2017 in comparison to 2016 is the lack
of engine power when turned on for the first time on a given day, after a
stop or at low speeds (to 2.6 PP100 in 2017 from 1.4 PP100 in 2016). The
problem is one of the top five most frequently reported problems in the 2017
loyalty: Loyalty and repurchase intentions are proportional to customer
satisfaction with overall vehicle quality. Among delighted owners, 77
percent say they “definitely would” recommend their vehicle model and 67
percent say they “definitely would” repurchase their vehicle brand; among
disappointed or indifferent owners, only 42 percent would recommend their
vehicle model to others and 30 percent would repurchase the same brand of
Ford receives three
model-level awards: for the Everest (56 PP100) in the large SUV segment; the
Ranger Hi-Rider X-Cab (80 PP100) in the pickup extended cab segment; and the
Ranger D-Cab (60 PP100) in the pickup double cab segment.
Toyota also receives
awards in three segments: for the Yaris (76 PP100) in the compact car
segment; the Vios (54 PP100) in the entry midsize car segment; and the
Corolla Altis (46 PP100) in the midsize car segment.
The Honda HR-V (62
PP100) ranks highest in the compact SUV segment.
The 2017 Thailand
Initial Quality Study (IQS) is based on responses from 4,866 new-vehicle
owners who purchased their vehicle from November 2016 through July 2017. The
study covers 12 different brands that include 76 passenger car, pickup truck
and utility vehicle models. The study was fielded from May through September
The study measures
problems experienced by new-vehicle owners during the first two to six
months of ownership and examines more than 200 problem symptoms in eight
component categories (listed in order of frequency of reported problems):
vehicle exterior; engine/ transmission; driving experience; vehicle
interior; heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC); audio, entertainment and
navigation (ACEN); features, controls and displays; and seats.
F1 on holidays for the next three months
The final GP was held in
Abu Dhabi at the Yawn Marina circuit (sorry, that was the Yas Marina circuit).
Once again, the desert served up the most forgettable Grand Prix of the year. No
‘down to the wire’ stuff as the World Driver’s championship had already been
decided. No ‘down to the wire’ stuff as the Constructor’s championship was also
out of reach. All that was left, was which Mercedes would win. The monosyllabic
glum looking Valtteri Bottas of Finland or England’s favorite rapper Lewis
Hamilton, complete with stubble and granny glasses.
Bottas secured pole
position over Hamilton and the position at the front stayed the same for however
many boring laps it took for the checkered flag to fall.
Third was the cranky German
Sebastian Vettel in the Ferrari and fourth his team mate, the equally
monosyllabic Kimi Raikkonen famous for the rejoinder “Leave me alone, I know
what I am doing.”
The only front runner to
look at all interesting was Daniel Ricciardo, but his Red Bull ran out of
bottles of Red Bull and that was his race run. His team mate Super Cloggie Max
Verstappen said afterwards that if he had had a pillow in his car, he would have
gone to sleep. So did we, the spectators.
The TV coverage tried to
add a little excitement while we watched the 17th and
battle it out. “After you, no, after you.”
So if you missed the
telecast on Kim’s big screen, don’t fret, you missed nothing.
F1 Liberty spicing up F1?
In the meantime the new
owner of F1 (Liberty Media) is trying to keep the excitement at fever pitch
with release of such nail-biting information that the Sauber Team next year
will be called Alfa Romeo. A neat Italian bit of badge engineering as the
2017 engines were out of date Ferrari ones that were past their use-by date
anyway, so all that they have to do is grind off the Ferrari name from the
rocker covers and stamp Alfa Romeo on them instead.
Mercedes-Benz will have to sell a few more Mercs to pay for Lewis Hamilton’s
new contract - worth around $210 million.
Hamilton, 32, is
expected to agree terms on the three-year package that will move him in line
with Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, who has been the best-paid driver on the
grid for the past two years.
Hamilton’s current deal
expires at the end of 2018 but he wants to renegotiate terms while he is at
the top of his game.
Mercedes are desperate
to keep hold of their prized asset and do not want to risk losing him to
rivals Ferrari or Red Bull.
The huge sum is
expected to be worth almost $192,000 a day including bonuses to the Brit.
Perhaps I should write to my racing colleague and mate Lewis to see if he
could throw some small change my way. Some of the tax dollars he didn’t have
to pay for the plane would be a good start!
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 December 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)!
By the way, my racing Escort Mk 1 that I
thought I had destroyed in November can be straightened and work has begun on
this. I will keep the readers up to date.
Last week I asked, what car is this? They
only made a short run of seven cars, it could top 170 mph and developed 306 BHP
at 6,000 RPM. Clue not European. It was the road-going British Ford GT 40 Mk III
and the seven were built in 1967.
So to this week. What car is this? 375,000
built over 17 years. Four cylinder with a top speed of 42 mph.
For the Automania free beer this week, be
the first correct answer to email
[email protected] or
[email protected] . Good luck!
Update Saturday, Dec. 2 - Dec. 8, 2017
Thank you all
Dirt track Sprinter.
I am deeply touched by the offers of
condolences from readers of this column following my rather ungraceful exit from
the race at the Bira Circuit three weeks ago.
Ungraceful perhaps, but still rather
exciting, and I have to say the biggest crash I’ve ever had in 50 plus years of
motor racing. Head on into an unforgiving concrete wall is not to be recommended
and the physical insult to my body was quite severe.
The fracture of the tail bone is the most
painful and persistent. Homo sapiens did away with our redundant tails several
millennia ago, but what was left will take three to four months to heal. This
means three to four months of sitting down carefully.
The 15 stitch laceration to the groin area
has healed so the morning trip to “Wound Care” for dressings has finished and
the concomitant embarrassment likewise. The bruising to Willie the Wonder Wand
has settled and it looks the correct color again. Black didn’t suit me.
Having been driving for more than 50 years
has brought out well-meaning friends and relatives suggesting I retire. Why? I
saw my first motor race when I was 11 and that was all I wanted to do. I’ve just
got into my stride. I have been told there’s a guy in Scandinavia just retired
aged 84. That’s fine – my ambition is then to be 85.
The car unfortunately does not have a
healing process like I do. Mother Nature does not cover mechanical stuff. At
this stage I am waiting for quotes to see if we can pull the car straight or
build up another body shell. Unfortunately it isn’t a simple swap of parts, the
body was reinforced in many places and there is much time needed to do it all
The sponsors have also been very
solicitous, with Terry Wilson from AVO looking after the turbo and the (very
bent) intercooler, for example and Sandy Chapo from The Venue and The Billabong
lining up as a major sponsor again.
My friend (and a sponsor) Thomas Raldorf
put up a list of the cars he has driven in the past 12 years on Facebook. My
list is also very long, covering the time since 1965 till now. Starting with old
MG’s (MG TC, MG TD, MG A, MGB) and onwards. Mixed up in the middle of them are
motorcycles (including a speedway 500 cc single and a couple of dirt bike
racers. Also at the speedway a 6 liter Hi-Bar Gambler Sprinter with giant wings.
They travel sideways by just looking at the accelerator pedal.)
The classes include Production Sports (3 of
these), Series Production sedans, 1300 Sports, Ford Escort Mk 1 (5 of them),
Open wheeler (Formula Vee, Formula Ford (2 of them), Formula 5,000, Formula
Gemini (4 of them), Datsun 510 (2 of those), HQ Holden, Toyota Vios, Porsche 911
T and Porsche Carrera. There’s more but I can’t remember them all! Happens when
you get older!
To (re)build the Escort will take much
money. Doing it on the cheap will still see 300,000 baht swallowed up (the aim
is 2x100,000 and 2x50,000 sponsors). If you know of anyone whose company might
like to get involved please point them in my direction and give them a push! My
little team won’t win world championships, but we’ll have some fun on the way at
the ‘picnic’ races at the local Bira Circuit. In between we will show the race
car at functions and even take you for a couple of laps.
A 57 year old Super Car – the 1970 Corvette ZR1
The only motor associated with the ZR1
Corvette option package when it debuted on the C3 Corvette in 1970 was the LT-1.
While GM’s big block engines were churning
out huge horsepower by 1970, it was the debut of a small block power plant that
would capture the attention of Corvette enthusiasts looking for the pinnacle of
street cred. Factory rated at 370 horsepower, the LT-1 was a 350-cube,
high-revving small block screamer which boasted a forged steel crankshaft,
four-bolt main block, solid lifters, a high-lift camshaft and other requisite
Outfitted with 11:1 compression and a 780
CFM Holley four-barrel carburetor mounted atop a unique aluminum intake
manifold, the LT-1 was scheduled to debut alongside the LS7 454, the latter of
which would represent the ultimate in big block Chevy performance and therefore
sit at the top of the Corvette performance list, but production issues would
result in the LT-1 being the only engine for 1970.
Externally it’s almost impossible to tell a
C3 ZR1 from a standard 1970 Stingray - this package was focused on performance
without any consideration for aesthetic upgrades. GM’s expectation was that
these cars would be put into competition use, so the ZR1 could not be ordered
with creature comforts like power windows, power steering, air conditioning, and
a radio, which is likely what kept most customers who planned to daily drive
their Corvettes from opting for the package.
It would also be the sole engine choice for
the new ZR1. Designed for road racers and road-going enthusiasts looking for
uncompromising capability, the package included a host of road racing-spec
equipment pulled from the L88 parts bin, including the M22 “Rock Crusher”
close-ratio four-speed gearbox, the J56 heavy-duty brake package, the F41
suspension package and an uprated cooling system that consisted of a bigger
aluminum radiator and an expansion tank. All very much racing oriented.
As with the L88 and other hardcore
performance packages before it, the ZR1 would prove to be rarely chosen on the
options sheet, with just 25 examples built in 1970 and even fewer over the next
two years after. Still, it left an indelible mark on Corvette fanatics that
wasn’t lost on the brass at General Motors.
A ‘fuelish’ tale
An Isuzu Gemini
racer in Oz.
Many years ago I was running a standard
Isuzu Gemini in a tightly controlled formula. Like everyone else, we would be
looking to see what little tricks could be turned to give an advantage. For most
teams that meant trying to alter cam timing and compression without being found
out by the scrutineers. For me, I began looking at the fuel we used.
The F1 circus came to Australia for the
Grand Prix. After the GP weekend, somehow, a drum of the special F1 fuel was
left behind by the Williams team, and it made its way to Brisbane, 2000 km away,
where I was waiting. This fuel was really special, very much more efficient
thermodynamically than 97 octane, or even 115.
Taking Gemini to the rolling road
dynamometer we tipped in the F1 fuel and looked at the horsepower numbers.
Instant horsepower, and big grins all round. The weekend would be very
successful, we predicted.
We rolled out for practice, and I could
feel the extra urge immediately. However, the extra urge only lasted three laps.
The crew set about working out why it stopped, and it turned out that the fuel
was not getting to the engine. But why not? There was plenty in the tank, and so
we began to take out each fuel line looking for the blockage.
It was then we found that the F1 fuel was
eating the inside of the standard fuel lines, making gummy deposits all the way
along the hoses. F1 cars, of course, do not run rubber/neoprene fuel lines, like
production Isuzu Gemini’s do!
We had outsmarted ourselves, but at least
we did find a good use for the F1 fuel. It was the greatest way to get the BBQ
coals burning. After dousing in F1 fuel, you tossed a match at the BBQ from
about 20 paces away. Whooompa, and the BBQ was ready! Technology wins again!
Last week I mentioned that an auto
manufacturer was named after a mountain range? It was Tatra.
So to this week. What car is this? They only made a short
run of seven cars, it could top 170 mph and developed 306 BHP at 6,000 RPM. Clue
For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email
[email protected] or
[email protected] . Good luck!