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Update September 2017

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Update by Natrakorn Paewsoongnern
Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

Update September 23, 2017

Nissan looks for dramatic jumps in manufacture


Nissan technology.

Yuri Kageyama, AP Business Writer

Japan (AP) - Aiming to get an edge on its rivals in an intensely competitive industry, Japanese automaker Nissan says it’s attempting to foster a corporate culture that will produce manufacturing innovations in leaps and bounds instead of steady incremental improvement.

Its discussion of that effort is partly a swipe at bigger competitor Toyota Motor Corp. which for decades has favored the concept of “kaizen” or fine-tuning and bit-by-bit progress in auto manufacturing.

Kaizen has earned Japanese automakers good marks for reliability and quality and Toyota practically defined it as its “way,” emphasizing daily effort by everyone from the lowest assembly worker to the chief executive. But Nissan Motor Co. says it is implementing novel manufacturing methods and has dozens of ideas in its development pipeline.

“The old-style kaizen gives you a five percent, maybe a ten percent, improvement. But our team’s goal is what we call ‘kakushin,’ to deliver change that’s a multiple of the previous,” said Atsuhiko Hayakawa, a corporate vice president who heads powertrain production at Nissan.

In an example at Nissan’s Yokohama plant, shown to The Associated Press, a coating technology made the metal liner of a cylinder block of an engine about the tenth of its previous thickness, from 2 millimeters (0.08 inches) to 0.2 millimeters (0.01 inches).

Instead of trying to reduce the cast-iron layer’s thickness, bit by bit, a totally new approach was tried, spraying on molten iron, said Hayakawa who speaks with a passionate intensity rare for corporate Japan.

The metal liner technology has already been introduced for the GT-R sports car, but is now being expanded to other models, such as the Pathfinder sport-utility vehicle, Infiniti QX60 luxury SUV and the new Kicks global compact crossover, including production in Mexico and China.

It’s now used for nearly half a million vehicles a year, or about seven percent of Nissan’s annual global production, and that will keep growing, according to Nissan.

Among other examples: Finishing a surface to a mirror polish to reduce friction in a part. A triple coating reduced to a single coating.

They all translate into cuts in investments, costs and preparation time for manufacturing, as well as a better product, according to Hayakawa.

The production initiatives are getting rolled out throughout Nissan’s alliance, which includes Renault SA of France, Mitsubishi Motors Corp. of Japan, as well as more limited partnerships with other manufacturers around the world.

It’s true that the kaizen efforts shown at Toyota plants can appear primitive to the eye, such as using gravity to shuttle objects and save on energy costs or rearranging the position of equipment on the plant floor.

But it has many proponents and has been adopted outside the automotive industry in areas such as hospitals and warehouses.

Yavuz Bozer, engineering professor at the University of Michigan who advises companies on “lean manufacturing,” said developments in the materials, artificial intelligence, 3-D printers and other advances open up potential for a revolution in manufacturing but that doesn’t make Kaizen obsolete.

Toyota said the pursuit for the “ever better” way remained vibrant at its plants and offices.

“One can take up new challenges, but one can also simultaneously do daily kaizen,” said spokeswoman Kayo Doi, while declining comment on other companies.

Koichi Murata, associate professor at Nihon University and an expert on lean manufacturing, believes the value of kaizen is not just measured in optimized efficiency, but also in how workers’ lives are enriched.

“It is about making someone’s work more fun and creative. And that has not changed, in the past, now, or for the future. It’s about the workers on the ground,” said Murata.

Are we building worse cars?

Or is it just more sophisticated methods of detecting flaws?

A number of manufacturers including Mercedes-Benz, Ford, Maserati and Volvo have issued recent recalls on the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) website over defects varying from fire hazards to power steering failures.

Ford has issued a recall for 8878 examples of the Kuga mid-size SUV built between December 11, 2012 and June 19, 2014 due to the potential risk of a fire.

The recall concerns the insulation material on the inner face of the lower B-pillar trim, which can be subjected to a concentrated heat source in the event of an impact that results in the front seatbelt retractor pre-tensioner being deployed.

If this happens, it can result in a fire. However, Ford says there have been no examples of a fire occurring in Australian vehicles. Being overly cautious?

Mercedes-Benz has recalled examples of its GLE, GLS and GL SUV sold between October 2015 and August 1, 2016, due to a power steering fault.

The fault stems from the possibility of moisture in the electric power steering control unit, which may interfere with the signal transmission in the control unit, causing the power steering to fail. The steering is still there. It will just be heavier.

Maserati has recalled 1347 vehicles across its Ghibli, Quattroporte and Levante model lines, over a potential fault with the electric seat adjustment.

An incorrect seat wiring harness layout is to blame for the fault, which can cause the seat wiring harness to rub against metal points on the seat and seat frame assembly.

Through regular use over time, the seat adjustment system may become inoperative, which can lead to an electrical short to ground between the seat wiring harness and seat adjustment motor assembly.

Swedish/Chinese manufacturer Volvo has recalled model year 2016 and 2017 examples of its S90 sedan and XC90 large SUV over a fault with the air conditioning drainage hose.

The hose may not have been properly attached, meaning the water condensation that it carries from the air conditioning unit may end up in the passenger compartment. This can lead to air conditioning problems, or in a worst case scenario a loss of function in other electrical systems, which can pose a safety risk to vehicle occupants. (And you might get your feet wet on some smelly carpets.)

The Nanny state is alive and well. Everything is “may” happen

What did we learn from Singapore?

 Well, we learned that three into two doesn’t go, when Vettel (Ferrari), Verstappen (Red Bull) and Raikkonen (Ferrari) all tried to take the same line for the first corner of the race. You remember the first corner? The one from which you may not win the race, but the one at which you certainly can lose the race.

We also learned that not every F1 driver can handle wet conditions, in particular the Mercedes Number 2.

However, Singapore showed its full-on entertainment with singing budgies, hula-hoopers, lady drummers and parties galore. Singapore, having signed a new four year contract, is the way of the future as far as new owners Liberty Media is concerned. The word is “entertainment”.

So the cars lined up on the grid just in time to see the rain. The grid was split between full wets or intermediates with coins being tossed in the air.

It had been decided that it would be a standing start and when the lights went out mayhem began. Vettel moved left to cover off Verstappen who found himself in an ever decreasing Ferrari triangle as Raikkonen came steaming through on his left. Not only did the three of them take each other out, but their accident saw Alonso (McLaren) involved, and as a by-product, gifted the lead to Hamilton (Mercedes), a lead he was never to surrender.

Second after the restart was Ricciardo (Red Bull), the driver everyone thought would win, but he was never close enough to Hamilton to challenge him. Later it was found that he was nursing a gearbox problem, which we had picked watching the telecast.

All the way down the order drivers were trying to make the intermediates work, with some more successful at it than others. Bottas (Mercedes) was quite at sea, and it was only after the track dried and slicks were bolted on did he regain his podium position.

Carlos Sainz (Toro Rosso) excelled in the damp conditions and successfully held off Perez (FIndia), showing that he does have the speed and the talent required to step up to Renault next season (or even this season if the rumors are correct).

Jolyon Palmer (Renault), with the axe hanging over his head, drove very well, finishing in the points for the first time this year! His sixth place was of course the result of all the retirements of drivers normally above him, so should not be taken as a miraculous new form for the outgoing Renault driver.

The other Renault driver, Hulkenberg, was up to fourth at one stage, but let down by an oil leak.


L Hamilton Mercedes

2 D Ricciardo Red Bull

3 V Bottas Mercedes

4 C Sainz Toro Rosso

5 S Perez Force India

6 J Palmer Renault

7 S Vandoorne McLaren

8 L Stroll Williams.

9 R Grosjean Haas

10 E Ocon Force India

11 F Massa Williams

12 P Wehrlein Sauber - 56 laps


R K Magnussen Haas Power unit - 50 laps

R N Hulkenberg Renault Oil leak - 48 laps

R M Ericsson Sauber Accident - 35 laps

R D Kvyat Toro Rosso Accident - 10 laps

R F Alonso McLaren Damage - 8 laps

R S Vettel Ferrari Accident - 0 laps

R M Verstappen Red Bull Accident - 0 laps

R K Raikkonen Ferrari Accident - 0 laps

The next GP is in Malaysia, October 1, telecast at 2 p.m. Thai time.

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I mentioned that in 1931 various US manufacturer’s, including Chrysler, Dodge, Desoto, Dodge, Franklin, Graham, Plymouth, Reo and Graham produced cars with an advanced system. That system is still used today and I asked what was it? It was hydraulic braking systems.

So to this week. What is the significance between Arnold and Hill Assist?

For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]  or [email protected] . Good luck!

Update September 16, 2017

Britain to test part-driverless platoons of trucks

Road Train.

London (AP) - Britain is set to conduct road trials of self-driving trucks, involving a “platoon” of vehicles controlled by a driver in the front.

The Department for Transport said Friday that up to three trucks will travel in convoy, connected by Wi-Fi and with braking and acceleration controlled by the lead vehicle.

Officials say the formation saves fuel and reduces carbon emissions, because the lead truck pushes air out of the way, making the others more efficient.

Similar trials have been conducted in Europe and the United States. But critics say driverless trucks are unsuited to Britain’s often narrow and winding roads.

Automobile Association President Edmund King says, “Platooning may work on the miles of deserted freeways in Arizona or Nevada, but this is not America.”

That may be so, but it sounds to me more like a railway train and less hassle!

In Australia they also have Road Trains where up to three trailers are towed by one prime mover. These can be up to 53 meters long in total. Imagine trying to pull one of those up in an emergency!

Hydrogen-powered Mercedes-Benz GLC


Mercedes-Benz GLC F-Cell.

With diesel engines now the bÍte noir of the automotive world, manufacturers are looking everywhere for alternatives. So far it would seem that plug-ins are leading the replacement race, but there is more interest being shown in Fuel cells.

One reason for this is the fact that the electric cars take a long time in recharging, with 8-10 hours being representative. Recharging the hydrogen in fuel cells is only a matter of minutes in comparison. Range anxiety is currently not so much of a problem, now that fuel cells can go for some hundreds of kilometers.

Mercedes-Benz has confirmed plans for the reveal of its first series production plug-in fuel cell model, the GLC F-Cell, at last week’s Frankfurt motor show.

The new dual hydrogen and electric propelled model is planned to go on sale in selected markets in 2018 following an extensive development program that, Mercedes-Benz says, has seen the GLC F-Cell undergo the same testing procedure as other production models.

The zero-emission GLC F-Cell exchanges the standard GLC’s internal combustion engine for a fuel cell stack developed in a co-operation between Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler and Ford in the Automotive Fuel Cell Cooperation (AFCC) joint venture based in Vancouver, Canada together with the electric motor set-up used for propulsion.

Electrical energy used to power the GLC F-Cell’s electric motors is generated on board within the fuel cell stack in a reaction between hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is stored in two carbon-fiber encased tanks mounted within the GLC F-Cell’s floor.

Capable of holding up to 4 kg of hydrogen, the tanks are pressurized at 700-bar and are claimed to be able to be refilled within three minutes using the latest hydrogen refilling technology.

Details to the output of the fuel cell stack remain with M-B before the GLC F-Cell’s planned public debut, though Mercedes-Benz confirms it will be combined with a 9 kWh lithium ion battery to provide an overall range of up to 500 km, some 50 km of which is claimed to be achievable on the electricity from its battery alone. That should alleviate the ‘range anxiety’.

As with Mercedes-Benz’s existing petrol-electric hybrid models, the battery can be charged either via plug in means or on the run with electrical energy recuperated and stowed during braking and coasting.

Mercedes-Benz says it has been able to draw on over 18 million kilometers of testing of fuel cell vehicles in the development of the GLC F-Cell. The new model, which will be available to private customers on a standard sale basis rather than the private in-house fleet agreement like the earlier B-class F-Cell, is claimed to have undergone over 500 individual tests since 2015, including aerodynamic refinement and crash testing in the German car maker’s new wind tunnel and crash testing facility in Sindelfingen, Germany.

Data collected during its development program reveals the fleet of GLC F-Cell prototypes have used about 200 tonnes hydrogen and emitted some 1800 tonnes of water vapor.

However, the lack of refueling infrastructure remains a problem.

Range Rover Evoque Cabrio in Pattaya

(From left) Jack Salsbury, the general manager of Range Rover presents flowers to Bo while Axel proudly looks on.

Elfi Seitz

The very first Range Rover Ecoque Cabrio in Thailand is in Pattaya. Proud owners are Bo und Axel Brauer, a successful German entrepreneur.

Axel gave permission for his car to be a show piece for Inchcape Motor Company Bangkok at the local motor show there.

The official handover was done a few days later on August 21st and the Asia Pacific general manager of Range Rover, Jack Salsbury, came from Singapore for the occasion.

Axel thought that if he is the owner of this very first Range Rover Evoque in Thailand it should have an appropriate license plate and got the number 1 for it.

Singapore Grand Prix this weekend.

I promised myself I wouldn’t get swept away by the non-racing promotions at the Singapore Grand Prix. Remember I come from the era where for entertainment we would sit around a BBQ and tell jokes after the races were over.

However, those who go to Singapore for the GP will be entertained by a whole bunch of people, most of whom I have never heard of.

You can start with Calvin Harris, Ariana Grande, Duran Duran, OneRepublic, Seal, The Chainsmokers, Lianne La Havas and George the Poet. Singapore GP has added more support acts to ramp up the excitement at Singapore’s tenth Formula 1 night race this 15 to 17 September. Race-goers are in for a treat, with a host of artistes performing across seven stages and throughout the 799,000 square meter Circuit Park.

International support music acts performing throughout the Marina Bay Street Circuit include Canadian singer-songwriter Alysha Brilla, whose contemporary music draws on the influences of her Indian-Tanzanian roots, award-winning Malaysian rock band Kyoto Protocol, UK-based beatboxing trio Bloxed Beats and folk-pop, indie rock US band Cale and the Gravity Well. Help me! I am not making this up! (Will someone tell me what “beatboxing” is about?)

The night race will also see a record number of homegrown musicians making their debut at the Marina Bay Street Circuit. In addition there will be high-energy performances from Stopgap and Aarika Lee & The Next Movement. Fans too can party the night away with resident deejays Ghetto, LeNerd and Andrew Tang from iconic homegrown nightclub Zouk.

It doesn’t end there, there is a performing arts company called Strange Fruit as they enthral audiences with a large-scale visual spectacle ‘Spheres’ which fuses theatre, dance and circus at the Circuit Park’s newest entertainment zone at the Empress Lawn.

The German group Groove Onkels will perform at the Marina Bay for the first time, with a spectacular showcase of Latin percussion and rock music using trash cans, sticks and brushes. Groove to the beat with the award-winning DrumCat, an all-female drumming group from South Korea, or be captivated by the sounds of jazz, funk, Latin and hip-hop by Singapore’s very first New Orleans-style New Stream Brass Band.

There’s more, there’s more! Such as the UK’s acrobatic moustachioed trio Acro-Chaps are set to delight the audience with their unique brand of comedy and astounding feats of strength while the unbelievably agile Lisa Lottie’s hypnotic ‘Bend it like Barbie’ performance will also have fans transfixed as she contorts her body while performing impressive hula hoop maneuvers.

Call me old fashioned but to me a Grand Prix is a competition where drivers race cars against each other, defying death as they drive at up to 300 km/h. I could not care less how many times Lisa Lottie turns herself inside out while hula-hooping.

But with F1’s new owners, one can expect even more razzamatazz as they spice up the action and debase competition with artificial items such as DRS and grid penalties to help mix up the cars, and have the media writing fatuous stories about how no other teenager has ever been on the front row, ignoring the fact that the teenager was actually 4th but inherited the position as the 2nd and 3rd drivers were being penalized for heinous crimes like changing their gearbox. Next week there will be further penalties for wrong colored sox.

By the way, the television coverage will include some cars running around from about 7 p.m. Join me in Jameson’s for a bite beforehand while they have synchronized hula-hooping as a lead up to a motor race.

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what car driver’s manual advised drivers to take off in top gear as there was too much torque in the lower ratios for him to handle? It was Invicta and the advice was in the drivers manual for the four and a half liter Low Chassis Black Prince.

So to this week. By 1931 various US manufacturer’s, including Chrysler, Dodge, Desoto, Dodge, Franklin, Graham, Plymouth, Reo and Graham produced cars with an advanced system. Still used today - what was it?

For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]  or [email protected] . Good luck!

Update September 9, 2017

The electric cars are taking over, led by Tesla

Tesla X SUV.

Tesla is on track to double its numbers in a year. New South Wales figures reveal the electric car company is humming along nicely.

Data depicting the number of vehicles registered in NSW shows that the electric car brand is powering along in Australia, having enjoyed its best quarter yet in April, May and June this year.

The brand registered 142 new cars for the quarter in NSW alone, placing it ahead of national sales figures recorded by the likes of Chrysler, Infiniti and Citroen for the same period.

Tesla may also have the measure of established brands including Alfa Romeo, according to number-crunching by Wheels magazine based on recall figures.

Unlike most car companies, Tesla does not publish sales data, making it difficult to gauge the brand’s success in Australia.

But the NSW registration data does offer a glimpse into how the brand is tracking.

Tesla is on target to double its number of cars in NSW in 12 months, breaking through the 1000 vehicle mark by the end of the year. A growing presence in other states should help it put a dent in luxury rivals such as Audi and BMW.

A new Model X SUV produced by the American company has helped increase its profile in Australia, which will grow further when the compact and more affordable Model 3 sedan arrives in 2019.

While brands on the rise have a growing presence in NSW, RMS data shows that the number of registered cars vehicles is falling for some marques.

There were 216 fewer Alfa Romeo cars on the road in July 2017 then there were in December 2016, suggesting that sales of new models such as the heavily-promoted Giulia are not enough to offset the number of older cars pulled off the road due to crashes, rust and reliability problems.

Alfa Romeo’s presence on NSW roads is dropping faster than Datsun’s, even though the Japanese marque has not sold a new car in decades. Citroen, Chevrolet and Cadillac are also going backwards.

Contrary to the doom-sayers, Elon Musk’s Tesla experiment is leading the push towards electrification and autonomous cars.

BMW is not being left behind

BMW i3s.
(Photo: BMW)

Comes as a shock to realize that BMW’s electric offering, the i3 is already three years old. So much so, that BMW is now on their third iteration, called the i3s.

The i3s has been face-lifted, but more importantly, the car has had its range extended and was demonstrated at the Frankfurt show.

Central among the changes brought to the new i3s is a more powerful synchronous electric motor. With 135 kW and 270 Nm of torque, the rear mounted unit is tuned to deliver 10 kW and 20 Nm more than the standard version of the i3, which continues to produce 125 kW and 250 Nm.

The i3 models deliver drive to the rear-wheels via the same fixed ratio gearbox. But while the standard i3 runs restyled 19-inch wheels shod with the same 155/70 profile low rolling resistance as the original model launched in 2014, the new i3s comes with larger 20-inch alloys and wider 195/50 profile rubber.

With the larger wheels and greater levels of standard equipment, the i3s weighs in at 1265 kg. However, its added power and torque produces zero to 100 km/h in 6.9 seconds versus the claimed 7.2 seconds for the standard i3. The new i3 model also reaches a higher limited top speed of 160 km/h against the 150 km/h of its less powerful sibling.

BMW has provided the i3s with a 40 mm wider rear track. It is combined with a sport suspension featuring a 10 mm lower ride height than the standard i3, together with uniquely tuned springs, dampers and anti-roll bars. Further changes are concentrated at the dynamic stability control system, which receives new software that is claimed to provide it with faster and improved response to a loss in traction.

Another new feature is the sport driving mode that allows the driver to call up more direct properties for the steering and throttle.

As with the facelifted version of the standard i3, the new i3s also comes with an optional range extender in the form of a rear-mounted 647cc two-cylinder petrol engine. Bringing an additional 120 kg to the kerb weight, it acts purely as a generator, providing electrical charge to the floor mounted battery when required.

The visual changes brought to the new i3 are relatively subtle. Included is a new front bumper. It features greater structure and dispenses with the round outboard high beam lights for new thin line LED units that act as blinkers. The headlamps have also been upgraded with LED functions for both the dipped and high beam. The new model also features a black roof, revised sills, lightly altered tail lamps graphics and a revised rear bumper.

On top of this, the i3s gains subtle wheel arch flares as well as blue highlights within the bumpers and along the sills.

What did we learn from the Italian GP?

Well, the first thing we learned was the Lewis Hamilton likes pasta. No good British bacon and eggs and sausages to celebrate. And that is about the sum total of the excitement from the Monza Grand Prix.

High speeds, yes. Boring, also yes. Full of artificial ways to spice up the grid. With all due respect to Lewis Hamilton’s driving, but Monza was a farce.

The artificial nature of F1 was demonstrated very early, with another bunch of grid penalties. Whilst the media was being fed all the tommy twaddle about Lance Stroll being the youngest ever driver to make the front row, he was in actual fact 4th. Not 2nd, as the Red Bull pair were 2nd and 3rd, but then the grid penalties were meted out.

* Verstappen was given 20-place grid penalty for additional power unit elements.

** Ricciardo was given 25-place grid penalties for additional power unit elements and a new gearbox.

*** Vandoorne was given 25-place grid penalties for additional power unit elements.

**** Perez was given a five-place grid penalty for a new gearbox.

***** Hulkenberg was given 10-place grid penalties for an additional power unit element.

****** Alonso was given 35-place grid penalties for additional power unit elements.

******* Sainz was given a 10-place grid penalty for an additional power unit element.

******** Palmer was given 15-place grid penalties for additional power unit elements.

********* Grosjean was given a five-place grid penalty for a new gearbox.

The end result was a grid that bore no resemblance to how quickly the drivers could master Monza qualifying.

Alonso, for example, drove the wheels off the Honda pedal-car to then get a 35 grid place penalty. He should have stayed at home. Rumor has it that the grid penalty system will be scrapped next year. Next year is not soon enough.

The race was a fine example of a high speed train, plenty of nose to tail with Hamilton so far in front he can claim the Singapore pole position already. Vettel will need something akin to a miracle to get out of this hole, or it’s too late for the Marlboro man!

Driver of the day was Ricciardo going from his artificial 16th grid position to 4th outright at the flag.

Finally, all the media hype about Hamilton’s 69th victory does not take into consideration that drivers from 20 years ago did not have 20 Grands Prix to choose from. It is pointless trying to compare apples and oranges.


1 L Hamilton Mercedes

2 V Bottas Mercedes

3 S Vettel Ferrari

4 D Ricciardo Red Bull

5 K Raikkonen Ferrari

6 E Ocon Force India

7 L Stroll Williams

8 F Massa Williams

9 S Perez Force India

10 M Verstappen Red Bull

11 K Magnussen Haas

12 D Kvyat Toro Rosso

13 N Hulkenberg Renault

14 C Sainz Toro Rosso

15 R Grosjean Haas

16 P Wehrlein Sauber


F Alonso McLaren

M Ericsson Sauber

S Vandoorne McLaren

J Palmer Renault

The next GP is from Singapore on September 17.

In a two car team, why does one team car break down and the other not?

That conundrum should be an easy one to answer, with all the electronic gizmo’s in today’s F1 cars. And yet it happens. Look at Verstappen who now has a finishing record of 50 percent, while Ricciardo (his team mate) is finishing on the podium each meeting, other than the time he was crashed into by young Verstappen. I subscribe to the theory that Age, Experience and Animal Cunning beats youth and enthusiasm any day! (But that is probably because I am in the “old” category these days!)

There is no doubting the fact that some drivers are harder on their cars than others. A classic example was (Sir) Stirling Moss who was very hard on his cars, and crashed more than a few of them. Still he remains known as the best driver to never win the World Championship. A few less accidents and he would have won it.

Fangio is revered as the most outstanding F1 driver, who knew how to drive with his brain as well as his right foot, winning at NŁrburgring and taking nine minutes off the lap record, beating Peter Collins and Mike Hawthorn who had ruined their tyres.

Another canny competitor was (Sir) Jack Brabham, who knew how to preserve his tyres, winning the British Grand Prix at Aintree after preserving his tyres to the end of the race, enabling him to finish ahead of Moss who had to pit to replace worn tyres

To give you a discussion topic, Tony from Oz forwarded a link towards the greatest drivers. But even with a head start to compare a driver in a 20 GP season with a six GP season is impossible.

The cars are also very much different and the pre-war drivers such as Nuvolari and Caracciola had so much more to contend with. But the discussion is fun.

Autotrivia Quiz

 Last week I recalled that although Toyota makes a model called the Land Cruiser, Land Cruisers were made long before Toyota. I asked who made them and what years? The answer was Studebaker who manufacturer Land Cruisers from 1934 to 1954.

So to this week. What car driver’s manual advised drivers to take off in top gear as there was too much torque in the lower ratios for him to handle?

For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected] Good luck!

Update September 2, 2017

Always hankered after a Bucciali?


Bucciali TAV.

The Bucciali TAV (Traction Avant) was an incredible motor car built around 1930, designed and built by two French brothers Angelo and Albert Bucciali. With an underslung chassis at the front, it also had independent suspension, front and rear.

Several engines were tried, as well as several coachbuilders, but the best was by Saoutchik with a V12 engine. The cars had a stork emblem which stemmed from Albert’s time in a French Air Force flying a Spad which had the stork insignia.

The early 1930’s was also not the most auspicious time to be launching new and expensive motor cars. It is not known if any TAV’s survived, and the one in the photo is a recreation.

However, a very talented Dutchman has built one from scratch, and the website shows the detail.

The Kombi is returning- but you’ll wait until 2022

New Kombi.

The Volkswagen confirms that the I.D. Buzz concept will go into production after positive reviews. Known as the Kombi, Microbus and the ‘Van ordinaire’ in France, the decision to add the I.D. Buzz to Volkswagen’s line-up was confirmed by Volkswagen chairman, Herbert Diess, at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in Monterey in August.

“Since its appearance at the Detroit and Geneva auto shows earlier this year we have had a flood of correspondence asking us to build the I.D. Buzz,” said Diess. “We can now confirm it will go into production in 2022.”

The new Kombi will be an electric driven Microbus-inspired MPV offering seating for up to eight occupants and capable of supporting autonomous driving.

The new Volkswagen model is due to go on sale in key world markets, including North America, with the choice of two different wheelbases and differing interior configurations by the end of 2022 as part of a five-strong line-up of future electric powered production models that also include the I.D. Hatchback and I.D. Cross SUV.

The I.D. Buzz was first displayed at the Detroit motor show in January 2017 and Volkswagen has decided to launch a production version in Europe, the US and China following the strong and positive public reaction to it.

The styling of the I.D. Buzz evokes the legendary Volkswagen Type 2, first launched in 1949. However, the vehicle is built around the latest technology on Volkswagen’s new all-electric architecture, the MEB (Modularen Elektro Baukasten – Modular Electric Toolkit) structure as it is known internally at the German car maker.

The all-wheel-drive concept version is powered by two electric motors - one in the nose section, the other by the rear axle - providing a total output of 275kW and, in combination with an 111kWh lithium ion battery, allowing a range of over 600 km on the European test cycle.

A rear-wheel drive version of the modern-day Microbus featuring a single electric motor with 125kW and smaller capacity battery is also planned.

Diess has confirmed to Drive there are no current plans to produce the new MPV with conventional petrol or diesel engines, though he won’t be rule out the possibility of a fuel cell version running on hydrogen in the future.

To maximize interior space, the I.D. Buzz’s batteries are mounted within a flat floor, liberating space for up to eight occupants within three rows of seats. The concept features technology such as a touch sensitive steering wheel and an augmented-reality heads-up display, with cameras taking the place of rear-view mirrors.

Although Volkswagen hasn’t confirmed whether this tech will make it to production versions, Diess has confirmed the production version of the I.D. Buzz will be capable of supporting at least Level Two autonomous driving technology from the outset of sales.

The I.D. Buzz is part of Volkswagen Group’s ‘Together Strategy 2025’ plan, which involves the firm investing over $10 billion into the development more than 30 battery-powered models across its various brands, including Audi, Skoda and Seat, by 2025.

What did we learn from Spa?

Well, we learned that Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) is still the quickest driver with his emphatic win in the Spa GP. Vettel (Ferrari) was always there, but always behind, showing that 2nd is the first of the losing place-getters.

Right from the start the casualties came with Wehrlein (Sauber) with suspension damage and then Max Verstappen (Red Bull), doyen of the orange hordes, sputtering to a stop on the 8th lap. One not very happy orange saying, “Of course, in the beginning, you say maybe it’s just bad luck or whatever, but I’m actually competing against Fernando in terms of retirements. I’m not happy at all. I am very disappointed for retiring and the fans who buy an expensive ticket to watch and I retire after eight laps. No words.”

Fernando? He managed 25 laps and gave up struggling with the underpowered Honda.

Trailing the sharp end of the proceedings, Bottas (Mercedes) and Raikkonen (Ferrari) found themselves together after a 10 second penalty for Raikkonen and got in each other’s way, allowing Ricciardo (Red Bull) to slip neatly past and claim third.


1 L Hamilton Mercedes

2 S Vettel Ferrari

3 D Ricciardo Red Bull

4 K Raikkonen Ferrari

5 V Bottas Mercedes

6 N Hulkenberg Renault

7 R Grosjean Haas

8 F Massa Williams

9 E Ocon Force India

10 C Sainz Toro Rosso

11 L Stroll Williams

12 D Kvyat Toro Rosso

13 J Palmer Renault

14 S Vandoorne McLaren

15 K Magnussen Haas

16 M Ericsson Sauber

R S Perez Force India

R F Alonso McLaren

R M Verstappen Red Bull

R P Wehrlein Sauber

However, Spa showed a guide to the likely driver line-up for next year. Alonso will not put up with the underpowered Honda engine for another year. Verstappen will not put up with an unreliable Red Bull for another year. Renault needs better results than Palmer can provide. Bottas is quick, but not in race trim. Ocon and Perez cannot live on the same team. Perez will lose his seat.

That is four slots with many combinations but think about Alonso to Renault, Verstappen to Mercedes as a swap for Bottas and up and coming Leclerc from F2 into Force India.

Now here’s the FIA nonsense. If you change any part of the car you will be given a grid penalty. Remembering that there are 20 grid positions, have a look at these penalties:

* Palmer was given a five-place grid penalty for a replacement gearbox

** Vandoorne was given 65-place grid penalties for additional power unit components and a gearbox, yes you read that correctly 65 places!

*** Massa was given a five-place grid penalty for failing to slow for yellow flags

**** Kvyat was given a 20-place grid penalty for additional power unit elements

***** Ericsson was given a five-place grid penalty for a replacement gearbox

****** Wehrlein was given a five-place grid penalty for a replacement gearbox

Has nobody in the FIA seen how ludicrous these penalties are that are meted out on the driver? Any penalty (if there has to be one) should be on the team, not the driver. And start 65 grid positions behind on a 20 position grid? Defies logic.

The next GP is the Italian GP this weekend September 3rd being held at Monza. I expect the Mercedes cars to do well at this high speed circuit.

Local racing at Bira this weekend

The Toyo 3K promoters have scheduled a meeting for the local race cars on Saturday and Sunday (September 3). At the time of going to press, the schedule had not been released but I expect qualifying on Saturday and race Sunday. There will be the usual categories, and we will be running the Riviera/Venue Retro Mk1 Escort. Last meeting we scored one win and two seconds and will be out to improve those second places. Look us up in the pits. You can’t miss the bright red Mk 1 Escort.

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked who was this? First he raced motorcycles and then he concentrated on sports cars and single-seaters. His nickname was ‘Nivola’. His victories - 72 major races, 150 in all included 24 Grands Prix, five Coppa Cianos, two Mille Miglias, two Targa Florios, two RAC Tourist Trophies, a Le Mans 24-hour race, and a European Championship in Grand Prix racing. Ferdinand Porsche called him “the greatest driver of the past, the present, and the future.”

Who was it? It was Tazio Nuvolari. An amazing driver.

So to this week. Toyota makes a model called the Land Cruiser, however Land Cruisers were made long before Toyota. Who made them and what years?

For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email [email protected]  or [email protected] . Good luck!

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Nissan looks for dramatic jumps in manufacture

Are we building worse cars?

What did we learn from Singapore?

Autotrivia Quiz

Britain to test part-driverless platoons of trucks

Hydrogen-powered Mercedes-Benz GLC

Range Rover Evoque Cabrio in Pattaya

Singapore Grand Prix this weekend.

Autotrivia Quiz

The electric cars are taking over, led by Tesla

BMW is not being left behind

What did we learn from the Italian GP?

In a two car team, why does one team car break down and the other not?

Autotrivia Quiz

Always hankered after a Bucciali?

The Kombi is returning- but you’ll wait until 2022

What did we learn from Spa?

Local racing at Bira this weekend

Autotrivia Quiz



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