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Update July,2019

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Electric Jaguars to be made in UK despite Brexit uncertainty

London (AP) — Jaguar Land Rover says it will manufacture a range of electric cars in the U.K., a boost to an industry braced for turmoil ahead of Britain's departure from the European Union.

The all-electric version of the Jaguar XJ sedan will be made at the firm's factory in Castle Bromwich, in central England. The plant will close for six weeks so new equipment can be installed.

CEO Ralf Speth said Friday that the "future of mobility is electric," and that the company is committed to making the next generation of zero-emission vehicles in the U.K.

The decision comes during a time of great anxiety for the auto industry in the U.K., which is struggling with uncertainties over Brexit as well as global issues buffeting the sector. However, since cars are these days built anywhere, I am sure Brexit will soon be a forgotten issue. Jaguar unreliability will be a greater talking point.


History of the electric vehicle

If you hadn’t noticed, the electric vehicle movement is everywhere. They even have a Grand Prix just for electric racers. Within 10 years the current F1 cars will have become obsolescent.

Early history in 1828, Ányos Jedlik invented an early type of electric motor, and created a small model car powered by his new motor. In 1834, Vermont blacksmith Thomas Davenport built a similar contraption which operated on a short, circular, electrified track. By the turn of the century Dr. Porsche was building race winners with four in-wheel battery electric motors with the battery being charged by a small internal combustion engine. This was called the Lohner Porsche Mixte. Toyota and the Prius were not the first to come up with this concept.

Lohner Porsche Mixte.

Lekky MINI a production car

If you still harbor uncertainty as far as electrification is concerned, down there in the BMW camp, electric cars are the go, with MINI the next offering.

Oliver Zipse, the BMW board member in charge of production, said: “We are entering an era in which electric cars will become a normal choice for our customers. “The Mini Electric will kick off our new model offensive for fully electric vehicles.”

Sales of battery electric vehicles in the UK have surged in recent months, but from a very low base: only 11,975 were sold in the first half of the year, or 0.9 percent of total car sales, according to data from the Society for Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT). Despite the successes of Tesla and Nissan’s Leaf electric vehicles, the industry is still waiting for a breakout electric hit.

The new chief executive of BMW will oversee a plan to launch 25 new electrified models by 2023, with at least 13 full-electric rather than hybrid. However, the company has also hedged its bets by producing its full-electric, hybrid, and internal combustion models using the same underlying blueprint and the same production lines – meaning it can quickly switch between fuel types in response to customer demand.

 Electric MINI.

JLR (Jaguar Land Rover) may be busy in the boardroom but JLR is cutting 4,500 jobs from its global workforce as part of £2.5bn cost-saving program amid falling sales in China and Europe and record losses of £3.4bn in the last three months of 2018. BMW, meanwhile, is trying to cut costs by €12bn and has warned that profits will fall this year.

The huge costs to carmakers of developing electric vehicles come at a time when regulators are tightening the rules on emissions.

Last month Fiat Chrysler and Renault announced plans for a €33bn merger in a move that would create the world’s third-largest carmaker, saving the companies the billions needed to fund the race to make electric and autonomous vehicles. However, as reported last week, the merger talks failed.

BMW was one of the first major carmakers to launch a fully electric car, with the i3 hitting the market in 2013. JLR also has an electric car, the Jaguar i-Pace, and both companies have a range of plug-in hybrid models.

 Jaguar iPace.

Klaus Froehlich, a BMW board member, said: “Together, we have the opportunity to cater more effectively for customer needs by shortening development time and bringing vehicles and state-of-the-art technologies more rapidly to market.”

Engineers from JLR and BMW will work together to design the components, which will then be made at their manufacturing sites. For JLR, this will be at its engine plant in Wolverhampton, which employs 1,600 people.


 What did we learn from Silverstone?

What did we learn? The first item to learn was this was an exciting Grand Prix with tussles all the way down the order. On a circuit that allows for passing you can get true racing, as opposed to the ‘round the houses’ tracks favored by the FIA.

Well, we also learned that Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) is one lucky chap, having been gifted the win by the safety car coming out which slowed the field down allowing Hamilton to dive into the pits and rejoin in first position. His rival, team mate Valtteri Bottas, had pitted when the race was at full speed.

We also saw that the four times Drivers Champion Sebastian Vettel (Ferrari) has sealed his fate for next year, with a very amateurish crash into the back of Max Verstappen (the Flying Dutchman Red Bull) who was already up to third at that stage. Max is a genuine talent and has outshone his F1 father Jos Verstappen, remembered for accidents and fire in the pits.

Vettel’s performance this year has been a string of mistakes, and he has been overshadowed by his team mate the talented youngster Charles Leclerc. The stewards of the meeting handed Vettel a 10 second penalty, but I doubt if that will change his performance (or attitude). Ferrari is not known for hanging on to drivers who are not bringing in the results expected of them.

The second string Red Bull driver Pierre Gasly was another to benefit from the timing of the Safety car. Gasly’s seat is in doubt for next year, so this GP is a welcome result for the young Frenchman.

A race-long fight between Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) and Carlos Sainz Jnr (McLaren) saw the McLaren finishing in front. McLaren has done a complete turn-around compared to last year, as has Renault. By year’s end, you will see both these teams looking for podiums.

Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) continues to amaze, now being looked upon as the Keith Richards (The Rolling Stones guitarist) of Grand Prix racing. Kimi was in the points all the way through the event and knows how to avoid accidents. Age, experience and animal cunning beats youth and enthusiasm once again!

One team that did not cover itself with glory was the American Haas outfit. The team drivers Magnussen and Grosjean managed to run into each other on the first lap and it was downhill from there! Grosjean’s weekend had already included a major crash in pit lane, on the Saturday. Grosjean is another driver looking at a retirement package for 2020, who explained his plight at the British GP as, “I picked up the rear right puncture. After the pit-stop the damage to the car, on the floor, the brake ducts and so on, it was too much to be able to carry on racing. We had to retire the car unfortunately."

There are three very talented young drivers this year with Leclerc 3rd, Lando Norris (UK) 11th and Alexander Albon representing Thailand 12th.


Lewis Hamilton Mercedes

Valtteri Bottas   Mercedes

Charles Leclerc  Ferrari

Pierre Gasly        Red Bull

Max Verstappen              Red Bull

Carlos Sainz Jr    McLaren

Daniel Ricciardo                Renault

Kimi Raikkonen Alfa Romeo

Daniil Kvyat         Toro Rosso

Nico Hulkenberg              Renault

Lando Norris      McLlaren

Alexander Albon              Toro Rosso

Lance Stroll         Racing Point

George Russell  Williams

Sebastian Vettel               Ferrari

Robert Kubica    Williams

Tesla S coming to Thailand?


I was passed on the freeway the other day by a Tesla. It passed me so fast I was unable to keep up so I could look at the pointy end of the car.

However, I did find a few articles dealing with the latest variation, the Model X Long Range. Forget range anxiety, this new Tesla has a 370 miles (600 km) range.

What is more, Tesla announced the new powertrains, are applicable to all Model S and Model X variants.

Whilst the battery remains the same as before, more efficient permanent magnet front motors, wheel bearings and tires, amongst other tweaks, have helped to improve efficiency very substantially. The range on each model has increased on the order of 10 percent to 12 percent.

For the Long Range Model S, the EPA range rating has increased from 335 to 370 miles! The improved value proposition has been achieved whilst likely reducing Tesla’s internal costs (the new motor is a variant of the existing high-volume Model 3 motors). 

The Standard Range S and X are also now available once more, and include the above 10–12 percent efficiency improvements.

The new Tesla Model X Long Range, meanwhile, gets a 10 percent range boost to 500 km (EPA combined). Like the S, it is at its most efficient on highway cruises, and will likely get an EPA highway rating of at least 335 miles. That will put it at a full 50 percent greater highway range than the I-PACE. Even the Model X Standard Range will likely have at least 260 miles of EPA-rated highway range, putting it 20 percent higher than the I-PACE.

The Audi e-tron is even further behind, having an official EPA combined range of 321 km, and likely around 160 km (if that) on the EPA highway cycle, despite its 95 kWh battery pack. (We don’t yet have the full EPA figures for the Audi, just the EPA combined range of 321 km). This means that even the Tesla Model X Standard Range has likely a 33 percent greater highway range than the Audi, and the Model X Long Range has a 72 percent greater highway range.

Q2 of 2019, Tesla is very pleased to announce a record 95,000 cars out the door. For a start-up with no automotive background, Tesla really is a success story. General Motors should have listened to Bob Lutz.

Start dry-storing your petrol engine cars now, we’ll all be electric in five years and queuing for gasoline within 10 years.


Honda to recall 1.6M vehicles, finish Takata recalls early

Detroit (AP) — Honda is recalling 1.6 million vehicles in the U.S. to replace potentially deadly Takata air bag inflators, completing its required recalls six months ahead of schedule, the automaker said Friday.

When the latest recall is done, Honda says it will have recalled or accounted for 22.6 million inflators in about 12.9 million vehicles.

Takata inflators can explode with too much force and blow apart a metal canister, spewing shrapnel. Twenty-four people have been killed and hundreds injured by the inflators worldwide. Honda was Takata's largest customer.

The Japanese company, which was forced into bankruptcy by the troubles, used the volatile chemical ammonium nitrate to create a small explosion and inflate the air bags. But the chemical deteriorates when exposed to high temperatures and humidity and can burn to fast, blowing apart the canister designed to contain the explosion.

The recalls include many Honda and Acura models from 2003 through 2015. All received replacement inflators made by Takata before February of 2017 and were scheduled to be recalled a second time to replace those with inflators made by another company.

(Here is the list. Is your car safe?)

Affected Honda models include the 2001-2012 Accord, the 2010-2015 Crosstour, the 2001-2011 Civic, 2002-2011 CR-V, the 2011-2015 CR-Z, the 2003-2011 Element, the 2007-2014 Fit, the 2010-2014 Insight, the 2002-2004 Odyssey, the 2003-2015 Pilot and the 2006-2014 Ridgeline. Acura models include the 2003 3.2CL, the 2013 ILX, the 2003-2006 MDX, the 2015 RDX, the 2005-2012 RL, the 2002-2003 3.2TL, the 2009-2014 TL, the 2009-2014 TSX, and the 2010-2013 ZDX.

Honda said it has completed repairs or accounted for 83 percent of the inflators, among the highest in the auto industry. Some of the inflators have been found in scrap yards or the vehicles are no longer in use.

Owners will be notified by letters starting in mid-August, and Honda is urging people to schedule repairs as soon as possible.

Nineteen automakers are recalling about 70 million inflators in what has become the largest string of automotive recalls in U.S. history. The recalls are taking place on a schedule set by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

The recalls do not include inflators that have a moisture-absorbing chemical. The government will decide by the end of this year whether those should be recalled.

(We have heat and humidity, but no explosions recorded. Hopefully the old local Hondas have the moisture absorbing chemical installed.)


The FIA’s next round of silliness

Austria (AP) — Rome will host the inaugural edition of a multidisciplinary motorsport event in November, with drivers competing for their country rather than individual recognition.

The FIA said on Friday the annual Motorsport Games will initially feature six categories: GT, Touring Car, Formula 4, Drifting, Karting Slalom and Digital Motorsport.

"It is something new for not only motorsport followers and future generations of competitors, but also those with a general appreciation of international sport," FIA President Jean Todt said.

The Vallelunga circuit, just north of Rome, will host the three-day event, which has its origins in the GT Nations Cup, held in November 2018 in Bahrain and won by a team from Turkey.

The chances of this new format in motor sport becoming a ‘must go’ are extremely low, in my opinion. Have you heard of the Turkey Team GT Nations Cup? I certainly have not.


British GP (Silverstone) this weekend

One of the best circuits for the F1 circus is Silverstone. Loved by drivers and spectators alike, but now its position on the F1 calendar is in doubt.

The Silverstone management has not signed a contract for 2020 and at the time of publication, the 2020 British GP is in doubt.

What is the sticking point? Money, as usual. In effect, the 20 million pound fee Silverstone must pay to host the grand prix, which increases each year because of a clause detailing the increments.


Silverstone is owned by the British Racing Drivers’ Club and the management rejects suggestions that government support should be possible in Britain as nonsense because government support did not save Turkey, India, and Malaysia which are no longer on the calendar.

The British Grand Prix really is the ancestral home of F1, with the first ever F1 GP held there in 1950 (and won by Dr Farina in the Alfa Romeo, for the collectors of F1 history).

This is a circuit that the drivers universally like, a circuit that allows cars to pass each other (even without the DRS and other buttons or coded messages from the pit wall), and a Grand Prix where it is likely to rain at some point. After all, it is in England, and they cannot possible go three days on the trot without a good drenching from above!

The “arena” part of the circuit was used for the first time a few years back and goes from Abbey to Brooklands corners, moving infield and adds an extra 760 m to the track length. You will be heartened to read that Herr Tilke was not involved. Interestingly, this modification was actually built for the MotoGP series, but now incorporated in the F1 series after Bernie, the patron saint of King Midas the Dwarf Enterprises, gave it his blessing. Yes, that is the same Bernie who has masterminded such yawnfest circuits as Bahrain and Singapore. But don’t start me. Now we have the Liberty Media to blame! God bless America.

The Grand Prix will start at 8 p.m. and we watch at Fletchers Folly, Siam Country Club Road (opposite Maxxis and 300 meters before the “Chicken” intersection (Mitkamol). Let us hope we get another exciting race like Austria.


Bentley GT3 R for sale

If you are interested in purchasing a Continental GT3 go to the Join Team Bentley page. (And make sure your credit card is good for about $300,000.)

According to Bentley PR, W.O. Bentley promised always to build a “good car, fast car, best in its class” and this is no different with the race car. Development of the new Continental GT3 has been led with passion and innovation by the engineers of Bentley Motorsport’s in-house team based in Crewe, and supported across the car by designers and technicians at Bentley’s technical partner, M-Sport.

The new GT3 race car was developed in tandem with the recently launched Continental GT road car, and the performance learnings are many. It utilises a mostly aluminium structure to deliver a much lighter, race-ready weight of significantly less than 1300 kg together with more even weight distribution – ideal for racing. The engine is a new development of the race-proven 4.0-litre Bentley twin-turbo V8, with a redesigned dry sump system and all-new intake and exhaust systems. Unrestricted power is in excess of 570 bhp, fuel consumption is improved and despite reduced exhaust noise the sound is still unmistakably Bentley.

 Bentley GT 3. 

Highly optimized road car intercoolers are used in the Continental GT3 to provide optimum engine performance. Exterior aerodynamic surfaces, based on the sleekly refined lines of the road car, provide additional down force. New suspension and braking systems are also bespoke to the car.

Shopping for a loan

Loans this way.

As the cost to own a new vehicle is rising, it's more important than ever to consider what you'll pay for a car loan and to shop for the best interest rate.

It is difficult to work out percentages used with loans in Thailand, but the following pointers can be looked at when you are in the marketplace.

The average new car loan interest rate reached 5.5% in 2018 in the UK, up about one percentage point from the previous year, according to Ben Bartosch, J.D. Power's manager of forecast analytics. Meanwhile, a new car purchase price is going up, on average, he says. That means a buyer will pay thousands of baht in interest on a 60-month loan. 

With the shift in the loan market, anyone looking to buy a car or refinance a loan needs smart strategies. Here are five things financial and automotive experts say will help you lock in financing that fits your budget.

1. Check your credit rating

If you don't know your credit score, you don't know what interest rate you could qualify for. Additionally, if you find a problem on your credit report, you can fix it before entering the car-buying process. And, if you already have a loan, you may be able to refinance into a lower rate of payment if your credit is stronger than when you started the loan.

Your credit score is available from many personal finance websites, banks and credit card issuers.

2. Shop around for the best rate

The loan-shopping process should start long before the car-buying process, Bartosch says. Calling around, or submitting online applications, could save you hundreds of dollars.

To compare loan offers, keep these terms the same:

Loan amount: In addition to the negotiated purchase price of the car, sales tax and fees will increase the amount you'll need to borrow.

Down payment: The more you put down, the less you have to borrow, saving you money on interest and it might help qualify you for a better rate.

3. Can you really afford it?

Experts recommend 60-month loans for new cars and 36 months for used vehicles.

Aim to spend no more than 10% of your take-home pay on your loan payment and less than 20% for total car expenses, which also includes gas, insurance, repairs and maintenance.

If you're refinancing, extending your loan term can lower your monthly payment, but you may pay more in interest overall.

4 Look at pre-approval

Pre-approval can help you get the most competitive rate. Some shoppers coming in with preapproved loans from credit unions, but others, he says, are waiting for 0% financing from car manufacturers' lending companies.

5. Review the contract

While the loan contract is long and the verbiage is dense, it's important to review it carefully before signing. Double-check the numbers. Mistakes (sometimes intentional) do happen. If the numbers don't add up, make sure the lender hasn't slipped in extra items you don't want, like an extended warranty or gap insurance. And question any extra fees you weren't told about initially or that other lenders don't charge.


Are autonomous cars going to disrupt all our lives?

Stephen Rice and Scott Winter, of the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University believe so, publishing their views in “The Conversation”, an independent and nonprofit source of news, analysis and commentary from academic experts.

Rice and Winter believe autonomous cars will change people’s travel habits not only around their own communities but across much larger distances. Their research has revealed just how much people’s travel preferences could shift, and found a new potential challenge to the airline industry.

Imagine someone who lives in Bangkok and needs to travel to Chiang Mai, for business. This is about a 10-hour drive. A flight takes about two hours, assuming no delays. Add to that the drive to the airport, checking in, the security line and waiting at the gate. Upon arrival in Chiang Mai it may take another 30 minutes to pick up any checked bags and find a rental car – and even more time to drive to the specific destination. The average person would estimate a total travel time of four to five fours as private car and plane.

Autonomous driving.

However, if they could have a fully driverless car take them there, the choice changes. Passengers could eat, drink, work and sleep during the 10-hour drive. They could leave whenever they want, and pack whatever they want – including liquids and pocketknives – with no searches or scans. When they get to Chiang Mai they wouldn’t have to find a rental car and navigate to the actual place they’re going.

Which would you choose? Now imagine the self-driving car has a reclining seat with actual legroom, or even a bed. It’s more than a little tempting.

Experts in public opinion research says that the public loves how quickly flights can cover large distances, but hates the security checks, long lines, delays, risk of losing baggage and overall hassle of the flying experience.

We also know that at the moment, most people are reluctant to ride in driverless vehicles – including school buses and even ambulances that could speed their treatment in an emergency. However, our data also shows that as people learn about the benefits of driverless cars, they become more accepting of the new technology. Over time, people will feel comfortable using autonomous cars (and ambulances), just like they adjusted to riding in the first automobiles.

In their study, the data indicated that people preferred driverless vehicles over manual driving. Taking your own driverless car got even more attractive if people were told that after flying, they would need a rental car in their destination city.

On short trips, with a five-hour drive, two-thirds of people would rather drive themselves. That didn’t change much when they were offered a self-driving car, unless they were told they would need a car in their destination city. Then nearly three-quarters of people preferred a self-driving car to flying.

How will this affect the airlines?

Losing even one in 10 customers would substantially reduce airlines’ revenue. They don’t make much money on each flight as it is; less income would likely cause them to shrink their service, flying fewer routes less frequently.

These changes could substantially change the aviation industry, with airlines ordering fewer airplanes from manufacturers, airports seeing fewer daily flights and lower revenue from parking lots, and even airport hotels hosting fewer guests. The future of driverless cars is appealing to consumers – which means the future of commercial flight is in danger.

(I believe this article is a little too negative, but undoubtedly autonomous travel is in the future.)


What did we learn from Austria?

We learned that it is still possible to have excitement in F1, however the stewards still show their inability to make quick, sensible decisions.

At the previous Grand Prix, first across the line had been Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, however as he exceeded the track limits while dicing with Hamilton (Mercedes), he was penalized by 5 seconds being added to his time, effectively relegating him to second place. This time, with Leclerc (Ferrari) and Verstappen (Red Bull) dicing neck and neck, the Ferrari driver was forced to take an off-track excursion on the second last lap. After deliberating for a couple of hours, the stewards (this time) said no penalty.

There are far too many rules promulgated by the FIA and in attempting to appear even handed, just showed the nonsensical nature of the rule itself. Anyone who has raced a car (or go-kart) has been pushed off the track during a passing maneuver at some stage. The usual way to get past someone is to take the apex from him by sliding in underneath. The car being passed then either cedes the position on track, or runs out of road (off track). Ayrton Senna was very skilled in that procedure. “Give way or crash!”

Another ridiculous rule and attendant penalty was position in the grid box. Haas driver Magnussen even wound up with a drive-through penalty for being out of position at the start. “Out of position” was around 100 mm with his wheel on the line. A nonsensical application of a silly rule.

After Qualifying, the front row was all youngsters with Leclerc on pole and Verstappen alongside. The second row was all Mercedes with Bottas in front of Hamilton. It was not the World Champion’s day.

Mercedes finally had a genuine fight on their hands on two fronts, with both Ferrari and Red Bull looking the better race cars. Bottas looked to be coasting to a composed second, before losing out to Verstappen later on. Managing an overheating race car, the Finn didn't put up too much of a fight. Hamilton fared worse after running wide over the kerbs and damaging his front wing. He pitted for a replacement which cost him places on track, and with similar heating issues, he lacked the speed to chase those ahead.

Meanwhile, way down in the field, but still showing lots of fight, Alex Albon said, “Unfortunately, we didn’t have the pace today, it was a tough first stint where we weren’t quick enough. We weren’t too bad in the second half of the race, but we lost too much time in the first stint. It’s a difficult one to swallow because our long runs were looking quite good on Friday, and that’s two races in a row where we’ve struggled with the balance of the car, so we need to figure out where we can improve.” A truer word never spoken.


Max Verstappen              Red Bull

Charles Leclerc  Ferrari

 Valtteri Bottas  Mercedes

 Sebastian Vettel              Ferrari

 Lewis Hamilton                Mercedes


The (real) Mini is 60

It is difficult to comprehend that Alec Issigonis’ Mini was first released in 1959, and I do make a difference between the BMC Mini and the BMW MINI (which of course it isn’t). However, BMW themselves prefer to use the name all in caps to make sure there is no confusion.

The BMC Mini went from drawing board to showroom floor in less than three years. In today’s computer age, manufacturers take five years as the industry standard.

To say the Mini was popular, was an understatement. Over its lifetime, they sold 5,387,062 and was the most formidable British car to influence the world marketplace.

I had a Mini 850 in 1960 and a 1275 GT in 1990. They were not perfect. They had some peculiar quirks, but they made motoring fun.

 An early Mini.

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Electric Jaguars to be made in UK despite Brexit uncertainty

Tesla S coming to Thailand?

Shopping for a loan