Update September 23, 2017
Nissan looks for dramatic jumps in manufacture
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
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
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
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
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 -
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.
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
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
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
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
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.
The very first Range Rover Ecoque Cabrio in
Thailand is in Pattaya. Proud owners are Bo und Axel Brauer, a successful German
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
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
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
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
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
. Good luck!
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
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
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
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.
as the Red Bull pair were 2nd and
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
***** 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
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
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
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.
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!
Always hankered after a Bucciali?
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
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
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.
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
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!