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Update March 2019

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Automania by Dr. Iain Corness

Volvo’s Polestar unveils electric car touted as Tesla rival

Volvo Polestar (Photo: Polestar via AP).

Frankfurt, Germany (AP) - Volvo’s electric performance brand Polestar is unveiling a battery-powered compact car touted as a rival to Tesla’s Model 3.

The Polestar 2 is a five-door vehicle with a panoramic glass roof, an all-vegan interior and a battery with enough capacity to drive 500 kilometers under European tests for range measurement, or 275 miles under U.S. testing rules.

With 408 horsepower, it should accelerate from zero to 100 kph (0-62 mph) in under five seconds. Polestar said Wednesday that the car’s U.S. price for the launch version will be $55,500 after tax incentives; later a lower-priced version with less range is envisioned.

The car shown at this month’s Geneva auto show becomes available in 2020.

Volvo Car Group, headquartered in Goteborg, Sweden, is a subsidiary of Chinese automaker Geely.

Geneva International Motor Show

Bugatti La Voiture Noire.

Geneva this week, and Bangkok International Motor Show two weeks after that. Both motor shows but both quite different. If you are interested in the new Bugatti La Voiture Noire which will set you back a cool USD 18 million then Geneva is the place to strut your stuff. If, however, you are in the market for the latest four door pick-up or the top of the line Toyota, then come to Bangkok.

Not that there is anything wrong with our local show, it’s just a different marketplace. We do not have vehicles like the Koenigsegg Ragnarok with its engine that develops 1,360 horsepower or so in Europe, or the Pininfarina, a bargain at USD 2 million which develops 1,900 horsepower and is an electric supercar capable of 400 kph. Just what you need on Pattaya’s North Road.

Going to the Singapore Grand Prix?

The Singapore Grand Prix is held later this year. However, this is not the first race in Singapore. Far from it, and in fact, the island state has been host to motor racing for many years. There was a race meeting held on the airstrip at Changi in 1957. The meeting was held in aid of the Soldiers, Sailors Air Force Association, a charitable body helping ex-servicemen. It was quite an event for post-war Singapore.

The first Grand Prix in Singapore was held in 1961. It was called the Malaysian Grand Prix and the name was changed to the Singapore Grand Prix from 1966 after Singapore attained its independence in 1965.

The circuit was a road course, just like the 2019 course will be, and the first Grand Prix in 1961 was won by Ian Barnwell in an Aston Martin DB3S while the first Singapore Grand Prix of post independence Singapore (also run to Formula Libre rules) saw Lee Han Seng win in a Lotus 22 Lotus-Ford, and the final race in the series was won by Aussie Vern Schuppan in a March-Ford in 1973.

The event was discontinued after 1973 for a variety of reasons, including an increase in traffic and the consequent inconvenience of having to close roads for the event, and fatal accidents during the 1972 and 1973 races were producing a public outcry.

Against that background, we now have today’s Singapore Grand Prix, now part of the F1 circus. As spelled out a few months ago, the timing of the night event means it can be broadcast at a convenient time for European TV audiences. According to the F1 Singapore Grand Prix website, the start time of the race will be 8 p.m. local time.

F1 2019 kicks off this weekend

F1 Schedule and no, Thailand is not there yet. The Buriram circuit is all ready for F1 accreditation but there is a small problem with mega dollars before we would get the nod. The mega dollars figure has been enough to see Malaysia pull out and Silverstone pull out as well next year.

March 17: Australia, Melbourne                12 noon

March 31: Bahrain, Sakhir             10 p.m.

April 14: China, Shanghai               1 p.m.

April 28: Azerbaijan, Baku             7 p.m.

May 12: Spain, Barcelona              8 p.m.

May 26: Monaco              8 p.m.

June 9: Canada, Montreal            1 a.m.

June 23: France, Le Castellet       8 p.m.

June 30: Austria, Spielberg           8 p.m.

July 14: Britain, Silverstone8 p.m.              8 p.m.

July 28: Germany, Hockenheim 8 p.m.

Aug. 4: Hungary, Budapest          8 p.m.

Sept. 1: Belgium, Spa      8 p.m.

Sept. 8: Italy, Monza       8 p.m.

Sept. 22: Singapore         7 p.m.

Sept. 29: Russia, Sochi    8 p.m.

Oct. 13: Japan, Suzuka   12 noon

Oct. 27: Mexico City        2 a.m.

Nov. 3: United States, Austin      2 a.m.

Nov. 17: Brazil, Sao Paulo              12 midnight

Dec. 1: Abu Dhabi, Yas Marina    8 p.m.

Indeed a crowded calendar, but some of the circuits produce deadly boring motor races. However, Silverstone and Spa are still in the schedule. Monaco is a waste of time as is Singapore, unless you are into singers and rock groups you’ve never heard of. Lewis Hamilton will be at home amongst the rappers.

More recalls for Hyundai, Kia

Tom Krisher

Detroit (AP) - Hyundai and Kia have added more than a half-million vehicles of U.S. recalls for engine failures and fires.

The companies have now recalled nearly 2.4 million vehicles for fire and engine failure problems since September of 2015, and they are under investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for potentially being slow to fix faulty vehicles.

In addition, the companies are doing a “product improvement campaign” covering another 3.7 million vehicles to install software that will alert drivers of possible engine failures and send the cars into a reduced-speed “limp” mode if problems are detected.

The largest of three recalls posted on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration website Thursday covers nearly 379,000 Kia Soul small SUVs from 2012 through 2016 with 1.6-liter engines. Documents show that high exhaust gas temperatures can damage the catalytic converters, which control pollution. That can cause abnormal combustion and damage pistons and connecting rods. A failed connecting rod can pierce the engine block and cause oil leaks that can cause fires.

In addition, Hyundai and Kia are recalling 152,000 Tuscon SUVs from 2011 to 2013 and Sportage SUVs from 2011 and 2012 to fix an engine oil pan leak that also can cause fires.

All Souls with 1.6-liter engines made from July 8, 2011 through August 11, 2016 are being recalled. Dealers will replace a computer that prevents the catalytic converter from overheating. They’ll also replace the catalytic converter and the engine if they have been damaged. Letters will be mailed to owners starting April 12.

Documents in the latest round of recalls don’t mention whether there have been any fires or injuries. In January, Kia said it had six reports of fires among vehicles being recalled for possible fuel leaks, while Hyundai said it had no fire reports. Neither company had any reports of injuries.

BMW and Daimler team up on automated driving technology

Frankfurt, Germany (AP) - BMW and Daimler announced Thursday they will work together on developing the automated driving technology expected to transform the industry in the years ahead as automakers try to fend off competition from tech companies such as Uber and Waymo.

The two German companies said it would be a “long-term strategic cooperation” to more quickly come up with advanced driver assistance systems, automated driving on closed spaces such as highways and automated parking.

The partnership comes as automakers face new rivals in the business of getting people from one place to another such as Uber and Waymo, which are both working on autonomous driving. BMW and Daimler last week launched a joint venture in auto-related digital services such as car sharing, ride-hailing and ticketless parking. Ford and Volkswagen have said they are talking about teaming up on developing autonomous and battery-powered cars.

BMW and Daimler said that by working together, they can shorten development cycles and make “next-level technologies widely available by the middle of the coming decade.” The cooperation for now focuses on automation that falls short of fully self-driving vehicles that do not have a driver, but could be extended to that level in the future.

Autonomous driving is part of a wave of technological change expected to shift the auto industry toward offering the use of a car as a service through smartphone apps as an alternative to car ownership.

Klaus Froehlich, chief of development for BMW, said that “combining the strength of our two companies will boost our innovative strength and speed up the spread of this technology.”

The linkup doesn’t cancel any work the companies have going with other partners, such as Daimler’s pilot program with technology and parts supplier Bosch on self-driving vehicles in California. BMW is working on developing autonomous cars at its campus in Unterschliessheim, north of its Munich headquarters. Daimler is headquartered in Stuttgart.

2nd Classic Car event a great success

92 vehicles were on display, including my Escort race car sponsored by the Riviera Group, B-Quik and Casa Pascal restaurant. It was a great day for the auto enthusiasts.

The Classic Car Friends Club organized their classic car display in the Asia Pattaya Hotel grounds. 92 vehicles were on display and ranged from an Austin 8 to a seven liter drag racing Mustang, three MGAs, three Ford Escort Mk1s (including my Escort race car sponsored by the Riviera Group, B-Quik and Casa Pascal restaurant), 10 Alfa Romeos, E-Type Jaguars and a ‘for sale’ XJ Series III. It was a great day for the auto enthusiasts.

2000 visitors came to the display, with many from Bangkok, while 35 cars went on the parade.

A Charity dinner had 262 guests with the proceeds going to the Human Help Network charity.

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked, what happened to the Porsche 901? That was easy, as the 901 was never released. It was intended to and the aluminium crankcase was even inscribed 901. What happened? Peugeot advised Porsche that it had taken out trademarks on all the three number combinations with a zero in the center – remember the 203, 503 and others. Porsche had to quickly rename the (stillborn) 901 as the 911, but did not have the time to recast the crankcases. This is why you will find early 911s (long bonnets) have 901 crankcases.

So to this week. An engine designed by Dr. Porsche, six cylinder in line and the sedan was built by another manufacturer. What car was this? Clue 1937.

For the Automania dehydrated beer this week (just add your own hops and water), be the first correct answer to email [email protected]  or [email protected] . Good luck!

HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Volvo’s Polestar unveils electric car touted as Tesla rival

Geneva International Motor Show

Going to the Singapore Grand Prix?

F1 2019 kicks off this weekend

More recalls for Hyundai, Kia

BMW and Daimler team up on automated driving technology

2nd Classic Car event a great success

Autotrivia Quiz