Canadian GP this weekend
The eighth Grand Prix of the 2005 season
crosses the Atlantic to be run in Montreal at the Gilles
Villeneuve Circuit, constructed on a man-made island which had
been used in the 1967 Expo. Originally named the Ile Notre
Dame circuit the circuit was renamed in Villeneuve’s memory
after his death in 1982. The location is one of the loveliest
in Formula One since the narrow track threads its way through
lakes and parkland. It is a narrow, medium-fast, 2.75 mile
circuit with 13 corners. Some corners were eased for 1979, a
new corner before the pits was added in 1991 and a chicane was
added in 1994.
Whilst Alonso appears to have a good lead
in the championship, there are many rounds to come, and he was
extremely lucky at the European GP, to have Raikkonen’s
McLaren Mercedes break down on the final lap. In testing so
far since then, the McLarens have been very, very competitive.
I would not put my money on Alonso for this weekend.
While Villeneuve in the Sauber will be the
darling of the Canadian set, he is certainly not the darling
of Sauber team owner Peter Sauber. Taking your team member off
and ending up with no points for either car is one of the
worst ‘crimes’ a driver can commit. Currently Villeneuve
seems to be just a mobile chicane, and patience with him is
running thin. I would not be surprised to see him dropped
before the year end. There are better drivers out there
standing on the sidelines.
points scores are:
1 F Alonso (Spa) 59
2= K Raikkonen (Fin) 27
2= J Trulli (Ita) 27
4 N Heidfeld (Ger) 25
5 M Webber (Aus) 18
6= R Schumacher (Ger) 17
6= G Fisichella (Ita) 17
8= JP Montoya (Col) 16
8= M Schumacher (Ger) 16
10= D Coulthard (GB) 15
10= R Barrichello (Bra) 15
12 A Wurz (Aut) 6
13 J Villeneuve (Can) 5
14 P de la Rosa (Spa) 4
15 C Klien (Aut) 3
16 F Massa (Bra) 2
17 V Liuzzi (Ita) 1
1 Renault 76
2 McLaren 53
3 Toyota 44
4 BMW-Williams 43
5 Ferrari 31
6 Red Bull 19
7 Sauber 7
Now since this GP comes from the other side of the world,
the telecasting here will begin (I think) at midnight, but I
will be getting to Jameson’s Irish Pub on Soi AR well
before. Join me for a beer and a natter beforehand.
How long does
it take to build a car?
Well, it takes under 2 hours to build the
engines, and your car can be ready around 16 hours after that!
Obviously, the faster you can screw one together, the more
efficient your plant, and the more profit per vehicle. So
which company is most efficient? Do you have to ask? Toyota,
According to the annual Harbour Report
released last week, Toyota has passed Nissan as the most
efficient producer of vehicles in North America. Auto News
also reported that the General Motors Oshawa, Ontario, No. 1
plant passed Nissan’s Altima line in Smyrna, Tennessee, as
the most efficient assembly plant in North America, using
15.85 labor hours per vehicle. The Oshawa No. 1 plant produces
the Chevrolet Impala and Monte Carlo cars.
Harbour Consulting of Troy, Mich., measures
the productivity of North America’s automobile factories.
Toyota Motor Corp. cut its total labor hours per vehicle 5.5
percent from last year’s study to 27.90 hours, according to
the report. Total hours are calculated using production at
stamping, power-train and assembly operations.
“Toyota’s labor productivity lead
equates to a $350 to $500 per vehicle cost advantage relative
to domestic manufacturers,” said Harbour President Ron
Harbour. He noted that Toyota has placed more emphasis on the
Toyota Production System and the automaker is aggressively
spreading standardized manufacturing processes throughout its
Nissan, traditionally the leader in
assembly plant productivity, saw its overall labor hours per
vehicle climb 4.8 percent to 29.43 hours. The reason: The
automaker introduced several redesigned products in 2004,
including the Maxima sedan, Pathfinder SUV and the Frontier
pickup at its Smyrna plant.
Also, the Altima line at the Smyrna plant,
which last year ranked No. 1 at 15.33 labor hours per vehicle,
scored 16.10 hours per vehicle in this year’s report. Yet
the Altima, Maxima and Xterra SUV lines at Smyrna placed among
the top 10 assembly plants in hours per vehicle.
In the overall labor measurement, the Big 3
scored within 2.6 labor hours per vehicle of each other -
ranging from 34.33 hours for GM to 36.9 hours for Ford Motor
Co. Both Ford and DaimlerChrysler improved their total
hours-per-vehicle score 4.2 percent from last year, while
GM’s score improved 2.5 percent.
Over the past three years,
DaimlerChrysler’s total hours score on the report has
improved 19 percent. And the automaker’s Belvedere,
Illinois, plant broke into the list of top 10 vehicle assembly
plants. The plant, which builds the Dodge Neon car and is
preparing to convert to a five-door vehicle that will replace
the Neon, ranked No. 7 on the list. “Unlike its past
recoveries, Chrysler is making broad improvements that
permeate beyond manufacturing,” Harbour said. “This will
provide more consistency in future market fluctuations.”
Among average assembly plant productivity,
the New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. plant in Fremont,
Calif., was the top-ranked company at 21.78 hours per vehicle,
down 0.6 percent from last year’s report. The plant is a
joint venture between GM and Toyota. (Amazing just who is in
bed with whom, at any one time, in the auto industry!)
GM ranked second in average assembly plant
productivity at 23.09 hours per vehicle. In fact, four of the
top 10 assembly plants were GM plants.
Mitsubishi Motors Corp.’s (world-wide)
decline in sales hurt the productivity score of its plant in
Normal, Illinois, which ranked last among company averages.
The plant saw its labor hours per vehicle jump 17.5 percent
from last year’s report to 29.89 hours per vehicle. The
Harbour Report also measures productivity at stamping and
engine building operations. Toyota shines in both areas.
Toyota led in stamping productivity at 1.37 hours per vehicle,
a 28.3 percent gain from last year’s report. Harbour noted
that Toyota got a report-record 775 average parts per hour
from its stamping operations.
Toyota’s four-cylinder engine plant in
Buffalo, W. Vancouver, was top-ranked in the report, needing
only 1.88 labor hours per engine. But GM had four engine
plants ranked in the report’s top 10, with the Tonawanda,
N.Y., plant ranked No. 3, and the Spring Hill, Tennessee,
plant at No. 4.
at Bira this weekend too
What a race-fest for the motor racing
enthusiasts this weekend! A GP (even though fairly late in the
evening) plus a big race meeting at Bira, with Formula BMW,
the Asian Touring Car series and the Porsche Cup Asia on the
All of these categories are hotly
contested, and have Thai representation at the pointy end, so
it would be worthwhile coming along to cheer on the locals. In
the Formula BMW’s, Robert T. Boughey (Team Meritus) is the
sole Thai driver in the Formula BMW Asia field. The 22 year
old was runner up in the Rookie Cup last year, and began the
season determined to clinch the championship proper this time
around. His victory, and his maiden one was in Bahrain in
April and his second place finish in Sepang last month, puts
him fourth on the points score going into Rounds 5 and 6.
Although Boughey is confident of a good
showing in his upcoming home races - current championship
leader Salman Al Khalifa (BAH/Team E-Rain) will be difficult
to topple. However, the truly pan-Asian field is packed to the
gills this year with talent. Another sensation is 15 year old
Armaan Ebrahim (Team E-Rain), who scored his maiden victory
last month in just his fourth outing in the car to put him
second on the points, closely followed by 19 year old fellow
Rookie Charlie-Ro Charlez (MAS/Team Meritus).
In the Porsche Cup there is the
ever-youthful Natavude, who is one of the most polished
drivers in Thailand, and always my pick for honours, though in
this very hotly contested series too, there are a number of
drivers all trying to get on the top step, including reigning
British Touring Car champion 18 year old Jonathan Cocker, last
year’s Porsche Cup winner Matthew Marsh and Malaysia’s
Rizal Ramli. On the tight Bira circuit, expect some paint
exchanges in this group. Natavud has a narrow points lead from
Cocker and Vuthikorn (Thailand).
In the Asian Touring Cars, Franz Engler currently leads
from Mod Farique Hairuman and experienced local Thai, Prutirat
Nosh and Noggin
The monthly car enthusiasts meeting has changed venue, and
will be at Jameson’s Irish Pub on Soi AR next to the Nova
Park development. The car (and bike) enthusiasts meet on the
second Monday of the month, so this time it is Monday (13th)
at Jameson’s at 7 p.m. This is a totally informal meeting of
like minded souls which meets on the second Monday of each
month to discuss their pet motoring (and motorcycling) loves
and hates. Just ask any of the lovely Jameson’s girls where
the group is and they will point us out and give you a push.
Last week, I asked what was the name of the
concept car that Ford engineers took to Watkins Glen in 1962.
The clue was that it was a two seater and mid engined. This
concept car was called the “Mustang”, even though the
final Mustang which was introduced a year later was front
engined and a 5 seater. Quiz regular MacAlan Thompson was
first in (again). He now has racked up so many beers I have to
make sure I’m out of town if he calls!
So to this week. The YCC Volvo, the concept
car designed by women for women has what was described as a
unique feature. This was the ability to park itself, and you
can just picture the lady driver telling her car to “go park
yourself” can’t you! However, there was a vehicle produced
around 20 years previously, that did wriggle itself into
parking spaces, complete with four-wheel steer. What was this
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be
the first correct answer to email au [email protected]