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Vol. XV No. 7
Friday February 16 - February 22, 2007

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Updated every Friday
by Saichon Paewsoongnern

AUTO MANIA

by Dr. Iain Corness
 

How would you like $108 million a day?

That is what Exxon Mobil made last year folks, a record profit of USD 39.5 billion. And that's about 1.37 trillion if you need it in Thai currency. That is also USD 108 million a day. And this is the nice friendly folks at Exxon who are wringing their hands on our behalf as the price of oil goes up. And the price of petrol at the pumps.

If you believe that we are about to run out of fossil fuel any day now, then Exxon Mobil are probably just making their final killing. However, if you believe that there's a few years worth of oil still to be pulled out of the ground, then that same company is making that killing at our expense.
To put everything in its correct perspective, that USD 39.5 billion is the highest profit ever recorded by any American corporation. Ever! And that is while they are trying to look like the "good guys" who are doing everything they can for us to keep prices down at the pumps, while those nasty OPEC guys are pushing oil prices up. Don't make me weep, I'm running out of hankies.
If the said Exxon Mobil really believed that the oil crisis was nigh, then they would be spending some of that daily 108 million dollars in developing the delivery systems for hydrogen and CNG and anything else we need to replace gasoline. But are they? No they are not.
This either makes them stupid, which I am also sure they are not. After all if I think I am more clever than they are, why am I not making 108 million dollars a day? No, they are more clever than I, and yet are doing nothing alternative fuel-wise. Why not? Because the oil isn't about to run out, and the higher the barrel price gets, then previously unsustainable oilfields become profitable again. Including some in Texas, right George?
No, if you want to know what is going on in the world (or going up), then read the financial pages of your newspaper. It was there that I read of Daniel Barcelo an energy analyst from the Bank of America who said that Exxon's figures (both production and profit) were the result of "long term planning and execution" and he expected Exxon Mobil to continue to increase production right through to 2010. So that black stuff under the ground will be with us for a few more years yet.
Trust me. Exxon said it!


The Italians make a back to front Tuk-Tuk

F-300 Life-JetWhile three-wheeler machines are not uncommon, especially in Asia, the Italian Piaggio MP3 features two front wheels, rather than two rear wheels, and they tilt, which is uncommon, says the factory.


Piaggio claims the MP3 provides safety, road grip and stability levels that no two-wheeler can match. It features an electro-hydraulic suspension locking system which means it stays upright when parked without the need for any stand.
It is also claimed that the MP3 also requires less braking distance than other scooters as it is fitted with three disc brakes.

Piaggio MP3

While Piaggio may think they have something revolutionary, take a look at this other photo, being of the F-300 Life-Jet, designed and built by Mercedes Benz and revealed at the Frankfurt Motor Show 10 years ago! This had two wheels at the front and they leaned into the corner also.
By the way, the Piaggio was shown at the Brisbane Motor Show in Australia where the entry price for the public was $16 for adults, $10 for children and $24 for a family, making it over B. 400 per ticket for an adult. This makes the very cheap Bangkok International Motor Show even better value for money.


Autotrivia Quiz
Last week I asked what did a Chrysler Town and Country, and an MGTC have in common? Hint, think bodywork. The Chrysler TC and the MGTC both had wood frame bodies, though the Chrysler's was exposed and the MGs was hidden. According to my mate Jerry Coffey, who owned a Chrysler, the wood was ash, which it was, and it was supplied by Perkin Wood Products of Helena Arkansas. The MGTC was also ash wood framed, and we used to claim that the only thing that kept MGTCs together was the fact that the termites were so terrified that they all hung onto each other!
So to this week. And nobody will get within cooee of this one. Four of the most significant F1 cars in Michael Schumacher's career were the Jordan 191 (his first GP), the Benetton B. 191 (his first world championship points), the Benetton B. 194 (his first world championship) and the Ferrari F2002 (his totally dominant year). These four are currently on sale as a set. How much is the asking price for the set in US dollars? Get within USD 50,000 to be the winner!
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first correct answer to email auto [email protected]
Good luck!


BMW 1 Series looking more like a Yaris

New BMW 1 Series

BMW are upping the ante in the small car stakes with a revised 1 Series, previously the ugly duckling in the BMW sedan models. All through the range, the BMWs are looking 'greener' than before, though performance is still there for the asking.
The new three- and five-door BMW 1 Series models will be on display at the Geneva Motor Show in March and will go on sale in the UK at the same time. There will be a multi-engine line up that includes what the factory claims is the most fuel efficient production vehicle BMW has ever produced.
The technological side of BMW remains an important factor with Brake Energy Regeneration, Automatic Start-Stop function and Electric Power Steering all combined with lower rolling resistance tyres and a gearshift change indicator to encourage economical motoring. These innovations are in addition to the use of variable valve technologies and High-Precision Direct Injection engines on some 1 Series models that boost power output but cut fuel consumption and emissions.
The fuel miser is the 118d, now BMW's most economical car, manages its record 60.1 mpg figure courtesy of these features in conjunction with the use of further lightweight engineering. The car now has an aluminium crankcase to save weight. Aside from the BMW Hydrogen 7, the BMW 118d also posts the lowest ever CO2 emissions of any BMW recording 123 g/km.
Other engines in the new 1 Series range record economy improvements of up to 24 percent compared to the previous model, while emissions have also been cut by up to 21 percent.
Brake Energy Regeneration (iGR) makes its debut on the 1 Series. The system uses an Intelligent Alternator Control (IAC) and an Absorbent Glass Mat battery to recycle previously lost energy, in turn saving fuel. This is achieved as the IAC reduces drag on the engine by only engaging when required to charge the battery, whereas a traditional alternator is always pulling power from the engine. Additionally, the energy generated by the engine on over-run (under braking or descending a hill) was previously wasted. Now this lost energy is utilized by the IAC to charge the battery. The factory claims that the iGR alone is responsible for a three percent improvement in fuel economy.
The new 1 Series comes with Automatic Start-Stop function to cut fuel consumption. This system automatically switches the engine off when the vehicle is stationary and the driver puts the car into neutral. Pushing the clutch in is the signal for the engine to restart, ready to drive off.
Electric Power Steering results in a 90 percent energy saving compared to conventional mechanical hydraulic power steering system. The power assistance is now provided by the electric motor that works only when required, such as turning a corner.
Other fuel saving enhancements have been made, such as the air-conditioning power supply being disconnected from the drivetrain when not in use. Even variable flaps behind the grille improve economy, closing up for improved aerodynamic efficiency should the engine require less airflow. This feature also improves cold starting times.
All BMW 1 Series models come with Dynamic Stability Control with Dynamic Traction Control for the best combination driving pleasure and safety. DSC+ system for enhanced convenience and driver safety includes Hill Start Assistant, Brake Pre-tensioning, Brake Drying, Brake Fade Compensation and Soft Stop.
The technology also embraces audio and the new 1 Series has MP3 and USB stick capability for the best in in-car entertainment. Customers with their favorite music loaded on an Apple iPod or a USB stick can now plug these into the car to continue their listening. Tracks are selected via steering wheel controls or the unloved iDrive system that BMW, Godblessem, continues to persevere with.
All BMW 1 Series have six airbags as standard, the Brake Force Display function on the rear lights to highlight sharp braking and Run-flat tyres with Tyre Puncture Warning System.
The exterior styling of the five-door model has many changes. These include a larger grille for improved airflow to the engine. At the rear a restyled bumper gives the impression of a wider, lower car. The rear lamp cluster now features a new arrangement of lights, but retains its original shape.
The new three-door 1 Series features the same styling cues but its side view is naturally different. The passenger doors are longer than those on the five-door model and are also frameless in the style of a coupe. Inside, customers will also be able to choose between either a four-seat or a five-seat configuration. In the four-seat arrangement rear passengers are separated by a central storage compartment and sit in more sculptured seats. As a no-cost option the five-seat layout offers the traditional bench seat standard on the five-door 1 Series.
Since there will be a large price differential between the German car loaded with technology and say, the not-so-technical Toyota Yaris, it will be difficult to justify the additional expense. Unless you are a dyed in the wool greenie, for whom fuel consumption is your all-consuming passion.



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