Excuse me, have you seen an E85 pump round here?
The debate over alternate fuels has
continued unabated during 2007, 2008 and 2009. The number of
options that are being bandied about just means to me that
nobody really knows which way to turn. The technologies are
all there, but there is no consensus on the way to go.
So now we have LPG, CNG, E 5, E 10, E 20 and E 85 ethanol to
plug-in rechargeable electric batteries and hydrogen fuel
cells. Which one is the future energy delivery for the
Different countries have been leaning towards different
solutions. Brazil has gone to Ethanol (including E 85),
Europe is tending towards diesel and Thailand? Well, we seem
to be backing every horse in the race, even to the situation
where PTT is promising several E 85 pumps before we have any
real numbers of E 85 compatible cars. Currently I believe
there is one E 85 pump in Bangkok, as I write this. So if
you have an E 85 car, don’t stray too far from home.
Not only are there differences between countries, but there
are marked differences of opinion between manufacturers.
Honda is looking at hydrogen fuel cells, but admit the
commercial reality is about nine years down the track.
Toyota are still hybrid petrol/electric. GM are plug-in
What is happening is that people have become polarized (like
the domestic political situation) and can only see one
option - theirs! People who like natural gas promote only
natural gas as if it is the savior of mankind and overly
criticize all the other alternative fuels.
So which one is it that can save you money and help save the
planet? Some say ethanol but others disagree. “This idea
that we can replace foreign oil with ethanol is madness,”
says Author Robert Bryce who has written a book called,
Gusher of Lies: The Dangerous Delusions of Energy
Independence. Fifty-four pages of the book are devoted to
what he calls the ethanol scam. He says there’s no shortage
of oil in the world, so why shouldn’t the US keep using it?
This whole debate is, however, nothing new. The Tribune
Business News in America in Aug. 27, 1993 (16 years ago) was
reporting, “As competition for an emerging and potentially
huge alternative fuels market heats up, the debate continues
over which fuel is superior. Agencies from Oklahoma and four
other states, the Department of Energy, the Environmental
Protection Agency, Canada and Mexico will meet for an
alternative fuels debate Tuesday through Thursday at the
State Convention Center in Little Rock, Arkansas.” Obviously
that debate did not produce any real solutions way back then
- just as is happening right now.
FCX Clarity Fuel Cell
Why do we (all of us motorists) need a serious competitor to
oil? This would not only reduce every country’s dependence
on foreign oil suppliers, but also help reduce the ability
of groups such as OPEC to set such a high price per barrel.
I don’t think anyone would dispute that last call! The golf
courses in the desert were built by the motorists in
Larry Burns, General Motors Research and Development chief
(if he’s still there) said a couple of years ago, “The best
way to get the (alternate fuel) infrastructure is to get
competitive alternatives to those who control it today.” He
is certainly pointing the finger here at Big Oil and
government. Burns’ infrastructure includes nuclear-generated
“I would put one nuclear plant on a closed military base so
it is secure and I would dedicate power to creating
hydrogen, hordes of it. You can make a lot from a nuclear
plant. I would introduce hydrogen fuel cell vehicles using
that because they are exciting vehicles that customers like.
Then I would go to OPEC and say, “Do you want to talk? The
reason that I would do that is because now we (would) have
an alternative. We (would) have shown that we don’t have to
rely on petroleum any more. It’s not to say that we don’t
want petroleum - it’s just that there is not a competitive
The hydrogen exponents are still hamstrung by the lack of a
good grid reticulation system, and split as to whether to
use the hydrogen for fuel cell technology (Honda FCX
Clarity) or using it directly as a fuel such as done by BMW
and Mazda. Whereas the plug-ins have already got electricity
grids supplying their houses, so new delivery systems do not
need to be made.
Natural gas is another energy source, but another one with
reticulation problems. There is one station close to my
house which has a queue every Sunday morning stretching back
for up to two kilometers!
The only area where all the players agree is that we should
not be totally dependent upon ‘foreign’ oil. But the
alternative solution still appears to be a way off, even
However, as I wrote this item, a meeting in Australia was
coming down heavily towards electric vehicles. It was being
claimed that up to 40 plug-in electric vehicles - either
full electric or hybrid - are being developed by the world’s
motor manufacturers for launch within three years,
propelling electricity to the forefront of alternative
transport, according to a leading Australian authority on
Dr Andrew Simpson told the 2009 Intelligent Transport
Systems Summit in Melbourne that electricity had already won
the battle against hydrogen as the next big force in
motoring, with car-makers deciding that electric vehicles
(EVs) would help them to “get to zero emissions much
Dr Simpson, a senior research fellow at Western Australia’s
Curtin University of Technology, told the conference that
electric vehicle sales would accelerate from almost scratch
today to at least one million electric vehicles globally -
about five percent of world car production - by 2013, and
become the dominant form of car propulsion by 2030.
I suggest you make sure your car-port has an electric
Tracking device returns
Actor Danny Dyer is usually the one on the wrong
side of the law in his big screen roles, but recently he was
the victim of a real life crime when thieves stole his car
keys and drove away in his Porsche Cayenne. In the UK, the
leading stolen vehicle recovery specialist said that 75
percent of stolen cars are taken using the owner’s keys.
Dyer woke up to discover that his car keys had been stolen
from his house in Loughton, Essex and his Porsche was gone.
Luckily, the vehicle was fitted with Tracker’s stolen
vehicle recovery device, which was activated and the Porsche
was found by police in Barking an hour and a-half later.
Danny Dyer says, “I’m amazed at how quickly Tracker
recovered my car. Without the tracker device fitted, my
Porsche would still be in the hands of thieves and I may
never have recovered it. I’ll definitely be using Tracker on
all my cars from now on.”
I reviewed a similar device right here in Thailand a couple
of months ago, called the Tramigo, which does the same
function of being able to locate your vehicle without the
thieves knowing the device is installed. You can contact the
principal of Tramigo Thailand (Karl) on 089 923 6845. The
cost is very small compared to the loss of your vehicle,
even with insurance which will only pay the so-called
Last week, to try and bamboozle the Googlers
again, I printed the following photo and asked what car
it was. It was not a Morgan three-wheeler as everyone
presumed, but was a British kit car running what I think
is a Moto Guzzi motorcycle engine. The original Morgan
three wheelers had sliding pillar front suspension, and
not double wishbones as in this car and used a variety
of engines, including V-twin engines from J.A.P. (J.A.
Prestwich), M.A.G. (Motosacoche, Acacias, Geneva),
Blumfield, Green Precision (F.E. Baker, Ltd.,
Birmingham), Blackburne, British Anzani and finally
Matchless. With the appearance of the F-Type in 1933,
Morgan introduced a four-cylinder engine to their
three-wheelers: The Ford model “Y” E93A. So now you
So to this week. An MG history question. What was the
difference between the rear suspension on the MG TB as
opposed to the MG TC?
For the Automania FREE beer this week, be the first
correct answer to email [email protected]
The above item dealing with alternative fuel
sources presumes that we have the battery technology
that we can utilize. Plug in, recharge and away you go.
Or don’t go.
I have always considered car electrics to be a black
art. Take the common old battery, for example, and I am
sure you have all experienced the following. You have a
perfectly good battery which is just over 12 months old.
In your mind that’s almost brand new. In fact, you can
even remember how much you paid for it, so it must be
very new. And then one morning it won’t turn the engine
over. It worked perfectly yesterday, and now it won’t.
You push start the car and run it for half an hour, as
you suppose you must have left the headlights or even
the interior light on, or something equally as
explicable. Turn it off, and go to start, and hey
presto! It’s still as dead as a dodo.
If you are really into masochism, you then borrow your
mate’s battery charger and leave it on all night.
Triumphantly you remove the cables and jump in. It
doesn’t work. Perfectly good one day, completely cactus
the next. Explain that one, Mr. Edison.
Just find some
Tickets on themselves
I heard from a reliable source who was at the Abu
Dhabi Grand Prix, that new buddies at McLaren, Jenson Button
and Lewis Hamilton asked what “security arrangements” were
in place for them if they attended the post-race
they be smiling in 2010?
Just who (or what) do they think they are? Talk about an
inflated idea of their own importance! They may be ‘world
champions’ in their particular branch of motor sport, but
that does not mean they have some special status in the
great wide world. With their obscene salaries in the
multi-millions of dollars, they are confusing their salary
cheques with their ‘real worth’.