Dr. Iain Corness

Thursday, 21 August 2014 13:32

Spa this weekend

After the mid-year break, the F1 circus starts again, with this weekend’s race at Spa in Belgium.  F1 returns to one of the best tracks on the calendar - Spa Francorchamps, a circuit that everyone enjoys (are you listening, Bernie).

Thursday, 21 August 2014 13:30

BMW goes FWD

After being a staunch RWD manufacturer, BMW has swapped ends, with the new 2 Series being the first of over 20 vehicles featuring Front Wheel Drive (FWD).  These will include 10 “MINI’s” and 12 BMW’s.

Thursday, 21 August 2014 13:28

Toyota joins the Hydrogen club

The Hydrogen Fuel Cell Vehicle (FCV) has come to the surface, with Toyota saying that their FCV will be on sale during 2015.

The Toyota FCV Concept is a pioneer in the development of hydrogen-powered vehicles.  The concept boasts a driving range of at least 500 km and refueling times as low as three minutes, roughly the same time as a gasoline vehicle.

With Toyota’s proprietary small, light-weight FC Stack and two 70 MPa high-pressure hydrogen tanks placed beneath the specially designed body, the Toyota FCV Concept can accommodate up to four passengers.

Toyota FCVToyota FCV

The Toyota FC Stack boasts power output density of 3 kW/l, more than twice that of the current “Toyota FCHV-adv” FC Stack.  In addition, the FC system is equipped with Toyota’s high-efficiency boost converter.  Increasing the voltage made it possible to reduce the size of the motor and the number of FC cells, leading to a smaller FC system with enhanced performance at reduced cost.

The new FCV will launch in Japan before April 2015, and preparations are underway for launches in the U.S. and European markets in the summer of 2015.

In Japan, the fuel cell sedan will go on sale at Toyota and Toyopet dealerships, priced at approximately 7 million yen (MSRP; excludes consumption tax).  Initially, sales will be limited to regions where hydrogen refueling infrastructure is being developed.  U.S. and Europe prices have not yet been decided.  Likewise, more detailed information, such as specifications, exact prices and sales targets, will be announced later.

Toyota’s commitment to environment-friendly vehicles is based on three basic principles: embracing diverse energy sources; developing efficient, low-emission vehicles; and driving real and positive environmental change by popularizing these vehicles.

Hydrogen is a particularly promising alternative fuel since it can be produced using a wide variety of primary energy sources, including solar and wind power.  When compressed, it has a higher energy density than batteries and is easier to store and transport.  In addition to its potential as a fuel for home and automotive use, hydrogen could be used in a wide range of applications, including large-scale power generation.

Toyota has been developing fuel cell vehicles in-house for more than 20 years.  Toyota’s fuel cell system includes a proprietary FC Stack, which generates electricity from the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen, and high-pressure hydrogen tanks.  In 2002, Toyota began leasing the “Toyota FCHV”, a fuel cell SUV, on a limited basis in Japan and the U.S.

Significant improvements have been made to the FC system since 2002.  The fuel cell sedan Toyota just revealed, for example, features performance similar to a gasoline engine vehicle, with a cruising range of approximately 700 km (according to Toyota measurements taken under the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism’s JC08 test cycle) and a refueling time of roughly three minutes.  When driven, it emits only the water vapor produced by the reaction between hydrogen and oxygen.

Fuel cell vehicles contribute to the diversification of automobile fuels, emit no CO2 or environmentally harmful substances during operation, and offer the convenience of gasoline-powered cars.  Toyota believes they have a great deal of potential, and are ideal environment-friendly vehicles for promoting a sustainable mobility society.

Toyota Group companies are also engaging in other hydrogen-related initiatives, such as developing and testing fuel cells for use in homes, and developing fuel cell forklifts and fuel cell buses.

The Goodwood Revival began in 1998 and has become a huge event in the UK, with all types of older vehicles on display, with many also competing.  Spectators wear clothes of the era if they wish, and it is a wonderful three day motoring ‘escape’.

1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull): $31.7 million

2. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari): $31.7m

3. Kimi Raikkonen (Ferrari): $31.7m

4. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes): $28.8m

5. Jenson Button (McLaren): $23.1m

6. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes): $17.3m

7. Felipe Massa (Williams): $5.8m

8. Nico Hulkenberg (Force India): $5.8m

9. Romain Grosjean (Lotus): $4.3m

10. Pastor Maldonado (Lotus): $4.3m

11. Sergio Perez (Force India): $4.3m

12. Adrian Sutil (Sauber): $2.9m

13. Kevin Magnussen (McLaren): $1.44m

14. Valtteri Bottas (Williams): $1.44m

15. Daniel Ricciardo (Red Bull): $1.1m

16. Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso): $1.1m

17. Jules Bianchi (Marussia): $720,000

18. Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber): $577,000

19. Daniil Kvyat (Toro Rosso): $360,000

20. Max Chilton (Marussia): $290,000

21. Kamui Kobayashi (Caterham): $216,000

22. Marcus Ericsson (Caterham): $216,000

Thursday, 21 August 2014 13:25

World’s Fastest Indian - again!

If you haven’t watched the movie “The World’s Fastest Indian”, go and get a copy, available on DVD.  It is the story of the singleness of purpose shown by New Zealander Burt Munro with his 1920 Indian motorcycle and his attack on the World Land Speed Record in 1967.

To the amazement of the organizers, Burt set the AMA Land Speed Record in Class S.A. 1000, at 184.087 miles per hour, aboard his custom 953 cc 1920 Indian streamliner motorcycle.  If you were to look at last year’s list of records, you’d also see Burt Munro, except that the speed listed would say 183.586 mph.

The explanation boils down to the use of a calculator.  It seems the AMA made an error when it originally calculated the average speed of Munro’s two timed runs.  John Munro, Burt’s son, noticed the discrepancy, pointed it out to the AMA and they admitted the error and corrected it in the record books, adding another interesting chapter in Burt Munro’s amazing feat almost 50 years ago.

Thursday, 21 August 2014 13:24

Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked what car derived its name from the national manufacturer of war weapons?  The answer was FN, from the Belgian Fabrique Nationale d’Armes de Guerre (National Manufacturer of War Weapons) company, also sometimes known as Fabrique Nationale de Herstal (National Manufacturer at Herstal), but better known simply as “FN” or “Fabrique Nationale” was founded at Herstal on the edge of Liege in 1889.  As well as weapons, it was for many years a manufacturer of motorbikes and of automobiles.

So to this week.  In the early T-Model Fords there were three foot pedals.  Which one was the accelerator?

For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct answer to email This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Thursday, 21 August 2014 11:54

Indiana Jones and the Joint Chambers Mirage

The local Chambers of Commerce have understood the value of grouping themselves together as opposed to duplicating events, as a cost-saving exercise.  This month, the venue was the Centara Grand Mirage Resort, with returnee General Manager Andre Brulhart ready to welcome the chamber members.  Andre had business cards at the ready, and it turned out that his secretary had saved some from his previous stint as the GM.  Now that’s a good PA.

Wednesday, 20 August 2014 16:09

Six Days in the Saddle

The 2014 Asian Cross Country Rally left from Walking Street August 9 for six days in the jungle, with the finish being in Phnom Penh, Cambodia.

There are 31 cars entered and 20 motorcycles. 11 of the cars are Thai entrants, with the rest Japanese, and the motorcycles have entrants from Sweden, Korea, Cambodia and Japan.

The rally has been an annual event since 1996.

(L to R) Touch Thach from the Cambodia Motor Sport Federation (CMSF); Jakkrit Chaothale riding for Team Thailand; Freddy Karlson from Sweden; Chea Lykheang from CMSF and Koun Phandara from CMSF prepare to set out from Walking Street.

Vehicles parade down Walking Street before setting off for the jungle.

Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh (left) waves the starting flag for the rally participants.Deputy Mayor Ronakit Ekasingh (left) waves the starting flag for the rally participants.

Dr. Iain Corness wishes Freddy Karlson good luck.Dr. Iain Corness wishes Freddy Karlson good luck.

A friend of mine emailed me this week to say that it was 10 years since he gave up smoking.  Unfortunately for him he should have given up about 20 years before, as he is now confined to a wheelchair and needs continuous oxygen just to survive.  He admitted that he still wants a cigarette and even dreams about smoking and the feeling of panic, in the dream, where he loses the cigarette packet.

I used to smoke 45 cigarettes a day.  I gave up 33 years ago at 10 o’clock in the morning, not that I’m counting or anything!  It was probably one of the most momentous decisions I have ever made, but definitely one of the best decisions I ever made about my health.

It was 1981 and I had started smoking as a medical student around 20 years previously.  It was just the done thing at the time.  We all smoked, it made us feel older and more mature.  After all, our fathers all smoked, so it was almost a ‘badge’ of adulthood.  A rite of passage, perhaps.

As the evidence began to mount up against cigarette smoking at the end of the 70’s and the early80’s, I found myself in the ridiculous position of advising patients to give up smoking, while I hid my ashtray in the bottom drawer of my desk, and waved my hand around a lot to clear the air before the next patient came in!

Like all smokers, I was able to rationalize my stand.  I was advising patients whose lung function tests were down, but mine were perfect.  If mine fell, then I certainly would give up smoking immediately.  Yes, you are way in front of me, aren’t you!  I had to test my lung function machine one day - and there was the proof - my respiratory function was 15 percent below the “average” for my age and height.  It was ‘bite the bullet’ time!  The biter was bit, hoist by my own petard and other aphorisms.

So I just gave up smoking.  It was going to be easy, because I still considered myself to be a “social” smoker.  I could give up when I felt like it.  I expected that there would be a couple of ‘difficult’ days, but then the cravings would abate and I would be smoke free again.  Two days was an understatement.  For two weeks I would follow other smokers down the road, nostrils flared and twitching as I desperately tried to get a whiff of their second hand nicotine.  I would look at ashtrays, wondering if I could take a quick lick before anyone would notice my bizarre behavior.  Really, it was a very stressful time of my life.

But after two weeks, the cravings became less, I was able to have a beer without looking for a cigarette at the same time and I had schooled myself into saying, “Thanks, but I don’t smoke,” when offered a cigarette.  But it was still very difficult.

In fact, it still is very difficult.  I am sure that if I smoked a cigarette today I would be smoking 20 tomorrow and 45 the day after.  But I don’t, because I made a conscious decision, based on medical knowledge, all those years ago!

Today, the medical evidence is not just suggestive, it is totally compelling.  Cigarette smoking increases your chances of getting just about everything you don’t want, from crow’s feet to cataracts to cancers (all of them, not just lung cancer).  So why do we still smoke, any rational member of society would ask?  The simple answer is that we, as a society, have been manipulated by big business into taking an extremely addictive drug called nicotine.

Like all addicts we do not wish to admit to addiction, saying, “I can kick the habit any time I want.  I just don’t want to right now.”  It isn’t your ‘fault’ that you are continuing to smoke.  It isn’t your fault that you have returned to smoking after some time of being a non-smoker.  It is a drug of addiction and next week I’ll tell you how to stop - permanently!

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