The Ministry of Transport has set a target to lower traffic-related mortality rate by 50 percent in the next seven years.
According to Deputy Permanent Secretary Theerapong Rodprasert, about 14,000 people were killed in road accidents in 2012, or around 38 people a day. One-third of the number was breadwinners prompting their families to face financial difficulties.
What with Thanksgiving Day and Xmas, the turkeys have all headed for the hills. However, one of the American motor mags surveyed their writers as to their opinion on the biggest automobile turkeys that have been made.
Their list has many cars which were not released in Thailand, but the list is interesting.
AMC Gremlin - a very strange and fugly motor car. Look at the photo, I am sure you will agree.
Ford Thunderbird - that one I find confusing. Their writer had bought a secondhand one and it had problems. I don’t believe the normal Thunderbirds were that bad myself.
“Where’s the rest of your car, toots?” AMC Gremlin.
Toyota Yaris - received a slating as being cramped and noisy. Really? I know lots of 6 footers that drive a Yaris. I do not agree with that one at all.
Yugo - the writer said it was the biggest turkey ever with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Built in Soviet-bloc Yugoslavia it really was dreadful. So we agree on that one.
Pontiac Aztec - an American car about which I have no knowledge, so I cannot comment.
Renault Alliance - another that never made it to these shores. The writer complained about French technology, stating that they had not done much for us since the invention of the guillotine. Just to put the record straight, the British invented the guillotine!
The Porsche 924 - yes, I agree but just because it wasn’t such a bad car, but it because it wasn’t a Porsche, being originally to be a VW sports car. The 944, however, was a true Porsche and the Porschephiles made a pact to forget about the 924.
Edsel - no list of turkey’s can exist without an Edsel. Again it wasn’t such a ‘bad’ car, it just looked dreadful. Time magazine called the division, named after Henry Ford’s only son, “the $250 million flop” (nearly $4 billion in today’s dollars).
And if might add my own lemon, sorry turkey, what about the Lightburn Zeta? Go on - look it up!
When a new car is about to be released, the manufacturers send pre-release details to motoring magazines with what is called an ‘embargo’. That means publication must be held until the embargo date is passed. Most magazines honor this, but occasionally one will not, letting the cat out of the bag early. Or in this case out of the corral.
SAAB has released its first new car since it went bankrupt in 2011 putting 6,000 workers on to the unemployment lines.
It was bought out of Bankruptcy in 2012 by the National Electric Vehicle Sweden AB group (NEVS) and the new 9-3 Aero is their first offering.
Despite being “electric”, the first 9-3 Aero’s are petrol powered, though an electric version is planned for later when “electric cars fully meet customer demands,” said Mattias Bergman, the acting President of SAAB.
SAAB has many followers throughout the world, with its history going back to 1937 when it began making planes, and then spun off the auto side in 1947. Its backers have been numerous, with the last two, GM and Spyker, both going into bankruptcy. Let us hope NEVS does better with the brand!
Have you ever stopped to consider as to where technology is taking us? Or is it not taking us anywhere, but is merely following global trends? Is public opinion the driver, and what exactly does the public expect? Or even more important, what does the public want?
The answer to these rhetorical questions might just be in a publication published by the KPMG International people, the Swiss national cooperative advisory service, with overviews in many areas.
As part of their survey, they asked automotive companies just how important they felt were the issues of fuel efficiency, environmental friendliness and safety innovation, and repeated these enquiries over three years.
The top three issues, as being rated as important, by the greatest percentage of auto companies, were then looked at. The results were very interesting. The main concern, shared by 96 percent of the companies in 2008 was fuel efficiency, but that fell slightly to 93.5 percent in 2009. Environmental friendliness, which was only at 50 percent in 2007, had steadily grown to 80.5 percent by 2009, but Safety innovation was fairly stagnant at around 71 percent for the three years.
The writing would seem to be on the wall for safety as the major indicator of technology direction, no matter how much of a good feeling this gives the manufacturer. “Safety” would appear to be at the same level of attraction as cold porridge sandwiches, for the general public.
Even the environment is not doing that well as a technology driver, despite all the doomsayers and governments pushing the ‘global warming’ wheelbarrow. Perhaps GM’s Bob Lutz, with his famous catch-cry, “Global warming is a crock of sh*t,” goes much deeper and more to the point than the industry would like to admit.
So the final, and most popular driver is fuel efficiency, well over 90 percent for the past two years. This should not be surprising, with the global financial meltdown, decreased earnings, increased unemployment, and all the factors that come into play when money is tight.
I have always said that fuel is the cheapest thing you put in a motor car, and fuel consumption does not really matter, but it would seem I am swimming against the tide here.
However, I do contend that if fuel consumption was a major factor, why do we not see more electric cars and hybrids on the roads?
The latest manufacturer to embrace cars with no drivers is Volvo, who is promoting the concept with a catch phrase “Drive Me”. This is set up as a joint venture by Volvo, the Swedish Transport Authority and Gothenburg City. (Not to be confused with Gotham City!)
The self-driving cars rely on 360 degree camera systems with GPS and perimeter sensors, which are already available in many new cars (for example, the Nissan Teana has it).
The “drivers” who will be carried by the self-drive cars will be trained on what to do if the technology fails.
Hands up those who are old enough to have seen “2001: A Space Odyssey” with the supercomputer HAL 9000. Remember these lines? “The 9000 series is the most reliable computer ever made. No 9000 computer has ever made a mistake or distorted information. We are all, by any practical definition of the words, foolproof and incapable of error.”
However, just in case, the legal experts in Sweden are looking at who or what is liable in the event of a crash.
Last week I asked what is the connection between the Bugatti Atlantic and the Lunar Roving Vehicle? And I mean construction, not the fact that men rode in them. The answer was that they used piano wire in the construction of the wheels on both of them.
So to this week. What do these cars have in common? The Mini, the Aston Martin DB5, the Ford Mustang, the DeLorean and the Alfa Spyder, and it has nothing to do with engines, wheels or steering wheels, in fact nothing to do with their construction at all!
Were you aware that heart disease is still one of the greatest killers of mankind, ranking a strong second after the Thailand motorcycle riders road toll - OK, I exaggerated that a little, but the road toll in this country is a blight on the face of the community.
Interestingly, if you look at the major causes of death by development of the countries, in the high income countries death toll comes from heart disease, stroke and lung cancer, middle income countries have stroke, heart disease and lung disease and for the low income countries it is heart disease, respiratory infections and then HIV/AIDS.
There are many reasons for the differences, including dietary, socio-economic, educational, development of health services and tobacco and alcohol abuse. However, this week I am only going to address heart disease, and the seven deadly ‘sins’ that can predict your likelihood of getting (and suffering from) heart disease.
1. High Blood Pressure: 20 percent of elderly people suffer from this condition. Imagine trying to blow through a long tube. If the tube becomes constricted for any reason, you will have to blow harder, increasing the pressure. Blood pressure is the same - if the arteries are constricted or less pliable, it takes a greater pressure to force the blood around. The heart has to work harder to produce the increased pressure, and eventually the heart gets tired and fails.
2. High cholesterol: High cholesterol foods such as egg yolk, offal, animal brain, animal fats, dairy products, seafood, oyster, squid, etc, leave deposits in the blood vessel walls. As a result, the fat “plaque” on the vessel walls obstructs the blood flow and this will eventually cause heart disease, as per the first deadly sin above.
3. Smoking: Smoking is a primary factor in the causation of coronary artery disease. Smokers are at a much higher risk, even two times more than non-smokers. Smoking increases adrenaline, which causes an increased heart rate, increased blood pressure and lowers the amount of oxygen carried by the blood.
4. Diabetes: Diabetic people have twice the risk of congestive heart failure than people with normal blood sugar levels, due to their increased weight (see number 5) and high cholesterol levels produced in the blood.
5. Obesity: People who are fatter than average have to face a 30-40 percent increase in risk of heart disease compared to thin people. In just carting around the extra weight, the heart has to work harder (and the knee and hip joints wear out). Try walking around with 10 kg extra on your back and tell me how you feel at the end of a week. Tired? Of course. And your heart is tired too.
6. Stress: Stress is not totally bad for us, as it keeps you going, and in an appropriate level actually stimulates our curiosity and motivation; however, by getting over-stressed, adrenaline levels are increased and this may lead to abnormal heart function. Though stress is not the main cause of heart disease, it can make the artery walls less flexible, which is the beginning of heart disease.
7. Lack of exercise: Exercise is the best way to increase high density lipoprotein (HDL) - “good” cholesterol that prevents the arteries becoming abnormal. By exercising, blood pressure, body weight, and the possibility of thrombosis will be reduced.
So you can see just how these seven risk factors all are inter-related. Keep the arteries clean, watch the diet and ensure you have a reasonable level of exercise. Check the Blood Pressure and stop smoking.
Remember too, that as you get older, the chances (and risks) of heart disease are higher. (Young males are more likely to die from clumsy motorcycle parking.) Statistically, men aged over 40 years as well as the postmenopausal women have a higher risk than adolescents.
Despite our knowledge, we still cannot predict exactly when the demise will come, but looking at the big picture, we do know that smoking, overweight, unfit diabetics with high blood pressure and high cholesterol do not live as long as non-smoking, fit, lean people with normal blood pressure, and normal blood sugar and cholesterol levels.
Do you know your levels? A brief medical check-up will tell you.
The Nitto 3K people have scheduled a meeting at Bira this weekend. As always with this promoter there will be many classes competing, including the Retro Cars, in which my BBX/Acorn Gastropub Mk1 Ford Escort competes. Main event is for the Isuzu pick-ups.
The Bira Circuit is on Highway 36 about three km past the Regent’s School, heading towards Sattahip.
We will be having our hospitality tent there and you are invited to join us for hamburgers and hot dogs by saying the magic words “Saw it in the Pattaya Mail!” To find the hospitality tent you have to come in the back entrance to the circuit, which is about 50 meters before the main entrance when coming from Sattahip. Go through the tunnel and then turn immediately right and go up the hill 20 meters and you will see the red gazebo.
A regular reader, Kevin Maguire contacted me with the following:
Seeing the picture of the lovely little Jowett Jupiter in this week’s Autotrivia quiz made me think a little.
You will, I am sure, know that Jowett Cars started life in the town of Bradford, before moving, still in the environs of Bradford, to Idle (the home of the ‘famous’ Idle Working Men’s Club). But did you know that Jowett also built the very first few Scott motorcycles. This year is in fact the 100th anniversary of the move of the Scott factory to Shipley. The two stroke, water cooled twin was a lovely thing to ride (although I did learn a salutary lesson once, when after leaving town and getting on the open road, I had forgotten to open up the Pilgrim oil pump and had the engine ‘nip’ under me!).
Panther Motorcycle and sidecar.
Not many miles away on the other side of Bradford, Cleckheaton, was the home of another well known motorcycle manufacturer Phelon & Moore, who built the Panther (no - nothing to do with Bob Jankel’s Panther Cars). Panther motorcycles were built from 1904 until 1967, the most famous models being based around the big single cylinder ‘Sloper’ engines ranging from 500cc up to 654cc. I well remember a hot Summer’s day, shirt off, as a 16 year old, full of bravado, persuading a friend to let me have a ‘go’ on his Panther outfit. This sadly ended up with me, who had never handled a motorcycle combination before, let alone a heavy Panther, coupled to a double adult Busmar sidecar, put the thing into a ditch, which just happened to be full of stinging nettles! Ouch!
Thanks Kevin. It is a wonder we all lived through our early motoring/motorcycling years!