Auto Mania – April 09, 2019


Tesla Heaven

(AP) – In a symbolic first, electric cars outsold fossil fuel-powered ones in Norway last month.

Christina Bu, the Norwegian Electric Vehicle Association’s general secretary, said Monday that 58.4 percent of new cars sold in the country in March were battery-powered, calling it “historically high.”

Bu added that electric cars’ share of the market in the first three months of 2019 was 48.4 percent and is expected to hover around 50 percent for the whole year.

“Norway shows the whole world that the electric car can replace cars powered by gasoline and diesel and be an important contribution in the fight to reduce C02 emissions,” Bu said in a statement.

Norway, a wealthy European nation of 5.3 million, has provided big incentives to boost electric car sales. It waived hefty vehicle import duties and registration and sales taxes for buyers of electric cars to boost sales. Owners don’t pay road tolls and use bus lanes in congested city centers.

The perks, however, are to be phased out in 2021.

Norway’s Parliament has voted to require that all new cars sold in the Scandinavian country be electric by 2025.

Countries around the world are trying to encourage more people to buy electric cars as part of the effort to reduce carbon emissions and fight climate change. China, the world’s biggest auto market, has also provided big incentives as it tries to clean up the country’s air pollution problem and gain a lead in new technologies.

(Should we all stock up on gasoline? Not really, there’s plenty of oil to be sucked out yet.)


Chinese GP this weekend

The Chinese Grand Prix at Shanghai is this weekend. After an interesting race in the season opener in Bahrain with Ferrari obviously the better car and youngster Leclerc the better driver, we sincerely hope that close competition will continue. On a circuit where passing is possible, it will be interesting to see just how the passers Ricciardo in the Renault and Max Verstappen will go with his Red Bull.

The race will start at 1 p.m. Thai time on Sunday, and we watch in Fletcher’s Folly, Siam Country Club Road. Get there at noon for lunch and an ale or three.

The history of the Grand Prix is interesting, where the GP has had problems from day 1. The race debuted on 26 September 2004, and was won by Ferrari’s Rubens Barrichello. The following year, it hosted the final round of the Formula One championship, in which the newly crowned world champion Fernando Alonso won and claimed the constructor’s title for Renault. In 2006, the Chinese Grand Prix was won by Michael Schumacher – his last victory in Formula One.

In November 2008 the BBC reported a senior race official, Qiu Weichang, as suggesting that the loss-making race might be cancelled (as Singapore and Malaysia at present). Following a similar announcement about the French Grand Prix, Qiu Weichang said that the race’s future was under consideration, and a decision would be made in 2009.

2010 came and went with no formal announcement of an extension to the initial seven race deal struck in 2004. However, immediately after the 2010 Shanghai race Bernie Ecclestone, who managed the contracts with the various circuits, said of the 2011 calendar, “We are not dropping anything. [It’s] 20 races – getting ready for 25”.

It was only in February 2011 that a deal was agreed between F1 and the organizers of the Chinese round of the world championship. Reasons for the delay appear to have been over the fee paid to F1 to host the race. After racking up losses year after year, the organizers of the race refused to pay the fee required, reported to be amongst the highest paid to host an F1 race. F1 bosses appear to have reduced the fee and the new agreement to host an F1 race ran to 2017. What happens now with Bernie out of the equation and the new owners of F1 in charge? Watch this space.


My car of the show

During motor shows you walk for kilometers, hoping that something leaps out at you. For me it was the Ford Mustang, all mean and yellow. This was closely followed by the new Nissan Teana (which just gets better and better with each iteration).

Ford Mustang.
Ford Mustang.

Whilst I am a fan of Aston Martin, the Valkyrie is a joke. 300 million baht and it is a track car only.

No, it is the Mustang for the weekends and the Teana as the drive car during the week.

Nissan Teana.
Nissan Teana.


Hyundai finds new engine problem, prompting another recall

Tom Krisher, AP Auto Writer

Detroit (AP) – Hyundai has found a new problem that can cause its car engines to fail or catch fire, issuing yet another recall to fix problems that have affected more than 6 million vehicles during the past 3 ½ years.

The Korean automaker, under pressure from safety regulators, is recalling about 20,000 Veloster cars in the U.S. and Canada because fuel can prematurely ignite in the cylinders around the pistons. That can cause excessive pressure and damage the engine, causing vehicles to stall and in some cases catch fire, according to Hyundai documents posted Friday by the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

It’s a different problem from what has caused the rest of the recalls since 2015 from Hyundai and its affiliated automaker Kia, which have been plagued by engine failures and fires across the U.S.

The recall, which covers only the 2013 Veloster with 1.6-liter engines, is due to a software problem that has been found only in that model year and not in other Hyundai engines, company spokesman Michael Stewart said. Kia spokesman James Bell said in a statement that the automaker didn’t use any engines from the plant that made Veloster engines.

Jason Levine, executive director of the Center for Auto Safety, a consumer group that has petitioned the government seeking more Hyundai and Kia recalls, said the fire and engine problems keep spreading to more vehicles.

“This recall raises the question of whether we are even beyond the tip of the iceberg with these non-crash fires with both of these manufacturers,” Levine said. “How many times are we going to hear from either Hyundai or Kia that these circumstances are unique to a particular model and then have another recall or fire situation announced weeks or months later?”

Hyundai said in documents that it has been analyzing fire claims from owners and reporting the findings to NHTSA, which in December raised questions about the Veloster. The company traced the problem to engine control software in vehicles made at the Ulsan plant in South Korea from April 26, 2012 to Oct. 16, 2013, according to documents.

While claims were high for the 2013 model, they decreased starting in 2014, the company wrote. Software was updated on vehicles at the factory in October of 2013, the company said. Hyundai wrote that it’s not aware of any crashes or injuries.

Dealers will install updated software on the recalled cars. Owners will be notified starting May 13.

In February, Kia announced that it would recall the Soul small SUV with the same-size engine due to fire and engine failure problems, but Stewart said that was for a problem that was different from the Veloster.

The Soul recall covered nearly 379,000 vehicles from 2012 through 2016. Documents showed that high exhaust gas temperatures can damage the catalytic converters, which control pollution. That can cause abnormal combustion and damage pistons and connecting rods. A failed connecting rod can pierce the engine block and cause oil leaks that can cause fires.

So far Hyundai and Kia have recalled about 2.4 million vehicles to fix problems that can cause fires and engine failures since 2015. In addition, the automakers are doing a “product improvement campaign” covering another 3.7 million vehicles to install software that will alert drivers of possible engine failures and send the cars into a reduced-speed “limp” mode if problems are detected.

Both automakers are under investigation by NHTSA for potentially being slow to fix faulty vehicles.

The Center for Auto Safety says it has found more than 300 Hyundai-Kia fire complaints in a government database, which is high compared with similar vehicles. Levine has said fire complaints to NHTSA have come from across the country, including a death in Ohio in April of 2017.


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked some Porsche history. What was the difference between the 72 Porsche 911 and the 73 911 horn grilles? An easy one, especially if you owned a ‘long bonnet’ Porsche. The 72 had chromed horn grilles, while the 73 were black.

So to this week. MG’s seem to be everywhere these days, but have zero connection with Cecil Kimber and the MG’s of old, no matter how the current owners try and make out. However, the letters XPAG and XPEG do have a connection with the pre-British MG’s. What was it?

K3 MG. A real MG.
K3 MG. A real MG.

For the Automania dehydrated beer this week (just add hops and water and store in a dark cupboard), be the first correct answer to email [email protected] or [email protected]. Good luck!