Auto Mania – April 17, 2019


BIMS sales show promise for 2019

How many cars were sold at the Bangkok International Motor Show? There was no surprise on the Toyota stand, with 6110 orders taken during the 40th Bangkok International Motor Show (BIMS), with only Mazda (5211 orders) and Honda (4910) getting close.


MG continues to grow in Thailand. Now well entrenched in this country, MG continued to become a major player with 2225 orders. Compare that to Nissan with 2255 and Suzuki at 2319 or Mitsubishi at 3019 orders.

One manufacturer which I expected to do better was Ford with only 1836 orders. However, compare that to Chevrolet with only 532, but both well beaten by Mitsubishi at 3019.

As in previous years, Mercedes outsold BMW, with 2405 orders taken versus 1569. Neither of these two German manufacturers have cars at the lower end of the sales spectrum, and Mercedes does look more up-market than the BMW.

At the stratospheric end of the market, there were 22 people with deep enough pockets to order a Maserati, 10 bought a Lamborghini, 9 ordered an Aston Martin, 6 (yes, six) ordered a Rolls-Royce, 5 wanted a Bentley, but McLaren were out for a duck despite offering test drives to the well-heeled.


Minimizing risk in ride hailing

Tammy Webber

Chicago (AP) – Whenever Rachel Orden calls for an Uber, the 20-year-old Michigan State University sophomore immediately walks to the back of the vehicle to check the license plate number, then opens the door and waits for the driver to say her name before getting in.

Even then, she devises a backup plan in case she feels uncomfortable. “How could I get out? Could I unlock the door? Who do I have on speed dial? Could I jump out safely if I needed to? All that goes through my mind,” said Orden, of Naples, Florida, who uses the ride-hailing service about once a week, usually when going out at night. She said the March 29 slaying of University of South Carolina student Samantha Josephson, who mistakenly got into a vehicle she thought was her Uber ride, has made her even more cautious.

It also has prompted law enforcement agencies and ride-hailing companies to intensify efforts to warn passengers against getting in without checking to ensure both the vehicle and driver are legitimate. Although no official tallies exist, there have been several high-profile cases involving would-be robbers and assailants posing as ride-hailing drivers — often at bars.

Lyft said it also provides photos of the driver and information about the vehicle, and some Lyft vehicles have a display on dashboards that changes color to match the passengers’ app to help them identify their ride. “We … are always exploring new, innovative ways to improve the experience for all users, and most importantly, to keep our community safe,” the company said.


Are today’s cars too good?

I have a 10 year old car I drive to work. I have a 20 year old car I keep for sentimental reasons. I have a 40 year old car that I have modified for racing and put a “new” 20 year old engine in it.

Compare those cars with 10, 20, 40 year old cars of the 1960’s. Rust was the biggest problem with the cars four decades ago. Engines didn’t last either. The power wasn’t there. Climbing some hills was a heart in the mouth exercise. Brakes? Not all models had hydraulic brakes, but many were still cable actuated. I can remember lying in the dirt, clicking over the adjustment in the drum to try and get the rear brakes to act together.

Even windscreen wipers were exciting. The mid-50’s Ford Customlines had vacuum operated wipers. Lift the accelerator and the wipers went mad, but put the foot on the accelerator and the wipers stopped! Going up hills in the rain was quite a task.

Steering was ‘vague’ at best as very few cars had rack and pinion back then. Worm and peg was common. Did you push the peg out, turn it 90 degrees to take the slop out of the steering which had gone from 6 turns lock to lock to 8 turns? Power steering? How strong were you?

Headlights? Remember the early VW’s with the 6 volt system. At anything over 50 kph you tripped over your own headlights. Now we have car headlights that can illuminate the other side of the moon.

An old Morry Minor.
An old Morry Minor.

In the rain we used to go out to enjoy sliding around the roundabouts – now the on-board computer reduces the power to the driven wheels to stop the slide.

The new cars may be very comfortable and smooth, but they are dull to drive.


What did we learn from China?

I hope the Chinese enjoyed their Grand Prix, as from my chair in Fletcher’s Folly, it was rather boring. It was the same old script, be first into the first corner and you just leave the others behind.

Even though Bottas (Mercedes) had pole (again), he fluffed the start (again) and trailed Hamilton (Mercedes) to complete another 1-2 for the three pointed star (again). Bottas gave the reason he could not keep up as “dirty air” (again).

Ferrari’s star Sebastian Vettel came third, but a long way off the Mercedes silver arrows. Vettel was another who fluffed the start, allowing the young rookie Charles Leclerc to climb into 4th behind Verstappen (Red Bull). Unfortunately for the young lad, Vettel convinced the Ferrari pit was that he was quicker than his team mate, resulting in Leclerc being told to let Vettel through. After the pit stops, Leclerc then found himself behind Verstappen and remained in that position to the flag.

Further back, Pierre Gasly (Red Bull) took sixth place behind LeClerc while Daniel Ricciardo (Renault) took a lonely seventh ahead of Sergio Perez (Force India now renamed Racing Point).

The final F1 points positions were wrapped up by Kimi Raikkonen (Alfa Romeo) and in 10th, Thai/Brit Alexander Albon (Torro Rosso).

The bottom half of the field saw some action in the opening laps, with “Torpedo” Kvyat (Toro Rosso) managing to hit both McLarens at the same time, something we haven’t seen for some time. For his lack of judgment, the stewards awarded a 10 second penalty on his race time, however he didn’t finish so it didn’t matter.

George Russell and Robert Kubica in the Williams were the final two running.

This was the 1,000th F1 Grand Prix since the first which was held at Silverstone in 1950. Liberty Media, the owners of the F1 series missed a publicity opportunity to slot the Silverstone GP last weekend in place of the Chinese, combining the 1st and the 1,000th. One reason may be the fact that Liberty Media is a financial operation, not racing enthusiasts.

Hamilton’s victory at the Shanghai International Circuit is the 75th of Hamilton’s career, his second of the 2019 season and sees him now clear at the top of the driver standings for the first time this year.

The man of the meeting award went to Thai “luk kreung’ Alexander Albon who started from pit lane in the repaired Toro Rosso and finished 10th.

The extra point for the fastest lap went to Gasly (Red Bull) who slapped on a set of soft tyres two laps from the end to get the point. All fairly pointless.


Nissan shareholders OK ouster of ex-chair Ghosn

Yuri Kageyama

Tokyo (AP) — Nissan shareholders approved the ouster from the Japanese automaker’s board of its former chairman, Carlos Ghosn, who is facing allegations of financial misconduct.

The approval, which was expected, was indicated by applause from the more than 4,000 people gathered at a Tokyo hotel for a three-hour extraordinary shareholders’ meeting. Other votes had been submitted in advance.

An internal investigation, revealed payments of a consultation fee to Ghosn’s sister for 13 years. The investigation has also found too much power had been focused in one person, he said. Ghosn’s salary was USD 16 million.

Ken Miyamoto, 65, a Nissan shareholder, said he was disappointed. “It is really such a pity as he was a brilliant manager,” Miyamoto said of Ghosn before heading into the meeting. “I guess he became complacent as people kept praising him too much.”

Ghosn says he is innocent of all allegations and has suggested the accusations were made by some people at Nissan hoping to remove him from power.

He has been charged with under-reporting his compensation in financial documents, and with breach of trust in having Nissan shoulder investment losses and making suspect payments to a Saudi businessman. Ghosn says the compensation was never decided on or paid, no investment losses were suffered by Nissan, and the payments were for legitimate services.

Ghosn was arrested in November, released on bail in early March and then re-arrested for a fourth time last week. The latest arrest was in connection with fresh allegations that $5 million sent by a Nissan Motor Co. subsidiary and meant for an Oman dealership was diverted to a company effectively controlled by Ghosn.

Yokohama-based Nissan, which makes the Leaf electric car, March subcompact and Infiniti luxury models, was on the brink of bankruptcy when Renault sent Ghosn to turn it around two decades ago.

How the mighty have fallen. It is only a few years ago that Ghosn was considered the white knight to save Nissan (and Renault) and was lauded for the turn-around he had managed. Now he is being pilloried and he hasn’t even been given his time in court.

The Renault-Nissan-Mitsubishi Motors alliance now rivals auto giants Volkswagen AG of Germany and Japanese rival Toyota Motor Corp. in global sales.


Autotrivia Quiz

Last week I asked some MG history. The letters XPAG and XPEG do have a connection with the pre-Chinese MG’s. What was it? The XPAG was a 1200 cc engine (as used in the MGTC) and the XPEG was 1500 cc (as used in the MGTF 1500).


So to this week. Why did Rolls-Royce change the color of the two R’s?

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!