Archive: June 2008

29 June
Vehicle maintenance reveals more than just the vehicle!

Vehicle maintenance reveals more than just the vehicle! It has been said that a well maintained vehicle speaks volumes about the owner. Not only will the vehicle reflect characteristics, neatness etc…but will provide many benefits to the owner, driver, other road users and even the community!

What are the benefits of effective vehicle maintenance?

• Saving fuel and money – mechanical systems of the vehicle will affect fuel efficiency
• Reducing long-term maintenance costs
• Minimize harmful exhaust emissions and protect the environment
• Increase reliability of your vehicle and limit the risk of vehicle breakdown
• Increase the resale value of your vehicle

The biggest benefit is however increased safety on the road. Proper vehicle maintenance will reduce the likelihood of accidents caused by vehicle failure. It will also lead to fewer vehicle break-downs and the avoidable exposure to the criminal element next to the road!

The Arrive Alive Road Safety Website has included a section on “Vehicle Maintenance and Road Safety” to assist road users with advice and suggestions on maintaining their vehicles.

28 June
Toyota Takes 1/8th Stake in Indus Motors

Indus Motors Co. Ltd is a Pakistan auto company. Toyota just purchased a 12.5% stake in the company for $53.3 million. Quick mater = makes the company worth about $425industoyota.gif million, right? For someone like Bill Gates, that’s pocket change. Gosh, some sports figures could pony up that much. Can you say Tiger Woods?

Toyota is keen to gain more traction in the subcontinent and this purchase gives them a 25% stake overall in Indus. The stocks were bought from Overseas Pak Investors AG and through a public offer.  I wonder why Toyota didn’t just buy the whole company outright? They surely have the money.

In the meantime…another Japanese car maker, Suzuki, is number one in the area. But, Toyota is coming…Toyota is coming….

27 June
VW's TwinDrive

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Volkswagen is testing a new electric-engine car that it hopes will be available for consumers in about two years.

The electric engine – TwinDrive – can be powered by gasoline to get more miles out of a charge, um, fill up. And this is different from a hybrid how?

So far, the car is good for about 50km (31 miles), about the distance of a fair training ride on a bicycle.

VW has a long way to catch the Japanese car makers in electric engines, no?

source

25 June
Nano Tata Rival, Suzuki A-Star Spotted in India

suzukiastar.jpg

 

India’s Tata Nano will soon be the cheapest (disposable?) car on the market. Suzuki,  not Toyota, not Honda, does the best business of any Japanese car maker, make that any car maker in India.

Suzuki  sells the Splash and Splash VDi Diesel. The Splash will likely replace the R-Wagon and they Hyundai i10. The A-Star will be cheaper than Suzuki’s Swift. The actual price hasn’t been disclosed but the A-Star has been spotted in India.

Suzuki works with another Indian car maker, Maruti, which holds the major market share in India. But…Toyota and Honda are coming.

The Tata Nano will be the cheapest car, to be sure. But, we all know or should know, that you get what you pay for in the end. And, in the end, it’s hard to beat Japanese cars.

24 June
Audi A8, W12 Quattro, 2008

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A friend of mine who writes car reviews found himself in a game of oneupmanship with a friend of his. My friend was given a Jaguar Super V8, 2008  to review. His friend drove an Audi A8, W12 Quattro, 2008.

The Audi won if for no other reason than the base sticker price. The Jag goes for $95,000. The Audi has a sticker price  $140,000!!!  Of course, that price includes

$6,300 for the Bang & Olufsen sound system  

$3,200 for the 20-inch alloy wheels and summer performance tires

$2,500 for the Palace Blue exterior paint

$2,100 for the adaptive cruise control

$1,500 for the rear-seat refrigerator

$790 for solar sunroof

$200 for heated steering wheel

$1,700 for gas-guzzler tax

My friend, Bill, tells the story of when he was in China. He was being driven in a Red Flag Chinese car on a road with no speed limit. The speedometer was tick-tick-ticking to the far right at about 220kph. Thinking to himself that he was going to die if the driver lost control he looked out the window to keep himself distracted. Suddenly, an Audi went flying by. Perhaps it was a predecessor to this 6.0 liter, 12-valve, 450 horsepower 2008 Quattro.

Oh, to own an Audi.

24 June
Pontiac G8, 2008

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It seems that Pontiac hasn’t rolled out a full-size, rear-wheel drive sedan in more than 20 years. Twenty-two years to be exact. Enter the Pontiac G8. (This is not to be confused with the G8 Summit happening in Toyako.) The G8 will replace the Bonneville and the Grand Prix as well as the V8-powered GTO coupe. One trim has a 256 horsepower V6 engine, standard with a 5-speed automatic transmission. The other trim has 361 horsepower V8 and 6-speed automatic. Can you say 60mph in 5 secs?

Airbags, 6 of them, traction control, stability control, dual tailpipes 18″ alloy wheels, sports body kit….ah, and a 7-speaker audio system. The driver can’t hear the Vrroooom of the engine over the beautiful tunes. Pontiac says this car is the most powerful car in the U.S. available for less than $30K. Test driver James Raia at TheWeeklyDriver says the car’s shortcomings are no navigation system and finding the emergency brake. Bumper to bumper, 3 years/36K, drivetrain warranty, 5 years/100K, and corrosion 6 years/100K. Pontiac obviously thinks this car will look good while it lasts a long time.

24 June
Land Rover LR3 HSE, 2008

Speaking of eco-friendly cars, like the Honda Clarity. Bill Belew at TheWeeklyDriver writes  about the landroverlr3hse2008.jpg

Apparently there are roads where he lives in Northern CA where he can drive this sometimes gas guzzler, but to his surprise, the car/SUV doesn’t use any gas. Is it the vehicle or the roads we wonder?

The vehicle seems to be a great commuter car especially considering the dangerous roads of the Bay Area of California. The baby not only rides safely, but also enjoys the echo of her own voice inside the spacious chamber with five permanent seats, two extra and three sun/moon roofs! The vehicle goes for a cool $57,950 and boasts, cough, cough, that it can get 12mpg in the city (who wants to drive a Land Rover in the city?) and 17mpg on the highway. (And, who would want to drive a Land Rover on the highway?) Where’s the hills and dirt and snow and sand when you need them?

Who would have thought that anybody in California would like a Land Rover? There’s at least one guy. You can read his humorous review.

23 June
Honday Clarity – Hydrogen Fueled Car Becomes Reality

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If you are the rich treehugging type, read Hollywood celebrity, there’s a new car, the Honda Clarity. For about $600/month lease, the zero emission car will be available in southern California, which surprisingly not is home to most Hollywood celebs. Honda is expected to make from a few dozen to 200 of the vehicles available. Jamie Lee Curtis, Laura Harris (Laura who?) and filmmakers Christopher Guest and Ron Yerxa are among the first customers.

Honda says the Clarity is times more efficient than a gas-electric hybrid and three times more efficient than a standard gas guzzler.  The biggest challenge is not the $600/month lease which includes maintenance and collision insurance, it’s where to fill the thing up. There are stations in Torrance, Santa Monica and Irvine, CA. These locations helped Honda decide among the 50,000 applications who would get the car.

Honda has plans to launch a gas-electric version of the Clarity as well as hybrid versions of the Civic, CR-Z and Fit compace. Honda, like another Japanese car maker, Toyota, is decidedly a leader in ‘green cars.’

22 June
Golf car drivers need awareness about road safety!

Golf car drivers need awareness about road safety! Golf cars or, as they are mostly referred to ”golf carts”, are finding their way more and more on locations other than the green grass of our golf courses. This poses a significant road safety risk as these carts are not designed with the safety requirements we find in other vehicles.

The risks are best exposed by reflecting on the latest data from accident research. Researchers from the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Centre for Injury Sciences found that there were more than 48 255 golf-cart related injuries between 2002 and 2005. A new study has also found that golf cart-related injuries jumped from 5,772 in 1990 to 13,441 in 2006.

The researchers have found that popularity of golf carts has risen dramatically with these four-wheeled vehicles used beyond golf courses and becoming a mode of transportation at sporting events, hospitals, airports, national parks, college campuses, businesses and military bases.

It is necessary that we share our safety concerns with these operators and the Arrive Alive Road Safety website included safety advice in a section on golf cars and road safety. Some of these suggestions are:

  • All operators must abide by all traffic regulations applicable to vehicular traffic.
  • Do not exceed the maximum safe occupancy. No golf cart is to be operated with more passengers than seating is provided.
  • Do not exceed maximum safe speeds, particularly in areas with high pedestrian traffic – A golf cart should be operated at a speed equivalent to a well-paced walk.
    The maximum speed of a golf cart depends upon the terrain over which it is being driven, the weather conditions, and the total weight of the golf cart, passengers and any equipment being carried.
  • Never back up without looking to see what is behind the cart.
  • Golf cart drivers are required to use a horn or other audible signal when approaching pedestrians from behind — electric carts are very quiet and can injure pedestrians.
  • Maintain adequate distance between golf cart and pedestrian.
  • All occupants in the golf cart shall keep hands, arms, legs and feet within the confines of the golf cart at all times when the cart is in motion.
  • Carts driven at night must be equipped with functional headlights and tail lights.
  • Park cars in a manner that they do not impede or interfere with normal pedestrian or vehicular traffic flow on roadways, ramps or sidewalks.
  • Do not park carts where they will block emergency equipment, pedestrian aisles, doorways or intersections.
  • All golf carts shall display a slow moving vehicle triangle on the rear of the vehicle.
    Only allow towing by those golf carts originally designed for towing.

May our focus on road safety extend to all modes of transport!

20 June
NDS Drift series this weekend

nds drift series

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