by Dr. Iain Corness
Ford shift their Asian production base to Thailand and India
Currently, Ford is exporting the Fiesta and Ranger, but
that will change during 2012 and 2013, with the Ford Kuga compact SUV and
Focus to be produced at Ford’s new Rayong factory.
Sourcing of the current model Focus sedan and five-door
hatchback for Australia is already set to be switched from Germany to the
all-new Thai plant at Rayong in about six months.
With the new Focus architecture being used to produce
different vehicles, and the Kuga compact SUV being built off the same
C-segment platform, it almost certainly will be another export from Rayong.
The current first-generation German-made Kuga is due to
be introduced into Australian Ford showrooms in March next year and then the
following generation from Thailand in 2013.
Ford Australia president and CEO Bob Graziano said that
consumers would not notice any difference in production quality when Focus
production was switched to Thailand from Germany in the second half of 2012.
This move will not only generate savings in manufacturing
and shipping costs, but also eliminate the five percent import duty, thanks
to Australia’s free-trade agreement with Thailand.
Unfortunately, production of the high-performance Focus
ST model is expected to remain in Germany. Powered by a turbocharged 2.0
liter EcoBoost direct-injection four-cylinder engine, the front-drive ST
(Sport Technologies) hatchback will be offered exclusively with a six-speed
manual gearbox, 18 inch alloy wheels and torque vectoring control to get rid
of torque steer, always a problem with hot hatches with FWD.
Another Asian-built vehicle almost certainly destined for
Australia is the ladder-chassis SUV being developed from the T6 Ranger
platform by Ford Australia for Thai production. Thought to be called
Endeavor, this SUV would bring Ford Australia’s showroom fleet of Thai-made
Ford nameplates to five - Fiesta, Ranger, Focus, Kuga and Endeavor.
In the meantime, the current 4x4 dual-cab diesel Ford
Ranger pick-up is set to be joined by other variants in 2012, including
Single Cab, Super Cab, 4x2, 4x2 Hi-Rider and Wildtrak.
The engine line-up will be expanded to three, with a 2.5
liter petrol and 2.2 liter diesel joining the current 3.2 liter five
According to media sources in the pipeline for Australia
- although not yet officially announced - is a new Indian-made Fiesta-based
entry-level compact crossover, reportedly called EcoSport, which is
scheduled to be unveiled at the New Delhi motor show in January 2012.
Dust off the Ducati
Rossi on Ducati
While many people are of the opinion that Japan rules the
two-wheeled world, that is not quite true. Italy’s Ducati brand has been a
driving force in motorcycle technology, and has been a MotoGP winner. Ducati is
now also assembled in Thailand!
To celebrate the branding and its achievements, there is the
World Ducati Week (WDW) which will be 21-24 June 2012 at the circuit of Misano
First organized in 1998, WDW successfully brought together
‘Ducatisti’ from all over the world to celebrate their shared passion for the
legendary Italian-made motorcycles. The event has since attracted an
ever-increasing attendance of people who enjoy the high-powered fun and
community spirit of the iconic brand, with a record-breaking attendance of
60,000 fans from five continents and 28 countries recorded at the last event in
WDW2012 is sure to follow the tried and tested formula of
race track events, shows, top riders, competitions and great music all combined
with the incredible atmosphere created by thousands of motorcycles arriving from
all around the globe.
As the event’s massive attendance is sure to invade the
entire Riviera Romagnola, Ducati’s WDW2012 organization has enjoyed the close
cooperation and special partnership of authorities such as the Province of
Rimini, Municipality of Misano, Municipality of Cattolica, Municipality of
Riccione and the Republic of San Marino. Continued cooperation with the Leardini
Group has also underlined the region’s Misano circuit venue as the ‘theatre’ for
WDW, an event further supported by APT Emilia Romagna, promoting a region of
Italy famously known as ‘Motor Valley’.
Ducati offer further information at wdw.ducati.com.
The 10 worst cars of the last 50 years
Ford Zephyr convertible
A few months ago, I started this discussion and got as far as
the Austin A40 Devon. A very, very slow car, which you time over 400 meters with
The next car? One of my university buddies came from a
well-heeled family and his mother had a convertible. Open top motoring no less.
A guaranteed crumpet catcher. It was a Mk 1 Ford Zephyr, complete with a two
speed automatic transmission. Show the car a photo of a hill and it would
immediately hunt up and down the gearbox, looking for the right ratio, which it
never did find. Low was ridiculously low, while high was too high.
It did have a 2,262 cc (138 cu in) six-cylinder engine
producing 68 bhp (51 kW). It also had MacPherson Strut independent front
suspension and a live axle with half elliptic springs at the rear. A Zephyr
saloon tested by The Motor magazine in 1951 had a top speed of 79.8 mph
(128.4 km/h) and could accelerate from 0-60 mph (97 km/h) in just 20.2 seconds,
slashing seven seconds off the A40’s time. Now we are talking! 20.2 seconds,
without additional oxygen!
The next in my list of personal dreadful cars came from
Italy, the home of GT motoring, Ferrari, Maserati and later Lamborghini. Mine
was not a GT car, but a Fiat 1100 D I purchased for five British pounds and it
was a well-worn example. So worn that it used more oil than gasoline. I used to
collect oil from my local garage that had been drained from better cars coming
in for a grease and oil change. Remember those days? In its heyday (the first
week after coming out of the factory) the Fiat 1100 D boasted performance
figures of: top speed 120 km/h (75 mph) (factory); acceleration 0- 60 mph 27.2
seconds; 0- 100 km/h 30.2 seconds and a standing start 1/4 mile in 23.2 seconds.
My rather more knackered version would go nowhere near those figures. Another
very bad car. Incidentally, I never sold it. I parked it on Tilbury docks in
London, threw the keys in the water and hopped on to the MV Adelaide Star where
I was to be the ship’s surgeon for the voyage to Australia. It may even still be
there? However, being left in light-fingered London, I doubt it.
Arriving back in Australia, with no money and no credit, I
was somehow shoehorned into a 1957 FE Holden, the four door Aussie family
transport. It is difficult to dredge up details on this car. A single piece
windscreen was a sales feature and other improvements included a 12 volt
electrical system (replacing the previous 6 volt system), improved steering, a
front stabiliser bar and wider wheel rims. All models used a 2,172 cc in-line
six cylinder engine, coupled with a three speed manual gearbox column change,
known as “three on the tree”. Engine improvements over the previous model
included the use of bigger valves and the lifting of the compression ratio to
6.8:1, which increased the power output from 45 kW to 53 kW. In actual fact, the
53 kW were hardly enough to pull the skin off a rice pudding.
I shed no tears for the Holden (the only one I have ever
owned) when I replaced it with a Morris Mini 850, which definitely went into my
‘good’ car list.
Hot Nissan March coming?
In other markets, our Nissan March is known as the Nissan
Micra, and news has broken of a performance version Micra complete with a
supercharged engine. This is still in the planning phase for Asia, but would
certainly expand the range for what has been a very successful release for
Nissan in Thailand.
The supercharged engine in question is marketed in Europe as
a low-emissions hero model, Nissan could add this model as a sporty flagship to
the local range.
Fitted overseas to the 1.2 DIG-S model, the HR12DDR
direct-injection three-cylinder Miller Cycle unit features a supercharger,
idle-stop and the Nissan’s Continuous Variable Valve Timing Control System to
deliver 72 kW of power and 143 Nm of torque.
The five-speed manual version returns 4.1 L/100 km and emits
just 95 g/km on the Euro cycle, while the equally economical CVT version emits
In the existing K13 range, the ST’s naturally aspirated
version of the 1.2 liter three-cylinder engine has 56 kW, 100 Nm, 5.9 L/100 km
and 138g/km with a five-speed manual, while the ST-L and Ti employ a 1.5 liter
four cylinder engine with 75 kW, 136 Nm, and 6.5 L/100 km and 153 g/km.
At the Micra/March global launch, Nissan CEO Toshiyuki Shiga
announced that the car would be sold in more than 160 countries, with Thailand,
China, India and Mexico being the four main manufacturing and export hubs;
however, some export models are now to be sourced from Indonesia.
Since the price structure is tightly controlled in this
country to remain inside the eco-car tax reduction, it is probably unlikely that
we will receive the supercharged version.
Last week I asked what car is this? Built 1998-99. Named
after a famous F1 driver. Zero to 100 km/h in 4.2 seconds. This was a little
more difficult and eluded most of the “Googlers”. It was the Ascari Ecosse.
So to this week. The first BRM’s were very advanced racing
cars with V16 supercharged engines. However, in 1953 they were beaten by prewar
two liter cars, What cars were they?
For the Automania free beer this week, be the first correct
answer to email firstname.lastname@example.org.