Kamis, 04 April 2013

Tunland surprises on dynamometer




ALWYN VILJOEN got on a roll with the biggest Chinese bakkie in South Africa and was left quite breathless.
On the dynamometer at the Bosch Diesel Centre in Pietermartzburg, the Foton Tunland made 379 Nm, 19 Nm more than it has on paper. (INSET) Hayden Keating — KZN’s youngest certified expert on modern, high-pressure diesel systems — declared himself favourably impressed by the big new Chinese.
IF you are in the market for a double cab, you can do a lot worse than the Foton Tunland 4x2.
This big Chinese bakkie retails for just under R250 000, but performs on par or better than bakkies in its power league, offering as many Newtons as the Defender Pickup, but costing R110 000 less.
Wait, who is Foton?
If you have never heard of Foton, you can be impressed by the fact that this state-owned Chinese company convinced the Americans at Cummins to built a special engine for their bakkie — at 2,8 litres, it is the smallest in the legendary Cummins stable.
Cummins were only too happy to be associated with Foton, which lay claim to be the world’s largest manufacturer of commercial vehicles in terms of sales since 2009.
South African is one of more than 125 countries where Foton models are sold, including Foton tractors, which have ploughed a respectable furrow for themselves in KZN.
So how strong is this Tunland?
Foton says their Cummins ISF 2,8 turbo diesel generates 360 Nm at 1 800 rpm. This puts it on par with the 3,0-litre Defender and among the five strongest bakkies in SA, none of which can compete with the big Chinese in price.
Its peak work rate is a respectable 120 kW at 3 600 rpm. But that’s on paper. On the dynamometer at the Bosch Diesel Centre in Pietermartzburg, the Tunland gave 19 Newtons more — 379 Nm at 137 km/h on the test bed. The extra power happened at 2 897 rpm, but as most South Africans drive their double cabs like a petrol, these high revs seemed tailored to our market.
How does it rate against SA’s strongest bakkies?
Nissan’s very thirsty Navara 3,0 dCi V6 leads the pack with 550 Nm,
Next up is Ford’s formidable Ranger 3,2-litre at 470 Nm, a spot it shares with Mazda’s BT50.
The Tunland 2,8 and Landy Rover
Defender 130 TD Crew Cab ties at third with 360 Nm.
In fourth place, SA’s best-selling bakkie, the Hilux, makes 343 Nm.
VW’s frugal Amarok 2,0 biTDi rounds off the top five at 340 Nm.
Where can I service it?
To date, a dealer network is the one weakness in Foton’s foray into SA’s competitive bakkie market.
There are currently 35 dealers listed on their website — almost half of them in Gauteng. Five KZN dealers are in Durban, Gateway, Pinetown, Newcastle and Uvongo.
What payload does it carry?
The Tunland’s ladder-frame chassis rides on 16-inch Savero radial tyres that enable a payload of 965 kg on the 4x4, which pulls a 2,5-ton braked trailer. The big load bin measures 1,52 metres long, 1,58 metres wide and is 44 cm deep. Rubber lining is standard.
Is it comfortable?
The roomy cab competes easily with any of the other top double cabs in terms of leg and head room.
The plastic cladding and wood panelling look neat and — more important for a bakkie — clean easily.
The ride is pliant rather than juddery, thanks to an independent double wishbone upfront. The rear has standard leaf springs.
Honestly now, no niggles?
Hayden Keating
The emissions warning light came on intermittently, which Hayden Keating — KZN’s youngest certified expert on modern, high-pressure diesel systems — said likely indicates an over-sensitive air sensor controlling the exhaust gas regulator valve. The clip in the rear ashtray came lose and the radio only has an auxiliary cable, not a USB port.
And what if it breaks?
The Tunland comes with a three-year, 100 000 km warranty, but with a Cummins engine and Bosch parts, chances of breaking are slim.
What do the experts say?
Deon Jacobs, Land Rover specialist at Offroad Fanatics, said: “This bakkie will put Foton on the map.”
Shabir Razak, diesel service adviser, said: “You know, I am half sold just by the Cummins badge. You don’t get comebacks with Cummins.”
Gary Peacock of Idada Motors Repairs took one look at the engine and said: “Now that is what I call a proper intercooler.”
As The Witness reported at the launch of the 4x4 Tunland Comfort, the Tunland has the looks, the price, and most of the goods to impress any bakkie-buyer in SA.
At R250 000, the 4x2 Tunland may not set any new benchmarks, as did the Ranger or Amarok, but it does have all the basics and over delivers when it comes the power.

A very fast yank



The U.S.’s answer to the Veyron, the Hennessey Venom GT.
(Pic: Gizmag.com)
The run over a 3,2 km course was conducted at the United States Naval Air Station, Lemoore, in central California. The speed was validated by two VBOX 3i GPS tracking systems, and assured as true and honest by official VBOX personnel.
John Hennessey admitted the Bugatti Veyron has run 430,9 km/h, but pointed out Bugatti limits the Veyron’s top speed to 415 km/h, leaving the ambiguous award of fastest production car to Hennessey. His Venom GT is a highly modified, but street-legal, Lotus Elise, with a V8 engine and twin-turbochargers. The Venom GT weighs 1 244 kg and has a power-to-weight ratio of 0,74 kW (one horsepower) per kilogram.
Hennessey plans to build only 29 of the Venom GTs, selling them from $1,2 million

Go-anywhere Mantis

Turbo diesel transport like no other
IT took four years and countless cups of tea to launch the Mantis, a form of turbo diesel like no other, walking as it does on six legs.
Designed and built in Britain by Matt Denton, founder of Micromagic Systems, but who is perhaps better known for making the animatronic turtle in the Harry Potter movies, the Mantis is not aimed for production, but is up for hire.
It took Denton four years to build this clamber-anywhere robot.
The hydraulics of six legs are powered by a 2,2-litre Perkins turbo diesel and controlled by rather powerful computer, either from inside the helicopter-like cockpit or remotely.
”This walking idea started as an idea back in 2007. We secured private funding in 2009, and after three years of design, building and testing, the robot made its first successful test drive in the summer of 2012 at the Bestival UK. The Mantis weighs as much as a small car at 1 900 kg, has knees that are 2,8 metres high, which bend with 18 hydraulic actuators.
Programming the software to keep the centre balanced was the main difficulty in building the Mantis.
As a result, the cockpit resembles that of a helicopter, which has force transducers, angle sensors and an inclinometer that enable the operator to “walk” the Mantis over almost any terrain.
Denton, whose company produces mail-order mini-robots and animatronics for film and television, was the first to walk it.

Selasa, 02 April 2013

Fiat’s family-friendly mini van



FIAT last week launched a family-friendly version of its durable Doblò mini panel van.
Dubbed the Panorama, it competes with the VW Caddy Maxi, which VW only sells with even seats in the diesel engines.
The Panorama comes only with Fiat’s proven 1,6 Multijet 105 HP, a little wonder that churns out 290 Nm of torque at only 1 500 r/min.
A six-speed manual gearbox transmits the power to the front wheels.
Seven seats are standard, all clad in “Pacman Grey seat fabrics”, which Fiat stated had “been designed with functionality in mind to create an appealing environment”. Being a panel van originally, drivers get the benefit of a panel shelf above their head and — as with all European cars — every hollow nook and cranny has been turned into a handy packing space. Fiat boasts that the dashboard, in “Plancia Grey” trim is designed “to ensure top level ergonomics and driving comfort”.
The boot holds 790 litres with the second and third rows up, and 3 200 litres with the seats folded. A tonneau cover shields valuable luggage items from prying eyes.
The Panorama comes standard with a three-year/100 000 km full-maintenance plan and warranty for peace-of-mind driving.
Seven seat, sliding-door competitors
Doblò Panorama 1,6 Multijet R280 000
VW Caddy 2,0 TDI Trendline R288 870

Four best tricks to save fuel

WITH the fuel price going up — again — more and more readers find themselves driving with the needle dangerously close to empty. And when the warning light comes on, the question everyone has is how far can you go before coming to a shuddering halt?

The analog generation (left) will find digital gauges (right) both confusing and strict when running on empty.
In the case of the left fuel gauge, you typically have at least five litres left in the tank. If the fuel gauge is digital mess like the one on the right, reserve means reserve and empty means empty.
Tricks to save fuel:
• don’t free-wheel, as the fuel injector shuts off while the car is in gear and you don’t step on the accelerator;
• limit fuel evaporation by parking in the shade and ensuring the cap seals tightly;
• don’t idle, switch off;
• ensure your tyres are inflated, harder is better; and
• keep the air filter clean.

Big blow for battery R&D




TOO HOT TO HANDLE: Mitsubishi has suspended work on the electric Outlander and i-MiEV electric car while it sorts out an over-heating battery.
FEW readers of The Witness are old enough to remember when electric cars outnumbered cars with engines that relied on exploding the fuel inside a cylinder or two in order to get the wheels turning.
This was, however, the state of transport at the end of the 1890s, when many people shuddered at the thought of driving an “infernal combustion engine”.
The infernal combustors however proved more reliable and oil was being found everywhere, which soon saw the demise of the electric car industry as “ice” engines started to rule.
High oil prices, which oil guru Leonardo Maugeri said should cost about $70 per vat of Brent crude according to all the laws of supply and demand, has however started to drive people back to electric vehicles — or evees.
To date, the main problem in flogging evees is their batteries, which give about a quarter of the range of a typical fuel combustor.
Battery technology has however been improving every year with vast funds invested to develop units that can rival the range of a fuel tank.
This progress has now received a major blow, with Mitsubishi Motors Corporation last week announcing it had suspended production of its Outlander PHEV crossover and a variant of its i-MiEV electric car.
The website Electric Cars News reports that one lithium ion battery melted at a dealership and another caught fire in an assembly plant. Mitsubishi said faults were detected in two more vehicles. Mitsubishi also has suspended sales of both plug-in electric vehicles in Japan.
The batteries involved in the incidents were made by Lithium Energy Japan, a venture between G.S. Yuasa, Mitsubishi Motors and Mitsubishi Corp. Company investigators are working to identify the cause of the problem.
The incidents are the latest involving the Kyoto-based company’s batteries as U.S. and Japanese authorities probe the cause of overheated units that grounded Boeing’s Dreamliners in January.
The battery in the i-MiEV caught fire at Mitsubishi Motors’ Mizushima plant in Okayama Prefecture on March 18 when it was being charged during a test before installation in the vehicle.
Although the battery and cable were charred, no one was injured.
The Outlander PHEV battery, which was taken apart, showed signs of a short circuit in the interior wiring. When the battery pack was examined by the supplier, it was found that one of the battery pack’s 80 cells had overheated, melting adjacent cells.
The 80 cells in the drive battery pack are divided and set into three blocks within the drive battery pack. In the past, defective batteries were discovered on the same production line after impurities became mixed in the battery interior. Drivers have been advised not to recharge their Outlander plug-in hybrids through its plug.
They should also turn off the electric-only drive mode and disable the function that allows the engine to recharge the battery while driving. The Outlander PHEV, sold only in Japan, is scheduled to arrive in the U.S. next year.
The battery glitch is not expected to delay the U.S. launch.
Mitsubishi has yet to determine the cause of the problem but hopes to restart production within weeks, Koketsu said.
The Outlander PHEV went on sale in Japan on January 24 and Mitsubishi has sold 4 000 units.
That is nearly double the total of the standard gasoline-only Outlander, which has sold 2 500 vehicles in Japan since it went on sale here in October.
All of the 4 000 Outlander PHEVs sold so far could potentially be affected by the problem. The i-MiEV and a commercial vehicle variant called the Minicab come in two trim levels. The upper trim, which gets a bigger, more-powerful battery, uses the Lithium Energy Japan power pack. The lower trim uses a less-powerful battery made by Toshiba. Mitsubishi has halted production of only the vehicles with the Lithium Energy Japan-made batteries. The Toshiba batteries apparently are fine.
Mitsubishi has sold 15 000 i-MiE­V electric cars, since the model’s debut in July 2009.
About 1 300 were sold in the U.S. Mitsubishi has sold an additional 4 000 Minicab EVs, all in Japan.
Through February of this year, Mitsubishi sold 1 210 i EVs, including 600 in the U.S.
(Additional reporting by Electric Cars News.)

Rea tsamaya– let’s go!


PRETORIA, 2009 - One of SA’s longest-running bus-companies, North West Star, recently took delivery of 60 new Mercedes-Benz OF1730-buses as part of a R92 million-contract that will refurbish its fleet with 77 new Mercedes-Benz busses.
The OF1730-bus was specifically designed to meet both South Africa’s tough road conditions and the future public transport needs of metropolitan governments.

The large loan for the fleet-upgrade was raised in Malasia with Mercedes-Benz Finance facilitating the deal.
The contract include site maintenance as well as road side assistance provided through the local dealership.
In receiving the buses, Mr Pule Pule, CEO of Noth West Star, recalled some of the tougher times faced by the company, which started out as Africa Bus Services in 1972, then became Bophutatswana Transport Holdings (BTH) and in 1994 re-registered as North West Star.
“In 1999, we were heavily in debt, three years later, we were showing a profit of just under one million – our success was rooted in the community taking ownership of North West Star buses,” said Pule.
Before the handover, the new Mercedes-Benz OF1730-buses were introduced to the communities of Hammanskraal and Soshanguve by the Soshanguve Community Radio, which travelled on open double-deck bus, singing the praises of the the brilliantly-shined new buses as they paraded along the various bus routes in the area.
Jan Kruger, Asset Manager of North West Star, explained that North West Star commuters typically travelled to Rosslyn and Pretoria CDB. “As far as possible, the same drivers drive the same routes in the morning and evening, with the result that commutters do not treat us as an impersonal bus service, but more like a safe and reliable lift-club.”
To ensure the reliability and effeciency of the buses, Mercedes-Benz used more than 30 years of experience to stipulate exacting designs for the chassis and interior.
The chassis are built at the Mercedes-Benz Bus Centre in São Paulo, Brazil, with Marco Polo providing the specially adapted bodies which include a driver door. Assembly takes place in East London.
The new Mercedes-Benz OF1730 bus meets European III emission-standards and has diesel consumption figures of between 30-35 litres per 100km compared to the older buses’ 47 litres per 100km.
The South African design has in fact proven so successful that the São Paulo Bus Centre is now considering a right hand conversion for the Latin American market, which sells 27 000 buses per year, compared to South Africa’s 120.
Most of the drivers who formed a chior to serenade their new buses have been with North West Star for more than three decades. Few of them have driven more than 10 buses in this time.
Their praises of the Mercedes-Benz’ duralability were summed by Soshanguve Community Radio, which boasted, “they deliver each on time”, while on of the drivers added that the new buses were “Brazilliant!”
Willem van Breda, expert on public transport, said punctuality was core to any form of public transport.
He added that current implementation of the National Land Transport Transition Act would greatly co-ordinate the various modes of rail, bus and taxi-transport  to better serve commuters.
“The national aim is to to deliver the commuter cheaply, safely and on time by providing the most seats at the lowest cost for each leg of the journey, be it taxi, bus, or train”.
He added that both the cities Thswane and Johannesburg would each start R2 billion projects to implement rapid transit project for their surrnounding communities.
“The Tshwane rapid transit project will cover some 700km of routes and is being modelled on the rapid bus transport systems which originated in Brazil and has since been adopted in Europe and the Far East.
Rapid transport systems typically create a circular route using bus-only lanes in the middle of existing roads, on which a bus would pass on average every 10 minutes. Taxis would deliver commuters from the suburbs to the main bus routes using similar taxi-only lanes. Such rapid transit systems drastically reduce congestion, the bane of every driver on the road.
“Tenders are expected to be invited before year end, and thanks to their fleet of new 1730-buses, North West Star is ideally placed to tender,” said van Breda.

Senin, 01 April 2013

BMW and Continental team up on auto drive



http://www.blogcdn.com/www.autoblog.com/media/2010/09/distracted-driver-makeup-phone.jpg
The rapid rise of self drive cars will
make this type of driving a lot safer.
BMW and Continental have teamed up to develop an “electronic co-pilot” for cars.
Scheduled to run to the end of 2014, the goal of the joint project will be to develop a number of prototype vehicles capable of highly automated freeway driving on European freeways from 2020, with fully automated systems expected from 2025.
The next test phase for prototype vehicles involves testing them — with trained drivers behind the wheel — in typical driving conditions that will include intersections, toll stations, roadworks and national borders.
Both BMW and Continental have already logged thousands of kilometres using semi-autonomous systems. Continental worked with Mercedes on adaptive cruise control and emergency braking assistance systems. It also participated in the EU research project called HAVEit, where it was responsible for developing a highly automated assist system for driving around traffic jams and roadworks.
Like Google and Audi, Continental also took one of its self-driving car testbeds to Nevada in early 2012, where it became the first automotive components supplier to receive Nevada DMV permission to test on public roads and recorded over 24 000 km of highly automated driving.
BMW famously demonstrated its BMW TrackTrainer on the world’s most popular car programme Top Gear, The self-driving BMW track car uses high-resolution GPS and video data to navigate around race tracks fully autonomously, and the Emergency Stop Assistant, which has some novel attributes, including monitoring the driver for incapacitation.
If the vehicle senses through biosensors that the driver is having a medical emergency, such as a heart attack, then it will take over operation and bring the vehicle to a safe stop on the side of the road and call for help.
In mid-2011, BMW also tested a self-driving car on the A9 Motorway between Munich and Nuremberg, where the car mixed in with traffic and obeyed the traffic laws.
The BMW test vehicle was equipped with 360-degree LIDAR (laser radar), radar, sonar, and computer vision systems using cameras to detect other cars and monitor traffic.
In comparison to the Google self-driving car, which sports a large spinning LIDAR unit on its roof, the autonomous BMW appears much like a standard model.
By concentrating on automated freeway driving, the companies hope to make the technology safe, attractive and affordable for customers. However, they anticipate autonomous driving technologies will be rolled out in stages, with partially automated driving possible from 2016, highly autonomous systems available from 2020, and fully autonomous systems appearing in vehicles from 2025.

Minggu, 31 Maret 2013

Reis in jou dorp rond

So soek ons Goeie Vrydag 'n plek wat na middernag bier op 'n vreedsame manier verkoop.
Daar is vele plekke in Pietermaritzburg wat na die hekse uur jou geld in die polsende donker sal ruil vir iets wat ruik soos bier, maar dese plekke het ook altoos iemand boos en iemand anders wat bloei en kort daarna sirenes wat loei.
 Nie die aard van water-aar wat 'n vermoeide griffelaar na ure se nagskof soek nie.
Inline image 1Maar met al die plekke wat nie TE woes is, so toe soos 'n Barbiedol se,  erm...
oor, verdof 'n dors skriba se standaarde gou soos dou in die winterkou.

Die lat ek in die onderdorp by die eerste aanblik van 'n gesellige vuur op die sypaadjie, neffens sulke helder piek neonligte, vir Abraham vertel ons soeke na 'n bier stop hier.
Dis Pakies, opper Abraham. Pakies is mense wat rou urdu praat en sommer nog onlangs vanaf 'n skippie by 'n versteekte baai êrens aan Wilde Kus afgeklim het. Meestal sonder die beslommernis van 'n paspoort of ander swaar immigrasievorms, verduidelik hy.
Pakies skraap 'n lewe deur aan nanag mense soos ons goete te verkwansel. Daar is baie van hulle... en nie almal is ewe vriendelik nie.
Ja, maar hulle boelieburger kos net R5,99, wys ek vir Abraham.
Dis omdat die "boelie" deel van die burger stellig vanoggend nog gewriemel het toe dit van die N3 af opgeskraap was, meen Abraham. Hy raak soms so donker filosofies.
Vertel ek vir Abraham as die klante wat uitkom so vet is soos die op die kiekie, weet ons ten minste daai boelieburger gee nie jippouguts of anoreksia nie.
Ook maar honger en dors, gee Abraham in en vra vir die oom meer detail oor die boelieburgers. Hulle praat urdu en ek verstaan niks. (Abraham is - sy naam ten spyt - gebore in Zambïe, in Transkei geskoei en toe in Indïe geskool en vele kere begraad.)
Inline image 2Uit die hoek van sy mond vertaal hy. Dit word "vars" uit deep fried vleis gemaak (wat as ons gelukkig is, selfs sterk na boeliebeef sal proe), en vat 'n half uur in die olie. Ons moet in die Bulldog bar 'n bier gaan drink, hulle bring dit seintoe.
Musiek op my ore.
Toe draai die oom om en hoes te lekker oor die vlamme. En die patties. En die pan kokende olie.
Ek sluk swaar en troos myself dis WARM vlamme daai, ;n half ur behoort als dood te skroei. Self TB.
Die Bulldog bar - einste een van die pienk neon ligte, het as take away begin.
Die kroegie is waar die toonbank was. Klein, maar keurig versier met plastiek houtpilare en Indiese krulle goete en so. Die dames wat daar vergader en in die stegie agter die Bulldog bar, wel, "werk", hou hulle eenkant.
(Wat jammer is, want ek wou graag vir ene vra "en wat's jou naampie?" en as sy my vertel om te eff-off, by te voeg "...en jou vannetjie?")
Inline image 4
Ek bestel twee biere.
Twee quarts word so vinnig oopgemaak en neergeplak, die 'tssst, 'tssst van hulle doppies klink soos een sis uit hun Edense slang. 
Net R17,50 elk. Ons sluk dankbaar diep en toe die quarts net mooi "hollfs" is, bring die oom die burgers, stomend warm op vars rolletjies, met perfekte slap tjips gegarneer en vir my, die warm tjillliesous wat ek gevra het.
 Inline image 3Bargain, meen Abraham na hy versigtig geproe het.
"Bugn" stem ek saam met kake vol boelie.
Die burgers was so lekker, ons bestel nog.
Hoe dan anders as mens klein geld kry uit R25 vir twee en 'n halwe bier en stomende deepfraaid burger?
Sonder enige probleme van hoes, of so later - let wel.
Wat als net my twee NBste reëls vir reis onderskraag:
1. Kry 'n native guide.
2. Vir die lekkerste ervarings, breek brood met die locals.

Vir almal van julle wat so gelowe, hoop dit was 'n geseënde ooster. Vir die wat nie so gelowe nie, maak soos die plaaslike Hindu bemarker gemaak het toe haar Moslem baas haar vertel sy moet vir die Christene die beauty salon se specials oor Ooster adverteer.
Ook net in PieMbee.Inline image 5

Kamis, 14 Maret 2013

You CAN believe in Friday the 13th

The most deadly antelope on roads
in South Africa
Some say triskaidekaphobia is a bunch of baloney. Well, what about this then?
On Friday, 13 February, 2006, a kudu went through  the windscreen and into the face of Dirk Crafford (49) from the town of Ellisras.
While he now has a lot of interesting scars, he is lucky to be alive, for a kudu bull gets to be moose-sized.
And as any long-distance driver in the northern provinces of South Africa knows, you are just asking for them to come through the windscreen at speed when you drive at night.
Not contend with still having a pulse, respiration and (mostly) functioning brain after the crash, Mr Crafford however decided  to push his luck a little further with a little light litigation. 
His lawyer, Leila Reyneke, sued the South African National Roads Agency SOC Limited for R3.25 million rands for allowing the grass to grow too high on the verge of the rural road, which he said prevented him from seeing that a grey shape moving at speed was about to jump into his face in the black of the night. 
The court could have ask him if he foresaw kudu danger while drivinng in a part of southern Africa where game hunting is the biggest industry  how come did he not take preventative action, like driving slowly?
Mr Crafford said the kudu klapped him so hard, he kurnt remember wa' hapnt.
So Five appeal judges told Crafford to make like a tree and leaf.
It's not the only travel story out there that explains why people can be phobic about trickai deka (tres dois/der tien/ thirteen).
Before that, there was the best-know ill-fated journey of Appollo 13. An oxygen tank on the way to the  moon, forcing the third mission to the moon to abandon. (Check out the movie. Its good.)
Still not convinced? How about the findings of a 1993 study published in the British Medical Journal which compared a few year's worth of accidents from the same region on a Friday the 6th compared to crashed on a Friday the 13th. Their stats showed that despite fewer people driving on Friday the 13th, the number of hospital admissions due to crashes was significantly higher than on "normal" Fridays. Their conclusion: "Friday 13th is unlucky for some. The risk of hospital admission as a result of a transport accident may be increased by as much as 52 percent. Staying at home is recommended."
Whish I knew that in 2002, when while in the only BMW SCL then in South Africa, which happened to be nr 13, a small foxterrier SUDDENLY appeared out of the grass in the median of the Black Rock highway west of Pretoria. 
Normally this would pose no problem, but we were were doing high-speed testing for the former Wiel magazine and the needle was close to 200km /h.
Luckily, Slowhand Danie Botha was behind the wheel and he neither swerved, nor jerked or skrikketed in the least. He just calmly aimed to miss as much of the foxterrier as was possible while operating in that slooooow  mooo speeeed justbeforeACRASH
"Bloody fok-sterriers", was all he had to say afterwards.

How to sell engines quickly

This is Marketing 101 to sell engine parts.
.

Senin, 11 Maret 2013

The world will soon have too much oil



A pipeline worker operates valves at the Nahran Omar oil
refinery near the city of Basra in Iraq in this undated AP photo
A DISCUSSION paper released last year by one of the world’s foremost experts on oil, gas, and energy is causing growing excitement in a world where consumers are daily informed that the supply of oil has peaked and is running out.
In the paper “Oil: The Next Revolution, Leonardo Maugeri stated that oil and gas reserves are not running out — but is in fact getting more.
He goes as far as predicting an oversupply of oil and gas in seven years.
Published by the Belfer Centre for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School, Maugeri’s paper showed how worldwide discoveries of new oil and gas supplies are at such an unprecedented level that the conservative projections have supply outpacing consumption by 2020. “This could lead to a steep dip in oil prices,” he stated.
He said in his paper that the price of oil was currently kept artificially high and mooted $70 dollar per vat as a market related figure.
Touting several worst-case scenarios, Maugeri said a new world-wide economic recession; or a drastic change in Chinese consumption patterns; or a sudden solution to major political tensions affecting a major oil producer such as Iran, could trigger a major decrease and even a collapse of the price of oil.
“By collapse, I mean a fall below $50 per barrel for one year,” he said.
He stated the most important point to note, however, is that oil was not in short supply.
“From a purely physical point of view, there are huge volumesof conventional and unconventional oils still to be developed, with no “peak oil” in sight.
He said the full deployment of the world’s oil potential depends only on price, technology, and political factors. As for price, he pointed out that more than 80% of the additional production under development globally seems to be profitable with a price of oil higher than $70 per barrel.
Stressing that future oil prices remain uncertain, he pointed out the oil market will remain “highly volatile until 2015 and prone to extreme movements in opposite directions, thus representing a major challenge for investors, in spite of its short and long term opportunities.
“After 2015, however, most of the projects considered in this paper will advance significantly and contribute to a strong build-up of the world’s production capacity.
“This could provoke a major phenomenon of overproduction and lead to a significant, stable dip of oil prices, unless oil demand were to grow at a sustained yearly rate of at least 1,6% for the entire decade.
Maugeri said in the next decades, a lot of “unconventional oils”, such as shale/tight oils in the U.S., Canadian tar sands, Venezuela’s extra heavy oils, and Brazil’s pre-salt oils will be produced.
While cautioning that more than 50% of the global oil supply will continue to come from a geographic arc stretching from Russia to the Persian Gulf, he points out that Iraq, the U.S., Canada, and Brazil have the highest potential in terms of effective production in the next decade.
He said the most surprising factor of the global picture, however, was the explosion of the U.S. oil output.
“Thanks to the technological revolution brought about by the combined use of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing, the U.S. is now exploiting its huge and virtually untouched shale and tight oil fields, whose production — although still in its infancy — is already skyrocketing in North Dakota and Texas,” he wrote.
Maugeri stressed in his paper that the shale or “tight oil” boom in the U.S. was not “a temporary bubble, but the most important revolution” in oil in decades. He added more countries would start hydraulic fracturing over the next decades, which might bear “surprising results”, given the fact that most shale or “tight oil” resources in the world are still unknown and untapped.
“China appears to be the first country to follow the U.S. example. Moreover, the extension of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing combined to con ventional oil fields might dramatically increase world’s oil production and revive mature, declining oilfields,” he said.
Horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing can make even South Africa an oil rich country — if environmental concerns about fracking the Karoo’s rich deposits can be addressed. Chances of this ever happening are slim, however.
For as Maugeri concludes, a revolution in environmental and technologies to curb emissions are required “to sustain the development of most unconventional oils”, along with “a strong enforcement of already existing standards”, rather than massive over-regulation. “Without such a revolution, a continuous dispute between the industry and environmental groups will force government to delay the development of new projects,” he said.
• Source: “Oil: The Next Revolution”, by Leonardo Maugeri, discussion paper 2010-7 Belfer Centre for Science and International Affairs at the Harvard Kennedy School


SA vague on electric transport plans



Tata in India is setting an example for Africa with its
solar-powered charging stations for electric vehicles.
The Technology Innovations Agency in partnership with the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University and other key stakeholders such as car manufacturers, Nissan and BMW, utility Eskom, and other partners such as Sasol launched the E-Mobility Programme.
The programme aims to identify and support the development of new technologies in order to create a commercially viable infrastructure for the use of electric vehicles for both private and business purposes. 
But don't hold your breath.
Beyond selling their cars here, neither Nissan nor BMW spokespersons could answer any questions on what type of skills, and whether other types of evees, like scooters, formed part of the planning. 
The Technology Innovations Agency could only vaguely state it "aims to facilitate the development of the resources and skills necessary to create a nationwide electrical vehicle support network, which will include convenient recharging points."
What's there to create? 
Just imitate any of the plans that are already working in China, Europe, India and North America!
Why, our leaders can even go on another junket to study these solutions, and this time actually bring back something worthwhile.
The obvious plan is to import and subsidise thousands of electric scooters and to train electricians to fix them when (not if) they stop working.
The only reason why commuters have not taken up scooters is their fear of the taxi mafias, whose drivers will kill clients not using them. But if millions of scooters flood the market, the taxis will be outnumbered, and we can free up millions of rands a week currently wasted on taxi bosses to feed and school our youth.
Why not BYD busses or Leaf ambulances?
Because there are only so many bits that can stop working in a scooter, and if the local Auto Association can train auto electrical theory in 10-weeks, we can train hundreds of technices to fix both ice and 'lectric scooters in townships across South Africa in the same time.
What we don't need is another case of our leaders being duped to part with millions, as they did with the two (yes, just 02) Joule electric vehicles that were built.
For our gogos who are raising the nation between having to walk hours between low-paying jobs and taxi ranks each day, desperately need affordable alternatives to get home, not another politically-correct talk shop.

Minggu, 10 Maret 2013

Why I aint selling my fuel guzzler

Roy Maugeri is my new hero.
Roy Maugeri, oil pundit who predicts
an oversupply in seven short years.
One of the world's foremost experts on oil, gas, and energy, he released a study showing that oil is NOT running out... haikona bru: its getting more.
Maugeri's latest paper show worldwide discoveries of new oil and gas supplies are at such an unprecedented level that the latest predictions have supply outpacing consumption by 2020. More on him here.
Would this lead to a drop in oil prices as he predicts?
Nope.
It costs more to get the oil out of the new fields, the new wave of Chinese and Indian motorists all wants to burn the stuff, and besides, oil producers have a fine tradition to uphold when it comes to charging top dollar - using any excuse and exploitative law under the sun.
In short, they still have us over a barrel.
But it may slow down the spiraling increases we have glumly been accepting as a fact of life because the oil-peakers said it was so since the mid 2000s.
A bit.
Based on Maugeri field-by-field analysis of most oil exploration and development projects in the world, his paper suggests that an unrestricted, additional production (the level of production targeted by each single project, according to its schedule, unadjusted for risk) of more than 49 million barrels per day of oil (crude oil and natural gas liquids, or NGLs) is targeted for 2020, the equivalent of more than half the current world production capacity of 93 mbd.
After adjusting this substantial figure considering the risk factors affecting the actual accomplishment of the projects on a country-by-country basis, the additional production that could come by 2020 is about 29 mbd. Factoring in depletion rates of currently producing oilfields and their “reserve growth” (the estimated increases in crude oil, natural gas, and natural gas liquids that could be added to existing reserves through extension, revision, improved recovery efficiency, and the discovery of new pools or reservoirs), the net additional production capacity by 2020 could be 17.6 mbd, yielding a world oil production capacity of 110.6 mbd by that date – as shown in Figure 1. This would represent the most significant increase in any decade since the 1980s.
Read more here
So if we won't pay less, but just more less faster, why am I so happy? For  one, I don't have to sell my fuel-guzzling, genly-rusting slow-but-steady old Toyota Land Cruiser - a car that fits my ego like a metal glove. And two, the mendicant nomads on www.couchsurfing.org can still afford to fly all over this wondrous planet of ours.

Hard racing in rally opener



Champions Robin Houghton and Mark Cronje
defended their title in the first leg of the South African Rally.

SOUTH African rally champions Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton (S2000 Ford Racing Fiesta) dominated the season-opening Total Rally that took place on the South Coast on Friday and Saturday.
Thirty cars entered the first day of racing, which was marked by high drama and sportsmanship. In the worst crash of the race, Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson rolled their new Polo within sight of the finish on stage three while fighting for second place with Jan Habig and Robert Paisley in their Basil Read Fiesta. The multi-million-rand Sasol Racing Polo was severely damaged after rolling end over end several times, but Kuun and Hodgson were only bruised.
The crash set the tone for the rest of the rally, which saw Cronje and Houghton stop in the next stage to check on competitors Johnny Gemmel and Carolyn Swan. The pair ended up in the cane when they lost steering in their Toyota Yaris after hot gases from a broken exhaust pipe ignited a power steering pipe and caused their retirement on Friday. They restarted on Saturday under penalty time, but gave a demonstration of the new Toyota’s potential by finishing in the top three in four of the seven gravel stages and winning the final one.
Cronje and Houghton continued their good form on Saturday with six out of nine stage wins.
Former champions Habig and Paisley made it a 1-2 for Ford, finishing 65 seconds behind the winners after starting the final day 34 seconds in arrears. They won a stage on each day and were the only S2000 crew to keep the champions honest.
Third were the Team Total combination of Jean-Pierre Damseaux and new co-driver Hilton Auffray in the first of the S2000 Challenge cars in a Toyota Auris, who did well to overcome a strong challenge on Saturday from the Castrol Team Toyota Yaris of Leeroy Poulter and Elvene Coetzee.
The battle between the two Yaris crews was a feature of the event, with Poulter and Coetzee giving their new rally car an impressive debut, occupying third place throughout the day until they were slowed by power steering problems on the last two gravel special stages.
The Toyota pair picked up a 40-second penalty for lateness after repairing a broken power steering pulley and dropped to fourth behind Damseaux and Auffray with just the 1,3 kilometre tarmac super-special stage on the site of the old Durban drive-in remaining.
After tweeting that he would have to garner whatever points he could in a car that was just not gelling with him, Gugu Zulu nevertheless finished fifth overall with co-driver Carl Peskin.
They were the first of the factory Volkswagen Polos in after a disastrous weekend for the factory-based VW Sasol racing team.
After ending in a surprising third place overall on Friday night, the youngest driver in the rally, Henk Lategan (18), and veteran Barry White clipped a concrete tunnel wall and ended up setting fire to the cane. The flames saw the cancellation of stage eight, the first of Saturday’s six gravel stages, as officials and bystanders pitched in to extinguish the blaze caused by the car’s hot exhaust setting fire to the dry undergrowth.
Lategan followed Gemmel’s example with a spirited fight-back to win stage 12 on his way to 23rd overall and 13th among the S2000 vehicles.
Zulu and Peskin were challenged for fifth by Team Total Toyota’s Mohammed Moosa and Andre Vermeulen in their Auris.
Racing hard, Moosa also clipped a bridge and later put his Auris on its roof after hitting a drainage ditch. In true rally tradition, Moosa and Vermeulen rolled the light car back on its wheels and finished eighth overall and fourth in the S2000 Challenge.
Rounding out the top six and missing a top-five finish by five seconds were Giniel de Villiers and new co-driver Greg Godrich in their S2000 Imperial Toyota Auris. De Villiers caught a 40-second penalty for lateness after replacing a power steering pump.
Former champions Hergen Fekken and Pierre Arries (VW Sasol racing) ­also competed under penalty time on Saturday after they went off the road on Friday’s first stage and were unable to continue.
They finished 18th overall and 11th in S2000, but the second fastest time they achieved in Saturday’s first two stages before they lost time with a puncture on stage 12 was a reminder of the VW Polo’s potential. — WR.
Photo:
Quickpic
National rally champions Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton raced with precision through the cane fields outside Scottburgh in their Ford Fiesta in the past weekend’s Total Rally. INSET: Houghton (left) and Cronje jubilant after holding off a hard-chasing field to defend their title in the first of eight races in the national rally season.

Jumat, 08 Maret 2013

Cane ploughing in KZN rally

Photo: Rajesh Jantilal
The UK’s Ashley Haigh-Smith and Craig Parry
in the crowd-pleasing Super Special Stage of
the Total Rally, held in Durban last night.
IN a rally full of drama and sportmanship yesterday, champion drivers Mark Cronje and Robin Houghton stopped to help Johnny Gemmel and Carolyn Swan, who had done some alarming cane harvesting using their Castrol Toyota Auris.
This just after Enzo Kuun and Guy Hodgson had rolled in their Sasol Polo in the third stage of the Total Rally, which started in Scottburgh and ended in Durban.
They crashed out of the event on stage three in spectacular fashion within site of the finish. The crew was dazed and the car is a write-off. Kuun was lying third at the time.
Morne Janse van Rensburg and Rickus Foure also “went surgarcane farming” in their Polo on the second corner of the stage, according to a tweet by Fourie.
The crashes show just how hard the other teams are racing to try and unseat Cronje and Houghton this year.
Luckily, none of the drivers who made unplanned safaris in the canefields were injured. The various crashes however saw stages 4 and 6 cancelled and of the thirty crews who departed to Durban yesterday, six did not start this morning.
Finishing a surprising third place yesterday was matriculant Henk Lategan. At 18, Lategan is the youngest driver yet in SA rallying. He is racing in Sasol VW car number 17 with veteran navigator Barry White.
In car nr 314, S20, privateers from Pietermaritzburg, Thane Archer and Frans de Wit, aim to have a blast with the big guns from out of town.
Yesterday’s racing culminated with a crowd-pleasing Super Special Stage, held on tar at the old Drive-Inn.
Today’s timed rally is 171 km long, returning to Scottburgh.
The 24 crews whose cars survived yesterday will contend not only with other racers under the influence of red mist, but KZN’s famously slippery and unpredictable dirt roads over 14 gravel stages back to Scottburgh.
The action ends by mid-afternoon today. More details on the stages and spectator maps at www.totalmotorsport.co.za.


Driving Africa's longest road train


The longest road trains in Africa are 42 metres and weigh 60 tons when empty.
A Western Star with Cummins ISX 565 linked to a 7-speed, 14-ratio
Allison auto box which gives non-stop power to the Isus axles,
pulls four side-tipper trailers designed by Afrit and Unitrans Mining.
As reported on sister blog TheDriverDigest, the longest road train in Africa operates at Richardsbay Minerals in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa.
Operated 24/7 by Unitrans, these road trains are driven on average for 19 hours day by a relay team of four drivers per train.
Each train has a Western Star with a Cummins ISX 565 straight six pulling four Afrit wagons.
Empty the rig weighs 60 tons, which equates to one tone each for the 60 wheels at the back.
With so many wheels, drivers expected the rig to trammel like the devil himself, but a healthy dollop of  science and a little voodoo magic from the Afrit toolbox has ensured that each of the axles under the road trains tracks true.

The now "short" roadtrains still running at Richardsbay
Minerals in South Africa average 19-hour working days.

This means drivers no longer have to plan for a tail-whipping over-reaction on the last wagon after any  steering correction up front.
An Allison gearbox with 14 forward ratios ensure continuous power delivery to the three heavy-duty Sisu axles from Finland.
The elite group of drivers controlling these rigs say the true tracking and continuous power delivery makes  driving these 42,15 metre monsters "almost easy", compared to the older, tail-happy three axle road trains.
"Almost", for turning a 42 metre rig tomorrow requires from the driver to have started planning that turn last week. Once committed to a radius, no corrections can be made to the decreasing corners cut by the 30 rear axles.

Selasa, 05 Maret 2013

Chosing a cheap bakkie

Sister blog THE Driver Digest was recently asked what bakkie was a good buy if one could not afford an entry level Hilux of some R180 000.
After advising the asker on how to choose an engine for Newton metres to move a heavy load, or kilo-Watts to move light loads fast, we suggested three answers. 
Based on mileage and load, readers can pick the best course of action to find a budget bakkie or van that will meet their business needs.

Rent a bakkie 
For ad hoc jobs, just rent it. Commercial vehicles must earn their keep by carrying a payload, and if your need is to have one for a few days in a month, rent it rather than carry all that wear and tear.
There are many companies let out bakkies in South Africa for less than R400 a day excluding fuel and mileage after the first 200 km. But watch out for fly-by-nights who ALWAYS try to sting the renter
after the deal with damages that suddenly appeared. Avoid this unpleasentness by making a thorough inspection of the car before taking delivery.
For those lucky enough to live in KZN, Key Group have good deals  and excellent service.

Kick tyres at an auction
Tata Xenon Fleetline
When it comes to doing long distances with heavy loads, South Africa has two kinds of bakkie drivers, those in a Hilux — and those in “other bakkies”.
The good news is that even a Hilux can be had for less than R180 000 at reputable auctions this close to financial year-ends.
If the badge is not a problem, budget bakkie seekers will do very well to go kick the tyres of a Tata Xenon Fleetline. Then hang around the dealers’ waiting room for a while. Not all Tata dealers give equal after-sales service, and unsatisfied customers will soon reveal all in the waiting room.
Go lesser-spotted for best prices
Mahindra's Bolero
South Africa offers a slew of lesser-spotted bakkies and vans costing well below the R180 000 budget. They range in size from tiny Chinese to proven Koreans.
These days, the only potential drawback of buying a very affordable bakkie or van is that dealers may be few and far between on long-delivery routes. But for doing business in town, the low price of the lesser-spotted Chinese bakkies make them very attractive for even the most hardened Hilux fan.
The Tata Xenon offers the most Newtons for the least money, but by all accounts, Mahindra, Foton and JMC dealers are trying harder to keep their customers pleased.
Vans make more cents
If the load can easily be stolen, we advise a panel van. For delivering in and around town, the Chinese mini vans are a bit cramped for bigger drivers and will baulk at heavy pay loads, but for light, bulky loads, they offer fantastic value.
The DFSK mini van, going for less than R100 000, runs on an oil rag and has a good record in China.
For longer deliveries, either the Kia 2,7D Workhorse or Hyundai H100 Bakkie have long earned the respect of all fleet managers. Both sell for just over R170 000 and offer a very comfortable seating position.

South Africa's top 15 most affordable bakkies and vans
DFSK single cab mini bakkie R79 990
DFSK mini van R99 990
Foton 1-ton bakkie R122 950
Tata 3L Worker R123 995
Chevrolet Utility Club R124 100
Mahindra Bolero R129 900
Tata Xenon Fleetline R136 995
JMC Boarding R139 880
GWM Workhorse R139 900
Daihatsu Gran Max R139 995
FAW Sirius R150 000
Renault Kangoo Express R169 900
Isuzu KB200 R170 200
Kia Workhorse R171 995
Hyundai H100 Bakkie R173 900
For heavy loads, pick from this list:
Tata Xenon Fleetline 300 Nm
Mahindra Bolero 238 Nm
JMC Boarding 235 Nm
Foton 193 Nm
Tata 3L Worker 180 Nm

Rabu, 27 Februari 2013

Sucking the public purse dry via fuel taxes

This 18-month old Cambodian boy taught himself how to
suckle from a cow after the calf had done drinking.
Governments the world over do the same with petrol price,
except the State would try cramming all the teats into one mouth.
Having predicted that South Africa's fuel price will hover over R12/liter for the most part of 2013 in this blog, the latest budget speech by Finance minister Pravin Gordhan has taken the first step towards making this prediction a pillaging reality.

As he did in 2012, the Road Accident Fund (REF) and Fuel levies increased again, this time by 23 cents per litre.
This year it is 0,08c a litre for the RAF and 0,15c a litre for the fuel levies. (In 2012, it was also 8c for the RAF but 20c for the levies.)
South Africans  buy some 970 million litres of petrol and 980 million litres of diesel over an average month like September.
This means the latest  ZAR77,600,000 million the latest 8 cent increase will add from next month just in petrol.
Mr Gordhan sternly said he hopes our government will spend wisely the taxes our Receicer so efficiently gather.
Nobody laughed, and he did not make any other jokes during his speech.
Currently, the fuel price is South Africa is comrpised in the following manner:

Fuel price %
Basic fuel price and state levy 53.1
Customs, Duties, RAF, Basic Tax 27.9
Wholesale 7
Retail 8.4
Transport 2.4
Delivery 1.2

Above looks like government takes only a quarter of the money, which looks good compared to the UK or France, but "delivery" equates to a state-owned parastatal, while all other sectors pay add valorum tax on every drop we burn in our ICE engines.
Which means our government is still stretching the petrol teat like a kettie, and pillaging the public's purse with a least R8 billion a month in the process.
Which every economist tells us, will drive up inflation.
Electric engines, anyone?

Jumat, 22 Februari 2013

One night in Bangkok makes hard bikes jingle




Designs included a military issue leaning trike, a fatboy,
the latest in designer-biker hotpants
and  all the bling you can fit.
The Bangkok Motorbike Festival. (BMF) is quite unlike any other motorcycle show on Earth. Held within one of the world’s largest shopping centers, the festival parks bikes and scooters among upmarket boutiques and cafes. Thailanders — most all but born on scooters — throng the displays.
Apart from the international brands like Honda, the show also displayed bikes from brands totally unknown in South Africa, like Can-Am Spyder, Victory, SYM, Stallions and Zero Engineering.
For this year's BMF, Honda Thailand challenged the country’s customisers to design something different for the Bangkok Motorbike Festival. 

‘Cars will all self-drive in 15 years’



Led by Professor Paul Newman and Doctor Ingmar Posner, the 20 members of the Mobile Robotics Group have developed self-drive system for cars that runs from a tablet computer.
Newman predicts self-drive technology would be standard in all mainstream cars within 15 years, and his group currently offers bestpriced system, coming it at £5,000 (some R69 000). “We are not condemned to a future of congestion and accidents. We will eventually have cars that can drive themselves, interacting safely with other road users and using roads efficiently, thus freeing up our precious time.
But to do this the “machines need life-long infrastructure-free navigation”, which aim their website lists is their real focus.
Acting like a plane on auto-pilot, the autonomous driving system is designed to take over from humans in slow-moving traffic or on a familiar route, such as a school run.
Tapping “accept” on an iPad in the dashboard allows the car’s onboard computer take the wheel and pedals.
The Brits opted not to use GPS, but 3D laser mapping.
They explained in a statement satellite navigation isn’t always available, isn’t accurate enough for driving and doesn’t provide any information about what’s going on around the robot car. Their RobotCar instead uses small cameras and lasers built into the chassis of a specially adapted Nissan Leaf.
When the car is driven manually the lasers and cameras act as its ‘eyes’, mapping a 3D model of its surroundings, which is fed into a computer stored in the boot.
These sensors feed data to the three computers that are at the heart of the autonomous driving system.
One is an iPad, which acts as the user interface. This offers to drive if the car knows the route, guides the driver to set up autonomous mode and warns of obstacles and other situations requiring human intervention. The brunt of the work is done by the Main Vehicle Computer installed in the boot. Together these sensors and computers are used to build up and “remember” a three-dimensional map in order to steer the car along familiar routes.
The three computers act in concert. If they disagree on a situation, the car slows and stops.
Newman said the group aims to get the cost of their prototype down to less than R1500 in the near future.

French rider goes one better than SuperVan



Frenchman Guerlain Chicherit (34), a professional skier
and rally driver, executes the first backflip in a Mini
Countryman
SOUTH African racing legend Sarel van der Merwe once rolled a rally car — in mid air.
In his biography, SuperVan and I, he tells how the car executed a lazy barrel roll high over a pine tree, which scratched a door handle, and then landed on its wheels.
SuperVan raced on, later leaving the mechanics mystified as to how the deep scratch could have been made.
Now Frenchman Guerlain Chicherit (34), professional skier and rally driver, has gone one better. 
He is the first driver this side of the newly discovered exoplanet Kepler-37b (some 210 light-years from Earth) to execute a perfect backflip in a car and then manage a perfect landing. All without any mechanical trickery or fancy camera work.
Chicherit flipped his Mini Countryman last weekend at Tignes, a winter sports resort in France built for the 1992 Winter Olympics freestyle skiing competition.
Mini said the ramp fits the same template as a quarterpipe on a freestyle snowboarding course.
— WWR.