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
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.

Tuning you straight: On fat and thin mountain bikers

Thin fit cyclists go faster for further
- that's kilo-Watts.
WE have finally found a use for weekender mountainbikers: they can help us explain why engine power is shown as “torques” and kilo-Watts.
We all know them — those people who spent lots on a hardcore mountain bike, which they then mostly park in the bedroom. Next time you are trapped behind one, watch the thighs.
Torque is the combined power made by length of the lever and the size of the force pressing down on it, or in plain English: fat cyclists with thick thighs can pedal much harderthan thin cyclists.
Fat cyclists can always push the pedal harder that's "torques".
Kilo-Watts shows the rate at which energy is transmitted. In plain speak: it tells you how fast the parts can move before the forces at play will break things. While thin, fit cyclists cannot pedal as hard as us fatties, they can pedal faster for much longer without stretching something or gasping for air.
An engine’s torque then, shows you how big the engine’s muscles are, and the Watts tell you how fit the engine is. You cannot have one without the other, but in a truck, you want more torgues, in a sportscar, more Watts.

KZN drivers in 6-hour race

Getting the Prospecton Backdrafts ready are (from left)
Warren, Kennith, Travis and Mike.
TWO teams from KwaZulu-Natal hope for at least a class win in the first endurance race staged in South Africa in years.Organiser Scott Rainier said 35 cars had entered the African Six Hour at Phakisa Raceway in Welkom on February 23.
He told Weekend Witness, as far as he can recall, this will be South Africa’s first endurance race since the Southern Sun 500, which was held at Kyalami on the 26 November 1988 and won by the Joest racing team in a Porsche 962c.
For today’s race at Phakisa,KZN’s Toyota guru Bruce Avern-Taplin will race in his Toyota Touring Car spec 1 600.
While he starts as an underdog in the field of 35, co-driver Mike Schmidt of Frankies soft drinks fame believes that anything can happen in endurance racing.
“There are so many factors that can come into play in a race of this nature. There are also very few teams in the field with endurance race experience, so I guess we have as good a chance as any of the rest,” Schmidt said.
Definitely no underdogs in the race are the Backdraft team of Tony Martin, Franco Scribante, Mark Owens and Mike McLaughlin.
Martin told Weekend Witness he was giving his Backdraft’s new livery at his factory in Prospecton, KZN’s largest privately-owned car builder.
Martin exports these replica sports cars to the states, and his local racers are powered by four-litre Lexus V8 engines that has earned him a class win from Phakisa late last year. Rainier said the entry of veteran cars featured a broad cross section of Prototype, Sports, GT and saloon cars.
“But this is not a race for historic cars. We have some of the latest endurance machines in the world competing, although we welcome the historic cars that will be competing in their own categories,” says race organiser Roger Pearce.
Some of these interesting modern cars include the Pilbeam MP98, entered by Greg Mills, author of several books on South African motor racing, and a man who plans to enter the 2014 Le Mans in a South African-built car.
As Mills will be out of the country on February 23, the car will be driven by multiple off-road champ Duncan Vos, who also has single seater championships to his credit.
Vos finished 10th in the 2012 Dakar Rally in the Imperial Toyota Hilux. He will be partnered for this race by his brother Graham, a man with vast experience in historic car racing.
For more information, contact Roger Pearce at 082 8970771, or by e-mail at roger@afriod.co.za


Minggu, 17 Februari 2013

One in three unnatural deaths in SA is involves a vehicle

A study by the medical Research Council Council in 2013 shows driving to be the second biggest cause of deaths in South Africa. The study is based on 57 274 post mortems conducted in 45 mortuaries across South Africa.
A worrying trend to under-report the statistics has also emerged, with the mortuaries having  17 103 bodies of people who had died in crashes  during 2009, compared to the 13 768 road deaths according the police.
The study also showed that driving was potentially just 2,5% percentage points less dangerous than being murdered.
By the Murder is still the nr 1 cause of death in South Africa, with just over three in ten people (36,3%) dying thus. By comparison, road accidents causing 33,8%. Road accidents are however the single biggest cause of unnatural deaths among women at 42,6%.