Auto News

Bits of news, interesting old cars or new cars, unusual images or tales, comic relief, … all sorts automotive-related or semi-related miscellany for your information and entertainment.

Disclaimer: opinions expressed here are not neccessarily those of the Club.

MTA voucher Alert!

April 2024. There was some confusion about MTA vouchers. MTA had changed the design and this was not clearly communicated to vendors and the public. Do check that any vouchers have a holographic element and are not obvious photocopies.

Peking to Paris 2024

Chris Ramsey spoke at the Club Night in April about his upcoming adventure of taking a Ford Escort Mk1 on this gruelling 36 day trial by road. The event runs from 18 May to 23 June 2024, ending in Paris during the Olympics.
A staggering amount of paperwork and money goes into such an event. Many border crossings, route changes to avoid warzones, 600 km travel per day, and much more. The entry fee alone is £30,000 per car! Plus 'extra' surprises like another £3,000 for a ferry across the Caspian Sea.

You can follow the rally on »hero-era.com.

Scotty already has Chris chalked in for another Club Night after his return to tell us how it all went. We are all cheering for success and a smooth rally experience for all the teams.

BEVs are like Concorde

From the »Telegraph, 17 Nov 2023:

Today I want to compare the life story of Concorde – the world's first commercial supersonic airliner – with the story to date of battery electric vehicles (BEVs), and to suggest a possible future for the latter. Concorde turned out to be a technology too far, and I suggest that BEVs are heading the same way.

[…] Better technology will help, of course, but not enough. In 1974, when I bought my first electronic calculator, the AA battery had a carbon rod core and an outer casing of zinc. Intensive research and development since then has provided us with the lithium-ion battery, which can store six times as much electrical energy in the same volume. However, the energy density is still 40 times worse than petrol. Experts suggest that the best we can hope for is an improvement by a factor of two over the next 50 years.

None of these problems will be solved in the next few years, and there is now evidence that many car manufacturers are having second thoughts about involvement in the sector. The most likely outcome is that BEVs will be a rerun of the Concorde story, ending up as a short-lived plaything for the wealthy few, and for a similar complex set of reasons.

Omega-1 - a new engine design
»TopSpeed article.

[1] »TopSpeed article - Porsche synthetic fuels
[2] »TopSpeed article - Hydrogen alternative

Be SCAM Safe!

SCAMS to watch out for! Waka Kotahi warn people of email scams regarding expired number plates (here in NZ plates do not expire like in the USA). Here is the NZTA »media release. Plenty more scams exist, here is another »media release about a different group of scams.

More recently, Stuff had a story about a rego scam where "they" register your car away from under you. Here is the »article.

Please be "Scam Aware" - whether it arrives by email or phone call. Rather be over-careful than sorry. For most of us, we live our lives insulated from the true horrors of the world, such as in this »UN report on MASS trafficking for SCAMS in SE Asia.

22 Dec 2022 - Haru Oni

picture of the Haru Oni plant in Patagonia Chile - image:Siemens What is Haru Oni and why could it be very important for you and your classic car(s) in the near future? The windswept mountainsides of Punta Arenas in southern Chile are home to a project involving Porsche, Siemens, Exxon Mobil and local companies and agencies … to produce zero-emissions synthetic biofuel out of fresh air and water.

It works by generating electricity which is then used to electrolyze water into hydrogen and oxygen. The hydrogen is then combined with carbon captured from the air or industrial sources to synthesize methanol, which in turn can then be converted into longer hydrocarbons to be used as fuel. The synthetic efuel is a direct drop-in for pump gasoline, and initially Porsche will take all the site's production and use it to run its one-make Porsche Supercup race series as well as using it to fuel vehicles at its Porsche Experience Centers around the world. (These are locations where one can go and test a number of different Porsche cars.)

Initially, the site will produce around 130,000 litres a year, hoping to scale up to some 55 million litres a year by 2024, and further plans to increase that tenfold to 550 million litres a year by 2026. The first gasoline produced by the plant was used to ceremonially fill a Porsche 911 on 20 Dec 2022, a task performed by Chile's energy minister, Diego Pardow.

There are long-term plans to build 12 such efuel plants around the world, including locations in the US and Australia, with a goal of each site capturing 2 million metric tons of CO2 per year. This synthetic efuel won't be exactly cheap coming out at $8(US) per gallon ($2US per litre), plus taxes and duties. It is an important project given that there are more than 1.3 billion combustion engine vehicles operating on roads globally today, and with the best will in the world those aren't all going to be replaced by electric vehicles any time soon. Costs per litre should come down once this scales and goes beyond just this pilot project stage.

Articles from Ars Technica.
[1] »Porsche invest 75 million in Chilean synthetic fuel startup (06 April 2002)
[2] »Porsche's synthetic fuel factory comes online in Chile (20 Dec 2022)

picture of a Detroit Electric Model D from 1910Let's Go Electric

1910 edition
What 100+ years of lobbying and profiteering can do. Back in 1910, this Detroit Electric Model D had a range of 100 miles (160 km) and could reach a respectable 25 mph (40 km/h). Oil money ensured it went away. Such a car would be very comparable to the Nissan Leaf of today.
In 2013, the »Daily Mail had an article about it.
Imagine what classics we may have had if this had been developed further!

Fun fact! The first ever US presidential motorcade used an electric car! In 1902, Teddy Roosevelt rode through Hartford, CT in a Columbia Electric Victoria Phaeton. The Secret Service used bicycles and horses to keep up with its top speed of 13 miles per hour.

A Supply-Chain Journey

picture of an electronics resitor component An automotive production and diagnostics engineer in Detroit's motor manufacturing heartland described the journey of a small component thus:

picture of new cars in plastic wrapping At every single step of all that global back and forth shipping, this and every other of the thousands of components making up a new car, were wrapped in plastic. Myriad millions of them. All wrapped and re-wrapped in lots and lots of plastic. Shipped by land, sea and air. And many tens of millions of new cars get manufactured every year.

And this is why YOU shall not have plastic straws or plastic shopping bags!

The Greatest Car Ever Made

picture of a Lexus LFA Is this the »greatest car ever made? …not your vanilla variety Toyota, but the greatest effort of the auto manufacturing giant, the fruit of a project very much championed by top leadership… the Lexus LFA.
And of course, »Clarkson! has his surprising opinion of it.
To finish off the polar opposite, the utter other end of the scale, »30 worst cars of all time. {all three videos are on Youtube}

If you find these interesting, let the webmaster know - email is in your Kollector.