Friday, December 31, 2010

2011 WISH

I would like to wish everyone another joyous third-lane orbit around an ageing medium sized star
And may your Lord/ deity/ philosophical bend give you professional/personal satisfaction over the next 12 lunar cycle.

May your days be filled with healthy fructose and diffracted sunlight at the end of a precipitation.

May you prove your virility to your wife, authority to your children, filial piety to your parents, geniality to your genetic relations, equality to your close social circle and mild and not at all overbearing superiority over your outer social circle and assorted underlings.

Happy 2011

ENERGY LITERACY 101: Would you change your lifestyle if oil hits USD200 per barrel? (That's RM5/litre for petrol)

Mail Motor's theme for 2010 is Cars That Care and this means our editorial will examine wasy that cars and car companies care abotu their occupants, abotu the environment and also society at large. 

Within that context we will begin a series of campaign related to the theme and one of them is ENERGY LITERACY.

We want to promote greater understanding about the use of energy and its impact on the global ecosystem, this is the first in our series of ENERGY LITERACY 101 series which takes a look at the basics of Energy Literacy. This week we examine something quite simple, the cost of energy and our lives.

For the longest time, the cost of energy has not been calculated on a holistic basis, oil companies add all their costs and margin and that is what we pay at the pumps but the energy that we use generally cost more than that.

So here we go

In 2007-2008 we saw some of the biggest fluctuations in oil prices, going way past USD100 for the first time and stayed there for a few months before coming back down to around USD65 per barrel.

To put that into perspective, just a few years earlier oil executives would have laughed at the suggestion of USD50 barrel, at that time oil was struggling to stay at the USD35 barrel mark.

Oil is ending its run at the USD94 barrel mark in 2010 and with the Chinese, Indian and Korean economies steaming on and Asean economies recovering from their sputter demand for black gold is expected to remain strong for 2011 and all the way to 2015.

Some experts predict oil may hit USD200 in the mid term and this is based on predictions of continuing crisis in the usual hot spots plus the decline in the number of new economically feasible finds.

So if oil actually hits USD200 per barrel, which probably means petrol would be hovering near the RM5 per litre mark and a full tank of RON97 in the average family car would set you back RM200 would it force a change in your lifestyle?

For the average family that travels about 60 kilometres per day commuting and/or sending the brood to school, the fuel bill would be about RM100-RM120 per week, assuming you drive a 1.6-litre car or smaller.

If fuel were to rise to RM5 per litre that fuel bill would jump to about RM300 per week.

On a monthly basis, fuel cost would increase from about RM500 per month to RM1200 per month.

That is a substantial increase even for a family that earns RM8,000 per month because the increase would also mean that other necessities would rise in price.

Who can say how much the usual barometer, teh tarik and roti canai would increase in price.

Given this scenario, it is likely that we will be forced to change our lifestyle, how would yours change?

Thursday, December 30, 2010

OIL PRICE: Technical correction see price easing

 Oil price dipped by just over a dollar after a steady rise but this is probably just a technical correction and it would continue to rise on the back of cold winds blowing across much of North America and Europe.

While demand for petrol may ease slightly as motorists cut back on unnecessary driving in the inclement weather, heating oil price would probably be under steady upwards pressure.

Demand for oil across Asia is expected to increase with their economic growth, expect oil prices to move up a steady mild incline throughout 2010 as the global economy picks up cautiously.

Strong supply is helping to stabilise price but Opec has made it known that they are not keen to increase output until their next review in July.

MARKET METRICS   Thu., Dec. 30, 2010
Crude OilOpec Basket90.22+0.14
($/bbl)ICE Brent93.09-1.05
Nymex Lt Swt 89.84-1.28
ProductsNymex (¢/gal)
Heating Oil248.54-3.61
ICE ($/ton)
Gas Oil765.75-14.25
Natural Gas New York 5.33+0.08
Spot PricesHenry, LA4.23+0.05
($/MMBtu) Katy, Texas4.17+0.02
AECO, Canada3.74+0.10

2010 Top 5 car: Proton Inspira

The Proton Inspira is a no brainer contender for market leader because it is a large and comfortable C-segment family sedan that offers excellent ride and handling together with decent safety features at the price of Japanese cars that are one size smaller

2010 Top 5 concept car: Perodua Bezza

This is not an outlandish sports car but a fresh interpretation of what can be done within the accepted dimensions of a compact car.

The three-box profile is next to impossible to wrestle into a beautiful flowing shape but Perodua’s styling has done rather well.

Compact cars will be more important in the future as fuel prices soar, this is why we think anything that gives motorists a choice in this segment is an outstanding effort.

2010 Top 5 Tech: Perecious metal-free liquid-fed fuel cell

Alternative fuel may become a necessity in the near future, no one knows when. Fuel cells is one of the best way to generate electricity because it has no moving parts and therefore enjoy one of the highest levels of efficiency.

The only problem is fuel cells rely on acidic electrolyte membranes to induce the proton transfer that makes it work. Metals corrode in acid, but platinum doesn’t. Platinum is really expensive so fuel cells are really expensive.

At the Kuala Lumpur International Motor Show, Daihatsu, through local technology partner Perodua showed off their idea for a precious metal-free fuel cell. Instead of using an acidic membrane, Daihatsu is developing an alkaline solution to the problem.

Alkaline will not corrode metal and this allows for nickel or cobalt electrodes to be used.

Instead of hydrogen, Daihatsu is using liquid hydrazine-hydrate as fuel. The fuel is synthetic and more easily handled and transported than hydrogen.

With Toyota’s financial muscle backing the research this could be the solution for the future.

2010 Top 5 car: Kia Sorento

The all-new Kia Sorento is large, fully specified modern Sports Utility Vehicle that offers the space and comfort of a large vehicle while giving buyers excellent value for their money. 

The full panoramic glass roof, seven seats, reverse camera and a full set of safety features including hill-descent control means that you get more features for less money than other vehicles in the same size class.

2010 Top 5 concept cars: Lotus Esprit

The Lotus marquee has been in the doldrums for the best part of the last 20 years.

While it continues to be the standard bearer for lightweight sports cars, the Elise and its derivatives are track day specials by most drivers.

The five Lotus concept cars shown at the Paris Motor Show is the company’s best hope for survival and the Esprit was the most beautiful of them all.

The elegant proportions, aggressive lines and altogether modern look interpret the Lotus ideals very well.

While purists will say that the Esprit is not immediately identifiable as a Lotus, it is a matter of time before the gorgeous and coherent new design language becomes the identity of Hethel.

2010 Top 5 Tech: TwinCharge Direct Injection

Twincharge direct injection is the current pinnacle of petrol engine technology, returning amazing fuel economy when you want it and decent performance when the driver is in the mood.

Anything that helps to reduce fuel consumption and exhaust emissions is outstanding technology and the fact that the Volkswagen-Audi Group is packing them into everything including the entry level Polo makes them high-tech for the masses.

2010 Top 5 car: Nissan Teana

The Teana breaks the Japanese executive sedan mould with fresh styling that combines Japanese aesthetics with hints of French flair. 

While the space and comfort level offered by the Teana may not allow it outright advantage over class leaders like the Toyota Camry and Honda Accord but these day design is becoming a lot more important to buyers than just outright space and specifications.

2010 Top 5 concept cars: Audi Quattro

The original Audi Quattro was a Frankenstein job, a shortened  Audi 80 platformed shoehorned with every technology Ingolstadt could get their hands on and the result was a fire-breathing rally legend. 

The Quattro concept is a great design because it evokes all the nostalgia of the original car in its proportions and design details without looking retro.

2010 Top 5 Tech: Pedestrian detection

Volvo is offering this technology in their models and the system is intelligent enough to detect and recognize human beings and activate full braking to prevent contact with a pedestrian. 

While the system now works at speeds of just 35 km/h, future advancement and swarm technology will allow cars to know where people are and warn each other about their presence and make pedestrian accident a thing of the past.

2010 Top 5 car: VW Golf 1.4TSI

This is a European family hatchback that is not only aesthetically pleasing but also comes with a clean heart. The TSI engine allows drivers to enjoy driving while looking after the environment while paying normal price for their ride.

2010 Top 5 concept cars: Renault Desir

Electric cars are usually designed to look futuristic and reflect their technology and the result is usually ungainly, boxy and characteristically nerdy.

It has never been clearly explained why carmakers feel that  electric cars should look a bit odd. 

The Dezir looks like just any other cool concept car except it is powered by electric motors.

 Did you know that Renault’s entire range of cars scored perfect five in the EuroNCAP safety tests. They don’t have to look boxy to be safe, do they? Gallery after the jump

GALLERY Renault Desir

2010 Top 5 Tech: Advanced Keyless

Keyless technology is not only a great convenience to drivers but is a unique safety feature, without the physical and radio presence of the keys, cars cannot be started by thieves.

New ideas in keyless technology includes Ford’s automatic boot that opens with just a wave of a foot under the rear bumper.

Future keyless safety feature may include biometric recognition from voice, fingerprint or retina recongnition.

Video of the Ford C-Max with keyless auto-lift rear hatch is below

2010 Top 5 car: Volvo XC-60

Volvoi’s XC90 was the gold standard for family SUVs and it still is but the SC90 has brought some of that Swedish insightfulness into the compact class. 

If you pay for the full monty they will pack the vehicle with cutting edge safety features like lane-change alert, drowsiness alert, blind spot indicators, active cruise control and city traffic assist. 

For the first time in Malaysia a car with all possible safety feature is available and this is why the XC90 is one of our top pick.   

2010 Top 5 concept cars: Lamborghini Sesto Elemento

Cars coming out of S’ant Agata has always been dramatic and spectacular and this concept car is no different but for the fact that it is Lamborghini’s first no-holds barred effort to explore  the idea of a compact sports car in carbon fibre. 

In a way this is the anti-Lotus, an eye wateringly expensive all carbon track-day special  that will help carmakers better understand how to work with the materials and adapt their design and engineering approach to suit the black stuff. 

2010 Top 5 Tech: Swarm Technology

The world already possess the necessary technology to make cars drive from one point to another without crashing into anything but they are not sending it out into the market yet because they need to be absolutely sure that it is safe. 

Swarm technology may be the key here. Video below

Basically swarm technology mimics the super-organism nature of insect colonies and how each member of the colony can communicate about their surroundings to the others. 

Cars with swarm technology will warn each other about road conditions, traffic hazards and even potential pedestrian crossings and weather conditions. 

Self-communicating cars may conjure images of big brother but just like insect colonies, the Queen don’t have to know where the workers are to make sure that everything runs just right

Mail Motor's Top 5 list - countdown begins

Hi Guys, it's the last day of the year so we want o recap some of the best things that have come out of teh auto industry so we have compiled our list of top 5 technology, top 5 concept cars and top 5 cars to arrive in Malaysia in 2010

Top 5 technology comes out at the top of the hour, top concept car at 20 past while top car will be posted 20 minutes later. Although they appear in a certain order, the items on the list are not ranked from fifth to first (this is called a cop-out clause).

Visist us often today or put us on your RSS alerts or get your copy of The Malay Mail today - it comes out at 4pm so visit your nearest distribution centre and get yourself a FREE copy

The countdown starts at 9am Malaysia time which is GMT+8


Nasim Sdn Bhd, the official distributor of the Peugeot brand in Malaysia, will kick off 2011 with the launch of the much anticipated and award-winning 308 CC on Jan 6.

The two-door convertible will be the first of three new models to be launched by Nasim in 2011. With a stylish and sporty design, luxurious features and advanced technology, the new 308 CC is set to grow Peugeot’s presence in the local coupe cabriolet market.

“Our previous coupe cabriolet, the 207 CC, was the market leader in the segment and we believe the new 308 CC will be just as popular in this niche market.

 “Peugeot was the first carmaker to introduce the coupe cabriolet with the 401 in the 1930s and the new 308 CC further reinforces Peugeot’s position as a market leader in this segment,” said SM Nasarudin SM Nasimuddin.

With an indicative price of RM200,000, the new 308 CC will be launched on Jan 6 and featured at a Nasim roadshow at the Bangsar Shopping Centre from Jan 7 to Jan 9. The new 2+2 308 CC embodies Peugeot’s philosophy of Motion and Emotion with a strong emphasis on design, technology and places emotion at the heart of the motoring experience.

Its exterior is given a sporty appeal through its dynamic directional xenon headlamps, LED rear lights, 18-inch alloy wheels and a twin rear diffuser design.

Inside, the 308 CC features a premium leather interior designed in the tradition of prestige cabriolets, a retractable high resolution 7-inch screen, JBL Hi-Fi system, dual zone air-conditioning and premium leather electric front seats with memory functionality for the driver’s seat.

The 308 CC features a two-piece electrically retractable roof that folds within 20 seconds that can turn the car into a dynamic coupe or an elegant cabriolet.

Safety is also a key characteristic of the 308 CC with the inclusion of six airbags as well as the world’s first side head airbags which are housed in the seat and deployed laterally from the head restraint.

Underneath its bonnet, the 308 CC is fitted with Peugeot’s award-winning twin-scroll turbo high pressure with direct petrol injection engine which produces 156 hp and 240 Nm of torque that is matched to a six-speed automatic transmission with Triptronic and a sport mode.

VIDEO: Texting kills - shocking real stories

This is a video by American telco AT&T... they captured real stories of people, nearly all young, who were killed because of either reading or writing text messages while driving

Video after the jump

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

MEGA GALLERY: James Glickenhaus shares if Le-Mans effort on Facebook

All we can say is thank you Mr. James Glickenhaus,

 you have made this world a bit better by sharing with the rest of us your carbon-fibre wondercar.

Not only is the P4/5 a gorgeous machine but it is also made almost entirely out of carbon fibre and after shelling out God knows how many millions of dollars to Pininfarina to design and build the machine, Glickenhaus is also now the owner of all the moulds and drawings so he is building a Le-Mas car.

How cool is that?

This is one example of how every super rich car nut should live, Jay Leno also sets another good example to follow.

Glickenhaus and Leno makes car nuts happy and for every smile that they put on people's face, that makes them a good person, enjoy his Facebook album.

PRESS RELEASE: Isuzu Chairman visits Malaysia


As part of its determined effort towards making Malaysia a key market for Isuzu vehicles, Chairman of Isuzu Motors Limited Yoshinori Ida paid a historical visit to the country to dialogue with Isuzu Malaysia and its dealers.

This comes at the heels of last month’s launch of the new Isuzu N-Series range of trucks that are expected to spearhead Isuzu Malaysia’s efforts to be the top commercial vehicle brand in the local truck market.

Mr Ida’s visit, the first by the top-ranking official of Isuzu Motors significantly signals the company’s intention to support the local operations and to gain a stronger foothold in the truck business in Malaysia.

During the dialogue that was held in Kuala Lumpur, Mr Ida assured the dealers of Isuzu’s full commitment towards helping the Malaysian operations achieve its position as the leading truck brand and that quick response and excellent product support would be key areas that Isuzu Motors would prioritize in an effort to create a better business environment for Malaysian dealers.

“Malaysia is one of the three Asian tigers together with Thailand and Indonesia. These will be a driving force of the East Asian market in the coming years. In order to achieve our objectives of making Isuzu the No.1 truck brand in the world, we need to have a strong presence in these markets and react quickly to the demands of our customers here,” said Ida.

Mr Ida thanked the dealers for their input during the dialogue and said that their opinions would be considered as valued feedback in determining the kind of products and applications of the future product range.

Most of dealer representatives present at the dialogue were impressed and honoured by the keen interest shown by Mr Ida in soliciting their feedback.

“This is the first time the chairman of a global corporation has come to hear our views. I have never had this opportunity before and more importantly, he has taken note of our opinions and has assured us that he will take the necessary action when he returns to Japan. This is truly a great show of commitment by Isuzu,” said a dealer from Sabah.

Mr Ida made the brief visit to Kuala Lumpur recently and spent approximately three hours meeting with the Isuzu dealers and having a working lunch with them.

VIDEO: Ferrari 458 personalisation guide

If you are planning to buy one of Ferrari's gorgeous 458 Italia and can't seem to find any idea how to personalise the beast then you whould watch this video.

Its very well near car porn....well it is actually car porn if I'm honest

VIDEO: Apparently even Karl Lagerfeld doesn't think that the Germans can design stylish cars

OIL PRICE: Brent breaks USD94 barrier and Kuwait thinks world can handle UISD100/barrel

MARKET METRICS   Tue., Dec. 28, 2010
Crude OilOpec Basket90.67-0.06
($/bbl)ICE Brent94.38+0.53
Nymex Lt Swt91.49+0.49
ProductsNymex (¢/gal)
Heating Oil252.43+0.77
ICE ($/ton)
Gas Oil780.25+2.75
Natural Gas New York8.03-5.47
Spot PricesHenry, LA4.11+0.05
($/MMBtu) Katy, Texas4.03+0.02
AECO, Canada3.54+0.08

Reuter quoted Mr Shaikh Ahmad Al Abdullah Al Sabah oil minister of Kuwait as saying that the global economy can withstand an oil price of USD 100 a barrel as other exporters indicated OPEC may decide against increasing output through 2011 as the market was well supplied.

Analysts have said oil producing countries are likely to raise output after crude rallied more than 30% from a low in May because they fear prices could damage economic growth in fuel importing countries.

Mr Ali Al Naimi oil minister of Saudi Arabia said that he was still happy with an oil price of USD 70 to USD 80 a barrel and there was no need for an extra OPEC meeting before the next scheduled one in June. Others in the group have been pressing for a higher price, arguing that quantitative easing and a weakened US dollar that spurred gains across financial markets mean the oil price strength is partly nominal.

Mr Sameh Fahmy oil minister of Egypt said that the current increase in oil prices was the result of higher demand on heating fuel because of the cold weather in Europe.

Mr Mohammed bin Dha’en Al Hamili energy minister of UAE said that crude oil inventories are quite high. It's the highest over the five years average. The market is well supplied.

European benchmark ICE Brent crude for February closed at USD 93.46 after hitting USD 94.74 a barrel, its highest level since October 2008.

Arab oil exporters meeting in Cairo this weekend said they saw no need to supply more crude as stocks were high and prices had been inflated temporarily by cold weather in Europe.

Asked by Reuters if the world economy could stand a USD 100 oil price, Mr Shaikh Ahmad Al Abdullah Al Sabah said that "Yes it can."

As demand has risen steeply in 2010 and is expected to rise further in 2011, the market is watching closely whether OPEC can release at least some of its spare capacity to prevent prices from soaring to around USD 150 per barrel as they did before the crisis struck in summer 2008.

VIDEO: Extreme stupidity of New York municipal workers

New York City sanitation workers somehow got their front loader stuck int eh snow and needed a tow truck to pull it out, so they did it, by ignoring the fact that they were crushing a Ford Explorer.

Calling the retards would be insulting people with mental handicap

VIDEO: GM explains eMPG...that is electric miles per gallon.What?

Just watch this video and the arcane codes that are used to pass secret messages between car engineers are deciphered. Its not rocket science, apparently.

video after the jump

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Nano Gold Standard

Would you like your Nano in Gold Rajiv?

Given that Nano sales have retarded to nearly nothing, tat had to do something to get people excited about their bare bones car for the masses.

Reports of spontaneous combustion spread like wildfire and sales of the Nano to dive dramatically so Tata called on its subsidiary, Titan industries to build one out of gold. or rather to deck one in gold.

They invited designs and thirteen were submitted and the photos you see here are the top three.

We are not sure which one will be built but it doesn't look like the gold has improved the Nano's looks.

Maybe they want rappers to start driving the Nano

GALLERY  Gold Tata Nano

BREAKING NEWS: Clive Chapman sides with Group Lotus

  • Clive Chapman endorses Group Lotus F1 effort and rejects Team Lotus
  • Controversy over use of the name will make its way through British courts in January

Clive with Proton MD Datuk Syed Zainal
at the preview of Lotus future models in Paris in October

Even at the Paris Motor Show, Clive Chapman had already shown that he has a special place for Group Lotus and Lotus Cars in his heart, after all, the company is the one that is keeping his father's legacy alive through thick and thin.

Despite Lotus Group making losses for more than a decade, Proton has never forsaken the company and continued to support the British auto/engineering group because they believed that the Lotus name is a very valuable asset.

The recent turnaround plan is probably the most ambitious ever taken by the British icon and it has the best chance of transforming Lotus from a cult track car manufacturer into a full-blossom of global sportscar maker.

Group Lotus needed the Formula One presence to create awareness and interest in their new range of cars and struck a deal with front-runner Renault and this has set the stage for a return of the Black and Gold Lotus livery

Clive Chapman said last week that the heritage of his father's racing team belongs to Group Lotus, which earlier this month announced a merger with the Renault F1 team.

"The Chapman family is looking forward to continuing to give its support to Group Lotus, which is the ongoing Lotus entity created by Colin and Hazel Chapman," a statement from Clive Chapman read. "After all, the Lotus marque is the responsibility of Group Lotus."

"During 2010, the Chapman Family...made it clear to those involved that it would prefer that the Team Lotus name should not be used in Formula 1," said Clive in a statement.

Team Lotus, which is owned by Air Asia budget airline boss Tony Fernandes is pursuing legal recourse for the use of the name and the case involving the ongoing dispute with Lotus Ventures will enter the British High Court in January.

Lotus Ventures used to belong to David Hunt, brother of late former F1 Champion James Hunt and they claim that the company owns the rights to the name 'Team Lotus' in Formula One. Fernandes bought the company from Hunt towards the third quarter of 2010 as part of his strategy to retain the Lotus name.

Changing the team Lotus name is not a simple case of filing the paperwork because if the council of F1 team owners do not endorse the name change it would mean that Team Lotus would enter Formula One as a new team and this would mean losing whatever TV rights money that have accumulated during the 2010 season.

The extended dispute will also likely scare sponsors of Team Lotus, which relies primarily on Malaysian money to operate.

Saudi starting car company

  • Partners with South Korean car manufacturer
  • Plans to spend USD500 million
  • First prototype expected in two years
  • Gazal 1 SUV may go into production

Gazal 1 concept shown at Geneva 2010

Details are yet sketchy in this piece of news, everything we know are listed in the bullet points above and even the name of the Korean car manufacturer remains a mystery.

Could it be Hyundai Kia? Or is it Samsung? Daewoo? or LG? Ssangyong maybe?

What we do know  is that the King Saud University signed the MoU with the Korean firm and students from the university had came up with the Gazal 1 concept based on the Mercedes-Benz G-Wagen.

The only Korean carmaker with German ties, or used to ahve German ties was Ssangyong which built Merc Engiens under licence, and bought the W124 platform for their CHaiman limousine and redesigned the MB100 van as the Ssangyong Istana.

Mercedes-Benz actually bought some of them and sold it with the three-pointed star outside of Korea especially in South East Asia and other parts of the world.

Below the Gallery is the Reuters report of the MoU signing

GALLERY  Gazal 1 concept

Saudi plans $500 million car manufacturing company

(Reuters) - Saudi Arabia plans to start up its first car manufacturing company with a capital of $500 million and expects a prototype within two years, state media reported on Sunday.

Riyadh-based King Saud University's President Abdullah al-Othman signed on Sunday a memorandum of understanding with a South Korean car manufacturing firm to set up the new company.

"(The company) will have a capital of about $500 million," Othman said, quoted by the state news agency SPA.

Up to 15 percent of the financing for the new venture is to be provided by the university's investment arm, Wadi al-Riyadh Technology, while 30 percent will be covered by the Korean firm. The rest will be offered to investors, the agency said.

A prototype of an economic car suitable for local use will be ready within the next two years, Othman said.

Othman said he hoped that Saudi Arabia could export its first car to other Gulf states as well as North African countries.

Saudi Arabia, the largest Arab economy, is heavily dependent on oil and is trying to diversify its revenue to other sources.

VIDEO, Alfa Romeo Pandion

Set in some post apocalyptic wasteland/desert, the Pandion. Bertone's interpretation of Alfa Romeo's nuclear wasteland future, comes to life

Why they felt a post apocalyptric wasteland or desert is the most appropriate setting is beyond us...

Video after the jump

Pretty good huh? well here are some pictures of the Pandion to jog your memory and help you decide if you like this concept

GALLERY Alfa Romeo Pandion by Bertone