Friday, 27 February 2015

Lotus Appoint Caroline Aherne

Actually, her name is Carmen Jorda which sounds too much like Jordan to me - which implies bimbo when applied to an attractive woman.

I haven't a clue whether Ms Jorda is a bimbo or not - I would suspect not - but she is incredibly lucky.

She has been appointed as a Lotus F1 team development driver. CarAdvice have an article on it here.

Her racing history is spectacularly unremarkable.  She has clearly been given the job because she is an attractive woman who can drive a bit.  However, don't expect to see her in a race.  Like Susie Wolff at Williams, she is there to gain headlines, not drive cars.

And it seems to be working.

It just seems a bit unfair on more talented drivers who are missing out on a chance to show what they can do because they happen to have a Y Chromosome.  Or because they don't have lots of money.

It is also very unfair on women racing drivers everywhere (and I'd like to see more of the good ones at all levels of motorsport) who will probably be told that they are only getting chances because they are female.

Maybe this is a sign of desperation in Formula 1 - viewing figures continue to fall - shall I mention the shameful BBC/Sky deal again?  No.  But you don't see my beloved, successful, free-to-view-on-ITV4 BTCC resorting to female drivers.

But we should.

There are plenty of talented women competing in the BTCC support races.

Come on Team bosses - you know you want to.  Give a girl a chance - and give her a grid-guy to stand in front of car - you may get more lady viewers and that can't be a bad thing.


Sorry about that - I don't normally say anything sensible - I promise everything will be back to normal for my next post.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Everything's Getting Smaller

We used to buy our Coca-Cola in 2 litre bottles.

Then suddenly, last year, they became 1.75 litre bottles.

For the same price.

Were they hoping we wouldn't notice?
Apparently not.  And we're supposed to be happy about it too.

That's still three-quarters of litre more than some Mondeo drivers will be getting though.

This car review from The Telegraph caught my eye this week.  It's of the Ford Mondeo 1.0 EcoBoost.
Don't know why they used this picture though - that's a Ford Mondeo Titanium Tdci.

The review is by Andrew English who is described as "Motoring Correpondent, Telegraph Cars" - I wonder what other sorts of correspondent Telegraph Cars have.  He gives it three out of five stars.  Andrew English also provided the review for Auto Express and gave it 3 out of 5 stars there too.

He says that the engine looks small in the engine bay - I would have liked to see a photo, the nearest I could find anywhere was this Ford diagram:
He also quotes Ulrich Koesters, Ford’s vehicle line director for larger cars, who says: “most customers do not trust that such a small displacement engine has enough torque to pull a large car like the Mondeo.”  I can well believe that - it would be a concern of mine - even though it is turbo-charged.

I am guessing that this car is being aimed at the fleet market where engine size and economy play their part with tax incentives.  I have visited a few Ford dealerships over the past year or two and you never see a Mondeo on the lot.  I guess Focuses and Fiestas have gotten bigger so these have taken over the family car market along with the SUVs, people carriers and German upmarket marques.  So when I say "Everything's Getting Smaller" that doesn't include Focuses or Fiestas (or Corsas or Golfs or just about any other car too)

Can't see the average sales rep being happy driving one of these although it does have a claimed top speed of 124mph - but it might struggle if you put some passengers in it.  Probably won't be a big hit with the Caravan Club either.

Unless...


Monday, 16 February 2015

iPods

Lots of stories this past week that are linked but we are getting into the realms of fantasy - I hope.

As a Brit, I find this Fox News story quite embarrassing.  It is about a fleet of driverless pods called LUTZ Pathfinders that will be ferrying people around Milton Keynes this year.  They look awful:
But fear not, "In the event that something does go wrong, the body panels are made from a flexible material to absorb much of the impact."  Oh dear.

Glad nobody ever goes to Milton Keynes.

Since this is nothing to do with Apple, it wouldn't be called an iPod.

However, most of the motoring press (and a fair bit of the non-motoring press) have been getting excited about Apple's foray into the car business.  Here is Car+Driver's take on it. I guess it won't be called the iCar though because that could upset the Information Centre about Asylum and Refugees or perhaps the International Committee for Animal Recording.

Current speculation is that Apple's car will be electric and driverless.

Ye Gods.

Presumably you would speak to it and Siri would then work out where you wanted to go and take you there.

The commenters at the bottom of the Car+Driver story are of a much higher quality than the morons you get at the bottom of Telegraph or Mail stories.  My favourite comment with which I 100% agree is "As for self-driving cars, aside from the disabled, elderly, and inebriated, it's an absurdly complex solution to a problem that doesn't exist. Engineering wankery, I say."  I wonder if that commenter is British - wankery is a very un-US term of disaffection.

But, if today's BBC story has any mileage, these self-driving cars could evolve into self-owning, self-procreating cars.  This is the prospect put forward by Mike Hearn, a software developer who is "both an ex-Google engineer and one of the leading Bitcoin software developers."  He envisages taxis that could run their own taxi-businesses getting their jobs via phone apps and being paid using, wait for it, Bitcoins!  Presumably they would need to be pre-programmed with mild-racism and a dislike of going "South of the river".

He also suggests these taxis could migrate to other cities if there wasn't enough work for them where they are.

Would we end up with UKIP complaining about UK streets being full of these?
That's a Romanian Taxi in case you were wondering.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

I'm Not a Fan of Supermodels

I suppose I'm jealous of people who earn obscene amounts of money just because of how they look.

And they walk funny.

But I do admire Jodie Kidd.

She is more than a body.  She is an accomplished equestrian, a racer and she is intelligent.

And she is co-presenting The Classic Car Show on Channel 5.  (Although I caught episode 1 on Channel 5+24 - which shows Channel 5 a day late but rather than show yesterday's news and weather, they replace it with adverts for cruises)

Her co-presenter is Quentin Willson - the only smarmy person on TV I like since JR has died.
The show has a decent website.  It seems to be sponsored by a posh second-hand watch shop and Jaguar Heritage which could be a  bit worrying for product placement reasons but there was no actual evidence of it happening.

So what do I think of the show so far?

The opening titles were very cheesey but that's OK - there was much looking at watches to make sure they got to the studio on time - watches presumably from a posh second-hand watch shop.

The conversations seemed a bit stilted but time will heal that.  The first piece was Quentin enthusing about the Ford Mustang but they followed that with a story about taking a 1950s Mercedes 300SL Gullwing and it's modern equivalent to London Fashion Week to see which was best according to fashionable people like Tiny Tempah and Graham Norton.  Not very interesting.  But then they recovered well with a piece on the Triumph TR7 - brilliant!

The rest of the show was pretty good too - especially a 1950s Studebaker overgrown in a field in the UK somewhere (they wouldn't tell us where) - I shall be watching again next week.

Although the super models I will be liking will be of the Ferrari/Aston Martin/Lambo etc. variety.

And Jodie Kidd.

And perhaps Helena Christensen.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Diesel Do Nicely

No dey won't.

(Works best in a Scouse accent)

I don't often do serious articles.  One of my earliest was my second ever post in November 2009 in which I sort of looked at how lean-burn engines were a better, cleaner bet than catalytic converters.

Also around that time, the Government was trying to encourage people to buy diesel cars since better fuel economy meant less Carbon Monoxide & Carbon Dioxide in the atmosphere.
Yes - diesel.

Things have changed a bit since then.

People are suddenly more interested in NOx (Nitrogen Monoxide & Nitrogen Dioxide) - these are dangerous gases now linked to respiratory illnesses, stroke and even diabetes.  Scary.

Last night, Channel 4's documentary strand, Dispatches, reported on the situation - fronted by their reporter, Morland Sanders:
Here's a link to the official blurb.

Basically, lots of people were convinced to buy diesel cars on the grounds of fuel efficiency and ecological advantage and they are now being told that it was a bad move and NOx levels are a serious problem, especially in certain urban areas such as East London.

A few people don't come out of this very well at all.  This is Mike Hawes, boss of the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders who didn't think that it was cheating for manufacturers to tape up shutlines of their cars when performing official fuel-efficiency tests.
Then there's this guy - Barry Gardiner MP.  I was going to use the first picture, then I spotted the second, then the third - choose which one you like the most:
He is Shadow Minister for The Environment and he was Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Trade & Industry when the then-Labour Government decided to encourage diesel take-up.  He admits, "Hands up, can I say there’s absolutely no question that the decision we took was the wrong decision" - but he says that with a big grin on his face and then adds in lots of what he believes to be mitigating factors.

If I thought he was genuinely sorry, I've had accepted that.

He went on to try and make it more party-political with his statement, "Certainly the impact of that decision has been a massive problem for public health in this country. The real tragedy is after we set up the committee on the medical effects of air pollution and it reported back in 2010 we’ve had five years that this government has done nothing about it."

The Tories response is just as bad, “We’ve acted on the Committee’s findings through providing effective health advice to the public. Air quality has improved significantly in recent decades and we are investing heavily"

Recent decades!?  so they are trying to take credit for what happened before they were in power?

And what health advice are they talking about?  I've not noticed any and I'm a member of the public.

I did feel a bit educated by the programme last night though when they did an experiment on NOx exposure to a pedestrian, a cyclist, a bus passenger and a motorist.

You would expect the cyclist to inhale the most, followed by the walker then the bus passenger and finally the motorist cocooned in his car.

It was actually the reverse that was true.  Must remember to put by heating system onto re-circ.

No mention was made of this man:
 Rudolf Diesel.

Now to lighten the mood, here is an American cop joining in with Taylor Swift: