Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Where have they gone? Volkswagen Beetle and Citroen 2CV

In the sixties and seventies streets were dominated by few popular cars, for example the Volkswagen Beetle ("VW Käfer") or the Citroen DeuxChevaux (2CV), also called the "Ente". These cars were affordable and efficient. Almost everybody I know either had a Beetle in the family at one time or owned one even himself/herself. Volkswagen built more than 21.5 million Beetles between 1938 and 2003, Citroen almost 4 million between 1949 and 1990. That's a lot of cars. If you look at pictures of let's say Munich, Frankfurt or Zurich from the 70ies you will certainly spot a couple of Volkswagens in the streets, same for Paris and the 2CV. But how is it today?

Having just been for three days in Paris, I haven't seen one 2CV at all, at least not that I would remember. And also the Volkswagen Beetle has become a true rarity. 24 million cars have just disappeared almost! If the Beetle and the 2CV had survived in similar proportions as Ferraris or Porsches, we still would have 10-15 millions of them on the road. But that's not the case, as these cars were daily transports and often died after 8 to 15 years suffering from rust or accident damage.

Actually these cars were quite economical, especially the 2CV. With a weight of less than 600 kg and seats for four people, plus a decent trunk it was both practical and fuel efficient. Driven gently 5-7 liters of gasoline were enough. Of course these cars were not fast, but quick enough to get from A to B. Building a 2CV probably took 25-35% of the energy of a modern car, so all in all, the 2CV probably was substantially better in terms of greenhouse gas emissions. If you forget about modern safety precautions you could even imagine having them produced until today with modern 2 cylinder engines and catalysts.
But as said, they disappeared and the few that are left are now collectors' items. I actually wouldn't mind owning a Volkswagen Beetle (ideally an early sixties' model) one day.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

We need a new Yardstick for Supercars

For centuries the benchmark for Supercars was acceleration from 0-100 km/h or horsepower to weight ratio. Given today's problems with mother earth and more and more restrictions on public roads we probably should think about a new way to measure Supercars. Here's what I propose:
Let's take kg/PS (weight to horsepower) and CO2 g/km and build an index, called SCPI (supercar performance index) based on these two standard measures. Cars that score well, have both a low weight at high engine performance and low fuel consumption at the same time. It's no surprise that light cars do better. The winner here is the KTM X-Bow. I agree that this is a very "basic" car and probably not more than a toy. Number 2 is already more usable and can even be driven every day. The Artega brings everything you need for both track and traffic jam. And on place 4 we have a Porsche which seems to make sense too. None of the usual suspects in the supercar field though makes the top of the list. It's because these cars are way too heavy and therefore are quite inefficient in terms of fuel consumption.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Traffic in Paris - not better nor worse than years ago

Having been in Paris every 2-3 years over the last 20 years I was curious whether things concerning traffic have changed in Paris recently. Well they have, and they haven't.
Parking is still a major issue and only few cars don't have damages at their now colored/painted bumpers. One way how to protect your bumpers was exemplified by the green Mini on the first picture.
What is really intriguing is the new bicycle "take and drive" system installed at many places in Paris. You take a bicycle at one place, drive to another place and return it there. The bicycles are quite stylish and pretty basic at the same time. But they have all what you need including a little basket. And people seem to make use of these bicycles quite well.
The streets are still heavily crowded and if you really want to be fast you take a scooter or a motocycle, with the danger attached to it.
What is interesting is the fact that compared to years ago the portfolio of cars driving through Paris seems to have got wider. I can't remember having seen so many Japanese cars on French roads in the past. I even spotted quite a few Toyota Prius, and this in the Diesel country France. Also the car park seems to rather be younger/newer. You rarely can spot an old Peugeut or Renault on the streets, too bad. But regardless of what can be seen on the streets, Paris certainly is worth a trip!

Friday, September 25, 2009

Picture of the week - Ferrari 308 GTS

Most people, at least car nuts, will know this car. And even more people will remember the TV series in which the car was the vehicle of Tom Selleck, P.I. Magnum. What is interesting by the way is the fact that the TV producer actually wanted to have a Porsche 928 in convertible/targa trim. Porsche wasn't able to deliver, so the TV guys looked for another car and and found the Ferrari 308 GTS. People who have driven the car know that it probably was a bit smallish for Tom. The interior is cut for tiny Italians rather than long US football stars. But, he got the car anyway and the 308 GTS profited a lot from this publicity.
The Ferrari 308 GTS was very successful and especially in its initial setup (carburetors) a great car to drive and listen to. The targa top was easy to remove and mount and fitted well behind the driver and co-driver and different to the 348 it didn't remove too much of space. The 308 GTB/GTS design was immaculate, one of Pininfarina's best.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

If money is not an issue - three all time classics to choose from

My heart has always beaten for 60ies race cars that were able to cope with regular street traffic but made a good impression on the race track too. Some of these cars probably belong to the most beautiful cars ever built. And they also have a top position on my "all times" wish list.

Let's start with the Porsche Carrera 6. It followed on the 904 but had this great flat 6 cylinder engine everybody dreams of. It was highly successful even after being replaced by 907 and 908. And it is the last Porsche with gullwing doors.
The Alfa-Romeo 33 Stradale is probably one of the most beautiful cars built overall. The engine here is even more impressive than the one from the Porsche, 8 cylinders and this unbelievable Italian soundtrack. Very few cars got built.

The last of the three cars to discuss here is the Ferrari Dino 206S. It came a few years before Ferrari actually decided to produce the 206/246 GT road car, but it had a similar silhouette. Pininfarina created a masterpiece here again. The car was very competitive and, I hear, a joy to drive.

So, should I ever win in the lottery this is certainly where I would start to ramp up my car collection.
Interestingly there are only "recreations" available from the Porsche while the Alfa and the Dino never really got copied in serious numbers. Which is surprising as you could probably buy Fiat Dino Coupés and start from there to build a Dino 206S copy at reasonable cost.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The Driving Philosopher sponsoring Indycar and Nascar?

It would be exciting to say that "The Driving Philosopher" has become so famous and well read that I can afford sponsorships in Indycar, NASCAR or other racing series. Of course my "traffic" is only generated by natural search, viral effects and people returning to the blog. Maybe one day, sponsoring will help to make the blog even more famous ...
For the time being I have been using a fun online tool called ImageChef. This allows you to select a picture and enter a text, which then is integrated into the picture.
Try it yourself, it's quite fun. And the results actually look quite compelling I find.
There are many other tools of the same kind out there and the ideas of some people almost seem to be without limits. This is what I love about Web 2.0, it's making things possible you didn't even think about.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Better power to weight ratio can actually be more fun

I know, I just made the point yesterday, that extra horse power doesn't straight away create more excitement. And I think it still holds true. But (yes, there's always a but ...) additional power output can bring more fun of course, especially when it's not coming with extra weight. The Lotus Exige Cup 260 delivers exactly to this promise combining an unladen vehicle mass of 890 kg with an engine power output of 260 HP. While 260 HP may sound like not a lot for a Porsche 997 driver, the power to weight ratio actually means serious track capabilities. Few cars can match the agility of an Exige and on race tracks with short straights and lots of curves you most likely will have the material to be the fastest even when competing against much more powerful cars. The Lotus Exige (and its slower sister Elise) are still following the idea that extra weight reduces fun. And even if the Lotus Elise added 200 kg weight over its many years (my Mk1 Elise with alluminium brakes and the 120 HP Rover K engine was around 725 kg) of production it's still a very light car. Let's hope they keep it that way when they present the successor.

Monday, September 21, 2009

How much Power do you need to have fun?

Modern cars become more and more powerful and for many people it's difficult to understand how driving was possible with less than 500 HP.
Bullshit! Driving was possible with a lot less than even 200 HP. In the 60ies fast sportscars produced 85 HP (for example the MG A or the Triumph TR3) and even in the 70ies few cars had more than 150 HP. And it was more than enough. Let's take the pictured TVR 3000 S. With less than 140 HP, but a healthy growl, it make the car feel quick and still "torquey". For today's authorized speed limits the car is more than fast enough and thanks to its truly open nature it's lots of fun.
Adding another 200 or 300 HP wouldn't make the drive more entertaining really.
So, dear engineers from Audi, BMW or Porsche, take your heritage for a ride and think again before you are adding the next 100 HP to your premium sportscars.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Size matters - smaller cars outcompete the bigger ones in fuel economy

Not often you can visualize the impact of size and weight on fuel economy so transparently as with the latest Volkswagen Bluemotion models. While the new coming Polo Bluemotion has a smaller engine, the Passat and the Golf share exactly the same 1.6 liter Diesel engine.
Interestingly therefore the Passat consumes 15.8% more Diesel, while being 13.7% heavier, 2.3% wider, 0.3% higher and 10.6% slower (0-100 km/h) than the Volkswagen Golf.
So here's a case that make it very evident how efficiency depends on weight and size. Most people probably would have enough space in all of these three cars, a today's Golf almost offers as much space as a BMW 5 series 15 or 20 years ago. So if people really want to save the planet they only have to downsize. And they will not suffer as they typically will get a faster and easier to manoevre car on top.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

Is the BMW E30 320i and 325i Convertible a future classic?

When BMW introduced the convertible version of its successful and popular 3 series in the late 80ies (around 1987) this was quite a brave move. For many years car manufacturers had introduced mainly semi-convertibles with rollover bars like the Volkswagen Golf convertible. They neither looked very nicely, nor did they really get the true convertible feeling across. The rollover bars were due to assumed safety regulations, mainly from the USA. Very few manufacturers still built true convertibles, Mercedes (R107) was one of them, Alfa-Romeo (Spider) another one. But with the 3-series BMW presented a vehicle that was both affordable and practical. So it became an instant success and many/most competitors started to build similar cars soon. With the four seats you could bring your friends/children and there was an option for even loading the skis in the car. The trunk size wasn't too much smaller than the one of the limousine. So yes, this car was practical. And it shared these awesome straight six cylinder engines with the limousines too.

Driving such a car was very much entertaining, specifically the 325i had enough power and torque to make you smile. But even the smaller 320i was fast enough to not slow down other cars and the sound was comparable. The interior was the same as with the faster 3 series limousines with nice sports seats and the famous BMW cockpit. Of all the BMW 3 series convertible this one probably was the prettiest, as the proportions worked well for a convertible.
Does this make the BMW 320i/325i Convertible good enough to become a classic? Probably yes, but only time will prove. I had mine for two years and sold it to a close friend, it was that good!

Friday, September 18, 2009

Picture of the week - Bentley Blower SC with Patina

The picture of this weeks shows a detail of a Bentley Blower SC with true patina. Taken at this year's Arosa Classic, where this Bentley was entered in the racing class, this car represents what is en vogue these days, a car that looks like an old car and not an over-restored piece of art. I love it and the patina suits this hard-used Bentley well. It will not win a price at Pebble Beach most probably, but it's good for a fast blast up the Arosa hills.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Is good car design a question of time and context?

Recently I had discussions with friends what cars are beautiful and to what extent this changes over time.
At the end of the day we came up with a simple framework to group cars (see left picture).
"A" cars have been unattractive when they came out and we still see it the same way. Examples are the Ford Scorpio, some of the newer Lancias, some of the older Volkswagens (i.e. 411), etc.
"B" cars didn't appeal to people when new, but have gained in terms of attraction over time. An example to discuss here could be the R107 Mercedes (i.e. 280SL to 560 SL built between 1971 and 1989). This car was quite a disappointment for the "Pagoda" lovers and came across as being to plastic, too large, not elegant enough. It's quite different today when people name this car "pretty". The fact that many TV series showcased this car as the daily driver of their stars (e.g. Bobby in "Dallas", Hart in "Hart but Hart", but also Richard Gere in the movie "American Gigolo) certainly helped to make the car more attractive.
"C" cars are an interesting species. People celebrated them as being beautiful when new, but seem to like them less and less now. An example for this could be the Alfa-Romeo 164, pictured here. The car was described as a limousine beauty in the late 80ies, but looks rather boring and much to straight line cut today. It's certainly not yet a classic. Maybe we will change our mind in a few years. The Lotus Esprit (pictured here an S3) also may belong into this category, though already today people see him as a classic and collectable item. So if we ever thought it's actually not pretty, were are already again changing our mind. But yes, also the Esprit was very much a wedge type design and the flat front screen is quite special.
Last comes "D". This is the easiest category to find examples for. Cars that were beauties in its days and still are today are the ones that everybody knows, i.e. the Ferrari 250 GTO, the Lamborghini Miura, the Dino 246 GT, to just name a few.
Now the interesting question is where today's cars would fit. Let's take the BMW 645 Convertible pictured here. Is it pretty today? I don't think so. Will we consider it as being a beauty tomorrow? I can't imagine today, but I was wrong before about such things already. So maybe. But for the the time being, this is an "A" car for me. Let's take another example. The R129 Merdedes Benz SL (280 to 600 SL, built between 1989 and 2002 or so). This was a pretty car when it was new, people felt. But looking at it today, it's rather uninspiring. So this could be a "C" car, but maybe in few years people will see it as a "D" car.
What is clear is that "D" cars are probably the safest bet when you don't want to lose too much money, but "B" cars may make the best investment!

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Is the Mercedes SLS AMG a True Star?

One of the highlighted announcements at this year's international automobile exhibition (IAA) in Frankfurt is the so called Mercedes SLS AMG.
There have been talks about this car for quite a while and it certainly makes a presence with its gullwing doors and the fat open mouth.
But how modern and competitive is it really? Is this the car we expect from the company that brought us the mighty 300 SL Gullwing almost 50 years ago? I think it isn't. Yes, it's quite pretty (at least from the angle pictured here), it has those gorgeous butterfly doors. And yes, it's fast (enough) and shows probably all the virtues expected from a Mercedes. But don't they miss the point? How can mount an 6.3 (actually 6.2) liter engine into such a car? How can you end up with more than 1'600 kg? Wouldn't it have been much better to plant a 3 liter engine with some turbo charger and roughly 400-450 HP combined with a small supercaps based hybrid unit (KERS) to boost torque and lower fuel consumption. With this the car could have been named Mercedes 300 SLS, a name that would have been so much better for marketing purposes. And with some effort and the money safed on the enigine the weight probably could have been lowered to 1'400 kg and it certainly should be possible to end up with less than 10 liters gasoline per 100 km (comparable to a 997 Carrera). With all of this maybe even the price could be brought down to less than 120k Euro and the car could become a bestseller and directly compete with the R8. But maybe that's not what Mercedes wanted anyway. I am happy they had the guts to do such a car and maybe the version I have described above is still to come.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Arosa Classic Car 2009 - one of the most challenging hillclimbs

Four days of exciting cars to watch, four days of challenging hillclimbing, what an event, the 2009 Arosa Classic Car.

Impressive cars
Again, and similar to the years before (this was the fifth Arosa hillclimb already) a number of impressive cars have been pulled together. I really appreciated the Alfa-Romeo 8C (brought by Vögele, see picture below), the A.S.A with Ford Falcon engine (piloted by Stefan Vitelli, see picture below), the two Lancia Stratos (see picture below), the Lancia 037 Rally Stradale (see picture below), the Grand Prix Maserati (piloted again by George Kaufmann, until he had a transmission failure), the Lotus 23 (Hayoz), the ex Graham Hill Lotus Cortina (driven by Klaus Wildbolz) vintage cars like the Lagonda Rapier, American-La France, MG K3 and MG K1 monoposto, powerful AC Cobras and Ford Mustangs, as well as the really fast Ford Escort Rallye car. There are too many to mention. The full starter list is here. People also seemed to like the JWF Milano GT a lot with its slick design and impressive noise. Pictures of the cars and the event have been posted by the official photographer here.

A challenging Race Track
It's probably quite unique in Europe, a 7.8 km long hill climb. climbing 1'800 m up (and partially down) with 78 curves. The fastest cars (actually the Ford Escort RS Rallye car was the fastest) master this track in 4:30 minutes, resulting in an average speed of roughly 105 km/h. Cars like the JWF Milano GT still do it with an average speed of 85 km/h. From a driver's perspective there's not much else than an endless series of curves and hairpins. Even after having done it six times you still can't remember the full track. To get an impression on how it's like to master this 7.8 km track, have a look at the onboard video posted here.

People and location
Classic car events are not just a series of races, but also a social gathering of people loving cars. So a lot of the time is spent in either watching cars passing by, drivers preparing for start, fixing problems or just talking to each other and hear news and interesting stories.

Efficient organization

Compared to last year the organization improved a lot and it can only be said that it worked out with almost perfect Swiss precision. Few delays happened, few smaller accidents and food/drinks were extremely well organized. Also the track was very well prepared and for the type of track quite safe. So, the organizers really did a good job. Congratulation!

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Arosa Classic Car 2009 - hillclimb onboard video

I will post a more detailed report on this year's Arosa Classic Car hillclimb, but find here already some impressions in an onboard video, riding the JWF Milano GT through 76 curves up (and down) the mountain. What a track!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Why the new McLaren MP4-12C is not a must-have

McLaren just has announced its brand new sportscar McLaren MP4-12C to be sold from 2011 onwards.
While the expected performance of this car is certainly impressive (3.8 liter engine with 600 HP and less than 4 seconds from 0 to 100 km/h), the design isn't. It sort of looks like a smoothened Lamborghini Gallardo. Compared to the McLaren F1, that was really exceptional with its three seats and staggering performance compared to anything else, the new MP4-12C is far less exciting, being in the same league with cars like the Aston Martin V12 Vantage, the Ferrari 458 or the latest versions of the Lamborghini Gallardo. Which is okay, but these cars are on sale today and you don't need to wait until 2011. From a car coming in 2011 I would expect much more, both on the performance and the design front. Again, what I would really dream of is a 300-400 HP car with 800-900 kg and the fuel efficiency of a Smart. Now, this is a challenge, isn't it?

Monday, September 7, 2009

The electric car is the winner ...

... at least when you believe search engine trends. "Electric car" is the by far most searched term, compared to "hybrid car" or "hydrogen car".
Despite of all the known problems (weight, reach, ecological issues with batteries, etc.) a lot of people love the idea of the electrical car. Driving a semi-electrical car from time to time (Toyota Prius) I can understand some of this enthusiasm. It's quite a special experience to accelerate without any major noise and to glide in almost perfect silence. Parking an electrical car is fun, as nobody will get annoyed if you have to try twice. Torque of modern electrical motors is great and it's there from the first instance on. And as it feels so green it makes you feel good.
But, no, it's not really exciting enough. I love the noise that a well engineered fuel operated motor produces and I like the smell and the vibrations and this pure feel of machinery. It's bloody difficult to simulate this, I guess.

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Car scrappage programs are bad for the classic car scene

We all are aware of the financial crisis and we all see how bad it is. To improve the situation a number of states created car scrappage programs under a series of names, i.e. "cash for clunkers", "Abwrackprämie", "Oekoprämie". The concept is pretty much the same: Buy a new car, get your old one destroyed/scrapped and the state will honor this with an amount in the area of USD 1'400 to 7'000, depending on the country. Usually there's some fine print on what old and new cars fit the scheme.
People seem to like this model and bought new cars, the states invested together more than 10 billion USD to subsidize these car sales. So far so good. But there are a number of issues with such an approach:
  1. It's not sustainable, people basically bought a car earlier than they planned to profit from the subsidies. This means the car industry may have an even bigger problem next year.
  2. New cars are not always better for the environment. As I said in earlier blog posts, the production of a car takes a lot of energy and material. Destroying old cars that still could run for another 5 or 10 years can be a bad idea for nature.
  3. Repairing (older) cars is an important business. What will all these car repair shops do if people only drive new cars that need less repair or can only be repaired in the dealer networks?
  4. If you read what cars are destroyed under these programs you will find some that you hoped to see as classic cars soon, for example the Porsche 914, Ford Capri, Volkswagen Beetle, Fiat Panda MK1, Alfasud, etc. to just name a few. As a matter of fact a lot of cars that might have become cherished youngtimers or oldtimers disappeared from the scene.
Of course my worries are specifically with the last point. Let's hope that not too much historically valuable engineering output has been destroyed. And, for once, I am happy that the nicer old cars are way too expensive to be exchanged against a boring new car and a 3'000 USD check.

Friday, September 4, 2009

The AVD Oldtimer Grand Prix 2009 - Animoto Video

Playing around a bit with video tools I found (again) Animoto, that lets you create cool videos with a couple of mouseclicks. Have a look yourself whether you like the result! This one shows some of the pictures I made at this years AVD Oldtimer Grand Prix at the Nurburgring.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

The Devin TR - a Fifties American special with British ingredients

Few people know what a Devin is, and maybe there's no such thing as a Devin anyway. But what is clear is that great cars have been built under this name and are still heavily enjoyed today.

The Man behind the cars
Bill Devin was born in Rocky, Oklahoma in 1915. Acording to Henry Manney he is "The Enzo Ferrari of Okie Flats." Bill’s father had a car repair garage and then a Chevrolet agency and the curious Bill was into cars long before his father put him to work.
Bill Devin began building cars early in his life, but he was also a passioned racing driver.

Building American cars as good as the Europeans
In 1954 Devin decided that he could build cars just as well as anybody else, especially the Europeans. He cleaned out a chicken house and got it ready to make what soon would be called Devin-Panhards. Fiberglass construction was just becoming known in the early Fifties, but Devin quickly learned about the new art by building fiberglass bodies for the Panhards. It was the first Devin fiberglass body.
Another milestone in Devin's career was the first use of a belt driven OHC engine. But, typical of Bill's disdain for paperwork and the bureaucracy, he never patented his idea which has since been used by every auto manufacturer.
The next chapter in Bill Devin's life is perhaps the one for which he is best known - the attractive, Ferrari Monza-like Devin bodies which were ultimately available in 27 variations to fit cars ranging from a tiny Crosley Hot Shot to a TR3 to a hefty Allard. Devin was easily the largest producer of fiberglass bodies in the late Fifties and early Sixties in a very competitive business. He had dealers in 50 states and shipped bodies to nearly all the countries of Europe, all through Central and South America and even South Africa.
Devin's competitors and contemporaries were companies such as Byers, Almquist, Alken, La Dawri, Microbond, Fiberfab, Atlas, Kellison, Allied, Conquest, Victress and Microplas and most have been forgotten in time, but the name Devin still features prominently as Devin held his own with the right mix of low cost and quality plus the amazing range of sizes. Devin bodies were always praised for being so smooth that they didn't even look like fiberglass and the finish work was almost always superior to his competitors.
Contrary to what many have said, Bill Devin did not set out to build a Corvette beater or for that matter a racer when he began to build the SS in 1957. The Devin SS became a famous car, but financially it wasn’t all that successful.
Many “American Specials” were built utilizing Devin bodies, the Ryan Devin Special for example or Ak Miller’s Devin Specials and the Pink Elephants. Pink Elephant IV was actually a Devin-Triumph.
Many of the Devin bodied cars were successful in American racing. Between 1956 and 1970 they were entered throughout the States and made quite an impression.
It is assumed that less then 100 cars have survived until today, approximately 5 or 6 Triumph based Devins are active in vintage racing today and always admired by the spectators.

The Devin-Triumph / Devin TR
The Devin TR on the picture was built using a Triumph TR 3 chassis and an “F” Devin body. It’s a true race car. The early history isn't fully known, but it's assumed that the car was raced from the beginning.
Race preparation includes a 2188 cc Triumph 4 cylinder motor with a flowed head and approximately 140 HP, 3.9:1 welded diff., 16 row oil cooler, Accusump pre-oiling system, on-board fire system, dual fuel pumps, fuel cell, roll bar, 15" Dunlop wire wheels, and modified TR suspension to fit the low slung body as well as disc brakes on the front and rear axle. The car is easy to drive and remarkably fast. The race history includes Sebring, Road of America, Ohio, Arosa, Gaisberg and other events.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Mobile phones replacing the car mechanic

How times have changed. In the old days you took a car mechanic with you when you raced your car. Or you had a driver ("chauffeur") that was more a mechanic than an artist at the steering wheel. And this for good reasons. The reliability was not satisfactory and if your car broke down there was no alternative to fixing it yourself or with the help of the "on board" mechanic most of the time.
Over the years cars got much more reliable. But even if you still own a very old car you won't need to take an engineer with you. What do you do, if things go wrong? Yes, you pull out your mobile phone and call either some services firms, road angels or a specialist you may know.
As a matter of fact, the mobile phone has replaced the engineer sitting with you in your old car. You don't even need to think about taking a spare wheel or enough gasoline with you. Just call the right number and you will get what you need. And it's quite probable that it will go even further in
the future. Your mobile phone will be able to diagnose the problem with your car, be it by analyzing the funny noise the car does or by plugging into the electronics of the car and running the right application making sense of the data. And if you can't find the cause of the problem, the phone will know who to call and do it automatically, maybe even before you noticed that you might have a problem. Brave new world!
In all honesty, I always feel much better when I know I have a mobile phone with me when I take an old car for a run. And it happens that I used the phone to get advise from my specialists more than one time, being not a gifted mechanic myself.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Where should car manufacturers spend their money?

Audi announced a new logo. Honestly I wouldn't have noticed it probably, if I hadn't been made aware of it. You can certainly call this a subtle redesign. Regardless of the nature of the changes though, something like a new logo is a huge investment for any global company. Figures in the 3 digit million USD range are not uncommon for these projects. So is it worth it? And wouldn't the money be better spend in developing attractive prototypes or making cars less expensive? I think so. For the money spent for this new logo companies like Connaught probably could develop three new cars including new engines!