Let’s address some of the big issues of this or any time. Yes, I’m talking about the firestorm that erupted around the globe (we had two emails from Tassie and one from Pasi Ikonen, the husky king of Finland and the toughest person in Scandinavia — Parsi once ate a whole cake before anybody could warn him that there was a male/female/other-stripper inside) following our discussion on electric cars. We asked the tough questions like: “When you learn to drive in an electric car, does it have Joule control?” and “What’s the difference between a Tesla and a porcupine? Porcupines have pricks on the outside.”
Look I’ve had distraught phone calls, private meetings, emails, texts and Tinders from worried petro-owners. Friends and readers let me make it clear, you don’t have to sell your Lambo/Feezer/Porker/Proton/Jag now. The current Morrison government won’t be sending the repo police around to collect your car and replace it with a Tesla anytime soon.
Later on, we’ll throw some kero on the self-driving fake news fire, but before that let’s drill down and expose the truth about electric by going to the true facts. Fortunately, we have definitive real-life research from the leading scientific journal in the US, Car and Driver. Four years ago, C&D staged a multi-state enduro to find out if today’s automotive pioneer, the Tesla Model S, could outrun its predecessor, the 1915 Ford Model T. Think about it. The Model T’s flathead 8-valve inline-four, iron block and head, pumps out a menacing 16kW, hitting 80km/h (very close to top speed) in a blistering 26 seconds. The Musk Muscle Machine’s AC permanent-magnet whatever pumps out an electrifying 310kW getting to 80km/h about 23 seconds faster than the T.
You wouldn’t have to be the sharpest tool in the shed to understand that over the 1100km from the Model T Automotive Heritage Complex on Detroit’s Piquette Street, to electrical pioneer Nikola Tesla’s old Wardenclyffe laboratory in Shoreham, New York, the Tesla might have a slight advantage given its top speed is 215km/h, or 135k/h quicker. But no. After 23 hours the Tesla beat the T by only an hour. There you have it, readers and scientists. Electric cars have no future. They can hardly beat a 105-year-old petrol guzzler. And 64 per cent of London Times readers said no to Boris’s ban.
Talking of New York, up at Sleepy Hollow (no I didn’t make it up), Jim and son Jesse Glickenhaus are turning out real cars. I’m planning to drop in on them in the next few weeks, but in meantime look at the red 600kW street legal hypercar Jim and Jesse are entering for this year’s Le Mans. If that doesn’t stir feelings long forgotten in you, you’re probably a member of the National Party.
Jim says: “A car made in America hasn’t won first overall at Le Mans since the Ford GT in 1967. We think it’s time an American team wins again.” And I agree. Yours for a lazy $3m.
And autonomous cars? Amir Efrati from The Information (silicon-valley news site) was also on the Al Capone this week telling me that the punters trying to inflict self-driving cars on the known world have so far burnt $16bn with no result.
While Alphabet’s Waymo, GM’s Cruise, Uber, Apple, Baidu, Ford and Toyota have all thrown dollars at it, my guess is only Ford and GM have a chance. How much chance? Zip. Seriously, if the giant military industrial complex still hasn’t been able to build a self-flying passenger plane, what hope is there for cars?
Just when you thought car manufacturers couldn’t get any dodgier comes the revelation from Jimmy Voortman at the Australian Automotive Dealer Association. The Jimster has been putting the heat on the cardigan-wearing (except for Rocket Rod Sims, who always dons the red, yellow and blue Super person outfit designed by Martha Kent) regulators to stamp out false reporting of car sales. In Australia, the Federal Chamber of Auto Industries has cleaned up part of its act, mandating that sales would only be reported once the vehicle has been registered.
Jimbo says: “This represents progress, but it is only the first step and does not stop some (manufacturers) from pressuring their dealers to register cars as demos in order to achieve incentive targets. Furthermore, it does not stop a shift by the (manufacturers) to move to targets on wholesale volumes, a concerning practice being undertaken by a number of manufacturers in recent months. In fact, too many cars being reported as sold are still not ending up in the hands of a genuine customer. New car dealers are well aware of the consequences this has for their businesses but are fearful of reprisals if they do not comply.”
But not all of us are going it tough. Lou Hamilton rang me this week to tell me Merc have offered him $90m a year to stay with them and not go to the Italians.
“Hamo”, I said, “90 million big ones is more than I get a week. Seriously. And this year’s Fezeer F1 car looks like it’s not much better than last year’s. And you hate pasta anyway”.
Now as part of our contribution to regional and rural communities done over by flood, fire, pestilence, politicians or all four we are promoting car-related events in affected towns all over what’s left of this country. So, on Saturday 18 April get along to the Stroud Ute Show. I’ll be there with the black SSV8 machine giving out more pens that don’t work. And of course, the old bloke and I will be at the Leyburn Sprints in August to show them how it’s done again. If your town has been doing it tough for whatever reason and you’ve got something going with cars, let me know and we’ll give it a run here.
A quick Valentine’s day list for your favourite car: INNOVA 5210 Pro Code Reader Tool ($166 for Amazon.com.au) will tell you what’s really wrong with your auto; the in-car espresso coffee maker by handpresso form https://www.hardtofind.com.au/store/the-design-gift-shop and the Super Cheap Auto SCA 12V Jump Starter – 8 Cylinder, 1900 Amp. I paid $250 and we use it at the track, on rallies and at home, the neighbours will love you.
Many readers email in asking for mechanical advice as though the people in the Weekend Australian Rally/Racing Team would have a clue. But I have consulted with our racing engineers, including the Master of Modern Machinery, the person who single-handedly put the Michael back in McMichael and the Nemesis of the Nurburgring, the race coach to the stars and anyone else who will pay, Phil Alexander (unfortunately the Titan of Track Attack Garth Walden is still celebrating after a big finish at Bathurst) and offer these two key principles. Fill the windscreen washers where the plastic top has a spray sign on it, and undoing anything remember: leftie loosie, righty tighty.