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Showing posts with label Japanese automobiles. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Japanese automobiles. Show all posts

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Past And Future Of Japanese Automobiles

Okay... even I admit this is filler, because I'm short on time to write something better, but what a photo montage!

What we have here are booth babes at an automobile show showing the latest in Japanese architecture.

The Nissan pictured on the left looks like a 1960s car, while I can only assume the car on the right depicts a concept car built by a Japanese auto manufacturer showing their vision of what the car of the future might look like.

Is it me, or are the wheels on the future car looking more like a Stark prototype hover car, or are the rounded wheels merely hidden by the full skirting that the booth babe has obviously failed to mimic. Not that I'm complaining.

Back in the 1950s when Japan's automobile industry was struggling to right itself after the horrors of WWII, the average Japanese family could not afford a family car. And why would you need one, when the country was already establishing its terrific train network for commutes between cities, had excellent buses and taxis, and bicycles were readily available.

Back then, it was still possible to live and commute without having to live outside the city where one called home.

As such, the Japanese automobile industry catered its business to markets outside of Japan, such as to North America and Europe.

However, even then nothing could compete against the might of the American auto industry, with its heavy steel and chrome machines that made the Japanese economical vehicle look like cheap toys.

It was a reputation that persisted through the 1980s and 1990s in the United States. In Canada, however, it was more than willing to accept Japanese cars as not only driveable, but as luxurious and fun.

My father had a 1981 Nissan Stanza, a 1984 Toyota Camry station wagon, and a 199s Toyota Camry station wagon... the later two I inherited and drove into the ground well into the year 2000. In between, I had a 1986 Mazda 323... a car the Japanese knew as the Familia.

In North America, it was originally called a GLC, then 323, then simply the Mazda 3. Personally, I miss the Camry wagons... they were full loaded with all the bells and whistles, and could really move quickly down the still uncrowded Toronto highways.

I did purchase a 2001 Hyundai Tiburon (it's Korean, but bear with me)... and when I drove it down to Chicago, I had people come up to me and ask me just what the heck I was driving because they had never seen anything like it. My point, is that even then, foreign cars... and I mean Japanese cars, were still a bit of a rarity in the U.S.

Sure there were Audi's and BMW's and Mercedes in the U.S., all considered luxury or sporty cars, but back at the turn of the 21st century, Americans still preferred to buy American.... regardless if the Japanese cars were being built in American factories (or Canadian ones).

Obviously what really drew my attention in the above photo were the booth babes.. the Japanese models whose job it was was to pose in front of the cars, and when the male customer asked the same old joke question, "Do you come with the car?" they would cover their mouth and snicker, "Oh, you..."

I must admit that prior to my three year jaunt in Japan, I really loved the look of the classical Japanese kimono, as nothing said Japan more than that!

Since then, the sexy, short skirted Japanese model has come to be more of an eye catcher for this old bugger, who freely admits he likes the thigh high boots...  but really hates the tiny futuristic car designs.

By the way... did you notice that the future car doesn't seem to have any doors? Me either. Still, I would assume that would imply it's not a very fast car, and is loaded with a whole bunch of safety features, and may even be driverless...

Personally, the whole concept of driverless cars is a complete waste of money. Or am I the only person who still likes to drive his own car?

I don't even care if I have to sit in traffic for hours... I still enjoy being in control of a car. 

Someone bring back tail fins! And maybe a bubble top!

Look at this American concept car from the 1950s. Are you telling me you wouldn't want to drive this car that highly resembles the torpedo bras of the era? I mean it has a hood scoop and everything! Okay... I can see how parking might be a bugger, but you have to admit this car is a head turner



Banzai,
Andrew "I'm currently driving a Nissan Micra SV" Joseph

 

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Toyota SUV Tops 230 MPH

See that SUV above—nice rear shot—that’s a Toyota Land Cruiser, and it is one of the fastest cars in the world, coming just behind the McLaren F1’s 231 mph (372 kph), but ahead of the Jaguar XJ220 and its 217mph (349 kph).

Like the headline says, the Toyota Land Cruiser reached a top speed of 230 mph (370 kph)… and the McLaren and Jaguar’s top speed were actually achieved back in 1993 when I left Japan - 24 years ago.

To do 231 mph, it is obvious that the Toyota Land Cruiser would have to be seriously hopped up, and it is - with 2,000 HP, a vehicle that Toyota calls tongue-in-cheek the Land Speed Cruiser. The previous high-speed for an SUV was 211 mph (340 kph).

While the McLaren has since reached a top-speed of  241 mph(388 kph), the 230 mph achieved by the Land Cruiser is for an SUV… well… stupendous.

The eye-watering run was achieved by Carl Edwards, a recently-retired NASCAR driver, hitting the top speed on a 2.5 mile (4-km) runway at Mojave Air and Space Port in California.

My thinking is that one could simply strap a jet engine onto the vehicle and hope it stays nose down… but apparently one has to do some real engineering to achieve safe speeds like this.

Toyota Motorsports placed two large Garrett turbochargers to Land Cruiser's 5.7-liter V8, then added a custom racing transmission. They then reinforced the engine construction to handle the monstrous power boost.

The suspension was lowered to help prevent the SUV's high construction from interfering with its speed ambitions—too much air getting under the vehicle would also be bad at the high speeds wanted. .

The chassis was then altered to work with the new suspension, and finally Michelin Pilot Super Sport tires were added.

I don’t know why he was needed (no offense), but Toyota test driver and race car champion Craig Stanton took the SUV onto the track to test it out and to warm it up. He didn’t quite hit 200 mph (320 kph), but that wasn’t the plan anyway.

Pitting, Edwards crawled in and on his first run tied the old record with a top speed of 211-mph.

Edwards and the crew felt the car could have reached a higher speed if there was more track room at the airport, so technicians boosted the car’s power to get more speed faster.

On his second run, Edwards reached 230 mph, but again ran out of road—BEFORE it hit its projected top speed.

"At 225 mph, the thing was wandering a little bit. All I could think was that Craig said, 'No matter what, just keep your foot in it,' and we got 230 mph," Edwards says. "It's safe to say that this is the fastest SUV on the planet."

Somewhere envious,
Andrew AJ Foyt Joseph

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Nissan Rogue Going To The Dogs

The Nissan Motor Company Ltd.—a Japanese multinational automobile manufacturer headquartered in Nishi-ku, Yokohama, seems to be hitting all the demographic markets with keen specializing of its Rogue cars with the purchasing market.

To coincide with the Rogue One: A Star Wars Story movie, the car manufacturer created a Star Wars Rogue version of its popular vehicle, complete with a special badge plate for fans of the Star Wars franchise.
Beats me why they are showing the cars in Empire Stormtrooper colors, but whatever. The Rogue Dogue is the same vehicle, but with a different interior.
 Now… just for dog fans in the UK and US, Nissan has created the Rogue Dogue, a dog-friendly car created by Dennis McCarthy, the vehicle coordinator for the Fast & The Fur-ious movie franchise.

I still think that the Tokyo Drift movie was the last great movie (after the first one) that they made, though I have enjoyed the the continued high jinks of the film’s many characters and the increasingly “impossible” vehicle scenes in each successive and successful movie.

I don't know why the term "dogue" was chosen, except that visually it seems to rhyme with Rogue. As in Dog...

But.... when you say it, Row-gu Dow-gu, it's not even close. Unless you are Inspector Clouseau.

"Excuse me, but duz yoooour dogue biyte?"
"No."
(Goes to pet the dog)
RAWRRRRRRRR - SnaP! Bite!!!
"Ow! I sought yooou saaaaid yoooour dogue does nut biyte?"
"Zat's not mai dogue."
 
I'm going from memory... so it may not be exact - baht yooooou get ze gist, n'est pas? 

The Rogue Dogue has special features sure to impress fans of the canine variety, though since they also roll in their own poop, I’m not sure how difficult it is to impress a dog.

For the record, I have owned three Cocker Spaniels  (One English, one English Blue roan, and American), four Rottweilers, and one Chocolate Labrador. I also understand the difficulty of transporting a dog in a car.


Cause For A Paws: 
  • There’s a secure dog bed in the rear cargo area;
  • Slide-away dog ramp for exiting and entering the car;
  • Pass-through fold-down rear seat (for dog access);
  • Shower and drying station - it says for the dog... but you could use it, too;
  • Custom easy-to-clean materials;
  • Removable pet partition;
  • Spill-proof food and water containers that fold down for use;
  • Dog poop dispenser mounted to inside wall of the cargo space (I assume it’s for the dog) (what’s that smell?”);
  • Doggy first aid kit; harness clips in the cargo section and rear seat - because we all know that dogs like to stand in moving vehicles and have zero sense of balance;
  • Second-row dog hammock;
  • Passive cameras to record doggy’s activity during the trip - including one that records outside the window;
  • Rogue Dogue logo key fob;
  • Padded walls in case doggie go crazy.
Where is the water coming from? OMG it's gasoline! Extinguish your cigarette or else he'll go WOOF!!!! Dog gone.
I have no idea what the Rogue Dogue does should your canine barf or pee in the car.

By the way… I see the dogue poo bag… but some dogs will try and rip it open for a snack. Bad dog. Have a Listerine Breath Strip. I used top give those to my Chocolate Lab, Buster Brown, when he ate something he shouldn’t have eaten.

He hated them, but thinking it was food, he eagerly had them dissolve on his tongue. Smartest and dumbest dog I’ve ever owned.
Dog taco: Hammock for the dog is placed between the front and rear seats.


To me, the best features are the entrance ramp, the dog clips, the hammock which is hung from the back of the front seat across the gap and over the rear seat to protect the car’s interior from being shredded by those doggie nails.

The Rogue Dogue is based on a 2017 Rogue SL with the Platinum Reserve Interior Package, featuring premium tan leather-appointed seats with special quilted leather inserts.
Hashtag?! Hashtag?!!? Is the dog on Twitter? Benji, Lassie, RinTinTin - sure... maybe even Pluto and Goofy (Dippy Dawg)... but surely your dog doesn't have Twitter. I am serious, but don't call me Shirley.


I have no idea how much the Rogue Dogue will set you back, but you can guarantee it will be moe than the standard Nissan Rogue version.

And yes… I have a Nissan… but no, I am not getting a break on my car payments.

Anyhow… here’s a video showing the European Nissan X-Trail version - a slightly more upscale vehicle... from 2009, I believe.



Somewhere with my head out the window,
Andrew Joseph
PS: I love to see them use any dog other than the one they chose in the ads... you know... something a little bit more "dumb" like the average dog owner's dog... then again... if you are purchasing the Nissan Rogue Dogue, you probably aren't the average dog owner.
PPS: Despite my Chocolate Lab, Buster Brown, being a water dog and loving to swim and chase ducks, if I brought out the water hose he would take off like a fake rabbit at a greyhound racetrack.    

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Let’s Get Small

On Friday evening, I took possession of my new car, a 2016 Nissan Micra SV. A Japanese car.That's not my car above, but it is what I bought.

You know how they always say that men need to have large, powerful cars to make up for what’s not between their legs?

I have a Micra. I’m just saying.

Okay, that’s all crap, and is all just fun and games.

I decided I needed a new car because I was constantly stressing myself out glancing at the control panels on my 1999 Oldsmobile Eighty-Eight Special Edition wondering if the engine light or worse was going to come on. Yes... the car is from the last century, and not the good one. 

I’d glance at the engine temperature gauge go up to some ridiculous level before the engine fan would come on and cool it down for a few minutes, shut off, and then watch as the temperature would rise again… and… as I write this, it’s -6C (21.2F)… so what’s it gonna do when it gets stupid hot this summer?

Riiiiight.

So… as long as I no longer buy a lunch or, well… anything over the next seven years… and nothing goes wrong with the house that needs and emergency repair, I should be able to afford the tiny payments.

Riiiiight.

The Nissan Micra is a small car… a very small car… but it’s drawing power is the fact that it is the only car under CDN$10,000…  so really… my car payments… no outside lunches… I should actually be able to pay for the car and save money.

I’ll probably also save on gas… and on car fix-ups, as I inherited a service plan that I don’t have to pay any extra for over the next three years.

Yes, my new Micra is small, but it actually has a lot of leg and headroom… and is even a legitimate four-door with hatchback…. and by that, I mean you CAN sit in the back seat comfortably. Maybe not for a cross country ride if you are an adult (and Canada is pretty wide cross-country)… but what the heck.

It also has the exact same engine as the next up-size compact car - the Nissan Versa… so… I have a smaller car with a decent engine… so it should even be faster than the Versa based on the power to weight ratio.

The drawback? The name, I suppose, but maybe the small cargo space in the back - and that’s only a drag because this year I’m a head baseball coach for a Little League Select team and there’s a lot of equipment. But what the heck… it can handle the buckets of balls and other stuff.

So really, there’s only a micra problem.

The Nissan Micra isn’t my first kick at owning a Japanese car. I’ve owned a Mazda 323, Mazda Tribute, Mazda Camry Wagon x 2, and a Mazda 6 wagon… I like wagons, which no one seems to make anymore. I’ve also owned a Hyundai Tiburon, Ford Escort, a Saturn something or another (wagon), a SAAB something or another…

And, aside from the Mazda 323, which my dad bought me, and the Hyundai Tiburon which I leased, the Nissan Micra is the first new car I bought myself.,  

But is it really new? It was a 2016 demo model… so yeah. I guess it is.

Now that I fixed my leaky roof, I feel comfortable in saying: Nissan Micra SV - long may it reign.

If you would like to read about a pretty comprehensive history of Japan’s automobile industry - it’s beginnings - I wrote one. You can check that out HERE.

Kanpai,
Andrew Joseph
PS: Today’s headline is borrowed from the 1977 Grammy award-winning comedy album from the great Steve Martin, Let’s Get Small.
Audio clip below:

        

Monday, December 19, 2016

Ferrari celebrates 50 years in Japan with Limited Edition J50


I’ve never really been a true fan of the exotic supercar—mostly because I knew I would never, ever own one… so why waste my time mooning over it?

I do moon over automobiles that I have a shot (a very slim shot, mind you) of one day purchasing for myself, like a 1961 Ford Thunderbird Convertible (in Candy Apple Red), or a 1956 Chevrolet Nomad station wagon (in Inca Silver) or a 1970 Mercury Cougar (in deep purple). I have always loved me some cougar.

I’m the kindda guy who when he was a kid, would watch NASCAR, Indy 500, the NHRA dragster and funny car races on television every single chance he got. I even bought some NHRA trading cards.

I also used to buy Matchbox cars—when they actually came in a small matchstick-like box, Lesney’s and Corgi’s too. But what really set my heart a-pumping was the introduction of Hot Wheels… racing cars, hot rods and exotics in the most amazing colors one could imagine… and cars with that very cool thing red stripe along the sidewall of the tires. I still have all my old play cars. Very much played with.


I loved sports cars - rumor has it that I was conceived in the back seat of a Fiat while my parents were honeymooning in Italy. It must be why I love Chef Boyardee

My dad had a ’67 Ford Mustang, metallic navy blue, for our first automobile in Canada. It was awesome. That thing got hit seven times in seven separate accidents—none of them my dad’s fault (apparently). I can recall having just turned seven and in the back seat of the Mustang, stopped at a gas station taking on fuel. My mom and then one-month-old brother were in the back as well, as my dad was outside pumping the gas… when he suddenly screamed “Look out!” as a car that had been parked about 30 feet away came screaming at us in reverse and plowed into the back of our car - shaking everyone up, but otherwise being the final nail in the coffin (accident #7)… my dad believing (with ample dents and damages) to prove the damned thing was cursed.

Anyhow… seeing as how I was likely conceived in Italy, and literally became a man in Japan, it seems appropriate enough that I write about Ferrari celebrating its 50th year in Japan with the very limited edition J50, that unfortunately you are going to have to be a very, very rich  person to own one.  

Based on the 488 GTB Spider, the J50 was recently launched in Tokyo… and is a targa-topped throwback to legendary Ferrari's from the 1970s and 80s. It was designed in Maranello, Italy and built by Ferrari Special Projects – the team responsible for Eric Clapton's SP12 EC (He designed his own effing Ferrari.

Only 10 J50 Ferrari will be built… to celebrate 50 years? Shouldn’t they have built 50?
NO! Of course not… that’s why Ferrari is Ferrari, and I was conceived in the backseat of a FIAT.

For the J50, Ferrari assures me that no two of the 10 cars will be the same because the owners - yes, they are already gobbled up - will work directly with Ferrari to get the little things they want put in the car.

It's not as special as you might think... have you ever bought a car? Did you get to choose what materials are used on the car's interior? Leather, cloth, wood-grain? On the Ferrari, it'll just be some very expensive material. Same with color... you get to choose your color.

This is only impressive if the owner wants to have one in fuchsia, aubergine or chartreuse. Don't judge me because I'm a straight man who knows his colors.

My son, who is now 11, gushed when I showed him photos of the J50, and told me that it looked a lot like the Ferrari 488 GTB Spider.

I laughed at how he knew that. Blows my mind. Kid can't recall what he did in school that day, but knows that this 10 car limited edition J50 looks a lot like a 488 GTB Spider.

The car does look like a Ferrari, so I'm told. I was always a fan of the 308 and 318 - the Magnum PI Ferrari's. There's a black line running around the nose and up to the base of the windows, which Hudson says looks like an F40.

Sure, I said... so I looked it up, and damned if he wasn't correct.

He did not know, however, that the wraparound front window and windows were designed to look like aero windows that were on the 1950s Ferrari racing cars. So I guess I can stop being scared that he's moving to Italy next week to work for the car company. I don't know what aero windows are.

Anyhow, look at the back of the Ferrari... see how you can see the engine? Cool... it has a clear engine cover.

There's also the cool rear spoiler, and diffuser that looks like a jet airplane's afterburners...
This is the F430... but I'm using it to show off the diffuser located directly under the license plate... kindda looks like home plate in baseball... 
Tail lights... similar in style to a Ferrari GTCF Lusso (it looks like an old Mazda RX7), moving away from the 488 GTB's brilliant twin taillight.

The J50 is powered by a specific 690 cv version of the 3.9-litre V8 that won the overall International Engine of the Year Award this year.

 The new Ferrari also boats a new set of unique forges alloy wheels.

The interior is pretty new looking, but it's not as over the top as one might expect. It comes with unique sports seats and a three-tone trim.

All driving controls remain on the steering wheel.

The J50 was introduced and launched in Tokyo on December 13, 2016, and is finished in a special shade of three-layer red with a red-over-black interior trimmed in fine leather and Alcantara.

So... how much does the new Ferrari limited edition J50 cost?

Ferrari hasn't released that information, but never has it been more true that "if you have to ask how much..."

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Sayonara Scion

Toyota will no longer be producing the Scion brand of cars—a line-up it says was designed for the young driver.

I've been inside a Scion dealership… sat in the cars… thought at least one of the designs was cool, fast and nasty.

But… not being young enough to afford such a car, I also found that there was no arm rest, and looking at my rearview mirror to try and see out the back window was a negative experience.

Add in a weak powerplant (motor) combined with a heavy car, and one gets less than satisfactory horsepower and torque.

Did I mention the price? It wasn't really that affordable if you were a young would-be car owner.

Call this a marketing blunder of epic proportions.

A car built for the young driver that doesn't really give a young driver what they want.

In the U.S., for 2015, only 56,167 cars were sold.

The 2006 Scion xB looks like it has a fat lip. How is driving a coffin-shaped car fun for young drivers?

Introduced in 2003, I never heard a lot about the Scion until my friend Rob told me he was interested in purchasing one maybe eight years ago.

I hope it wasn't just me, but I think I discouraged him from buying one—eventually playing a role in the demise of Toyota's Scion. That's my bad, I suppose… but Toyota didn't really give us much choice.

I have owned two Toyota Camry wagons over the centuries, and have had great experiences with both. And, if I could afford one, I would buy one and drive it now. I'm just saying I have nothing against Toyota.

So… no more new Scions, me son.

If you are one of the few people who own a Scion, fret not too much. Toyota will still service the car for you.

And, while the Scion brand does disappear, some of the former Scion cars will be rebranded as Toyota.

So, aside from poor sales, why kill of the Scion brand? I'm asking, because I used to own a SAAB.

There's a belief that Scion owners were young and enjoyed a more 'fun' car… but really, Toyota is saying that Scion was merely an introduction for most of those drivers into the Toyota family… and that now, practical outweighs the fun of youth.

I can understand that, I suppose, but if Toyota expects people to believe that claptrap, they are only deluding themselves.
The 2014 Scion tC looks nice... then-again... it looks a lot like my 2001 Hyundai Tiburon minus the really cool wing on the back end. So... what's new and exciting about this car?


The truth is those Scion cars could not perform as well as other 'youthful brands, like the Mini… which isn't all that mini since it's rebranding. I also hate the new Volkswagon Beetle styling, because it looks less like a bug, and more like every other car.

Man… whatever happened to cars providing styling that differentiated it from the other brands?  It's why I liked the look of the Chrysler PT Cruiser (but not its safety factors). How is that we can look at a classic car (age-wise) and know what year it was produced, and immediately what company manufactured it? Every car company in the 1950s and 1940s seemed to offer cars that looked different from the competition as well as looked different from other name brands.

Oh, for the days of the Plymouth Superbird… the '63 Corvette Stingray split window… the Chevrolet '57 Nomad… the old Chrysler 300… the Ford T-birds… every year a new look that looked unlike any car out there!

And these Scions… Toyota's Scion USED to have a distinct look when it first debuted in 2003… then they didn't. What was so special about a Scion? The engine? No… nothing new or special there. Hybrid technology… no.

No… Scion just hit at a small niche market and lost. How many young people have the coin to buy a new car? That's right. Not as many as Toyota/Scion would have liked.

Call it brand mismanagement by a very good car company in Toyota.

Sayonara Scion. We hardly knew ya.
Andrew Joseph

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Camping In Japan

It seems that all the women I know really like camping - to which I say have a great time and let me know when you might be coming back so I know if I should bother requesting a cadaver dog.

Even though I hate camping - I do enjoy getting out to see the sights, the sounds, the smells… but when it's time to crash for the night, I prefer to do it in comfort… 2015 or better comfort.

I am bug bait… bugs like to taste my yummy blood - mmm, diabetic sugary AB-negative…

I don't like spiders and snakes and I don't care if it sounds like a song from the 70s, but out there in the tall grass can be found Lupus or Lyme Disease…

Paranoid? Sort of... but sometimes... the paranoid is correct.

This week, the wife and boy have gone up to a relative's cottage (which isn't roughing it or camping), and yet despite being on a lakefront beach I see no thrill in sweating in a new locale with uglier insects and a plethora of people looking to get wasted or toss a frisbee in someone's face.

For Alice and the rest of you people who like to travel through intense traffic to sit and relax in the great outdoors where you can use a rock as a sofa to watch a sunset (we have those in the city AND suburbs)… or to perch on a hard wooden deck or sit around a gasoline-lit bonfire (did you really start the fire by rubbing two sticks together?), or catching a few Zzzzs ensconced in mosquito netting and soaked in deet (that can't be good for the skin) and sunscreen 1,000 (comes with a suit of lead armor) so you don't burn that delicate skin (I've heard that's not fun) all so you can get up early to see a sunrise. I've seen the sun rise. Wonderful. Andrew sleepy now.

I'm the kindda guy who likes to stay up late and get up later. You can get up to so much more fun and trouble at that time of the day.

In Japan, the sun rises at 4AM… Many is the time I've staggered home drunk from a club or hopped on my 18-speed bicycle (I only ever used two gears) and pedaled from some woman's apartment at that hour while bowing my head in greeting and shame as the farmers hale me and then haul me out from their rice paddy.

Of course, for people like Alice who might only get up at 5:30 in the AM to see a western sunrise... great... I had no idea there was a 5 o'clock in the morning!). By the way... watching that sunset and sunrise... you know you shouldn't stare at the sun, right?

How about that cooking? Mmm... being outdoors sure works up the appetite for some reason. Did you bring steaks? You know you didn't kill your own food. Hot dogs? What is in that food? Mac and Cheese? You know it's best when baked in an oven with a thick slice of red tomato atop it...

You could go fishing - hopefully that tumor in the fish isn't too large… in Canada… that's a real problem… I know… I used to be involved in the Fishing Guide for the Ontario Government when I worked for the Ministry of the Environment and Energy and the Ministry of Natural Resources.The guide listed the sizes of each species of fish in each provincial lake indicating which fish were safe to eat. I don't like to eat fish, unless it's a catfish... but have you ever seen a real catfish? Ugly! Someone get me a fillet!

You could go hunting… but who's going to clean a bear? Hell… who wants to gut and descale a fish? I prefer crustaceans to fish, anyhow… but I wouldn't eat a crustacean from a lake or even from my garden.

Mmm… toast and coffee in the morning… no one milled their own flour or grew their own coffee beans…Freshly squeezed orange juice - where the heck are you camping? Florida?

You aren't getting away from squat. You are merely bringing convenience with you to make roughing it less rough. I thought you liked it rough?

I'm only kidding around. If I really hated camping, I would have written about it in my other blog - the one about things I hate.

I've been camping. Aside from seeing the stars… no big deal… someone is always snoring (me), so everyone else wakes up grumpy (not me). Crappy breakfast, lunch and maybe a steak dinner… that first night only, though - because later than that the ice has melted and the meat would go bad.

I suppose you could just go into a nearby town and eat - and I know some of you do that… but… then why are you leaving the comfort of a home to do that? I suppose it's cheaper than a hotel. Definition of a hotel? Where one pays good dollars for poor quarters. I read that in a Richie Rich comic book from 40+ years ago.

My father enjoys camping and fishing... but I don't even want to hook a worm. It had seven hearts. I've spent a bit of time fishing... people say it give you time to think. I think quickly and move onto the next subject. And then I write about it. Slapping at mosquitoes and drowning worms is hardly a topic I get off on.

I know... I can think about other things. Trust me... I have no problem thinking about other things... which is why I'm usually in a foul mood when left alone to think. No... I need to do so I don't have time to think. Too much thinking is bad. I'd rather write thoughtless blogs like this.

Oh well… maybe getting away from it all is a way of harkening back to one's past - on a small farm in Quebec… or to a time when one's ancestors plowed the land… or all the way back to when Homo erectus (erectus… ha-ha! There's nothing funny about the word 'homo' - at least not in a politically correct manner) used a rock as a pillow (it bears repeating)…

I have no idea why any of that is appealing. All I know is that our ancestors would have loved air-conditioning, mattresses that didn't have a spring poking you in the small of the back, no fleas or bed bugs.. no plague... proper indoor toilets and plumbing... and all the free porn on a computer... comforts.

I'm only joking around... but aside from a few odd ducks who would have shunned such future technology as witchcraft, the comforts of home would have been widely celebrated.

Whatever... at least you know you happy campers aren't alone. The Japanese really seem to like 'getting away from it all', too.

There is a fair bit of green space in Japan - regardless of pundits who claim it's been paved over to create more roads to get to the nature reserve…

(Japan did once chop down a grove of trees to clear an area and make some stands for people, plus a paved road - just so an audience could see the Emperor plant three trees to show Japan loves its nature.)

Let's see… Japanese work their ass off 6 days a week (partial day on Saturday)… so on Sunday.. freedom… and everyone hits the road to get away from it all.

Sunday was my favorite day in my city of Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken… it was empty… as everyone had left the area to sit in traffic as they drove up a steep mountain road with everyone else… man… I got so much looting done on those days.

But surely one day off… or even leaving sometime in the afternoon on Saturday, but having to be back to work on Monday is hardly conducive to having a lot of fun camping…

Let's face it… the Japanese don't take vacation time off like you and I do… take a week like I did last week? Are you kidding? Their workplace would achieve thermonuclear meltdown by the third day.

I came back on Monday and it was like I never left. Which is both good and sad. 

Japanese teachers? They hang out at school all summer long looking after all the kids (all of them!) who come in to partake of club activities (every kid is in a school club, whether it's sports, music, languages or the arts) … you JETs or western teachers… there's no time off if you are a Japanese teacher of English (JTE).

So when can they (the Japanese) go anywhere? Maybe during Winter break? No... it's too cold for most of Japan to go camping.

During Obon in August? Naw… you have to pay your respects to your ancestors, so the Japanese travel back to whatever town they are from.

Maybe during Golden Week in the Spring?… which is when everyone else in Japan goes on vacation. Never travel during Golden Week.

So it strikes me as strange that Japan would have an auto show (this past March) that catered solely to vehicle manufacturers of camping… for those who like to 'escape'.

The Japan Camping Show 2015 - specifically targeting Japan's three Camping Car markets, include the:
  • Micro K-Camper;
  • Combo;
  • Cab Conversion.
These aren't individual vehicles, but rather are the three styles of vehicle the Japanese currently prefer when they get out into the hills and forests looking for mushrooms that are more likely poisonous.

These Micro K-Campers are small and inexpensive (as car as camping vehicles go) that have pop-up roofs and compact interiors… which is great if you are 5'-4" naked, but but not for bigger, wider-shouldered foreign men like myself. In other words, this works well for the Japanese. I suppose I could find a rock to sleep on.

The Combo is larger than the Micro-K-Camper and is priced accordingly - middle of the road… and while they can easily carry a family in their daily routine, it can be converted into an overnight camper for that Saturday night getaway. Traveling with the family and spending time together? Who are you people? The Walton's? I spend enough time with them... this week, with everyone at the cottage... I'm on a real vacation. Just me, the cat and some tasty Chinese food. The house never looked cleaner, by the way. In Japan, of course, with dad always working long hours, he never gets to see the family... so spending a night with them can be considered something 'new and exciting'.

The Cab Conversion is like a very small version of a standard North American RV… and despite it being a lot smaller, it is still a house on wheels, Japanese-style. As such, there are more creature comforts that remind one that they have indeed conquered nature while they drive along searching for nature.

I know I wouldn't want to do any camping in Japan... would you want to go to a Japanese camp? What? Too soon?

For a full look at the past event, check out the article written and photographed by Stephen Clemenger for www.gizmag.com.

The full article is HERE.

Oh... and that photo at the top - that's not even close to being anything weird at this Japan Camping Show 2015.

Camping - stupid Auto Correct - kanpai,
Andrew Joseph

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Cool Photograph: 1948 Japanese Electric Car

I'm presenting this photograph, knowing full well that I can't find any information on the vehicle pictured there.

From what I understand, $2,400 mini-car utilizes a 30-volt battery, which is strong, but not all that strong.

Recall, if you will, sticking the common rectangular household 9-volt battery on your tongue. ZAP! But bearable enough for you to do it again and again… surely it wasn't just me who did/does that?

It's weird but fun - and while I am unsure if there is any correlation, I do have a very strong tongue now… go on.. try it! Whatever doesn't kill you, makes you stronger… Seriously… 9-volt.

Don't do the 30-volt batter that is in the micro car.

Apparently this car - of which I can find no model - was the design and manufacture of a former Japanese kamikaze pilot.

Wait? A what now? A former kamikaze pilot?

If you are a former kamikaze pilot… shouldn't you be dead?

Granted, only if you were successful… but even then… you were supposed to dive into the enemies ships at full throttle if you weren't blown out of the sky by anti-aircraft guns or enemy planes… how the hell did you survive?

Unfortunately, despite going the distance to provide this data, AP (American Press) photographer Charles Gorry doesn't tell us the name of the Japanese inventor… or the car model/manufacturer.

What we do know, however, is that the battery used in the car is not a regular car battery… no… this is a rechargeable battery… an electric car, if you will… that can travel for up to six hours before it needs to be recharged.

And, despite its size… and the fact that it is carrying a fully-grown Japanese man (who weights around 80-80 kg (132 -176 lbs), the car can travel at speeds up to 30 miles per hour (48.3 kph).

Granted I've probably pedaled a bicycle that fast, this little car's performance is quite impressive, because I quite doubt I could bike that speed for six hours, without my heart needing to be recharged. CLEAR!

Aside from the obvious safety concerns - it's so low and small that it could get run over by any normal-sized vehicle, or the fact that the windshield is useless because you are still going to get bugs in the mouth or rocks kicked up from other cars right in the noggin' - it seems kindda cool.… just not $2,400 cool.

We are talking 1948… and 1948 Japan… so $2,400 is a butt-load of money…

It's not horrendous, in 2015 dollars, that would be about $24,000 (according to the Inflation Calculator at www.saving.org)…

Keep in mind that in 1948, one could get an average car for around $1,250 (which is around $12,500 in 2015)…

According to the write-up accompanying the photo, the micro car is seen here passing the main intersection of the Ginza street in Tokyo on December 21, 1947. The toy-like car get s Go-signal from Private Jackson Neeley of Hampton, Va, who is attached to the 720th MPs.

Obviously, it was more important at the time to make sure the soldier/MP gets his fair shake with regards to the photo… but dammit, couldn't the photographer have given us more information on the car?

Hell… he obviously found out something - he knew that the creator was a 'former kamikaze pilot'!!!

Anyhow… I found this image over at http://flashbak.com.

What's interesting, is that nearly 70 years later, electric cars are still too damn expensive! I'd drive one if it was truly economically viable and feasible for me!

My gas is 30-cents a liter more expensive today than it was three months ago… yeah… that sounds fair. Apparently gas was rare, not so rare, and then rare again…

I gotcher gas right here,
Andrew Joseph

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Japan Builds A Car Every Few...

Here's a something VERY, VERY neat.

You can see a relative rate at just how often Japan builds a car - though I assume that means a Japanese car is built (somewhere in the world).

Click HERE and be mesmerized by all the fun and weirdness.

Let me just point out that I accept no responsibility for the accuracy of the claims. 

Cheers
Andrew Joseph

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Honda Profits Rise

Honda’s quarterly profit surged nearly 63 per cent as production recovered after disruptions from a triple dip via natural disasters, but the Japanese automaker has slightly lowered its full-year profit forecast because of sales losses in China.

Tokyo-based Honda Motor Co. reported a ¥77.4 billion (~Cdn/US $850 million) profit for the October-December period, noting that quarterly sales jumped nearly 25 per cent to ¥2.4 trillion ($26 billion).

All the Japanese automakers are seeing a dramatic recovery from the quake, tsunami, and radiation concerns in northeastern Japan in 2011, which destroyed key suppliers. Honda was also hurt by flooding in Thailand in late 2011.

On top of the sales recovery, they are getting a perk from a weakening yen, which helps lift the value of overseas earnings.

Japanese automakers are reporting solid sales increases in the key U.S. market and in Asian countries such as India and Indonesia.

The exception, of course, is in China where anti-Japanese sentiment has spiked these past 12 months over a territorial dispute over some stupid islands southwest of the main Japanese island, that until that time no one in Japan had ever given two thoughts about.

And now, because of the island dispute (read HERE or HERE for more), Honda expects to lose sales of 20,000 vehicles compared with its earlier plan.

Honda says that quarterly sales growth in all key global regions, including the U.S., Japan, Europe and Asia.

It also did a healthy business in motorcycles, for which has a long history and reputation, especially in Asia.

Honda kept its sales forecast for the fiscal year through March unchanged at ¥9.8 trillion ($108 billion), but lowered its net profit projection by ¥5-billion ($55 million) to ¥370 billion ($4 billion). The new projection would still represent a 75 per cent improvement over its result during the disaster-hammered previous fiscal year.

The maker of the Odyssey minivan, Fit subcompact and Asimo walking robot (read about Asimo in a cool blog I wrote HERE) said it now expects to sell slightly fewer vehicles for the fiscal year at 4.06 million vehicles, although that’s up from 3.1 million vehicles for the previous year.

Honda had expected to sell 4.1 million vehicles, but that number was lowered because of the China problems, company spokesman Hojo Tsuyoshi (surname first) notes.

Honda has not had to lower its annual revenue forecast, partly because it is getting a lift from a favorable exchange rate, says Hojo.

A weakening demand in Europe, where some countries are being hit by a slowdown, also contributed to the lowered vehicle sales forecast.

Honda said incentive spending in the U.S. squeezed its profit forecast but the main cause was the lowered vehicle sales in China.

Toyota Motor Corp., the world’s top automaker, and Nissan Motor Co., Japan’s No. 2 automaker, will report its earnings next week. They are also expected to highlight a robust recovery in the Japanese auto industry.

Friday, January 11, 2013

GM And Isuzu To Jointly Develop Pickup Trucks

Isuzu Motors Ltd. and its former shareholder General Motors Co. say they plan to jointly develop new pickup truck models.

This reviving of cooperation between the companies who first formed an alliance in 1971, is seen as a means to end regarding fast-growing emerging markets.

Isuzu and GM issued statements announcing the co-operation but gave no details.

Personally, I hate that.

"Good news everybody!"
"What is it, Professor?"
"I just have good news.
"But what is the news about?"
"None of your business. Buy our pickup trucks."  


Tokyo-based Isuzu, a mid-sized automaker specializing in small trucks, commercial vehicles and diesel engines, produces pickup trucks in Thailand and is relatively strong in Southeast Asia.

GM acquired a 49 per cent share of Isuzu in 1999 but dropped that share to 12 per cent in 2003.

In 2006, GM sold its remaining 7.9 per cent share to two Japanese trading companies for $300-million.

Cheers
Andrew Joseph

Monday, December 10, 2012

Japanese Carmakers Building Lots Of Plants in North America

Nowadays, Japanese automobile manufacturers are constructing new North American assembly plants at an incredible rate to recapture a lost marketshare while reducing a dependance on Japanese manufacturing that is becoming more and more costly.

Caught in a Catch-22, Japan's shrinking workforce and seemingly endless recession has caused its own automobile manufacturers to move work offshore.

While Japan has long had automobile manufacturing plants in Canada and the U.S., by building more and more plants, it seems as though Japanese automobile manufacturers are giving up on Japan, though automobile companies claim that their focus is to replace the concept of the Japanese import with a North American producer car, is the real answer, knowing that especially in the U.S., consumers do like to 'buy American'.

But Japan is not alone.

While 100s of thousands of Japanese-brand trucks and cars will be built in American and Canadian plants by 2014, German carmakers are also expanding to the U.S, and Mexico.

"I wouldn't be surprised to see some Japanese manufacturers virtually cease vehicle production in Japan" over the next several decades, said Jim Hall, managing director of 2953 Analytics.

What does this all mean?
  • Greater competition in the North American market as sales rise and Europe and Japan stagnate;
  • Higher exports to the rest of the world from Japanese-owned plants in the U.S., Canada and Mexico.
"North America is a competitive manufacturing base," said Michelle Krebs, senior analyst at Edmunds.com. "It makes sense to build more cars here, especially when it's expensive to make them at home and U.S. sales will grow more than Japan."

Mexico has been the biggest beneficiary. Honda, Mazda and Nissan all plan to open new plants there in 2013 and 2014.

Japanese automakers are reducing exports from home because the strong yen has slashed profits on cars shipped from Japan to America. That's a major problem for small cars facing tough new competition from Korean and Detroit Three compacts and subcompacts.

"Japanese automakers are not able to charge premium prices for their small cars anymore," Krebs said. "Japan is a high-cost manufacturing base. Japanese automakers have to go to lower-cost production sites to offset their lost margins."

Experts believe that Japan is continuing to shoot itself in the foot, thanks to its aging work force population and virtually nonexistent immigration policy.

This is a deadly twosome, as any nation that wants to survive needs to welcome and support new manufacturing jobs. It just means that long-term, companies will shy away from Japanese exports.

Some folks speculate that in just a few years time after they see the gains in producing cars in North America, that Japanese automobile manufacturers will decide to construct 100 per cent of the cars for the North American market right in North America.

At this time, about 70 per cent of the vehicles sold by Toyota in the North American market are built in North America.

Wither Japan. While Japanese automakers expand and build new factories in North America, Japan may have to decide if it can continue to be a manufacturing country.

Cheers
Andrew Joseph

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

American Suzuki Motor Files For Bankruptcy Protection

The American Suzuki Motor Corp. filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection and says it will cease selling automobiles in the U.S. as part of a plan to restructure its business.

I suppose that's good that it is stopping the manufacture of automobiles… it has no money to pay for their construction for vehicles that no one seems to be buying in great numbers.

There's this thing called a recession going on. It's probably closer to a depression, but no one wants to say it. 

The Brea, California-based company is the sole distributor of Suzuki Motor Co. vehicles in the continental U.S.

According to documents filed with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in the Central District of California, the company estimates its debts and liabilities range from $100- to 500-million. It also said it has between 1,000 and 5,000 creditors.

Okay… the fact that it isn't sure how many people/companies it owes money to OR exactly how much debt it has speaks volumes for the idiots in California running this company. 

Yeesh.

Okay… while the company has said that it will close many of its dealerships (the ones selling the cars and servicing them, American Suzuki Motor says it still has enough cash to operate during the restructuring and intends to honor all car warranties and buyback agreements.

This is good… because bankruptcy protection will protect the car owners… by that I mean the American Suzuki Motor company does not need to take that remaining money and pay off its creditors first. The customer is thus protected.

AST will work with its car dealerships to help them transition into parts-and-service operations.
Once it exits bankruptcy protection, American Suzuki Motor says it will focus on selling only the Suzuki motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and marine outboard engines. No more cars. That means no more Kizashi, SX4 Sedans, SX4 Hatchbacks, Crossovers, Urbans or Grand Vitara (see photo above).

I think I may have heard of the Grand Vitara and Crossover… which I think explains the problem Suzuki has here in North America.

But the motorcycle? I'm not as knowledgeable on bikes and trikes as I am on cars, but I took a look at their website and the offerings on motorcycles - whoa! There are some mean looking machines! There's some style there! The cars? They look blah. Someone needs to hire a new design team to make the automobile division stand out. And maybe some kick ass advertising. Think Mazda's annoying Zoom-Zoom. I own a Mazda.

Suzuki says the decision to close up the car division in North America is due to slow sales, unfavorable foreign exchange rates and high costs due to U.S. regulatory requirements.

Yes… safety requirements do cost a lot. But I know that's not what it means. Trust me… if you make a car that performs better or has better gas mileage or has better safety features and at a good price - people will buy it.

Here's what I don't get about the automobile industry: Why does every car company see the need for the economy car, family sedan, SUV (multiples), sports car and luxury car? Of course they are trying to capture as much o the market as possible, but sometimes… a cobbler should stick to its own.
Excluding Chevrolet and Ford owners, people don't really stick to a brand in the face of a superior car at an affordable price. Find your niche and hammer the crap out of it.

Henry Ford had it right when he quipped about his 1909 Model T"You can have any color you want, as long as it's black." I'm too lazy to check the exact quote from his autobiography , but that's basically what he said. You start giving people too many options that they don't need you start to spread your own resources too thin. 

Oh well… Suzuki says it sold 2,023 vehicles in October 2012, which was up five per cent from the same month last year.

Its Grand Vitara sport utility vehicle posted a 64 per cent jump in sales last month, although American Suzuki did not say how many of them were sold.

In May, the last month it provided a breakdown of its sales, it moved 474 Grand Vitaras, while its biggest seller was its SX4 small crossover, of which 1,101 were sold.

But… how many vehicles did it need to sell in order top be financially viable? Obviously… despite good numbers in the Grand Vitara… a 64% jump wasn't good enough… Was that like having sold five in the month when the previous month only saw the sale of three? I exaggerate, but percentages are easy to play with when you want to hide the truth… and besides… do you really want to trust their numbers? Not only did they not know how much money they owed, but they were a lousy company at making a profit. Don't trust the numbers from the Suzuki automobile division in California!  

The bankruptcy and reorganization are unrelated to its parent Japan-based Suzuki Motor Corp., which intends to buy the American subsidiary’s remaining businesses and automotive service operation.

The reorganized company will retain the American Suzuki Motor name, the company said.