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Wrong Power

In your The Top 10 General Motors Cars of All-Time you state: Its 265 cubic inch V-8 engine delivered 162 horsepower and an option package with dual exhausts increased that to 280 horsepower. Must be a great exhaust - adding 118 hp to a 162 hp engine. Thinking it should be 180hp?



Altering Closed Loop Mixtures

great article on your attempt to modify the output the prius' O2 sensor – Altering Closed Loop Mixtures. It seems that this technique might be more successful on a car with less sophisticated closed-loop control, say the majority of mid-90's grey imports floating around. I found a company selling a wideband O2 sensor, controller and dash display that has an interesting feature, a narrowband O2 simulation mode that claims to be able to do exactly what your article was investigating. Here's the link: Any thoughts of how successful this would be? With rising petrol prices, even performance car owners might have an interest in leaning out cruising mixtures. I smell a follow up article!

Sam Hurst


It looks good but don’t forget that most cars now run multiple oxy sensors (eg before and after the cat) and these must be in agreement (but not necessarily showing the same magnitude of voltage swings).

No Protection

i'm enjoying your articles on – Metal Casting, Part 1. But was alarmed in the second photo down it shows a man casting aluminium with shorts on and no procetive clothing on. This is highly dangerous as metal spills can cause 'seroius burns' requiring hosptilisation [ I Know from personal expericence] and photo is not in keeping with current osha regulations. You may want to giving some thought to changing it or providing some sort of warnings... Other than that. i'm looking forward too next article..

Joel Mayer


Front Wheel Drive Not Better

Dr.Pudny's claim that front wheel drive cars perform "better" in slippery conditions is wrong, they lose their steering when they lose traction.

Michael William Lockhart


Supercharging a Turbo

Hi why don't you try taking a large turbo converted car and develope a lower rpm supercharger setup that takes away the lag when the boot is in some thing like the nissan march this is some thing i think would get you alot of attention.



We don’t have any particular interest in taking that approach – better to fit the right sized turbo(s).

Total Energy Use of Hybrids

Hi, I was just reading through your article Explaining Sex to a Virgin... and I was wondering if you've ever considered doing an article on what some people call the "real" environmental impact of hybrid cars.

Firstly, the issues involved with manufacturing the batteries, and secondly, the problems associated with disposing of the batteries and their harmful chemicals after the car has passed it's useful life.

Are hybrids really better for the environment?



The in-depth studies that we have seen support the idea that hybrids are an overall plus for the environment. Re disposing of batteries, so far, no such activity has been occurring – used hybrid batteries are in great demand for recycling. However, it also needs to be kept in mind that total-energy-use studies need to be done on a case by case basis. For example, some hybrid cars have very small battery packs and one electric motor; others have larger battery packs and two electric motors; others have relatively large internal combustion engines while others have small internal combustion engines, and so on.

Keep Building Cars in Australia

The article Heading in the Wrong Direction by Dr Peter Pudney was an interesting read, but, unfortunately, there is more to the issue than he seems to think. I'll comment on his opinions as they appear in his article. However, before I proceed further, I'll state that I realise that his views are not necessarily the views of Autospeed.

Australia makes cars that are 1.4 to 2.4 times the industry fleet's target for 2010:

We are currently in 2008, not 2010. Certainly, there's a large gap between the target and what is currently made in Australia and this target. However, something that he doesn't say is that the fleet’s target is a MIXTURE of all cars, not only the larger cars which are made in Australia. There is a use for cars of many sizes. A small car is often inadequate for towing larger loads, or transporting the luggage of more than two adults.

Cars built in Australia are not profitable without Government subsedies and tarrifs:

Neither are those that are built in many other places in the world. For instance, China has extremely heavy tarrifs that are charged on cars that are imported into that country. Such tarrifs are there to protect their own automotive companies, and to increase employment in their country.

Find some other endeavour for the 60,000 people currently employed in the automotive sector:

Such a move would lead to Australian companies having to break into markets which have well developed competition. This would bode poorly for the Australian companies, as we don't have the low salaries of the developing nations, while, in the new (to Australia) markets, the countries that have higher wages have already developed their products to a point where the extra cost over the products of the developing countries also comes with higher quality. For Australia to try to break into such markets would lead to products that are high in price, while lower in quality than the premium brands. Because of this, the idea is bound to fail in many instances.

Stop subsedising large, fuel inefficient cars:

Good idea. Instead, subsedise the development of fuel efficient cars (ie: just as the Government is planning to do with the $6.2 billion assistance package). Even still, there is a place for the large car. Again, you can't tow anything with a Toyota Prius, but you can with a Falcon or a Commodore.

Use Australia's engineering ability to build renewable energy sources:

Why not ADD this industry to the list that Australia works in, instead of SWAPPING automotive for it...

Implement policies that encourage/compel lower emitting cars for sale:

The Government's $6.2 billion assistance package is effectively this.

Historically, voluntary fuel consumption targets have not been met:

In the 1980's, 1990's amd early 2000's the market wanted large cars (for instance, Ford outsold Holden in the early '80's because Commodore wasn't as large as Falcon). Usually, large cars use more fuel than small cars. Although it's easy (and wrong) to blame the market for all of the fuel consumption gap, it's most certainly a very large factor. Companies don't do well to make products that don't sell, so the automotive companies make cars that they think will sell.

Australian built cars are nowhere near the fuel consumption targets:

One of the major reasons for this is because Australia has had a higher demand for larger cars than Eruope. Generally, larger cars use more fuel than smaller cars. Another factor is the fact that Australia enjoys relatively cheap fuel prices, compared to Europe. Even still, when fuel prices go up, the demand for larger cars goes down, and the demand for smaller cars goes up. If Australia had the similar fuel prices to Europe, then the demand for smaller cars would be more in line with Europe's.

No Australian built car is within 25% of the "best in class" fuel consumption:

The Australian manufacturers have more work to do. There's no escaping this, but that doesn't mean that the Australian manufacturers should shut up shop, and leave it to everyone else.

None of the cars that meet the fuel consumption target are made in Australia:

Cars are made wherever they're made. Traditionally, in Australia, large cars have been designed and built. That doesn't mean that this will continue to be the case in years to come. To write off the Australian automotive industry based on what is currently made is short-sighted. It may be asked "why cant they start making small cars here right now?" However, those who would ask such a question obviously know nothing about manufacturing of any kind, let alone manufacturing of the kind that is as complex as automotive kind.

Every car that is sold that doesn't meet fuel consumption targets makes it harder to meet the target:

Yes, and every car that's sold that is below the target makes it easier. That doesn't absolve the auto companies from making their cars more efficient. It's just the way it is.

The Australian automotive industry is unprofitable, needing tarrifs to survive:

This is even true of China, where there is extremely cheap labour. However, China has far higher tarrifs than Australia (in the order of 100% of the imported price - ie: doubling the price of vehicles imported into China)... Enough said about that!

Over 75% of cars sold in Australia are sold to businesses (etc):

These cars then get sold to dealerships, who sell them to the public, after a large proportion of the depreciation has occurred. Most people who buy a car will buy a second hand car at some point in time - there is nothing wrong with this. And the point of this part of the article is what?

Why are we supporting companies that are making inefficient cars?:

The $6.2 billion from the Government is all about developing greener cars... What's the problem with that?

The Australian Government should withdraw support...:

And let 60,000 people lose their jobs, with nothing else for them to go to? And force a condition where people who need to tow medium to heavy trailers have to buy large 4WD's (which use a LOT more fuel than a Falcon or a Commodore) instead? And force people who genuinely have a use for a large car to buy old model Commodores, Falcons, and whatever large prestige cars they can (or can't) afford? Certainly, a reshuffle is needed in the automotive industry, but it takes years, and many millions of dollars to change the direction of mass produced complicated items, like cars.

The Government should support fuel efficient cars:

The $6.2 billion package is exactly this!

Australia may be too small to compete:

This is unlikely. The best place for the small is in the niche markets.

An obvious industry to go into is renewable energy:

Why not do this as well as automotive? Both are needed. Renewable energy should also get very large sums of money from the Government, to help it to progress.

Germany is doing well in the renewable energy sector:

Germany is also using Australian inventions to do so, but the Government hasn't supported renewable energy, so the inventors have had to sell their abilities and ideas to German companies.

Vehicle kilometres keep increasing, year by year:

Public transport systems need to be improved, and people need to be educated to use these systems. This would decrease the vehicle kilometres considerably.

To meet emission targets, subsidies need to be removed from less efficient cars:

What about increasing subsidies for more efficient cars? This would steer the market toward more efficient cars, and give the Australian automotive companies a chance to turn things to a different direction. For all anyone knows, the Australian companies may already be putting plans in place to do just that. Instead of pulling the rug out from under them, how about guiding them in the direction that they need to go? After all, if these companies disappear, they're going to cause a lot more problems than the author of the article seems to think.

Encourage the auto companies to produce more fuel efficient cars:

Finally a glimmer of reality...

Increased oil prices will lead to higher demand for smaller cars:

A trend that we've seen over the last few years.

With concerns over CO2, people are buying smaller cars, and cars with advanced drive systems:

Hence, Toyota Prius, the announced hybrid Camry, Honda Civic hybrid, the announced Chevrolet [Holden] Volt...

Who cares that Australia is a centre of excellence of rear wheel drive?:

Rear wheel drive has a place. If you need to tow 2100kg, a Camry (front wheel drive) won't be sufficient, but a Commodore or a Falcon will be suitable for the job.

Front wheel drive is better for safety on slippery roads:

This is a point of contention amongst those who support the "opposing camps". Each have pro's and con's, but with stability control becoming standard on many cars, the capabilities of the car is usually far in excess of the capabilities of the driver - irrespective of the drive type.

Green vehicle fund could be wasted:

In which case, the Government needs tight requirements, so it's used for the best possible outcome.
ADRs prevent some efficient cars from being imported into Australia:

If need be, change the ADRs, but not at the expense of safety.

Brazil has been using ethanol for 30 years:

If all of the crops in Australia that could be diverted into making fuel grade ethanol were diverted into making this, only 1% of Australia's fuel would be ethanol. Australia doesn't have the cheap labour and water required to do as has been done in Brazil.

Australian requirements prevent certain vehicles from coming into the country, and are not compatible with other countries' requirements:

Where possible, change our requirements!

Many small European cars a have higher safety ratings than large Australian cars:

The Ford Falcon has a 5 star rating... Holden has also increased the safety rating of Commodore by introducing curtain airbags into the entire range... Airbags, as a secondary restraint are very important, which is why they're found in abundance in the small European cars.

Smaller, lighter cars are less likely to be involved in crashes:

This is just as much behavioural, as it is to do with the car itself. Hoons most often like Commodores and Falcons - the majority of the impounded "hoon's cars" are Commodores, followed by Falcons. Educate the people to change their behaviour.

Dr Pudney's view has many good points, but it does lack a certain amount of perspective of the bigger picture, and how manufacturing works - particularly in the automotive world, where long lead times exist in order to ensure that the products are safe to be sold to the mass market. Because of this, his argument is lacking a certain level of practicality, and his proposed way of doing things would lead to considerable problems for the companies that we're looking to in order to provide the fuel efficient cars. In short, it's obvious that he's an academic, because he obviously knows very little about the practicalities of the automotive world.


(It should be noted that Peter Pudney’s piece was written prior to the recent announcement of increased government funding for local car manufacturers – Ed)


I'm a Brazilian reader of the online version of AutoSpeed, and also I'm an engineering student. I must tell that you do a great job! You write one of the best technical articles I've ever read. They have a deep technical approach, but only deep enough to understand the basics involved in the article. By doing this, a lot of people is able to get a better comprehension of how a car works. Way to go!

I've got a question: why did you stop featuring modified cars? Please, feature modified cars again! And maintain the "archives" articles and features: It's very nice to read a technical article again or to remember a modified car. Keep up the good work!

Greetings from Brazil!

Renato Peixoto


We still run feature car stories, but not as often.

Wrong Barrier

Thanks for explaining the process in Powder Room on powder coating. You did cause me to do a double take in the first paragraph; you refer to applying a "corrosive barrier" when I'm sure you intended "corrosion barrier". Keep up the great articles.

George Barrett
United States


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