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More Tough Times For Japan Added by
The tail end of the recession certainly whips with a sting. So far, three brands from Japan have required to declare ongoing restructuring to ward off the effects of an expensive yen, a stagnant economy and competition from illegal replica parts.
ARC is the latest casualty however anyone keeping a tab on their product line up over the last 6 months would have noticed a shrinkage in line up. Zerosports also decided at the same time (Jan 2011) that it would be best to focus on Japanese only sales. Their reason was that their new sales rep did not speak English. No problem for us then.
The last causality has been C-One - a Toyota only brand who share a stable with TRD and Toms. They do have decided to keep it 'tight' and restrict sales.
The Japanese PM in late 2010 said that he believed the YEN was over valued and was contributing to slow growth in Japan, especially in the export market. He was to make attempts to lessen its value (and therefore, our prices would come down). With the Earthquake it would seem that the only practical solution is to stick to the lowering of the YEN in order to increase economic recovery and growth.
These measures will help stimulate sales for exporters in Japan at a time when it is desperately needed. Japan's domestic economy is fundamentally strong so we hope for a return to a 70yen plus figure which attracts far more business back to the Land of the Rising Sun.
CR-Z Performance Upgrades Added by Mac
Recently, Tsukuba hosted a CR-Z Turbo challenge day in order for the brands in Japan to show their tuning prowess with the latest Honda hot hatch.
When the CR-Z first came out, we were a little let down with the engine options and chassis size - it's pedigree follows that of the CR-X and Civic who were real rip-snorters in their day - but the CR-Z doesn't really offer anything exceptional when it comes to performance. Which is why the Turbo challenge was issued.
Two different approaches were on show from Trust and HKS. Trust uses a conventional "K-Turbo" (rear mounted) set up where as HKS has opted for an unconventional front mounted set up. Trust's kit is only in a tuning phase currently, and produces 200ps (0.35bar) with supporting modifications, whilst the HKS Kit can be would up to 300ps (1.2bar).
Boost pressure aside, both kits seem relatively even in terms of set up and options. We would expect that when Trust opens their kit up properly that it'd achieve 300ps also.
APR Carbon Goodness Added by Mac
The APR Formula GT3 Mirrors are what you would call a crumb. And many crumbs make a cake. One tasty cake. People often overlook simple modifications when it comes to setting up a track car. Much of the shape of the body cannot be changed (aside from the weight or composition of the body part) yet when it comes to spoilers, wings and mirrors there are option out to reduce weight and reduce aerodynamic drag.
Weighing in at under 1kg a pair (I believe around 300grm each) they are a neat and functional addition to your chassis to reduce drag, reduce weight and help to increase visibility. They're super strong - layers of carbon fibre are used to create the distinct low-drag shape and as a result they can withstand the largest bugs (or stones from those slower drivers in front) that hit them.
They also use Blue wide mirrors that are anti-glare - giving you a clear and precise view backwards at all the drivers you've overtaken. They come in a range of options or (most popular) universal fitment and we've had customers fit them on Honda's, Sakers, BMW's, Lotus's and many more flavours, all with great results. They are also a cheap investment especially when comparing them to Japanese options (Craftsquare are over $1000, J's Racing and Spoon GT options are not much less!).
We particularly like them because they would not be out of place in Formula 1 - and you all know how much we like the F1 around here. They're purely functional - they would never find their way on to the menu of the large car corporations because they're not loaded with adjustable arms, electrics or cheap materials and they're too small for Granny Betty to use - but in the world of high performance track or race cars, you can't ask for better.
For more information take a look here
Unsprung Tech with 41.co.nz Added by Mac
Unsprung weight is a real killer when it comes to track orientated performance. Those standard or heavy aftermarket wheels, steel lug nuts, efficiency-based tyres, cast brake components, cast arms and steel suspension and outer drivetrain components make for dull and troublesome handling. We often wonder why people invest in wheels that are heavier than standard when it comes to track work, so we're here to shed some light on this area.
Unsprung weight (or mass) is weight that is not supported directly by the cars suspension components. In layman's terms, Imagine a 10kg weight in each hand and imagine throwing that weight around in circles - the additional mass in each hand stresses your arm (suspension component) and the additional mass creates hard-to-control momentum - your arm wants to keep going in the same direction as the mass you are holding. The same is true for your car - the heavier the unsprung weight, the harder it is to control.
The obvious solution is to remove weight where possible by installing new components onto the chassis. One of the first things people like to change are the wheels - often for a better style / look / fit. It's no secret that up until recent years, car manufacturers really didn't pay a lot of attention to this area and standard wheels were no good on performance-orientated cars. However, whilst individual choices vary, the ultimate use is often not what the wheel is designed for. For example, a modern 16-inch wheel weighs in around 9-10kg from the factory. Good quality aftermarket wheels start around 6kg, however low quality cast wheels start around the same weight as standard and go well up from there! You often end up adding weight to gain style at the expense of handling performance!
Tyres are another area where unsprung weight is at a premium as they often weigh the same as the wheel themselves. It's also an area where very little thought is invested into saving a kg or two - as most people buy on needs first, brand second. A combination of a good quality cast or forged performance wheel plus a well-researched tyre choice can save 2-3kg upwards per corner. For example, a forged 16-inch Buddyclub QF wheel sheds 4-5kg on its own in a 16-inch size! In 17-inch this climbs to around 6-7kg compared to a standard OEM wheel, whilst their cast wheel - the Buddyclub SF Racing sheds 2-3kg per corner. We will stress however (for the first time) that lighter doesn't necessarily mean stronger or safer. It is very important to stick to reputable brands who publish material and quality control standards!
We also recommend Work Wheels and Rays Wheels, also available through Fortyone Automotive for performance applications, as good weight saving benefits in the region of 1-2kg per wheel can be had. Furthermore, 5Zigen wheels, particularly their FN01R-C and GN+ race rim shed 1-4kg per corner!
Suspension arms are next in the firing line - the heavy cast steel standard items can certainly handle the stresses of track work once in a blue moon, but often show signs of stress (cracking, failure, weekend bushes) as a result. Aftermarket arms not only shed mass but they also upgrade the strength and performance characteristics of the component by utilising stronger materials (a must!) and more rigid, performance-orientated bushes. Allow us to offer some examples - rear forged aluminium lower control arms (such as Blox, Skunk2) shed between 1-2kg per arm. A collection of rear arms (caster, toe, camber, upper camber arm) from the likes of Cusco, D-Max or JIC Magic can reduce overall unsprung weight by 5kg per side! (Other options from Tein, STI, Kazama and so on also available!)
One other area to consider shedding weight is in the braking department - from callipers, to rotors, to pads, to mounts, to hub assemblies and more. Fortunately (very, very fortunately) the big brands overseas consider this for us in advance, as it's one of the primary selling points when it comes to brakes. Forged callipers are the big thing when it comes to braking components and as a result of this manufacturing style and the components used it is easy to shed 1-1.5kgs per calliper as a result - over cast OEM standard items of a smaller size! There are various options available however we recommend Endless over all other options - just look at their Le Mans and JGTC results! Ask us about a special order of Endless, Brembo or Project Mu brake kits!
Brake rotors themselves are an area of contention - some argue that a strong cast disc should not be an area targeted for weight loss but in recent years silicon-carbide and carbon discs have become the norm in supercar arenas. Most of us aren't blessed with millions of spare cash so we'll have to stick to more conventional options like Powerslots cryo-treated rotors. Powerslot's rotors are made from strong yet light materials offering weight savings of around 1-2kg per corner for size-for-size replacement discs, however their cryo treatment process tightly binds the alloys that make up each disc resulting in a stronger product. Niche brands like J's Racing offer heat treated direct replacement rotors, made from lighter and stronger materials with better cooling efficiencies - as do the likes of TRD, C-One and more. For a list of brake upgrade options for your car, just contact us, we're happy to run around for you!
One smaller area (many crumbs make a cake!) where weight can be shed is in the wheel nut department, which is a popular and cheap area to address especially when installing new wheels. You'd be lucky to shed 300grms-800grms total from this area of the car however it all adds up - if you were to add all the small, seemingly insignificant weight loss efforts together it would amount to tens of kilograms so don't discount this area either. When looking at wheel nut options, titanium of aluminium (forged) are the two best choices. We recommend J's Racing, Blox, Blox Titanium, 5Zigen and Work Wheels options for proven strength and lightweight characteristics. We stress (again) that in such a high stress area of the car, corners should not be cut with low cost, lightweight yet low strength options. One $2.00 nut can cause thousands of damage to your wheel, hub and lower chassis assembly if it fails, all for the sake of saving $2.00 over recommended options!
Coilovers are another area where significant weight saving can be had. This area is especially important as its benefits are compounded with lighter unsprung components more feedback will be sent through the wheels and chassis and therefore a more responsive suspension set up is a must in order to smooth out and react to these new conditions. Most aftermarket options are made from aluminium - including the lower perches and upper top hats, which shed weight in these areas. However with the addition of strong internal valving and pistons plus extra options (like camber plates, remote reservoirs and piping, additional brake line stays) coilovers can often sit around the same weight as stock components. Most stock components are 22-25kg per corner. Brands like Toda and Daiyama start at 18kg per corner, but generally most kits are within the weight range of the standard item. We point this out, as this is an area where first time buyers are often caught out - installing heavier components than standard can negate the benefits found in other areas! Be sure when choosing your kit that you consult with us first so that we can help point you towards the most cost efficient and performance efficient solution for your set up! Take a look at the options available to you right now. And, when it comes to springs, be sure to use only a reputable, well-published brand. When you lower your car you need to up the spring strength (and therefore up the strength of the material used) so that they remain responsive over a shorter distance. This in turn can increase the weight of the springs resulting in a duller handling feeling when you're aiming for a sportier one!
The last area we wish to cover is the drivetrain and associated components that do not fall into the wheel, suspension or brake areas. Portions of the axles, the hubs associated bolts and stays are considered part of the unsprung mass of the car. Aftermarket axles are hard to come by (but we do offer Hasport, made by The Driveshaft Shop) can shed weight, but this is an area we recommend that you do not skimp on strength. If this means you have to retain the standard items then so be it - only touch this area if the engine power exceeds safe standard component ratings, or if the amount of abuse being sent through the drivetrain exceeds what would be considered reasonable (drag race starts, rally and so on). Finally there are very few aftermarket hub assembly options on the market, however lower knuckles can be changed for lighter aluminium options, brake dust shields can be removed, hub bolts can be upgraded to forged lighter options and brake lines can be swapped out for, sometimes, lighter options like Goodridge options. As we said above, many crumbs make a cake!
There are trade-offs however. When you choose to lighten the load on each corner of the car, you should do so only if the materials that you are replacing the original item with is stronger than the original item. As a general rule, whilst weight trends down, strength should always trend upwards. This is especially important when it comes to replacing standard items with lighter items in race car situations - if an item is light and cheap you should perform suitable research into determining the material used in the parts construction. Simply halving the width of a standard arm will give you half the weight, but it will also result in half the strength! Therefore, when it comes to marketing, 'lighter' isn't always stronger! We stand behind the brands we represent as they're not marketed with obfuscated gimmicks - they just work. Be sure to stick to reputable brands that are actually track-tested and who can offer you the alloy names and standards, which they manufacture with and adhere to. If you haven't heard of a brand before ask yourself this: Do you want to be the Guinea Pig?
You can gain additional strength at the same time as reducing unsprung weight by using alloy blends, forged components versus cast components or swapping materials in like Aluminum into low-stress areas where cheaper steel has been used.
Secondly, a heavier mass on the corners of the car acts to dampen road vibration and bump steer - lighter set ups require more driver input to maintain constant smooth driving characteristics. This can fatigue drivers quicker as the constant need for attention and input acts on the drivers body and mind.
But the benefits are greater - less unsprung weight means your chassis is easier to drive at speed (on track!), fuel mileage increases, chassis feedback is better, stronger-than-standard components provide assurances in high-stress environments like on race tracks and drag strips, handling becomes linear and predictable. Importantly, braking and turning characteristics are increased, as less effort is required to stop and turn your car resulting in quicker lap times and / or straight-line performance. Furthermore, good quality alloy blends are often corrosion and heat resistant. This is especially important in high stress environments where excesses in speed result in excesses in heat and wear - something that, generally, standard items are not designed to handle time after time. Once again we can only stress how important quality products are - and it is a must from a safety point of view to only use tested, proven and up-to-standard parts!
Top 10 Products of 2009 Added by Mac
As the year draws to a close, we thought we'd celebrate what has been a tumultuous year by honouring the products which have stood out despite all that 2009 could through at them. The following products make our 2009 Top 10 list because their sales volumes, quality and benefits to our buyers have seen them stand out during the recession.
10 - Zerosports Sequential Controller
There seems to be a disproportionate number of Subaru Legacy's in New Zealand - either that or the controller speaks volumes as to how well it performs! It is quite uncommon for an expensive electronic item to make the top 10 list because buyers generally orientate around interior tweaks, wheels and intake kits. But because it creates such a difference to the performance of the Subaru Legacy Twin Turbo people have flocked to buying it like it's going out of style. For this reason it makes our top 10.
J's Racing Wheel Nuts
It is quite a sight when boxes of wheel nuts arrive in shop here and we have to shelve them for storage. The J's Racing wheel nuts make the top 10 list because of the volumes they sell in. Priced nicely between the expensive Japanese options and the no name alternatives, they are so prolific that people often buy one or two extra sets just in case they lose one. They are light and strong, which enables you to shed unsprung weight without the risk of the nut cracking. Because of the volume sold, they easily make our Top 10 list of 2009.
Skunk2 Pro Series Intake Manifold
The Skunk2 Pro Series intake manifold makes the list for a number of reasons - sales volumes, benefits, quality, simplicity. They are a particular favourite of our customers because they are proven to give you bolt in power and torque gains. Secondly, they are able to be bored out to a maximum of 75mm, making it possible for your manifold to be coupled with an aftermarket throttle body (see Blox, below) creating a powerful air flow combination. Lastly, they are designed to slot straight in with the minimum of hassle making them easy to work with and cost efficient to install. For these reasons the Skunk2 Pro Series manifold makes number 8 on our list.
HKS SSQV Blow Off Valve
When something isn't broke, you don't fix it. Quite clearly HKS have listened. In 2009 the HKS unit was by far the most popular blow off valve sold especially when compared against the Trust Type RS option (which is cheaper) and the Blitz / ARC equivalents. Despite being the most expensive on the list it's simple design, great sound and bullet-proof functionality means that customers keep buying the HKS SSQV Blow Off Valve over the alternatives. As we said.. if it isn't broke...
Sparco 345 Steering Wheel
It's not a surprise to see an interior item slip on to the Top 10 list because everyone loves to visually upgrade the 'office'. And it's not surprising to see a Sparco item on the list either because Sparco, Quality and Volume go hand in hand. The Sparco 345 wheel is the Richie McCaw of Steering wheels - always a solid performer, simple but aggressive in its approach, proven results. In particular, customers love the feel of the wheel - the width is aimed at quick lock-to-lock movement, the grip thickness suits most race drivers by default, and the grip levels are about the best around. We could have listed many other Sparco wheels, but the 345 wins because it was the most popular of the Sparco range this year.
J's Racing Titanium FX Exhaust
The J's Racing Titanium exhaust is what we call an Apex product here at Fortyone Automotive. By this we mean that there is essentially nothing compromised about its offerings and it fulfils many different needs all in the one product. It is, without spending $10,000 per meter more with Inconel, the lightest yet strongest material you can use for exhausts whilst also being highly anti-corrosive. It is also a powerful system - the straight through larger-diameter design frees up power trapped by restrictive systems. Lastly, it looks great - titanium always does by default! It's certainly not hard to convince customers that it's the best exhaust option available - primarily because of the weight loss (sometimes up to 30kg / system) - and the quantity sold this year easily nudges it into the 5th spot on our Top 10 list. Customers love them!
APR GT3 Race Mirrors
Carbon Fibre to enthusiasts represents the end-game when it comes to material fabrication. What we mean is, when a product uses carbon fibre in its design, you can be assured that it will get no lighter or no stronger in any other form - game over. Any product (unless it's purely cosmetic) made in carbon always gets the thumbs up at the office here which is why the APR Carbon Fibre GT3 mirrors makes the list. Because they look great, have been installed on cars from Hondas to Sabre's to Holdens, and because customers love the looks they make the list at number 4. Light, strong, stylish and especially cheap when compared to other alternatives, the APR Mirrors exceed in terms of quality and quantity sold. They also offer aerodynamic benefits whilst minimising the exterior 'impact' of your car. Definitely recommended for low sports cars.
HKS EVC S
HKS released their new HKS EVC-S in 2009 and we thought it would be a smart idea to get in 10 of them to see if the market liked the new boost-controller / valve controller unit. We sold out in 3 weeks. Customers loved the step up from the older EVC units - the new design sits perfectly in newer generation cars with modern interiors. Customers used them in standard road cars right through to custom built track weapons and all were overly happy with the results. Simple to use and most performance sparkys already know how to install them! A great new offering at a solid price!
Blox Throttle Body
It was never going to be hard to find a spot on the list for the Blox Throttle Body. It was always going to be hard to choose where in the top 3 it would end up. The Blox Throttle body has earnt a reputation amongst Honda owners as being a simple, cheap, bolt-in, never-stick aftermarket unit which creates power and torque - especially when bolted to the side of the Skunk2 Pro Series manifold (see above). But this year, Blox took the offering a step further and released it for the K-Series engine - Hondas current generation of desirable N/A performance engines. Again we thought it would be smart to bring a box-full over, and again they sold out within 2 weeks. Customers informed us the Blox Throttle Body it was simple to install on either B or K-Series engines, that they had no issues with the butterfly sticking (a common issue on poorly designed alternatives) and that the additional noise created (a deep throttle tone) was a nice perk when using the unit. And of course, peak dyno numbers helped cement the Blox Throttle Body in a Top-3 spot on our list. A great addition to any N/A Honda engine (where applicable) for those looking to gain extra inhalation flow and velocity.
JUN Cam Shafts
It was a tough decision between the HKS EVC-S, the Blox Throttle Body and the JUN Cam Shafts as to which one would end up in the top spot. HKS lost out because (and not to its detriment) it was only released after mid-year, meaning customers have only had access to it for under 6 months and therefore the sheer volume was not as high as the JUN Cam Shafts, and the Blox Throttle body lost out because it's range was limited to only Honda Engines (we pray for Mitsubishi and Subaru options to be released, they would be easily 1/2 the price of current offerings and would be one of very few genuine options for Subaru and Mitsubishi owners). Which brings us to the JUN Cam Shafts.
People in the industry (those in the know..) know that on price and performance alone, JUN rank as high as any other. They also know that JUN makes cams for many other brands (which we won't be getting in to here) and can therefore appreciate the amount of work JUN does for the industry. What we know is that our customers love them - powerful, reliable (0 failures or issues in 5 years of retail!) and one of the cheapest options out. Few people know that when HKS, Blitz or Trust work on new Turbo kit options, JUN is always at hand to develop cams along side. This is why JUN Cam Shafts operate so well with other brand's turbo kits! Based on customer feedback alone (everyone loves more power) the JUN Cam Shafts would win outright, but we believe that reliability, price, quality and the ethics of the brand behind the name also factor in to the equation. For these reasons the JUN Cam Shafts take number 1 spot on our Top 10 list for 2009.
Japan Sleeps, America Stalls Added by Mac
The end of November has seen some interesting developments out of Japan with regards to their economic recovery. We've known for some time now that the Japanese economy has been in a rut, confirmed by the slow climb of the YEN (which still remains low, thanks to the state of Dubai!) but now some tangible effects are being passed on to consumers.
This week our friends at J's Racing, who are already the most cost efficient premium option when it comes to Honda racing products, announced that they could no longer shield customers from the raw material price hikes and low demand as a result of the YEN. But they're not the first.
Toda Racing for example have lifted the price on their manifolds by over 10% in the past year. Trust and HKS have both increased the prices on their engine components as well as, in some instances, their exhaust options. Coilover kits are now 5-10% more expensive in both the USA and Japan because of Aluminum costs. Skunk2 have increased their prices twice in 6 months. Voltex are investigating if a price increase on the carbon products needs to be applied, and most other companies who work with carbon (APR, Wald, Nismo, most of the drift brands) are removing bulk-order discounts. The larger brands like Nismo, STI, Mugen are tightening their belts as well, with fewer event attendances, less sponsorship and scaled back racing programs.
Behind the scenes discounts have become thinner for world wide dealers. Advertising is down and media out of Japan and America is becoming thinner. I can count 3 top American magazines that have pulled the plug over the last year!
But the news is not all bad. The traditional business approach of many Japanese companies has been shaken to our benefit. I believe we are seeing an end to the days where the brands rule supreme. Typically people waited as long as it took for the brands in Japan to make and send products. People seldom complained and customers remained loyal. When applied to a Western consumer model, the Japanese system has many flaws - most notable the time frame within which they expect people to wait. With the addition of a plethora of new Western-orientated boutique brands as well as the economic crunch, the main players in both the Japanese and American markets have had to embrace new challenges when it comes to performing in today's marketplace. Nearly every brand has a Blog now - an informal way of portraying the inner workings of a company to the webs masses. This would never have been on any Japanese Directors cards 2 years ago - they wouldn't 'stoop' to that level. Now, blogs are a valued business tool where people can become more connected to a business through up-front and up-to-date information reporting. Businesses recognise that Blogs are a cheap way to retain the interest in the company's brand. Which also illustrates a shift in the mentality of the brand (especially the Japanese mentality!) - they now have to work to retain their customers - nothing can be taken for granted. If JUN can't make the flywheel, Toda can. If HKS can't supply the turbo kit this week, Trust can. You can see how things have become more efficient.
Another benefit is that bulk-order discounts are being offered from brands not traditionally associated with such offerings. Further, now that the brands respect the fact that their dealers have the buying power (because their customers make the buying decisions), they are more willing to offer better discounts to retain the business.
Whilst it is not a dog-eat-dog world, it is certainly but slowly starting to work in the consumers advantage. The shift in mentality is one positive outcome of the recession as is the way the companies are now willing to share information rather than only passing it on when requested. The last part of the equation that we would like to see is a return to stable and moderately high exchange rates, coupled with the benefits listed above!
Also some new updates from Japan
Mugen Staff Blog - Here
Sard Blog - Here
HKS Blog - Here
New Parts From Japan Added by Mac
As the Japanese economy slowly recovers from both the World Recession and the elections in Japan the Yen slowly betters against the rest of the world, resulting in stronger sales to the Land of the Rising Sun. As such various brands are now starting to expand their product line up.
5Zigen is working on new parts for the 370Z Nissan including exhaust applications, while Trust continues to bring out new electronic items. Carbing is dabbling in new radiator applications (some of the most expensive we've seen to be honest, pictures below!) and with the release of the FN2 Civic in Japan, as well as the upcoming CR-X 'replacement' most brands are gearing up to kick start 2010 with more and more new parts.
As mentioned above not only are buyers getting new parts to oogle over, but the YEN is gaining strength for us resulting in lower part prices. It's now been 22 months (nearly 2 years) since the exchange rates were at least comfortable so we welcome the increasing rates with open arms
New Race Prep from Japan Added by Mac
Over the last couple of weeks we've seen a few teasers as to what the next time attack season will hold in Japan. J's Racing have finally 'tracked' their new wide-body monster, and 5Zigen are building up their turbo-charged Accord chassis - following in the footsteps of the success they've had in the US with their N/A Accord track car.
C-West and ARC will produce some new parts for the R35 in the coming months to help boost the new accessories now available from HKS and JUN Auto. Also, Toda is now focusing more effort on the Mitsubishi Evolution 10 as they feel it is one of the best track platforms available presently.
Also, keep an eye out in the Option / BMI videos this year for more Spoon Turbo options. We were at Spoon in Japan when their US Spec, turbo-charged NSX was being prepared (it was actually being stripped when we were there, ready for the build) and we were quietly told that more forced induction options were on the cards.
As more and more secret builds come to light over the winter months (in the Northern Hemisphere) we will bring more images and video for your viewing pleasure.
New Business Structure in Japan Added by Mac
It's been interesting to see how the business model in Japan has been affected with some big names filing for restructuring and the recession hitting - not to mention the lowly state of Japan's export market (because of the super expensive Yen).
Given that we've had a year of this, we've noticed some common trends as a result which can help you make better buying choices. For example, most, if not all brands that outsource their steel manufacturing (think exhausts, bars, etc) produce once monthly. Carbon work is now harder to get a hold of - not necessarily because of cost or rareness - but because it's far cheaper to lump orders together and produce in one lot.
As a side to this, it's now pretty easy to see who the few brands are that still make their own parts. We won't give too much away, but in this class are JUN, Toda, Tomei and select HKS products. Many of the brands now outsource to shed costs (more so than in previous years).
Fortunately now that the world economy is straightening out (but for how long?) and as a result of the brands using outsourcing and order consolidation part prices are beginning to come down again. For example, on some products a the start of 2009, Apexi, Trust and Toda upped their prices between 5-10%. Now with the YEN staying low (for the Japanese) the prices for the export market have come down in line with late 2008 prices.
There's still a good year or so to go, especially in Japan, for things to get back to normal. We still get the odd odd-ball with the orders, where a seemingly simple-to-make item is quoted as taking 2 months (or more!). But for now it's looking as though the ship is righting itself - great news for those with desperately needed parts coming in to the Summer Racing season.
Oh, and here's a new piece from Toda!
Toda Steps Up The Game Added by Mac
Like any good manufacturer (of which there are few left in Japan who genuinly make their own products) Toda is coming out to tackle the market head on with custom services for parts people may want to us - given the cash! On show recently are their carbon fiber (yes, you read that correct) dampers. Better still, they're taking orders of interest to produce these, and any other custom manufactured part you may desire, as part of their push into new markets.
Also on show was a one piece racing-series head cover / structural member to be used in Toda's race cars. Lightweight yet strong - the way of the future perhaps?