builds first luxury double-decker bus
As an automobile engineer and the Chairman/CEO of Micro Cars
Limited, Dr. Lawrence Perera is an opportunist when it comes to
bringing Sri Lanka’s transport and therefore development on to
the top level.
The recently mooted idea of introducing a luxury double-decker
bus was adopted by Micro Cars Limited and The Nation Economist
met with Dr. Perera to find out about its origin and
“I have always thought that everyone needs to maximise and use
efficiently whatever raw materials and other tools that we have
been given. For a developing, mind you I don’t like saying
‘third world,’ country like ours, a very efficient and effective
transport system is very important. The Micro Cars Company on
this land is looking towards enhancing this development by means
of adding ease to the transport system,” he began.
Benefits gained from a single car are limited whereas, on the
other hand, public transport is important. One cannot expect the
government to provide everything, which is where the private
sector comes in. The luxury double-decker bus that the company
is building has seating for 102 persons and standing room for
26. It makes sense to make use of the air above a single bus
other than having two side by side on the road, and it therefore
does take up less space.
Passenger comfort has been Micro Cars main priority, as well as
convenience, low floor arrangement, so that people can get into
the bus easily, state-of-the-art technology and safety, ABS
breaks, full air-conditioning, and even automatic doors. It
takes 50 million to import a single double-decker from overseas,
ones that are used for more than 25 years, and then brought down
here, which doesn’t make sense. Therefore, the best option would
be to manufacture it directly in Sri Lanka itself, explained Dr.
The engine and chassis are imported whereas the rest are
manufactured and made in Sri Lanka. All required raw materials
are readily available as well as human power; there are over 800
civilians currently employed at Micro Cars Limited.
The prices range from 8-15 million depending on what is
required. One can have the bus custom built as well. For a city
transport bus, it would cost around 12 million. The investment
is good and better, compared to a car which can provide
transport for maximum five passengers and costs a lot more.
“The main thing is to create a good image of Sri Lanka. People
have different impressions of our country and this is a start
for them to look at it in a different and better way. We are the
first in South East Asia to build a luxury double-decker bus
with the kind of design features we have used. It is made out of
design aluminum and very hardy. The technology used is borrowed
from Hong Kong whereas the company is based in China” he further
The first manufactured bus was presented to the Head of State
who has given great support to Micro Cars Limited. A 30 acre
land in Hambantota is to be used to build a factory for
assembling, track-testing the bus and also training individuals.
“When we say that we test the vehicle here itself, people have a
lot of confidence and it gives us a lot of recognition” added
In the past, Micro Cars Limited have proved that they are
capable of what they do and cannot be underestimated. They were
the ones to manufacture the first indigenous car in 2002 and
also manufactured a four wheel drive jeep in Sri Lanka itself.
“We have the skilled people and there is a lot of support from
the Ministry of Industry, the Ministry of Finance and the
President himself. Our company has experience of well over 30
years in this trade and we cannot go backwards; the right thing
to do is always take steps forward and make progress. There can
be 100 things I may not have in my office, but then I may have
one thing available and I will make use of that to do something”
said Dr. Perera, very adamant when it comes to giving back to
his motherland and paying his dues.
The company’s next step is to introduce the Lanka Econo Rail –
which would make transport, yet again, accessible and
convenient. The design has been completed and is ready to go but
the company wants to have a second look at everything even
though the Minster of Transport is very keen on the idea.
Micro Cars’ vision is to support developing transportation. Dr.
Perera’s ideas and motives are plausible enough to take the
transport industry to another level entirely and also aid the
country’s development in many ways.
By Lal Alawatte M.I.M.I (UK),
Dip. Auto.Eng. (Jap.)
Your trusted Motor Guru responds to your
A regular reader from Negombo
Q: I own a 2000 Nissan March car. During the last two to
three weeks I have been experiencing a lack of acceleration in
the second gear when compared to the torque it used to give. Can
you please explain the defect?
A: Your problem is due to the clogging of the fuel
injectors. Cleaning of throttle body, fuel injectors and proper
adjustment in the fuel injecting system is required. In addition
to that, a proper engine tune up will completely solve your
A regular reader from Kotehena
Q: I have a Nissan Pulsar with a mileage of only 90,000. For
the last few weeks I have witnessed white smoke coming out
constantly from the car exhaust. Earlier it was only in morning
when I started the car, but now there is a constant emission of
white smoke. Why?
A: It is most probably due to an internal oil burn. Without
proper inspection I’m afraid I won’t be able to give you a full
diagnosis. Get your vehicle checked by an experienced mechanic
or an automobile engineer as soon as possible.
A regular reader from Mount Lavinia
Q: I have a Toyota CR 41, diesel, with a mileage over
100,000. Every time I apply brakes within 10 minutes drive from
the initiation of the engine, there is a creaking sound.
However, the sound is gone within 10 minutes. Why?
A: This can be either from extremely polished brake disks or
drums or inferior quality brake pads or brake shoes. A
replacement of your vehicle’s brake pads and shoes will solve
A regular reader from Gampaha
Q: I own a 1998 Toyota Corrolla Station Wagon. When I reverse
the vehicle I hear the rattling of a belt. Can you please
explain whether this is some defect in the timing belt?
A: First of all let me correct your question. Belts never
rattle, but slip. I’m afraid that without a proper road test I’m
not in a position to help you in diagnosing the defect.
A regular reader from Galle
Q: I have a 2003 Nissan FB 15. I’m trying to change a damaged
steering wheel but keep the airbag in. Is this a possibility? Do
I have to replace the entire steering wheel?
A: If the airbag is not damaged, it can be reused. Without
any difficulty you can replace the steering and use the
A regular reader from Ratmalana
Q: My car engine heats up to the halfway point within a very
short time but then stabilises. Does this mean there are any
problems in the cooling system? The vehicle is an EP 91, Toyota
A: You don’t have to worry about that. That is very normal.
Your car has a thermostat valve, which is the device that causes
A regular reader from Pepiliyana
Q: Can you please tell me some key points that I should be
mindful of when buying a used car and how I can roughly diagnose
the condition of the engine?
A: This differs from vehicle model to model. You haven’t
mentioned whether you are looking to buy a diesel or a petrol
vehicle. Without a proper knowledge of motor mechanics, it is
not easy for a layman to diagnose the engine condition or at
least the body condition of a vehicle. Therefore my advice to
you is that if you are planning to buy a used vehicle, you must
seek the assistance of a qualified and a trusted mechanic.
A regular reader from Katubedda
Q: I own a brand new Toyota Yaris. The red indicator on the
dashboard keeps lighting up even after fastening the seatbelt?
Why is this?
A: There is something wrong with the seat belt indicator
unit on the latch of your seatbelt. Get it checked by a
A regular reader from Nugegoda
Q: I’m thinking of buying a dual air conditioned van. Is
there a drastic difference between dual A/C and single A/C when
it comes to fuel consumption?
A: It is good that you ask this question because there are
many misconceptions about the fuel economy of dual air
conditioned vehicles. Actually there is no drastic difference
between dual A/C vehicles and single A/C vehicles in terms of
fuel economy. The difference can be quantified; it is not more
than five percent.
A regular reader from Kandy
Q: I never use water for the cooling system of my Toyota
Corolla but coolant. But should I also fill the reservoir tank
with coolant every time the level goes down?
A: There are several types of coolants. Some coolants cannot
be used with water and there are some that can be mixed with
coolant. If you are using the latter you can fill the reservoir
tank with water when the coolant level goes down. But make sure
the concentration level of the coolant does not get diluted.
Selecting the right tyres for your
As a rider, it is very important that you know how to select
the right tyres and how to maintain them to get maximum
performance. There are three very important aspects you should
keep in mind when you select a tyre for your motorcycle or any
other vehicle, for that matter.
First and foremost is the safety and comfortable riding ability.
A tyre is a container to carry a certain load and obviously it
does carry you, your pillion and the weight of your motorcycle.
All manufacturers invest heavily on research and development for
producing high performing tyres. However, the makeup of the tyre,
other than air, is what makes you safe, comfortable and, above
all, ensures overall performance.
A bias tyre is made of two wire bead treads wound to fit around
the wheel rim, with some form of carcass material wrapped around
them to give the tyre its shape. Plies of tread material are
laid to give the tyre a profile, and finally the rubber tops
According to the structure of a tyre, it could be of Radial,
which means some tread plies lie at (or close to) 90 degrees to
the direction of rotation or it could be of Bias, that is tread
plies are laid at alternate angles substantially less than 90
degrees to the centre line of the tread.
You need to be very particular about the right size of the tyre,
tread pattern, maximum permissible load, and permissible speed,
ply rating, age of the tyre and inflation of your tyre to ensure
safety and comfort. You need to learn how to read the
information given on the tyre for this and refer the picture
The tyre size is usually embossed on the side wall of the tyre.
It could be embossed using a numeric, metric or alpha numeric
base. You are required to replace the tyre with the same size to
ensure the fuel efficiency.
Tread patterns are of mainly three types – Rib pattern, Lug
pattern and Semi Lug pattern. Basically Rib patterns are used
for the driven wheel, that is the front wheel of a motorcycle,
to ensure the grip in steering while the driving wheel, that is
the rear wheel of a motorcycle, need to have a Lug pattern to
have grip to push the vehicle forward.
However, with evolution, tread patterns have evolved to Semi Lug
patterns, mainly with the requirement of the front wheel driven
vehicles. Nevertheless you need to select a Rib pattern for the
front wheel and Lug pattern for the rear wheel to serve the
On the side wall of the tyre, the load index and the speed
symbol are displayed. The load index is an indication of the
load carrying capacity, which is the load the tyre can carry.
Refer the table to find out the load carrying capacity of your
In addition to the given load index, ply rating is also an
indication of the load carrying capacity. Conventionally the
plies were made of cotton yams and later on by using rayon and
nylon yams. The strength of many cotton plies could be obtained
from a single rayon or nylon ply. Hence the term used is ply
rating, which gives an indication of strength and not the actual
number of plies.
The speed symbol specifies the maximum speed that the tyre will
support and while selecting the tyre for your motorcycle, you
need to be aware of the speed symbol as well. Refer the table
for the speed symbol.
However, an important aspect that has been often neglected is
the age of the tyre. It is quite obvious that the passage of
time causes the material to be obsolete and this applies to
tyres as well. The shelf life of the tyre in different stages of
the distribution channel is not usually known to the customer
who purchases the tyre unless and otherwise he is very careful
in selecting tyres.
Tyre pressure leads to high performance and optimal grip on the
road. Although many riders spend a great deal of time discussing
the virtues of various tyre brands, rarely does the subject of
tyre pressure enter the debate.
Besides performing the essential function of holding a tyre on a
wheel, pressure affects performance in a number of ways. While
most riders know that the wrong pressure can reduce a tyre’s
life expectancy, air pressure can also dramatically affect
handling and stability.
The second important aspect you need to bear in mind is the
economical usage of the tyre, that is both fuel efficiency and
the cost per kilometre in addition to the time you spend on
frequent tyre changing and other maintenance activities.
Many manufacturers are concerned about fuel efficiency and hence
recommend the ideal width of the tyre, which should not be
compromised. The cost per kilometre could be calculated by
dividing the cost of the tyre by expected usable kilometres. The
tyres, which are perceived to be expensive, turn out to be very
economical when you take this into consideration and calculate
the cost per kilometre in addition to the time saving.
This information is brought to you by David Pieris Motor Company
Ltd., with an intention of broadening the knowledge of
motorcycle customers with technical know-how from MRF Limited,
India’s No. 1 tyre manufacturing company, which manufactures an
extensive range of superior quality tyres in six production
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