MOTORING

Specialists to the fore at HK Motorist Clubs’ festival

Specialist clubs help enthusiasts learn more about their wheels, improve troubleshooting and make like-minded friends

PUBLISHED : Monday, 23 January, 2017, 4:03pm
UPDATED : Monday, 23 January, 2017, 4:03pm

The Motoring Clubs’ Festival brought many of Hong Kong’s car and bike clubs together in Central on January 15. Organised by Classic Auto-cycle Museum, the inaugural event also illustrated how many specialist clubs help enthusiasts learn more about their wheels, improve troubleshooting, and make like-minded friends. Motoring “anoraks” were spoilt for choice. “I counted 163 cars, about 150 motorcycles ... and one bus,” one show organiser said.

The Edinburgh Place attracted the big bike clubs, such as the Harley Owners’ Group, Scooter Power Club and the BikerZ Club.

The new Hong Kong Classic Motorcycle Lovers rumbled in too, having started up last year on social media. This group reportedly now draws more than 700 members to its largely impromptu rides announced on Facebook and WhatsApp. Anyone can join Hong Kong Classic Motorcycle Lovers for free, says its consultant, Franki Yang. This year, the group hopes to organise a safe-riding course, run workshops on classic bike restoration and get involved in charity events.

Several specialist car groups were represented at the festival, from the Hong Kong Mini Fan Club to Smart Hongkong. The Toyota bB also has a cult following here, and the bB Club HK celebrated its 14th anniversary on January 8, with more than 800 formal members, 200 of whom are active, says its spokesman, Edward Tsang.

StepforStance lined up some of its members’ customisations, and aims to “bring new energy” to the Hong Kong car world with beautiful cars and events, according to club founder Cyclone Lai. “In February 2016, a record 1,000 cars attended our third annual big party, which means we are getting popular and are gaining car enthusiasts’ support,” he says.

The Classic Car, Ferrari, Aston Martin, Land Rover and Volkswagen clubs also contributed to an impressive line-up. The Porsche Club Hong Kong wheeled in several classics, including a fine 1972 911E. Founded in 1990, the club has about 200 active members, a 1,522-devotee Facebook group and plans several events this year. The club organises morning drives on the first Sunday of every month and plans several vroom events, from a Zhuhai track day in March; a June-July drive in Japan or Malaysia; and an annual China Drive and track meeting in October.

“Jebsen [Porsche Hong Kong dealer] gives us support for our events,” says club chairman Benjamin Lam. The club also organises golf, tennis, charity and even diving events, with social trips to Carrera Asia Cup and Macau Grand Prix racing, its website says.

Motorsports clubs are sprouting up too. Road-safety specialists Safroads Driving Safety Education System plans to form GreenDrift, a club to promote a new, quieter and arguably more eco-friendly version of the sliding sport in Hong Kong. This initiative stems from a popular aspect of the company’s driver training, according to Safroads chief instructor Kelvin So.

“[Our] Drift Control [experience days in Dongguan] teach people how to avoid a loss of [vehicle] control in adverse and emergency conditions, and we also turn it into a sport as people just love sliding their cars sideways,” he says.

However, “green drifting” is the art of making a skidding car stable, So explains. The sport uses normal cars and is called “green” in Europe “because we don’t produce loud noise and smoke, and we don’t burn tyres”, So adds, pointing to his stand’s Volkswagen Golf GTI. Safroads plans to hold more training courses and track days in 2017.

Charged Hong Kong (CHK) showed some BMW, Tesla and Volkswagen electric vehicles – and reminded petrolheads that plug-ins are quieter and easier to handle here. CHK promotes the adoption of plug-in EVs, and celebrates its second anniversary on Wednesday. Even so, the registered society and charity already has more than 800 members. It says the city “reached a tipping point” in EV adoption in late 2014. “In the first six months of that year, only approximately one in 500 new private vehicles registered [in Hong Kong] had a plug,” says CHK spokesman Mark Webb-Johnson. “But, in the last six months, that ratio increased dramatically to one in 18. In six months, we tripled the number of electric vehicles on the roads here. Helped by government support, as well as manufacturers such as Tesla, BMW and Nissan, Hong Kong has started on the road to mass adoption of plug-in electric vehicles.”

At the end of November 2016, there were 7,023 EVs in 58 models for road use, with 41 for cars and bikes, and 17 for public transport and commercial use, according to the Environmental Protection Department.

CHK has run a summer programme for Belilios Public School, and gathered more than 2,000 climate pledges from children in Hong Kong schools involved in the World Advanced Vehicle Expedition (WAVE) project, Webb-Johnson says. The society will continue to focus on education, present EVs and discuss roadside air quality issues, he adds.

“We are working hard on public charging facilities, and feeding back our views on government policy for the future of EVs in Hong Kong.”

CHK intends to show that EVs are “not just a viable alternative for today, but the only viable option for the future”, Webb-Johnson says. “It is great to see the history of motoring in Hong Kong at this show, and how far we have come.”