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Archive for January, 2018

Korea Goals At Detroit Motor Show

If it’s January it’s Northern American car show time and Detroit stands at front and centre as one of the biggest. It’s a time where the car makers showcase what’s new and the two from Korea have been no different. Kia shows off a new Cerato and Hyundai unveils an updated Veloster.

Kia.
Cerato has received a substantial exterior update and wowee it’s a good looker. It’s sharper, edgier, sports a slimmer grille design and exudes sophistication in bucketloads. In profile it echoes the Stinger, with a longish bonnet and shortish tail proportionally, joined by a deep scallop in the doors. There’s further design cues from the bigger car, with the bonnet sporting a pair of eye-catching creases sitting over the restyled grille and assertive looking lower valance. There’s now two air intakes on either side and house relocated indicators. Headlights with a choice of LED or projection lamps will be available.The rear has been restyled as well, with LED lights as standard, while the indicators and reverse lamps are separate and located below them. Extra visual appeal has been added with a horizontal bar, similar to that seen on the Sportage, joining the lamp clusters.

Overall length has been increased by over eighty millimetres, taking it to 4640mm. This allows extra leg room and cargo space. Headroom goes up to 1440mm with width just shy of 1800mm. Interior changes start with a redesigned console housing an eight inch touchscreen with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. Wireless smartphone charging will be made available and Harman Kardon have stepped up to offer a 320 watt sound system. Airvents are inspired by the aeronautic industry and interior finish is increased with softer materials. Seat frame strength has been increased without gaining weight plus denser foam for better support has been fitted.

Underneath the Cerato has extra “hot stamped” components and a higher percentage (54%) high tensile strength steel. The chassis is sixteen percent stiffer as a result, which also aids ride and handling. Suspension changes and upgrades to the brakes have been enabled to provide better feedback.

The engine features an Atkinson cycle and a cooling system for the Exhaust Gas Recycling to help with power and emissions. Kia have also developed their first in-house CVT as well. Combined fuel economy, as a result, drops to 6.7L/100km.

Safety goes up a notch with the inclusion of Blind Spot Collision Warning, Lane Keeping Assist, Forward Collision Avoidance and Smart Cruise Control.

The new Cerato is due for Australia towards the end of 2018 and full specs and pricing will be made available then.

Hyundai.
Hyundai’s evergreen example of quirkiness, the Veloster, has been transformed thanks to a massive reworking to the exterior. With style cues shared with the i30’s update, the Veloster retains its unique 2+1 door configuration yet looks fresh and new. It looks lower, flatter, sharper as well, with a longer bonnet balanced by a more emphasised rear quarter curve. The overall look is more purposeful and muscular.The grille is enlarged and enhanced, with LED headlights to be available along with LED driving lights. LED tail lights will also be available. Wheels are 18 inches in diameter and do a better job of filling in the wheel arches. The rear air diffuser is more pronounced and is bracketed by exhaust tips with a “phatter” look.The previously V shaped motif style in the interior is gone, replaced by a classier look and feel yet retains the driver’s cockpit ethic. With the Turbo model a difference in colours highlights the driver’s section further.Engine wise, the 2.0L petrol engine also gets the Atkinson Cycle, with peak power and torque sitting on 110kW and 179Nm, albeit at a high 4500 rpm. Transmission will be either a six speed manual or six speed auto. The Turbo engine is a smaller yet more potent beast, with a 1.6L capacity delivering 159kW and a flat torque figure of 264Nm from 1500 to 4500 rpm plus an overboost that raises torque by 10Nm. The six speed manual will be offered alongside a seven speed dual clutch auto with both transmissions designed in-house. There’s even a new audio feedback system that pipes intake and exhaust sounds to the cabin in an effort to further enhance the driving experience.

Torque Vectoring Control will be standard on Veloster and will partner with a revised steering ratio and calibration for better handling. Along with 18 inch alloys and Michelin Pilot Sport rubber the Veloster should take all a driver can throw at it and more.

Safety will come from a similar equipment list to the Cerato, with Forward Collision Assist, Blind Spot Warning, Driver Attention Warning, and Rear Cross Traffic Warning. A rear view camera with guidelines will be standard across the range. There’s six airbags as standard which means the driver’s kneebag will not be on board.Entertainment comes from the Apple CarPlay and Android Auto enabled touchscreen with international spec models receiving satellite radio and HD audio upgrades. A Head Up display may be available for the Aussie market also as will wireless charging. Again, pricing and specifications will be made available closer to release.

Private Fleet Car Review: 2018 Peugeot 2008 Allure

Peugeot continues to build upon its century plus of automotive building with a update to its smaller SUV, the 2008 series. It’s available in Australia in three trim levels; Active, Allure, and GT Line. I spend three weeks with the mid range Allure.

There’s some good pricing on the range too. The Active starts at a list price of $25490 for a final driveaway price of $29230. The Allure slots in neatly at $32865 driveaway and the GT Line rounds out at $35420 driveaway. These prices are on 2017 plated models. (Contact Private Fleet to see what we can do for you…)It’s not a big ‘un, the 2008. At 4159mm in length it’s right in there with cars such as the Audi Q2 or Holden Trax. Still, Peugeot squeeze in a 2158mm wheelbase, meaning leg room front and rear is at least adequate for most. With an overall (including mirrors) width of 2004mm there’s hip and shoulder room of of over 1300mm. At the rear the cargo space is roomy enough at 410L (measured to the window line) and goes up to 917L with the same measurement.Motorvation is courtesy of an award winning turbocharged three cylinder petrol engine with Euro 6 emissions compliance. It’s a miserly 1.2L in capacity and is just as miserly in its consumption of dinosaur juice. Peugeot says the combined cycle is 4.8L per 100 km from the 50L tank. Although it’s mated to a six speed dual clutch auto and a drive mode system for soft roading, it’s unlikely to see such environments so the quoted 6.0L/100km is more reasonable. We finished on 7.2L/100km. There’s Start/Stop and it’s virtually seamless in re-engaging from Stop mode.Given its size you’d be forgiven for thinking it would struggle moving the (tare weight) 1188kg 2008 around. Not so, comparatively. There’s a reasonable 81 kilowatts on board, but there’s a very handy 205 torques on tap at 1500 rpm. Even though Peugeot quotes a plus ten second time to 100 km/h it doesn’t feel as if it struggles to do so. Although the DCT suffers from the same gremlins just about every DCT does, being that seemingly yawning chasm between selecting Drive and forward motion, it’s otherwise near faultless, with crisp changes, quiet changes, and allows that rorty three cylinder to let you know it’s enjoying life.It’s also responsive enough, once under way, with kick-down and acceleration going hand in hand. Out on the flat it’ll slide into D5 easily enough and seems geared well enough to be content there. D6 was seen once the computer had declared speed and engines revs were suitable. It will then cruise along nicely and with no stress. Naturally there’s cruise control but if you’re a driver you’ll enjoy the interaction between foot, throttle, foot, brake as the 2008 reaches out and reminds you that fun is part of its nature.Ride quality from the Goodyear Vector 205/50/17 directional tread rubber is pretty good although the front will squeal with protest as it’s pushed hard into turns. The suspension seems tuned more for initial hardness before softening up. and it’s the upper rate that has body movement from the Allure. It can be jittery on rutted and unsettled tarmac and does have a propensity to skip sideways if even in a slight turn. It’ll pull down from undulations with just the slightest extra rebound, will allow a slow run over a shopping centre speed bump well enough yet will bump hard over the tarmac style ones.

Quality inside the 2008 was high. The plastics have a good look and feel, from the dash to the door trims with a carbon fibre and heat retaining alloy mix, from the seven inch touchscreen layout to the trim surrounding that and to the leather bound paddle shaped parking brake. The indicator stalk is on the left and pressing the button at the end engages voice activation. Oddly, though, it’s a key start, not remote. Cruise control is that seemingly peculiar to Euro brands separate stalk off the steering column and that also includes a speed limit alert. There’s a downside and that’s the tinny thunk as the doors are closed.The slightly chunky yet easy to hold tiller is typical Peugeot in that it sits below the binnacle, which itself is LED framed, shining a delightful blue. The dials themselves are clean and easy to read, and there’s a monochrome screen in the middle with speed, distance and the like. Seats are (optional at $2200) leather and heated only; again, that’s a huge oversight in the Australian market, especially with the car being tested through some of the hottest weather seen in some time. But, if it makes any difference, there’s two 12V sockets. And the Allure came with alloy door scuffs even though the brochure says they’re GT Line only. An optional full length glass roof was fitted and you can option the Peugeot LED Track that’s embedded in the laser cut headlining.Exterior design is a highlight with Peugeot expanding the elements that made the previous version a handsome looker. The taillights have a more defined claw motif, especially at night thanks to LEDs. The headlights with LED running lights bracket a more upright and enhanced grille, with the headlights gaining the shark fin protrusion as well. Front fog lights will pivot at night as well. The overall presence is smooth, almost organic, in appeal. Part of that comes from the alloy look full length roof rails and roof lid spoiler balanced by the black body mouldings. The Platinum Grey metallic paint is a $590 option.The test car came fitted with a full length glass roof (a $1000 option), and some decent safety tech including Active City Brake, Peugeot’s term for autonomous braking. Emergency hazard light activation under heavy braking is on board, the Allure and GT Line get City Park which is self parking and parking entry/exit assistance, six airbags (no driver’s kneebag) and hill start brake assist.

At The End Of The Drive.
Peugeot’s reinvention of its ranges of cars is paying off. The 2008 is extraordinary fun, even allowing for the delay in clutch bite inside the DCT. Once it’s hooked up, it goes and goes well, and does so with the appeal of elegance as seen from outside. It’s a smooth and flowing design that matches the chic interior.
Peugeot Australia has your info right here: 2018 Peugeot 2008 range

Just What Is On That Alfa Romeo Logo?

Automotive manufacturers’ logos come in a range of styles, ranging from the simple (e.g. the stylized signature of the founder for Ford or the three diamonds of Mitsubishi  – which means something like “three diamonds” in Japanese) through to more complicated designs (think of the helmet and lion of HSV, the double dragon of Ssangyong or the Pleiades constellation of Subaru). One of the more complicated designs that is deliberately reminiscent – and in fact borrows from – the old heraldic logos is that of Alfa Romeo .

Alfa Romeo has been making classy cars for over 100 years now (the company was founded in 1910) and the logo has only changed subtly over the years (not counting the badges on models from the World War 2, era, which have minimal colour thanks to wartime restrictions). Various small elements and the word “Milano” have come and gone, but the fundamental logo has remained the same. You know the one: the circle with a design on both halves.

On the left-hand half, you have a red cross on a white field, also known as an English cross or even St George’s cross. It’s also known as the emblem of the Crusaders.  You know the ones: the guys that got to be the heroes in most adventure stories set in the Middle Ages, starting from the Middle Ages themselves until a couple of decades ago.  It’s also the official flag of Milan, which used to be the capital of Lombardy, an independent nation in its own right. In fact, Milan had the red cross on a white field long before the Crusades, as this was the symbol of the patron saint of Milan, St Ambrose (who was knocking around in the fourth century, long before some idiot decided that the Crusades were a good idea).

On the other half you have… what the heck?  At first glance, it looks like a crowned snake with what is either a red triple-forked tongue or dragonish flames coming out of its mouth. On closer inspection, what’s in the snake’s mouth turns out to be human torso with arms raised. It looks as though the snake is eating that person. It’s more obvious in the post-2015 logo in the USA, which has been changed to white (green and white and a Slytherin serpent – how very Harry Potter). What is that all about?  Dragons: fair enough; Ssangyong has them and they fall into the “cool dangerous animal” category that lots of car manufacturers and brand designers love to draw on. But why would you have a logo that shows someone being swallowed by a snake or a dragon?

The arms of the House of Visconti.

Alfa Romeo provides a brief explanation: this device, along with the red cross, was part of the coat of arms for the Duchy of Milan (Alfa Romeo was founded in Milan, in case you were wondering what the obsession with Milan was).  This was the symbol of the House of Visconti, although the Visconti coat of arms has a blue and white crowned serpent and a flesh-coloured bloke in its mouth. This is presented along with the motto “Vipereos mores non violabo”, which can be roughly translated as “I will not violate the traditions of the serpent”, which really does sound like something JK Rowling made up. The serpent in question is known as the “biscione” and the human is described as either a child or (the even less PC version) a Saracen or Moor. The Saracens and Moors were the enemies of the House of Visconti at the time and they were practically sitting on the back doorstep of Milan, so the device acted as a kind of warning label: mess with us and we’ll devour you.  A more colourful legend tells of one of the Visconti ancestors killing a man-eating snake/dragon, which kind of goes with the St George’s cross – that’s St George as in the guy who killed the dragon and rescued the princess (and was, ironically, Turkish).

 

Another explanation that has been reported out there (possibly by Alfa Romeo themselves) is that the person is coming out of the snake rather than going in, kind of like Jonah coming out of the belly of the whale or something similar – all very Joseph Campbell and the Hero With A Thousand Faces and that sort of thing, where the Hero on his Journey goes into then returns from the underworld or the belly of the beast.  Explanations of this type tend to use words like “ouroboros” and “chthonic” and then start to ramble on about various serpent figures in mythologies from around the world. What this has to do with cars or with the ancient Duchy of Milan, I’m not sure. Perhaps it’s because the experience of driving an Italian sports car makes you feel rejuvenated and reborn?  Or maybe it’s simply the very understandable wish to disassociate this rather prestigious line of vehicles from the unpleasant combination of Crusader cross and something eating a Saracen (incidentally, the website for Alfa Romeo Middle East conspicuously lacks the coat of arms… I wonder why!)

Alfa Romeo also uses a green four-leafed clover on a white field, known as the quadrifoglio, which means “four-leafed clover”. This means exactly what you think it does: it’s a good luck charm and was adopted in the 1920s when an Alfa racing driver wanted to overcome his run of bad luck.  The green and white livery and the serpentine associations might look like they inspired the Slytherin logo but this is probably coincidence: JK Rowling doesn’t drive a car.

For myself, I think I’m going to just enjoy the fact that a logo that was once carried by a knight mounted on horseback is now on the modern equivalent of a speedy warhorse, thanks to the Milanese origins of Alfa Romeo – and I’ll also enjoy the fantasy tale about the dragon-slayer. I’ll also enjoy getting behind the wheel of an Alfa when I get the chance.

Tracks To Follow: Ripsaw.

In a car based culture it’s understandable to overlook that there are other ways of motorvating yourself around. No, we’re not talking boats or bikes or hovercraft. They’ve been done.What we’re talking about is a tracked vehicle. You know, like tank tracks. American based company Howe and Howe Tech has the answer. Enter, stage left, the Ripsaw.
The easiest way to view this in your head is like this: think of a tank, take away the body and turret, replace it with something vaguely resembling a car body and that, in essence, is the Ripsaw. The vehicle is available in four specification levels and be warned, if you ask for the EV2 or EV3 (EV stands for Extreme Vehicles, by the way) it will take the firm around the six month mark to build. There’s the EV2, and now the EV3 in three levels, being the F1, F2, and F4. Simply put, they’re built to carry one, two, or four people.Price? Upwards of a half million US dollars.

But what do you get for your hard earned? Well, you can go for a powerplant that’s either petrol or diesel, and choose a power range that can go to 1000hp or 1500hp depending on an oiler or gasoline engine. You’ll get sixteen inches of suspension travel and air suspension for the cabin. There’s a choice of one or two 32 gallon fuel tanks in the F1, with 85 gallons in the heavier F4, which provide a range of up to 250 miles.Originally designed to be a small and fast attack vehicle, the Ripsaw was quickly (pun only slightly intended) recognised as being a worthwhile base upon which to build a luxury oriented vehicle. And by using both in-house supplied and readily available commercial truck parts, repairs and spares are easily performed and obtainable.Built with military grade tracks, going off-road is as easily done as thinking about it. With a low centre of gravity and that torque, angles of fifty five degrees are achievable, as long as you have a strong stomach.

Should your bank manager be agreeable, here’s some video of what the Ripsaw can do: Ripsaw on The Grand Tour
Official Ripsaw Footage

The vehicle also featured in the Fast and Furious 8 film.

The Story Of Diesel

It’s something we hear about our think about just about every day, whether we drive a diesel-powered vehicle or a petrol-powered one.  There you are, pulling up at the local bowser and you have to stop and do a quick check to make sure that you get the right one, diesel rather than petrol or vice versa.  You probably don’t stop to think about the word diesel much or the history behind it.

Most of us think that diesel engines are called diesel engines because they run on diesel. After all, a petrol engine runs on petrol (which, for you word boffins out there, is short for petroleum, which is derived from the Latin petra oleum, translated “rock oil”).  However, this isn’t the case.  We call the fuel diesel because it was what went in a diesel engine, i.e. the sort of internal combustion engine invented by Herr Rudolf Diesel back in 1893.  If you want to be picky, what we use is “diesel fuel” which we put into a diesel.

The story of the diesel engine starts back in the days of steam.  Steam power, though a major breakthrough that transformed the world and took us into the era of machines rather than relying on muscle power, was pretty inefficient.  You needed a lot of solid fuel to burn and you needed water that could be boiled to produce the steam, and you needed to build up a good head of steam to get the pressure needed to drive the locomotives, paddle steamers and machines.  Steam was really inefficient – up to 90% of the potential energy was wasted – and it was pretty bulky (think about steam trains, which need a caboose or a built-in tender to carry the fuel and water).  The hunt was on for something that could provide the same type of oomph and grunt but with less waste (and possibly less space).

In the 1890s, a young engineer named Rudolf Diesel came into the scene and started work on developing a more efficient engine. One of his earlier experiments involving a machine that used ammonia vapour caused a major explosion that nearly killed him and put him in hospital for several months. Nevertheless, in spite of the risks, Diesel carried on, and began investigating how best to use the Carnot Cycle. His interest was also sparked by the development of the internal combustion engine and the use of petroleum by fellow-German Karl Benz.

The Carnot Cycle is based on the First and Second Laws of Thermodynamics, which more or less state that heat is work and work is heat, and that heat won’t pass of its own accord from a cold object to a hotter object. This video gives a very catchy explanation of these laws:

The Carnot Cycle is a theoretical concept that involves heat energy coming from a furnace in one chamber to the working chamber, where the heat turns into work because heat causes gases and liquids to expand (it also causes solids to expand but not so dramatically). The remaining heat energy is soaked up by a cooling chamber.  The principle is also used in refrigerators to get the cooling effect.

Diesel’s engine was based on the work of a few other inventors before him, as is the case with a lot of handy inventions.  Diesel’s engine was the one that became most widespread and proved most popular, which is why we aren’t putting Niepce, Brayton, Stuart or Barton in our cars and trucks.  In fact, we came very close to putting Stuart in our engines, as Herbert Ackroyd Stuart patented a compression ignition engine using similar principles a couple of years before Rudolph Diesel did.

The general principle of a Diesel engine is that it uses compressed hot air (air gets hotter when it’s compressed, which is why a bicycle pump feels hot when you’ve been using it for a while) to get the fuel in the internal combustion engine going.  This is in contrast to a petrol engine (which we really ought to call an Otto engine, as it operates on the Otto Cycle rather than the Diesel Cycle), which used sparks of electricity to get the fuel and air mix going. Petrol engines compress the air-fuel mix a little bit – down to about 10% of its original size, but a diesel engine, the air is compressed a lot more tightly. More details of how it works would probably be better described in a post of its own, so we’ll save the complicated explanation for later.

Diesel fuel doesn’t need to be as refined as what goes into petrol engines, which is what makes diesel engines a bit more efficient than their equivalents that run on more refined petrol (makes you wonder why “petrolheads” are considered to be coarse and crude).  The fuel is more energy-dense and it burns more completely – and it needs less lubrication, which means less friction, which is also more efficient.

Herr Diesel’s original idea was to have his engine run on something that wasn’t this fancy petroleum stuff, which was mostly used medicinally to treat headlice at that stage.  The first prototype used petrol as we know it.  Later models used the cheap fraction that now bears his name.  Even later refinements ran on vegetable oil, with the grand idea that people could grow a source of fuel rather than mine or drill for it.  One of the great mysteries of the story of diesel is why they switched to fossil fuels when the peanut oil that Diesel raved about worked so well.  Now we’re all excited about biofuels and especially biodiesel once again…  Was there some conspiracy at work?

However, how diesel engines came to run on fossil fuels rather than plant oil is not the only mystery about Rudolf Diesel.  His death was also unexpected and mysterious.  In late 1913, this German inventor was on his way by ship to the UK for a conference.  One night, he headed off to his cabin and asked the stewards to wake him early in the morning.  However, he vanished during the night, leaving his coat neatly folded beneath a railing.  Ten days later, his body, recognisable only from the items in his pockets, was pulled from the sea.

How his body came to be found floating in the English Channel is a mystery.  Perhaps the problems with his eyesight left over from his accident with the ammonia vapour explosion and a rough sea led to an accident. Perhaps he committed suicide, as a lot of the fortune his invention had earned him had gone into shares that devalued.  Or perhaps foul play was at work. After all, in 1913, tensions were building between Diesel’s native Germany and the UK, where Diesel had planned to meet with engineers and designers for the Royal Navy.  This was the era of the Anglo-German Naval Race, where the German and British navies were in an all-out arms race to get control of the economically important North Sea.  When Diesel was making his ill-fated crossing, the Germans had the use of the more efficient diesel technology but the British had the formidable Dreadnought class of steam-powered battleships.  The arms race was officially over, as Germany had agreed to tone things down in order to placate the British – who had alliances with the two other political powers that were at loggerheads with Germany.  It’s perfectly possible that in spite of this and because of the political tension of the time, the idea of the firepower of the Dreadnought combined with the efficiency of the diesel engine was just too much for Kaiser Bill’s government…

2017 Was A Car-razy Year For Sales In Australia

Car sales people in Australia should have cause to sit back and enjoy a cold one after VFACTS said that 1,189,116 vehicles were sold in 2017. That includes record numbers for Japanese niche filler, and a brand that really should be considered mainstream, Subaru. Korea should also celebrate as Kia saw record numbers as well.

But there’s also signs of a continuing trend that’ll have some smiling and others pensive, as 2017 marks the first year that SUVs outsold the traditional passenger car. Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) Chief Executive Tony Weber said: “2017 marks the first full year in which the sales of Sports Utility Vehicles (SUVs) have outstripped those of passenger cars. Australians bought 465,646 SUVs during 2017 for a 39.2 per cent share of the total market, compared with 450,012 passenger cars with a 37.8 per cent share. The shift in industry dynamic we observed last year has now become entrenched in our market. It is a growth pattern that we expect will continue.”

Even light commercial vehicles saw an increase; 2017 has that category with a market share of 19.9% in 2017, up from 18.8% in 2016.

The Toyota brand will be celebrating as both brand and a Toyota badged vehicle took the number one sales position. Toyota had a 18.2% market share and the HiLux was the winner for both 2017 and in December, selling 3949 units, just ahead of Holden‘s Astra at 3533.
Mazda, Hyundai, Holden, and Mitsubishi rounded out the top five, with Kia cracking the 50,000 mark for the first time ever and seeing 54,737 cars roll out from the showroom for ninth. Subaru claimed tenth, also with a plus 50K figure at 52,511.Ford, Volkswagen, and Nissan filled the remaining places with Ford’s Ranger at 3458 just pipping Holden’s revamped Colorado on 3222. It should be noted that the Colorado had an increase of 165.6% for December 2017 over the same period the year before. On 2807 for December 2017 was the petite Mazda3, a decrease of 10.6%. It was an upswing for the next highest selling vehicle and the gong goes to Mitsubishi‘s Triton, with 25.6% and 2645 sales.

Toyota’s evergreen Corolla had a backwards step, with a minus figure of 9.8% but still saw 2641 versions find new homes in December. With local manufacturing wrapping up, Holden still managed to see the VF series 2 Commodore into 2229 homes, a slight increase of just 4.6%. A facelift and some sharp pricing for the Mitsubishi ASX, in need of an interior overhaul, take ninth with an increase of 43.4% and 2128 sales. Tenth overall in December was Mazda‘s CX5, just behind the ASX on 2113 and a mild increase of 10.9%

Kia’s Cerato was behind the push to crack the 50K mark.With an increase of just under 43%, at 18,371 sales. Big numbers for Sportage as well, with 13,448 being sold and that’s an increase of 23.1%. The baby Picanto, itself receiving an update, dominated its category with a whopping 46.5% market share, as Carnival also dominated, with virtually half of the People Mover market under $60,000 wearing the Korean badge.December 2017 saw thirty six consecutive months of growth for the Subaru brand. Leading the way was the Forester, rolling into 12,474 new homes in 2017. The Liberty wagon based Outback was a close third, on 11,340, whilst the new for mid 2017 XV had increases of 22.6% for the year and 69.9% for December, with 10,161 and 1069 sales respectively. A slight revamp for the BRZ coupe saw an increase of 137.5% for 786 sales.It was the facelifted Impreza range that snared second place for Subaru sales in 2017, with a massive increase of 151.9% over 2016 sales and 11,903 cars saying goodbye to the showroom. Both Liberty and Outback are due for updates in 2018 and Subaru have also flagged a major revamp for the Forester which will be due in the last quarter of 2018

Auto Industry News – Q4 2017

We review some of the major news events in the automotive industry from the fourth quarter of 2017.

 

Sales and Manufacturing

The war of words in the autonomous vehicle sector began to heat up, with General Motors singling out Tesla. A director for the long established auto manufacturer suggested that Tesla’s claim it has already developed ‘Level Five’ self-driving technology is “full of crap” and “irresponsible”.

Locally, Holden drew the curtains on its local manufacturing operations, with doors closing at the Elizabeth plant in South Australia.

Drive announced their ‘Car of the Year’ for 2017, with the Hyundai i30 SR taking out the top spot.

 

Safety and Environment

As the Takata airbag saga continues to drag on, and with a recall in effect following a local death, industry stakeholders have raised the possibility of cancelling vehicle registrations of motorists who have ignored recall notices. The ACCC will provide the Federal Government with a recommendation, although the consumer watchdog is still engaging with manufacturers to work on the issue.

Elsewhere, counterfeit oil filters have been discovered by Toyota and Hyundai after months of investigating. The incident continues a persistent and worrying trend, as unscrupulous rackets take advantage of independent workshops and motorists.

In Europe, the EU has sought to tackle emissions, unveiling proposals which would cut the 95g/km fleet average in 2021, to 66g/km by 2030. At the same time, governments in Holland and France (Paris) are looking at different measures to ban petrol and diesel sales by 2030 and 2040 respectively.

 

Technology

The NRMA and Electric Vehicle Council have been calling on the government to push the adoption of electric vehicles. Together, the bodies have prepared an action plan, highlighting the fact there are currently no incentives on electric vehicles.

Uniform standards for EV charging are also in focus within Australia, which could pave the way for a national approach. The measures have been proposed by the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries.

At a global level, Toyota has wider plans to transform its vehicle lineup to an all-electric offering by 2025. The company will partner with Mazda and Denso to work on structural technology for electric cars. The move comes as competing auto makers in China receive the hurry up from their government to boost EV production in 2019 – and as China also plans to invest heavily into autonomous driving infrastructure.

While several companies shift away from diesel engines, Mazda reaffirmed its support for the fuel technology despite governments around the world setting plans to phase out diesel powered vehicles.

Looking at the issue of emerging fuels, and Toyota is tipped to release a hydrogen fuel cell car in Australia during 2019. The news comes as tech developments leave the door open to the possibility that hydrogen powered vehicles may one day source energy from the sea.

In separate news, Mercedes has been testing autonomous tech within Australia between Sydney and Melbourne. Overseas, and the UK is aiming to have driverless cars on the road by 2021.

 

Legal and Regulatory Issues

The Australian National Transport Commission opened a can of worms, suggesting occupants of fully autonomous vehicles shouldn’t be subject to existing alcohol and drug laws. Any mooted amendments would require a change in current legislation to account for the arrival of self-driving cars within 2 years.

Following the Takata airbag saga referenced earlier, Toyota and Lexus have been nominated in a local class action among other potential defendants alleging the companies breached their consumer law obligations.

The ACCC’s final report into the new car industry has called for better protection of buyers, nominating multiple reforms and taking aim at dealers.

Finally, legislative changes led by the government include a suite of draft amendments which would see an impact on ‘grey’ and low volume import cars.

Safety and Propaganda.

The NSW government’s road safety office has saved a squidzillion on PR spin doctors over the last decade as they continue to repeat the same mind dangerous mantra of “slow down, speed kills” and have added “distractions aren’t the problem”.
Not once though has any statistical analysis shown anything more than 43% of crashes being related to excess velocity for the conditions.  According to the NSW Centre for Road Safety it was 40% in 2017. Let’s face it folks, that’s really what speeding is. Too many roads and areas are limited to what really should be a higher velocity over distance. But of course it’s due to a spurt of fatal crashes in a the space of a week or so late in 2017 that drives (no pun intended) the monotonous drone from the pollies and certain police PR people.Let’s go simple for a moment: speed doesn’t kill. If it was the underlying reason then deaths on Australian roads would be in the thousands per day. Here’s what killed people: Crash causes NSW 2017 What’s disturbingly noticeable is how high a proportion of fatalities were country roads based and on a non-straight road, followed by head on impacts.
What does kill are drivers that Simply Don’t Care. They don’t care if they pull out in front of you. They don’t care if they stop in a merging lane. They don’t care if they’re on a motorbike and will travel at twenty below a posted limit whilst shaking their head at the driver behind them. They don’t care about amber and red lights. They don’t care about having headlights on when they should. They don’t care about indicators. They don’t care about you, themselves, and they certainly don’t care about road rules. The link above shows that speed may be factor but it’s nowhere near as big as the real reason: bad driving.

Don’t laugh at this seemingly innocuous statement. You’ll hear of “cars losing control” and unless the car is fully autonomous and has a does of the HAL 9000s, it’s utterly wrong. Any decent driver training organisation will tell you, without smiling, that it’s the failure of the organic component of a car that causes crashes. Not accident. Crashes.
This is why people die on the roads. It’s stuff-all to do with excess velocity. It’s got plenty to do with attitude. It’s got plenty to do with the tunnel visioned focus of governments and road bodies that are in it to promote ONLY their way of doing things.
Speed doesn’t kill. Government refusal to see past speeding and refusal to acknowledge they’re wrong and people that don’t care kill.

What’s needed is a complete and utter wholesale change to how the government sees road safety. A massive rethink is needed, and, as hard as it may appear to see, a reversal of the “speed kills” policy. Back to basics. Check the standards of driver educators. Educate and inform people that the basics that are being overlooked are why higher levels of driving standards that should be followed. Mandatory driver training sessions with properly accredited groups should be paired with a minimum of ten hours.

Driving a car at any speed isn’t hard. Driving appropriately isn’t hard either. But speed doesn’t kill. Bad drivers do.