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Holden On To The Memory.

February 17, 2020. It’s the day after a very successful fund raising concert for Australia’s beleaguered fire fighting services. The country is on a high. Midday and the high is replaced by a collective sense of disbelief. It’s the day that many prophesied yet even more hoped would never come.

The name, Holden, would be consigned to the bin of history.

There will be many discussions as the reason why the once near invincible powerhouse that was “Australia’s own”, the company immortalised in a jingle along with “football, meat pies, kangaroos”, finally met its end at the hands of parent company General Motors. In simple terms, there will never be just one reason, there will be many.

If Holden’s last manager, Kristian Aquilina, to be is to believed, the company didn’t go down without some sort of a fight. “In this investment cycle, we developed an ambitious investment – an investment proposal to turn around our current performance and to see Holden flourish in this market, not just survive,” Aquilina stated.

“And over a number of months, GM undertook an exhaustive analysis of that plan together with our parent company we chased down every conceivable option, every strategy, every plan… We looked under every rock.

“We have had multiple rounds of discussions and have tried to find a way to defy gravity but the hard truth was there was just no way to come up with a plan that would support a competitive, and growing and flourishing Holden – and also provide a sufficient return to our investors.” he said. GM’s International Operations vice president Julian Blissett wasn’t willing to detail the costs involved, instead settling on a package to move the remaining Holden stock and close dealerships. The estimated cost is somewhere around $1.1 billion.

The closure also, sadly, includes the fabled Lang Lang proving grounds in the western part of Victoria. It’s rumoured that transport magnate Lindsay Fox has expressed interest in investing in the site. The anger that so many are feeling is inclusive of the statement by Holden after the closure of local building that Lang Lang and its importance would stay in place.

GM has also flagged the closure of its Thailand based manufacturing facility. However, a saviour for that plant in the form of Great Wall Motors may save the plant and its employees. Should this go ahead it places Great Wall into the same manufacturing heartbeat as brands such as Toyota, Isuzu, Mitsubishi, and others.Holden’s own history has places where its innovation could, could have gone further. The homegrown 5.0L, the famous 308, was being worked on for an overhead camshaft design. This “mule” engine kept the standard centre of block cam, meaning it was a three cam engine, unique at the time. Concept cars such as ECOmmodore, the W427, the Crewman and its HSV sibling, the Avalanche, were all possibilities for ongoing. Our friends at Bauer Media go further, with this list of concepts.

Holden has committed to the next ten years for customer support, a statement that some, cynically, will equate to Holden’s advertising of “We’re here to stay”, when clearly they aren’t.

It’s a day, and a decision, that for many will remain as a stain on the once thriving heart of Australian automotive manufacturing.

VFACTS Releases January 2020 Sales Figures.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) has today released the new vehicle sales figures for the month of January 2020. This has been done for the first time with an updated reporting system.

Total new vehicle sales were 71,731, a decrease of 10,263 sales compared to 2019. Of that number, passenger vehicles numbered 20,494, whilst SUVs made up 35,393, and LCV (Light Commercial Vehicles) 14,035. Passenger cars were down by 7,556 sales, and SUVs down by just 547 for the same time last year. LCVs saw a drop of 1,774. In percentage terms these equate to drops of 26.9%, 1.5%, 11.2%, and and overall drop of 12.5% for January.

The FCAI chief executive, Tony Weber, said: “Given the broad range of environmental, financial, international and political issues facing Australia during January, it is no surprise to see the new vehicle market has reported a conservative start to the year.”

Japanese giant, Toyota, topped the ladder with 14,809 sales, making Toyota have a 20.6% share of the market. Mazda slid into second with 6,695 for a 9.3% share. Hyundai was nipping at the heels of Mazda with 5,443 and 7.6%. Mitsubishi made 4th with 5,108 sales or 7.1% whilst Kia snared 5th with 4,705 sales and 6.6%.

Toyota’s Hilux, with 2,968 sales, took out the number 1 sales position. Ford’s Ranger claimed 2nd with 2,624 sales. Toyota also grabbed 3rd thanks to the Corolla, with 2,370 sales. The RAV4 from the same maker was 4th with 2,290 sale, followed by the Mitsubishi Triton with 2,075 sales.

Mr Weber said of the updated VFACTS reporting system: “VFACTS is the most accurate source of data for the automotive industry. The updated VFACTS system is working well and automotive brands have welcomed its release. The benefits of the new system include improved data accuracy and more timely reporting lines.

It’s Time for more Transparency with Vehicle Reliability Data

Local car manufacturers have long been reluctant to release information about vehicle reliability, just as they were with repair data until recent developments prompted a change. While said changes are a promising sign for motorists, it’s about time something was done when it comes to vehicle reliability data. The current standards and practices just aren’t good enough. Your new vehicle is likely to be the second largest individual purchase you’ll make in your lifetime. No one wants to end up with a ‘lemon’, so it follows that manufacturers should be more open when it comes to publishing information about vehicle reliability. That is, if they genuinely value their customers loyalty.

Source: Confused.com

What’s happening right now?

From an owner’s perspective, having full and complete information is invaluable when engaging in a decision making process. It’snecessary in order to filter out options that do not align with our needs. This is something that has been recognised abroad. From the US to the UK and other parts of Europe and Asia, industry surveys with motorists surrounding vehicle reliability are common practice and the results are published for all to see.

In turn, this ensures manufacturers not only receive feedback but are compelled to embrace it – to act upon it and improve their vehicles. Tesla, one of the industry’s most-recent entrants to the motoring space, has been one of the most prominent stakeholders in accepting feedback and it goes some way to explain why their growth has been off the charts as it becomes the most-expensive, publicly-listed car brand in the world.  The company is one of the first to admit they have had several notable problems with their ‘high end’ vehicles, however, their approach is all about finding the right solution(s) to improve motorists’ driving experiences.

In Australia, only half the feedback cycle is being undertaken. Motorists are often surveyed for their thoughts on vehicle reliability, but the results are rarely if ever made public. In fact, it’s hard to know in what way this information is being used given its guarded nature. That being said, it’s widely accepted that mechanical issues have improved some way in recent years – even if we are seeing an abundance of recalls that never seem to stop – but it has generally been the car companies with global reach, under pressure from research in other territories, that ongst the frontrunners in terms of reliability.

Source: Rac.com

What’s the other side of the equation?

If there is one thing to recognise in defence of manufacturers, the human mechanics of operating a vehicle cannot always be recorded. That is, whether a driver has adequately maintained their vehicle, followed through with appropriate servicing, and ultimately how they drive their car. Now you’re probably saying these things shouldn’t matter. And they shouldn’t. But for the purpose of a direct comparison between cars and manufacturers, it’s hard to compare the likes of a HSV driven by a P-plater, with a Toyota Camry driven by a retiree.

The other element to consider is that reliability data is only one piece of the puzzle. The type of failure, as well as the cost of repairs, should also be considered. One might expect that ‘luxury’ vehicles encounter fewer reliability issues, however, if each time this vehicle requires repairs that cost three times that of a ‘regular’ sedan, what are the results really demonstrating? Furthermore, with the majority of problems these days encompassing technology problems, can these issues be compared on the same scale as that of vehicles with mechanical problems?

Nonetheless, these points shouldn’t really take away from the point that we need further disclosure around vehicle reliability. The introduction of ‘lemon laws’ in recent time is certainly beneficial, but that’s a reactive response when buyers deserve more up-front information and certainty. In fact, manufacturers owe it to motorists, particularly if they are in search of brand loyalty and a vision to improve future cars.

Sales Down, Safety Up, Toll Up.

Australians are renowned for being up there in regards to take-up of technology. We expect our cars to come with the latest and greatest when it comes to audio, comfort, and importantly, safety. Items like airbags are commonplace, with even the driver’s workspace seeing more and more of a “kneebag”. Traction control has been in our cars for what feels like forever as has ABS, or anti-lock braking system. Nowadays we see letters such as RCTA, or BSW/BSA as part of a standard safety package, and more and more common is variations on AEB. By the way, that’s Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Blind Spot Warning/Alert, and Autonomous Emergency Braking.

Regardless of all of these and with new car sales (with better safety equipment) consistently exceeding a million in recent years, the Australian road toll increased in 2019. 1182 people lost their lives in 2019, 47 up on the previous year. NSW saw 352, just six more than 2018 and in spite of the extra “safety” measures taken by a government desperately seeking “Towards Zero”. Given the focus on people dying from holding a mobile phone or speeding, and with over 100,000 people pinged in a six month mobile phone camera trial, and a potential removal of signage for mobile and fixed speed cameras, “Towards Zero” has more to do with the few idiots that commit such atrocities or think tailgating is a great game than the numbers reflect.

By the way, the mobile phone trial amnesty has finished and people caught will now get a fine of $344 and a more realistic but still potentially misguided five demerit points. This is in spite of statistics finding mobile phone distractions in crashes accounting for under one percent of causes.

 

Victoria, in spite of the razor thin tolerances their speed cameras have, went from 213 to 263 in 2019. In context, as of June 2019 Victoria had a population of 6,594,804. South and Western Australia had increases, with S.A. 6 and W.A. 33 to record 113 and 164 respectively. In opposition to that, Queensland, the N.T., Tasmania and the A.C.T. went backwards in their tolls. Queensland dropped by 28 to 217, with just 35 in “the Territory”, whilst the island state had 32. The capital territory? Just 6.

Car sales in 2019 were at the lowest since 2011 but still cracked the million mark. VFACTS said 1,062,867 new vehicles were sold in 2019. Bear in mind that the safety factors in cars is increasing, yet the human element, ignorance and stupidity, cannot be dialled out.

In stark contrast to the road toll is the sharp increase in hospitalisations. Victorian hospitalisations from a result of traffic crashes have risen 38 percent between 2013 and 2019. In the same period the road toll fell 12.3 percent. Australia’s federal Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Cities and Regional Development, says that over the last ten years the toll has fallen whilst road injuries have increased. 2016’s rate of hospitalised injuries per 100,000 people was 35 times the fatality rate. Traffic crashes are the second highest cause of hospitalisations in Australia, accounting for 12 percent, behind falls (41 percent). The 38,945 hospitalisations across the country in 2016 represent a nominal increase of 3.6 percent each year since 2015.

8636 hospitalisations occurred as a result of traffic incidents in 2018, compared to 213 fatalities. Six years before the numbers were 6252 and 243. Nationally in 2018 two thirds of fatalities were in regional areas, with two thirds of hospitalisations coming from urban crashes. The reasons for the disparity are unclear, however it could be postulated that as cars become safer and people feel that their driving standards, or lack of them, will be mitigated by the vehicle safety packages, more trust, as such in items such as AEB and airbags as driving standards lower will see more crashes resulting in people being sent to hospital.

Drug and Alcohol Detectors Could be in All Future New Cars

With the government already doing its best to regulate many parts of our lives, they may be just about to extend that one step further via drug and alcohol detectors in all future new cars.

Hot on the heels of speed limiters, which look set to become a standard item in the not too distant future, government officials are taking a liking to the guidelines set out by the United Nations for compulsory safety devices that should feature in all new cars.

Local interest comes as the European Union looks set to implement these guidelines as early as 2022. That’s right, in just a couple of years, drug and alcohol detectors may well become standard in every new car across Europe.

With the technology still under development, there is no ‘sure’ indication at this stage. However, with Australia often seen following in the footsteps of the international community for road safety practices, the odds are certainly pointing to a similar roll-out in Australia sooner or later.

 

Is there a societal dilemma?

Many motorists are likely to be shocked by the potential measure, with such requirements sure to draw the ire of those who value their driving flexibility and independence, without the state being required to intervene and tell them otherwise.

Sure, the intentions behind this sort of technology are positive. After all, as much as a quarter of all deaths on the road involve motorists under the influence of alcohol. No one is doubting the tragic circumstances that entail a vast proportion of road trauma connected to one form of illicit substance or another.

However, what is likely to be a point of consternation is the fact that law-abiding citizens will need to have the government effectively police them when they are already in control of their own actions.

 

 

How would the technology work?

Picturing the scene, by now you’re probably imagining some sort of breathalyser device that you would need to engage with every time you step into the car, right? Fortunately, the technology under development is expected to be far more sophisticated and ‘seamless’ than that.

It would rely on sensors affixed to the inside of the driver’s side door and on the steering wheel. These sensors, which would be configured to focus solely on the driver, would use infrared light to detect whether any ethanol or carbon dioxide is being picked up in the air from your breath.

But while this is the end goal, in the meantime, no one can say with any certainty that the government won’t instead opt for more ‘established’ technology in the form of those interlock systems, or sensor pads that assess the presence of illicit substances via ‘touch’.

But at the end of the day, with various pieces of technology under trial locally right now, it is looking less likely to be a case of if something will be done, and rather a case of when will the government intervene in our lives once again?

 

What Important Equipment Should I Keep in my Car?

Summer can be a prolific time for maintenance related breakdowns, what with the extreme temperatures around the country. Although we pray we’ll never find ourselves in a situation where we require roadside assistance, it’s wise to make sure that you are prepared for anything that could go wrong. Today we’ll cover some of the most important equipment you should keep in your car.

 

Dash cam: An increasingly common sight in vehicles across the board, dash cams are an invaluable item to record events on the road. In the event you find yourself in an accident, dash cam footage will prove crucial evidence as part of your insurance claim.

GPS: Although many cars these days will feature a built-in GPS, if yours doesn’t, then it is wise to invest in a standalone one to make your life a whole lot easier

First aid kit: Keep an up-to-date first aid kit in your car at all times. That might not be enough, however, as it also pays to be trained in administering first aid

Fire extinguisher: If you encounter a fire, even though your first actions should be to call emergency services, you may also want to have a fire extinguisher at hand as a precaution

Safety triangle: If you break down, safety triangles should be set up behind your vehicle to serve as a caution to other motorists, which also goes some way towards protecting yourself as well

Tyre kit: Flat tyres and punctures can be a major frustration, however, this is actually an easy job to tackle yourself. All you need is a spare tyre, and a tyre kit, which includes a car jack, wheel brace, tyre sealant and inflation pump.

Charging cables: Given everyone now depends on their mobile phone, you will want to ensure that you have charging cables at hand so that you don’t find your battery suddenly run flat

Spare tools: It is beneficial to have a basic took kit at hand, as well as water and coolant, spare petrol tank and pump, duct tape, jumper cables and more

Comfort items: Some of the most useful items you should keep are actually comfort items, including a blanket, umbrella, raincoat, sunglasses and the like. These are not only useful from one day to another, but in the event of a breakdown.

The Commodore To Be No More.

December 10th, 2019, will be the day that Australia was told of the passing of an icon. This is the complete PR release from Holden.

Holden is today announcing a modified portfolio dedicated exclusively to SUVs and light commercial vehicles.

Holden Interim Chairman and Managing Director, Kristian Aquilina, said the focus of the portfolio was consistent with customer preferences, with the Acadia, Trailblazer, Equinox and Trax rounding out a comprehensive SUV portfolio; and the Colorado tackling rivals in the light commercial vehicle (LCV) segment.

“Holden is taking this decisive action to ensure a sharp focus on the largest and most buoyant market segments. So far this year SUVs and Utes have increased to 76 percent of Holden sales, a trend we only see continuing,” he said.

The company has elected to retire the ZB Commodore and the BK Astra in 2020.

At its peak, the large car segment in Australia accounted for 217,882 sales in 1998. This year it is projected to come in at about 8,700 units.

“The SUV segment is approaching half a million units, and LCVs over 200,000 units. That’s where the action is and that’s where we are going to play,” Mr Aquilina said.

The new Holden boss also paid tribute to the Commodore nameplate and its place in the Australian automotive industry over time.

“The decision to retire the Commodore nameplate has not been taken lightly by those who understand and acknowledge its proud heritage,” he said.

“The large sedan was the cornerstone of Australian and New Zealand roads for decades. But now with more choice than ever before, customers are displaying a strong preference for the high driving position, functionality and versatility of SUVs and Utes.”

Sales and deliveries of Commodore and Astra will continue through 2020, albeit with diminishing model availability as part of an orderly runout.

Existing Commodore and Astra customers can be assured that Holden will continue to back warranty and roadside assistance commitments, with spare parts supply guaranteed well into the future.

In addition, all MY19 ZB Commodores and MY19 BK Astras ordered or delivered from today onwards will be subject to Holden’s market leading seven-year free scheduled servicing offer.

All arrangements for accessing warranty, servicing and spare parts for Holden’s entire model line-up via the Holden’s national dealer network remain the same.

Holden will be launching the MY20 Equinox in the first quarter of 2020 followed by a significant MY21 upgrade to the highly regarded Colorado to launch in Spring. Holden will also lodge production orders to GM’s Bowling Green factory for the highly anticipated mid-engine right-hand-drive Corvette next year.

These sentences have sparked furious debate between supporters and detractors, with one common theme being “why didn’t they call the Commodore something else” after local manufacturing ceased in 2017. Then there are comments about a lack of relevant marketing for the ZB, indifferent dealership service, lack of support for just-out-of-warranty issues, balanced against “it’s not a real Commodore” due to the lack of V8, ute and wagon, and the shift to front wheel drive. Toss in a mix of “football, meat pies, kangaroos, and Holden cars” as Australian made before the inexorable slide to very little of the VF actually being manufactured in Australia, and the anger and frustration levels of people becomes ever more evident.

What will remain is also divisive. The ZB Commodore was a bloody good car. But it was also never given a real chance at survival for a number of reasons. Ignorance and bias are two, and more’s the pity as it’s fair to presume detractors that decried its front wheel drive layout would not have taken the time to test drive it, and find out it actually drove like a Commodore.

Holden Commodore. Born 1978. Died painfully in 2020.

Millennials, It’s Your Fault New Car Sales Are Sliding…Apparently

The sharp drop in new car sales throughout 2019 has had no shortage of publicity, particularly now that 18 consecutive months of declining figures have come through. Over that time we’ve heard from experts as to a variety of factors that have contributed to the rut.

From political uncertainty before this year’s election, to a tightening in lending regulations, a weakening economy led by subdued house prices, the effects of a drought, and believe it or not vehicle shipments contaminated by little bugs! Now you can add another ‘explanation’ to the list because millennials, it’s your fault new car sales are sliding…apparently.

 

The underlying trends

You see, the shifting trends among millennials are pointing to a change in views towards car ownership. Younger Australians are holding onto their first vehicle for a longer period of time, or otherwise putting their driver’s licence on the back burner. There is testimony from some industry insiders to suggest that millennials are less comfortable with the idea of a loan than previous generations given a tendency to spend more to stay up to date with the latest technology or to fuel travel and entertainment aspirations.

The prompts are largely coming about through the influence of technology, including the role it is playing on behavioural patterns. First and foremost, the rise of apps like Uber and Ola have reduced dependency on individual vehicle ownership, instead promoting the benefits of a flexible ride-sharing fleet. Online food and grocery services follow the same notion, where a few simple touches on a mobile phone are enough to avoid making that trip to the supermarket.

At the same time, we’re also seeing far greater levels of urban consolidation take place in our major cities. Given the significant rise in house prices since the end of the GFC, many millennials are forgoing the Australian dream to own a home. An increasingly popular choice of action is to rent in highly desirable locations, which typically translates to inner city living or convenient public transport links nearby – both reducing dependency on vehicle ownership.

Finally, vehicle subscription services and peer-to-peer car sharing are becoming more commonplace in this demographic segment as well. A variety of companies have latched onto this trend, allowing anyone to borrow a car from a friendly stranger in their neighbourhood. Who would have thought it would be possible all those years ago?

 

Is there more to it than meets the eye?

Notwithstanding the trends that are taking place, the conversation has really only started to emerge in recent months. Look a little further back however, and what you realise is that new car sales were coming off an all-time high. Quite frankly, a level that some would argue may well turn out to be a short-term peak, or an otherwise unsustainable level once evidence of a slowing economy emerged. These trends have been occurring for some time now, so should have been observed earlier on sales data.

Furthermore, many of these trends are being attributed to millennials, but they sure as heck aren’t the only ones nurturing such changes. Those who have been brought up through these technological and societal changes become an easy target to point the finger at for ‘leading the way’ so to speak, but if this was really at the heart of the matter, then a range of buying incentives should suffice among other demographics to offset this decline.

But the facts remain, we’re seeing high levels of population growth, the lowest interest rates on record, and vehicle prices as affordable as they’ve ever been before. If those initiatives aren’t getting other buyers into the market, to offset a supposed wane in interest among millennials, where does the fault really lie?

 

Sales Are Down Again For The Aussie Market.

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, or FCAI, has released the June 2019 vehicle sales figures for Australia’s once thriving market. What it reveals is a pointer to the rest of the economy, with sales down overall by 9.6 percent. Compared to the same time in 2018, it’s even more drastic, at 18.5 percent lower for the passenger car segment at 33,864 sales.

June 2019 saw 117,817 sales in total, with SUVs and Light Commercial vehicles down to 53,509 and 26,372 respectively. These two segments saw drops of 4.7 and 7.0 percent each. The market leader in June was Toyota with 21,200 sales, followed by Mazda on 10,806, Hyundai with 10,001, Mitsubishi at 8,891, and Kia with 7,200. However it’s good news for one particular brand, with four entries inside the top ten.

Toyota takes out the top of the ladder, with the HiLux moving 5,396 units, but still down on last year by 6.9%. Ford’s Ranger is position 2 and showed a slight increase of 1.7%, up to 4,871 units. Grid position 3 belongs to Hyundai’s i30 range with 3,340, down by 5.8%. Toyota’s evergreen Corolla went to 3137 unit’s and that’s the third biggest decrease in the top ten at 17.3%. Position five is Mazda’s CX-5, down by 7.2% to 2,911.

Kia’s new Cerato is the big mover, up by 14%, with 2,832 unit finding new homes for position 6. Position 7 was Mitsubishi’s Triton, and compared to June of 2018 it’s down by 31.2% but this is accounted for by the outgoing model being on runout some time ago. The Mazda3 goes into Position 8 with 2,533 units, but that’s down by 23.9% compared to June 2018. Toyota takes out positions 9 and 10 with the RAV4 and Landcruiser, with 2,449 and 2,360. Again, though, they’re down by 9.0 and 707% respectively.

In brand sales Toyota holds top spot ahead of Mazda and Hyundai. Mitsubishi heads Ford for 4th and 5th, whilst Kia, Volkswagen, Nissan, Honda, and Holden fill out the top ten. It’s worth noticing that some of the brands in the top ten overall don’t feature in the top ten vehicle types. Nor do some of the more supposedly popular brands such as Mercedes-Benz or BMW.

The EV From Down Under

We were all very sad when we got the news that those iconic Australian cars – Ford and Holden – were no longer going to be manufactured here and that the factories were closing their doors. However, we can all smile again for the sake of the Australian automotive industry: a new company in Queensland is going to manufacture a car from scratch.  Great!

There’s a slight difference with this newcomer, though. Unlike the gas-guzzling Ford Falcons and Holden Commodores (OK, they were a bit better when driven on the open road but that’s another story altogether), this new company, ACE EV, is turning its eyes to the hot new sector of the automotive industry: electric cars.

Well, to be more specific, it’s going in for electric vans and commercial vehicles as well as cars.  And, to be fair, the factory is going to be using some parts that were manufactured overseas as well as a few made here.  The idea is to keep the costs down.  They’re not out to produce Tesla clones at Tesla prices.  Not that there’s anything wrong with Tesla per se and it’s neat to see electric vehicles that have bust out of the boring, crunchy-granola, wimpy image and become supercool.  However, a brand new Tesla probably costs more than what I paid for my house.  ACE EV, however, wants to make EVs more affordable for the typical tradie or suburban family.

ACE EV stands for “Australian Clean Energy Electric Vehicles”.  Proudly Australian, their logo features a kangaroo on the move.  This year (2019), they are launching three vehicles, targeting tradies as well as your typical urban motorist, although they’re only selling them to companies as fleet vehicles at this stage.  These are the ACE Cargo, the ACE Yewt and the ACE Urban.

ACE Cargo

The Cargo is designed to, um, carry cargo.  It’s a van that’s capable of carrying a payload of 500 kg and has a range of 200 km if it’s not carrying the full load. The Cargo is designed to be suitable for couriers and anybody who has to carry gear or people from one side of town to the other: florists, caterers, cleaners, nurses and the people who carry blood samples from the medical centre to the lab for analysis. Looks-wise, it’s broken out of the square box mould of traditional vans, probably for aerodynamic reasons, and resembles a single-cab ute with a hefty canopy.

Ace Yewt

Which brings us neatly to the Yewt.  The Yewt is what it sounds like (say Yewt out loud if you haven’t got it yet). It’s a flat-deck single-cab ute and as it’s got more or less the same specs as the Cargo regarding load, charge time and acceleration. You’d be forgiven for thinking that t it’s the same thing as the Cargo but with the cover on the cargo area taken off.  It’s something of a cute ute – and the contrasting colour roof is a nice touch.

Last but not least, there’s the Urban, which is no relation to the Mitsubishi with the notoriously weird name (Active Urban Sandal).  This one’s still in the pipeline and they haven’t given us the full specs brochure yet (it’s due for release later this year), but this is a classic four-seater compact three-door hatch that looks a bit like a classic Mini but edgier.

It’s certainly nice to see some new vehicles made in Australia for Australians, especially given that in a recent poll, about half of all Australians in an official survey by the Australia Institute would support a law that all new cars sold after 2025 should be EVs.  However, let’s not rush things too much yet.  For one thing, EVs are only one of the Big Three when it comes sustainable motoring (biofuels and hydrogen are the others).  The other thing is that all energy has to come from somewhere, even electricity, as stated by the First Law of Thermodynamics.  This means that in order to charge your EV, you’re going to have to generate the electricity somehow and get it to the charging points.  Before we go over lock, stock and barrel to EVs, we will need better infrastructure, and I don’t just mean more EV charging points around town and in our homes.  We’ll need some more generators.  Otherwise, it would be like setting up a bowser but having no petrol to put in it.  If everybody were to try charging their EVs at home overnight, there would be a massive drain on the national grid and we’d be getting brownouts and blackouts all over the show –which means that watching TV, catching up on your emails, having a hot shower and cooking dinner would get rather difficult – and you wouldn’t be able to charge your EV either.  Guess where the power companies will have to get the money from in order to build new power plants – that’s right: your power bill.

May I humbly suggest that before you invest in an EV for your commute that you also consider installing a solar panel or three on your home?  Or a wind generator?  Not one of those petrol or diesel-powered generators – swapping an internal combustion engine in your car for one in the back yard isn’t better for the environment now, is it?  Unless you run it on biofuel or hydrogen.