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The European EV Compass

The best of European engineering and technology has always been considered to be some of the finest the world has to offer (particularly German, Swedish and British engineering).  However, with the advancement in microelectronics and electrical know-how that is coming from the Asian parts of the world, there is little time to be had before German, Swedish, Dutch and British (to name a few) technology giants, and automotive and engineering giants, could get swallowed up and placed in the history books.

It might be that to counter the advancement (or even to just keep pace with) of big Chinese, USA, Korean and Japanese automotive, electronics and digital giants, that it’ll likely take a collective pan-European approach in tech-innovation and mobility transformational advancements.  The movement is happening in Europe but is it fast enough?

Rather than each country try and do it alone, a pan-European alliance for the electric mobilization of Europe along with the coordination and alignment of national policies would be far more capable of countering the competition from the USA and China.  Being able to pool assets, funding, supply chain networks, research and development, battery production, electronic charging point networks, power storage technology, recharging technology and Pan Eurpean policy initiatives that promote market entry for electric vehicles (EVs) will go a long way to keep Europe at the forefront of transport design and innovation.

With the spotlight heavily focusing on environmentally-friendly transport, EVs and driverless cars, and their growing numbers filling the roads up in Asia and in Europe, the rest of the world will also need to catch up with the technology, or change to other manufacturing designs instead.  Now and into the future we are seeing how global status, energy and transport are directly linked to each other.  Renewable electricity generation and storage at the national level is an assignment across Europe that is a huge task on any given day, but its roll-out also needs to quicken its pace.  Politics will play an important role for European countries to pull together to use renewable energy, energy networks and EV and Fuel Cell vehicle technologies.

Demanding logistical changes like this also calls for an adoption of a new social perspective on this new way of doing transport, even new way of life, whether that be in purchasing a new energy efficient car or pooling together to get from A to B or using environmentally friendly public transport.  Not everyone can cycle to work!  The automotive landscape in Europe is changing, just as it is globally.  Government policy will play a leading role in moderating and coordinating the transformation of the automotive industry into new ways of doing transport for the people.

At European local government levels, there also requires the push to implement the urban-transport transformation towards emission-free and fossil-fuel-less transport systems.  Urban and development planning needs to promote the electric charging infrastructure, as well as providing big financial benefits and incentives for the public to change from fossil-dependent transport to the use of EVs.  Global carbon emission goals are driving the need to steer away from fossil fuels.

In the future, there would seem to be few chances to succeed as a nation if smaller countries choose to go it alone.  Then again, maybe that’s what Australia, NZ, UK and Japan might do best; they could be attractive in their own right if they did emission-free transport their own unique way, unconnected with the rest of the world’s EV and driverless vehicle systems.

Aussie’s Rosco aiming for 1000 mph

Aussie Invader 5R

It might be a bit hard to call it a conventional car but then it’s not really a conventional car in the sense that the Aussie Invader 5R rocket-car looks more plane/rocket in its appearance.  The Aussie Invader 5R rocket-car boasts an insanely long arrow-shaped design with three wheels, large aerodynamic wind deflectors and an engine with close to 150,000 kW!  Yes, that’s correct; you did read that figure correctly.  To put that in perspective, an Aussie V8 Supercar puts out, on average, around 475 kW of power.  Now, if you’ve ever experienced the wonderful roar of these V8s when they blast by around the circuit, then you can understand the aura of such kW potency.  But this Aussie Invader 5R rocket-car makes as much power as 316 of these Aussie V8 Supercars put together! The Aussie Invader 5R rocket-car is powered by a single bi-propellant rocket reportedly capable of producing upwards of 62,000 lbf of thrust.  That’s over four times more than a Boeing 737 jet!

Founder and designer of the new Aussie Invader 5R rocket-car, Rosco McGlashan, has the world’s fastest land speed record in his sights.  He will reportedly be the pilot of the 16-metre long, nine-tonne steel-framed vehicle.  And the target?  The target top speed of 1609 km/h (1000 mph) would be the fastest of any land-going vehicle, ever. And 1000 mph would see it blitz the current land speed record held by the Noble Thrust SSC on a Nevada salt flat in 1997, which averaged 1223.7 km/h and broke the sound barrier while doing so.

Rosco McGlashan

Rosco McGlashan would like to set the new record next year once all the Covid palaver is over-and-done-with, and it will likely be set somewhere in the Queensland or Western Australian desert.  Rosco is no stranger to setting speed records; he is already the holder of the Australian land speed record, where in 1994 he clocked 802.6 km/h behind the wheel of a jet-powered predecessor to the Aussie Invader 5R out on the dry salt flats of Lake Gairdner, near Adelaide.  He has, after all, built all of his drag racing, exhibition, and land-speed racing vehicles himself over the years in a shed at his home.

Rosco has accurate computer modelling on the Aussie Invader 5R rocket-car, which suggests that the Aussie Invader 5R rocket-car will have enough power and thrust for launching the car from 0-100 km/h in approximately 1.1 seconds.  It should reach its target of 1000 mph in less than 30 seconds.  Slowing the Aussie Invader 5R rocket-car down is no mean feat and will thus will require a full 13 km of flat desert just to stop it.  A multi-stage deployment of high-speed hydraulic air brakes, mid-speed parachutes, and low-speed disc brakes have been designed to activate progressively to safely bring the vehicle to a halt.

Picking an exact location will depend largely on which organization or individual steps up as the primary sponsor for the effort. As will the practical necessity of having 5 km of flat desert for getting up to speed plus another 13 km to stop it.

Aussie Invader 5R

Mazda Adds GT SP To CX-5 And Updates Range

Japanese car maker Mazda has released details of an update to the CX-5. This includes the GT SP model being added in. Vinesh Bhindi, the Managing Director for Mazda Australia, says: “Mazda CX-5 has been our most popular model since 2019, and we are excited to expand the brand’s new SP model line into the CX-5 range with the first-ever GT SP.”

SP is a bespoke add-in for Mazda CX-9 plus can be found in the Mazda6 sedan and wagons. For the CX-5 GT SP, there is piano black side mirror covers and black metallic 19-inch alloy wheels, black interior trim highlights and seats finished in a bespoke black Maztex and Grand Luxe Synthetic Suede upholstery. The seats and trim also feature contrasting red stitching.

Power comes from normally or turboed petrol engines that sip 91RON fuel. Other versions of the CX-5 have diesels, front wheel drive or all wheel drive, plus six speed manuals.

In the CX-5 Maxx, and Maxx Sport front-wheel drive, is a direct-injected 2.0-litre Skyactiv-G petrol engine. This features a high 13.0:1 compression ratio to maximise internal efficiency and generates 115kW at 6,000rpm. Peak torque is 200Nm at 4,000rpm. Combined-cycle fuel economy sits at 6.9L/100km for the six-speed manual Maxx as well as the six-speed automatic Maxx and Maxx Sport. Combined CO2 is 160g/km for the manual and 161g/km for the automatic.

Step up a level to the i-Activ AWD Maxx and Maxx Sport and there is the bigger 2.5-litre Skyactiv-G petrol engine. This is also the standard engine for the Touring, GT, GT SP and Akera model grades. Standard transmission is a six speed auto, with power and torque rated as 140kW at 6,000rpm and 252Nm at 4,000rpm.

The Skyactiv-D is a 2.2L unit and has a pair of turbos. This endows the engine with massive flexibility, with 450Nm of torque on tap at 2,000rpm, and peak power of 140kW. It’s available in Maxx Sport, Touring, GT and Akera models with automatic transmission and all-wheel drive. Economy is rated at 5.7L/100km. Go to the Skyactiv-G 2.5T, which is available on GT and above levels, and it produces 170kW at 5,000rpm and 420Nm available from 2,000rpm. Economy is rated at 8.2L/100km on the combined cycle.

Trim and equipment levels include the brand’s latest 10.25 inch Mazda Connect touchscreen for the Mazda CX-5 GT, GT SP and Akera models. Maxx, Maxx Sport and Touring variants will be fitted with an 8.0 inch touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto standard across the range. The Maxx now has 17 inch alloys, replacing the steel wheels previously fitted.

Safety packages are high with the CX-5’s five star safety rating backed up by Blind Spot Monitoring, Smart City Brake Support [Forward/Reverse] with night time pedestrian detection, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, Land Departure Warning and Lane Keep Assist. Additional safety equipment includes Front LED fog lamps for Maxx Sport and above levels, front parking sensors for Touring and above, an Active Driving Display for Touring and above, plus a 360 degree monitor and adaptive LED headlights for the Akera.

Specifications start with the Maxx with 17-inch alloy wheels and 225/65 tyres, rain sensing wipers, DAB audio and Bluetooth hands-free phone/audio connection. Maxx Sport adds dual-zone climate control, paddle shift gear selection on the auto, satnav, and an auto-dimming rear vision mirror. Touring models offer heated exterior mirrors, front parking sensors, Traffic Sign Recognition, and Active Driving Display. Seating has Black Maztex and Black Grand Luxe Synthetic Suede upholstery.

GT models offer 19-inch alloy wheels with 225/55 tyres, a sunroof, powered tailgate, front seat heating with 2 position memory for the driver and 10 and 6 way power adjustment (driver and passenger), a Bose sound system, and the aforementioned 10.25 inch touchscreen. Bose provides a 10 speaker sound system.

The new GT SP adds in black metallic 19-inch alloy wheels and black exterior mirror caps, with the interior gaining black Maztex and Black Grand Luxe Synthetic Suede seat upholstery with red contrast stitching in the black leather trim. Akera spices up with a 360 degree View Monitor, Brilliant Dark 19 inch alloys, vented front pews, a heated tiller, heating on the rear seats’ outers ection and dark russet Nappa leather. The driver has a 7.0 inch TFT screen, and genuine wood trim adorns the door and dash. Paint colours include Snowflake White Pearl White Mica, Titanium Flash Mica, Eternal Blue Mica, Deep Crystal Blue Mica and Jet Black Mica plus Sonic Silver Metallic at no extra cost.

Premium metallic paints are available at $495 (MRLP) and include Machine Grey Metallic, Polymetal Grey Metallic and Soul Red Metallic. Pricing starts at $31,190 plus ORC for the Maxx Petrol Manual FWD, $33,190 plus ORC for the auto FWD whilst the AWD sees $36,190 plus ORC. Maxx Sport FWD with auto and petrol is $36,490 plus ORC and the AWD is $39,490. Diesel AWD Maxx Sport starts from $42,490 plus ORC.

Touring Petrol Auto AWD is $41,280 plus ORC, Touring Diesel Auto AWD is $44,280 plus ORC. GT Petrol Auto AWD starts from $46,990 plus ORC, petrol turbo from $46,490 plus ORC, with the diesel from $49,990 plus ORC. GT SP Petrol auto AWD from $47,490 plus OC, with the turbo version from $49,990 plus ORC. The Akera Petrol Auto AWD starts from $49,380 plus ORC, Akera Petrol Turbo Auto AWD from
$51,880 plus ORC, and Akera Diesel Auto AWD from $52,380 plus ORC.

Japanese New Model Onslaught: Mitsubishi, Nissan, Honda.

The third week of February 2021 has been a busy week for the three major Japanese car makers. Mitsubishi has unveiled the new Outlander, Honda their new HR-V, and Nissan’s shown their updated Qashqai.

Outlander.
There’s a substantially redesigned machine ready to roll out from Mitsubishi, with the Outlander gaining a more distinctive “Dynamic Shield” grille, relocated headlights, and a redesigned rear window line. There’s a new base platform, and Mitsubishi have bolted in a new 2.5L petrol engine.

The front sees the headlights lowered to the mid-section of the bumper, not unlike the designs from Hyundai in the Santa Fe. This has the leading edges of the fenders draw a visual line to the combined LED driving lights and indicators. Relocating the main lights fills out a bluffer looking front bar, and Mitsubishi says it will also aid light distribution. This also has the now familiar chromed strip that Mitsubishi employs on its SUVs brought around further to the bottom of the relocated lights.

The tailgate has a recessed panel look, said to evoke the section on the ‘gate where the now cancelled Pajero had its iconic spare wheel cover. This sits between redesigned taillights, slimmer in form, and part of a squarer look to the section, with the D-pillar a solid triangular shape.

Inside and there is a familiar yet new look to the cabin. The ambience is of a higher level than before, with the top models of a luxury orientation not seen before in Outlander. On upper models the driver has a 12.3 inch digital display, lower versions a still good-sized 7.0 inch digital screen. The main centre screen, says Mitsubishi, will be a 9.0 size depending on trim levels. Bose supply the sounds with a dual subwoofer, ten speaker, system.

Smartphones are catered for with USB-C and USB-A charge ports and a wireless pad. Passenger comfort is backed up via a seating arrangement that allows for a three row, seven seater, configuration, including a centre row that can be a two seater to allow items such as skis to be placed down the middle. Safety goes up too, with a total of 11 airbags, including a front center airbag for the driver’s seat and side airbags for the second-row seats.

Sales start in April for the North American market, with Australia due probably late in Q3.

Qashqai.
Although retaining the sharp edges in the nose of the current model, the 2021 Qashqai sees Nissan’s new design language front and centre. Distinctive U-shaped structures dominate the look, with LED lights and driving lights joining together. There is also an enlarged Nissan V-Motion grille, finished in chrome with a secondary pinstripe of satin chrome.The upper edge of the headlights commences a line that runs through to the rear, with a slope from the roof that echoes that on the Juke.

There is a restyled bumper and a look that sees the Qashqai join others by having a strong long at the lower extremities, providing a place for the aero to do its work with a vent through to the front wheel well. The doors have their own crease now, which will bring a sense of strength to the Qashqai in profile.

Physical changes see the wheelbase up by 20mm, with length up by 35mm and height by 25mm. Width has grown by 32mm which will translate to an increase in shoulder room. 20 inch wheels will also be offered. It will be available in both 2WD and AWD configurations.

Technology changes see a higher resolution 9.0 inch NissanConnect screen complete with Android and Apple smartapp compatibility plus wireless Apple CarPlay fitted. The diver’s info is a 12.3 inch screen, and Nissan have put a tactile switch into a steering wheel spoke in order to provide easy access. There is a 10.8 inch HUD fitted as well.

All-new Nissan Qashqai

Cargo space increases by 50L thanks to a redesigned rear suspension allowing a lowering of the cargo floor by 20mm. There’s been invisible yet crucial changes to the door mechanisms too, with entry and exit of the Qashqai now easier.

Perhaps the biggest news is the addition of the 1.3L DiG-T hybrid engine package. It’ll be offered in overseas markets (and as yet unconfirmed for Australia) in two power output levels. The 1.3-petrol motor will be offered with 138hp and 156hp driving either a 6-speed manual transmission, or new Xtronic gearbox for the higher output engine only. Max engine power arrives at 5500rpm, with maximum available torque of 270Nm at a convenient 1750rpm on 156hp Xtronic and high power MT variants.

ETA for Australia is yet to be announced.

All-new Nissan Qashqai

HR-V.
To be on sale in Europe in late 2021, the HR-V has been given a makeover that, dare we say it, makes it look mainstream. It joins the Qashqai in offering a hybrid drive for the first time, however specifics on that have not yet been released, nor have many other details on the car itself. The styling does perhaps point to a new direction for the venerable Japanese company.

From the rear the HR-V also aims for the new slimline design, and here there is a join line too, much like the Kias Carnival and Stinger. From the front it could, almost, be described as bland compared to the current model, and evokes hints of the Mazda SUVs with the numerous horizontals in the grille. It certainly looks much more restrained than the others in comparison.

In profile, the rear windowline is steeply raked, with the rear overhang tapering forward to a point where it appears the hingeline sits almost directly above the rear axle and this too evokes another design standard, this time from the smaller Lexus SUV range. Honda says the styling is: a distinctive SUV presence in a compact coupe-inspired design.

Interior design is stripped back, minimalist, in look. Soft touch plastics and up to date cloths raised the level closer to a premium SUV feel, along with a feeling of airiness and space is elevated by a new air diffusion system that creates a curtain of fresh air beside and above passengers, flowing from unique L-shaped vents positioned in the top corners of the dashboard.

An Australian sale date also hasn’t been released.

2021 Kia Stonic GT-Line: Car Review.

When Toyota launched the RAV4 its a fair bet that no one would have expected that car to have spawned a completely new genre of cars. The SUV is now everywhere and has been so pervasive that brands such as Bentley and Maserati also have an SUV in their garages.The latest addition to what seems to be a never ending line of variations is the city SUV. In real terms, they’re not much more than a small hatch given a centimetre or two extra ride height and perhaps some body cladding.

Kia’s new Stonic, a replacement for the boxy yet funky Soul, drops firmly into the city SUV slot. Based on the small Rio hatch, Stonic comes in a two trim level offering, Sport and GT-Line, with an engine for each.

The GT-Line has the same 1.0L turbo three cylinder now found in Rio, a seven speed dual clutch auto, and a reasonable level of equipment. Power is rated at 74kW, torque at 172Nm. There are the usual three drive modes, being Eco, Normal, and Sport. The “base” Stonic makes do with a naturally aspirated 1.4L petrol engine. It’s priced, in GT-Line trim, from $29,990 plus $595 for premium paint, as found on our metallic black coated review vehicle.Although the Stonic is barely big enough to be placed in a shopping bag, Eco is best suited for what the name suggests. Freeway and highway driving is its forte, with Sport better for leaving traffic lights, whilst Normal works its magic around the ‘burbs.

It’s a quiet and effortless cruiser, with the engine singing quietly to itself at around 1,500rpm. Go for an overtake, and the relative lack of torque is felt for the 1,227kg (dry) Stonic GT-Line, and the auto dithers a bit as it drops one, then two, perhaps three ratios.

Economy is a curious one here. At no time did we see a sub 6.0L figure, with a best of 6.4L100km seen on a freeway run. The overall final figure was 8.8L/100km. Possibly part of that was the drive defaulting to Eco, not Normal, with a sluggish rate of acceleration, and a DCT that was at times indecisive about its actions. Experimentation found the best way to get the 1200kg Stonic under way, as with most small capacity engines and a DCT, was a throttle pressure somewhere between egg shell and light.Anything more threw the DCT into a tizz, with changes that were unsure, and waiting on the computer to tell the turbo to spin up. It was a constant battle on that front, with Give Way and Stop signs seeing the kettle go off boil and having to wait a vital second or so to start percolating again.

The suspension suffers from the same problem; freeway rides were smooth and the damping out of the usual rises and falls were dispatched without issue. Low speed ride comfort was the opposite, with some bumps feeling as if the tyre was flat and the travel to hit the bumpstop was barely an inch.

There were times when that suspension tune had the Stonic GT-Line feeling skatey, with a hint of the tyres moving across the tarmac, yet never actually losing traction in the end. Driveways had the front end bang-crash, so very slow speeds were required.The styling of the Stonic heartily evokes the Rio, with its compact dimensions and kicked up C-pillar. It’s just 4,140mm in length and that’s 70mm longer than Rio, has a ground clearance of just 183mm, and stands a petite 1,520mm in height. That’s just 70mm taller than Rio. Wheelbase is 2,580mm, the same as the Rio’s.

Kia’s design team have given the Stonic its own distinctive face, with Cerato-like LED blades in the slimmer than Rio’s headlight cluster. There’s more Cerato in the front bumpers outermost inserts, whilst there’s a bespoke chin plate that houses the driving lights and a grille for a forward reading sensor. LEDs power the rear lights either side of an easy to lift tailgate. This reveals a modestly sized boot at 352L, expanding to 1,155L, while the rear seats fold to an almost but not quite level pegging with the boot floor itself. Underneath the carpet is a space saver spare. Rolling on stylish 17 inch machined and painted alloys, Kia have opted for grippy Continental ContiSport rubber at 205/55 profile. Up front and it’s faux-leather bolsters on the cloth covered pews, a rough finish to the carbon-fibre look trim across the dash, and an otherwise Kia looking cabin with a glossier than expected upper dash. This, though, may be down to the prep work at the pick-up and drop-off location. The aircon is single, not dual zone, the controls are the basic button and dial type, which doesn’t shout range topping, but they are intuitive to use. The hard press buttons below the 8.0 inch touchscreen are the same, and the DAB tuner exhibited the same excess signal loss as experienced in other Kia and Hyundai cars.For the driver its the standard pair of analogue dials and 4.3 inch info screen as seen elsewhere in Kia’s cars, plus the slightly flat bottomed tiller complete with the tabs familiar to Kia drivers. The rear seats have a single USB port to access at the rear of the centre console, with one up front along with a pair of 12V sockets, and only the driver’s window is one touch up and down. There are heating elements for the Stonic’s wing mirrors, a handy touch for some areas.Safety-wise there is Kia’s overeager Lane Keep Assist, with its staccato audio warning, Forward Collision Alert, and Blind Spot Assist. Autonomous Emergency Braking and Lane Follow Assist are also standard. Rain sensing wipers and solar glass for the main screen and side windows ease the UV rays.Behind the scenes is Kia’s seven year warranty and capped price service scheme.

At The End Of The Drive. For what the Stonic is intended for, and intended to do, it does it well enough. Clearly aimed at younger buyers, and likely the DINK crowd, it lobs into a relatively newish segment but one already visited by the likes of Audi, VW, and Mazda.

There’s internal competition from Seltos, and from sister brand Hyundai’s Kona, and Venue. In its early days as an offering, it’s the well worn “only time will tell” in how it stands up and stands out in an increasingly crowded segment.

Jeep Gladiator Update: New Model And New Pricing.

Jeep Australia has added to the Jeep Gladiator range, with the Sport S variant being brought into the line-up as an entry level machine. It’ll lob at $65,450, with the options packs priced at $2,450 (Comfort and Technology), and $2,950 (Lifestyle Adventure group) with Premium paint at $795.

Straight out of the box, the Jeep Gladiator Sport S is ready for adventure with heavy-duty Dana front and rear axles, underbody skid plates, selectable tyre fill alert and a wash-out interior. Drive is via the Selec-Trac® Active On-Demand 4×4 system, with power coming from the familiar Pentastar 3.6L V6, offering 209kW and getting grunt to each corner via an eight speed auto.

The Jeep Gladiator Sport S includes of an array of standard active safety equipment, including Forward Collision Warning Plus, Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop, Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Path Detection. Comfort and convenience features include LED exterior lighting, remote proximity keyless entry, a fourth-generation UConnect 7.0” Touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto, automatic headlamps, push-button start, 7.0” Driver Information Display Cluster and dual-zone climate control.

Standard interior trim is Premium Black Cloth, the UConnect system via a 7.0 inch touchscreen and smartapp compatibility, and a 7.0 inch driver’s display, whilst Alpine provides the interior sounds through nine speakers.

Outside, the alloys are 17 inch Tech Silver under black fender flares. Lighting front and rear is LED and the ubiquitous three piece Freedom hardtop is here. Safety features include Forward Collision Warning Plus, Adaptive Cruise Control with Stop, Blind Spot Monitor with Rear Cross Path Detection, plus Parkview Rear Backup Camera and ParkSense Front/Rear Park Assist System. There is convenience via a Remote Proximity Keyless Entry and Push Button Start plus Selectable Tyre Fill Alert.Guillaume Drelon, Jeep Australia Director, Brand & Product Strategy, says: “The Jeep Gladiator Sport S creates a new entry-level price point into the Jeep Gladiator range, without compromising on safety, technology and Jeep’s renowned off-road prowess. Since its arrival in Australia, the Gladiator has been turning heads on our roads and by expanding the range to include the Sport S specification, even more Australians will be able to own the only open-air truck.” he continued.

The optional Lifestyle and Adventure package adds a Roll-up Tonneau Cover, Cargo Management Group with Trail Rail System, Lockable Rear Underseat Storage Bin, Spray-In Bedliner, Wireless Bluetooth Speaker, Auxiliary Switch Bank (4 Programmable Switches), 240-Amp Alternator and a 700-Amp Maintenance-Free Battery. The Comfort and Technology Group package can also be added to the Gladiator Sport S specification, delivering premium convenience appointments including a fourth-generation Uconnect 8.4” Touchscreen, Deep Tint Sunscreen Windows, Hard Top Headliner, Security Alarm and Remote Start System.

The 2021 Jeep Gladiator Sport S is available to order now, arriving in Dealerships from February 2021.

China’s Automotive Targets

Autonomous Bus Train

Looking at the current landscape of automotive skill, technology and manufacture, China places itself solidly at the forefront.  China is a prominent global automotive game changer.  The huge growth in vehicle traffic across China has been driven primarily by the country’s economic development.  The growth has been immensely rapid (particularly since 2000), where the rate of motorisation of this huge country has been nothing short of phenomenal.

The Chinese government has led a massive revolution towards the urbanizing of its people.  Research has shown that about 300 million people are expected to move to the cities over the next few years, where all of the existing – as well as new – cities will grow considerably with the influx of new inhabitants coming in from around the countryside.  This massive development plan is scheduled to run through until 2025 and is based on clear goals and the development of good electric mobilization.  Being able to integrate electric vehicles into digitised infrastructures and services will soon become a complete Chinese realization.

Currently, in China electric vehicles (EVs) are not subject to any major restrictions; if there are restrictions they are only minor.  Compared with the growing costs and restrictions enforced upon combustion engine vehicles, getting yourself into an EV brings massive benefits for Chinese owners of new EVs, and the financial incentives for having an EV are strong.  As early as 2013, a change of policy that favoured electric mobilization throughout China’s major cities and infrastructure was initiated.  The expanding EV charging infrastructure is continuing to grow rapidly, though it has some way to go before being consistently functional over wider areas.

Big digital companies like Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent are providing the drive and expertise behind the autonomous transport network across China’s major cities.  Many big brand car manufacturers from around the world have already linked with huge Chinese automotive companies seeking to use China as a platform and marriage for producing their cars at lower cost, and it would seem logical that, after entering the Western market via European brands, the first imports of premium Chinese vehicles (hybrid, EV and Fuel Cell) from China to other countries around the world can be expected over the next few years.  The commercial EV sector and EV buses will likely arrive even sooner.

The Arab, Latin American and African markets are ripe for gaining access by the Chinese automotive manufacturers.  Also the Silk Road Project can be perceived as a means for opening up the Asian market to the big Chinese brands of EVs and Fuel Cell vehicles.

China is on target for completely phasing out combustion technology much earlier than was first expected.  At the end of 2017, Chinese car manufacturer BAIC announced plans to stop production of non-electric and hybrid cars by the end of 2025.

We see the Chinese brands like Great Wall, Haval, MG and LDV growing here in Australia, and it seems that this Chinese automotive development will continue rapidly into countries who want to take non fossil fuel transport to new levels.  China will play a key, dynamically strong role in the future of clean automotive transport.  I wonder how soon we’ll see more autonomous and EV transport being rolled out in Australia?

Hyundai Kona Steps Further For 2021

Hyundai’s quirky Kona has been taken extra steps to continue its appeal. There’s some exterior refreshing, and the addition of the N Line name to the range. The 2021 Kona is the third new SUV in Hyundai’s ‘18 models in 18 months’ product rollout which includes the new Palisade and updated Santa Fe. There will also be a new Kona EV and a performance oriented Kona N.

Hyundai Kona 2021

“In three short years on the market, the versatile Kona has grown to become a top-seller in the class and one of our most popular models.” Hyundai Motor Company Australia Chief Executive Officer, Jun Heo said. “New 2021 Kona builds on the qualities that have drawn small-SUV buyers to the model, with an eye-catching new look, new N Line sports variants, and additional standard comfort, convenience, technology and SmartSenseTM safety features.”

The line-up introduces Kona N Line and N Line Premium, with power coming from a new engine. It’s a 146kW SmartStream 1.6 turbo unit. It drives all four corners via a DCT transmission and rides on a sports-tuned chassis with a multi-link rear suspension.

There are four models; Kona, Kona Active, Elite, and Highlander They’ll have a new SmartStream 2.0-litre petrol engine and CVT automatic pairing which will drive the front wheels. Economy is quoted as 6.2L/100km on the official combined cycle. Base Kona has 16 inch alloys. Entry level safety starts with Forward Collision Avoidance, Lane Following Assist, Smart Cruise Control, and Rear Occupant Alert. Lane Keep Assist and a Driver Attention Warning system will also be standard from the entry level up.

Standard across the range will be smartphone compatibility and a wireless charge pad, reverse camera, Hyundai’s 4.2-inch TFT colour Supervision instrument cluster display, LED DRLs, and a touchscreen of 8.0 inches in the base Kona. Below is a tyre pressure monitoring system, above are roof rails. Active has leather appointed pews, leather wrapped steering wheel and drive selector knob, rear park assist, and exterior mirrors that are heated. There are also 17 inch alloys.

Hyundai Kona 2021

Elite’s touchscreen is 10.25 inches, with audio pumping from a Harman Kardon eight speaker system. Remote start from a smart key will be standard here along with front fog lights. Safety is enhanced with Blind-Spot Collision-Avoidance Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist, and a Safe Exit Warning system. Exterior addons see a gloss black grille, tailgate and side garnishes, and cladding in a carbon grey.

Hyundai Kona 2021

Highlander gives the driver a 10.25 inch display and a HUD, vented and heated front seats plus powered driver’s seat, heating elements in the outboard sections of the rear seats and steering wheel, LED headlights and taillights, with 18 inch alloys and Continental rubber. Safety has a front park assist system and high beam assist added in. Beige leather is exclusive to Highlander and LED ambient lighting will feature as it will in N Line Premium.

Kona N Line has bespoke seating and cabin highlights such as red stitching and piping, plus alloy pedals.

Hyundai Kona 2021

The sporty Kona N Line introduces an all-new 146kW, 265Nm turbo engine along with a dual-clutch automatic transmission, all-wheel drive, a multi-link rear suspension arrangement and 18-inch sports alloy wheels wrapped in Continental tyres.

Building on the specification of Kona Elite, Kona N Line introduces N Line exterior additions and badging.

Inside, there are N Line sports front seats, and a unique cabin treatment featuring red stitching, piping and trim inserts, as well as alloy pedals. 2021 Kona N Line Premium brings, in addition, a 10.25-inch digital supervision instrument cluster, heated and air ventilated front seats, heated rear outboard seats and a heated steering wheel, and LED headlights, front indicators and taillights. Features found in the Highlander, a HUD, front park assist system, powered front seats, and a glass sunroof, will also be in the N Line Premium.

Hyundai Kona 2021

Outside will be a choice of seven colours: Atlas White, Dark Knight and Phantom Black, Surfy Blue and Dive in Jeju, and red shades called Ignite Flame and Pulse Red. A black roof option for Highlander and N Line Premium, with a sunroof deleted. The front end has been reshaped for the 2021 refresh, with a rounded upper leading edge, a new grille and bumper, and restyled lights.

Hyundai Kona 2021

Kona, Active, and Elite have projector headlights, with Highlander’s illuminators being multi-faceted reflector LED. The rear has a mild restyle. N Line has their own design features with a bespoke bumper, gloss black side mirror caps and, for N Line Premium, MFR LED headlights and rear lights.

2021 Kona N Line and N Line Premium are have exclusive black leather sports interior featuring red stitching and highlights.

Hyundai Kona 2021

Kona pricing is expected to start from $26,600 plus ORC. Active will start from $28,200, with Elite and Highlander from $31,600 and $38,000. $36,300 and $42,400 will be the starting prices for the N Line and N Line Premium plus ORC. Premium paint is $595, with the beige interior for Highlander a $295 option. Service intervals for the 2.0L will be 15,000km whilst the 1.6L is at every 10,000km.

Availability is currently from March 2021.

Hyundai Kona 2021

Japan’s Automotive Brilliance

Tokyo, Japan

You can’t go anywhere around Australia without noticing just how many Japanese made vehicles are motoring around our roads (and off them).  Since the 1960s, Japan has been among the top 3 automotive manufacturers in the world.  The country is home to a number of motor companies, and you’ll be familiar with them: Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Suzuki, Subaru, Isuzu.  There are, of course, more than these mainstream manufacturers.  Japan has around 78 car-manufacturing factories in 22 regions, and these employ over 5.5 million people (more than the entire population of New Zealand).

The strong competition that is happening on a global scale in the automotive industry has forced the manufacturers to come up with a new model design every four to five years.  Along with the new models, new innovative designs and new technologies are presented and used by the automakers in their new vehicles.  Automotive manufacturing is the prominent manufacturing type in Japan, which takes up 89% of the country’s manufacturing sector.  A large amount of time and money are invested into developing and improving the automotive manufacturing process, which, in turn, increases the quality and efficiency of their manufactured automotive products.

Some of the brilliant new developments from Japan automobile manufacturers have led to distinct and innovative new designs for current and future automobiles.  In order to control the market dependency on fuels, and in order to design vehicles that are more fuel-efficient, Japanese automakers have invested and built hybrid vehicles and fuel-cell vehicles.

The ideology and popularity of environmentally friendly vehicles is creating a wave of global interest and demand for these sorts of vehicles.  More and more automakers around the globe are focusing on creating the types of vehicles that are friendlier on the environment to their production line.  Japan’s automotive manufacturers are leaders in this field.  Japanese innovations in these technology sectors include autonomous taxi services and airport transportation, high-definition maps and open-source software modules for autonomous vehicles, advanced hydrogen fuel cell and alternating-current battery technology, and silicon carbide (SiC) semiconductor films for EV power electronics.  Japanese companies have been developing hydrogen fuel cell technology, which is projected to reach a market size of approximately $43 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 66.9% from 2019 to 2026.  Japan’s prowess in creating autonomous vehicles and their resulting cutting edge safety features puts them well ahead of the game.

An electric vehicle is an automobile that produces power from electrical energy stored in batteries instead of from the burning of fossil fuels.  Top automakers such as Toyota, Honda, and Nissan are already class leaders.

Hybrid vehicles use two or more distinct power sources to move the car.  Typically, electric motors combine with traditional internal combustion engines to produce power. Hybrid vehicles are highly fuel efficient.  Again, Japan’s Toyota motor company is one of the automotive industry leaders in hybrid vehicle research and production – with the Toyota  Prius model leading the way.  Hybrid variants are available on many of Toyota’s collection of new vehicles.

A Fuel Cell Vehicle is equipped with a “Fuel Cell” in which electricity is generated through the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen.  This chemical reaction provides the source of power to the motor.  Fuel cell systems operate by compressing hydrogen made from natural gas and gasoline, which is then converted to hydrogen by on-board systems.  Toyota’s latest fuel cell vehicle, the Mirai II, is sold in Japan.  The Mirai II uses a Hydrogen Electrochemical fuel cell that creates 130 kW.  The electric motor that is powered by the fuel cell produces 136 kW and 300 Nm.  It’s very stylish, too.

Toyota Mirai II

2021 Mercedes-Benz Vito and Valente Released

Mercedes-Benz have been known for producing some quality Light Commercial Vehicles, and the Vito van has been at the forefront of that particular section of their markets. The latest version has been released to the Aussie market.

There will be three engines: The Vito 111 CDI with 84kW and 270 Nm torque, the Vito 116 CDI with 120 kW and 380 Nm torque, and the Vito 119 CDI with 140 kW and 440 Nm torque with a combined fuel consumption of 6.7 l/100 km plus CO2 combined emissions 176 g/km. The Vito 111 has a combined fuel consumption of 6.2-6.3 l/100 km with CO2 combined emissions 163-166 g/km whilst the 116 has combined fuel consumption of 6.7 l/100 km and CO2 combined emissions 176-178 g/km.

The range has been simplified and extra features added. The rear view mirror is now a digital item, whilst the reverse camera has been upgraded to suit. The interior has been enhanced as has safety with DISTRONIC and Active Brake Assist. Up front, the grille has been restyled. The Mercedes star plate is centrally positioned in the radiator grille and has three black louvres on all but the 111 where they are chromed.

Diane Tarr, Managing Director Mercedes-Benz Vans, said: “The versatility of Vito really sets it apart. In Australia, examples of its use include an RACV home and roadside assist vehicle, an Australian Post delivery van, an Optus technical service vehicle and as a trusted tool for many smaller business operations like florists or even mobile fitness instructors. It is a genuine trade specialist and fleet all-rounder for a wide range of different customers.

The Vito’s look and style is often symbolic of the business it supports. The newly designed radiator grill now makes it an even more attractive representation, and with more standard safety, new assistance systems and an upgraded infotainment offering, it will continue to meet the demands of our customers.”

The Vito 111 packs a 1.6L engine and six speed manual driving the front wheels. There is also a 2.1L engine and seven speed auto for the rear wheel drive versions. The Vito 116 has a 120kW/380Nm diesel as the spearhead and moves to a medium length wheelbase as the starting point. This, says M-B, provides an optimal carry capacity as a new starting point. Proven engine and transmission line up continues with reduced complexity, and emphasis on power and carrying capacity.

Active Brake Assist starts with an audible warning tone and a visual alert. If sensors read the driver has applied the brakes, ABA adds extra braking assistance, but if there is no response from the driver the system takes over and performs active braking manoeuvres. The sensors also alert to stationary objects and pedestrians. DISTRONIC is also available with Vito for the first time and standard on the 119. Blind Spot Assist and Lane Keep Assist, formerly options, are now standard.

The digital inside rearview mirror takes a feed from the high definition camera mounted in the rear window section and transmits to a 1600 x 320 screen. There is image processing to ensure that light balance is even and displaying as clear an image as possible. It also provides a wider view than a traditional rear-view mirror.

An updated infotainment system sees a 7.0 inch touchscreen with smartphone app compatibility. The screen is also the default viewer for the reverse camera. Bluetooth is also standard and has audio streaming and hands-free calling.

ILS, or Intelligent Light System, is standard on the 119. It’s a full LED system, covering the indicators, DRLs, low, high, and cornering lights. The spread is speed dependent also, and with Highbeam Assist Plus adjusts to suit speed and the lighting conditions. It does this by actuating the dipped-beam, partial main-beam and main-beam headlamps as required.

The exterior now has new colours including Graphite Grey and Selenite Grey, along with Steel Blue and Hyacinth Red metallic. There are two 18 inch alloy wheels, one with a 5-twin-spoke design in Tremolite Grey with a high sheen finish, and one with a 5-spoke design in black also with a burnished finish. There are also 17 inch black painted alloy wheels available.

The Vito Crew Cab dual purpose vehicle, which can carry up to six passengers, is available with the 116 or 119 CDI engine. The Valente 8 seater people mover is available with the 116 CDI engine. this highlights the flexibility of the Vito range, with body lengths, the engine choices, and styles.

Speak to your local Mercedes-Benz dealership for a test drive.