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Driving in Australia

Low Voltage: The Charge To EV Vehicles

With world governments declaring a transition to electric vehicles over the next three decades or earlier, such as the U.K. by 2030 or 2035, it would be reasonable to presume that Australian governments would also back any push, without extra roadblocks, to have EVs the primary vehicle for passenger transportation.

The Australian Capital Territory has gone to that length, as has the state government of Tasmania, with the Apple Isle declaring the government’s fleet will be 100% electric by 2030. the A.C.T. began their transition process in 2018 . Neither the A.C.T. or the Tasmanian government have currently declared that any form of EV tax will be implemented.

However, South Australia, New South Wales, and Victoria have all announced that the users of an EV will be subjected to a user tax. Victoria has declared that as soon as July 1, 2021, a road user tax on EVs will be implemented. Tony Weber, from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, isn’t impressed:

“Australian state governments want to kill the technology at its infancy. Is this because some states want to substitute the Commonwealth excise tax with their own tax? Are motorists being caught in a petty game in which the states want to establish a new revenue base at the expense of the Commonwealth?”

Weber also points out the disassociation of the governments here in regards to what other nations are doing in respect to development alternatives for public vehicle transport.

“All around the world, global automotive companies have invested billions of dollars to develop environmentally friendly vehicles. And all around the world, progressive governments have supported the introduction of these vehicles. But here in Australia, we inhibit their introduction by levying extra charges on them. It simply beggars belief at this early stage of electric vehicle introduction.”

Mr Weber’s points take aim at the short-sighted attitude of the Australian states that appear to prefer revenue over doing something that reduces exhaust emissions and going some way to reduce the effects of climate change. “With its proposal to tax LZEVs through a road-user charging tariff, South Australia is discouraging the uptake of environmentally friendly motoring and is turning its back on the topic of Climate Change.”

The argument for the taxes comes from those that see that by using no petrol or diesel, which have excises attached, by using the same roads without those excise contributions, EVs are effectively getting a free ride. This overlooks the charges by electricity suppliers to any location providing an outlet for an EV to be charged, however then it’s pointed out those EV charges don’t go back into the roads.

This is something the Australian Automobile Association has in mind when it comes to a fairer apportioning of charges: “As people move towards electric vehicles and other low emission technologies, revenue from fuel excise is declining, which not only risks road funding, but also means some drivers are paying for roads while others are not, which is neither a fair nor a sustainable model. A nationally consistent approach will be important to drivers, who won’t want a patchwork of unique state charging systems, technologies, or rates.”

Regardless of which, it would appear to be a prudent move by the governments to look at what the A.C.T. is doing: Zero stamp duty on new zero emissions vehicles; 20% discount on registration fees; Annual savings from reduced running costs; Help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and keep our environment clean and healthy; Quieter driving and reduced noise pollution.

And perhaps: In 2017 the United Kingdom and France announced their intention to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars by 2040, with all cars to be fully electric. Since this time, other countries have also committed to phasing out new petrol and diesel car sales including Scotland, India, China, Norway and the Netherlands.

Then there is the announcement in mid November, 2020, by General Motors, here.

As Bob Dylan once sang: the times, they are a-changing…but it seems some governments are stuck in time.

2020 Kia Rio GT-Line: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Kia’s second smallest car, complete with attitude and spunk. It’s a bit like “it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog”. Complete with a three cylinder engine and DCT, plus some body add-ons, and in the review car’s case, an eye-catching Mighty Yellow paint, how much fight is in this pint size warrior wannabe?How Much Does It Cost?: $24,490 drive-away plus $520 for premium paint.

Under The Bonnet Is: A relatively tiny 1.0L three cylinder with the Hyundai/Kia Smartstream label. But don’t think it’s too small for the Rio. 74kW and 172Nm (1,500 to 4,000rpm) combine to foist upon the 1,197kg (dry) machine enough pizzazz and spriteliness to provide enough of a grin factor when the car is driven…ahem…appropriately.It’s cheap to run as well; our worst was 7.0L/100km, with a best of 4.1L/100, with a final average of 6.2L/100km. Tank size is 45L worth for regular unleaded. None of those figures are far from Kia’s official figures of 5.3L/6.3L/4.8L per 100km on the combined/urban, and highway drives. And not that many would, but towing is rated as 1,000kg. Transmission is a seven ratio Dual Clutch Transmission.

On The Outside It’s: Largely unchanged for the past couple of years. It sits nicely in the compact class at 4,070mm in length although it looks smaller. It’s 1,450mm high, and 1,725mm wide, sitting on a wheelbase of 2,580mm.

That means it’s a stubby little thing with short overhangs, and slightly cubical when seen from either end directly. In profile the A-pillars have a slope that matches the rear pillar, bringing some visual balance to the main body.

Driving lights are the four-cube set, cast to either end of the front bar and in an enclosure limned in black that reaches out but doesn’t quite meet a slim air intake sitting under the main slimline tiger-nose. This is echoed with a mirror set in the rear bumper that has a pair of reflectors.

Wheels are 16 spoke 17 inch alloys with dark grey highlights, shod in Continental Contisport Contact rubber at 205/45.On The Inside It’s: Quite sparsely trimmed. The seats are a black cloth with white stitched leather bolstering, white piping, and fully manually adjustable. No electronics at all. Pedals are alloy, and a carbon-fibre look inlay runs full length across the dash. Otherwise, plastics are a bit low-rent to look at and touch aside from the piano black for the air vent, touchscreen, and drive selector surrounds.

Driver’s dials are analogue with the familiar 4.2 inch info cluster. Here is where a digital screen would have been a nice step up. Aircon controls are basic yet idiot-proof dials and push-buttons, sitting over a 12V & USB port. A sole USB port sits at the end of the small centre console. The main touchscreen is an 8.0 inch unit in glorious monochrome, featuring AM, FM, and Bluetooth along with Android and Apple compatibility.Convenience features run to bottle holders in each door, a pair of console cup holders, and rain sensing wipers. No airvents for the rear seaters though… Luggage space is 325L to 980L, with the second row seats folding but not level with the boot floor. That’s not quite enough for a weekly shop for a family of four, but then, the Rio GT-Line probably wouldn’t be in a driveway for that demographic.

Solar or UV blocking glass is standard for the GT’s front three windows, with privacy glass for the rears. A drive mode tab is placed up towards the drive selector, with Eco, Normal, and Sport the choices. There’s a sporting hint with the now familiar flat bottomed tiller. Packaging overall is good thanks to the slightly boxy body shape.

On The Road It’s: Much better in Normal mode than Eco. There’s more life, lighter steering, whereas Eco drags the Rio GT-Line into the mud and everything feels heavier and slower. Sport mode adds extra zip and especially in the mid-range of the engine’s torque delivery. In Eco, the steering has a feel of the front tyres being deflated. Switch to Normal and it lightens up just enough to feel…well…normal.

The seven speed DCT isn’t one of the better of its type, nor is it one of the worst. The clutch gaps aren’t as bad as it has been, with stop then start driving feeling more intuitive and natural. And safer. It also makes for normal and sportier driving a much more enjoyable experience, as changes are sharper, crisper, and more efficiently translating into getting the Rio percolating.

Engage Sport and it’s even swifter, however switching to manual changing (no paddle shifters either, by the way) and there’s a hint more speed in the cogs swapping. Under a gentle foot there is also the audible changes for the gears, with the three cylinder thrum that is so characteristic of these engines running up and down in the revs as the clutch disengages and re-engages for the next ratio. Some DCTs take time to warm up and perform at their best, Kia’s is somewhere between that and being ready to go from the get-go.Ride quality is where the Rio GT-Line varies. It’s too hard sometimes, with little travel and tyre absorption. There’s just that little bit too much bang-crash on some road surfaces, but in contrast nicely dials out any float, with zero rebound on those wallowy surfaces. There is ample grip from the Continental rubber too, making cornering at increasing speed a simple proposition, alongside easy lane changing.

Hit a flat road and it’s ideal, feeling tied to the tarmac, and it’s on this kind of surface where the GT part of GT-Line pays off. Ditto for the engine as that broad swathe of torque effortlessly pulls the GT-Line along. The steering is almost ideally weighted, with little effort needed to switch lanes. Road noise is noticeable but not to the point that cabin conversations feel intruded upon.

What was apparent, too, was the rate of rolling acceleration. Where a merge road goes from 80 to 100 or 110, a change of pace, rapidly, is needed. Here the Rio GT-Line shows appreciable agility without being a neck-snapper, with decent forward progress. It’s perhaps where the 1.2L three with more torque would be a better fit for the name GT-Line.What About Safety?: Autonomous Emergency Braking with Forward Collision Warning, Lane Following and Lane Keeping Assist. Six airbags, and the mandated assorted electronic driver aids are standard.

What About Warranty And Service?: Kia’s standard seven year warranty applies. Total service costs across the seven years is $3,299. That’s an average cost per year of $471 or just nine dollars per week. As is the norm, it’s service four for the big ticket cost at $704, with year five under half that at $319. Year six and seven see $602 and $569.

At The End Of The Drive. Kia’s Rio GT-Line isn’t aimed at the hot hatch market. It’s not aimed at the warm hatch market. It’s aimed at those that want a semblance of performance combined with user friendly economy figures and no need for anything bigger. It’s an ideal first car for the new driver as it’s not excessively endowed with snap/crackle/pop BUT there is enough to provide the appropriate grin factor.

As such, the Kia Rio GT-Line offers up a decent amount of fight however those looking for something with more spice will look elsewhere. That’s no shade on the GT-Line, by the way. It’s intended to be what it is and it fulfills that particular brief perfectly. Check it out, here.

At What Age Do I Need to Re-sit My Licence?

While millennials appear to be abandoning vehicle ownership in favour of ride-sharing transportation, an ageing population means that more and more Australians are dependent on transport solutions to remain mobile.

Naturally, having driven for most of their lives, it means elderly Australian motorists are clinging onto their driving routine and taking up the seat behind the wheel of their car.

With this however, we’re seeing a higher incidence of accidents and road fatalities than years gone past. For example, since 2007 road fatalities for drivers aged between 65 and 74 has grown 2.3% per year as measured across the nation. Among those drivers aged above 75, the figures point to an increase of 1.2% per year.

Drivers aged 65 or above remain the only age group to see an increase in road fatalities across that period, while also recording a 9% rise in “road-related hospitalisations”.

 

 

Balancing drivers needs

With a wealth of advertising and education directed towards younger drivers – who do statistically account for a higher number of accidents and fatalities – an absence on the part of all the state governments across the country to tackle a worrying trend is concerning. But how should we manage community mobility to optimise safety for all road users? Just when is it time to give up driving?

Truth be told, there is no simple answer to this predicament. While each of the states have their own road rules governing elderly drivers, having accessibility to a car remains a vital component to the independence of said individuals.

Nevertheless, for couples and families, it is best to discuss and monitor the health of loved ones to ensure they remain in good condition to take to the road. Regular health check-ups become an essential part of validating this, although remember that age in itself shouldn’t be viewed as the only measure of ability when it comes to driving.

Keep in mind as well, certain lenders will have their hesitations extending finance to those individuals who have retired from the workforce and are currently relying on their pension.

 

 

Rules across Australia

As mentioned above, each state has different rules when it comes to requirements for elderly drivers:

  • NSW: annual medical review (aged 75-84); annual medical review and practical driving test (85+)
  • VIC: no annual medical reviews, albeit referrals may be made by doctors, family and police
  • QLD: annual medical review but no practical driving tests (75+)
  • SA: medical assessment but no practical driving tests (at 70)
  • WA: medical assessment (from 80); medical assessment and practical assessment (from 85+)
  • TAS: no annual medical reviews
  • NT: no annual medical reviews, albeit referrals may be made by doctors, family and police

MG Powers Up With Australian Release of ZS EV.

Historic nameplate MG joins the EV revolution with the all-new, full-electric MG ZS EV compact SUV. Now available to customers in Australia and New Zealand in one trim level only, it’s the cheapest EV available with a drive-away price of $43,990. That price includes an eight year, 160,000 kilometre battery warranty, and a five year, unlimited kilometre, car warranty. Roadside assistance is included for five years.It’s a price that is sure to attract keen interest. The CEO of MG Australia and New Zealand, Peter Ciao, said: “Until now, buyers have had to pay a premium price for an EV. This has meant that only a small portion of the public can afford to buy an EV. Our vision at MG Motor is to change this situation by making electric vehicles available and accessible to everyone. By removing the affordability barrier, we are seeking to fast track EV adoption in Australia and New Zealand.” MG have located the charge port for the front electric motor rated at 105kW and 353Nm at a central point. Charging is provided via a standard CCS2 socket located conveniently behind the grille. The flexibility comes from plugging in a standard household socket or a DC charge cable up to 350kW. This will bring the battery to 80 percent charge from zero in just 45 minutes. At home, it’s a standard overnight charge time for the 44.5kW battery, itself an in-house development by MG. The company is just one of three to have their own battery building facility.That battery size allows for the MG ZS EV to look at a range of just over 260 kilometres. It also endows the MG ZS EV with a 0-100kph time of a scintillating 3.1 seconds from a 1,532kg body, just 50kg heavier than a standard ZS. There are three drive modes to take advantage of, being Eco, Normal, and Sport.

The sole trim level doesn’t skimp on the niceties. Above the passengers is a Panoramic Stargazer glass roof, and at a surface coverage area of 90%, it’s one of the largest of its type. The fronts eat passengers have an 8.0 inch touchscreen complete with Apple and Android smartphone connectivity, satnav, and six speaker audio. drive selection is via a rotary gear selector and there are three regenerative modes.

The dimensions (4,314mm length, 1,809mm wide, 1,644mm tall on a 2,585mm wheelbase) provide plenty of head, leg, and shoulder room as well, along with a flat rear floor that provides up to 1,166L worth of cargo space when the 60/40 splitfold rears are folded. The leather seats have tight stitching and are well padded for comfort. Outside is the familiar “London Eye” headlight design and dual-tone alloys at 17 inches in diameter. Exterior colour choices will include one that is exclusive to the ZS EV, Clipper Blue. Buyers can also choose from Diamond Red metallic paint, Regal Blue,, metallic paint, and Dover White or Pebble Black.MG Pilot is the main safety system including Adaptive Cruise Control, Front Collision and Lane Departure Warning, plus Emergency Braking, and Speed Assist. It’s a five star safety rating for the MG ZS EV, with a high torsional strength cabin and rigidity factor. The battery has been certified independently to be fire, submersion, dust, pressure, impact, and salt spray resistant.

Our friends over at Exhaust Notes Australia attended the launch, and have provided this initial review

‘Electric for everyone’
MG Motor’s parent company, SAIC Motor, has invested heavily in electric as well as other new energy vehicle technologies, processes and battery production, making it one of only a handful of auto manufacturers to own its EV supply chain. In 2019, that expertise resulted in the production of more than 185,000 electric vehicles, making it one of the top five EV producers globally by volume. MG Motor now brings this experience to the local market, enabling it to deliver state-of-the-art EV technology at the best value and packed with features.

South Australia hits EV owners with road user charges

After much speculation in recent times as to how governments would tackle road funding amid the transition from petrol-powered cars to electric vehicles, the South Australian government has made the first move. In doing so, the government has effectively set down a precedent that could have implications for the rest of the country, if others follow suit.

 

What has been announced

Starting from July 1, 2021, electric car owners in South Australia will be required to pay road user charges that cushion the blow from a slow but steadily growing gap in the budget for road funding.

Fuel excise has long been the revenue raiser for the federal government, which is then distributed to the states for the upkeep, maintenance and upgrade of roads. With cars not only more fuel efficient in this day and age, but society also contending with alternative fuel technologies such as hybrid and pure electric vehicles, fuel excise hasn’t been keeping up with the nation’s population growth.

The move will bring EV owners into alignment with their motoring peers, ensuring all drivers contribute towards road funding across the state.

 

 

What will be the charge?

At this stage, specifics of the road user charge are yet to be finalised.

The government will need to crunch the numbers over the coming months and come to a figure that is deemed fair and proportionate, yet at the same time, not go so far as to disenfranchise prospective buyers of electric vehicles.

Budget papers from the South Australian government indicate the charge will likely include two components – a fixed charge, as well as a distance-based charge.

For now it remains to be seen whether the charges will have an impact on the adoption of electric vehicles. To date, the sector has seen sluggish growth, with local motorists favouring gas-guzzling SUVs. However, while it might not necessarily be a punishment of any sort, the advantage that may have been there is set to be no more, which ultimately isn’t going to help the cause.

What’s your take on road user charges for electric vehicle owners?

2021 Mitsubishi Express SWB LCV: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: A return of the Express nameplate for Mitsubishi. Except, in a way, it isn’t. You see, if you lined up the Express alongside the Renault Traffic and removed the grilles, you wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. Its a joint project and comes from an alliance between Renault, Nissan, and Mitsubishi. There are already plans to release more products wearing the three diamond badge that come from the other two. There are two engines, 1.6L and 2.0L, a manual for the smaller engine, an auto for the larger, and a choice of short wheelbase (SWB) or long wheelbase (LWB). We drove the 2.0L auto SWB.

How Much Does It Cost?: As of October 2020, the manufacturer’s list price is $42,490 plus ORC. The Mitsubishi website has it at and if you have an ABN, which is most likely, chat to your Mitsubishi dealer. For the manual, the website has an ABN drive-away price of $40,890. These prices aren’t hugely different to the equivalents from Renault.

Under The Bonnet Is: One very well sorted and torquey diesel. At 2.0L capacity and driving a slick six speed auto, it delivers 125kW and a very healthy 380Nm at 1.500rpm. Economy on the combined cycle is quoted as 7.3L/100km from an 80.0L tank. We finished our drive at 9.4L/100km on our typical 70/30 urban to highway mix.On The Outside It’s: White, and black, and boxy. Renault’s basic design is more focused on the front and rear, and it kind of works. It’s certainly far less of a box than the original Express. Strong vertical lines make up the tail light structure, matching the barn doors. The headlights are teardrop in flavour, flowing upwards to the end of the bonnet line and just under the A-pillar, with the base running in a line alongside the top of the black bumper. Light commercial spec tyres are steel wheels are standard, and are 215/65/16s. a whip antenna stands above the cabin.Overall sizes have the Express SWB one millimetre shy of 5,000mm in length, rolling on a wheelbase of 3.098mm, and a shoulder room liking 1,956mm. Body height is 1,976mm, just low enough for most shopping centre carparks, but the antenna will bang against some sections. Kerb weight is 1,870kg and there is a maximum payload of 1,115kg. Cargo space is 1,652mm except for the wheel arches at 1,268. Interior height is 1,387mm and length inside is 2,537mm.On The Inside It’s: A typical light commercial vehicle. There is a lining for the floor, a cage between the driver & passengers section, and the seating is a two plus one setup. Each side has an easy to move sliding door. The seats are covered in a basic hard wearing charcoal coloured cloth. There is no console between the driver’s seat and the passenger seat, however there are nooks and spaces in the dash itself, along with a factory fitted phone holder and passenger seat undertray. Rubber mats were also fitted to our test vehicle.The tilt and telescopic steering wheel is devoid of most familiar controls, with the audio selection relegated to a tab hiding behind the right steering wheel spoke. the wheel itself has four tabs, all for cruise control operation. Audi was in a basic looking head unit, akin to the style found in cars of the 1980s yet there was a nice surprise: digital audio. However that did seem to fail halfway through our review cycle. To back it up is Bluetooth streaming and voice activation however there is only one pair of speakers.On The Road It’s: Very carlike to drive, Bear in mind it wasn’t loaded with the cargo one would normally tip in, but with a light load on board, it was settled and comfortable. The torque of the engine arrives in a rush in the first gear, and becomes exceedingly usable from there on. Overtaking and highway cruising is easy, however an eight speed auto would add more flexibility and aid economy. Steering is on the light side of just right and ratioed for easy parking at slow speeds, heavier for the highway. Braking, too, is well weighted and enables consistent judging of just how much is required to pull up at the right spot.What About Safety?: Driver and passenger front airbags, side airbag for the driver, and curtain airbags for both. A rear view camera shows in the rear vision mirror as well. Autonomous emergency braking, blind spot and rear cross traffic warnings are not to be found here although rear sensors are.

What About Warranty And Service?: Although Mitsubishi have recently introduced a ten year warranty and service plan, conditions will apply. Speak to your local dealer to confirm for your circumstances.At The End of The Drive. From a business point of view having Mitsubishi back in the mix isn’t a bad thing. Keeping the range to a choice of short or long wheelbase, and consequently auto or manual as well, simplifies things. Sharing the platform with Renault isn’t a bad thing when it comes to spare parts however the question will be how much Mitsubishi is in the Mitsubishi Express?

Specifications and links to more information is here.

Gifts for Car Owners

As the end of October fast approaches, that means retailers will soon start to take centre stage amid the Black Friday sales period and the subsequent Christmas holiday rush. It’s that time of the year where we spoil loved ones with gifts and affection, and that includes car owners too! Here’s a few gift ideas heading into peak season for retail shopping.

 

 

Car Vacuum Cleaner

Which new car owner doesn’t take pride in their joy? That means, both inside and out, because a car should be spotless. After all, first impressions count, right? And who wants to show off their brand new ride only for a messy interior to let it down. Dust and dirt naturally make their way into a car, so what better gift to help a new car owner keep on top of maintenance than a car vacuum cleaner. Small, portable and highly effective – a great choice!

 

Sat-nav

Although many new cars now offer integrated navigation systems, there are still many cars where this has yet to become a standardised feature. With today’s satellite navigation systems more advanced than ever before, this could be the perfect gift for someone who spends a lot of time on the road. Heck, the next-generation projection navigation systems are another idea altogether, offering augmentation and navigation in one.

 

Transportation Accessories

If you’re looking to find a tailored gift, you may wish to take into consideration the specifics of the person you are purchasing a gift for. Do they have a child? If so, they may appreciate a baby seat for their car. Do they have pets instead? Perhaps a cradle for their pet would be better suited. Or do they enjoy an active lifestyle? In which case, a roof rack for their bicycle or surfboard might not go astray.

 

Took kit

Many motorists are happy to entrust their mechanic to look after all their car’s automotive needs. However, for the motoring enthusiast, or the DIY-er, a took kit could be the best companion. Not only will it help them tackle some of the nitty gritty maintenance jobs under the bonnet, but it’s the sort of gift that pays for itself really, saving money on simple oil changes or the like.

 

Other Ideas

Keep in mind, you don’t always have to appeal to a specific piece of technology or the like. Everyday items are just as likely to deliver the most bang for their buck, which means things like windshield protectors, car seat covers, car-care cleaning kits, phone cradles and emergency accessories could be a welcome addition for a loved one’s new car. And of course, if it’s technology you revert back to, dash cams and wireless phone chargers are becoming all the rage in this day and age!

Automobile Servicing: Dealership V Mobile.

Very few would disagree that the days of hauling out the toolbox on a Sunday morning to tune the Kingswood are long gone. With the advent of Electronic Fuel Injection or EFI, longer lasting oils, engine covers that look too tricky to remove, plus more specific guidelines from car makers, servicing a car at home has become something of the past.

Or has it?

Mobile servicing has become a huge business over the last couple of decades or so and it has provided some genuine benefits. To find out more, we spoke to David Endres from APR Mobile Servicing. He has over twenty years of experience in the automotive servicing field including fifteen as a mobile servicer.We started with what appears to be an obvious benefit: that one on one contact. Straight away there is that personal service, that personal touch, by having your car serviced at home or at work, says David. You get to meet the person that will be performing the service, and feedback is virtually instant is something needs to be discussed. David says it’s an instantly more usable system as any issues or changes that may have arisen can be discussed face to face and clarifications are conveyed in a far more understandable sense, rather than by a phone call, or worse, by email or text. Also the client can see for themselves what might be the problem, right on the spot.

This brought us to the convenience factor. It’s a big one, says David. “We come to you at a time that suits you, and with more people working from home, your life continues whilst we look after your car.” If a service is done at an office workplace, there is less downtime, says David, and this is one way to keep the boss on your side. Plus, it means there is little to no extra travel time required, such as if a dealership is some distance away from home or work.One unexpected benefit of a mobile service, says David, is for the elderly and infirm benefit plus stay at home parents. This absolutely minimises intrusions into their lives, and as David pointed out, imagine having to wrangle small children back and forth on public transport on a hot summer’s day. Trade services such as sparkies or plumbers gain the benefit of a mobile service, as their own light commercial vehicle can be looked after whilst they themselves are on the job. This applies to company “reps”, who can meet David at a specified location and time, leave him to service their vehicle and they continue their representative role.

Given the question of timeframe, David says he aims to have around two hours from start to finish. What this means for the work from home Mum, or the look after the grandkids grandparents, is downtime is as short as possible, rather than the traditional method of a dealership’s “drop off in the morning, pickup in the afternoon”. However, there is a benefit in the dealership approach. Should a part be required and it’s not immediately in stock at that dealership, a turnaround time to have a courier bring the part from a warehouse or another dealership can virtually ensure it’s done during the day and ready for a client to pickup at day’s end.

This, says David, is where a mobile service callout will require a re-booking whilst an ordered part is on its way. He’s at pains to caution that if the work required has the vehicle in a condition that it shouldn’t be driven, that the client is immediately fully briefed. he also highlights that a second visit to fit the required part is at no extra cost to the client. This took us to the cost factor. David believes that mobile servicers are very cost effective, as their only overheads are the costs of running the service vehicles, rather than paying for a building’s electrical costs, management costs, and the like. And, as a rule, the actual hourly rates are competitive, saving a client money.

The experience factor was a key point here. Acknowledging that everyone starts somewhere, David opines that having the experience to provide a mobile service provides a true peace of mind for a client, with the ability to deal with questions and any potential issues on the spot because of it. In a dealership situation, that experience starts with an apprentice, a position where the basics of servicing a vehicle, especially in a first service, leads to the experience required in providing a mobile service.

Inclusive of this point is the process of assisting a client to diagnose a problem if the booking isn’t for a straight service. By working one on one with the owner, and asking open ended questions, it minimises the time needed to diagnose and identify the problem. This includes possibly driving the vehicle before commencing any work. At a dealership, a similar process can be undertaken, and the benefit comes back to the timeframe and possibly having a required part in stock.

Serviceman

Location wise, a mobile service can cover a lot of ground, and it’s here that the benefit of being largely city wide in coverage helps. APR’s homebase in in Parramatta, west of the Sydney CBD, however the coverage is across most of the majority of the Sydney basin. The timeframe to work with is critical here, says David. With an average lead-in time of a week, this allows APR Mobile Services to arrange a schedule that suits the client first and reduces drastically unnecessary travel from the business end.

It also allows David to ensure that, where possible, the right parts to start with are available, and it also provides him with the opportunity to fit parts that aim for a longevity situation. By that, David says it brings to a client, the right parts to ensure that downtime is minimised but also that the gaps between visits for unnecessary work is reduced as much as possible.

Another benefit, says David, is purely personal. By being hands-on with a client’s car, a relationship is built, and a number of clients like to reward the efforts provided. Although dealership staff can be on the receiving end of a gift from a grateful client, it’s not as personal as dealing with someone one-on-one. There’s a more rewarding situation for many clients, especially for those that may have been under stress or are not automobile savvy, and they like to express their gratitude with a small gift personally. What this does for a mobile servicer is up the level of satisfaction for a job well done, something David at APR Mobile Services takes a lot of quiet pride in knowing has been provided.

David and APR in Sydney can be reached at 0410 323 856. Check your search engine for local mobile servicers.

2020 Jeep Gladiator Rubicon: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: The long awaited (for Australia) bigger Jeep. The Gladiator has been touted as a Wrangler with a tray and that’s about as good a description as it gets. It’s a two model range, being the Overland and Rubicon, with a limited run Launch Edition. We drive the Rubicon.How Much Does It Cost?: An information sheet kindly supplied by Jeep Australia has the vehicle we were supplied as $88,405. There is a starting price of $76,450, with the exterior clad in “Gator” for a price of $1,035. Options fitted were a steel front bumper at $1,635, the blacked out wheels at $975, a three piece hard top in body colour at $1,950, a Rubicon luxury package at $2,535, and something called the Lifestyle Adventure Group at $3,835.

Under The Bonnet Is: Jeep’s 3.6L petrol fed V6. And only that motor. That’s right, no diesel. The auto is an eight speed and geared to see Aussie freeways speeds turning the drive-train over at just 2,000rpm. Peak power is 209kW at 6,200rpm, and peak torque is a typical petrol high of 347Nm at 4,100rpm. Economy is not a strong part of the equation with none of the three figures, urban/highway/combined being under 10.0L/100km. Our average around the ‘burbs was 13.5L/100km. The official figure is 15.4L/100km for the urban component, the highway at 10.6L/100km, bringing the combined to 12.4L/100km. Tank capacity is 83.0L.

The dry weight of the Gladiator is 2,215kg and a payload of 620kg takes kerb weight to 2,835kg. 2,721kg is the maximum braked towing capacity. There is a four mode transfer case for two- and four-wheel drive including low range.On The Outside It’s: A Wrangler with a tray. Big and bold Jeep front end, four doors, and the rear section is now a tray of 1,531mm in length and 1,442mm in width. Tray height is 861mm and it looks like it could be a bit higher. Tray capacity is rated as 1,000L.

Lights front and rear are LED powered. The rear bumper is steel as standard, and the optionable steel front looks as if it is fitted to allow installation of a winch. Both ends have bright red painted towhooks. The removable roof sections are detached by twisting pivot handles and lifting up and out. They’re a bit weighty and a bit tricky to reinstall.

The tray has a taut canvas-style tonneau There are a pair of pull-straps to unlatch a pair of clamps which allows the tonneau to be rolled forward. The tailgate has a soft-roll pair of hinges which helps lower the gate down gently.Wheels are 17 inch blacked painted and machined alloys. Rubber is 255/70 BF Goodrich Mud-Terrain T/As. Brakes are big 350mm front and 330mm rear. Fox-branded shockers are visible underneath and hold the Dana front and rear axles with locking diffs.

Front and rear overhangs on the 5,591mm long Gladiator allow for a 40.7 degree approach angle, a 25.1 degree departure, and the track & tyres provide 18.4 degrees of breakover. Wheelbase is a whopping 3.488mm.

On The Inside It’s: Comfortable, reasonably luxurious, and has a stand-out dash colour. It’s a hot red and matches the stitching in the Rubicon-embossed leather seats. The floor has bespoke rubber mats and they strongly point towards the Jeep’s legendary off-road ability. It’s a topographic map look and really sets off the cabin. Notable is the relatively short depth of the dash’s upper section to the base of the windscreen. Also notable is the lack of a footrest for the left foot, instead being cramped by the drivetrain tunnel.There are a couple of cool surprises in this vehicle. One is the hidden, portable, (optionable) bluetooth speaker that’s tucked away behind the driver’s side rear seat. the other is the storage lockers found underneath the same rear seats, accessed by flipping the squabs upwards and opening the plastic locker cover.In the dash itself is a very clean layout for operating the aircon, power windows, a tab for showing which USB ports (including USB-C) are in operation, and the 8.4 inch touchscreen that controls most of the functions such as climate control, audio, and satnav. In the lower left section is the button to lock the differentials and disengage the sway bars when getting serious in the off-road environment.On The Road It’s: Something that shouldn’t be as much fun as it is on tarmac. Admittedly some of that fun is tempered by the constant roar from the big rubber and the (necessary) looseness in the steering. It’s loose to deal with the off-road ability it has, and that is plentiful.

The tarmac steering is somewhat wayward and does require constant adjustment to keep the big machine in between the white lines. The high sidewall rubber and Fox-sprung suspension move the Gladiator around quite a bit, and having no load in the tray has the rear wallowing noticeably.

On the tarmac drive acceleration is adequate without being outstanding. There’s a faint snarl from the 3.6L V6 as it spins up. The transmission is a pearler, being slick and only juddery when cold. There are no paddle shifts, there is manual shifting via the super short throw gear selector.

Braking is superb and required given the mass. The pedal feel and feedback is spot on, with that sort of intuitive sense of knowing where the pads are on the discs as the foot presses and releases the pedal.It’s off-road, naturally, where the Gladiator’s heritage shines. Looking through the windscreen and seeing the Jeep logo in the outline of the window then peering further to the various rocky or muddy or puddled terrains brings it all together.

We drove the Gladiator on our four wheel drive test track, also known as a major 4WD enthusiasts track and a fire trail. This particular track is ideal to test off-road capable vehicles due to the varying surfaces and changes in topography.The Gladiator has a choice of 2WD, 4WD auto, and 4WD low range. The lever to engage is extremely stiff and requires some real oomph to move and engage low range. The buttons for disengaging the stabiliser bars then offer up a menu screen for off-road information.

When the low range is locked in, and the bars are ready, the Gladiator was given its druthers and in no way did it disappoint. It caught the eye of many on its tarmac travel time and there were some young drivers that stopped and frankly ogled the Gladiator as it worked its way through and over the changing surfaces. Suffice to say they were impressed as were we as it dispatched its challengers without a second thought.Crawling up, down, and at angles guaranteed to raise the heartbeat, the Gladiator’s Jeep heritage proved to be utterly suitable in proving just how good an off-roader this bigger than a Wrangler machine is. Peace of mind underneath comes from a standard skid-plate covering the transmission and fuel tank.

What About Safety?: It’s good. Four airbags come as standard and this is mainly due to the removable panels for the roof not being suitable to fit curtain ‘bags. Blind Spot Monitor is standard as is Adaptive Cruise Control, Engine Stop/Start, and Full Speed Forward Collision Warning Plus. Park Assist Front and Rear is also standard along with the vital Tyre Pressure Monitoring service.

What About Warranty And Service?: Five years unlimited kilometres along with five years capped price servicing along with roadside assist for life.

At The End Of The Drive. Jeep’s Gladiator has come into a marketplace that is quite well populated with four wheel drive capable, four door body styled, tray-back utes. Immediately it’s “up against it” on price, and it’d be also fair to say, for some the safety factor would count against it.

It doesn’t handle as well on tarmac as the competition and having only a thirsty petrol-fed V6 is also a negative.

Where it wins is crucial; everywhere it was driven heads would swivel. Other drivers from the same brand would smile and give a thumbs up. The interest level from outside the plush cabin was obviously high. Then there is that undoubted off-road ability, and proven on our drive. It really is a superb off-roader but in honesty what else would one expect?Therein lies the rub. To fully exploit what the Gladiator can do would require constant off-road usage, not tarmac driving. Simply put, it’s good on the black stuff but will be constantly outclassed by others of the same type. And that may not be enough to overcome the lack of time driven where it belongs.Towing and payload is another cross. Factor in the fuel usage in normal driving and count on that increasing when towing and/or loaded, and again the Gladiator falls short. In a way, it’s like winning the rights to having your own proper cinema, and using it perhaps once a month. It’s great to have, but…..Talk to your Jeep dealer for a test drive.

Is it Time to Replace my Tyres?

Although it might be easy to look past the role that your tyres play in the well functioning operation of your car, the reality is that you should never diminish just how important it is that your tyres are in good condition.

After all, tyres serve as the sole point of contact between your car and whatever surface lies beneath, so it’s vital that they’re up to the ever-changing task. Nonetheless, many of us fall into the habit of disregarding our tyres, at least until it’s too late.

Given the amount of tyre options on the market, there is also difficulty when it comes to finding the right replacement. Before then, however, what are the things that you should be aware of.

 

How do I know when my tyres need replacement?

The best way to stay on top of tyre maintenance is through preventative care. Every few weeks you should inspect your tyres visually, looking for general wear, assessing the tread and also gauging the pressure in the tyre.

By law, the minimum legal tread depth is 1.5mm in Australia. Of course, waiting until it gets to that point is a dangerous choice, because in many ways you are still potentially compromising on your safety the closer that point nears.

Ideally, once the tread on your tyre gets below 2.5 or 3mm, you will want to start eyeing up a replacement for your wearing tyres. Wait any longer and the grooves on your tyres will start to flatten out, which is when a tyre starts to go bald. The consequences of this are a loss of traction, meaning longer braking distances.

There are various ways you can measure the tread depth without needing a precise ruler. First, keep an eye out for the rubber ‘nibs’ located on the space between the tread grooves. These are indicators that once worn down, will let you know it is time to be replacing your tyre.

If you have a 20c coin at hand, you can also use this as an approximate yardstick. Insert the coin in the tyre groove and look for how far it sits in the space. One handy thing to keep an eye on is the picture of the platypus on the face of the coin. If its bill doesn’t touch the tyre tread, you have less than 3mm tread depth and are fast approaching a replacement. On the other hand, if the coin sits snugly inside the tread groove, you’re good to go.

Beyond tread, however, tyres also have a lifespan as far as material composition. Tyres should generally not be kept more than five years as the rubber starts to experience degradation as far as its flexibility. If you look close enough, you’ll spot a four digit code on the sidewall of the tyre. This code tells you the week and year when the tyre was made, so if that was more than five years ago, you’re well overdue!