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Driving in Australia

Becoming Greener, Saving Money, and Other Ways to Get About

It’s always a prudent idea to have a little bit of cash tucked away for a rainy day.  As much as we like to drive, there are some other ways of getting to work or the shops, especially if you’re one who lives in a city or town, which will probably be most of us.

“I wish I had a little more cash in the bank!” is a phrase that’s been around since Noah, and I guess he too might have looked at getting a higher paid job to cope with the rising costs of timber, building materials, fuel, and other important goods and services.  For some of us, the reality is that our current job is pretty good, anyway.  So, what are some things we can do when we feel we need to be saving a little more money for other things (e.g., that weekend away to Fiji or paying for that school sports trip to NZ that one of the kids has to go on)?

Getting from A to B every day of the week does draw down on any spare cash, and once you’ve made the switch to a smaller car, a hybrid or – lucky for some – even a new EV, you are left scratching around for other options to cut costs.  Is there anything else that can be done then to reduce our fuel, EV power bill, and our carbon footprint?

On sunny days – and we have a few of those in Australia – why not take the bike instead of taking the car?  If your work premises is under 30 minutes away by bike, then cycling is a great way to keep yourself fit, also ensuring that the times when you do dust off the car to take it out for a spin become even more fun and rewarding.

Using your car less and biking or walking more is going to be good for keeping your body in shape.  Now that’s a great incentive if you’re on the lookout for someone special or even if just maintaining the special relationship you do have.  How cool is that, maintaining your sexiness and letting more cash build up in the bank for that holiday away or “Johnny’s or Jenny’s” school sports trip.  Of course, if you have to take half a dozen kids to school, take a load of gear or a trailer, or if it’s simply pouring with rain, then you’re probably going to want to stick with your car for transport.  However, shorter distances can also be walked – even with a brolly in the pouring rain!

Governments, town planners, and urban designers are all trying making it easier for cyclists to be able to bike safely, pedestrians to go walk about, all while working towards cleaning up the air quality of our urban environments – particularly the congested city environment.  I do love a ride on the pushbike.  The wind in the hair, the sun on the back, and the blood pumping through the veins feels great.

But what about the bus or train?  Does your public transport system provide a better alternative to your vehicle’s thirsty internal combustion engine?  If you can find a public transport route that takes you within half a kilometre of your work, why not use public transport and walk the remainder?  You’ll get to stretch your legs before arriving at your office, and this will help your work productivity – especially first thing in the morning.  Buses are usually comfortable enough in Australia, while the train is also available in many of our main centres.

I guess if it’s time for getting the groceries, the bus or train might not be a practical option; it is hard work carrying all those shopping bags full of milk and eggs.  The grocery run is definitely easier to do by car.  Doing the groceries weekly or even fortnightly rather than less frequently saves you petrol money and also grocery money – it’s a fact!  Flip the coin, and I suppose lots of little shopping trips everyday by bus or train could also get the groceries done.

But is everyday shopping practical or relaxing? Maybe not for busy Mums and Dads, or workaholics, but it is probably more attractive for older people who haven’t quite the same work and family commitments.

Of course, there will be a number of you smirking as you read this because your work office is at home.  Yes, I agree, that’s a pretty cool set up!  Rolling out of bed in the morning and into your office chair sounds like a great way to get to work.  Still, there are ways, I’m sure, that you could reduce the level of car trips you do in a week, especially if you needed to save a few extra dollars for various reasons.

Still not convinced that you can give up the car entirely?  Actually, it is pretty hard in this day and age to go carless.  All of us need to be able to get out of town and see the countryside from time to time – it’s healthy and the Doctors would agree!  However, there is another phenomenon known as carpooling.  You could carpool with the people at your work.  Single-occupant vehicles (i.e., one person in one car) are frowned on by town planners, environmentalists, and traffic engineers, so if you can share the ride with someone else via a carpool system, you will be impressing these types.  You will also get to save money, and you can relax a little, feeling a bit better about how you’re helping to reduce traffic congestion, your own carbon footprint, and the urban air pollution.

Of course, if you love cars, then you are going to want to drive yourself everywhere.  Best save up and buy a hybrid or EV, then!

Fuel Miser Comparison (2010/2022) Smart-VW

I thought I’d look at a list of cars that featured in an article written back in 2010, where I compared some of the thriftiest cars at that time.  These were cars which had been designed to function as some of the world’s best fuel sippers.  These vehicles were sold new in Australia, but I thought I’d add a new twist this time by adding what we can consider as the brand new version of these old models with their statistics for fuel consumption as a comparison – you know, a bit of nostalgia along with the new, and what’s changed – or not.

Note that the fuel consumption figures are based on the number of litres of fuel consumed every 100 km travelled.  Often real world situations can play havoc with Lab tested fuel consumption figures, but this definitely gives you an interesting picture  And, here is the list that is in alphabetical order – just to be helpful:

Smart

2010 Smart ForTwo

By far the smallest car being talked about in 2010 with excellent fuel consumption was the Smart ForTwo.  It still fits into car parks like you wouldn’t believe!  Small and safe, comfortable and peppy, any smart CBD commuter would be tempted by the tiny Smart ForTwo.  It boasts a combined fuel economy figure that sits well under 5 litres/100 km – and this all coming from a ULP motor.  Currently you can’t buy any new Smart car in Australia, though I’ve heard that, in the near future, they are making a comeback with purely electric power and with new design.

SsangYong

2010 SsangYong Actyon SUV

At the time, the 2010 SsangYong Actyon was about the most frugal SUV you could buy new at an impressively low price.  The economic SUV has muscly looks and a rugged design that could see the vehicle handling tough off-road terrain with ease.  SsangYong uses a 2.0 litre turbo-diesel engine in this vehicle, which packs over 300 Nm of torque to go with its excellent 4×4 underpinnings.  Getting any 1.8 tonne vehicle to manage under 5 litres/100 km is a feat.  So, well done to SsangYong!  Currently, no more SsangYong vehicles quite match the excellent economy of an Actyon Diesel.

Suzuki

2010 Suzuki Alto

Budget priced, and one of the few petrol powered cars back in 2010 delivering awesome fuel economy was the Suzuki Alto.  The Suzuki Alto 1.0 litre GL and GLX has an attainable fuel economy figure of 4.8 litres/100 km.  The Suzuki Alto is also nice looking (bug-eyed), has six airbags, and even comes with ESP as standard in the GLX model.  Great for around town – you’d be nuts to not consider an Alto.

2022 Suzuki Ignis

There are no new Altos in 2022, but Suzuki do offer us the awesome little Suzuki Ignis GL Manual and GLX auto.  These cars use a 1.2-litre ULP motor and deliver a similar fuel consumption to the 2010 Alto.  Safety in new Suzuki cars has taken a big leap forward, so too has all the modern technology.  Brand new Swift and Baleno models are definitely worth a look.  These are also economy-driven cars with decent comfort, technology, and practicality.

 

 

 

 

Toyota

Where would the world be without Toyota?  For a very frugal, spacious, and practical drive, the clean burning 2010 Toyota Prius III offered a 1.8 litre petrol hybrid engine.  It didn’t come cheap, but it was certainly friendly on the environment.  You could expect around 4.0 litres/ 100 km – sometimes better.

2022 Toyota Prius

You can now buy a 2022 Toyota Prius model for between $42–50k.  These are nice cars and much more impressive to look at than the older models.  They are safe and packed with excellent features.  The Prius still continues with the same petrol-electric engineering that made it such a standout when it was launched in 2001.  The same basic technology remains for the 4th-generation Prius, as well as all Toyota/Lexus hybrids these days.  So, what a new Prius offers is a small-capacity 4-cylinder engine that works through a planetary gear set to dispense the delivery of power to the front wheels (or also the rear wheels in SUV variants). The current Toyota Prius is powered by a 72kW/142Nm 1.8-litre engine that combines with an electric motor to produce a joint maximum power output of 90kW and a claimed fuel consumption of 3.4 litres/100km.  Better than ever!  Toyota newest vehicles: the CH-R, Camry, Corolla, RAV-4, and Yaris Hybrid models are available with very low fuel consumption figures.  Toyota and Honda are masters of the Hybrid-game, and have been for quite some time.

VW

Back in 2010, the Germans offered plenty of cars with excellent fuel consumption.  Volkswagen has for a long time offered well-designed, reliable and fuel efficient motorcars.  They are generally refined, elegant, and roomy, and the 2010 VW Golf 77TDI variant easily boasts fuel economy figures below 5 litres/100 km on a combined cycle.

2010 VW 77TDI

2022 sees the Golf Hatch with 5 models, and in Wagon form it has a couple of nice new variants.  The base models use a 110TSI 1.4-litre ULP motor, which is a 4-cylinder that is smooth and can return a claimed 5.8 litres/100 km.  250 Nm of torque offers muscle when you need it, and the car cruises at high speed effortlessly.  The 8th-generation of the Golf brings not only fresh external and interior design, but it is also the safest, most tech-laden ever.

2022 VW Golf 110TSI

There are other new cars right across the auto-manufacturing spectrum now that offer superb fuel economy or EV power alone.  It’s interesting how in that time (2010–2022) we’ve seen auto manufacturers taking a shift away from providing the new-car buyer with several frugal diesel family options to a fleet that is now a lot more Hybrid in flavour.  It’s a change coerced by new government law and regulation.  However, hybrid vehicles are superb automobiles that offer top fuel consumption figures and practicality, creating that much needed bridge between purely fossil fuel vehicles and completely EV-powered automobiles

Do check out the brand new arrivals.  Cars like the Hyundai IONIC, Hyundai KONA, Kia EV6, Kia Niro, Mazda MX-30, BMW i and Hybrid models, Mercedes Benz EQA and EQC models, MG HS EV, Polestar cars, Tesla, and Volvo’s Recharge and Hybrid models are just some of the amazing new cars available that we can now buy that weren’t even a showing back in 2010.

Happy commuting!

Let’s Go and Caravan

We’ve got the country, we’ve got the beauty, and it seems peoples’ love for caravanning and camping around Oz is growing steadily.  The latest figures from Tourism Research Australia show that the popularity of domestic caravanning and camping trips is one pastime that many Australians cherish.  It’s not hard to see why people enjoy it, when there is so much natural beauty in Australia’s landscapes and wildlife.

According to the latest domestic tourism record, it shows that Australians spent a total of 54.5 million nights caravanning and camping during the year ending March 2019.  This number is an increase of 6.5% from the previous year.  While on these trips, many caravanners and campers also opted to eat out at local cafes or restaurants, a bonus for the local businesses.  This growth was experienced across the board, in all States and Territories, with over 10% growth recorded for Northern Territory, South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and Queensland.  Interestingly, in terms of age demographics, those with a family in tow – i.e. parents with one or more children living at home – belonged to the demographic group that accounted for the largest number of caravan/camp trips in a year.  People who were part of the younger, mid-life demographic, and with no children, were those of the second largest group taking plenty of caravanning or camping trips (4.2 million).  When it comes to the most nights away in a year, the older non-working demographic (often called ‘grey nomads’) were leading the way with 32% of the total number of nights spent in Australia caravanning or camping.  In comparison, the family segment was only slightly less at 30%.

Sorry tenters, but I’m getting older and so will give my few cents worth for caravanning in the following!  I enjoy getting away in our caravan when we can.  Having a caravan in tow allows for a little more comfort on the trip, with less hassle on arrival at each new destination.  Everything you really need is with you, and the beds are ready made for the night, with no need to pitch tent!

I would certainly recommend trying caravanning, particularly if you like the idea of enjoying the great outdoors, getting away from most of the electronic vices, and smelling the clean air.  You get to meet a whole bunch of friendly, like-minded people along the way.  You also get to discover the many new places you’ve never seen before or rediscover your old favourite spots that you love to get back to.  These sorts of experiences are a treat that I never grow tired of.

Caravan Types

Here are some of the varieties of caravans you can buy without looking into purchasing a fully-fledged motorhome:

Standard Caravan

Easy to tow. It really just depends on the tow rating of your car as to how large or heavy the standard caravan is.  The smaller the caravan, generally, the lighter and easier it is to tow than bigger ones.  Standard caravans come in a range of sizes, single and tandem axles, and so some of the standard caravans can even be pulled by smaller cars.

Because standard caravans aren’t as heavy as the more ruggedly designed off-road caravans, they demand less torque and horsepower to tow comfortably out on the open road; thus, they are more economical on the fuel/power bill.

Standard caravans are also a bit easier to store and manipulate by hand, particularly the smaller ones.

 

Pop Tops

Pop-tops are easy to tow. Small caravans like pop-ups are, generally, much lighter and easier to tow from A to B than larger types of caravans.  You get much better fuel economy towing a pop-top because of the lower drag co-efficiency.

Pop-tops a doddle to store and manipulate by hand, particularly the smaller ones.

 

Expander

The merits of an expander caravan are similar to any standard or off-road caravan; however, they have the added bonus of a variety of pop-out areas that can be designed into the ceiling and walls.  Essentially, pop these areas out at your destination, and you have a lot more interior space and utility at your disposal while being stationary.  Just before you tow away, these areas are fold back into place, and away you tow again.

 

Off Road Caravan or Camper

The merits of having an off-road capable caravan or camper speak for themselves.  They have been built tough and rugged so that you can tow them off-road.  Obviously, you are going to need a bigger, torquier vehicle to tow this type of caravan/camper as they are heavier built and weigh more.  Usually, these are towed by a decent 4×4 capable vehicle like a Land Rover, Toyota Land Cruiser, Ford Ranger, etc.

 

Camper Trailer

Similar to a pop-up caravan, except they fold out an array of attached tents.  These are light and easy to tow.  They can be designed for towing both on and off the road.  They are cheaper to buy, as are pop tops.

Hybrids, EVs, and the City Environment

With the big push for clean air and protecting the environment, running a new hybrid vehicle is one way to make the gradual change from fossil fuels to electric more affordable and realistic as we head into a future of EVs.

A gradual change is key, so that everyone can adjust their budgets and business direction accordingly.  And making the change gradual ensures that EVs can become more affordable to the masses.  Have you heard of the ‘trickle-down effect’?  This term refers to the reality of fashion trends flowing from the wealthy (e.g., politicians, mayors, doctors, directors, engineers etc.) to the less well-off or the working class (e.g., factory hands, beneficiaries, shop assistants, cleaners, farm workers, etc.) in society.  This trickle-down phenomenon can be related to any new consumer product, especially when these products are first introduced into the market.

At the product’s initial introduction into the marketplace, it is costly and only affordable to the wealthy, but, as the product matures, and as time goes on, its price begins to fall so that it might become more widely affordable and thus adopted by the general public and the working class.  One would assume that pure EVs will follow this kind of trend.

Right now, EVs are expensive to purchase new, especially when you want to have one of the EVs with all the status (e.g., Tesla, Porsche, Mercedes Benz).  There are some cheaper options like the MG ZS EV, Hyundai IONIQ electric, the Nissan Leaf, and the Hyundai Kona electric.  These cars can generally be had for less than $60k.

Currently, owning and operating a 100% EV would be an ideal option if you just wanted to hop between addresses inside the city boundary or maybe commute short distances to and from the urban jungle.  However, throw in some intercity travel or long country drives, and the EV is simply left wanting.  I’m aware that EV manufacturers are working hard to change this, to make their EVs capable of travelling much longer distances between recharges, as well as making the recharge time much quicker than it commonly is.  As it stands today, Australia’s recharging infrastructure is in its infancy, and beyond the city boundary, even inside, it still has a long way to go before becoming seamless and brief.

If you live in and mostly travel inside one of our lovely Australian cities, owning or operating a vehicle that is capable of running on electric power for all or at least some of the time (more depending on you commute or travel patterns) would surely be an option if you aren’t doing so already.  This would instantly help to improve the air quality of the congested city environment.

Who wouldn’t want to enjoy breathing cleaner air inside a city’s boundaries?  We all would, right?  But I can’t afford an EV because (a) it’s not practical and (b) you can’t afford one?  If you relate to either of these truths, then you aren’t alone and are currently in the majority.  So, what about a Hybrid then?  Right now, hybrid vehicles do make a lot of sense.  They are able to use their small electric motor for 20–30 km of inner city travel, thus making the city air cleaner and the environment better for all city dwellers and workers.  However, when the commute includes distances beyond the city boundary, the petrol motor will happily take over transport duties and to get you where you want to go, recharging the electric motor’s battery in the process.

Of course, a bicycle or even walking is another option for inner city travel, particularly when it isn’t raining.  If you are wanting a Hybrid vehicle or even an EV, then do have a look at some of our Hybrid and EV reviews or talk to some of our sales staff to see if there is a likable and affordable option out there for you.

How will Australia manage the EV transition as the UK and Japan make their move?

Japan recently joined the growing ranks of countries that are set to move towards a ban on petrol and diesel-powered new cars, emphasising the need to shift towards a new generation of fuel technology.

With the framework for a transition by the middle of the next decade looking set to be a priority for the Japanese government, it is clear that Japan is ramping up its efforts to achieve a goal of being net carbon neutral by 2050. This means the sale of new cars with internal combustion engines could be at an end by the mid-2030s.

As mentioned above, Japan is merely one of a number of countries making the switch.

European lawmakers have been on the frontline in terms of making changes. And those changes are only coming up quicker, as countries accelerate efforts to meet net zero goals. In the UK, the sales ban on new petrol and diesel-powered cars is now targeting 2030 as opposed to the original timeline of 2035.

 

hybrid-428183_960_720

 

How might this impact new cars in Australia?

By now, and after a federal election where a green mandate has been given, you’re probably either chastising our politicians for not following suit, or alternatively, you might be wondering what does this all have to do with Australia?

The ramifications for motorists down under are more complex than you might believe. The UK and Japan are the largest markets in the world for right-hand-drive vehicles. Even Singapore, another right-hand-drive market, has pencilled in a 2040 deadline for the transition away from the internal combustion engine.

While the local government has yet to make any significant inroads as far as incentivising drivers to take up cars powered by electric or hybrid means – in fact, some state governments have introduced road user charges that are hardly helping the cause – this absence is quite stark when compared to overseas markets where motorists have a number of incentives and the infrastructure in place to consider buying a vehicle powered by ‘green’ energy. And of course, EV prices are far more affordable overseas. Uptake is picking up quickly in a number of international markets, with the building blocks in place to encourage drivers to make the switch, and pioneers like Tesla changing the game.

With Australia no longer in the picture as a car manufacturer, nor is it ever likely to be one in the future given the prohibitive costs associated with the industry down under, the prospect of the world leaving Australia behind shouldn’t be ignored.

Not only could Australia be left behind as other countries transition to more efficient and technologically sophisticated vehicles, but the cost of supplying Australia with right-hand-drive vehicles could increase as economies of scale begin to dissipate if not evaporate for car manufacturers. If this happens, you better believe that those companies will be passing on the costs to local motorists in the form of higher prices – as if manufacturers haven’t been increasing prices a number of times over the last couple years already.

 

Is there Still Space in the Market for Sedans?

Like a slow motion replay, the scene has been unfolding for some time. In fact, go back a couple of years and the writing was on the wall. Australians are obsessed with SUVs. But it’s not just here either, with many other countries following the trend, none more evident than the United States and China.

It has reached the point now where local SUV sales are far and away outperforming sedans, and have blown past 50% of all new car sales. On the one hand, the rise of commercial vehicles like utes has also helped to skew the numbers away from sedans, but the prominence of the SUV category is no statistical anomaly.

With such an evident trend appearing to be set in stone, it does raise questions over the future viability of the sedan format. In particular, will sedans still have a place in the market as SUV sales soar?

toyota-3830433_640

An evolving landscape

Cars have always been redefined by the technological progress that accompanies them. That doesn’t just extend to what’s under the bonnet either, nor what’s inside the cabin. It also extends to the shape of the body. We’ve seen an evolution as far as new formats like crossovers, liftbacks and many other identities.

In many respects, there is no reason to believe this won’t continue as means to continue fuelling the sedan market. Design changes may be subtle, but incorporating the feedback we’ve come to expect from those who prefer things like superior room, ride height, visibility and off-road versatility that comes with an SUV. Not to mention, with electrification and autonomy on the way, designs will inherently continue to transform, gradually shifting our taste in vehicles too.

car-1796389_640

The value proposition will dictate future sales

For now, sedans are still posting sales numbers that are nothing to sneeze at. Sure, they may be declining, but the choice for SUV models has risen astronomically to provide more options than ever before. Motorists’ preferences may have changed but in some ways, historical data may have been otherwise pointed to higher levels of SUV sales – and lower sedan sales – had drivers been afforded more choice at an earlier stage.

It is also a challenge that manufacturers should embrace. They will not only be faced with the task of streamlining their sedan range – as many have done already – but also going about reinvigorating a value proposition into the category to drive sales.

SUV sales may offer auto-makers fatter margins, however their higher prices and at-times polarising looks will still be a barrier to pushing sedans out of the market. So if sedans are then here to stay, car manufacturers must add value in the form of new technology, amenity, efficiency and performance to compete for the shrinking pool of buyers. And it’s many of these criteria that sedans have historically held the upper hand.

Fuel Prices: New Car?

It’s unfortunate to see that the prices for fuel in Australia have been on the steady increase across.  Retailers suggest that the increase in the cost of fuel has come about through record oil prices and new logistical challenges for acquiring the fuel.  It’s definitely worth shopping around to ensure that you can get the best price on your fuel at the pump, as prices do differ from retail outlet around town and across States.

Just recently, regular unleaded petrol (91) had a national average of $2.14 per litre, yet the cheapest was found in Carnarvon, Western Australia, where it was sold for $1.59 per litre.  The most expensive was located in Derby, Western Australia, where (91) was seen being sold for $2.42 per litre.  The same trend is occuring for (95), (98), (E10), and Diesel.

As for how long these high fuel prices will continue to last, fuel industry analysts say that it’s anyone’s speculation at the moment.  Peter Khoury, NRMA spokesman, recently said: “These prices are completely off the scale, more than twice what [motorists] were paying in April 2020… We have no idea where we would set the ceiling at this point.”

It begs the question: Should a motorist that has to do quite a few kilometres each week look at purchasing a more fuel efficient car?  The answer, I guess, is up to you.  It depends on how tight your budget is.  If you can afford a new car, or at least a second car that’s extra-miserly on fuel, then I’d say go for it – particularly if you’re having to do high mileages.  Then again, if you are not travelling far each week, say to the shops and the occasional trip elsewhere, then staying with the car you have and keeping your travel to a minimum is probably the way to go at this stage, and we’ll sit tight and see where/when all this price rising will come to an end, revising it again in another few months.

You might be a motorist who needs to upgrade for various reasons including the rising fuel costs.  In this case, being in the market for a new car and wanting to purchase a vehicle that delivers the best fuel-efficiency has to be a pivotal point of purchase for you.  Here is a list of the most fuel-efficient vehicles in 2022 across numerous categories, something that you might find useful right now.

Note – Where “Diesel” hasn’t been mentioned after the model, assume that it’s “Petrol” version…

Small cars (Hatchbacks):

Toyota Yaris Hybrid Hatchback                                        3.3 litres/100 km

Toyota Yaris Hybrid Hatchback

Toyota Corolla Hybrid Hatchback                                    4.2 litres/100 km

Toyota Yaris Hatchback                                                       4.9 litres/100 km

Mazda 2 Hatchback                                                              5.3 litres/100 km

Toyota Corolla Hatchback                                                  6.0 litres/100 km

Mazda 3 Hatchback                                                              6.2 litres/100 km

MG3 Hatchback                                                                     6.7 litres/100 km

Hyundai i30 Hatchback                                                       7.4 litres/100 km

 

Family & fleet (Sedans):

 

Toyota Camry Hybrid Sedan                                             4.7 litres/100 km

Toyota Camry Hybrid Sedan

Toyota Camry Sedan                                                             6.8 litres/100 km

 

Small-Med SUV

 

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid 2WD                                                  4.7 litres/100 km

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid AWD                                                  4.8 litres/100 km

Mazda CX-3 2WD                                                                   6.3 litres/100 km

Mazda CX-30 2WD                                                                6.5 litres/100 km

Toyota RAV4 2WD                                                                 6.5 litres/100 km

Mazda CX-5 2WD                                                                   6.9 litres/100 km

Toyota RAV4 AWD                                                                7.3 litres/100 km

Mazda CX-5 AWD                                                                  7.4 litres/100 km

Mitsubishi Outlander 2WD                                                7.5 litres/100 km

Mitsubishi Outlander AWD                                               8.1 litres/100 km

 

Large SUV

 

Toyota Kluger Hybrid AWD                                                4.7 litres/100 km

Toyota Kluger Hybrid AWD

Hyundai Santa Fe AWD Diesel                                          6.1 litres/100 km

Kia Sorento AWD Diesel                                                     6.1 litres/100 km

Toyota Prado 4WD Diesel                                                  7.9 litres/100 km

Mazda CX-9 2WD                                                                   8.4 litres/100 km

Toyota Kluger 2WD                                                               8.7 litres/100 km

Toyota Kluger AWD                                                              8.9 litres/100 km

Toyota LandCruiser 300 Diesel                                        8.9 litres/100 km

Mazda CX-9 AWD                                                                  9 litres/100 km

Kia Sorento 2WD                                                                    9.7 litres/100 km

Hyundai Santa Fe 2WD                                                        10.5 litres/100 km

Nissan Patrol Y62                                                                   14.4 litres/100 km

 

Ute

 

Nissan Navara STX 4WD Diesel                                        7.8 litres/100 km

Nissan Navara STX 4WD Diesel

Toyota HiLux SR5 4WD Diesel                                          8 litres/100 km

Ford Ranger XLT 4WD Diesel                                            8 litres/100 km

Isuzu D-Max XT 4WD Diesel                                              8 litres/100 km

Mazda BT-50 SP 4WD Diesel                                             8 litres/100 km

Mitsubishi Triton GLX+ 4WD Diesel                               8.6 litres/100 km

Ford Ranger XLT 4WD Diesel                                            8.9 litres/100 km

LDV T60 Max 4WD     2.0L Diesel                                      9.2 litres/100 km

GWM Ute 4WD           2.0L Diesel                                      9.4 litres/100 km

Toyota HiLux Workmate 2WD                                          10.9 litres/100 km

Ram 1500 DS Limited                                                           12.2 litres/100 km

Ram 1500 DT Express                                                          12.2 litres/100 km

Chevrolet 1500 LTZ                                                               12.8 litres/100 km

 

Van

 

Hyundai Staria Load van Diesel                                        7 litres/100 km

Hyundai Staria Load van Diesel

Ford Transit Custom van Diesel                                       7.3 litres/100 km

Toyota Hiace LWB van Diesel                                           8.2 litres/100 km

LDV G10 van Diesel                                                               8.2 litres/100 km

LDV G10 van                                                                            11.1 litres/100 km

 

Toyota’s Hybrid vehicles, if they suit you needs, top their classes with fuel bills that were roughly half their nearest rivals.  The Hybrid versions of the Toyota Yaris Hatch, the Toyota Corolla Hatch, the Toyota Camry Sedan, the Toyota RAV4 SUV, and the Toyota Kluger are the ones I’m talking about here.

Motorcycles

There are those of us who just don’t do motorcycles.  The thought of hurtling along the motorway with a massive engine between your legs sounds downright alarming to many people, and I get that.  Considering that a motorcyclist does have less protection than most road users does put a lot of people off riding a motorcycle.  However, a careful and skilful rider can manage the risks and keep well out of harm’s way.

Maybe you already ride a motorbike.  You might even be wondering about getting your motorcycle license.  If you haven’t experienced riding a motorcycle, then the chances are you’ll enjoy the thrill of riding a motorbike safely.  Safely being the important word.  Once you’ve mastered the skill of riding a motorbike safely, travelling about Australia on two wheels instead of four can be a fun and exciting experience you’ll enjoy for years to come.  Out in the open, taking in the sights and smells, experiencing the elements, being one with the machine as you lean through the corners and feel the response are all reasons why many people love riding motorcycles.

As a tool to combat rising fuel prices, the motorbike could be a useful option.  Whether you’re single or married, the motorbike can combine with your other means of transportation to get you where you need to go.  They use a lot less fuel than a car and have the size (or lack of size) that enables them to slip through congested areas and park in tight spaces.  If emissions are an issue for you, then the motorbike generates less of an environmental impact than a car does.

Even with the recent global health concerns and restrictions on our daily lives, over the last couple of years the motorcycle has enjoyed an increase in sales throughout Australia.  Over the 2020 period, new motorcycle and scooter sales in Australia were up 6.2% from the previous year, showing a strong demand for individual mobility transport options, of which the motorcycle is the best.  And throughout 2021, the growth trend mushroomed with an increase of 16.6%.  That equated to a total of 102 new units sold, the highest level for 15 years.

Honda, Yamaha, and Kawasaki claim the biggest chunks of the market share, while Suzuki, KTM, BMW, and Harley Davidson deliver strong motorbike sales.  All motorcycle manufacturers have enjoyed the stronger consumer demand for motorbikes, resulting in better sales figures.

Many people find motorcycle riding a relatively easy task but riding out on the road still comes with a fair share of risk.  Lack of experience and recklessness are often key areas associated with motorcycle accidents.  Damp and slippery roads need to be recognized and ridden over with care.

Allowing plenty of space between you and other road users is a must, and as you ride be aware of other people’s actions, intersection dynamics, any oncoming cars, and any car (whether moving or stationary) in front of you as you ride.  If you are reading the other road users well, reading the road conditions right, and keeping your distance, then motorcycling is relatively safe.

There are plenty of nice sport bikes out there like the Buell Hammerhead, Ducati V4 or the Yamaha YZF-R7.  These are great bikes for a fast ride over a short distance.  They can make useful commute bikes as well.

Buell Sportbike

The touring bikes and dual purpose-bikes are better set up for a comfortable seat and long distance ergonomics.  These are swift bikes and can handle two-up and luggage no problems.  They also make a decent commuter.  Bikes like the Triumph Tiger 1200, MV Augusta Turismo, KTM 1290, Kawasaki Versys, Honda CB500X and BMW 1600 GT are great options in this class of bike.  They are a heavy bike, so not ideal for learners and the inexperienced.

MV Augusta Turismo

Scooters and smaller bikes like the Honda Navi, BMW CE O4 Electric Scooter, and Honda CB300 are handy inner-city commuters and great or a learner rider.

BMW Electric Scooter

A Roadster like the Harley Davidson Street Glide ST, Harley Davidson Forty-Eight, Indian Chief, and Triumph Bonneville Bobber are all about the wow factor and looks.  These are sexy bikes, but some people also find their relatively relaxed riding position, which includes arms and legs pointing forwards, nice for cruising on longer rides.

Harley Davidson Forty-Eight

An FCEV for Our Environment

With the rising concerns over greenhouse gas emissions, the development of ammonia fuelled vehicles as environmentally friendly cars would have to look rather promising.  A car running on NH3 – now what’s not to like about that?

Many scientists believe that it is urgent to reduce CO2 emissions because of the global warming effect that the gas has on the climate around the globe.  Despite CO2 in the atmosphere being great for plant growth (some of the edges of the earth’s deserts are greening up again with increased CO2 in the atmosphere), and the earth’s water cycle playing a pivotal role in governing the earth’s temperature, the drive to create taxing emission standards and expensive alternatives continues to drive government policy worldwide.  What if we gradually changed over to another source of energy so that everyone in the world could afford the switch, allowing people to maintain a higher standard of living?

Using CO2–free fuels to reduce the level of CO2 emissions could be a viable option in the current climate.  So, what about ammonia?

An internal combustion engine (ICE) burns a fuel.  Basically, you can convert an engine to run on any fuel such as fossil-fuels, hydrogen and ammonia, and there are many ways to do so.  ICE engines are very good in combination with battery and hybrid systems.  It would be a perfect solution to make a hydrogen-fuelled vehicle with hydrogen that has been cracked out of ammonia and stored in the vehicle.  The ammonia would then be used to drive the electric propulsion system because an electric propulsion system is highly efficient.  That would be a perfect vehicle.

The battery system in this model would not need to be anywhere near the size of a pure EV and anywhere near the weight.  For instance, in a Tesla, the whole EV platform under the car is a battery pack that is massively heavy.  A clean-burning ICE producing heat-waste from the combustion process could use this heat-waste to warm up the cabin’s interior on a cold day, cool the cabin down via a heat exchanger, and could also be used to cool and heat the battery accordingly for optimum battery operating temperatures.

You can store accessible hydrogen in the form of ammonia (NH3).  Unlike hydrogen gas, which requires very low (cryogenic) temperatures to liquefy, ammonia becomes a liquid at –34°C.  Ammonia also does so at room temperature and at 9 atmospheric pressures, making it much more convenient to use as a transportation fuel.  Ammonia is comparatively inexpensive to produce, and the hydrogen can be separated out using catalysts without undue losses.

Essentially, you have a car with a combustion engine that is burning the hydrogen that is cracked out of the stored ammonia onboard the car to produce electricity.  The engine would have an alternator as an electric motor that would power the drivetrain with electricity at close to 99% efficiency.  This set-up is known as a Fuel Cell Electric Vehicle (FCEV).

The FCEV above uses stored ammonia that’s cracked onboard the car to produce hydrogen to run the electric drive train – only emitting water vapour and warm air as exhaust, and is considered a zero-emission vehicle.  Now that sounds pretty smart, efficient and green to me!

It’s School Run Time Again!

Well, the start of another school year is upon us, which means that the roads at certain times of the day are going to be super-busy as mums and dads do the school run.  If your child is starting school for the first time or if he/she is going to a new school that’s beyond walking distance, you might be wondering about doing the school run for the first time.  What do you need to know?  And how do you get your car ready for the school run?

First of all, figure out whether you want to be part of a car pool scheme or whether you’re only going to pick up and drop off your own kids.  This depends on a number of factors, including how large your family is and where all the other families involved in the car pool scheme live. It also depends on how large your family vehicle is.  If what’s handy for the school run is a smaller two-door hatchback that requires passengers to do a fair bit of clambering in order to be squished in the back seat, then you may not be all that popular.  However, if you have a minivan or MPV handy, then you’re probably the obvious choice for doing the school run.

If you choose to go down the car pool route, then sit down and negotiate everything with the others involved in the scheme. What happens when someone is ill or has an unexpected meeting at an awkward time? If someone has to do the lion’s share of the driving (that person with the seven-seater, for example), how will they be compensated for the extra fuel (or power) costs? Will the car pool only be for the mornings, or will it be for afternoons as well – and what happens when one (or more) of the kids has after-school sports or drama or something along those lines? Carpooling, while good in theory, might not work for everybody in all situations.

Getting The Car Ready

Here, we’ll assume that your situation is like mine: two kids and no nearby families, so you’re doing the school run on your own. Do you need to do anything to get your car ready specifically for the school run?

Your car will already be set up in many ways for carrying your own kids (booster seats, for example) but there may be a few more things that you need to think about. For example, will you carry school bags in the boot or in the car cabin? What happens if someone has to carry an extra-big delicate school project – where will that go? How will you make sure that the inevitable paper notices that kids come out of school clutching at the end of the school day don’t get lost in all the other bits that creep into a car’s cabin over time (we’ve all been there!). If you have some sort of system, the chances that an important notice will get lost in the seat-back storage pocket or in the footwell will be minimised.

Other things you might want to get ready include:

  • Having USB chargers ready to go in case someone needs to charge their phone, tablet or laptop – especially if they have only just realised that the laptop has low battery and they’re going to be the first person to present a speech when they get to school.
  • Snacks for after school. Kids are often hungry after a busy day, and this can make them grumpy and whiny, especially if you end up getting stuck in a traffic jam. Dried fruit, nuts, rice crackers and bliss balls are all easy to store in the glove box to restore flagging blood sugar levels while still being reasonably healthy.
  • An umbrella. Weather can be fickle, and if you opt to park further down the road then walk to meet your kids at the school gate, there will inevitably be a day when you didn’t think it was going to rain but…

Cleaning your car before the school year begins is your choice, although I’d recommend giving the inside a good vacuum just to give it that fresh, new feeling that you always get at the start of a new school year. If your kids are old enough to be embarrassed by a dirty car exterior, or if they’re old enough to find writing “Clean Me” messages in the dust funny, they’re old enough to be made to wash the car themselves.  You could make going to the car wash a bit of a weekly ritual – perhaps at the end of the week.

School Run Etiquette

When you do the school run, it’s important to be courteous and considerate of other parents and other children. Don’t go all Mama Bear, ready to run roughshod all over other people in order to get your kids.  Every other parent is as stressed and protective as you are.  What’s more, congestion and visibility are real hazards around school gates at the busy times of day.  To ensure that everybody stays safe, follow the etiquette rules:

  • Don’t double-park, park in bus stops or park in No Parking zones. Parking a little way down the road and having a short walk won’t do you or your kids any harm.
  • Keep your speed down, no matter how busy or rushed for time you are.
  • Respect zebra crossings – that’s a no brainer.
  • Don’t honk your horn to get your child’s attention.
  • Avoid getting into silly status games with other parents involving fashion, achievements and vehicle type.
  • Respect rules such as the time limit in the “kiss and run” zones.
  • Model the sort of patience that you would expect your kids to demonstrate, especially regarding places in the queue, waiting your turn and so forth.
  • If someone else breaks these rules, refrain from shouting corrections and comments out the window. You don’t want to be a Karen.

An MPV – Great for School Runs!