As seen on:

SMH Logo News Logo

Call 1300 303 181

Electric Vehicles (EVs)

Reasonably Priced Hybrid Vehicles (MG to Z)

In-between stages can sometimes get tricky.  The next set of sit-ups before truly hitting your peak fitness regime.  That gap year before study, or the six months prior to the new job contract starting.  What about the EV world?  We’re not capable of running a full fleet of EV cars yet, but maybe there’s an in-between vehicle that ticks all the right boxes before we go fully electric.

The truth is that the new hybrid vehicles are the best cars for this moment in time.  They deliver the very best low fuel consumption figures and will also try to run pure electric as much of the time as is practical or possible.

Hybrids are great vehicles, usually well-priced, thus perfect for softening the blow to the wallet – there are some hideously expensive EVs available.  Most desirable new EVs have price tags that, for most of us, will be well beyond our budget.  So what hybrid vehicles are on the market for reasonable money?  How much will they set you back when you buy new?  And what sort of fuel consumption can you expect?  Let’s have a look and see (MG to Toyota)…

MG HS Plus EV SUV

Yes, a new and very fuel efficient Hybrid for less than $50k is possible, thanks to the snazzy MG HS Plus EV SUV.  Nice to drive, comfortable, and with roomy interiors, loaded with technology, and five-star safe, these are a great hybrid buy.  The MG HS Essence-spec plug-in hybrid joined the range in 2021 and uses a 119 kW/250 Nm 1.5-litre Turbo four driving the front wheels through a 7-speed dual-clutch gearbox.  It boasts a strong presence among class leaders that include the Toyota RAV4, Mazda CX-5 and Nissan X-Trail.  It comes with 5-star safety technology that includes autonomous emergency braking with pedestrian avoidance and satellite navigation as standard.  MG says it takes about 7 seconds for the 0-100 dash, while returning a fuel efficiency that can be as low as 1.7 litres/100 km or more commonly up to 5.7 litres/100 km.

MINI Countryman Cooper SE Classic SUV

The Countryman Cooper SE Classic is a cute three-cylinder plug-in hybrid with electrically-assisted AWD.  BMW indicates a combined cycle as low as 2.4 litres/100 km but may look more like 4.5 litres/100 km for most of the time.  Combining a 1.5-litre Turbo 3-cylinder ULP petrol (100 kW/220 Nm) and a 7.6 kWh lithium-ion plug-in battery, this combined system equates to an output of 165 kW of power and 385 Nm of torque.  The small MINI sees off the 0-100kmh sprint in 6.8 seconds and is a lot of fun to drive.  The MINI Countryman’s roomy interior is backed up by 450 litres of luggage space behind the back seats, growing to 1275 litres if the seats are folded down.

Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV ES

From around $51k you can get one of these new.  The 2022 Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV ES is a very stylish small SUV with very low running costs.  Aspire and Exceed models are also available.  Comfortable and loaded with tech and safety, the Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross PHEV makes a lot of sense.  Even the top of the range Exceed with all of the bells and whistles can be bought for under $60k.  Mitsubishi indicates as low as 1.9 litres/100 km is possible, though real world figure of 3.7–4.0 litres/ 100 km is still impressively low in the real world.  Boot space is around 350 litres, and 0-100 km/h takes about 10.5 seconds.

Peugeot 3008 GT Sport Plug-in Hybrid AWD SUV

For less than $90k you can have one of these very stylish hybrids.  Boasting a 1.6-litre Turbo ULP engine and electric power that combines to a maximum of 222 kW, this sporty SUV uses an 8-speed automatic.  Thanks to twin electric motors driven by a 13.2 kWh lithium-ion battery pack, the Peugeot 3008 PHEV enables zero-emissions driving for up to 60km.  Its 222 kW power output and a 6.5-second 0-100 km/h acceleration time makes this one of the fastest SUVs in its class.  It is also 4×4 capable, making it a highly desirable vehicle for undertaking light off-road terrain.  Gorgeous full-grain Nappa leather-appointed seats with grey stitching, nicely-integrated twin digital screens (a 10.0-inch central touch-screen with satellite navigation and a 12.3-inch driver display), real world fuel efficiency likely be around 5–5.5 litres/100 km (but much less than this is possible), and you have yourself quite a vehicle.  Peugeot reckons the 3008 PHEV can achieve a combined fuel consumption figure of 1.6 litres/100 km with CO2 emissions of 36.4g/km.  Boot space is 395 litres.

Peugeot 508 GT Plug-in Hybrid

From around $84k one of these extremely stylish cars can be yours.  Its petrol-electric hybrid powertrain allows the svelte sedan to drive up to 55 km (WLTP) in silence, by switching off the combustion engine and using only its electric motor.  It’s hard not to be impressed with the car’s looks and style.  Inside, the leather seats, the dashboard design, the sporty cockpit layout, and the sheer attention to detail is very impressive.  A 12.3-inch iCockpit digital driver’s display, a 10.0-inch central touch-screen, a 10-speaker sound system, dual-zone automatic climate control, five-star safety, it’s all there!  0-100 km/h takes around 8.2 seconds, while the Plug-in Hybrid system uses a 1.6-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder engine developing 133 kW at 6000 rpm and 300 Nm at 3000 rpm to get the job done.  The official combined-cycle fuel consumption figure is 1.8 litres/ 100 km, but to achieve that would require frequent charging – something that’s not always possible in the real world.  Expect around 5.0 to 6.5 litres/100 km combined.  Boot space is 487 litres.

Subaru Forester Hybrid

Subaru XV Hybrid

The fifth generation of Subaru’s mid-size, all-AWD Forester SUV was updated in late 2021 with a new look, plus refinements to steering and suspension and a revised instrument panel.  The smaller XV Hatch also uses similar tech.  Expect around 6-7 litres/100 km for the 2.0-litre boxer-based mild hybrid powerplants.  Off-road is no problems at all for the Forester or XV and safety is off the top shelf.  All Foresters and XV Hybrids get active cruise control, blind-spot monitors, lane-change assist, “active” LED headlights and rear cross traffic alert. The Forester offers truly generous passenger space and luggage capacity (422 litres expanding to 1768 litres with rear seats folded).  The XV has 340 litres behind the rear seats.  Both are nice to drive adventure seekers.

Toyota Hybrids

Almost every model on the Toyota showroom floor can be a hybrid.  There are so many that I’ll list them all here in picture form.

Toyota C-HR Hybrid SUV from $42k.

 

 

 

 

 

Toyota Camry Hybrid Sedan between $38-52k.

Toyota Corolla Hatch and Sedan between $32-40k.

 

Toyota Kluger SUV between $60-83k.

Toyota RAV4 Hybrid

 

 

Toyota Prius between $43-51k.

Toyota Yaris Hybrid

These are truly excellent hybrid vehicles, and, if you don’t know where to start, Toyota is a great place.  Reliability, practicality, some of the best hybrid economy figures (usually very achievable: 3.5 to 5.5 litres/100 km), and excellent 5-star safety are all reasons why Toyota Hybrids are so good.  They are also very competitively priced right across the board from the little Yaris Hatch to the larger Camry Sedan or Kluger SUV.  Get ready to be impressed.

Be an in-betweener and gain some of the Hybrid benefits.

Reasonably Priced Hybrid Vehicles (Kia-Merc)

In-between stages can sometimes get tricky.  The next set of sit-ups before truly hitting your peak fitness regime.  That gap year before study, or the six months prior to the new job contract starting.  What about the EV world?  We’re not capable of running a full fleet of EV cars yet, but maybe there’s an in-between vehicle that ticks all the right boxes before we go fully electric.

The truth is that the new hybrid vehicles are the best cars for this moment in time.  They deliver the very best low fuel consumption figures and will also try to run pure electric as much of the time as is practical or possible.

Hybrids are great vehicles, usually well-priced, thus perfect for softening the blow to the wallet – there are some hideously expensive EVs available.  Most desirable new EVs have price tags that, for most of us, will be well beyond our budget.  So what hybrid vehicles are on the market for reasonable money?  How much will they set you back when you buy new?  And what sort of fuel consumption can you expect?  Let’s have a look and see (Kia-Merc)…

 

Kia Niro Hybrid S

The Kia Niro comes in regular hybrid, plug-in PHEV hybrid, and also pure electric (EV) form. Hybrid variants of this small SUV use a 77 kW/147 Nm 1.6-litre ULP engine that is mated to a 44.5 kW electric motor.  The PHEV version can run in EV mode for around 58 km, while the pure EV model has a 150 kW/395 Nm motor and a 455 km WLTP (World harmonised Light vehicle Testing Procedure) range.  All variants are available in regular or Sport form – the Sport model adding more technology and luxury such as Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, climate control and part-leather seat trim, as well as extra safety in the form of blind spot monitoring, rear parking sensors and rear cross traffic alert.  Drive away in one of these from around $45k.  Boot space is 382 litres for the regular hybrid, while the PHEV drops to 324 litres.

Kia Sorento HEV GT-Line and PHEV GT-Line

Drive away from in a HEV Sorento for around $73k or a PHEV Sorento for around $88k.  Being a spacious SUV, the Sorento is a very practical companion for the family.  The HEV model runs with a 1.6 litre Turbo engine and an electric motor that puts out a healthy combine output of 169kW.  The 6-speed auto is smooth and well-mapped.  Expect a combined fuel consumption of around 5.5 litres/100 km.  In PHEV form, the Sorento has 195 kW, Kia indicating a combined fuel consumption of 1.6 litres/100 km is possible, though it will likely be more than this in a real world commute.  The 7-seat Kia Sorento SUV won the 2021 car sales Best Family SUV award. Festooned with sensors, cameras and digital screens, it can even park itself without anyone inside.  Autonomous emergency braking, adaptive cruise control, blind-spot monitoring and rear cross-traffic collision avoidance are all standard. The roomy cabin is enhanced by a boot that has over 600 litres, and when all-seats are folded, a whopping 2000 litres is possible.

Lexus ES 300h

One of the most luxurious hybrid sedans you can buy – let alone hybrid vehicles on the market – for under $70k new for the Luxury version or $90k new for the Sports Luxury version, this stylish car can be yours.  Toyota indicate that a combined city/highway run can be as low as 4.8 litres/100 km.  A combined 160 kW of power and five-star safety, what more could you want?  Boot space is 454 litres, and the 0-100 km/h takes around 8.5 seconds.

Lexus UX 250h SUV

The company’s first EV, the UX 300e has a 150 kW/300 Nm FWD electric powertrain and a 54.3 kW/h battery pack, the Lexus UX 300e claims a 360 km range.  But it is the Lexus UX 250h SUV Hybrid with the 2.0-litre 131 kW ULP regular hybrid engine that we’re particularly interested in here, which is available in Luxury, Crafted Edition, Sports Luxury and F Sport guise.  The Luxury Lexus UX 250h version can be had for well under $60k, a very reasonably-priced luxury machine all things considered.  These are five-star safe, FWD, extremely reliable, and very comfortable to drive.  Toyota indicate around 4.5 litres/100 km for a combined highway/city cycle for hybrid versions.  Boot space is 438 litres.

Mercedes Benz A250e Sedan and Hatch

Immensely low running costs can be had for this plug-in hybrid.  If everything suits the PHEV commute, then Mercedes Benz indicates you could see as low as 1.6 litres/100 km on a combined cycle.  Luxurious, safe, and fun to drive, these can be had for under $80k.  A 1.3-litre Turbo ULP engine with a plug-in hybrid combo that produces 160 kW max through its smooth 8-speed automatic FWD system.  The 2022 A-Class A250e runs the 0-100 km/h dash in less than 7 seconds, providing well for passengers and their luggage, driving with the poise and comfort that are hallmarks of the brand.  Safety, quality, comfort, and premium equipment levels are all up to expected Mercedes Benz standards.  Boot space is 315 litres for the Sedan and 310 litres for the Hatch.

Be an in-betweener and gain some of the benefits.

Reasonably Priced Hybrid Vehicles (A-H)

In-between stages can sometimes get tricky.  The next set of sit-ups before truly hitting your peak fitness regime.  That gap year before study, or the six months prior to the new job contract starting.  What about the EV world?  We’re not capable of running a full fleet of EV cars yet, but maybe there’s an in-between vehicle that ticks all the right boxes before we go fully electric.

The truth is that the new hybrid vehicles are the best cars for this moment in time.  They deliver the very best low fuel consumption figures and will also try to run pure electric as much of the time as is practical or possible.

Hybrids are great vehicles, usually well-priced, thus perfect for softening the blow to the wallet – there are some hideously expensive EVs available.  Most desirable new EVs have price tags that, for most of us, will be well beyond our budget.  So what hybrid vehicles are on the market for reasonable money?  How much will they set you back when you buy new?  And what sort of fuel consumption can you expect?  Let’s have a look and see…

 

BMW 330e Sedan Hybrid Sedan

Drive away from around $85k in your new BMW 330e Hybrid sedan, where a claimed combined fuel consumption of around 5.6 litres/100 km combined with 215 kW provides plenty of spirited driving (0-100 km/h in around 6 seconds).  Comfort, safety and all the new technology is on-board this neat 3 Series Hybrid Sedan package.  375 litres of boot space is present.

Honda Accord VTi-LX Hybrid Sedan

Drive away in a new Honda Accord Hybrid for around $61k, and you get a wonderful 2.0-litre petrol and electronic combo that serves up 158 kW of power running through a 1-speed CVT FWD set-up.  This is a very comfortable car with plenty of space in the cabin, and you get all the latest technology and safety.  It is fun to drive, with the 0-100 km/h sprint taking around 8 seconds.  Honda indicates that you can expect around 5.0 litres/100 km for a combined fuel consumption figure.  473 litres of boot space is present.

Honda HR-V e:HEV L

Wanting a new small SUV with Hybrid technology?  Then Honda’s little HR-V is a beauty.  Drive away in a new Honda HR-V e from around $45k, and it will boast a smooth 1.5-litre petrol and electronic combo that serves up 96 kW of power running through a 1-speed CVT FWD set-up.  Honda suggests we can expect a combined fuel consumption of around 4.3 litres/100 km.  319 litres of boot space is present.

Hyundai IONIQ Hybrid Premium Fastback

Drive away from around $46k.  With its neat little Fastback design, the 1.6-litre ULP engine combines with a small electric motor to put out a sprightly 104 kW of power.  This Hybrid set-up runs a more conventional 6-speed automatic FWD, and it is a smooth, comfortable vehicle to drive.  Undercutting competitors such as the Toyota Prius and Renault Zoe, Hyundai’s IONIQ comes with plenty of premium features like autonomous emergency braking, an 8-year battery warranty and an attractive capped-price servicing deal.  The regular hybrid version is quoted at having a fuel consumption figure as low as 3.4 litres/100 km, while the plug-in version was quoted at an astonishing 1.1 litres/100 km.  Real world figures will be a bit more, I’m sure, but.  Boot space is 443 litres.

Be an in-betweener and gain some of the benefits.  Take a look at the next blog list of Hybrid vehicles available (Kia-Merc).

Top 10 New Vehicles Sold March 2022

There are still a reasonable number of new cars being sold in Australia, when you can get them!  For the second year running, new car sales figures have been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.  While the 2020 lockdowns stopped production and prevented sales, in 2021 it was really the global supply chain problems that caused the biggest headaches for ensuring manufacturers had all the bits to make up an entire car to sell.  Most notably, it was the availability of semiconductors that caused the greatest complications, even to the point where all car manufacturers – it didn’t matter what brand – had to halt their production lines at various times.

Consumers have seen this effect playing out with the low stock of new cars at dealerships across the country, as well as much higher prices for used vehicles.  Getting a handle on the new cars that people have actually bought has been tricky at times, but we can now give you an update on the 10 best-selling cars in Australia for the March 2022 sales results.

While the Toyota Hilux still keeps its position as Australia’s best-selling new car (and favourite ute overall), overall new car sales for March 2022 have stayed relatively stable across the board and across Australia.  Data from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) has unveiled an overall monthly sale of 101,233 units for new vehicle sales across Australia for March.  That’s still a fair few!

Several favourite vehicles remain at the top of the list, including 4 Toyota models (Hilux, RAV4, Prado and Corolla) making the top 10.  An interesting bump in sales was seen with the number of Tesla Model 3 cars being sold.  There were enough Tesla Model 3 sales to see it being Australia’s best-selling electric vehicle (EV) brand as well as making the top 10.

Australia’s top 10 best-selling cars for March 2022 were:

Number 1, Toyota Hilux

Number 2, Toyota RAV4

 

 

 

 

 

Number 3, Mitsubishi Triton

 

Number 4, Mazda CX-5

Number 5, Tesla Model 3

 

 

 

 

Number 6, Ford Ranger

Number 7, Hyundai i30

 

 

Number 8, Isuzu D Max

 

 

Number 9, Toyota Prado

Number 10, Toyota Corolla

 

 

 

 

 

 

Consumer inquiries and demand for new cars remains strong in Australia, though manufacturers are working hard to match this demand with the actual supply of products, particularly as they continue to recover from all the COVID-19 upheaval and shutdowns and the ongoing global semiconductor shortage.

FCAI Chief Executive Tony Weber suggests that Australians are purchasing vehicles with zero- and low-emissions in greater numbers.  This purchasing also includes more hybrid vehicles being sold.

Solid-State Batteries for EVs

The flourish of new electric vehicles (EVs) and hybrids on the auto markets hint towards the diminishing of fossil fuel use.  EV sales have a long, long way to go before outselling vehicles with internal combustion engines (ICEs), but the goals have been set by international emission standard agreements.  Certainly, doing away with EV range anxiety, the liquid lithium-ion batteries proneness to catching fire, having EVs with brief recharging times that are in line with current ICE refuelling times, and have pricing parity between a new EV and an equivalent new ICE vehicle would make a world of difference in the minds of people on the lookout for a new car.  Once these EV problems have been solved, perhaps consumers will genuinely buy into an all-EV future.

The good news for EV enthusiasts is that essentially every big automotive manufacturer in the world has unveiled its fleet’s electrification plans and zero-emission target dates. Some manufacturers have even gone further, declaring that gasoline and diesel engines would no longer be available in their model line-ups by 2050.  And, in order for these claims to become reality, some big landmark advancements in the EV future are being made right now, with huge money currently being pumped into various manufacturer’s kitties to research and create the perfect solid-state battery – especially designed for use in EVs.

One automotive manufacturer with a big sway in what goes down in the automotive world is Toyota, and they have pumped billions into creating a solid-state battery for use in their future hybrid vehicles and EVs.  A version of Toyota’s LQ Concept, which first debuted at the 2019 Tokyo Motor Show, is now using working solid-state batteries, and has been doing so since June 2020.  Toyota has been collecting all the performance data from the solid state batteries in the LQ for research, development, and better solid-state battery designs.  The LQ Concept car is unlikely to end up as a production vehicle, however the solid-state batteries inside the car, and their development, will be used as a blueprint in Toyota’s new hybrid vehicles and EVs soon to make an appearance on the market for buyers to purchase.

Toyota LQ Concept Solid-State

Toyota’s quick development of solid-state batteries for use in all their hybrid and electric vehicles by 2030 is a sign of the ramping up in EV production that is happening not only at Toyota but in all other big global automotive brands who are boosting investments in the anticipation of greater EV and hybrid vehicle consumerism.

What battery type does Tesla use?  Currently, Tesla has been using heavy liquid lithium-ion battery technology.  However solid-state batteries are really the next step in clever battery technology, especially for EVs.  Why?  Solid-state batteries offer much better energy density, which leads to smaller, lighter batteries for cars but with a vastly improved range before recharging is necessary.  Solid-state batteries will also be able to recharge from empty (flat) to 80 % in just 15 min – not anywhere between 2 to 10 hours that is currently the norm, if you can find a spare fast charger to park up at.

The good news for solid-state batteries doesn’t stop here either, because solid-state batteries are inherently safer due to the lack of flammable liquid electrolytes that you’ll find in liquid lithium-ion batteries.  You may have heard of various electronic devices bursting into flame?  Well, liquid lithium-ion batteries bursting into flame and causing fires in various EVs over the last couple of decades has been an issue.  This in itself has deterred many people away from buying into EVs altogether.

So, big dollars are being spent in the design of solid electrolyte batteries (solid-state batteries) that are stable, chemically inert, and still a good conductor of ions between the electrodes.  In essence solid-state batteries will be doing away with the slopping, flammable liquid lithium-ion electrolyte battery designs.

By default, solid-state batteries are more stable, but they are also more compact in design, and therefore lighter.  Solid state batteries thus pack more energy output into the same amount of storage space that heavier and lower-output liquid lithium-ion batteries require.  Because solid-state batteries are lighter, they have more energy density, offer more range, and deliver a better power to weight ratio, and they also recharge faster.

Solid-state batteries have been used in small electronic devices like pacemakers (an amazing bit of life-changing tech) as well as radio frequency identification (RFID), and wearable devices for years.  Having fewer bits and pieces involved in the solid-state battery design means fewer things are present to go wrong.  In addition to their improved safety, size, and stability, solid-state batteries in EVs would also offer faster charging times, more travel range, and even greater energy density.

Solid electrolytes in solid-state batteries can even be composed from a number of everyday materials – even ceramics and glass.  The challenge to making solid-state batteries viable, however, is developing the technology that is commonly used in small devices and applying it to large-scale applications like in an EV.  Currently, solid state batteries are expensive to fabricate because they have been prone to cracking, which has been a result of the brittleness of the electrolytes inside the battery expanding and contracting during continual use.  The new research and development is setting out to change this.

Toyota is cracking the problem and will be using their solid-state batteries in their new range of hybrid vehicles first, which is an ideal testing ground for their fully-kitted EVs soon.  Volkswagen is also promising that they will have solid-state batteries in use and in their cars by 2024.  Like Toyota and Volkswagen, BMW anticipates that solid-state batteries could make it into production cars by 2025.  Tech giants Samsung and Panasonic are working away at creating a range of solid state batteries that automakers will be able to use.  Toyota has partnered with Panasonic to pave the way to an EV future.

Lightyear One – a Solar Powered EV

Lightyear One – a Solar Powered EV

In a country like Australia where the sun shines brightly for most of the year a car like the Lightyear One might be just the thing for getting around in.  Sleek and comfortable, the Lightyear One is a solar-powered electric vehicle (EV) that has been designed and engineered in the Netherlands by Lightyear.

Having been recently tested in Italy, the Lightyear One completed 400 km on a single charge while driving at a constant speed of 130 km/h.  According to Lightyear One’s manufacturer, regular driving will easily result in a range of 725 km (WLTP).  If you’re like me and don’t know what WLTP means, then WLTP stands for Worldwide Harmonized Light-Duty Test Procedure.  This mouthful is a new standard to measure fuel consumption, CO2 emissions, and range.  The standard was introduced in 2017 and takes the measurements of test vehicles when driven in realistic driving situations to determine their fuel consumption, range, and emissions.

Lightyear One Interior

Because the Lightyear One is a solar-powered EV, its manufacturer also states that it would be possible to drive the car for months without needing to recharge.  In Australia, where the sun shines most days of the year, a car like the Lightyear One would be perfect for this scenario.  Take a good look at the car’s exterior and you’ll see the array of solar panels incorporated into the sleek exterior design.  All of the panels facing skyward are made of solar panels and are ready for harvesting energy from the sun to charge the 60 kWh battery.  5 m2 of solar panels cover the Lightyear One’s roof, bonnet and tail and are capable of harnessing up to 12 km of range every hour. That means during a sunny 8-hour workday, a parked up Lightyear One could harvest 96 km of driving range – more than enough for most people’s work commutes.  Even in cloudy conditions, its maker claims the Lightyear One that around 40 km of range can be harvested in that time.  Obviously, you can also plug the car in for a quick recharge if you ever needed to.

Jump in the Lightyear One and drive on a full charge, and the Lightyear One’s 60 kWh battery pack provides a claimed 725 km of range, making it one of the most energy efficient EVs on the market.  Efficiency of this standard is also achieved thanks to its construction consisting essentially of aluminium and carbon-fibre which gives it a weight of just 1315 kg.  Also the car’s drag coefficient of just 0.20cd is sensational.  As you can imagine, the aluminium and carbo-fibre underpinnings also drive the price of the car upward.

The Lightyear One is being manufactured in Finland, where its first deliveries will be made to Europe in mid-2022.  The car’s price is around the AUD $238,000 mark.  Just 946 of these cars will be built, however the company is already working on a more affordable solar-powered EV called the Lightyear Two which is expected to go on sale in 2024/25.  It will have a much more affordable price, maybe even as low as AUD $50,000.

Lightyear One Sedan

In the Lightyear One there are 4 electric motors on board, one for each wheel.  These provide the driving power.  Together, they produce a combined 101 kW of power and 1200 Nm of torque.  The car’s manufacturers say that the Lightyear One Sedan can seat 5 in comfort, and it has been designed especially for cruising and efficiency, and not for outright speed, thus claiming a 0-100 km/h sprint time of around 10 seconds.

I hope we see cars like this become available to people in Australia very soon.  It also begs the question: Couldn’t the Holden name resurrect itself by Holden designers and engineers making a similar type of car in Australia for primarily Australians?

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!

Australia’s Most-Loved Utes Will be Going Hybrid

Earlier this year, Toyota set the benchmark when it announced that its much-loved dual-cab ute, the HiLux would be produced in hybrid format by the end of this decade. Although a long way off, it certainly set the scene for plenty to get excited about, with electrification here and here in a big way, and only set to gain more traction as time goes on.

We’re actually somewhat optimistic that Toyota will be able to fast-track the development of a hybrid HiLux given the tailwinds in effect pushing manufacturers to accelerate the transition to more environmentally-friendly cars. So while Toyota has flagged until the end of the decade for a hybrid HiLux, that may well be the case for the company’s entire model range, rather than it’s best-seller.

Toyota has been on record as saying it believes hybrids will be one of the dominant forms of vehicle over the short-term, while also representing a major chunk of the new car market down the track.

Ford joins the party with the Ranger

Australia’s other favourite ute, the Ford Ranger, is also set for an electrified future.

The blue oval brand has confirmed it will develop a hybrid Ranger, alongside a hybrid Everest four-wheel drive, with the jointly-developed pair set to be engineered locally in Australia and assembled out of Thailand.

Pleasingly, Ford is on a fast track to production, aiming to have the duo rolled out overseas by 2024, targeting countries where emissions targets are driving the push to green vehicles. Although that date does not extend to Australia at this stage, there is likely to be pressure over the coming years, particularly on a political front, that will hasten the need for more hybrid and electrified vehicles down under.

This development could very well play into the cards of a hybrid Ranger arriving much sooner than the timeline provided by Toyota. If that looks likely, watch out, because Toyota may well throw down the gauntlet to compete with its arch-nemesis on the hybrid battlefield.

It is looking increasingly as though a hybrid Ranger will be offered in petrol-electric format, with countries across Europe and North America now seemingly putting the brakes on diesel emissions.

What’s even more interesting, however, is that the 2022 version of the Ranger has been ‘future’proofed’ to accommodate hybrid power down the track, raising eyebrows about an even earlier arrival. Ford has achieved this thanks to a redesign of the Ranger’s chassis, optimising space under the hood.

 

What does it all mean? The timelines might be quite distant, but we think there could very well be a surprise to the upside in terms of the hybrid development of Australia’s two best-selling cars.

What Is and Isn’t Inside an EV?

What is an EV? What are the obvious things that set an EV apart from the more conventional car that’s powered by an internal combustion engine (ICE)?  And what is an EV like to maintain?

These are just a few of the good questions that might be rattling around in your mind as you consider the possibility of EV ownership.  Let’s face it, most of us probably jump inside our cars and give little thought to what happens inside a car when we drive off.

Let’s start by answering the first question and develop for ourselves an understanding of what an EV is.

The letters ‘EV’ stands for the words ‘electric vehicle’.  EVs don’t have a combustion engine underneath the bonnet, in fact they don’t have a combustion engine at all.  This means that you won’t need to pull over at the gas station to fill your car up with any form of fossil fuel (e.g., unleaded gasoline (91), premium unleaded gasoline (95, 98 or 100 octane) or diesel.  Neither will your car be running on gas (LPG or CNG).  You won’t even have to top your car up with engine coolant or oil for engine lubrication.  Sounds good!

Once you look away from the various processes of mining earth metals like lithium and cobalt (a by-product of nickel and copper mines); neodymium, terbium, or dysprosium (critical metals used in higher powered batteries that can last for longer distances – and everyone wants to be able to last longer) used in EV batteries and electronic componentry, EVs look to be more environmentally friendly and interesting cars to own and drive.

All your power is electronically accessible to your accelerator pedal, and your braking action is processed electronically as well.  When you brake or decelerate, battery power can be reverted back into the battery pack.  Basically, drain the battery in an EV, and you’ll need to plug it into a charging port again before you can get some power for driving about again.  However, that’s nothing new now, is it?

To get power from your house power supply, you’ll need to have a conversion kit built into your home’s power system in order to be able to power up your EV within a suitable time frame, commonly 6 to 10 hours.  More expensive options are available that will enable a quicker charging time.  To get power after commuting around the city, you’re going to require a charging station or a park at work that has a convenient and vacant plug-in port for you to charge your vehicle up again to get home.  There are some other charging stations (and we’ll need many more of these with more EVs running on the road) where you can park up for a couple of hours to recharge or top-up again for your commute home.  If you drive your EV out of town and into the country, you’ll need to be sure that you have enough power between charging ports, because, unlike in a vehicle with a combustion engine, a jerry can won’t get you out of trouble nor will the longest power cord.  I’m not sure what serious Outback off-roading enthusiasts will do if they drive an EV.  Neither am I sure what mobile ‘tradies’ will do when they get caught short on power between towns.

What is missing inside an EV that you have in a common ICE vehicle?

Noise is the first thing that comes to mind.  EVs do without the mechanical noise of the combustion/explosions that takes place inside a working ICE.  What you do get is a very quiet ride with a bit of road noise from the tyres and wind about the bodywork as it slips through the air.  Exhaust emissions are also a non-event.

EVs have no complex clutch or gearing, which means that EVs can accelerate smoothly and quickly, giving you the feeling that you’re driving a sports car.  Instant maximum torque is always accessible.

A purely electric EV has fewer moving parts.  There are only around about 20 moving parts in an electric motor, compared with nearly 2000 mechanical components in an ICE.  The result is that an EV will need less fiddly routine maintenance jobs like changing the engine oil every 10,000km.  You’ll still need to change the tyres on an EV, and you may go through more tyres because of all that instant torque and acceleration.  A pricier tyre made up of a softer compound might also be necessary in order for you to be able to stick to the road better with the EV’s instant and quick acceleration.

You will also need to replace the battery pack, as they do have a life.  This will be the one expensive maintenance bill.  Buy a new EV, and you’ll be able to put this off for 10 years or so.  Buy a second-hand EV, and who knows how long you’ll have before the battery pack will need replacing or you just won’t be going anywhere.

An EV owner will likely also need to pay some sort of road user charge or tax in the not-too-distant future, particularly if more EVs take to our roads.

However, own an EV and you won’t need an ICE tune-up or oil change, and the engine coolant won’t need to be replaced, either.  In essence, an EV has no petrol, diesel or oil.  It has no exhaust, no clutch or gears. It doesn’t have spark plugs, and it has no throbbing combustion noise that you find you get with a V8, a boxer or even a straight six.

As with any car, EVs have both their advantages and their disadvantages.  At this stage, an affordable EV would be a great and enjoyable car for the city environment.