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Environment

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!

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.

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.

Cars with the Biggest Mileage

Irving Gordon in his 1966 Volvo 1800S.

There is such a thing as the “Million-Mile Club”, a club for owners of cars which have travelled the 1–million milestone.  It is a very distinguished club that boasts a special list of cars and some special owners who have clicked over the huge distances.  The details of the car plus its owner can be proudly enlisted for the world to see and admire.  What cars feature most in the highest of highest mileage cub?  Maybe not so surprising to some people, but a few of the older vehicles made by Volvo and Mercedes have made it onto this rather prestigious list.  There certainly was a time where Mercedes Benz and Volvo made some of the most bulletproof cars on the planet.

Maybe some of these big mileage cars should be regarded as being sustainably green.  How many times would other people have bought a new car in that time?

Now I have a sneaky suspicion that there could be an old Ford Falcon or a Commie that could make its way onto the big milage hall of fame.  I did see on a Ford Forum page that of the AU-BF Falcon models, there was an AU Falcon Taxi with 930,000 km, and 04 BA Falcon XT wagon Egas with 906,600 km, an AU Forte Duel Fuel with 850,000 km and a BA Falcon Egas with 566,000 km on it.  These are big numbers, but not quite 1 million miles!  Sorry Holden fans, I can’t find any with much over 300,000 km!

Here’s a quick list of some of the furthest travelled cars on the planet – highest first:

  1. Over 3,000,000 miles (Over 4,800,000 km) – the highest recorded thus far by Irving Gordon in his 1966 Volvo 1800S. He changed the oil every 3,000 – 3,500 miles and changed the transmission fluid every 25,000 miles. Sadly, Irving has recently passed away.

Irving Gordon in his 1966 Volvo 1800S.

2) Gregorios Sachinidis with his 1976 Mercedes 240D clocked 2,850,000 miles.  The car, predominantly a taxi, is now on display in Mercedes-Benz’s personal museum as the longest running vehicle in the brand’s history.

A Mercedes Benz 240D a bit like his.

3) 1979 Volvo 245 GL, a well maintained Finnish company vehicle covered 1,630,000 miles.

The Volvo 245 GL Estate

4) A 1963 Plymouth Fury takes out fourth place having reached 1,620,000 miles by 1999.  It was owned and driven by Joseph Vaillancourt, however it was totalled by another road user in a truck running a red light.  Thankfully Joseph was unhurt!

A Plymouth Fury

5) A 1983 Lincoln Town Car that was owned by Chet Belisle covered 1.3 million miles.  He drove because he loved driving it.

A Lincoln Town Car

6) A 1991 Chevrolet Silverado owned by Frank Oresnik put over 1.25 million miles on the odometer.

A 1991 Chevrolet Silverado

7) A 1993 Toyota Corolla in New Zealand has just recently clocked a huge 1.25 million miles (2,000,000 km) since new. The Whanganui Chronicle’s local newspaper delivery contractor, Graeme Hebley, bought the Corolla wagon from Japan in 2000 with 80,000 km on the odometer.  Since then, he has since driven approximately 5000 km every week between Wellington and New Plymouth for work.  The engine, transmission, bodywork, and drivetrain are entirely original, all thanks to a maintenance routine where the vehicle is serviced every second week.  It has had its cambelt changed close to 20 times in its life.

Graeme Hebley and his Toyota Corolla

8) A 2006 Chevrolet Silverado 3500 Diesel owned by Hugh & Tammy Pennington has done well over the 1 million mile mark with no major maintenance.  Routine servicing was the key.

A 2006 Chevrolet Silverado

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?