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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?

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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.

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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.

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.

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.

Hydrogen V8 ICE

Exciting news for internal combustion engine (ICE) lovers: Toyota, Mazda, Subaru and Kawasaki are wanting to collaborate on the attempt to keep the combustion engine alive while meeting all the global clean air targets.  Not only that, but Toyota and long-time Japanese engineering partner Yamaha are at work developing a special new hydrogen-powered 5.0-litre V8 engine.  Unlike a hydrogen fuel-cell car, which combines hydrogen and oxygen atoms to create electricity to drive a motor, this new hydrogen V8 internal combustion engine is a conventional piston-driven engine that has been tuned to burn hydrogen instead of petrol.

While this newly developed V8 engine isn’t completely new, the way it’s fuelled is.  It’s a 5.0-litre naturally aspirated V8 that is based off the engine that has been used in the Lexus RC F coupe.  Yamaha says that it produces around 335 kW of power at 6800 rpm and 540 Nm of torque at 3600 rpm.  Having modified the injectors, the head, the intake manifolds and other engine components, this work has added up to make the engine environmentally friendly.  The hydrogen-fed ICE has become less powerful than the petrol-fed V8 that the hydrogen engine is based on.  In the Lexus RC F coupe, the petrol V8 puts out 472 kW and 536 Nm of torque, so while torque has increased a little, power has dropped considerably.  That said, 331 kW is still a stonking amount of power to enjoy, and more often than not it is the torque that you really want in the real world conditions.  You also still get the sound of a burbling V8, and what’s not to like about that!

Yamaha engineer, Takeshi Yamada, said that the engine has a different character to a conventional petrol motor.  He stated that hydrogen engines provide a friendlier feel, making them easier to use even without having utilize other electronic aids for the drive.

Toyota is clearly committed to the project of providing ICE powerplants that use hydrogen as the fuel.  Given that Toyota has run a hydrogen-powered Toyota Corolla in Japan’s Super Taikyu race series as well as showcasing a hydrogen-powered Toyota Yaris GR prototype with the same hydrogen engine technology, it is obvious that they want to continue with this new breed of ICE.

One of the beauties about burning hydrogen instead of petrol is that the hydrogen powerplant does not produce carbon dioxide, which is considered to be one of the primary contributors to global warming.  There would also be no significant nitrogen oxides emissions from an ICE designed to burn hydrogen, thanks to the selective catalytic reduction technology used in the aftertreatment of the combustion gases.

“Hydrogen engines house the potential to be carbon-neutral while keeping our passion for the internal combustion engine alive at the same time,” Yamaha Motor president Yoshihiro Hidaka said.  He also added that: “I started to see that engines using only hydrogen for fuel actually had very fun, easy-to-use performance characteristics”.

While hydrogen is plentiful in the universe, it must be separated from other compounds to be used as fuel.  Up to the year 2020, most hydrogen was produced from fossil fuels, resulting in CO2 emissions. Hydrogen obtained from fossil fuels is often referred to as grey hydrogen, when emissions are released into the atmosphere.  Blue hydrogen is the hydrogen produced from fossil fuels when emissions are captured through carbon capture and storage (CCS).

Hydrogen that is produced from fossil fuels using the newer non-polluting technology called methane pyrolysis is often called turquoise hydrogen.

You can also generate hydrogen from renewable energy sources, and this hydrogen is often referred to as green hydrogen.  There are two practical ways of producing green hydrogen.  One of the ways is to use electric power for producing hydrogen from the electrolysis of water.  The other way of producing green hydrogen is to use landfill gas to produce the green hydrogen in a steam reformer.  Hydrogen fuel, when it is produced by using renewable sources of energy like wind or solar power, is a renewable fuel.

Hydrogen can also be created from another renewable energy source called nuclear energy via electrolysis, and this is sometimes seen as a subset of green hydrogen, but it can also be referred to as being pink hydrogen.

Obviously, when a car can be designed to run on hydrogen that has been produced from renewable energy sources, then this is a good thing.  Toyota and Yamaha remain adamant that this is great technology which could carve out a niche for itself in the new EV automotive landscape.

Toyota has also recently revealed a fleet of 12 zero tailpipe-emission concept vehicles, many of which will reach production in the coming years.

This is all good news stuff, especially for those of us who love the sound of an ICE instead of a silent EV.  The noisy farts always get the best round of laughter!

A to J of Surfing Vehicles Dude

“Surfs up!”

“Dude, how am I gonna get there?”

“Bro, you need a car!”

Summer is here, and surfing is a great lifestyle for getting out, chasing the waves, and getting some immunity-boosting Vitamin D.  In fact, any sort of outdoor adventure and exercise will see you a fitter and healthier person for getting out there and doing it.  What 2022 cars make for an ideal surfer’s companion?  The following are several useful vehicles that, if you’re wanting something to get you places, will transport you, a friend or two, some gear, and surfboards/mountain bikes through something more than just a little puddle, mud or soft sand.

Dedicated vans or MPVs with AWD like the Volkswagen Multivan, LDV G10, Mercedes-Benz V-Class, Kia Carnival, Mercedes-Benz Valente, Volkswagen Caravelle, Honda Odyssey, Hyundai STARIA, Volkswagen California, Toyota Granvia, Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo ACTIVITY, and the Volkswagen Caddy are potentially great for surfing travels with one, two or more mates.  Some, but not all, will offer AWD.  Depending on how far down onto the beach you want to get your MPV or Van, AWD is definitely the way to go for getting through soft sand and out of sticky situations.

For years, wagons and SUVs have also been a go-to machine for the surfer; for good reason too as they offer plenty of space, the capacity for lugging gear, and for sleeping.  But having a vehicle that can get you across country and down onto the beach makes for the ultimate surfer’s vehicle.  Outside of the list of vans and MPVs above, there are some great vehicles still worth a look if you’re into doing a bit of surfing, fishing or any type of outdoor adventure.

Here is the best of them, first article of three, from A (Alfa Romeo) to J (Jeep).  Let us know if we’ve missed anything in between!

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

Three petrol engines offer the Stelvio between 147–375 kW of power and 330–600 Nm of torque.  The 8-speed automatic and 4×4 (AWD) ability make it ideal for heading off tar seal.  It has 5-doors, 5-seats, a 5-star ANCAP safety rating, and 1600 litres of boot space when the rear seats are folded flat.

Audi Q Wagons

 

Audi Q5 and Q7 models are idyllic; the Q3 maybe a little small, however.  All of these are stylish, AWD and superbly comfortable.  Diesel and petrol engines are available that offer the Q5 and Q7 between 150–251 kW of power and 370–700 Nm of torque.  4×4 (AWD) ability make them perfect for nosing about off-road.  Both Q models have 5-doors, 5-seats, and a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.  The Q5 has 1530 litres of boot space with the rear seats folded flat; Q7 has 1971 litres.

Audi A6 Allroad

Cargo room extends to 1680 litres with the rear seats folded down, and the AWD Quattro system ensures that you’ll get around secondary roads and the odd track pretty comfortably in an A6 Allroad.  A nice wagon to drive, and the surfboard can go on the roof or slide in along the flat cargo area.  A sportier drive than a similarly capable Subaru Outback.  The Audi A6 Allroad Wagon 45TDI is offered in Australia and runs with a tiptronic 8-speed quattro drive.  The 3.0-litre Turbo-Diesel is a peach, packing a healthy 183 kW/600 Nm from its V6 configuration, and scampers from a standstill to 100 km/h in less than 7 seconds.

BMW X3, X5

 

BMW X3 and X5 models are really nice SUV wagons for open road touring.  All are stylish, AWD, and superbly comfortable.  Diesel, electric and petrol engines are available for the X3 that offers between 135–285 kW of power and 300–620 Nm of torque.  X5 models get between 170 and 460 kW of power and 450–750 Nm of torque.  4×4 (AWD) ability make them handy when getting down to the beach or picnic area.  All X models have 5-doors, 5-seats, a 5-star ANCAP safety rating, and the X3 has 1600 litres of boot space with the rear seats folded flat; X5 has 2047 litres.

Ford Everest

The Ford Everest is magnificent.  Its 3.2 Diesel Turbo engine delivers 157 kW and 500 Nm.  The 10-speed automatic and serious 4×4 capability ensure you won’t easily get stuck in this one.  Smooth, loads of road presence, and comfortable, there isn’t many negatives.  1796 litres of boot space is available with the seats folded down.  It has 5-doors, 5-seats, and a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.

Haval H9

The big Haval H9 SUV Wagon gets a standard adaptive six-mode 4×4 terrain control system and a 700 mm wading depth.  The 180 kW/350 Nm turbo-four petrol/eight-speed auto is smooth and impresses.  A massive boot space combined with excellent features and a relaxing drive makes it a great surfing/adventure vehicle.  It’s also keenly priced.

Hyundai Santa Fe

Hyundai’s 7-seat Santa Fe SUV is large.  With a choice between a 206 kW/336 Nm 3.5-litre V6 petrol or a 147 kW/440 Nm 2.2-litre turbo-diesel four, the Santa Fe range is a great driving machine and is available in AWD.  Comfortable, and particularly well set-up in diesel guise, the Santa Fe is a warm travelling companion.  Boot space: 2042 litres.

Isuzu MU-X

A 7-seater with five doors and a rugged 3.0 Turbo-diesel motor is hard to overlook.  Stylish and tough, Isuzu’s new MU-X seven-seat off-roader comes in three spec levels (LS-M, LS-U and range-topping LS-T), each with the option of RWD or 4WD and standard with a six-speed automatic transmission.  140 kW and 450 Nm of torque match with a 3.5 tonne towing capacity.  ANCAP five-star safety and a boot space of 2138 litres makes the MU-X a perfect surfer’s wagon.

Jeep Wrangler

The LWB Jeep Wranglers are stunning lookers.  Perfect in every way but only let down by a rather mediocre safety rating 3 out of 5 stars.  2050 litres of boot space and 4×4 tenacity.

Jeep Grand Cherokee

An awesome, comfortable surfer’s wagon, the Jeep Grand Cherokee comes with a choice of a 3.6-litre petrol 8-speed automatic 4×4, or a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel 8 speed automatic 4×4.  True off-road potential and loads of space with up to 2005 litres of cargo space.  Offering between 184–522 kW (Yes, 522!) of power and 347–868 Nm of torque this packs a punch.  Superior 4×4 (AWD) ability make these ideal, and they are seriously comfortable.  All are 5-star safe.

Another Manufacturer Bites the Dust

Australia has seen a few high-profile names depart from the local car market over recent years, and sadly, another name has joined the fold. After a long and admired time down under, Chrysler has followed the lead of Holden, pulling up stumps. It comes as the brand’s US parent company makes a decisive move to exit right-hand-drive production.

 

Chrysler’s time in Australia

The company first began producing vehicles in Australia back in 1951, which seems like an eternity ago in this day and age. At one stage, in the 1970s, buoyed by the popularity of the Valiant, Chrysler managed to rise to third on the charts among local manufacturers, producing upwards of 50,000 vehicles a year, and only trailing the two mainstays in Holden and Ford at the time.

Although the brand has seen sales dwindling for some time now, Chrysler was one of the few V8 sedan options sold in Australia over recent years. When Ford and Holden both put an end to their V8 plans, Chrysler was the sole remaining affordable V8 on the market. That means the final of its two-dozen Chrysler 300 sedans will not be replaced, and are the last options for new car buyers eyeing a new and affordable V8 in Australia.

Some observers may be wondering if the Chrysler 300 was even for sale after being withdrawn from Australian showrooms at the start of this year. However, new car buyers have been able to buy the car on special order, even though supply constraints have hampered the process – a force felt by a number of other dealers as well.

 

 

What does the decision mean looking forward?

While Chrysler hinted the decision may be short-term, as it moves to ramp up its capacity and capabilities to develop electric vehicles, it is highly unlikely there would be a resurgence for right-hand drive vehicles across the company. After all, its home market has long been the US.

In the meantime, other brands tied to Chrysler’s parent company remain unaffected. The likes of Fiat, Alfa Romeo and Jeep have not announced any plans to wind-back production of right-hand drive vehicles. Whether that decision stands the test of time remains to be seen, but the likes of Fiat would certainly be vulnerable given low-volume sales across the nation.

For existing owners, fortunately Chrysler will continue to support repairs and service into the foreseeable future. And with that, Chrysler sadly goes out with a whimper, managing less than 2000 sales across the last five years in Australia. Nonetheless, the brand will be an icon to remember for many who bought their first car some 50 years ago.

 

EV Revolution

Let’s ditch fossil fuels and crude oil for a while, since some say that oil is considered environmentally unclean and unfit for burning.  So, what about electric?  Which of our earth’s finite resources are needed to make electric vehicles (EVs)?  It will be Tanzania, Venezuela, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Canada or even Brazil who could be the providing the rest of the world with precious raw metals that the greener EV requires.

As electric cars appear to be going mainstream and all our main automotive manufactures look to ditch internal combustion engines (ICEs) by 2025-ish, these big automotive giants have to source and make investments into electric cars and their necessary componentry.  Countries like South Africa, Tanzania, China and even Australia have very mineral-rich and rare metal resources.  These countries and their mining industries are the world’s best environmentally friendly strategy to power EVs and their mass production.

There is a global race on that is driving the demand for countries, including quite a few in Africa, to mine as much of their precious metal resources to equip the world with a greener fleet of vehicles.  This clambering for sourcing all the right stuff for EV production en masse could soon provide billions of dollars into certain countries’ GDP rates.

Rare metals like copper, lithium, cobalt and nickel are some of the most discussed metals in EV production demands.  Other metals like neodymium (a rare earth metal), aluminium and zinc have emerged as some other new resources that will be needed in the rapid quest for a greener world. Statista, a German company specializing in market and consumer data, estimates that the demand for metals such as nickel, aluminium, and iron (all the critical components in EVs) will jump to as much as 14 times the rate that it is now by 2030.  This huge demand for environmentally friendly EV minerals for meeting the green EV car revolution will provide a great cash injection for a well-endowed African state.  Demand for metals like lithium and graphite are also expected to rise substantially, even by as much as 9-10 times by 2030.

The large estimated increase (14x) in demand for the clean EV minerals to meet the intended global EV production rates over the next ten years is accompanied by the need for vehicle battery outputs and infrastructure, which are expected to rise by millions of times over in the very near future.  Even Toyota recently announced a 13.6 billion US investment into electric cars and hybrids, with some 9 billion US dollars to be spent on battery production alone.  This is fantastic news for the environment and carbon zero.

The increase in demand for these rare and hard to obtain metals is pushing top mining and big investment companies around the globe to invest in the acquisition of key materials used in the production of EV batteries, EVs themselves, and their much needed electrical infrastructure.  Solar energy componentry, as well as the EV requirements, all point towards an enormous boom in demand for these rare and hard to reach resources, as well as creating an opportunity to make even more money than the awful and “dirty” fossil fuel endeavours.

It is expected that the sales and production of EVs will continue to accelerate quickly over the next five years.  Big automotive giants who are changing to larger-scale EV production have major mining countries like South Africa, Namibia, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Botswana on their radar.  These are just some of the main African countries, let alone other countries around the world, who enjoy bountiful reserves of some of the world’s most precious metals and minerals: minerals such as gold, diamond, cobalt, iron ore, coal, and copper.  Meeting the demands by governing authorities and their growing appetite for better and greener EVs will be much better for the environment – and for special places like Africa, I’m sure.

President Hakainde Hichilema is the new president for Zambia, and he has recently announced plans to ramp up mining in particular, and to jump-start Zambia’s economy.  Part of his economic plan provides for the rapidly growing EV battery industry, with cobalt and copper identified as key components.  The workforce will be a great place for young men from the age of 15 years old, who will be able to work in the dangerous mining industry.  Countries like Zambia and Tanzania are working hard to supply the developed countries of the world with the rare metals. The developed countries are considered to have a higher status and economic standing, a better understanding of the environment, human ethics, health and emission standards.  Their demand for a green EV world is a good thing for all people and the environment.

As the big green machine, Tesla, and auto giant Toyota are joined by other larger EV-producing manufacturers, African mining countries are going to have to move faster than ever to meet the demand put on them by the governing authorities of the world and their ever-increasing and severe carbon emission goals and standards.  The president of Zambia, Mr. Hichilema, has wasted no time in announcing his administration’s hopes to quickly provide the clean EV battery supply chain and invest much of his country’s proceeds into its development.

Rare metals and their difficult and extensive underground extraction methods are needed in EV lithium ion battery technology and are critical for improving the driving range of electric vehicles so that they can compete with the best, most frugal, “archaic” ICE technology and emission-capturing methods. These rare metals are buried beneath the fields of African nations, ready to be harvested by economically sound, rich and developed countries with zero carbon emission goals and standards.

South Africa, a mining giant, has also announced plans to set up production plants to manufacture EVs of their own, including plants for the manufacture of EV components, such as EV batteries.  This could see South Africa as one of the multi-billion-dollar raw material producers of the world.  South Africa already has its raw material extraction industry, its capital markets, and its existing manufacturing and export infrastructure to build upon.

Environmentally friendly keywords that current governments, economists and greenies around the world are sharing with the public are words like carbon emissions, climate change, EVs, EV infrastructure, mining, metals, zero carbon, clean technology, investment and climate crisis.  All of these keywords correspond with the rising demand for the precious metals used in EV production.

As it stood in 2020, the total global nickel reserves amounted to approximately 94 million metric tons.  Of that amount, it was Indonesia that held the world’s largest share.  Following the tropical and beautiful Indonesia is Australia, with our nickel reserves estimated to be 20 million metric tons.  Best we get stuck in, then!

Most Reliable Cars in 2021

How reliable a car is directly correlates with our ownership satisfaction rating, right?  So, if we own a car that is always needing something fixed or repaired to make it properly functional, our contentment levels will be lower than if our car was reliable all or at least most of the time.  It won’t take long for an unreliable car to start to irk us.  Reliability is always a black and white area when it comes to car ownership satisfaction.

What car? has recently published their survey findings for 2021.  They questioned more than 16,000 people across the UK who owned a car no older than 5 years old, and this is the results that show which cars and brands are the most reliable, and which ones are not.  Is it possible that the more reliable a car is, the more green and sustainable the car is?

First place goes to Lexus who claims the top spot as the most dependable brand of car you can buy.  Lexus cars suffer from very few faults.  The Lexus NX SUV is the highest-rated hybrid you can buy.

Second place brand is Dacia, which is considered to be a budget brand.  Here is a prime example of reliability and low cost going hand in hand.  Dacia’s star performer is the previous generation Dacia Sandero.

Hyundai takes the bronze, where the previous generation Hyundai i10, the larger i20, and the current Hyundai i30 being standouts.  It was revealed that the problem areas included the brakes and gearbox, however the brand’s 5-year unlimited km warranty meant that most problems were fixed for free.

Suzuki

Suzuki takes fourth place for brand reliability; an excellent result.  The little Suzuki Swift is the third most reliable car – a star performer for Suzuki.

Mini

Mini cars are generally pretty reliable cars.  Mini’s Countryman scored well in the small SUV class.  Mini’s little Hatchback is the sixth most reliable small car overall – a great result.

Toyota

Toyota has long been an impressively reliable brand, though it’s slipped slightly from third place last year.

Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi ranked 7th, their place unchanged from last year. The Mitsubishi Eclipse Cross is the most reliable family SUV on the market, boasting a 100% reliability score!

Mazda

Eighth place goes to the Mazda brand.  Mazda highlights include the CX-3  (a very reliable small SUV), the CX-5 (petrol version), and the MX-5 sports car.

Kia

Star performers for Kia are the XCeed and Ceed family cars, which are among the most reliable in their class, while the Kia Optima is the second-most reliable executive car.  Kia’s affordable E-Niro is the third most reliable EV.

MG

MG is the brand that takes out 10th spot.  The classy MG ZS EV is the second-most reliable EV in the survey.

11) Citroen – Citroen’s C3 Aircross is the third most reliable small SUV.

12) Skoda – Skoda’s Superb is the most reliable executive car.

13) BMW – BMW’s previous model 1 Series is the most reliable family car.  The BMW 5 Series is the most reliable luxury car.  The BMW 3 Series also ranks 3rd in the executive class.  Current BMW Hybrids are not quite so reliable.

14) Honda – The previous model Jazz was fifth in its class, while the HR-V is the most reliable small SUV.

15) Tesla – the Tesla Model 3 ranked 5th in the EV class.

16) Renault

17) Seat

18) Audi – Audi’s TT is the number one sports car for reliability.

19) Volvo

20) Volkswagen

Jaguar, Mercedes Benz, Peugeot, Vauxhall, Porsche, Alfa Romeo, Ford, Nissan, Land Rover, and then Fiat takes out 30th spot.

Of the last 10:

Porshce’s Macan took 1st place for the luxury SUV class.

Nissan’s LEAF is 1st for the most reliable EV.

Honda’s Latest

As with many other automotive manufacturers, Honda is on the hunt for having its fleet become fully electrified.  Honda’s vision is to have 100% of its new vehicles with zero emissions by 2040.  There are some neat EV models in the pipeline, but also some vehicles that help transition the gap from petrol to hybrid to 100% electric.  Honda’s 2022 Civic models are set to be enjoyable.

Honda recently announced that their Prologue SUV, which will be Honda’s first new EV sold in big volume, will be a battery-electric vehicle (BEV) that will go on sale in 2024.  It is likely that the Prologue SUV will be an American-only seller first, so how that fits in with Australia remains to be seen.  As EV infrastructure expands, and customer interest grows nationwide and globally, the company will expand sales and marketing efforts accordingly.  Following the launch of the Honda Prologue, the company will create additional EVs based on the new e-Architecture that is currently being developed and customer demand.

Honda Prologue SUV

Honda has a long history of being a leader in creating hybrid and electrified vehicles.  Honda’s Insight still is a very good example of how a hybrid should perform, and it remains a strong seller with people who are looking for low emissions and frugality in fuel usage.  As Honda prepares for the launch of the Honda Prologue for America, the company will introduce hybrid-electric systems to other core models to continue to reduce CO2 emissions while helping create a bridge for customers to move from fossil fuels to hybrid to EVs.

Honda’s management have stated that they are aware that customers who have a good experience with a hybrid vehicle are more likely to buy an electric vehicle in the future.  We can see that their hybrid sales have increased over the last few years.  Led by models such as the CR-V Hybrid and the Accord Hybrid, Honda just recorded its best-ever first-half year of electrified vehicle sales.  The Insight has also sold well.

2022 Honda Civic Sedan

Now what about now?  Let’s take a look at the all-new Honda Civic Hatchback!  In 2022, Honda will be selling the latest Civic in Australia.  The car is aimed predominantly at young buyers who are captured by its fastback design and sporty driving character.  The new Civic will offer a slick-shifting 6-speed manual transmission as well as an automatic CVT option to go with the 2.0-liter normally aspirated motor or the 1.5-liter turbo engine.  High-performance Si and Type R models are to be available, and they are cars I’ll be keeping my eyes out for.

The largest back seat to ever be inside a Civic Hatchback comes with 2022 models, and the cars also features new standards of safety technologies.  All 2022 Honda Civic Hatchbacks include Honda’s new next-gen driver and front passenger airbags and an expanded Honda Sensing suite of driver-assistive and safety technology that adds Traffic Jam Assist and a smoother, more natural feeling to functions like Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) and the Lane Keeping Assist System (LKAS).  It will also include Collision Mitigation Braking System (CMBS) with Pedestrian Detection, Forward Collision Warning, and Road Departure Mitigation (RDM).

2022 Honda Civic Dash

2022 Honda Civic EX-L models will boast all the luxury features, so big color touchscreen with Apple CarPlay and Android Auto integration, push-button start, partial digital instrumentation, blind-spot information (BSI), leather upholstery, an 8-way power driver’s seat, heated front seats, heated outside mirrors, a one-touch power sliding moonroof, dual-zone automatic climate control and LED headlights are the go.

Sportier Civics will have racy looks thanks to things like a short shifting 6-speed manual transmission (or CVT), Berlina Black 18-inch wheels, low-profile 235/40R-18 tyres, black exterior accents, an 8-speaker audio system, sport-specific upholstery, a leather-wrapped shifter and steering wheel, paddle shifters (CVT only) and sport pedals.

As the automaker prepares for the launch of the Prologue SUV in America, expect to see more hybrid variants of current core models to ease the transition to full electrification.

Ford Movements

Hot off the Press News has Ford investing big money in EV production.  All up, Ford and a South Korean supplier will spend $11.4 billion US on Ford’s EV production and expansion.  Ford hopes this spend will enable them to produce more than one million EVs per year in the second half of this decade.  The buzz words used in new and future cars include the term electric vehicles or EVs.  Established automakers like Ford are racing to try and close the gap on Tesla’s EV lead.  As you may be aware, Tesla produces a range of EVs, and Tesla are currently on the way to selling more than 800,000 electric cars this year.  Tesla is currently the most valuable automaker in the world, with a market capitalization of nearly $800 billion US.  Ford’s market value is $56 billion US.

Ford F-150 Lightening

Ford’s big spend will be its 2nd biggest spend in its history.  Under the climate change banner and the Biden government, this latest US multibillion-dollar move to quickly transfer production plants to EV production is seen as a fast track phasing out of gasoline-powered cars and trucks as part of the global push to combat climate change.  I won’t debate the science here.

Ford is to build 2 battery plants in Kentucky and 1 in Tennessee under the joint venture with its main battery cell supplier, SK Innovation of South Korea.  In addition, Ford will build an assembly plant at the Tennessee location to churn out EV trucks. Ford will invest $7 billion and SK Innovation $4.4 billion, the companies have said.  Ford expects electric vehicle models to make up 40% of their vehicle production by 2030.  That’s only a little over 8 years away!

Ford’s new truck plant and battery factory in Tennessee is likely to be the place that will produce a new battery-powered Ford F-Series pickup truck, this following the previously announced F-150 Lightning pick up truck.  I have to say that the F-150 Lightening is an impressive beast!  Ford has said a mix of both the public and businesses had already placed 150,000 reservations for purchasing the F-150 Lightning.

Ford Mustang Mach-E

Also this year, Ford began selling the Mustang Mach-E, which has taken a sizable market share from Tesla.  Ford also plans to add an EV delivery van into the mix by the end of the year.  Then, in early 2022, the electric F-150 Lightning will roll out of their showrooms and silently onto the tarmac.

Ford Mustang Mach-E

Mr. Jim Farley, Ford Motor’s  president and CEO, has recently said that making electrical vehicles affordable should be among the top priorities for automakers, so that the average vehicle-buyer can purchase one.  This is good news, as a new EV is well out of most people’s budget.

He also made a couple of rather poignant comments: one on a key issue on questioning how EV production will impact labour/jobs (a subject rather close to home with our relatively recent Ford and Holden closures), and the other on materials.  So, apparently, it costs 30% less to manufacture the Ford electrical vehicles.  This will definitely affect production rates and employment long term.  Then there is also the issue of battery supply and the rare minerals (i.e., lithium, cobalt) needed to power them, said Farley.   Mr Farley stated, “We have to bring battery production here, but the supply chain has to go all the way to the mines.  That’s where the real cost is, and people in the U.S. don’t want mining in their neighbourhoods.  So, are we going to import lithium and pull cobalt from nation-states that have child labour and all sorts of corruption, or are we going to get serious about mining? …  We have to solve these things and we don’t have much time.”

Here in Australia, we haven’t jumped on the EV wagon just yet, and if we are going too, then there is so much infrastructure that will be needed to be implemented before owning an EV becomes a viable option for people like me.  Even the thought of the costs involved in getting the right infrastructure is eyewatering, and, like most impatient home renovators and idealistic politicians, the job must be done yesterday!  The hard working folk pay for it, of course!

There seems little patience on offer by many governments and climate change activists for making the move to EVs (and other new transportation technology like an EV repower on your existing car) a more balanced and delicate affair.  For now, owning an EV is very much for the elite, so Farley is on the right track when he says that the cost of EV ownership must be addressed very quickly.

Ford still has many plants throughout the U.S.  However, like other big automotive manufacturers, Ford also has locations right around the world.  Ford has many production plants scattered about the globe, and these include assembly plants, engine plants, forging plants, stamping plants and transmission plants.  Here, in Australia, Ford still has special engine production and stamping plants.

On a more local note, Ford has a new feature called ‘FordPass’ offered on all their new models sold in Australia.  FordPass has a few systems worthy of a mention that include:

Remote Start+, where minutes before leaving, you can start your connected vehicle’s engine from your mobile device in order to heat or cool the cabin using the last known climate control setting.

Vehicle Status, where you can check key variables such as fuel level and your odometer on the FordPass App to help plan your journey.

Remote Lock/Unlock, where, conveniently, you can use your mobile device to make sure the car doors are locked or unlocked without being anywhere near your vehicle.  If only it could do that for my house front door!

Vehicle Locator, where you can check your vehicle’s exact location in the FordPass App, which is particularly useful if you share your vehicle with one or more members of your household or if you have forgotten where you parked it.  However, if you’ve forgotten where you’ve parked it, then maybe you better get breath tested!

Vehicle Health Alerts, where the FordPass App sends Vehicle Health Alerts directly to your mobile device, pre-empting service needs and general maintenance such as low washer fluid.

Live Traffic, where this feature enhances your SYNC 3 Navigation system by delivering up-to-date traffic updates.  This technology allows you to adjust your recommended route based on the traffic conditions, helping you to arrive more relaxed and on time.

Ford Ranger Special Ediiton

In this second half of 2021, Ford Australia offer a nice broad range of vehicles that include the Puma, Escape and Everest SUVs; the Ford Focus car; the Ford Ranger Ute; the Transit Commercial range that has custom vehicles, vans, buses and cab-chassis models; the Ford Performance range that includes the Fiesta and Focus ST, the Focus ST-3, the Ranger Raptor, the Mustang and Mustang Mach-1; and the Special Edition Rangers and Everests.

It is good to see Ford keeping pace with any EV and hybrid automotive technology and movements; though at what societal and environmental cost?  New Ford vehicles are good, and Ford offers a very complete package for all new vehicles in the Ford range.  Once you’ve driven a Ford, its not so easy to change out of the brand come new car buying territory.