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Archive for December, 2014

Sales and Fails in the Australian Auto Market.

We should all know by now that the Australian car industry, in a manufacturing sense, is in a bit of a mess, with Ford, Holden and Toyota wrapping up as local makers by 2017. There’s no doubt that it will impact on employees; for example, Toyota’s Caringbah, Sydney, office will be largely condensed staff wise as will the two Melbourne based plants. All of the company’s corporate functions will be consolidated at Toyota Australia’s head office in Port Melbourne, resulting in “a significant reduction in corporate support roles”. Ford will keep a design team working on international projects, as will Holden.

Grand CherokeeThere’s conjecture as to which vehicles Freemont Crossroadwill be coming to Australia, especially for the American owned companies but, at the moment, sales in certain categories and for certain brands are bubbling along nicely. Fiat/Chrysler/Alfa Australia (FCA Australia) leads the SUV segment, with the Grand Cherokee the biggest seller up to 30 November, with over 15,500 units, an increase of over thirty five percent from 2013. The Cherokee itself, released as a new model in June of 2014, has shifted over 3400 units, an incredible effort. Fiat’s perky 500 and model shared Freemont have also increased in sales from 2013; the 500 by 54% and the Freemont (aka Dodge Journey) by 44%.

Japanese maker, Mitsubishi, is also riding on the crest of the SUV wave, with its small SUV, the ASX, moving 1763 units in November, helped by ChallengerMazda3an aggressive marketing campaign. However, the Triton based Challenger failed to excite, with just 156 units finding new homes. The Mirage sedan, still relatively new to the Australian market, also failed to fire, with a miniscule 70 being sold, compared to the hatch at 352.
Compare that to Mazda, a perennial favourite, it seems; leading the way was the All-New Mazda3 with 3,499 November sales. While annual numbers approach 40,000, its tally is up almost four per cent Year-On-Year in a segment that is down six per cent in 2014. The BT-50 had a great November, selling 1209 units, whilst the Mazda2 moved 1096 however nearly 800 were of the newly released version.

A brand on the move is the Korean giant, Hyundai. In November there was a record 8600 vehicles sold, making it the 30th month in a row that the company has seen increased sales. It also puts Hyundai second overall Genesisin the Australian market (year to date) as well as passenger cars. In the light car segment, the i20 (soon to be superseded) leads the pack, with 1448 signatures on a contract for November. A further five Hyundai models achieved podium results in November, with Veloster, ix35, iMax and iLoad all finishing in second place in their respective segments while the combined sales of i30 and Elantra had them finishing second in the Small segment, with i30 taking outright third place in that segment. It’s too early to tell just what impact the newly released Genesis will make.

Ford’s Falcon, which has just been released, was on a hiding to nothing with its 2.0L EcoBoost engine. As good as the reviews are, Ford has sold just 1800 since the car was released, all the way back in April of 2012. That figure includes just seven bought by the Australian Federal Government. However, with the new Mondeo due in 2015 (and largely mooted to be the Falcon replacement) with EcoBoost standard across the range, there may be a nudge in the right direction for the ailing big car. But Falcon isn’t the only large car suffering, with the segment contracting by 7.3% since last year, down to nearly 43500 from just under 47000 at this time last year.

2015 and beyond looks to be very interesting times for the Australian automotive industry.

Driving for Change: #RacingforHeroes is Live

Image Credit: #RacingforHeroes

A ground breaking new motorsport team launches in support of ‘Help for Heroes’

In just one moment everything can change. In that moment, everything you once knew, is transformed. Due to the breath taking new initiative by Stirling Motorsport Management, this is that moment. In partnership with the UK’s most high profile charity ‘Help For Heroes’, the #RacingforHeroes motorsport team supports not only the promising careers of prominent young race drivers, but will raise both funds and awareness for our injured, wounded and sick veterans. This truly is a drive for real change, and it is happening right now. Welcome to the dawning of a whole new era in global motorsport.

The extraordinary work of #RacingforHeroes has culminated in an unrivalled race outfit the spans the length of the TOCA package. The campaign will be spearheaded by an entry in the British Touring Car Championship, the ultimate touring test for any race team. If that wasn’t enough, entries will also be made into the Porsche Carrera Cup GB, the Renault Clio UK Cup, the Ginetta GT4 Supercup and the MSA Formula Championship, the side dishes to the succulent main course that is the BTCC. Each car will be identically branded to create a strong message of both the dedication and importance of the cause they are supporting. One powerful brand has the strength to invoke awareness and active support from followers.

The selection of future superstars of the racing world include Josh Cook, Josh Files, Tom Butler, Zac Chapman and Jess Hawkins. Alan Gow, the race director of both BTCC and TOCA believes that #RacingforHeroes finds its strength in its multi-dimensional qualities,

“#RacingforHeroes is not only supporting a very worthy cause but it is also helping to develop promising young racing driver talent in the UK – a Win Win for all involved.”

R4H_Group_shot

TOCA is the largest race-based event across Europe, while #RacingforHeroes is by far the biggest team within TOCA; therefore one might say that #RacingforHeroes is the most significant motorsport operation across Europe. I dare you to find any better foundation than that to launch this revolutionary motorsport-charity partnership unto the racing fans across the UK. With such a dominant presence, it will further one of the central aims of the team; to one day have a team made entirely of veterans to run, engineer and race an entry in the BTCC.

Peter Thorpe, the founder of #RacingforHeroes will lead the team to what will be a fruitful future,

“#RacingforHeroes was designed to change the way partnerships in Motorsport work, my vision was to maximise the outcome of a sponsorship engagement for all involved while offering a truly remarkable reason to be part of it. Being able to offer companies such a multi beneficial opportunity for their PR and marketing platforms, support young British Racing talent and support the recovery of our wounded, injured and sick veterans does just that. A marketing platform anyone can be proud of.”

This concept of ‘relationships’ is a fundamental component to #RacingforHeroes; through the relatability and personal nature that the team express, it can truly bring forward the message of support for those veterans that have been injured serving their country in combat. From their media inception, #RacingforHeroes will be looking for both brand partners and sponsors to join the project throughout the 2015 motorsport campaign and beyond. Potential partners will be directly responsible for supporting the wounded through motorsport, a truly unique platform for engagement and unparalleled involvement. The #RacingforHeroes package combines supporting young drivers towards a fruitful motorsport career, direct investment that has a particular focus on donation to ‘Help for Heroes’, the emotional vision of bringing careers and happiness to wounded veterans, extensive media exposure and benefits including charitable partnership status and faultless track side hospitality.

 R4H_Drivers

Bryn Parry, CEO and Co-Founder Help for Heroes believes that the inspirational vision of #RacingforHeroes comes down to the integral relationship held between Stirling Motorsport and ‘Help for Heroes’,

“When Stirling Motorsport approached us with the exciting idea for #RacingforHeroes, we knew immediately they shared our passion and ‘can-do’ attitude. The team is committed to fundraising and providing opportunities for our wounded through motorsport. We wish them every success and hope British racing fans will get behind the team.”

There will be no doubt that not only the British fans, but motorsport fans from across the world will show their compassionate support to the team. Within the modern world, the relevance of motorsport is often called into question; there can be no stronger argument than supporting our wounded directly, both through fan support and the unrivalled adrenaline filled thrill ride that is the motorsport spectrum. This is a revolutionary step forward that will go down in the eternal racing history books.

#RacingforHeroes is a sensational step forward in the motorsport universe; the team has a direct impact on the recovery and rehabilitation of our wounded veterans through them doing something they love. The team is proud to fly the flag for not only our home grown talent but our wounded too. This project has not only financial, but emotional influence; it has the power to unify under the name of motorsport. The success of #RacingforHeroes comes down to just one simple word: support.

You can show your support on Twitter: @RacingforHeroes

Or Facebook – Racing for Heroes

www.RacingForHeroes.co.uk

To speak to Peter directly, please email peter.t@racingforheroes.co.uk

H4H CHARITY_PARTNER[1]

Written by Lewis Glynn – Official Partner of #RacingforHeroes

Follow me on Twitter: @lewisglynn69

Keep Driving People!

Peace and Love!

Daytime Running Lights – Should They Be Mandatory?

A lot of modern vehicles are fitted with daytime running lights – a set of little lights that go on automatically every time the engine gets switched on.  This is particularly the case for European vehicles for the very simple reason that the EU requires all cars to have them.  Scandinavian countries (Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Finland) have had mandatory daytime running lights for quite some time (since the 1970s, in fact), so you can bet your boots that any self-respecting Saab or Volvo is going to have them.

A nice example of daytime running light design from Audi.

A nice example of daytime running light design from Audi.

The purpose behind daytime running lights is simple safety.  The human eye is drawn to glittery, shiny objects – that’s the whole reason why precious stones and very shiny metals are considered so valuable and why luxurious fabrics and paints have a bit of a sheen to them.  This means that if you’ve got the daytime running lights on, it’s easier to see you.  And the stats do bear the basic theory out.  According to the Australian College of Road Safety, daytime running lights are “able to prevent up to 11% of multi-vehicle severe crashes, and up to 12% of pedestrian fatal crashes in Australia.”

Many of the countries that make daytime running lights compulsory are in higher latitudes: the Scandinavian nations mentioned above, plus Canada and now the rest of the European Union.  This is because during wintertime in places that are a bit further from the Equator, days get a lot shorter and the sun doesn’t get as high or as bright.  The question therefore needs to be asked if they would have the same effect if made compulsory in Australia, which is what the Australian College of Road Safety is campaigning for.  After all, we don’t get as much of a difference between winter and summer daylight hours, especially the further north you go.  Even in Tasmania, it doesn’t get anywhere near as drastic as it does in, say, Sweden.  They could consider it across the ditch in New Zealand, but over here?

Some have argued that making daytime running lights compulsory would make carbon emissions worse, as using the lights requires more energy and that energy has to come from somewhere, which is usually the fuel that you put in your car.  The more lights you have on, the more gas you’ll go through.  However, the flip side of that argument is that proper daytime running lights with LED technology use much less energy than conventional headlights put on dip, which is the El Cheapo equivalent of fog lights or daytime running lights.  LED lights tend to look prettier, too, and some designers get quite creative with how they include them in the front end design  (look at the example from Audi above).

Personally, I’m ambivalent about them.  They’re a pretty good idea on dull, grey days or when it’s raining.  They’re also pretty good on quieter streets or out in the country, especially on silvery grey cars that have a tendency to be camouflaged against the tarmac.  However, on main roads, you’ve already got tons of lights flashing and flickering, competing for your attention: indicators, traffic lights, warning lights on maintenance vehicles, advertising, Christmas lights at certain times of year, various other lights on your dashboard, all going “look at me!”  It’s a bit of visual overload, and you run the risk of just tuning it all out, with the end result that all those daytime running lights become part of the landscape, kind of like sunlight reflected off puddles or a well-polished bonnet.

Some researchers have noted that if all cars have daytime running lights on all the time, motorbikes (which also have daytime running lights and have them more often) become less visible.  Motorbikes are a lot more vulnerable than cars when it comes to crashing in the first place, so maybe this isn’t a good thing.

What do other people think?  Should daytime running lights be compulsory in Australia?  Let us know in the comments below.  If you want more info about the Australian College of Road Safety’s campaign, you can read all about it at http://acrs.org.au/about-us/policies/safe-vehicles/daytime-running-lights/.

Safe and happy driving,

Megan