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China’s Automotive Targets

Autonomous Bus Train

Looking at the current landscape of automotive skill, technology and manufacture, China places itself solidly at the forefront.  China is a prominent global automotive game changer.  The huge growth in vehicle traffic across China has been driven primarily by the country’s economic development.  The growth has been immensely rapid (particularly since 2000), where the rate of motorisation of this huge country has been nothing short of phenomenal.

The Chinese government has led a massive revolution towards the urbanizing of its people.  Research has shown that about 300 million people are expected to move to the cities over the next few years, where all of the existing – as well as new – cities will grow considerably with the influx of new inhabitants coming in from around the countryside.  This massive development plan is scheduled to run through until 2025 and is based on clear goals and the development of good electric mobilization.  Being able to integrate electric vehicles into digitised infrastructures and services will soon become a complete Chinese realization.

Currently, in China electric vehicles (EVs) are not subject to any major restrictions; if there are restrictions they are only minor.  Compared with the growing costs and restrictions enforced upon combustion engine vehicles, getting yourself into an EV brings massive benefits for Chinese owners of new EVs, and the financial incentives for having an EV are strong.  As early as 2013, a change of policy that favoured electric mobilization throughout China’s major cities and infrastructure was initiated.  The expanding EV charging infrastructure is continuing to grow rapidly, though it has some way to go before being consistently functional over wider areas.

Big digital companies like Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent are providing the drive and expertise behind the autonomous transport network across China’s major cities.  Many big brand car manufacturers from around the world have already linked with huge Chinese automotive companies seeking to use China as a platform and marriage for producing their cars at lower cost, and it would seem logical that, after entering the Western market via European brands, the first imports of premium Chinese vehicles (hybrid, EV and Fuel Cell) from China to other countries around the world can be expected over the next few years.  The commercial EV sector and EV buses will likely arrive even sooner.

The Arab, Latin American and African markets are ripe for gaining access by the Chinese automotive manufacturers.  Also the Silk Road Project can be perceived as a means for opening up the Asian market to the big Chinese brands of EVs and Fuel Cell vehicles.

China is on target for completely phasing out combustion technology much earlier than was first expected.  At the end of 2017, Chinese car manufacturer BAIC announced plans to stop production of non-electric and hybrid cars by the end of 2025.

We see the Chinese brands like Great Wall, Haval, MG and LDV growing here in Australia, and it seems that this Chinese automotive development will continue rapidly into countries who want to take non fossil fuel transport to new levels.  China will play a key, dynamically strong role in the future of clean automotive transport.  I wonder how soon we’ll see more autonomous and EV transport being rolled out in Australia?

Japan’s Automotive Brilliance

Tokyo, Japan

You can’t go anywhere around Australia without noticing just how many Japanese made vehicles are motoring around our roads (and off them).  Since the 1960s, Japan has been among the top 3 automotive manufacturers in the world.  The country is home to a number of motor companies, and you’ll be familiar with them: Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Suzuki, Subaru, Isuzu.  There are, of course, more than these mainstream manufacturers.  Japan has around 78 car-manufacturing factories in 22 regions, and these employ over 5.5 million people (more than the entire population of New Zealand).

The strong competition that is happening on a global scale in the automotive industry has forced the manufacturers to come up with a new model design every four to five years.  Along with the new models, new innovative designs and new technologies are presented and used by the automakers in their new vehicles.  Automotive manufacturing is the prominent manufacturing type in Japan, which takes up 89% of the country’s manufacturing sector.  A large amount of time and money are invested into developing and improving the automotive manufacturing process, which, in turn, increases the quality and efficiency of their manufactured automotive products.

Some of the brilliant new developments from Japan automobile manufacturers have led to distinct and innovative new designs for current and future automobiles.  In order to control the market dependency on fuels, and in order to design vehicles that are more fuel-efficient, Japanese automakers have invested and built hybrid vehicles and fuel-cell vehicles.

The ideology and popularity of environmentally friendly vehicles is creating a wave of global interest and demand for these sorts of vehicles.  More and more automakers around the globe are focusing on creating the types of vehicles that are friendlier on the environment to their production line.  Japan’s automotive manufacturers are leaders in this field.  Japanese innovations in these technology sectors include autonomous taxi services and airport transportation, high-definition maps and open-source software modules for autonomous vehicles, advanced hydrogen fuel cell and alternating-current battery technology, and silicon carbide (SiC) semiconductor films for EV power electronics.  Japanese companies have been developing hydrogen fuel cell technology, which is projected to reach a market size of approximately $43 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 66.9% from 2019 to 2026.  Japan’s prowess in creating autonomous vehicles and their resulting cutting edge safety features puts them well ahead of the game.

An electric vehicle is an automobile that produces power from electrical energy stored in batteries instead of from the burning of fossil fuels.  Top automakers such as Toyota, Honda, and Nissan are already class leaders.

Hybrid vehicles use two or more distinct power sources to move the car.  Typically, electric motors combine with traditional internal combustion engines to produce power. Hybrid vehicles are highly fuel efficient.  Again, Japan’s Toyota motor company is one of the automotive industry leaders in hybrid vehicle research and production – with the Toyota  Prius model leading the way.  Hybrid variants are available on many of Toyota’s collection of new vehicles.

A Fuel Cell Vehicle is equipped with a “Fuel Cell” in which electricity is generated through the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen.  This chemical reaction provides the source of power to the motor.  Fuel cell systems operate by compressing hydrogen made from natural gas and gasoline, which is then converted to hydrogen by on-board systems.  Toyota’s latest fuel cell vehicle, the Mirai II, is sold in Japan.  The Mirai II uses a Hydrogen Electrochemical fuel cell that creates 130 kW.  The electric motor that is powered by the fuel cell produces 136 kW and 300 Nm.  It’s very stylish, too.

Toyota Mirai II

Top Six Tips For Ending The School Run Motoring Madness

If you listen carefully, you might hear the sound of parents (and quite a few children) cheering because the long summer holidays are over and it’s time for the school year to start.  Or maybe you won’t hear the cheering because all you can hear is the sound of traffic as everybody carts the little nippers to school.

I don’t suppose I’m the only person with grown-up children who avoids certain parts of the road at certain times of day, namely the places nearest the school and the times when school is starting and finishing.  We all know that the traffic goes mad at this time of day, with everybody wanting to pick up their kids or drop them off, depending on what the case may be.

I get it, I really do.  I’ve brought up kids and got them to school, and I appreciate how you want your children to arrive on time and safely.  I can understand how you’re busy and how you need to fit the school run into a hectic day.  However, there are things that we can all do to ease the congestion a bit so that there is less chance of an accident.  After all, if the road outside the school is madly full of cars of all sizes all trying to get the best parking spots to pick up young Jack and Olivia, then there is more chance of what the traffic analysts will coldly call a “human–vehicle conflict” and what everybody else calls a tragic accident.

So what can we do to make sure that everybody gets their kids to school and back safely? Now that the school year is starting off, here my six best ideas that you might like to apply.

  1. Do the kids actually need to be dropped off at the gate? This is where I trot out the old “I had to walk to school” speech, although I had to walk along a main road rather than through the snow, barefoot and uphill both ways. If your children are reasonably fit and active, and they have good traffic awareness around driveways and intersections (especially if there are good traffic lights or pedestrian crossings), then consider having the kids walk to school. It’s good exercise for them – and possibly you.  If the school is within 2 km of your home and your children are over 10, then there probably isn’t any good reason why they can’t walk themselves to school.
  2. Can you stay out of the crazy congestion zone? If the school is a bit further away and/or your regular commute takes you near it, then you could consider dropping the kids off outside the crazy zone right outside the school.  For example, instead of taking that detour on the way to work to drop the kids at the school gate, why not drop them off where you would have turned off? If they’re too young to walk alone, then park the car and walk with them for those last few blocks to the school gate. If they’re old enough to walk alone… well, they’re probably at the age when having Mummy walk with them to school is embarrassing anyway.
  3. Try carpooling. If you are not the only person on your street who does the school run, or if your kids go to the same after-school activities as someone else at the same school, then maybe it’s time to organise a car pool. This will be limited by the number of seats in your vehicle, of course.  Perhaps it’s time to think about getting a seven-seat MPV? However, car pooling can be a great way to build community and make some connections.
  4. Don’t double-park. If your only option is to drop the kids off at school yourself, then be a courteous driver. Don’t double park so that you can drop the youngsters off as close as possible to the gate. Double-parking makes things extremely difficult for those who are still learning how to cross the road as well as being supremely annoying for other drivers.  It’s also illegal.  Even if you’re not technically parked but are just stopping just for a moment to just let the kids out, still don’t do it.
  5. Keep out of any No Parking zones. Yes, your children are special, valuable and important. So are everybody else’s children. Let’s all respect the No Parking zones and don’t think that the rules don’t apply to you because you’re doing it for your children and they come first.
  6. If your school drop-off zone has time limits, respect them. Quite a few school have “kiss and run” drop-off points where you can stop for long enough to drop the kids off and say goodbye with a hug or kiss (if your kids are young enough to let you do this).  If we all respect the time limits here, then these systems will work.  These places are not the time to discuss lost homework, nosebleeds, etc. If an emergency arises, deal with it further down the street, not in the “kiss and run” spot.

Oh yes – if you want to try any of the ideas that involve children walking and there’s a chance that they’ll be late, you can take advantage of the fact that children who are old enough to walk by themselves are also at the age when parents are embarrassing because they exist.  Acquire some ghastly piece of clothing and state that if you have to drop them off because they mucked around and are now running late, you will do so wearing said item of clothing IN FRONT OF EVERYBODY.  It works.

New Reasonably-Priced Cars (Commodore/Falcon Replacements)

By now you’ve probably recovered from the loss of not being able to purchase a new Falcon or Commodore in Australia.  These were lovely, big, spacious cars that could travel long distances in superb comfort.  So what other alternatives are there for the buyer looking for a new car with those ‘good-ol’ Commodore and Falcon traits?  Well, the good news is there are some potential new vehicles for you.

I’ve had a look at some of the roomier cars with decent performance, decent comfort and reasonable pricing; and when I mean reasonable pricing I mean anywhere up to $60k.  There are one-or-two vehicles on the list that are priced beyond the $60k mark, but I’ve added them because I reckon that they would still be worth considering for those of you who have a few more dollars in your back pocket.  None on the list run out to much beyond $80k.

The pricing given for each vehicle should be regarded as the estimated standard model price, so if you go for the higher-end models or want more options, then you would expect that these variants will be pricier.  Don’t forget to get in touch with our sales team at Private Fleet because often we can get you some great deals!

Alfa Romeo Giulia ($60,900)

Alfa Romeo Stelvio ($65,900)

Alfa Romeo might just have a car that fixes your Commodore or Falcon withdrawal symptoms.  The Giulia is a really nice drive, is quick and gets five-star safety. The Stelvio is the SUV version that’s superbly nice-looking and great to drive.  These two Alfas tick all the right boxes for those who are after a great driving experience and something a bit special.

Audi A5 ($71,900)

Audi A6 ($84,900)

Audi Q5 ($66,900)

Three Audis come to mind – all of which are impeccably built, comfortable and high-tech.

BMW 3 Series ($70,900)

BMW 4 Series Coupe ($71,900)

These two Beemers are worth a look.  Any of the line-up are dynamic and efficient cars to drive.  They’ve just been updated with all the latest new technology.  The sexiest car in this list might be the 2021 4-Series Coupe.

Chrysler 300 ($59,950)

Do try one of these!  Superbly comfortable and roomy, the 2021 Chrysler 300 is loaded with luxury and style.  There is heaps of smooth engine torque and plenty of performance available with the 300.  A Chrysler 300 comes with the choice of a V6 or V8 petrol engine, and the pricing is outstanding, too.

Ford Everest ($50,090)

Ford Mustang ($51,590)

Ford Ranger ($29,190)

Three Fords might do it for you.  The Mustang has loads of performance available, but it is a bit tight on rear seat space.  The Ranger is a comfortable ute that doubles as a workhorse.  The Everest is an SUV Ranger, and is lovely to drive long distance with the family and gear on-board.  The Ranger and Everest boast five-star safety, 4×4 capability and come with all the latest technology.

Genesis G70 ($59,300)

Genesis G80 ($68,900)

Here are two very underrated cars, or perhaps just not so well known.  The G70 and G80 are smooth, luxury cars built by Hyundai, and come with gobs of style, refinement and high-tech features.  They are also superb at covering long distances quickly.  Nice lookers, too!

Haval H9 ($40,990)

Thought I’d throw the new Haval H9 into the mix.  It’s a stylish, spacious, big SUV that’s loaded, safe and comfortable to drive.  Check out the price!

Honda Accord ($51,990)

Honda might be able to tempt you into the fold with their new Accord.  There are few spacious FWD sedans that can do everything as nicely as an Accord.  Comfort, new technology, new features and reliability go hand-in-hand at Honda.

Jaguar XE ($65,670)

It might be a bit small for some, but the Jaguar XE is a pleasant drive.

Jeep Grand Cherokee ($59,950)

Ride high in a well-priced Jeep that can head off-road, is big on space and can cosset you in luxury.

Kia Sorento ($45,850)

Kia Stinger ($49,550)

Kia has these two models that are as different from each other as chalk and cheese.  However, they are roomy, good performers and are packed with up-to-date features as standard.  The pricing is excellent, and the Stinger goes like a stabbed rat!

Land Rover Discovery Sport ($65,700)

This new Landie might be the right option for you.  4×4 capability, loaded with kit and stylish.

Lexus ES 300h ($62,525)

Lexus GS 300 ($74,838)

Lexus IS 300 ($61,500)

Lexus IS 300h ($64,500)

Lexus IS 350 ($66,500)

Lexus NX 300 ($57,500)

Lexus NX 300h ($60,500)

Lexus RC 300 ($67,990)

Lexus RC 350 ($70,736)

I can count nine Lexus vehicles which might be the right fit for you.  Each variant is different, so there is a high chance that one of these will meet your requirements.  Lexus vehicles are high-end Toyotas with excellent reliability, performance, luxury and style.  Five-star safety comes with each of these machines, while the RC is a quick performer.  Hybrid versions are extremely efficient.  The NX is an SUV-type vehicle.

Mazda 6 ($34,490)

Mazda BT-50 ($36,550)

Mazda CX-8 ($39,910)

Mazda CX-9 ($45,990)

Aussie people seem to like Mazdas, and one of these four versions might appeal to you.  Mazda vehicles are well-priced, safe, comfortable and reliable performers.  The CX-9 is very roomy, and the 6 comes with sedan and wagon variants.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class ($66,300)

Mercedes-Benz CLA ($62,600)

Owning a new Merc doesn’t come cheap, so I’ve added just the C-Class and CLA as an alternative.  These 2 classy cars are excellent to drive, comfortable and safe.  They might be a bit small, however.

 

Mitsubishi Pajero ($54,490)

Mitsubishi Pajero Sport ($46,990)

Don’t forget the Pajero!  The latest version is very good at touring long distances, great for towing, spacious and a 4×4 king.  All the latest technology is on-board one of these.  Again, the pricing is first-rate.

Nissan Pathfinder ($44,240)

Check out the classy new Nissan Pathfinder.  It has plenty of space for the family, has five-star safety and it rides nicely on and off the road.

Peugeot 508 ($57,490)

Peugeot 5008 ($51,990)

Two classy Peugeot variants are well worth a look.  The new 508 and 5008 are very stylish and safe, and they are possibly some of the nicest cars to look at on this short list (that’s quite long).  Seating is spacious and comfortable, and the technology and features are all up-to-the-minute.  They cover the ground effortlessly and efficiently, and they are priced very well for what they offer.

RAM 1500 ($79,950)

I thought I’d add the highly rated RAM 1500.  “NZ Four Wheel Drive” magazine has classed this as the best ute for 2021.  4×4 action is a breeze in one of these tough yet comfortable machines, and space is abundant inside the cabin and out on the deck.

Skoda Kodiaq ($46,390)

The Kodiaq is one of the most practical vehicles you can buy.  Off-road ability, space and comfort are all part of the Kodiaq’s repertoire.  It also boasts one of the biggest boots.

Ssangyong Rexton ($39,990)

Ssangyong’s are tough, reliable and practical.  The Rexton is the latest SUV 4×4 variant that has all the latest new technology, comfort and space you’ll need.  Pricing is excellent and the styling looks pretty good, especially with big alloys and fat rubber.

Subaru Levorg ($37,240)

 Subaru Outback 3.6R.

Subaru Outback ($37,440)

How about the Levorg or Outback wagons?  Safety, AWD, reliability and practicality are all found inside one of these.  There are also some quick versions of these, as well.

Toyota Camry ($28,990)

This is one of the cheapest cars on the list that starts out at under $30k.  A new Camry is very modern, practical, efficient, safe and reliable.  What more could you want?

Volkswagen Passat ($46,590)

VW has the Passat.  Essentially it’s the European version of the Toyota Camry.  These are nice to drive, a bit more luxurious and great on style.  Here is a good practical car.

Volvo S60 ($55,990)

Volvo V60 ($57,990)

Volvo XC60 ($64,990)

Three Volvos slot into the price bracket range that I’ve been looking for – each a bit different from the other – but all built on Volvo’s latest 60 platform.  They are very modern, very stylish, very comfortable and very safe.  The Volvo XC60 has AWD and some handy off-road ability, while the V60 is a classy wagon.  The S60 is the sedan version.  Performance models come with hybrid technology, and all are great long-distance tourers.

Caravanning

So there have been one or two posts on towing, as well the ones on the best-suited vehicles capable of towing.  So, for those of you who have the right tow vehicle, let’s take a look at some tips when it comes time to hitch up the caravan and be off on a trip of a lifetime around Australia.  Caravanning is still one of the best ways of seeing Australia and meeting plenty of people along the way.

If you are going to be travelling for a long time or for a great distance, then there are a few things worth considering so as to make your trip as rewarding as possible.  Here is a list of suggestions for you to consider before departing on your next caravan trip:

I’m assuming that you’ve already got the right tow vehicle.  The tow vehicle manufacturer’s towing recommendations shouldn’t be exceeded.

You may be thinking seriously about your caravanning adventure but still be at the pre-caravan purchase.  Do ensure that you take your time purchasing a caravan; this will help you make the right decision for you and your family (if they’re going to go with you).

If your tow vehicle is an automatic, then you should look at investing in a new transmission oil cooler, particularly if the tow vehicle has seen a few kilometres.  Hauling a big load does put higher stress loads on the transmission, thus heating it up.  If the transmission cooler isn’t up to the task, it won’t be long before you’ll cook the transmission and hit problems.  An overheated transmission is likely to cost plenty to repair or rebuild.  The price you’ll pay for a decent new transmission oil cooler will be cheaper than a new gearbox or gearbox overhaul.

Planning ahead always helps; so write a checklist when planning your caravan holiday.  This is so that you don’t leave anything important behind.

Keep in mind that your camping gear, which includes equipment such as water, food, clothes, blankets, camping gear etc, will generally add another 3-to-500 kg to the weight of the empty caravan.  And it’s also important, when loading the caravan, that the heaviest items are packed on the floor of the caravan, close to the middle where the caravan axles are, above the wheels.  This distributes the weight nicely over the axles and prevents the caravan becoming front-or-rear heavy.  If the weight bias is toward the front or rear then you’ll strike handling and braking issues.  Light items should be stored at the top, and can span the length of the caravan easily enough, but the more weighted items should be distributed evenly on the floor and in the middle and over the caravan axles.

Always carry a fire extinguisher on board your caravan; that way you’ll be properly prepared to stop any fires from getting out of control.  And, on the topic of fires/heat, a great idea when having a BBQ at caravan parks is to use baking paper on the BBQ plate, this way you can simply fold up the paper after use, and the plate will remain clean.  I’m all for avoiding doing dishes as much as possible!

Make sure you do pack some flat blocks of wood.  These can be used as a sure footing for the caravan’s parking-stability arms when your camp site is on uneven ground.  They can also be used as a firm base for changing any tyres.  Oh, and make sure you have a spare wheel for the caravan, just in case your caravan gets a puncture a long way from a service station.

One addition that makes hitching up very easy is a reversing camera.  You can even buy an aftermarket unit for reasonable money if your current vehicle doesn’t have one fitted.

Do check out the caravan and camping accessories that are for sale on the market.  These can help make your caravan holiday even more comfortable and enjoyable.

There will be even more great tips, so do share your ideas/experiences with us….

Have fun and enjoy the sights!

Our Population’s Need for Cars

The numbers are saying that there is a growing percentage of our population here in Australia that are classed as elderly; by elderly I mean over 65 years of age with a bit of a white/grey background in their hair colour.  Our largest age group sits in the 30 to 34 year old bracket.  Our population of youngsters under the age of 10 also continues to increase.  As well as that, Australia’s overall population is continuing to grow swiftly – thanks mainly to Australia being a great place to make the shift to live and work in.  Building our infrastructure to keep up with the influx and accommodate the population growth is something Australia continues to do well, and definitely Australia does infrastructure a whole lot better than most countries in the rest of the world.

Brisbane, Perth and Sydney know how to do public transport, with Melbourne a shining light when it comes to usable public transport; in fact, more than 80 % of all public transport kilometres in Melbourne are travelled on roads.  All our big Australian cities do the public transport service pretty well, Adelaide being well up the user-usability, user-friendly, and user-satisfaction rankings, too.  However, most of us rely on our own private vehicles to get us across town and city, to travel from one township to another, or even to get from one major city to another throughout, and across, Australia.

The Australian road network covers more than 877,000 kilometres, which is quite phenomenal when you think about it, and well over half a million Australians rely on these roads for their full-time employment.  A relatively recent (2016) analysis of the preferred method of travel that residents in Australia used to get to work showed that 11.4 % used public transport, while 66.1 % used a private vehicle.  These figures still followed pretty-true in Australian Greater Capital Cities surveys, where 15.7 % used public transport and 63.3 % used a private vehicle.  Whilst many of the elderly move closer to the city centre or find a hub that is close to amenities, even the elderly find it hard to totally give up the car keys.  You can’t beat the park just outside your destination!

Here are some interesting stats and bits of info taken from various recent surveys held in Australia, and we need to thank the likes of the Australian Bureau of Statistics for keeping us informed.  Did you know that there were 19.8 million registered motor vehicles across Australia as at the 31st January 2020.  This points to our national fleet having increased by 1.5 % from the same figures discovered in 2019.  Of the 19.8 million vehicles, 25.6 % of the national fleet are diesel and 72.7 % are petrol.  Light, rigid, diesel trucks continue to have the largest growth rate in registrations, increasing 5.8 per cent over the year.  This is followed, rather contemplatively for me, by campervans with a 3.5 per cent growth in registrations.  Light rigid trucks include your Ford Ranger and Toyota Hilux type vehicles.

Though still a very small portion of the pie, electric vehicles are gaining some traction in Australia.  Sarah Kiely, Director of ABS Transport Statistics, stated that “While electric vehicles are still small in number, less than 0.1 per cent of the fleet, the 14,253 electric vehicles registered in 2020 is almost double the previous year.”

The growth in our population and the need for more new cars for transportation are reasons why we are seeing the WestConnex  infrastructure project (US $16bn) that is linking Western and South Western Sydney with the city, airport and port in a 33 km continuous motorway.  Once this project is finished, motorists will be able to bypass up to 52 sets of traffic signals from Beverly Hills through to Parramatta.  The Melbourne Airport rail link (US $5bn) is set for construction beginning 2022.  There are many big-ticket infrastructure items on the go, and in the pipeline, that all help get our people about efficiently.

It might be time to trade in your 10.4 year old car (the average age for an Australian car) in for a new Toyota, which is the most preferred manufacturer by Australian new car buyers.

New 2021 Cars To Save Up For and Buy

Keeping my ear to the ground and spying on what new cars are coming to Australia next year has revealed a decent line-up of cars that should peak interest, grab the attention and generally convince a new-car buyer to hold off their purchasing till one of these arrives.  Let’s get straight down to business and take a look together:

Audi RS Q8 2021

A new Audi RS Q8 is coming in October boasting a whopping 441 kW and 800 Nm.  Hot performance is matched by AWD grip, and the interior is high-spec and gorgeous.  Being a luxury-performance SUV from Audi, the price will be in excess of $200k.

Audi A3 2021

Audi also will offer the new A3 Hatch alongside a new A3 Sedan.  These two small cars will have all the latest gadgets, and will be powered by an excellent 1.4-litre TFSI turbo-petrol engine.  The 4-cylinder is good for 110 kW and 250 Nm.  Linked to an eight-speed torque-converter automatic, the new car will be zippy and very efficient.  The A3 line-up wouldn’t be complete without the S3, and in 2021 we will see the new S3 Hatch and Sedan boasting a 2.0-litre turbocharged petrol engine with 228 kW, 400 Nm and AWD: Excitement!

BMW 4 Series 2021

BMW gets a new 4 Series next year.  The car’s styling is gorgeous, while the interior features nice materials and new, better technology.  The base model 420i is good for 135 kW of power and 300 Nm of torque.  The 430i packs a healthy 190 kW and 400 Nm. And the M440i xDrive uses a 3.0-litre turbocharged inline 6-cylinder petrol engine with 285 kW of power and a very strong 500 Nm of torque.  All this power is put down via an eight-speed automatic and AWD.

Fiat 500 EV 2021

A brand new and cute Fiat 500 EV will potentially make it to our shores in 2021.  Powering the wee Fiat 500 is a 42 kWh lithium-ion battery pack that gives the car a 320km – 400 km range.  This might be the perfect little urban runabout, with premium style and fun being at the forefront of the car’s design.

Ford Escape 2021

Ford boasts the entry of the new Ford Escape which can also be had as a PHEV model.  The new Escape is really nice, practical and good to look at.  It’s a comfy SUV with plenty of grunt and excellent fuel efficiency.  The standard engine is the turbocharged 2.0-litre four-cylinder that produces 183 kW and 387 Nm through an excellent eight-speed automatic transmission.  This engine is available throughout the range and can be had in FWD or AWD modes.  The 2021 Ford Escape PHEV uses a naturally-aspirated 2.5-litre four-cylinder engine linked with an electric motor and a 14.4 kWh lithium-ion battery.  The combined output is 167 kW.  The Escape PHEV is good (it needs to be) and goes up against the successful Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV as well as the new Volvo XC40 hybrid.

Genesis G80 2021

If you’re on the lookout for a new luxury sedan, then hang about for the latest Hyundai Genesis G80.  This is quite a car with all the jaw-dropping looks to rival a Beemer 7 Series or Mercedes S-Class.  A 2.5-litre turbo or 3.5-litre turbo petrol are the options, and both can be linked to RWD or AWD options.  Smooth, quiet performance is likely to be matched with excellent reliability.  The recent J.D. Power U.S. Vehicle Dependability Study looked at any problems experienced by owners of 3-year-old vehicles, and they found that the 2020 Genesis G80 was named the most dependable midsize premium car with the lowest rate of reported problems over time.

Great Wall Ute

A new Great Wall Ute has just become available, and it’s a nice package.  The range consists of the Cannon, the Cannon-L and the range-topping Cannon-X.  The new Great Wall Ute will come with the strong new 2.0-litre turbo-diesel 4-cylinder engine producing 120 kW of power and 400 Nm of torque.  It will be offered with a choice of a six-speed manual or a ZF-sourced eight-speed automatic transmission, and it will also be able to pull a braked trailer of 2250 kg.  This is similar in size to a Ford Ranger, Nissan Navara or Toyota Hilux, except it will be cheaper to buy.

Hyundai Sonata 2021

We’ve got the classy looking new Hyundai Sonata Sedan.  This has to be arguably the best looking mid-to-large sedan on the market.  N-Line Sonatas are particularly good-looking and boast 19-inch alloy wheels, a boot-lid spoiler, unique bumpers, blacked out accents, a quad-tipped exhaust and a rear diffuser.  The N-Line isn’t short on power either, with the new 213 kW/422 Nm 2.5-litre four-cylinder turbo petrol more than capable of dancing a jig.  It’s also mated to an eight-speed dual-clutch automatic gearbox, which can see the car through to 100 km/h from a standstill in a mere 5.3 seconds.

Hyundai Pallisade 2021

Hyundai’s new seven-seater Pallisade looks immense – which it is.  This is a large luxury SUV with all the comfort of an S-Class.  In Australia, we will get a petrol and a diesel option – which is excellent.  The 3.8-litre V6 petrol is up for 217 kW of power and 355 Nm of torque.  It’s mated to a very smooth eight-speed automatic transmission.  The 2.2-litre turbo-diesel makes 147 kW and 440 Nm via its eight-speed automatic and AWD set-up.  Diesel Pallisades are very efficient for such a big bruising SUV, and both engines are really good towing units.

Hyundai Tucson 2021

Hyundai also boast the arrival of the new Tucson with its nice streamlined looks.  The Tucson has proven pretty popular in Australia, so with the new base engine a naturally-aspirated 2.0-litre four-cylinder petrol, a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol and a 2.0-litre turbo-diesel unit the options for power, the new medium comfortable SUV is set to build on current success story.

Hyundai iMax vans are very good and there will be a new one of these available by the end of 2021.

Kia Carnival 2021

Soon, you will be able to get into a new Kia Carnival, and with seven, eight or 11 seat configurations, this is a comfy and practical people mover.  The new Carnival has to be one of the spunkiest looking people movers on the market; in a market which has seen the Honda Odyssey having the better styling over recent times.  The new Carnival has it all: luxury, comfort, technology, safety; it’s all there.

LDV T60 Ute 2021

A new LDV T60 will grace our roads next year.  This is a good-looking, hard-working ute with good mechanicals, decent output and nice comfort and tech.  It will come with the rugged turbo-diesel, which offers 120 kW and 375 Nm, ensuring frugal, dependable transport.  The T60 has some pretty funky styling, boasting a seriously big grille, slim-line head lights, and a front DRL that runs the width of the ute.

Mercedes Benz S-Class 2021

An all-new Mercedes Benz S-Class is on the horizon.  Expect the best and nothing less.

Mitsubishi Outlander 2021

Awards for most futuristic car might be going to the brand new 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander.  The range-topping Outlander PHEV is expected to feature a larger battery than the current plug-in hybrid model, while the other engines are likely to be new, also.

Nissan X-Trail 2021

I’ve always been a fan of the X-Trail’s ability in all areas, and now the new Nissan X-Trail is upon us with a design that has been pleasantly tweaked, and offering more technology in the classy package.  Inside the new model, it’s packed with a new infotainment system with a 10.8-inch colour head-up display, a 12.3-inch digital dashboard, and a 9.0-inch touchscreen.  Wireless Apple CarPlay is included, along with wireless phone charging.  Nissan will also offer a full ProPilot suite of active safety assists on this model that will make this one of the safest in its class.  The AWD system packs a new electro-hydraulic clutch, which is designed to more accurately and quickly shuffle the power load around the wheels when slippage is detected.

Renault Captur 2021

Renault’s classy small Captur SUV is worth the wait.  Power will come from a 1.3-litre turbocharged petrol engine that is mated with a seven-speed dual-clutch transmission.  Output is rated at 117 kW of power and there is a healthy 260 Nm of torque.  Practicality and comfort is good inside a new Captur, which has a two-tier boot that holds up to 536 litres of luggage, and the split/folding rear seats can also be slid forward and back as needed.

Skoda Octavia 2021

A sleek new Skoda Octavia impresses with its low-slung lines available in sedan or wagon styling.  I personally love the shape of the wagon, with its long roofline and nicely filled out haunches.  The Skoda Ocatvia RS will be powered by a 2.0-litre four-cylinder turbocharged engine making 180 kW and 370 Nm.  A locking front differential and dual-clutch transmission will be standard.  An efficient 1.4-litre turbocharged petrol four will likely run the rest of the Octavias.  Skoda Octavias have always been at the forefront of space and practicality.

Subaru Outback 2021

A brand new Subaru Outback is coming! This is a brilliant SUV/Wagon built for tackling the rough as well as the smooth.  The five-seater sits on a new modular Subaru Global Platform that is stiffer, boosting handling prowess and safety credentials.  The exterior styling looks good, while the cabin is new and stylish.  An 11.6-inch portrait-oriented centre touchscreen looks and functions really nicely.  So, there’s a 2.5-litre naturally aspirated Boxer petrol engine that hauls nice and smooth and will be standard across the range.  Also, a new 2.4-litre turbo unit with 190 kW of power replaces the six-cylinder option. This is a swift runner with great handling.  All models will be offered with the symmetrical AWD system, and they’ll use a CVT with eight stepped ratios.

Subaru Levorg 2021

A new Subaru Levorg is also about to run out on stage.  To start with, the Subaru Levorg will be powered exclusively by a 1.8-litre turbocharged four-cylinder boxer engine with 130 kW of power between 5200 and 5600 rpm, and 300 Nm of torque between 1600 and 3600 rpm.  All-wheel drive is, of course, standard, as is a CVT.  A punchier big Turbo model will, no doubt, become available later on.

Toyota Kluger 2021

The new Toyota Kluger looks really good for the buyer looking to upgrade their old SUV.  An electrified version of this comfy and stylish seven-seat SUV will make the running costs even better.  The new Kluger hybrid blends a 2.5-litre petrol engine with two electric motors and a compact battery, delivering a maximum 179 kW output to the capable AWD system.  If you’re after petrol alone, then the 3.5-litre V6 offers a throaty 218 kW and strong performance.  FWD or AWD options are available, both of which run with a smooth eight-speed automatic transmission.  Drive one of these, and you can see why so many people like-and-buy Klugers.

Volkswagen Golf 2021

Volkswagen has their popular new Golf on sale soon; and a new Golf always looks nice parked up the driveway.

Driving the Hours of Darkness

One of my favourite times for driving is at night or in the early morning; and by early morning I mean well before ‘sparrow’s fart’.  The roads are mostly empty and everything is quiet and serene.  It is possible to travel during the hours of darkness and quite quickly cover the ground.  Here are some definite advantages of travelling by night, with a few of the disadvantages thrown in as well.

First of all there is nothing quite like the fresh, cool air that you get during nightfall.  A lot of the wildlife has settled for the night and the night air has a pristine smell that I love.  When you get out and stretch and take a break during the night drive, the air is always satisfying and refreshing – but just as long as it’s not a frog strangling gulley washer!  You can hear the silence with only the odd chirp or bark, squeak or rustle of wind filling the air.  Just after midnight, the roads are mostly empty and it can be an ideal time to drive.  You will get the odd long haul truck unit doing the intercity run, but on the whole, I find driving at night to be pretty relaxing.

Who doesn’t like getting places faster?  At night, driving with very few other vehicles on the road means that you can keep up a steadier speed at higher velocity which allows you to cover the ground in a shorter amount of time.  You can hit the speed limit and stay at it for longer.  This is a win-win because it also links in with fuel efficiency, which I’ll touch on later.

Not having the sun about means the night air is cooler, which is a phenomenon that’s rather nice in a hot sunny country by-day – like it is in Australia.  Your air-conditioning requirements are not quite so demanding, therefore avoiding the need to pump through gallons of cool fresh air at maximum levels in order to keep cool inside the car.  You also have less heat streaming in through the closed windows and onto your skin, another nice feature about night driving.  Sun strike is not a problem, either.

If you are getting from A to B quicker at night, then it is obvious that the lack of traffic will mean that the drive will be more fuel efficient.  Because there are fewer cars on the road, your speed is even and you avoid the stop and go motion of other cars around you.  There actions and choices slow you down, and the more of these the slower you go as they the weave in and out of your lane and generally make life more stressful. Because you’re avoiding other cars by travelling at night, you are going to get better fuel efficiency.  A steady higher speed is good for economy.  Putting a lighter load on the air-conditioning system by driving at night in the cooler air is also good for fuel economy.  More economic, cooler, more relaxed, quicker and more fuel efficient at night: now who doesn’t like that?

When you do need to refuel at a gas station, getting fuel at night is a breeze, with nobody around other than the sleepy cashier.  And there are even no cashiers at card-only fuel stations.

As with most things, there can be a downside to night driving.  Yes, you could get sleepy when driving during the hours that you’re normally in bed.  Not many shops open; and should you want to stop for a sleep, then most motels are closed up by 9/10 pm.  Kangaroos and other larger creatures still wander, shuffle or bounce onto the road from seemingly out of nowhere in the dark.  They can even do this in daylight, mind you…

Driving at night is/or can be fun and enjoyable.  I personally enjoy it but realise that it’s not for everyone.  After I have done a long haul at night, I do tend to take things pretty cruisy the next day, while ensuring I get a great night’s sleep the following night.  I sense a few roadies coming on; it is the festive season, after all.

Tips For Keeping Your Car in Great Shape

Our cars are made up of some pretty amazing components.  They’ve been designed to last for a long time within a set of parameters by which most of us can adhere to.  Turn the key, and the engine fires up; travel for at least 10,000 km before most new cars need a service; they can take a certain number of people from A-to-B and back again in comfort for years without a hitch; they’ll soak up the bumps we find on a typical road for over 100,000 km before suspension components require replacement.  The cars we drive are pretty well-built; and they need to be, especially as they are often one of the most expensive items that we buy (more than once) over the extent of our lifetime.

Here are some tips to help make your car last for longer:

Wash Your Car

Did you know that one of the toughest substances for your car’s paintwork is bird poop?  If you let this sit on your car’s paintwork for over a week in the sun, it’ll start to work into the paint layers and cause discolouration and marks to appear on those spots.  To a lesser extent tree sap will affect paint surfaces, but it’s also a real pain to get off if it’s been left to bake on for any lengthy period.  So washing your car regularly and polishing it up with a good coat of wax will help your paintwork last much longer and look much nicer.

Avoid Lots of Revs When Cold

Revving your engine a lot when the car engine is cold after it’s been sitting for a long period (like overnight) is a sure way to shorten the engine’s life span.  The oil in your car’s engine is necessary to prevent wear between moving parts, and the problem with revving when the engine is cold is that lubrication doesn’t work as well when the car is cold. The solution is an easy one, and one which is backed by manufacturer recommendations, and that is to always allow your engine to warm up for at least 10-to-15 seconds before starting off.  This allows the oil to get pumped up from out of the sump and to start circulating through the engine components.  The next thing is to avoid fast and heavy acceleration for at least a minute or so, while the engine has that time to warm up.  If you follow these guidelines, then, as the automotive engineers suggest, your car will last many, many thousands of km longer.

Don’t Shift Into Drive When Moving

Most of us drive automatic vehicles these days, and it’s just so easy to flick the car into drive after backing out of a driveway or parking spot while the vehicle is still rolling backward.  This bad habit puts the transmission components under stress and will shorten the life of your gearbox.  Always bring the car to a complete stop before selecting gear and driving off.

Don’t Ignore Servicing and Oil Changes

Do keep an eye on the oil level on your dipstick.  Keep your oil topped up on the dipstick and change it according to your owner’s manual recommendations.  Most modern cars, if well-maintained, won’t even need top ups between services.  However, it is always good to check the oil level and to top up accordingly.  Make sure the oil filter gets changed when the oil is changed too.  Oil changes are part of the servicing requirements and, quite simply, it’s cheap maintenance and cheap insurance for your engine.

Do Avoid the Potholes and Big Bumps

All the suspension components, particularly at the front-end of your car, are precisely aligned.  When this alignment is disrupted by hitting a big pothole or large speedbump at speed, the misalignment afterwards causes major wear on the steering gear and other moving parts, accelerating the wear and the need for replacement.

Water Keeps It Cool

If you’re getting your car serviced on time, then the mechanic will know when each new lubricant and fluid change is due, including the radiator coolant.  However, if you’re doing a lot of the servicing yourself, then one of the items that’s easy to overlook is the changing of the radiator coolant.  The coolant that you put in your car does more than just cool the engine down.  The water should be mixed with antifreeze so that the coolant doesn’t freeze inside the pipes but also to prevent corrosion in the depths of the engine.  A good antifreeze has special corrosion inhibitors in it to stop any galvanic corrosion from occurring.

And there you have it; some handy tips for the holiday season ahead of us.  It might also be a good idea to get your vehicle serviced before you tackle any big roadie, especially if the service is due anytime soon.

How Unique is My Drive?

Audi RS 5

It’s pretty likely that you’ll be aware of the enormous number of brand names out there in the market place.  The mass consumer goods industry is a huge area of vibrant buying madness, and it’s all about choice and variety – isn’t it?  Who is supplying the different brands and goods served onto our own dinner tables?  Who is supplying the different brands and goods that we choose to wear for clothing?  Who is supplying the different brands of fuel for our cars?  Who is supplying the different brands of cars that we buy?

There has been a bit of an illusion of choice that’s been built up over the last few decades.  Back in the old days when most people lived in villages and small towns everyone knew who the local blacksmith was that tinkered on the locals’ machinery.  The food and produce at the local store usually came from local farmers, and the animals were bought locally or nearby.  Today, goods may have travelled the world before they arrive at our door.  And, today, generally, we know all of the company names who own and sell the favourite brands that we buy – don’t we?

We likely inherently know that PepsiCo sells plenty of drink beverages, including its flagship Pepsi product.  We may well know that Nestle makes Milky Bars, Kit Kat, scorched almonds and Nescafe instant coffee.  What is less recognizable is that Nestle also makes DiGiorno pizzas and owns two competing brands of rather nice carbonated water, which are called San Pellegrino and Perrier.  Did you know that Nestle also has at least 29 separate brands that all help make them an annual sales turnover of $1 billion!  And, inside each of these brands, the company has hundreds of different food products in all kinds of sectors.  Nestle is the world’s largest food company by revenue, and its market capitalization in dollar terms is massive; well over $225 billion in fact.

There is nothing wrong in buying from any of these brands, but it is worth noting that every dollar of your money is a vote; a vote for products and companies that you believe in, or maybe now would rather not…  But let’s get back to cars, because, as much as I like chocolate, we are all about cars here at Private Fleet, aren’t we?

A relatively recent study found that it was actually only around 14 major big companies that controlled 54 common car brands that most of us either buy our own cars from, or will, at least, be familiar with.  So, say you were looking to buy a luxury car such as a quick Porsche or classy Bentley; well, you might just have less choice than you may think.  These two luxury brands are actually owned by Volkswagen (a German-based company) who also own the Audi, Bugatti, Lamborghini and Skoda brand, as well as VW and Seat.  Interestingly, motoring fans would often consider Porsche and Audi RS cars to be entirely different, even out-and-out rivals, but here they are being owned and governed by VW.

Fiat Chrysler Automobiles N.V., often abbreviated as FCA, owns Alfa Romeo, Dodge, Maserati and Jeep; oh, and Lancia, RAM, Fiat and Chrysler vehicles.

GM is the company who owns Buick and Chevrolet.  But did you know they also own Holden, Vauxhall, Cadillac, Opel, GMC, Wuling Motors and Baojun.

Perhaps if you wanted a nice car built for the masses but that wasn’t at all much linked to any other marque, then you could argue that, of the 14 companies, Daimler, Ford, Honda, PSA, Hyundai, Toyota and Nissan are the truly most distinctive brands amidst the monopolies.  Daimler owns and makes Mercedes Benz and Smart cars; Ford owns and makes Ford and Lincoln cars; Honda owns and makes Honda and Acura cars; PSA owns and makes DS, Citroen and Peugeot cars; Hyundai owns and makes Hyundai and Kia cars; Toyota owns and makes Toyota, Lexus and Daihatsu cars; and Nissan owns and makes Nissan, Infiniti and Datsun cars.

It’s just another way of being informed and looking at things!