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Driving in Australia

GMSV Releases Corvette Pricing & Addition To Silverado.

GMSV has today (March 30, 2021) released details of an addition to the Silverado range, plus confirms pricing for the Corvette.

The Chevrolet Silverado LT Trail Boss will come with a recommended retail price of $106,990. Drive is courtesy of a 6.2L EcoTec3 V8 and ten speed auto, and offers a towing capacity of 4.5 tonnes. GMSV’s Director, Jo Stogiannis, says the Trail Boss is intended to be the off-road warrior of the range. “LT Trail Boss personifies what Silverado is all about. It’s big, it’s tough and it comes ingrained with brand-DNA which showcases qualities of strength, power, performance and no-nonsense work-hard attributes.”

A factory fitted suspension lift kit raises the LT Trail Boss by 25mm at the front, and 30mm for the rear, providing extra off-road clearance and peace of mind. Ride quality and handling is enhanced thanks to Rancho monotube shock absorbers, and extra grip comes from a mechanical rear locking diff. Style and practicality see the 18 inch black painted alloys contrast and complement the black front and rear bumpers.Although intended to be the off-road Silverado of choice, there is no skimping on safety or comfort. Both front seats are heated, feature ten way power adjustment, and the steering wheel is heated also. Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay is standard. Front and Rear Park Assist will ensure easier parking, and safety on tarmac has Lane Change Alert with Side Blind Zone Alert and Rear Cross Traffic Alert to look after all aboard.

To ensure off-roading enjoyment is enhanced, Hill Descent Control is standard, plus a heavy-duty air filter provides clean air for the V8, and underneath, there are all-terrain skid plates to provide extra protection.

Orders for the LT Silverado Trail Boss are being taken now, with deliveries scheduled for mid-2021.

GMSV also confirmed pricing details for the hotly anticipated Corvette. There will be five models available initially, all with high specifications. Both coupe and convertible body types will be available, with the 2LT and 3LT trim levels plus a special Carbon Edition package. Motorvation is courtesy of a 6.2L V8 producing 370kW and 637Nm with drive to the rear wheels via an eight speed dual-clutch auto.

The recommended retail pricing structure starts with the 2LT coupe from $144,990, and the convertible from $159,990. The 3LT coupe starts from $160,500, whilst the convertible starts from $175,500. Pricing for the Carbon edition is yet to be confirmed. This will be built on the 3LT Coupe body, and will feature premium wheels, a premium brake caliper package, a hand-picked interior trim, plus a build plate and owners’ pack.

Australian specification Corvettes will be built with higher equipment levels to enhance the appeal. Known as the Z51 Performance Package with Front Lift, Ms Stogiannis says: “Overwhelming feedback is that our intended customers are performance enthusiasts, they want to have the ability to experience the C8 Corvette to its fullest potential.” The package is an option in the Corvette’s home country.Front Lift raises the nose of the Corvette to minimise potential contact damage on kerbs, and it’s a simple button push to do so. Included in the Z51 package is the Magnetic Selective Ride Control system, with millimetre precision thanks to a real-time damping system that reacts in a millisecond to the changes in road surfaces. Sounds come from a dual mode exhaust, stopping is thanks to Brembo, and rear grip is enhanced via an E-LSD. The body will have a front splitter and a rear spoiler. Engine longevity is increased via extra cooling .

All versions will have a full colour Head Up Display, and passengers will enjoy a 14 speaker Bose premium sound system.

The cars are factory right hand drive, the first to come to Australia in its history. Bowling Green in Kentucky is the factory’s location, and they’ll roll off the line in late 2021, with some deliveries currently scheduled in the same period, with the rest in early 2022.

Of the car, Ms Stogiannis said: “Corvette is an iconic car and there is a massive groundswell of interest and anticipation building ahead of its local launch. We have every expectation it will more than live up to its legendary status.”

(Information courtesy GMSV).

 

Hydrogen Fuel Is The Nexo Step.

Hyundai Australia has unveiled their Nexo vehicle. Powered solely by hydrogen, it’s set to be a game-changer if the right infrastructure is put in place. For now, a fleet of twenty will roam the streets of Canberra during a trial phase.Nexo is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, rated at 95kW, coupled to an electric motor. It generates 120kW and 395Nm, and has a theoretical range of over 660 kilometres. Here’s how it works, says Hyundai.

Hydrogen gas is stored in high-pressure tanks and is sent from these to the fuel cells. It mixes with oxygen taken straight from the atmosphere and reacts across a “catalyst membrane” and creates electricity for the engine and battery, and water as the sole by-product. Excess power is stored in the battery system. Fuel Cell Electric Vehicles, or FCEVs, can be refilled in virtually the same time as a petrol fuel tank.

“The arrival of NEXO on Australian roads as an ADR-approved production vehicle is a landmark in Hyundai’s ongoing commitment to green mobility and to hydrogen fuel cell electric vehicle technology.” Hyundai Motor Company CEO, Jun Heo said. The hydrogen NEXO SUV is a cornerstone in the Hyundai portfolio, complementing our hybrid, plug-in hybrid and battery electric vehicles the IONIQ and Kona Electric. NEXO is also a sign of things to come, as Hyundai continues in its long-term drive towards leadership in eco-friendly vehicles.”

It’s a one specification vehicle for the moment, and comes well equipped in that sense. A main 12.3 inch satnav equipped touchscreen is the centre of the appeal, complete with Android and Apple smartphone compatibility. The driver has a 7.0 inch info screen, and a Qi wireless smartphone charger is standard.

Seats are leather appointed, and passengers see the sky via a full length glass roof. Sounds are courtesy of Krell. Nexo rolls on 19 inch alloys, and sees its way thanks to LED headlights and daytime running lights. A Surround View Monitor, Remote Engine Start, Remote Smart parking Assist, and a powered tailgate add extra convenience. Comfort comes courtesy of a dual-zone climate control system, powered front seats, heating for the steering wheel and outboard sections of the rear seats.

SmartSense is the name Hyundai give their safety system package and the Nexo will have Forward Collision Avoidance, Driver Attention warning, and the Blind Spot Collision Avoidance is radar based. Lane Keep Assist, Rear Cross Traffic Avoidance Assist and Smart Cruise with Stop/Go functionality are also standard.

Exterior colour choices are limited. White Cream Mica, and a Dusk Blue Metallic will come with Stone Grey two-tone interior, whilst Cocoon Silver and Copper Metallic are paired with a Dark Blue interior.

The main hydrogen system is built around three storage tanks with a capacity of 156 litres. Up to 6.33 kilograms of hydrogen can be held at a pressure of 700 bar. The testing of the tanks has included structural integrity for collision impacts. The battery is a lithium-ion polymer unit, rated as 240V and 1.56kWh. It also assists in running the onboard 12V systems.

The battery itself effectively comprises most of the floor, making for better cabin packaging and a low centre of gravity. The system is also rated for cold start operation at temperatures down to -29 Celcius. It will start within 30 seconds.

In keeping with its green credentials, structural components include aluminium for the bumper beam, front knuckles, rear wheel carriers and front lower control arms. Lower kerb weight assists in the vehicle’s handling, ride, and reduces cabin noise input. The front fenders are lightweight and flexible plastic.

Hyundai Nexo refill

Bio-based materials also up the green, with up to 12.0 kilograms of CO2 being reduced as a by-product of the manufacturing process. Total weight of bio-product is 34 kilos and this is found in the carpet, headliner, trim material, door trims, and the seats and console. Bio-paints derived from corn and sugarcane waste material are also used.

Strength and safety comes from high tensile steel, making the monocoque body both rigid and torsionally strong, with over 56% of the Nexo’s bodywork made from the high strength steel/ This extends to the tank sub-frame and tested in rear collision simulations.

Hidden details such as air guides underneath and air deflectors aid aero efficiency. Hidden wipers, a Hyundai first, are fitted at front and rear, and with slimline retracting door handles the Nexo has a drag coefficient of just 0.32cD.Chassis development was carried out in Australia, Tim Rodgers, the Hyundai Motor Company Australia Product Planning and Development Specialist, said. “The platform was designed to address this challenge, with an extensive use of lightweight parts for the strut front and multi-link rear suspensions, such as aluminium knuckles and lower control arms. By reducing unsprung mass there is less energy that we have to manage through the damper and the spring, so we can use a slightly different valve characteristic and achieve the results we require.

We’ve come out of the R&D process with a refined suspension that matches quite nicely with acoustic levels in the cabin. Beyond achieving this, the tuning program targeted the normal ride and handling benchmarks, to give NEXO the same style of body control we tune into all our cars, and the same level of competency Australia’s notoriously challenging back roads.”

Not yet available for private sale, it can be leased. Hyundai have a specialist Aftersales team in place to deal with inquiries, and they can be reached through a Hyundai dealership in the first instance.

FCAI Sees Tunnel’s Light As Sales Increase

The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries, the FCAI, has released the new vehicle sales figures for February 2021. 83,977 vehicles were sold in February 2021, which is up 5.1 per cent on February 2020. Sales for that month saw 79,940 vehicles sold.

This positive result was reflected in the increases seen for N.S.W., W.A., S.A., QLD, and the N.T. Victoria was down by 8.7%, Tasmania by 3.9%, and the ACT by 38.3% compared to February 2020. Year to date sales of 163,643 vehicles is up 7.9 per cent on the same period in 2020.

SUV sales continued to dominate the market with sales of 42,651 vehicles and representing 50.8 per cent of the total market for February 2021. Light commercial vehicle sales represented 23 per cent (19,326) and passenger vehicles 22.9% (19,194).

On a marque basis, Toyota had a 21.9% market share, Mazda 9.9%, Hyundai 7.4%, equal with Mitsubishi and just ahead of Kia, and Ford on 7.0%, and 5.6%. Nissan clocked 4.6% with fellow Japanese maker Subaru on 3.1%. VW had 3.6 whilst Chinese owned and built MG also saw 3.6%.February sales saw a continued shift in preference by buyers to move away from passenger vehicles. Sales fell 15.3% in February 2021 compared to sales in February 2020. Sales of SUVs were up 8.6 per cent and sales of light commercials were up 24.3 per cent. Hybrid SUVs continue their inexorable climb, with 2,713 sold in February 2021, against 2,546 for the same period last year, and 5,456 from January 1st compared to 4,018 last year. PHEV sales were also up, with 149 and 275 against 92 and 149 on a month and year to date basis.

Toyota’s RAV4 lead the way in the category, with 2,750 against the Mazda CX-5’s 2,048. It was a scrap for third place with Mitsubishi’s Outlander (1,178), Nissan’s X-Trail (1,151), Hyundai’s Tucson (1,062) and Subaru’s Forester (1,009) duking it out. In the large SUV category and at sub-$70K, Toyota’s Prado won comprehensively with 1,407. Isuzu’s MU-X saw 745 sales for 2nd place, edging the outgoing Subaru Outback on 608.FCAI chief executive, Tony Weber, said the result showed that confidence was continuing to grow in the market. “During the past four months we have seen an increase of 10.6% in new vehicles and this has been reflected with strong growth in NSW, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territory in February 2021. The sales reduction in Victoria can be attributed to the COVID 19 restrictions that were put in place during the month.“We remain confident that this trend of growth will continue in an environment where business operating conditions continue to normalise.”

Toyota was the leading brand in February with sales of 18,375 vehicles (21.9 per cent of the market), followed by Mazda with 8,322 (9.9 per cent), Hyundai with 6,252 (7.4 per cent), Mitsubishi with 6,202 (7.4 per cent) and Kia with 5,871 (7 per cent).

The Toyota Hilux was the best-selling vehicle in February 2021 with sales of 4,808 vehicles, followed by the Ford Ranger (2,900), the Toyota RAV4 (2,750), the Toyota Landcruiser (2,521) and the Toyota Corolla (2,427).

Kia’s revamped Carnival continued to dominate the People Mover sub-$60K segment, with 606 sales for a massive 62.5% market share, with Honda’s Odyssey on just 127. Mercedes-Benz listed 28 in the plus-$60K market for the V-Class.Purely electric passenger vehicles have seen a mild increase, with 119 for February 2021 against 86 for the same time in 2020. It’s the same on a YTD basis with 197 to 165 for 2020. For the electric SUV segment, it was a better result, with 139 to 60 for a month comparison, and 352 to 97 on a YTD basis.Key Points:
• The February 2021 market of 83,977 new vehicle sales is an increase of 4,037 vehicle sales or 5.1% on February 2020 (79,940) vehicle sales. February 2020 and February 2021 each had 24 selling days and this resulted in an increase of 168.2 vehicle sales per day.
• The Passenger Vehicle Market is down by 3,466 vehicle sales (-15.3%) over the same month last year; the Sports Utility Market is up by 3,378 vehicle sales
(8.6%); the Light Commercial Market is up by 3,784 vehicle sales (24.3%); and the Heavy Commercial Vehicle Market is up by 341 vehicle sales (13.8%) versus
February 2020.
• Toyota was market leader in February, followed by Mazda and Hyundai. Toyota led Mazda with a margin of 10,053 vehicle sales and 12.0 market share points.

(Information courtesy of FCAI)

2021 Volvo XC90 T8 Recharge PHEV: Private Fleet Car Review

Hybrid technology is becoming a way of life in the automotive world and ranges from the everyday car to the ultra luxury. Somewhere in between is Volvo and their hybrid SUV “Recharge” offerings. The big ‘un, the XC90, is now partially electrified and available as a Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle or PHEV.Complete with a solid list of standard equipment and extras, their is a Manufacturer’s recommended list price and as driven price of $114,990 and $120,715.

The key to what turned out to be a surprisingly rapid and agile big SUV is a 2.0L petrol fed engine that is both supercharged and turbocharged. The EV part comes from a battery that assists and electric motor that produces, says Volvo, 65kW and 240Nm to work with the petrol powerplant’s 246kW and 440Nm. That torque figure comes in at 2,200rpm and runs to 4,400rpm.

This endows the hefty, at 2,315kg, XC90, with ferocious speed, albeit limited to 180kph as a top speed. It will easily see the freeway limit in 5.5 seconds, and overtake others at a rate that would have Superman blink in astonishment. Along the way, Volvo says economy is rated at 2.1L/100km from a 70L tank.Herein lies the rub. The battery, when fully charged, offers just 35km of range on battery power alone. In conjunction with the drive modes, such as (mild) off-road, and the Polestar engineering mode, this is possible but in the real world mostly not. To extract the best out of the combination, it’s highway cruising that needs to be employed as the battery runs down to a point that it no longer really assists but will supplement in a reduced capacity. To that end we saw a final overall figure of 6.4L/100km, in itself a better than respectable figure for the mass of the XC90 Recharge.The Four-C Active Chassis suspension is height adjustable thanks to electronically controlled airbags being employed and does so with the drive modes programming. It’ll also lower in height when the XC90 Recharge is switched off via the centre console located rotary dial. Here one would think that the ride quality is not that good. It’s the opposite, and although not quite completely dialing out the artificial feel airbag suspension setups have, it’s never anything less than comfortable.

Up front is a double wishbone transverse link setup, with the rear a integral axle transverse leaf spring composition. Together they bring a wholly adept ride and handling package to the XC90 Recharge, along with the grip levels thanks to the 22 inch double spoke black painted and diamond cut alloys. Pirelli supply the rubber and they’re 275/35s from the famous P-Zero range.Although a thin sidewall, the suspension is clearly tuned with that in mind, such is the poise and lack of bump-thump displayed. And those wide tyres add so much tenacity in being able to corner harder and longer when enjoying that flexibility from underneath the bonnet.

Steering is precise, and mayhaps too precise for some used to oodles of understeer or numbness. It’s perfectly weighted and for the size of the wheels and rubber, there’s a pleasing lack of “ponderous”. It’s more a delight than it has the right to be, and nimble enough in the feel to make it a small to mid-sized hatch rather than the large SUV it really is.

Rolling acceleration delivers in that “pin you back in the seat” manner, especially when the battery is charged. Although untimed, that quoted 5.5 seconds, too, is on the mark from a seat of the pants point of view.Recharge of the battery from the brakes is on a graduated level. Drive, once the ignition dial is switched, is engaged by a simple tap forward or backwards lever just ahead of the switch, and a tap back from Drive changes the amount of braking regenerative force that feeds the battery. Although needing a very long hill to make any appreciable impact, there is enough noticeable retardation and a small increase in range seen in the dash display.

Volvo have kept the fact that it’s a PHEV quiet. Apart from the numberplate fitted, there is the charge port on the front left fender and a badge on the powered tailgate with “Recharge”. Aside from the hole for that charge port, which opens at the press of a hand to reveal a weatherproofed, covered, port, it’s an invisible PHEV presence.The exterior is otherwise unchanged, from the Thor’s hammer driving lights and indicators to the LED rear lights, it’s a curvaceously boxy body. Inside there’s luxury in the form of the Bowers and Wilkins audio, leather seats, the integrated tablet-style infotainment screen, and LCD dash display. Run a drive destination into the navigation and the centre of the LCD driver’s screen shows the map. There is also a subtle, and almost lost, HUD display.Rear seats have their own climate control and the capacious cargo area (651L to 1,950L) has plenty of high quality carpeting and switches for the powered tailgate. There is a bag for the charge cable and a hook to hang it from. There is also a cargo blind which was in the way when it comes to moving the third row seats and no obviously apparent storage locker for it too.Controls for the car are embedded in the touchscreen, with climate control including venting/heating for the front seats, safety features, and smartapps such as Spotify and TuneIn included. The tablet style screen works on swiping left and right for the main info, and a pulldown from the top for settings and an electronic instruction manual.

Our review car came with options fitted; Climate pack which has heating for the windscreen washers, rear seat, and tiller at $600. The centre row seats has powered folding headrests at $275, whilst metallic paint is a hefty $1,950. The Nappa leather covered seats in charcoal to match the trim is $2,950.It’s a Volvo so those letters can be pronounced “safety”. Volvo has their CitySafe package, with Pedestrian, Vehicle, Large Animal, Cyclist Detection, and Intersection Collision Mitigation. Intellisafe Assist has Adaptive Cruise Control with Pilot Assist, Collision Warning with Auto Brake (which picks up parked cars on corners…), and Intellisafe Surround that includes Blind Spot Information System, Cross Traffic Alert and Rear Collision warning (which stops the car from moving if sensors pick up an obstacle), and airbags throughout the cabin.At The End Of The Drive. There is something to be said for the brands, in the automotive sense, that are leading the charge (no pun intended) towards hybrid and fully EV availabililty. Brands such as Jaguar have announced they’ll be fully EV by 2025, for example. Volvo, under the chequebook auspices of Geely, continue to produce the classy and safety-oriented vehicles they’re renowned for, and push towards a more expansive hybrid range.As potent as the petrol engine is on its own, the short distance available from battery power alone and as a backup for hybrid driving detracts somewhat from the intent, especially for our wide brown land. In Europe where you can drive through seventeen towns in the time it takes to sneeze four times, it’s a different story.

For the driver, it’s a sports car in a big car body, and just happens to be able to carry up to seven people in comfort and knowledge of safety thanks to the famous Volvo safety heritage. In the competition area there are the three German brands against it, and in a purely EV sense, Tesla’s Model X, complete with its lights and door dance routine for entertainment value. In a tough market segment, sometimes the difference can be small to see in value but Volvo assures that the extra range capability is coming. That will help the XC90 increase its appeal.

Thanks to Volvo Australia for the provision of the 2021 XC90 T8 Recharge.

 

January 2021 Sales Figures Show Upwards Swing

Australia’s Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries has released the sales figures for January of 2021. A total of 79,666 vehicles were sold in January 2021 which is up by 11.1 per cent on January 2020. 71,731 vehicles were sold in that month. Every state and territory saw an increase, and following on from December 2020, with the Northern Territory seeing the highest increase of 38.7% to just 1.9% in Victoria. Private buyers contributed by having an increase of 25.4%. Business buyers decreased, but by only 1.3% whilst government and rental sales dropped by 11.2% and 12.4%.

Of note was that Holden as a brand registered zero sales.

The private sales had the passenger vehicle category down by 9.3% compared to January 2020, with SUVs rising by 17.4%. Light Commercial Vehicles jumped by 24.6%. Toyota lead the way in January 2021 with 16,819 vehicles (21.1%) with HiLux 3,913 of those. Mazda was 2nd overall on 8,508 with 10.7% market share. Hyundai saw 5,951 new vehicles sold for a 7.5% share and Kia on 5,500 units for 6.9%. Mitsubishi backed up with 5,179 units and took a market share of 6.5%.Ford’s Ranger was the 2nd highest seller behind the HiLux, moving 3,120 units, just ahead of the RAV4 with 3,066 whilst the LandCruiser sold 2,388 units. Mazda’s CX-5 had 2,081 units find new homes.

The FCAI chief executive, Tony Weber, said: “During the past three months sales had increased by 12.4 per cent compared to the corresponding period twelve months earlier. The January sales numbers are indicative of positive consumer confidence in the domestic economy. With attractive interest rates and a range of other economic indicators encouraging consumption, we hope to see this trend in new vehicle purchasing continue through 2021.”

Toyota was the leading brand in January with sales of 16,819 vehicles (21.1 per cent of the market), followed by Mazda with 8,508 (10.7 per cent), Hyundai with 5,951 (7.5 per cent), Kia with 5,500 (6.9 per cent) and Mitsubishi with 5,179 (6.5 per cent).

The Toyota Hilux was the best-selling vehicle in January 2021 with sales of 3,913 vehicles, followed by the Ford Ranger (3,120), the Toyota RAV4 (3,066), the Toyota Landcruiser (2,388) and the Mazda CX5 (2,081).

In the Micro Car segment, the Kia Picanto continued to dominate in a three car field. The Fiat Abarth and Mitsubishi Mirage are the other two, and sold 49 and 56 respectively, way off the 573 of the Picanto.In the light car category, Chinese owned MG scored gold with 859, outclassing the Suzuki Swift (562), Volkswagen Polo (526) and the Toyota Yaris (486). Moving to the Small Cars, and Toyota’s Corolla moved 2,062, Just clearing the revamped Hyundai i30 on 1,952. 3rd was a tight tussle, with the Kia Cerato emerging as the winner over the Mazda3, on 1,545 to 1,501.

Medium cars and sub-$60K, and Toyota’s big Camry blew the opposition away on 815. Subaru’s Liberty was 2nd on 183. Skoda and there Octavia took bronze on 153, ahead comfortably of the Mazda6 with 114.

Large cars and there’s really only one contender now, Kia’s Stinger on 147, 99 units ahead of the Skoda Superb.

People movers and Kia’s Carnival moved 442, thumping the Hyundai iMax and Honda Odyysey, both on 67. Moving into Sports Cars and the Mustang said hello to 361 new homes, well ahead of Mazda’s MX5 and Hyundai’s soon to be discontinued Veloster, on 53 and 45.

For the Light SUVs sector, Mazda’s CX-3 absolutely dominated with 1,344. Toyota’s new SUV based on the Yaris, the Yaris Cross, moved an impressive 541, just edging out the slightly older VW T-Cros on 494.

In the Small SUV sector, another close battle here and it was 25 units separating the Mitsubishi ASX (1,278) to the MG ZS (1,253). Hyundai’s run-out Kona was the only other to crack the 1,000 with 1,091. It’s been updated and available for sale from February.

RAV4 and Mazda CX-5 duked it out for the Medium SUV segment, with 3,066 to 2,081. 4rd was Nissan’s X-Trail on 1,593, clear of Hyundai’s Tucson on 1,206. Go large and it was Toyota’s Prado on 1,259, ahead of Kia’s recently updated Sorento on 745. Mazda’s in-betweener, the CX-8, saw 571, tying with Hyundai’s Santa Fe. In the upper large, Toyota’s LandCruiser outclassed its opponent, Nissan’s Patrol, with 1,499 to 241.

Inside the ute/pick-up segment, the HiLux in both 4×2 and 4×4 continued its dominance. In two wheel drive guise it more than doubled the Isuzu D-Max, with 823 to 406. Ford’s Ranger was 3rd on 318. In the 4WD sector it was 3,090 to Ranger’s 2,802. In 3rd was Mitsubishi’s Triton, edging the D-Max on 1,416.

Petrol is still the clear winner in preferred fuels, with just 32 PHEVs, 78 EVs, and 1,915 Hybrids moving in the Passenger segment. In the SUVs, 30,062 petrols moved in comparison to diesel with 7,811, PHEV on 126, EV on 213, and Hybrids at 3,332.

On a country of manufacturing basis, Japan was the leader at 29,275, with Korea on 11,516. Thailand and their ute/pickup manufacturing shone at 16,903, and Chinese made vehicles rose to 4,198. This puts the brands sold from Chinese manufacturing into 4th overall.

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.

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!

Mazda Hits 2021 With Updates To The Mazda6

Mazda Australia has released details of the key updates for 2021 to their Mazda6 Sedan and Wagon. Sales are due to start for the updated vehicles from March of 2021. This includes the addition of the GT SP Turbo 2.5L four cylinder engine which will be available in the sedan and wagon. Mazda Australia Managing Director, Vinesh Bhindi, commented: “As our passenger car flagship, Mazda6 holds strong appeal in its segment with its advanced specification and option of Sedan and Wagon body styles. This latest update is highlighted by the new GT SP model, which brings a distinctly sporty characteristic to the Mazda6 range and builds on the local GT SP portfolio alongside the CX-9.”

The Mazda6 Sport Sedan and Wagon offers a solid list of standard equipment. The sedan and wagon will ride on 17inch alloys with 225/55, rubber. Headlights are LED powered, as are the rear lights. The wing mirrors will be heated for those frosty and foggy mornings, and the wagon gets roof rails and a rear spoiler as standard.

Inside is Apple and Android app compatibility via an 8.0 inch satnav equipped touchscreen plus Bluetooth streaming and Mazda’s MZD Connect function. Stitcher and Aha internet radio is listed as standard. Passengers are kept cool thanks to dual zone climate control and rear facing vents for the second row passengers. The wagon receives a cargo net and Mazda’s Karakuri tonneau cover. There’s an electric park brake, leather wrapped steering wheel and gear selector knob, and Mazda’s Multi-function Control.Passengers sit on black cloth covered seats, and second row passengers have a USB port in the seat arm rest.

Safety is high, with Blind Spot Monitoring, a Driver Attention Alert function, along with Lane Departure Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Mazda Radar Cruise Control. Traffic Sign Recognition and Smart Brake Support are fitted, as is Smart City Brake Support [Forward/Reverse]. Tyre Pressure Monitoring makes sure all four corners can be checked on the go.Move to the Touring variant and there is black leather seats with the driver’s seat having a two position memory function along with 10 way adjustment. The passenger has a six way adjustment feature. LED DRLs are standard here as is keyless entry and front parking sensors.

On top of the Touring specification, the GT SP adds the turbocharged 2.5-litre petrol engine, plus 19 inch black painted alloys with 225/45 tyres. Front and rear seats gain heating and are wrapped in burgundy leather with the same colour highlights added to the instrument panel and door trims.Power for the Sport and Touring Sedans & Wagons comes from the Skyactiv-6 2.5L petrol four. Peak torque is 252Nm (4,000rpm(, and power is 140kW (6,000rpm). Economy is rated at 7.0L/100km A six speed auto drives the front wheels. Both GT SP and the Atenza variants have a same sized angine with 170kW (5,000rpm( and a very impressive 420Nm of peak torque at just 2,000rpm. Economy is rated at 7.6L/100km and that’s using 91RON unleaded.Visual differentiation sees both GT SP and Atenza models gaining Turbo badging. A new colour has been added called Polymetal Grey Metallic.

Over the equipment list for the Sport and GT, the Atenza specification has the same diameter wheels but are finished in a non-painted, bright, look. There is a sunroof, venting for the front seats, LED ambient lighting, and real wood trim. Nappa leather is available in walnut brown or white for the seats under black headlining and Ultrasuede door and dash trim. The driver sees information on a 7.0 inch display and the main touchscreen offers a 360 degree view.Pricing starts from $34,590 plus ORC for the Sport Sedan, with the Sport Wagon from $35,890 plus ORC. The Touring Sedan starts from $38,890 plus ORC with the Wagon from $40,190. Head to the GT SP Sedan and see $46,690 plus ORC and $47,990 plus ORC for the GT SP Wagon. The Atenza Sedan and Wagon start from $50,090 and $51,390 plus ORC each.

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.

Kia Updates Logo And Carnival For 2021.

This is the new logo for Kia. It was unveiled on January 6, along with the new motto for the Korean car company. “Kia’s new logo represents the company’s commitment to becoming an icon for change and innovation” said Ho Sung Song, Kia’s President and CEO. “The automotive industry is experiencing a period of rapid transformation, and Kia is proactively shaping and adapting to these changes. Our new logo represents our desire to inspire customers as their mobility needs evolve, and for our employees to rise to the challenges we face in a fast-changing industry.”

The company also employed drones to make a skyshow reveal, with 303 separate craft took to the darkness above Incheon. By doing so the drones are now listed in the Guinness Book of Records for the most unmanned aerial vehicles involved in a pyrotechnic display. Kia have also released details of the 2021MY Carnival. Based on the same new platform as the recently updated Sorento, the Carnival brings striking new looks to the four model range. Here is the pricing matrix, with premium paints at $695. Kia’s signature is the “Tiger Nose” grille and this now extends widthwise via the front lights to further dominate the bluff nose. Slimmer headlights incorporate LED Daytime Running Lights at either end. The Carnival will feature a full tail-width light bar, similar to the look as shown on the Korean release Stinger. It loses weight visually for the rear of the Carnival.

Depending on specification, Carnival will have 17, 18, or 19 inch alloys. Eight colours for the skin will be available, and a “floating island” roof is a stand out, thanks to blacked-out A And B pillars, along with the new signature for the C pillar, a fin that abuts the rear of the sliding door.

Kia have shortened the front overhang, and moved the A pillar rearward to give a longer bonnet to the popular people mover. The chin has the familiar black urethane airdam.The chassis is new and provides better interior packaging, enhancing and providing a more useful interior. Kia calls the philosophy “Spatial Talents”, with a futuristic feel including a wider panoramic screen dash and haptic feedback tabs. The drive selector is now at a more “fall to hand” position at the centre console’s base.

Interior room improves thanks to an increase in the wheelbase, up to 3,090mm. Width is up slightly, by 10mm to 1,995mm. In length, an extra 40mm has been added for a full 5,155mm. This adds 30mm to the rear overhang and increases room for both cargo and third row passengers.

With the middle and rear rows laid flat, cargo is up to a class leading 2,095L. With the third row up there is a huge 627L. Loading items in is now easier with a lip drop of 26mm.The hub of the car’s connectivity features is the high-tech digital display. In Si, SLi and Platinum trims this links Kia’s latest 4.2-inch digital driver instrument cluster and 12.3-inch touchscreen infotainment and navigation system under a single seamless piece of glass. The S level trim has an 8-inch Audio Visual Unit and a 4.2-inch TFT information cluster for the driver. Voice recognition tech is on-board with both Android Auto and Apple CarPlay.

In a market dependent sense, Kia Live will allow for information such as live traffic updates, weather updates, remote destination provision, and potentially even parking information. The satnav system has a ten year update availability for the maps.

An unusual feature is the Rear Passenger View & Talk. This allows the driver to keep their view ahead whilst using a small camera and microphone to check on and converse with the passengers behind them. The rear seat passengers also may be able to operate the infotainment system.The SmartFob provides a higher measure of hands-free operation for the powered sliding doors and tailgate with a presence sensor opening or closing the doors if read for three seconds. A safety feature embedded in the Carnival’s extensive package is SEA, Safe Exit Assistance. Sensors will monitor traffic and stop the sliding doors from opening if traffic is detected. This is aimed at the family users with smaller children eager to disembark.

HDA, Highway Driving Assist, is Kia’s Level 2 autonomous driving technology. This brings the Carnival into a different level of safety, with a front view camera and radar reading forward traffic and adjusting braking, acceleration, and steering if required.

A new safety system is Rear Cross-Traffic Collision-Avoidance Assist (RCCA) and this works by automatically braking the Carnival if sensors detect oncoming rear traffic. Other features such as Lane Following Assist (LFA); Highway Driving Assist (HDA); and Surround View Monitor (SVM) will be available on a market dependent basis.Power will come from either a 216kW/355Nm petrol V6, or the grunty 2.2L diesel with 148kW and 440Nm. The latter will already be familiar to many, and has also been given a makeover with new injectors, balance shafts,an alloy block instead of iron, and a different exhaust system for better emissions. Kia says 170 grams per kilometre. For the petrol engine, refinements have a combined fuel consumption figure of 9.6L/100km, a betterment of around 10 percent.

Transmissions will be the very good eight speed auto across the board. Underneath are completely revamped front and rear suspension components with a new IRS and a new “skeletal cross member” up front. This provides a better geometry to improve ride and sharpen handling. Liquid filled suspension bushes further improve ride quality. The body is comprised of different styles of steel, adding flexibility where required, strength where required.

We’ll have the Carnival Platinum soon.