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Electric Vehicles (EVs)

What Fee Structure Should Apply to Electric Vehicles?

Although electric vehicles have yet to become a common sight on our roads, early discussions have focused on the necessary incentives to push them to the public. Now, however, as network operators begin to roll out the critical infrastructure to support the uptake of EVs, a new question is emerging. That is, what fee structure should apply to electric vehicles?

To date, the majority of EV fast charging sites have operated with a fee structure that sees users charged at a per kilowatt hour rate. This means that motorists are effectively paying by the unit of energy they will consume. Consider it a similar strategy to the per litre fee charged at petrol stations. However, more recently, some operators have also begun to implement a second fee, which is a time-based charge.

This measure stands to act as a potential barrier for the uptake of electric vehicles, with affected motorists already voicing their frustration. It should be noted as well that this was an impediment that also sparked controversy in Norway, a well-established domicile for EVs.

 

 

What are we trying to promote?

Considering electric vehicles are one of the only segments of the new car market experiencing growth – even if from a very low base – we need to be proactive in ensuring that policy and regulation is aligned with the goals we have as a community. So if we want more and more drivers to switch over to EVs from ‘inefficient’ vehicles that consume too much fuel, our fee structure needs to be in the interest of road users.

One of the biggest obstacles we currently face is a lack of transparency in pricing. When you drive up to a petrol station, you know what sort of damage your wallet will be in for. On the contrary, EV charging doesn’t involve clear pricing, nor any clarity around the structure with which an operator may apply over their network. Furthermore, if you’re only just new to the electric vehicle landscape, good luck navigating which charging sites are equipped with DC rapid charging or AC destination charging.

 

 

Making sense of it all

In the end, however, kilowatt hour rates make sense. Everyone pays the same rate, regardless of what type of electric vehicle they are driving, without discrimination between a new and old EV. While our petrol-powered vehicles are effectively price-graded based on their age – with newer vehicles more suited to dearer premium fuels – this doesn’t work against motorists driving older vehicles as time-based fees do when it comes to electric vehicles. What’s more, charging a motorist for the time that they are connected but not charging, goes against the very notion that you get what you pay for.

The speed at which electric vehicles charge is largely out of the control of motorists, with older vehicles typically constrained on account of their in-built ‘rectifier’ componentry, as well as batteries that don’t necessarily feature pre-conditioning features found in newer models. EVs running smaller batteries are also up against it due to the need to recharge their battery to a higher percentage than those with a larger battery, which generally charge at a slower rate once they hit 70-80% of their charging capacity.

What’s clear is that if we really intend to promote electric vehicles as a next-gen driving option, we need to come up with a more equitable approach to charging electric vehicle owners. This can’t feature time-based fees as it simply perpetuates a divide between drivers that share the same vision to move towards more sustainable fuel technology. Why should anyone be penalised for that?

 

2020 Toyota C-HR Koba Hybrid: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: Toyota’s C-HR. It’s a five door SUV/hatchback styled machine and complements the RAV4 offerings nicely. In late 2019 the two tier range was given a light refresh and now offers a hybrid drivetrain. That, however, is only available in the top of the range Koba, the best seller by the way. The entry level is either a 2WD or AWD, with the Koba adding the Hybrid 2WD as well. It’s a car that Toyota has built to a market and succeeded well in that respect.

How Much Does It Cost?: The range starts at $29,540 plus on roads. The Hybrid Koba starts from $36,440 plus ORC. In basic yellow the C-HR has a driveaway price (at the time of writing, March 2020) of around $33,185. Move to the Koba Hybrid with metallic paint and black roof, and we’re looking at $38,700.

Under The Bonnet Is: A 1.8L petrol engine and battery pack. The C-HR’s entry level has a 1.2L turbo four. Transmission is a Constantly Variable Transmission, with a low range style gear shift change via the drive selector. The petrol engine is rated as 72kW on its own, with the electric part supplying 53kW. However they’re downgraded to 90kW when combined. Peak torque is 142Nm. Economy, says Toyota, is rated as, on 91RON fuel, 4.3L/100km for the combined cycle. We achieved a best of 4.6L/100km.On The Outside It’s: A nosejob, headlights, tail lights, and new wheels. You’d need to side-by-side the former and current models to really pick the exterior differences. One that is visible is the change to scrolling indicators, not merely flashing. The Koba supplied had the black roof which minimises the almost hunchbacked cockroach look it has in profile. The Nebula Blue is a deep, rich, metallic shade and highlights the sharp creases on the front and rear doors plus really emphasises the big wheel arches. Rubber is Bridgestone Potenza’s 225/50/18 wrapping machined black painted alloys. The tailgate is manually operated and the space saver spare is placed under the cargo floor. There’s a smallish 318L here with the second row seats up.On The Inside It’s: Subtly different here too. The touchscreen in the C-HR Koba is larger, up to 8.0 inches from 6.1 inches. Unusually there is no DAB audio but Toyota has added Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. This is in line with (our guess that) Toyota is marketing this car for a certain group, a group happy to use technology that is handset based, either single or a couple, or a couple with a small child. Call it a gut feeling on that point.Otherwise it’s virtually unchanged. The Koba has leather trimmed seats, with minimal electric adjustment for the driver. There is plenty of piano black plastic in the centre console and centre of dash where smartly laid out aircon controls reside. The driver’s display incorporates, oddly, a G-Force meter along with power generation/distribution, expected range, consumption and more. The roof has the same embossed lining and the door trims are black plastic and charcoal cloth.The interior packaging is such that the rear seats sit higher up than the front seats. The rear door’s creaseline rises sharply, and with darkened glass it makes for a somewhat claustrophobic experience for rear seat passengers. babies, toddlers, small children would have no issue though.On the Road It’s: A typical CVT for driving, a decent chassis for the ride, and sorted well enough for the handling. The CVT saps power initially and with the hybrid system the engine kicks in at 20kph, just like the other hybrids in Toyota’s fleet. It will, however, get up to around 50kph before the petrol engine assists if using a very gentle right foot. Where Toyota excel in hybrid systems is the smoothness in switching between the engagement of the petrol and electric drives. Sink the slipper and there’s virtually no sense of anything mechanical moving with or against something else. Even at the nominal cut-in point of 20kph there’s a faint sense of something changing in the engine area but it’s so well modulated for most people the change wouldn’t be noticed.Highway driving showcases the best of the hybrid drive. It’s quiet, unobtrusive, and smooth in how it delivers to the front wheels. The dash display has Eco, Charge, and Power rather than a rev counter, and in cruise mode the needle hovers between Eco and Charge. Acceleration is enough for those that don’t expect sports car performance and it’s quick enough to suit those with some sporting pretensions. Thanks thanks to the on-tap torque an electric motor has and it ably backs up the petrol engine’s performance.

The engine revs easily but noisily, and perhaps the engine bay needs extra insulation. Watching the charge icon from the corner of the eye is enlightening too, as it dances between battery and engine power. Cruise along and the battery may be the primary source. Make a pass and watch the icons change as the petrol engine feeds power to both wheels and battery. the speedo needle responds in kind, and backing off the throttle sees the power needle gently sink back into Eco.

Steering is light enough to be twirled with one finger however there is also enough weight when required to give a sense of feedback. A sense only as it’s an isolated, numb, wheel otherwise. That’s in contrast to the adept suspension in the C-HR Koba. For all but the more unsettled surfaces the Koba does a decent enough job, and again won’t upset anyone other than its target market. And of course the brakes are spot on, as they should be for a hybrid system’s regenerative capability.

What About Safety?: Toyota’s Safety Sense package is standard across the range with Lane Departure Alert, Automatic High Beam, All-Speed Active Cruise Control and Pre-Collision Safety system with pedestrian detection. There is Forward Collision Warning, Brake Assist and Autonomous Emergency Braking, plus Rear Cross Traffic and Blind Spot alerts. Along with a reverse camera there is also a Panoramic View mode for the Koba. Airbags number seven and for the family there are three anchorage points.

What About Warranty And Service?: Five years and unlimited kilometres as standard for the warranty. An extra two years can be supplied if the car is serviced through a dealership. Do that and Toyota will cover the battery for up to ten years. There can even be seven years roadside assistance. Servicing is up to five years depending on model.At The End Of The Drive. We’re of the opinion that Toyota’s marketing team and their R&D team sat down at lunch one day and thrashed out a car that would appeal to the masses. But the masses would be of a certain age group and lifestyle. We’re talking a group born in the 1990s, single or a couple, and with either no children or a toddler, no older. Why? The C-HR Koba Hybrid isn’t a big car, will seat no more than four and with an enclosed style rear passengers would be non-adult.

With app connections for audio, rather than a DAB tuner it caters to the tech-savvy, and allows a broader range of sourcing music and navigation applications. It’s a green car with a hybrid drive system and it’s economical to run as well, another appealing factor.

Dynamically it rides and handles well enough to deal with people that will readily admit to knowing little about cars and see the C-HR as something a little out of the ordinary.

Make up your own mind by taking one for a test drive and checking it out here.

EV vs Hydrogen Vehicle

 

Electric vehicles are becoming more widely available, and better at what they offer.  But potential consumers of EVs have a checked enthusiasm towards going out and buying one; and for good reason.  The main inquiries lie around how pricey a new EV is to purchase, their fire risk, crash safety risk, their range between top ups being rather poor and subsequent charging times way too long, the lack of charging stations, as well as their candid hidden impact on our environment which is actually very big.

EVs require big, powerful rechargeable batteries that use lead–acid (“flooded”, deep-cycle, and VRLA), NiCd, nickel–metal hydride, lithium-ion, Li-ion polymer, and, less commonly, zinc–air, sodium nickel chloride in their design.  It is worth noting that these expensive EV batteries require a bigger carbon footprint in their production and use a finite resource to make them.  Then there is the environmental cost of battery disposal when the spent battery needs replacing.  So, are we any better off driving EVs?  The answer would have to be no.

Actually, no vehicle driven on our road can be classed as purely “green” or “environmentally friendly” for people and their environment.  The fact is whatever car we choose, buy and drive; it will have some ecological impact.  Perhaps the best way of describing this would be that all vehicles impact on our environment and pollute, while other vehicles do so a lot more, and then some do so a bit less.  It is quite false to suggest that EVs are environmentally friendly.

That brings me to the question: What is the most environmentally friendly vehicle?  There are some major car manufacturers that are pushing forward with hydrogen power.  A hydrogen driven car is powered by a hydrogen fuel cell that produces the electricity that the electric car engines need.  Hydrogen vehicles only take five minutes to top-up, and provide much better range.  The only emissions are water, because inside the fuel cell hydrogen reacts with oxygen to produce water as a discharge.  So, hydrogen vehicles don’t emit pollutants.  Hydrogen can be produced from fossil fuels and natural gas, but it can also be produced from renewable energy sources by way of electrolysis.

I think hydrogen is the best way forward, and the Hyundai Nexo is the first vehicle to arrive in Australia that’s available for the Australian government and business fleets to use.  The reason for its limited availability is simply because Australia doesn’t have an organised hydrogen refuel station network set up, as yet.  But I can see this changing to it becoming common place on all fuel station forecourts across Australia.

Hyundai, Toyota and BMW are some of the key hydrogen vehicle designers and manufacturers.

So Much for Fuel Savings….

It’s no secret that a concerted effort has been made in many quarters of the automotive industry to push motorists towards more ‘sustainable’ cars that run leaner in terms of fuel consumption. Take a look at some of our favourite V8 models, which have slowly but surely been ‘downsized’ to a more efficient (turbo) four-cylinder or six-cylinder engine. Then, consider the prominence of hybrid or ‘eco-oriented’ vehicles, not necessarily here in Australia, but across the world.

However, what’s being overlooked from much of the discussion is the trend seeing more and more motorists step into SUVs all over the world. This is playing out in Australia as much as anywhere, with the segment now a clear frontrunner ahead of the once dependable passenger vehicle.

 

 

A closer look at the trend

On a global scale, it’s a trend the International Energy Agency (IEA) has taken aim at, citing the shift in buying preference as “the second-largest contributor to the increase in global CO2 emissions since 2010”. Surprisingly, that’s even more than ‘heavy’ industry, which is taken to include production of iron and steel, cement and aluminium.

The fact that SUVs, on average across all makes and models, consume more fuel than passenger cars will hardly surprise anyone. That’s long been a well-known consideration, even among many car buyers. But the broader picture, with such a shift towards ownership of SUVs, is not just offsetting ‘consumption reductions from increasingly efficient passenger cars and the growing eco fleet – it has wiped out those savings altogether.

In more specific terms, the IEA says “SUVs were responsible for all of the 3.3 million barrels a day growth in oil demand from passenger cars between 2010 and 2018, while oil use from other type of cars (excluding SUVs) declined slightly”. At their current rate of growth, SUVs could add another “2 million barrels a day in global oil demand by 2040, offsetting the savings from nearly 150 million electric cars”.

 

 

Where to from here?

These points make for an interesting outlook. On the one hand, many manufacturers are promoting their future vision for an electric and ‘efficient’ future, yet on the other hand, buying trends point to a picture where motorists are moving in a different direction. The clear absence of options in the electric SUV market further complicates the matter, with the majority of efforts to create efficient cars being angled at the passenger vehicle segment.

If we’re serious about addressing vehicle emissions, what’s the actual plan going forward? Sure, we each have our own ‘needs’ and preferences as far as the cars we drive, but what will be required to drive a collective effort to cut fuel consumption across the board?

2020 Nissan Leaf EV: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: The second iteration of Nissan’s electric powered passenger vehicle called Leaf. It’s a genuinely well thought out and engineered machine, with good city range, and a price point that should appeal. For the second generation it’s been facelifted (it’s now much prettier) and given a tickle to the driving range.How Much Does It Cost?: Nissan list it at $49,990 plus on road costs. The drive-away price will vary from state to state but figure on a something between $54 to $56K depending on your location.

Under The Bonnet Is: The battery can store up to 40kWh, which is good for 110kW of power and 320Nm. The dash display provides a clear look at current charge with expected range, plus output during driving on the fly. Depending on figures, there is an expected range of either 315km (based on NEDC ADR 81/02 combined cycle) but a more realistic figure is an a 270km indicative driving range (European WLTP combined cycle). This is a more useable figure and with studies showing most city based drivers in Australia clocking just under 40 kilometres per day, it’s user friendly in that respect.

The car has two charging ports in the restyled nose, one with a direct connection to a CHAdeMO rapid charger and get from alert to 80 per cent charge in around 60 minutes depending on charging conditions, with the other a Type 2. There is an adapter with which to connect to an Australian standard 240V socket with more information found here.
On The Outside It’s: More of a distinctively “normal” look compared to the first model, and a slick, sleek, five door hatchback shape with aero styling. There’s a 3D look to the blue plastic that sits directly under the charge panel cover and it’s amazing in the depth of the look. This is matched by a similarly coloured panel in the lower rear bumper. Headlights are full LED, bracketing the now signature Vee that Nissan has for family identification. In profile it’s clear there’s a teardrop look from the aero effect and some subtle aero aids built into the metal and plastic. A sharp kick in the rear door meets neutral black and leads the eyes to the elegantly tapered rear which houses a manually operated ‘gate. Rubber comes from Goodyear’s Efficient Grip range and sit at 215/60 on 17 inch dark grey machined alloys.

On The Inside It’s: Roomy enough for four adults, and looks largely like a normal car’s interior. The noticeable difference is the gear selector. It’s a standard foot on brake, press console mounted button, a faint series of clicks as the drive engages, then a move of the rounded knob across to the right and forward for reverse and reverse for forward. Got that? Good. There is a small diagram next to the selector just in case it’s not immediately obvious. The knob itself is of a deep metallic grey highlighted by an electric blue ring at the base.Another highlight, sort of, is the choice to fit sumptuous and comfortable leather and velour trimmed seats with a bit of extra height than normal. But…with no venting option. Yes, they’re heated, but on a couple of scorching summer days in Sydney, the old glutes got a hammering. At least the single zone aircon cools down quick enough and has a fan capable of blowing good and hard. That sits underneath an 8.0 inch display that is ergonomically laid out but has a fussy audio system in regards to selecting and tuning radio stations. The ones already stored were Melbourne based and naturally wouldn’t connect without a retune. Actually doing so wasn’t easy, intuitive, simple. A bit of a letdown, really.

It does have DAB, and changing stations wasn’t instantaneous, but took a few seconds. Bluetooth streaming is standard. An upside is the display’s look, as it’s far better than that found in other Nissan models, thankfully. It sits inside a very stylish dashboard complete with leather look material, carbon-fibre look and piano black plastics, and a soft look overall. The doors also have some piano black inserts and soft touch material.The dash display is as clean as a whistle. A simple analogue dial for the velocity, an LCD screen of 7.0 inches for the usage info, with the now ubiquitous steering wheel mounted buttons to access the info. The screen will show expected range, Eco usage, charge levels, battery temperature, kWh information and more. To access the charge ports is simple too; a small button above the driver’s right knee and that pops the hatch in the nose. Back down to the centre console and there is a drive mode that, admittedly, we didn’t test for the sake of being prudent.

It’s called the e-pedal and it takes the brake pedal out of the equation. It works as a normal accelerator pedal but when the foot is removed the sensors will have it act as a brake and slow the Leaf to a complete stop. Nifty is the fact it will apply on up-and downhill slopes.

Ancilliaries such as a USB and 3.5mm auxiliary port are easily accessed, but there is no smart phone charge pad, even with a nook that looks like it was designed to house one. Bose supply the audio system and there’s a small yet effective soundbar style bass unit in the boot. Auto headlights and wipers, a pair of bottle holders and a slot for a mobile phone in the console, and bottle holders in the doors aim for a family friendly package. A boot capacity of 405L with the 60/40 rear seats up is enough for most families.

On The Road It’s: Not a rocketship, but it’s quick enough. The pedal has an initially sticky feel, which leads to a feeling that the Leaf isn’t going to be rapid. Thankfully that sticking feeling is only at the beginning of the pedal’s travel and a little more pressure brings out the Leaf’s true ability. It’s gentle to start with but will get some true velocity and exhibit the nature of an electric power system. A 0-100 time of 7.9 seconds means it’ll hustle well enough but it’s the highway and freeway that can really take advantage of the torque the Leaf has.Sink the slipper whilst cruising and the Leaf will sprint away nicely. The energy recovery system can then be set to one of two modes, with the result being the brakes will harvest more energy or will back off enough to extend the range. In either case the Leaf is a superb city performer and fits in beautifully with the urban lifestyle.

Steering is of an artificial feel though, with a sense of isolation from the driver and what feel there is just doesn’t feel that it speaks human. It’s weighted well enough, but it doesn’t communicate what the front end is doing. To counterbalance that is a great ride and part of this is thanks to the Intelligent Ride Control. This adjusts the power and torque of the engine just enough to dampen or raise the delivery. Why? Nissan’s engineers worked out that by adjusting the delivery it acts as a counterweight to the pitching fore and aft a car experiences when hitting bumps and irregularities.

The suspension has a tighter than expected feel, but this is a good thing. The chassis dynamics are tuned to deal with the mass of the Leaf; at 1,594kg plus cargo it’s knocking on the slightly portly door for its size. Naturally that’s due to the battery pack but with the suspension tuned to be taut for the most part, it drastically reduces excess suspension travel. It softens up at the end enough to be comfortable and pliant for most people to be happy with.What About Safety?: No shortage at all. A very smart feature is the subtle but audible tone when the Leaf is reversing to alert pedestrians. There’s the Intelligent Around-View Monitor for 360 degrees worth of vision. Front and rear parking sensors make tight shopping centre situations easier to deal with. Intelligent Trace Control assists in keeping the Leaf on the centre line when driving with imperceptible brake applications. With NIssan placing their safety features under the umbrella name of Intelligent, there’s also Intelligent Driver Alert, Intelligent Forward Collision Warning, Intelligent Emergency Braking with pedestrian detection, and Intelligent Lane Intervention. Naturally there are Lane Departure Warning, Blind Spot Warning, Rear Cross Traffic Alert, and Tyre Pressure Monitor System. Traffic sign recognition has the safety system audibly warn of speed zones and cameras too.

And The Warranty Is?: Five years, and unlimited kilometres. For the battery, Nissan advises:“The Nissan LEAF Lithium-Ion battery State of Health guarantee protects against battery capacity loss (less than 9 bars out of 12) as shown on the in vehicle capacity gauge for a period of 8 years or 160,000 kilometres, whichever comes first. The Warranty commences from the time the vehicle is first registered or put into service (whichever occurs first).” Roadside assist is included and is up to five years. Information on service costs is available here.
At The End Of The Drive.
Of the Japanese car makers, Nissan is the only one that currently offers a fully electric vehicle. Toyota has hybrids, Mazda has their SkyActiv engine tech, Mitsubishi has the Outlander PHEV. Suzuki and Subaru have yet to release hybrids, making the Leaf somewhat unique in this area. Bar some items such as no venting for the pews, and a fiddly audio interface, the Nissan Leaf makes its mark for being an electric car that looks like a normal hatch.

It drives, rides, and handles well enough, seats four very comfortably, but importantly has enough usable urban range to make daily range anxiety almost a thing of the past. As a family oriented car it succeeds admirably. And it’s priced almost perfectly given the current state of affairs for the electric car market in Australia.

Go here for detailed information on the 2020MY Nissan Leaf.

Are PHEVs Set for a Boost?

Plug-in hybrid electric vehicles, or PHEV for short, have been pushed to motorists as a more ‘sustainable’ driving option. Boasting an on-board engine and generator that can power a rechargeable battery, advocates have argued that they offer emissions benefits and potentially lower operating costs for drivers.

Not everyone remains convinced however. Popularity for PHEVs has largely meandered along in recent years, despite this growing push for ‘eco-friendly’ driving. Although the category is starting to account for a larger proportion of electric passenger cars, if you ask many motorists, one of the prominent concerns for the technology has been limited driving distances (range).

In what could be welcome news for some, one development may see an improvement in this area.

 

ZF EVplus concept

The ZF EVplus concept was unveiled at this year’s Frankfurt Motor Show, incorporated within a BMW 330e. Having stripped the existing 7.6kWh battery, ZF installed a 35kWh replacement unit to provide power to the vehicle.

As you might guess, this corresponds with a decent bump up in power, but also a marked increase in the vehicle’s driving range when placed in all-electric driving mode. The jump takes it from approximately 30km range to more than 100km, which is a sizeable improvement, particularly considering this incorporates real-world operating conditions.

This new driving range is said to exceed the sort of performance milestones achieved by some of the latest competitors, including the Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, as well as other electric models from the Mercedes-Benz and BMW stables.

 

 

Will it make driving more practical?

This is ultimately the million dollar question. Although 100km might not sound like an extensive driving range, let’s not forget this is when the car operates as an electric vehicle. PHEVs still have an internal combustion engine that can work as required, which is not the case for fully battery electric vehicles (BEVs). On top of that, most drivers don’t actually commute these sort of distances each and every day, or at least without an opportunity that they might be able to plug in the vehicle to top up its range.

So with either option to fall back on, for most motorists, some would say the concerns are overblown, and driven by behavioural conditioning. That is, we’ve become accustomed to driving the way we do, so we’re reluctant to change that to other methods.

This sort of development opens the way for a new era of PHEVs to enter the market in the not too distant future. However, the key obstacle for manufacturers’ lies with breaking through perceptions, and creating affordable PHEVs. If motorists cannot understand nor appreciate the appeal and attractiveness of PHEVs, then it is naïve to think that such cars can command the price premium they currently do.

Hiccups And Glory: Tesla Cybertruck Revealed.

Mid afternoon Friday 22nd November (Sydney time) and Tesla has unveiled a surprise.

Called the Cybertruck it’s fair to say it’s unlike anything seen from any manufacturer, both in looks, and in specification.Tesla says: it will have a range of 500+ miles, and will see a zero to 96kph (60mph) time of around 2.9 seconds. The body is made from a sledgehammer resistant “Ultra-Hard 30x Cold-Rolled Steel”. The window glass is also intended to be shatter and impact resistant as evidenced by a few ball-drop demonstrations. Somewhat embarrassingly, a short range throw of a small steel ball like that used in the drop test broke the supposedly shatterproof glass in the vehicle shown.The cargo section is big enough to house an electric ATV, also shown during the launch, and has a payload capacity of up to 3,500 pounds or 1,587 kilos. There is 6.5 feet of length in the bay and there are extendable ramps and a charging point built in. An estimated 100 cubic feet of storage space is available inside the sci-fi looking wedge shape. There is also room for six adults and a 17 inch touchscreen to access the vehicle’s main controls.The ramp that allows cargo access showed the flexibility of the suspension with up to four inches of travel. The drivetrain will be a rear mounted engine, front and rear, and a triple motor configuration. The exterior is striking, to say the least, with a distinctive wedge shape and eye-catching LED strips front and rear. And in an alloy sheen reminiscent of a De Lorean, it should be an all-weather capable vehicle.
Pricing is slated to start at around $40,000USD.

2019 Tesla Model 3 Performance: Private Fleet Car Review.

This Car Review Is About: The Tesla Model 3’s middle specification car. There is the “entry level” Standard Plus, the car tested called the Performance, and the Long Range AWD to top the range.What Does It Cost?: The Performance has a starting price of $93,900. There are the usual government and delivery charges on top. Our review car came in a lovely multi-layered Pearl White, There are four other metallic colours and they are a $1,500 cost option. It’s also almost completely ready to drive autonomously with the “Autopilot” facility as standard. the full self drive is $8,500. All up, the review car prices out at just under $120,000.

On The Inside It’s:A mix of stark minimalism, hi-tech, and whimsy, with plenty of comfort. The Performance has the Premium Interior which is sumptuous black leather clad seats that are heated and powered for plenty of positioning options. There’s the same wood strip for the dash and the 15 inch landscape oriented touchscreen that has Google well and truly as its heart. This controls everything the car does; from steering wheel and mirror adjustment to tracking vehicles around the Model 3, from providing audio options such as TuneIn and Spotify (with the first year’s subscription free if you don’t already have it) to providing hilarity from the “Gas Emissions” tab in a entertainment submenu, and will even allow a name to be given to the car. The whimsy inside Tesla is highlighted by the “caraoke” option. You read that right. It’s exactly what you suspect and is intended to be used when the car is stationary. We can attest it will provide access when the car is stopped, but will play whilst underway. There is also access to Netflix, YouTube, and Tesla instructional videos.

The touchscreen is, oddly, the weak link in the chain.It’s a solid sheet of glass with a metal surround. As such, it becomes a heat sink and on warmer days readily absorbs heat to the point the bare finger gets singed. Perhaps a vent behind the screen or an embedded loop would do the trick.

When not barbecuing fingers, it’s a high resolution display, with the default being a monochromed look Google maps, with the option of displaying the satellite image, and the graphics that the car’s cameras and ultrasonic sensors read to show surrounding vehicles. The lower section has icons for menus, which then bring up the audio options, the entertainment options, the settings for the vehicles. Compared to the Standard Plus, the entertainment goes up a notch, with Netflix, YouTube, and Tesla instructional videos being made available.The steering wheel is devoid of anything bar two roller dials and the Tesla logo, and the dials manipulate some of the information provided via the touchscreen.One of the small yet user friendly things about Tesla is how the doors are operate. Here there are small tabs on the top of the door grip which are pressed to release the doors. And unlike the pricier Model S and Model X, there is no remote key fob with which to remotely open the doors. Everything is operated via a smartphone app. This remotely opens the charge flap, releases the charge cable, can summon the car, or prestart the air-conditioning system which includes dog mode. This allows those that wish to keep Poochie cool and stay in the car to do so, plus it flashes up on the screen a note to advise of this function being operated. Should the car need to be moved without the owner, a Concierge card is provided.

There is also the sound system. There are 14 speakers spread around the cabin, with the front setup not unlike a soundbar for a TV. It’s loud, punchy, clear as crystal. It’s that attention to detail that really appeals. USB ports? Four, thank you. Embedded information about charge locations? Indeed. Safety features? Lacks for nothing.On The Outside It’s: A condensed version of the larger Model S. Slimmer in all dimensions, and sitting slightly lower than the Standard Plus, it nonetheless has a very strong family look to the other two models, not unexpectedly. The windows, profile, the lines that join front and rear, a line over the hip, are all common for the Model 3, Model S, and Model X. The Model S and X have similar looking headlights, whereas the Model 3 goes its own way with a design that evokes Porsche. At the rear the tail lights are essentially identical. Michelin supply the Pilot Sport tyres and are 235/35/ZR20. Wheels on the car supplied were subtle looking alloys in a ten spoke design. Dry weight is not unexpectedly hefty. It’s 1,847 kilos. Boot capacity is 542L and of course there’s “frunk”. This is the front trunk, also accessed via the smartphone app, and provides extra space up front.Out On The Road It’s: Delightful in many ways. It’s rapid, in both standing start and overtaking. Intoxicating, endearing, stupid grin inducing rapid. But it’s this sheer muscle car power that makes it safer than people expect. Think coming up a merge lane to a freeway and the car that is oncoming behind you has the room to move right but doesn’t. A quick check of available space, a gentle press on the go pedal, and tomorrow is in front of you. Tesla quote 3.4 seconds for the sprint from standstill to 100. There is absolutely no reason to disbelieve that at all.

The starting procedure is simple. Foot on the brake, pull the right side steering column lever downwards and check that D is highlighted on the touchscreen. Floor the pedal. Take a breath because you’ll need it as suddenly your spine is somewhere in the back of the seat’s padding.Energy harvesting can add a bit more to the expected range, as the brakes have two settings. The standard is more than enough and in some situations mitigates needing the foot to hit the brake pedal, such is the power of the system. In some circumstances it’s enough to bring the car to a stop by itself and on a downhill run will grab the brakes and slow the car here solidly.

There’s also little to quibble about when it comes to the ride quality too. It’s up there with some of the better suspension combinations for suppleness, confidence building, and strikes an ideal balance between grip, sportiness, and dialing out intrusive road imperfections.A key selling point is the ability to drive autonomously. Most of our drive was done manually, and more so to fully enjoy the ability of the Model 3. To engage the self-drive, the car must first be able to clearly read the roadside markings and will show a grey steering wheel on the screen. A couple of gentle tugs on the right hand lever and this should then make that icon blue, indicating self-drive is engaged. Under no circumstances should the hands be fully removed from the wheel.

The steering on its own is spot on. It’s beautifully weighted, has only minimal feeling of being artificially being assisted, and is ratioed for two turns lock to lock.

At The End of the Drive. The Performance should be the pick over the Standard Plus for those that like to fully exploit a car’s abilities. The extra urge from the twin motors, the extra range, and perhaps even the extra entertainment features for some, make the Tesla Model 3 Performance a winner. Sure, it’s $120k in price but currently there are no other fully electric cars that come close to delivering what this car can: an all round powerhouse Performance.

 

Japanese Makers Fire Electric Shots.

Both Nissan and Mazda have unveiled electric vehicles. Nissan’s is a test bed design and Mazda their first full production version. Nissan’s car is based on the Leaf e+ with Mazda naming theirs the MX30.

The Nissan has an all wheel drive system, with twin motors. Nissan also factors in their bespoke chassis control technology. The engines provide up to 227kW and a massive 680Nm of peak torque. The test car has a control system that adds regenerative braking to the rear motor as well as the front. Pitch and dive are minimised as a result. In addition to optimising the torque that’s spread between the front and rear, it also applies independent brake control at each of the four wheels to maximise the cornering force generated by each tyre.
Mazda’s car is an SUV as well. It’s powered by what Mazda call “e-Skyactiv system” It can be charged using AC power or rapid-charged using DC power. The system involves the battery, motor, an inverter and a DC-DC control unit. The inverter changes the DC to AC for the motors with the converter providing the charge for the onboard systems.

Mazda also engineer in a refrigerant cooling system that cools the battery pack when the temperature rises. By maintaining the best possible battery temperature even on hot days, the system helps protect the battery pack from degrading due to heat. Thin cooling tubes attached to the bottom plane of the battery module make contact with a heat exchanger. This structure contributes to realizing a compact battery pack. A sensor constantly monitors the battery’s temperature and controls the flow of coolant as needed. The result is an effective battery cooling system. There’s a single motor, mounted up front, and it will provide drive to the front or or four paws. The battery pack is rated at 35.5kWh, and has an expected range of around 200km. There is also a acceleration system called Motor Pedal. This adjusts on the fly response to throttle inputs and adjusts acceleration as well, depending on the speed the driver presses the accelerator pedal.

A key identifier for the MX-30 is the design. Not unlike the recently released 3 hatch, it features long and flowing lines, a curvaceous body, and suicide doors. It’s also green oriented, with cork and recycled plastic bottles being used in the interior trim. It’s not yet confirmed for the Australian market but it’s definitely in Mazda Au’s want list.

New Model News from Land Rover and Mini.

Jaguar Land Rover has unveiled their new Defender. There’s a faint resemblance to the original with a three and five door shape, but it’s underneath and in construction that’s all new. At launch there will be a 90 Series and a 110 Series. There will be six levels of trim: Defender, S, SE, HSE, Defender X, and First Edition. Pricing is yet to be confirmed, with the 90 said to start from around $60, the 110 from around $70K. Accessory packs are grouped under four headings: Explorer, Adventure, Country and Urban.

The body frame is aluminuim and rated as being three times stiffer than a body on chassis design with steel body panels. The drive system offers hybrid power, plus diesel and petrol. At launch, the petrol line-up comprises a powerful six-cylinder with 297kW, featuring efficient Mild Hybrid Electric Vehicle technology. The diesel options are a pair of four-cylinder diesels, at 147kW and powerful 177kW. Ground clearance will enable a wading depth of up to 900mm. Sheer vertical front and rear designs aid in the departure and approach angles and a Wade Response program automatically adjusts the suspension. Wheel choice is varied with 12 different versions, including retro look pressed steel items.

The axles are now independent, not rigid, with air suspension an option on the 90 Series. The 110 Series will have it as standard. Seating for the 90 will be up to six, with the 110 offering more flexibility with up to seven seats. Passengers can get a glimpse of what’s around via the ClearSight Ground View technology. It shows areas usually hidden by the bonnet, directly ahead of the front wheels, on the central touchscreen. Along with the Wade program, a Configurable Terrain Response provides different driving abilities.

Deliveries are due to start for Australia in mid 2020. Another Iconic British nameplate, Mini, also released news of the Cooper SE. Powering this will be a 135kW electric engine. The three door machine will hit the 100km/h in around 7.3 seconds and has an estimated range of between 230km to 275km. Mini have chosen the smart floor mount route for the battery, meaning a low centre of gravity and this helps with handling. It also means that the interior packaging remains the same. MINI Australia General Manager Brett Waudby said: “The MINI Cooper SE Hatch marks a new era for our brand in providing our customers with a progressive mobility solution wrapped in a package that is unmistakably MINI in its look, feel and the way it drives.”