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Electric Vehicles (EVs)

Will Vehicle Carbon Taxes be Revisited?

A few years ago, there was talk of a proposed ‘carbon tax’ on new vehicles by slugging non-compliant auto makers with fines in an effort to reduce emissions. However, it became very clear that such a move would leave the door open for car manufacturers to pass on these fines to motorists in the form of increased car prices. In the meantime, alternative fuel technologies like hydrogen, electric vehicles and hybrids have failed to catch on, while phasing out of diesel and petrol vehicles has essentially been limited to offshore markets rather than here in Australia.

Even if such penalties were to be limited to non-compliant vehicle manufacturers that fail to meet stricter emissions standards, the result would have a flow-on effect across the new car market, effectively reducing the notion of a free market and any ‘true’ choice that motorists have when it comes to having access to the vehicle they want.

 

 

The real matter at hand

However, for all the focus on the technicalities of the ‘tax’, the real matter is how we manage the environmental burden from vehicles in an equitable manner. Or should we be content in punishing motorists for driving cars that are less fuel efficient than their peers?

Recent examples would suggest anything but. After all, take a look at states like Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia and it becomes immediately apparent that road usage charges for electric vehicles loom as a distinct risk that could threaten the uptake of electric vehicles. That is one example where an equitable manner has been sought to apply to the use of our roads, but there is no denying it is also ‘punishing’ the sort of behaviour that we are trying to promote.

Nonetheless, back to the original tax proposal, and in many respects, it never really stood a chance. In some quarters, the measures were tipped to start as early as next year, however, the reality is, Australia’s new car market continues to be defined by the very makes and models that would theoretically be punished for falling foul of emissions standards. With our love for SUVs and dual-cab utes, should Australians be locked out of some of their favourite cars by virtue of significantly higher prices as manufacturers seek to offset the hit to their hip-pocket?

 

 

It’s also been stated a number of times that Australia often misses out on some of the ‘cleaner’ or more advanced iterations of certain vehicles from the European market due to the standards of our emissions and fuel quality. Again, however, costs are at the centre of the discussion here, and in a new car market that is finally seeing signs of life, would industry players want to potentially derail this when a number of supply-chain issues have already weighed on upwards momentum?

All up, however, we do have some reason to be concerned about motorists holding onto their vehicles for longer – in the process, increasing the average age of cars on our road. Not only does this serve little to stimulate the economy but it won’t do much to tackle emissions across the nation’s entire fleet.

Several years on, are we actually any closer to answering the question as to how we encourage auto-makers to step away from higher emissions vehicles? Down under, it doesn’t appear so.

History Made: Mercedes-Benz EQS

Mercedes-Benz has long been seen as the leader in trickle-down technology being seen in cars some years after featuring in the brand’s higher end saloons such as the S-Class. And with the release of their first all electric luxury vehicle, the EQS, this tradition is set to continue.

The EQS will offer ranges of up to 770 kilometres and will pack a powertrain of up to 385kW. A performance version is said to be in development and with up to 560kW. It will sit within the expectations of the S-Class saloon segment. The vehicles will be rear axle driven however the models fitted with the 4MATIC will have a front axle engine also.

Mercedes-EQ, EQS, V 297, 2021

Mercedes says the initial models will be the EQS 450+ with 245 kW and the EQS 580 4MATIC with 385 kW. The rated power consumption rates are quoted as 20.4-15.7 kWh/100 km, and 21.8-17.4 kWh/100 km. New technology for the batteries has them enabled with a higher energy density. Of the two batteries to be available, the larger will have a usable energy content of 107.8 kWh. Mercedes says this is around 26 percent more than the EQC, their EV SUV.

It’s tech that is bespoke for M-B, with the software having been fully developed by the company and allowing over the air updates. This keeps the management system up to date, and for the life cycle of the battery. In respect to the charging rates, the DC fast charge stations pump in 200kW( and 300km in around 15 minutes. On a home charger system the EQS charges up to 22kW with AC power. The software will also allow intelligent charging programs and battery-saving charging.

A key component of EV technology is is energy recuperation. The EQS uses a program called DAuto, which can recuperate energy from deceleration to zero without the need for the brake pedal to be utilised. Smart cruise tech employs the same mechanisms with vehicle traffic ahead of the EQS. Intelligent energy recovery is situation-optimised with the aid of ECO Assist and acts with foresight, taking into account traffic conditions or topography, among other things, and up to 290kW can be generated. The driver also can set three energy recovery levels and the coast function via paddle shifters on the steering wheel.

Mercedes-EQ, EQS, V 297, 2021

Also available as OTA or over the air will be the activation of vehicle functionalities. This includes two driving programs for younger aged drivers and for service staff. Light entertainment in the installation of games will also be available. Plus the updates will allow personal preference settings such as changing the steering angles for the rear wheel steering from the standard 4.5 degrees to the maximum 10 degrees. Planned is the activation of subscription services and testing on future programs.

Aerodynamics plays a big part in vehicle fuel efficiency and the new EQS has plenty of aero in the design. in fact, it’s currently rated as the most aerodynamic car available with a drag coefficient of 0.20cD. In conjunction with that slippery body is the reduction of wind noise at speed, improving comfort levels.

The need for aero is due to the EQS being on a new chassis architecture to provide a home for the powertrain. Mercedes-Benz calls the design language Sensual Purity, with smooth, organic, lines, a reduction in the join lines in panels, the fastback styling. The front end is a “Black Panel” look with the headlights running seamlessly into the grille panel which can be optioned with a 3D star pattern to complement the three-pointed Mercedes star.

Embedded throughout the EQS is a network of sensors, up to 350 of them, depending on specification. Amongst the types of information recorded are distance travelled, ambient lighting conditions, acceleration rates and speeds achieved. AI then utilises these datasets to adjust the car on the fly. This includes monitoring the battery charge levels in respect to the distance required to see the next charging point thanks to the onboard Navigation with Electric Intelligence.

Mercedes-EQ, EQS 580 4MATIC, Interieur, Nevagrau/ Iridescentblau, AMG-Line, Edition 1; MBUX Hyperscreen; ( Stromverbrauch kombiniert: 20,0-16,9 kWh/100 km; CO2-Emissionen kombiniert: 0 g/km) // Mercedes-EQ, EQS 580 4MATIC, Interior, neva gray/ iridescent blue, AMG-Line, Edition 1; MBUX Hyperscreen ; (combined electrical consumption: 20.0-16.9 kWh/100 km; combined CO2 emissions: 0 g/km)

Being a class-setting EV, the EQS packs in some high-end green technology for the passengers. An example is the HEPA filter than can be set to fully clean the air inside the cabin before passengers enter with the onboard data system, MBUX, able to display particulate levels inside and out. Recycled materials are used in areas such as the carpets. The manufacturing process is fully carbon-offset as well.

The MBUX Hyperscreen is the absolute highlight in the interior. This large, curved screen unit sweeps almost from A-pillar to A-pillar. Three screens sit under a cover glass and appear to merge into one. The 12.3-inch OLED display for the front passenger gives him or her their own display and control area. The entertainment functions are only available there while the car is being driven in accordance with the country-specific legal regulations. Mercedes-EQ relies on an intelligent, camera-based locking logic: if the camera detects that the driver is looking at the front passenger display, it is automatically dimmed.

As part of its Ambition 2039 initiative, Mercedes-Benz is working on offering a carbon-neutral new car fleet within 20 years from now. By as early as 2030, the company wants more than half the cars it sells to feature electric drive systems – this includes fully electric vehicles and plug-in hybrids. In many areas, Mercedes is already thinking about tomorrow today: the new EQS is designed to be correspondingly sustainable. The vehicles are produced in a carbon-neutral manner, and resource-saving materials such as carpets made from recycled yarn are used. This is because Mercedes-Benz considers the entire value chain, from development and the supplier network to its own production. Mercedes-Benz AG has had its climate protection targets confirmed by the Science Based Targets Initiative (SBTI).

Mercedes-EQ, EQS, V 297, 2021

X Marks The Spot For Genesis

Genesis has unveiled a new concept car. A stylish, low set coupe, the Genesis X is an EV and GT (Gran Turismo)for the future. Launched in a hi-tech media joint presentation with Jason B. Bergh with the location being a private rooftop in Los Angeles, and a showing of a film that brought together the Californian car culture to meet the vision of Genesis and its sustainable ideals, Genesis X highlights a different take on concept cars.A key visual identification of the concept is the Genesis Two Lines element. Seen in the company’s current vehicles, the Two Lines is extended on the concept, both on the exterior and interior, and the charging devices built in.

Exterior design work sees the bonnet a one-piece “clamshell” unit, presenting a harmonious and uniform surface. The unbroken appearance allowed the designers to highlight the Two Lines idealism with both fenders having an unbroken sweep of lights strips from either side of the signature Genesis grille towards the door lines.

The grille’s structure has been reworked for a deeper three dimensional presence, and the interior sections have been painted the same Lençóis Blue as the concept’s exterior. The colour is said to evoke the hue seen in the lagoons of the Maranhenses National Park in Brazil, where a lake forms only during the rainy season. This sits above a classically styled air intake and thinner lines for the grille structure.

This brings to the Genesis X concept a sporting look yet functionality isn’t overlooked, with air to cool the electrics and batteries, channeling air through a aero-designed undertray for efficiency and increased drag reduction for better range.Jay Chang, the Global Head of the Genesis Brand, observed: “The car that we are unveiling today is a concept car that embodies the essential elements that Genesis pursues in its designs. Please take a moment to meet the future of Genesis design through this concept car, which embodies our brand’s progressive and audacious spirit.” SangYup Lee, the brand’s Global Design Chief, echoes that with: “The Genesis X Concept can be described as the ultimate vision of Athletic Elegance, the inherent design language of Genesis. The signature Two Lines theme and sustainable luxury will be blueprints for the futuristic designs and state-of-the-art technologies that Genesis seeks to adopt in its future models.”

In profile it’s a classic GT motif, with long bonnet and truncated rear, joined by a gentle parabolic curve that in a quarter view highlights the tapering cabin and rear wheel flares. The rear has a dual parabola oval that houses the Two Lines taillights. There is no visible bootline seen in the concept though. The rear window has a pair of metallised strips that visually counterbalance the front and look to be, on the left side, the port for the charging of the battery. There’s more aero and tech with the wing mirrors eschewing the traditional glass mirrors. Here, Genesis goes slimline and embeds digital cameras. Aero and sportiness are combined in the bespoke, yet simple, five spoke wheels. These will cool the brake calipers whilst minimising drag at speed.For the interior Genesis highlight their “green” aspirations with “upcycled” leather trim. These are made from leftover materials, rather than sourcing them from new. In a weave pattern, the material is used on sections of the steering wheel, the safety belts, and the airbag cover. Also, to differentiate between driver and passenger for the four seater coupe, the trim designers took the unusual route of using two different colours. The passenger’s trim is Ocean Wave Green Blue, the driver’s a Scotch Brown.There’s further differentiation with the driver’s seat separated from the passenger via a solid looking floating console with a wrap around binnacle enveloping the driver’s section. This houses the Free-Form display, which manages various functions such as clusters, navigation and HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning) systems, and the Crystal Sphere Electronic Shift Lever, which integrates driving mode settings. Again, the designers have woven in the Two Lines ideal, with the binnacle drawing the lines to the air vents and side window mouldings.To debut the Genesis X Concept to consumers around the globe, the brand opened its digital motor show website (digitalmotorshow.genesis.com) with the unveiling of the concept car, offering visitors various interactive experiences and 360-degree views of its interior and exterior.

At the time of writing, Genesis had not released details of the EV drive.

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.

2021 Mitsubishi Outlander GSR PHEV: Private Fleet Car Review

Hybrid technology has fast become part of the automotive landscape. First seen in Toyota’s Prius, it hasn’t taken long to trickle down into mainstream passenger cars and SUVs. However, a new form of hybrid tech, the plug-in hybrid version, has taken more time. A front-runner for SUV PHEVs has been Mitsubishi with their Outlander.The Range: In 2021 they offer three; the ES, GSR, and Exceed. We spent a week with the sporting tuned (by Bilstein, no less) GSR Hybrid. It’s priced at $56,490 drive-away, and has a pair of electric motors for front and rear wheel drive simultaneously via a single ratio transmission. Main power is from the standard 2.4L petrol engine with 94kW and 199Nm. That’s on 91RON unleaded.The electric motors offer 60kW (front) and 70kW (rear), and are charged via one of two ports on the rear right quarter. The petrol tank is good for 45L and the economy is rated as 1.9L/100km on 91RON unleaded. Although Mitsubishi’s system constantly updates as you drive, in the Hybrid there are sub-menus to check charge rates, battery usage, and fuel over given times.

Our final figure would be somewhere around the 5.5L/100km mark if we read the graph correctly. That’s on our usual 70/30 urban to highway runs.The battery is rated at 12kWh and has an on-board charger rate of 3.7kW. using a standard home system it’s somewhere between 6.5 to 7 hours to “fill”. The plugs are Type 1 and CHAdeMO. Drive is engaged via a simple lever with an electronic Park function. There is also an adjustable Brake mode to recover more kinetic energy if possible. This works best on longer downhill runs.

At full charge, the PHEV offers up 55 to 55 kilometres as an estimated electric only range. For Australia, a range of 100 kilometres would be better. As an example, from the lower reaches of the Blue Mountains to Sydney is something between 70 to 80 kilometres…A charge gauge in the driver’s display shows how much is being harvested, as does a dial in the main touchscreen sub-menu. When running low, a button on the left side of the console next to the drive lever offers save or charge. This engages the petrol engine and makes it a generator for the batteries.Drive to each corner is via a single speed transmission, with drive modes such as Sport, Snow, Mud, plus battery save and charge modes. Stability on road comes from Mitsubishi’s much vaunted S-AWC (Super All Wheel Control) and Active Yaw Control. Sport lifts the overall performance and adds some serious extra squirt to the already rapid acceleration.

The GSR nameplate, once synonymous with the Lancer, adorns the powered tailgate. The current body shape is due for a hefty facelift (pictures at end) and release later in 2021 with a heavily reworked nose, and squared off rear with bumper lines lifted from the Pajero Sport.

As it stands there are the integrated eyebrow running lights in the headlights, wrapped in the chrome strips that boomerang forward then back towards the wheelarches. The current profile is largely uncharged for some years, with a sloped rear window line and broad spanning rear lights.The Drive: Bilstein provide the shock absorbers for the MacPherson strut and coil front, multi-link and stabiliser bar rear. 225/55/18 wheels and tyres from Toyo unpin the body. They offer decent grip, but even with the dual axle drive there was some minor slippage on damp roads.

We say damp as we drove it during the “rain bomb” that hit most of Australia’s southern eastern coast. When driven during the not-so-heavy patches, and on roads that had drained most of the surface water away, driving confidence was high. It was on corners and downhill runs when more circumspect driving was required.

What was noticeable was the fantastic tune of the suspension and the damping of the Bilsteins.Although the ride could be described as hard, given the GSR nomenclature, it was on the side of comfort with swift response smoothing out freeway dips and rises without feeling as if it jolted at each end of the travel. Smaller bumps jarred but again only for a moment as the Bilsteins disappeared those impacts rapidly.

Freeway driving had the rapid response telling the driver each square inch of road surface quality without any loss of comfort.

However, one one somewhat soggy and rutted gravel-style track, we heard uncharacteristic groans from the front strut tower caps. The suspension felt as if the stiffness of the setup was overwhelming the caps. As a result, speed had to be dropped to essentially a crawl in order to feel that travel was safe and not damaging the towers.

The Interior: Inside it’s water-resistant micro-suede cloth seat and leather bolsters. They’re as supportive as they come, and electrically powered for the driver. They’re heated up front too, unusual but welcomed for cloth pews and they’re quick to generate heat. There is only heating, though, and the switches are rocker for low or high.

The 8.0 inch touchscreen houses plenty of information and for the PHEV there are sub-menus aplenty to access information on how the hybrid system is working. There is also a punchy eight speaker audio system with DAB plus Bluetooth streaming and the smartphone apps. The interior however does show its age with no smartphone charge pad, an item sure to be included with the update…we hope.

Dashboard design for the Outlander is classic Mitsubishi; open and broad, well spaced for buttons, soft touch materials, and an organic flowing design. The steering feel feels on the large side compared to other marques however turn to turn lock is made easier in context. Head, leg and shoulder room for the five seater is huge with 1,030mm and 1,039mm head and leg up front.It’s a five seater due to the battery’s location and wiring for the charge port. Second row passengers have a pair of USB charge ports, and there is one plus a 12V up front. Cup and bottle holders number four apiece in total.

The powered tailgate is light and seems to prefer being opened by hand however the gentle push of the drop button does the trick in closing it. Folod the second row seats and 1,602L of capacity is available to you. There is also a 12V socket in the rear along with cup holders for seven seat non-hybrid Outlanders. Two underfloor nooks offer some small extra space and hold the charge cable and jack equipment.The Safety: Adaptive Cruise Control with sensor distance changing holds hands with the Forward Collision Mitigation system. This has pedestrian detection but not cyclist. This means the organic safety component needs to be scouting forward. Lane Departure and Blind Spot Warning systems are in place.

Lane Change Assist and Rear Cross Traffic Alert are also standard. Auto functions for high beam and wipers are standard, as is a rear view camera. Sensors front and rear are standard. Seven airbags include a driver’s kneebag.

The Rest: Warranty for the battery is eight years or 160,000km. Warranty details can be found here. Capped price servicing varies between the PHEV and non-hybrids. More on the 15,000k or 12 monthly service can be found here.

At The End Of The Drive. We have driven a few Outlander PHEVs over the last three to four years.

Our first run was in late 2017, and it was given a solid workout. Driven from the eastern fringes of the Blue Mountains to the central western town of Temora, a historic R.A.A.F base and now a museum, the Outlander PHEV showcased how these sorts of hybrid vehicles work nicely. It’s noticeable that in real terms only minor changes have been made since outside and in.

With a new Outlander on the way, buyers of the current model won’t be disappointed. As a range, it offers good pricing, good performance, and good value. Comfort in the GSR is high and the only niggles were the out of the ordinary complaints from the front end.

As a driver’s car, it meets that goal, and as a package for showcasing hybrid tech, it does an admirable job. Check out the 2021 Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV range here.

Vehicle courtesy of Mitsubishi Motors Australia.

The 308 To Peugeot: Update Time For 2022.

Peugeot continues its rollout of updates to their range. With the facelifted 2008 available, and 5008 not far away, it’s time for their mainstay hatchback, the 308, to get the magic wand. There’s one key feature to the change, says Peugeot, and that’s to the body styling.

2022 Peugeot 308

The wheelbase has been in creased by 55mm, overall length up by 110mm, and height dropped by 20mm, making for a sportier profile. The A-pillar has moved rearwards and is raked more in comparison compared to the previous model. The nose is the new corporate look, complete with the mildly refreshed lion badge. Peugeot will offer seven colours: Olivine Green, Vertigo Blue, Elixir Red, Pearl White, Ice White, Artense Grey, and Perla Nera Black.

The wheelarches sit inside fenders with defined squarish lines, and the rear window line flows stylishly down from the roof into the triple-claw LED powered rear lights. Up front are the vertically themed LED driving lights paired to new LED main lights and strakes on the outer edges of the bumper. Exterior changes have the aero drag down to 0.28cD.

2022 Peugeot 308

Changes too for the interior, with a futuristic and hard edged style change, along with a more tactile-inclined steering wheel. Changes to the safety package see sensors in the wheel measure hand and finger pressure. This works with the step-up in the semi-autonomous driving level, with Peugeot’s Drive Assist 2.0 (where fitted) which has three new features for the Lane Keep Assist. There are: Semi-automatic lane change, suggests that the driver overtake the vehicle in front and then suggests moving back, from 70 km/h to 180 km/h; Anticipated speed recommendation, the system suggests to the driver that he adapt his speed (acceleration or deceleration) according to the speed limit signs; and Curve speed adaptation, optimises speed according to the curve of the bend, up to 180 km/h.

2022 Peugeot 308

Blind spot monitoring reaches up to 75 metres behind the 2021 308, with a higher definition rear camera providing up to 180 degrees of rear vision. This integrates into the four camera, 360 degree camera parking assist system. For colder climes there are a heated steering wheel and defrostable windshield. Peugeot include their E-call+” emergency call with passenger number information and location including the direction of the vehicle in the lane.

The boot has up to 28L of underfloor space complementing the standard 412 litres. Fold the rears eats and that increases to 1323 litres. Convenience goes up with teh addition of (model dependent) two USB-C data transfer and charge ports. Phone mirroring is wireless and the new 10.25 inch touchscreen, sitting above a silver coloured and angular centre console, part of the driver oriented cockpit, is more tablet oriented in look and usage. It’s a multi-window capable device, and has features such as a home screen tab and widget functionality.

Sounds come from France’s famed Focal audio group and in selected models listeners will have the Premium Hi-Fi system. There are 10 speakers with 4 aluminium inverted dome TNF tweeters, 4 woofers/mediums with Polyglass membrane and 165mm TMD (Tuned Mass Damper) suspension, plus a central Polyglass unit along with a triple coil subwoofer. Power is rated at 590W from a Class-D 12 channel amplifier, with ARKAMYS sound processing.

2022 Peugeot 308

To be confirmed for Australia will be a choice of petrol, diesel, and hybrid powered drivetrains. Three petrol engines with differing outputs matched to manual and autos, a pair of diesels with a manual or auto, and two hybrids.

Peugeot lists these as: HYBRID 225 e-EAT8, with 2-wheel drive, with a 132kW PureTech petrol engine and an 81kW electric engine attached to the e-EAT8 gearbox. Emissions are rated as 26 g of C02 per km and up to 59 km of 100% electric range (according to the WLTP protocol, in the process of being approved). The other is HYBRID 180 e-EAT8, 2-wheel drive, combination of a 110kW PureTech engine and an 81kW electric engine attached to the e-EAT8 gearbox. Emissions and range are virtually identical at 25g/100km and up to 60 km of 100% electric range (according to WLTP protocol, in the process of being approved).

Capacity for the lithium ion battery is 12.4kWh, with up to 102kW of power. Charging is said to be either a standard 3.7kW single phase charger or an optional 7.4kW single phase charger.

Final model specifications for the Australian market are yet to be confirmed, as is the release date. However, it’s currently expected to be in early 2022.

2022 Peugeot 308

2021 Toyota Yaris Cross GXL 2WD Hybrid: Private Fleet Car Review.

Toyota started the SUV phenomenon with the original RAV4. Surprisingly, it’s a bit late to a party it helped plan, with the city SUV Yaris Cross coming after other brands have released similar vehicles. There’s a three model range with GX, GXL, and Urban, and a 2WD, 2WD Hybrid, and AWD Hybrid, the same as found in the newest RAV4. Each have a 3 cylinder, 1.5L petrol engine, the same as now found in the Yaris hatches.Pricing for the GX starts from $30,447 in Ink Black, 2WD and non-hybrid, with metallics, including the Mineral Blue found on the review vehicle, to $30,962. The pricing matrix can be slightly confusing so follow this link to find a price for your location and specification. Our Mineral Blue GXL Hybrid 2WD starts from $36,168 drive-away for our location.

The important parts of the Yaris Cross are the engine package and the size of the body. On the first point, we’ll admit to being somewhat baffled by the numbers. In non-hybrid trim, the 1.5L triple cylinder is rated, says Toyota, at 88kW and 145Nm. The hybrid package is 85kW and 120Nm……Economy isn’t hugely different at 5.4L/100km to 3.8L/100km on the combined cycle, with 91RON and a tank of 42L or 36L in the Hybrid. Transmission is a CVT with ten preprogrammed ratios and includes a mechanical first gear for better off the line acceleration. The AWD version has a separate rear axle electric motor and can take up to 60% of the torque when the drive sensors says so.Sizewise, the Yaris Cross sits on a 2,560mm wheelbase, with a total length of 4,180mm. There’s a height of 1,590mm, and width of 1,765mm. In comparison the Hyundai Kona in 2020 spec is 4,205mm and 1,550mm long and high on a 2,600mm wheelbase. Wheels for the GX and GXL are 16 inch diameter alloys, with rubber at 205/65 and from Bridgestone’s Turanza range.

That SUV body gives it an extra 30mm ground clearance than its hatchback sibling and stands taller by 90mm, spreads wider by 20mm and is longer by 240mm..

In profile, the Yaris Cross bears an unsurprisingly striking resemblance to bigger sibling RAV4, complete with bulldog blunt nose, a kicked up rear, and steeply angled tailgate line. The cargo door opens to a 390L space (314L in Urban) which houses a spacesaver spare. The Urban gets the goo kit.

The front is perhaps the blandest part of the Yaris Cross, and one of the blandest seen on a car in recent times. It looks nothing like the standard Yaris hatch nor the GR versions; they, at least, still have a family resemblance. Here we see a pair of intakes split by a body coloured strip, a pair of vertical LED strips, and darkened headlight covers. Body moldings for the wheel arches are joined by a thick slab on the sills which has the car’s name embossed in.Inside it’s not quite as bland. The dash is the same as the hatch, with a pair of smaller dials set ahead of an information screen. The left dial shows the energy status of the drive on the go, from charge to Eco, to Power. Speed and fuel tank info are on the right. The centre screen shows battery and drive flow information, audio, economy (3.9L/100km) was our final average). satnav and DAB are included in the main 7.0 inch touchscreen.In the console are the switches for the drive modes (Normal, Eco, Sport), traction control, and EV mode. As is the norm for Toyota, the petrol engine kicks in on anything other than a light throttle. The drive selector has a B for Brake, which harvests energy from the braking. There is only one USB port and no offering of a wireless charge pad. Plastics are of an average look and the steering wheel insert was slightly loose and squeaky.

Rear seat leg room is tight, quite tight. Adults would struggle to be comfortable and lanky teenagers don’t quite fit. A centre portion of the 60% part of the 60/40 seats has a pair of cupholders and that’s as much in the way of extra convenience items the rear seat passengers in the GXL will have. Having said that, the actual comfort level of sitting in the cloth covered seats is good, with plenty of support and the fronts eats have good lumbar support too.As a driving package the Yaris Cross demonstrates that even Toyota can get it wrong. The driveline exhibits the same bang and shunt as experienced in the Yaris ZR Hybrid as the throttle is applied or lifted. At times, in opposition, it’s smooth and seamless as the petrol engine kicks in and out, and noticable more on light throttle applications.. The 1.5L is raucous at times, and the insulation under the bonnet is thin, allowing plenty of noise through. Toyota have also located the bonnet strut directly above the engine. The doors aren’t well insulated either, which means external noises filter through easily, and the lack is noticeable when closing the doors. There’s a tinny “thunk”, not a satisfyingly weighted thump.

Steering is light, and the chassis is easily upset over bumps, but minimally changes the direction of the nose. It’s twitchy at times, and light cross winds had the Yaris Cross move around. It’s less composed than expected, all around, with an unsettled ride more often than not the sensation, rather than a well mannered experience. In small spaces, such as roads for a three point turn, underground carparks in shopping centres, and general daily driving, the fidgety handling becomes a benefit, as the short body and the light steering make moving the Yaris Cross around in these environments easy. On both sides of the drive, the Bridgestone rubber squealed…The same applies to the drive; it’s by no means a rocketship, even allowing for the CVT and the battery. Sink the slipper and the 1.5L yells its three cylinder noise, the CVT sees the rev count climb, and forward pace is …leisurely. It’s been timed elsewhere as something around the 11 to 12 second mark to reach 100kph. Again, the Yaris Cross points towards being better suited for the urban environment rather than the outer ‘burbs.

There is a good safety package as standard across the range. A pedestrian and cyclist calibrated anti-collision system is standard, as is Lane Trace Assist, Intersection Turn Assistance, and Traffic Sign recognition for speed signs. The GX misses out on Blind Spot Monitor and Rear Cross Traffic Alert. There are eight airbags, including two between the front passengers and, in a first for Toyota in Australia, an SOS function which can call an emergency centre at the press of a button or automatically in the event of airbag deployment.Warranty is a five year/unlimited kilometre mix, with servicing capped at $205 for a cycle of 15,000 kilometres. Battery warranty is ten years.

At The End Of The Drive.
City SUVs appear to be “the next big thing” in a crowded marketplace and although Toyota hasn’t lead the charge in this segment, it lobs a solid, if uninspiring, entry. It’s clearly marketed (and engineered, we think too) at a couple with no or one small child, making it an ideal second car too. The ride quality deters from really exploring its envelope as it’s dynamically off-par. But punt it at city velocities and it’s at home.

But, and yes, there has to be another but, it’s the price. Consider the Mazda CX-3 which ranges from $22,710 to $38,450, Ford’s new Puma ($29,990 to $35,540), Subaru’s XV, ($29,240 – $35,580), and the VW T-Cross ($27,990 – $30,990). Hybrid tech does factor but for some the drive quality will turn them away.

 

EV Supercars

Porsche Taycan Turbo S

Porsche has already built their fully electric supercar and it’s called the Taycan.  Currently, the quickest Taycan is the Taycan Turbo S, which boasts 560 kW of power, 1,050 N⋅m of torque, a 0-100 km/h sprint time of just 2.8 seconds and a top speed of 260 km/h.  We knew it would be fast, but it will also manage around 400 km of travel before a recharge is needed.  Of course, that range will be affected by factors like the weather, number of hills in your commute, how heavy your right foot is, how many on-board features you’re running and how much extra weight is on board – all much the same traits that affect combustion consumption…

Tesla is the biggest name in electric vehicles, and their new Roadster sets the supercar performance benchmark.  Revealed back in 2017, the second-generation Tesla Roadster  will be capable of skipping through the 0-100 km/h in around 2 seconds, the 0-160 km/h dash in 4.2 seconds, the quarter mile in 8.8 seconds and boast a top speed of around 400 km/h.  These records are aided by a phenomenal 10,000 Nm combined torque output for the AWD system and a drivable range before recharging of even over 900 km.  The new Tesla Roadster sales will likely begin 2022.

Tesla Roadster

Porsche and Tesla are, perhaps, the more well-known leaders in EV supercar technology.

Ferrari has yet to build a fully electric car.  Ferrari is concentrating on their hybrid supercars; the new Ferrari SF90 Stradale being the latest model that incorporates electric motors with the combustion engine layout.  Ferrari claims the SF90 Stradale can clean out the 0-100 km/h sprint in well under 3 seconds, the 0-200 km/h dash in less than 7 seconds, while reaching a top speed in excess of 330 km/h.  The SF90 Stradale can also travel 12-to-24 km on battery power alone.  John Elkann, from Ferrari, says the company will offer its first electric supercar at some stage this decade, but the hybrid models would still form part of its line-up even in 2030.  However, that said, Ferrari is looking to sell the Ferrari Purosangue as their first SUV with hybrid engines, along with a fully-electric powertrain for the two following Purosangue models.  From the word go, the Purosangue will be designed with the chassis structured to take full electric power.  The first hybrid Purosangue should be on sale between 2024 and 2026.

You can’t talk about Ferrari’s electric future without considering Lamborghini’s.  Lamborghini has yet to develop an all-electric supercar.  Come 2021/2022, Lamborghini is offering a production hybrid supercar called the Lamborghini Sian FKP 37.  That sounds like a similar direction to Ferrari; however, Lamborghini did unveil the Terzo Millennio concept car back in 2017.

So, who else is offering fully electric supercars?  The following EV supercars have been built up by various entrepreneurs and joint ventures and are, therefore, very rare.  Here are some of them to whet your appetite:

Rimac C_Two

The Rimac C_Two has a 412 km/h top speed backed up with approximately 500 km of electric range.

Pininfarina Battista

Lotus Evija

The Lotus Evija has a claimed 1,680 kg weight – pretty light for an EV supercar.

Aspark Owl

Aspark Owl with its 0-100 km/h sprint done and dusted in less than 2 seconds. Top speed over 400 km/h.

Drako-GTE

The Drako GTE  is the brainchild of two Californian-based engineers and entrepreneurs.  The car should deliver around 8,880 Nm of torque and a 400 km/h-plus top speed.

 

Nio-ep9

The Nio EP9 has actually delivered a 6 m 45.9 sec Nürburgring lap in the hands of Scottish driver Peter Dumbreck. The EV supercar boasts around 6334 Nm of torque and a down-force claimed to be twice that of an F1 car.

Dendrobium D-1

The Dendrobium has money and inspiration provided to it from Singapore; however it is being engineered and developed in the UK by Williams Advanced Engineering, and with people who were involved in the McLaren F1 design.

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.