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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

Mercedes Commits to a Broad Line-up, Despite Fixed-Price Strategy

Hot on the heels of Japanese rival Honda, Mercedes-Benz is set to restructure its business as it moves towards an agency-style structure in the new car market down under. The move is pencilled in for January 1, 2022, although the luxury auto-maker is still working to put the finishing touches on all the details before then.

 

Explaining the changes

Like Honda, it is expected that Mercedes-Benz dealers will take on a role whereby they act as an agent for the parent company. With this, prices will also be fixed, the parent company will dictate terms of business, and headquarters will also hold all vehicle stock, thereby limiting the potential for customers to negotiate directly with the dealer.

Unlike its rival, however, Mercedes-Benz has suggested that it will look to differentiate itself in one key area from what Honda is currently doing – that is, by committing to retain the breadth of its model line-up and not cut any entry-level variants.

In supporting this plan, the company points to the fact that it is seeing success in the luxury component of every segment, where it is “winning” in most of these areas. So while Honda might have plans to deliberately streamline its line-up and cut total sales volumes in order to generate higher margins, Mercedes-Benz is going about things differently.

 

 

Why there still might be less ‘choice’

Mercedes-Benz will also focus on customer service and satisfaction by addressing core areas that it has identified as important. This includes improving the accessibility to purchase any vehicle from its range online, and also embracing transparent pricing.

Although Mercedes-Benz has committed to its broad line-up, there is still an expectation that each model range will be simplified so as to improve the buying experience for customers by minimising confusion. After all, sometimes too many choices for something largely similar can be problematic for customers who are not yet ‘over the line’.

There is one potential drawback with this. If Mercedes-Benz does opt to simplify each of its model ranges, there is a possibility that optional extras may be ‘built’ into the existing models that are currently more affordable in each range. The risk here is that prices could very well increase, although at this stage details remain to be seen, even if the company has just increased prices across the board for the third time in just over a year.

The good news sees the breadth of Mercedes-Benz’s line-up set to remain, unaffected by the move towards an agency model. What is found in each range, however, will make for interesting consideration.

 

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

Ford Transit 12 Seater Bus: An Icon Returns.

Ford Australia has added the 12-seater Ford Transit Bus to the popular Transit line-up. The 410L RWD 12 Seat Bus comes with a 2.0.L EcoBlue diesel with 125kW of power and 390Nm of torque from 1,600-2,300 rpm, driving a ten speed auto and starts from $63,690 (Manufacturer’s Recommended List Price). Options include High Roof with Overhead Stowage Shelves is $2,500, Prestige Paint is $650 and Satellite Navigation with TMC & Enhanced Voice Control is $600.The engine is EURO 6.2 compliant and standard across the range. It features high-pressure direct fuel injection, an advanced aluminium cylinder head, a high-performance variable geometry turbo plus auto stop-start for maximum fuel efficiency and lower running costs. Service intervals are 30,000km or 12 months.

The Ford Transit Bus along with all Transit vehicles, comes with AEB with Pedestrian Detection as standard. There is also Adaptive Cruise Control, Blind Spot Information System (BLIS) with Rear-Cross Traffic Alert, Lane Keeping Aid and Lane Departure Warning with Driver Alert, plus Traffic Sign Recognition. There is also Automatic High-beam, Automatic headlamps, Automatic front windscreen wipers and a heated windscreen. Front and rear park sensors and a rear camera round out the safety package.

A programmable MyKey and FordPass Connect provide a range of services, along with smartphone access, including remote start and stop, allowing drivers to start their vehicle’s engine with a tap of their smartphone in order to heat or cool the cabin before driving. Info and technology are accessed via the 8.0 inch touchscreen which operates Ford’s latest SYNC 3 infotainment system with Apple and Android apps as standard and optional voice activated satnav. It also gives access to FordPass Connect, which offers convenient ‘connected car’ technology, pairing with the available FordPass App to simplify customers’ ownership experience and unlock a range of new services including Remote Start and Stop, Remote Lock and Unlock, Live Traffic Updates, Location Services, Vehicle Status and Health Alerts.

Access to the interior for the nine passenger capacity Transit Bus is via a powered left side door. It’s key fob operated or via a dashboard switch. Opt for the high roof version and there is extra storage and LED lighting.

Andrew Birkic, President and CEO, Ford Australia and New Zealand, says: “We know our customers have always loved the Transit Bus, but there’s been a strong demand for it to come with an automatic transmission. We can now deliver on that wish and help groups of Aussies travel in comfort and style, whether that be sports teams off to their big game, a shuttle to the airport, or colleagues heading to a conference.”

Along with the five-year, unlimited kilometre full factory warranty, the Transit Bus is eligible for the Ford Service Benefits program at participating Ford dealerships, which means for items listed in an A or B standard logbook service for the first 4 years or up to 120,000km, whichever comes first, the most you will pay is $399 (incl GST).

Further adding to the ownership experience, Ford Service Benefits also bring Transit Bus owners Auto Club Membership including Roadside Assistance as well as a Service Loan Car and sat-nav mapping updates where available.

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.

 

The European EV Compass

The best of European engineering and technology has always been considered to be some of the finest the world has to offer (particularly German, Swedish and British engineering).  However, with the advancement in microelectronics and electrical know-how that is coming from the Asian parts of the world, there is little time to be had before German, Swedish, Dutch and British (to name a few) technology giants, and automotive and engineering giants, could get swallowed up and placed in the history books.

It might be that to counter the advancement (or even to just keep pace with) of big Chinese, USA, Korean and Japanese automotive, electronics and digital giants, that it’ll likely take a collective pan-European approach in tech-innovation and mobility transformational advancements.  The movement is happening in Europe but is it fast enough?

Rather than each country try and do it alone, a pan-European alliance for the electric mobilization of Europe along with the coordination and alignment of national policies would be far more capable of countering the competition from the USA and China.  Being able to pool assets, funding, supply chain networks, research and development, battery production, electronic charging point networks, power storage technology, recharging technology and Pan Eurpean policy initiatives that promote market entry for electric vehicles (EVs) will go a long way to keep Europe at the forefront of transport design and innovation.

With the spotlight heavily focusing on environmentally-friendly transport, EVs and driverless cars, and their growing numbers filling the roads up in Asia and in Europe, the rest of the world will also need to catch up with the technology, or change to other manufacturing designs instead.  Now and into the future we are seeing how global status, energy and transport are directly linked to each other.  Renewable electricity generation and storage at the national level is an assignment across Europe that is a huge task on any given day, but its roll-out also needs to quicken its pace.  Politics will play an important role for European countries to pull together to use renewable energy, energy networks and EV and Fuel Cell vehicle technologies.

Demanding logistical changes like this also calls for an adoption of a new social perspective on this new way of doing transport, even new way of life, whether that be in purchasing a new energy efficient car or pooling together to get from A to B or using environmentally friendly public transport.  Not everyone can cycle to work!  The automotive landscape in Europe is changing, just as it is globally.  Government policy will play a leading role in moderating and coordinating the transformation of the automotive industry into new ways of doing transport for the people.

At European local government levels, there also requires the push to implement the urban-transport transformation towards emission-free and fossil-fuel-less transport systems.  Urban and development planning needs to promote the electric charging infrastructure, as well as providing big financial benefits and incentives for the public to change from fossil-dependent transport to the use of EVs.  Global carbon emission goals are driving the need to steer away from fossil fuels.

In the future, there would seem to be few chances to succeed as a nation if smaller countries choose to go it alone.  Then again, maybe that’s what Australia, NZ, UK and Japan might do best; they could be attractive in their own right if they did emission-free transport their own unique way, unconnected with the rest of the world’s EV and driverless vehicle systems.

2021 Mercedes-Benz Vito and Valente Released

Mercedes-Benz have been known for producing some quality Light Commercial Vehicles, and the Vito van has been at the forefront of that particular section of their markets. The latest version has been released to the Aussie market.

There will be three engines: The Vito 111 CDI with 84kW and 270 Nm torque, the Vito 116 CDI with 120 kW and 380 Nm torque, and the Vito 119 CDI with 140 kW and 440 Nm torque with a combined fuel consumption of 6.7 l/100 km plus CO2 combined emissions 176 g/km. The Vito 111 has a combined fuel consumption of 6.2-6.3 l/100 km with CO2 combined emissions 163-166 g/km whilst the 116 has combined fuel consumption of 6.7 l/100 km and CO2 combined emissions 176-178 g/km.

The range has been simplified and extra features added. The rear view mirror is now a digital item, whilst the reverse camera has been upgraded to suit. The interior has been enhanced as has safety with DISTRONIC and Active Brake Assist. Up front, the grille has been restyled. The Mercedes star plate is centrally positioned in the radiator grille and has three black louvres on all but the 111 where they are chromed.

Diane Tarr, Managing Director Mercedes-Benz Vans, said: “The versatility of Vito really sets it apart. In Australia, examples of its use include an RACV home and roadside assist vehicle, an Australian Post delivery van, an Optus technical service vehicle and as a trusted tool for many smaller business operations like florists or even mobile fitness instructors. It is a genuine trade specialist and fleet all-rounder for a wide range of different customers.

The Vito’s look and style is often symbolic of the business it supports. The newly designed radiator grill now makes it an even more attractive representation, and with more standard safety, new assistance systems and an upgraded infotainment offering, it will continue to meet the demands of our customers.”

The Vito 111 packs a 1.6L engine and six speed manual driving the front wheels. There is also a 2.1L engine and seven speed auto for the rear wheel drive versions. The Vito 116 has a 120kW/380Nm diesel as the spearhead and moves to a medium length wheelbase as the starting point. This, says M-B, provides an optimal carry capacity as a new starting point. Proven engine and transmission line up continues with reduced complexity, and emphasis on power and carrying capacity.

Active Brake Assist starts with an audible warning tone and a visual alert. If sensors read the driver has applied the brakes, ABA adds extra braking assistance, but if there is no response from the driver the system takes over and performs active braking manoeuvres. The sensors also alert to stationary objects and pedestrians. DISTRONIC is also available with Vito for the first time and standard on the 119. Blind Spot Assist and Lane Keep Assist, formerly options, are now standard.

The digital inside rearview mirror takes a feed from the high definition camera mounted in the rear window section and transmits to a 1600 x 320 screen. There is image processing to ensure that light balance is even and displaying as clear an image as possible. It also provides a wider view than a traditional rear-view mirror.

An updated infotainment system sees a 7.0 inch touchscreen with smartphone app compatibility. The screen is also the default viewer for the reverse camera. Bluetooth is also standard and has audio streaming and hands-free calling.

ILS, or Intelligent Light System, is standard on the 119. It’s a full LED system, covering the indicators, DRLs, low, high, and cornering lights. The spread is speed dependent also, and with Highbeam Assist Plus adjusts to suit speed and the lighting conditions. It does this by actuating the dipped-beam, partial main-beam and main-beam headlamps as required.

The exterior now has new colours including Graphite Grey and Selenite Grey, along with Steel Blue and Hyacinth Red metallic. There are two 18 inch alloy wheels, one with a 5-twin-spoke design in Tremolite Grey with a high sheen finish, and one with a 5-spoke design in black also with a burnished finish. There are also 17 inch black painted alloy wheels available.

The Vito Crew Cab dual purpose vehicle, which can carry up to six passengers, is available with the 116 or 119 CDI engine. The Valente 8 seater people mover is available with the 116 CDI engine. this highlights the flexibility of the Vito range, with body lengths, the engine choices, and styles.

Speak to your local Mercedes-Benz dealership for a test drive.

Stellantis: One New Name, A New Home For Many

Stellantis. It’s the umbrella name for the coming together of two major automotive groups, the Peugeot and Citroen Alliance, and the Fiat Chrysler conglomerate. There are brands as diverse as Opel to Maserati, Citroen’s DS to Vauxhall, and there is already murmurs of upgrades to vehicles produced by companies now joined as one.

The full list, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, Ram, Fiat, Alfa Romeo, Abarth, Lancia, and Maserati from FCA, and Citroën, DS, Opel, Peugeot, and Vauxhall from to PSA means that there is over 120 years of automotive history brought together. And collectively, there are now over 400,000 personnel with that collective pool of experience and knowledge.

John Elkann is the Chairman of the Stellantis board, and says: “It is no coincidence that Stellantis is born precisely when our world requires a new kind of automotive company that will champion clean and intelligent solutions to provide freedom of movement for all. Our global scale and reach provide us with the resources to invest in state-of-the-art technologies, distinctive excellence and unmatched choice for our customers.

But it is the geographic and cultural diversity of Stellantis’ people that from Day One is our greatest competitive advantage. It is they, with their energy, their knowhow and their constant commitment who make Stellantis what it is today. And it is they who day-by-day will build an even greater company for this new era of mobility.”Echoing his words is the new Chief Executive Officer, Carlos Tavares, with: “This is a great day. One year after we announced this project, Stellantis is born, notwithstanding the unprecedented societal and economic disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. I want to warmly thank all of the teams who made this possible and also thank the entire workforce who continued to move our operations forward during this exceptional year.

This demonstrates the agility, creativity and adaptability of our company which aims to be great rather than big, determined to be much more than the sum of its parts. It is also a further signal of the new company’s determination to be a leading player in the automotive industry in this ever changing environment. Stellantis is dedicated to “pursuing greatness” and enhancing the well-being of its employees.”

The group’s spread reaches to over 130 countries, and the brands cover the full spectrum of market segments from luxury, premium and mainstream passenger vehicles to hard-charging pickup trucks, SUVs and light commercial vehicles, as well as dedicated mobility, finance and parts and service brands. This new group now expects to leverage its size and economies of scale to invest in innovative mobility solutions for its global customer base. Forward estimates see Stellantis looking at a revenue base of over five billion Euro in a synergystic way of spreading the brands.

Achieving that revenue will come from a streamliniung of processes, including how purchasing is conducted, the crossover of drivetrains and platforms, and an amortisation of Research and Development. Currently, that estimate also comes from not closing any production plants. To ensure that all departments flow smoothly, including company-wide performance & strategy, planning, regions, manufacturing, brand and styling, there will be nine Governance Committees.

2021 Peugeot 308 GT-Line: Private Fleet Car Review

This Car Review Is About: Peugeot’s stylish contender in the small to mid size hatchback category, with the addition of a wagon. There is the entry Allure, a Touring (wagon), the GT-Line and GT, which disappeared from the Peugeot Au site in January and has been discontinued. The 308 itself is an attractive looking machine, but is it a city or highway car?How Much Is It?: The range starts at $30,499 for the Allure, and has $34,990 against the GT-Line as a drive-away price.

Under The Bonnet Is: Peugeot’s award winning engine at 1.2L of capacity, with three cylinders, a preference for petrol, and their EAT6 auto with eight ratios. Peak power is 96kW @5,500rpm, and a handy turbo-fed 230Nm @1,750Nm. It’s EURO6 emissions compliant at just 112 grams of CO2 per kilometre, and comes with Stop/Start tech. Peak economy is best seen on the highway, says Peugeot, where they quote 4.2L/100km. In the “burbs” they say 6.4L/100km, and the combined cycle is 5.0L/100km. Fuel tank size is 53.0L. This didn’t equate to our real world driving, as just 250km worth of city driving had the gauge reading at a half tank used. Our overall average finished at 7.7L/100km on our typical 70/30 urban to highway split.

On The Outside It’s: Typically French with good looks, svelte curves, and a hint of in-your-face assertiveness. It stands just 1,457mm in height yet is a proportionally longish 4,253mm, and spreads 1,553mm to 1,559mm in track. It’s low, long, and as a result, comes with an assertive road stance. There are the signature fins in the headlight assembly and the strip of LEDs for the indicators located in the “eyebrow” of the headlights.The rear lights feature another “Pug” signature, with the three strip “claw marks”. Wheels are alloys and painted a flat dark grey on sections of the wheel that give a ten spoke look. Rubber is, of course, Michelin, and are the super grippy Pilot Sport 3 at 225/40/Z18.

On The Inside It’s: Oddly, not quite as user friendly, in a couple of ways, as the Partner van. That has a better driver’s screen interface which is more accessible via the steering wheel tabs. In this 308 it was a button the right hand, wiper operating, stalk.

The button to deactivate the Stop/Start system, which is just that little bit too eager in the 308 GT-Line, is also more visible in the Partner.

Seats are cloth covered with leather type material on the wings, and metallic looking threads in the middle.The audio is AM/FM only, however a smartphone can be connected via USB or Bluetooth. It sits atop a dash with a defined W styling, and with minimal secondary controls.

This means using it necessitates eyes off the road as all main controls are on the exterior of the screen, and don’t always respond to a tap the first time whilst in motion.

Cabin plastics have a hard touch yet have a fine grain to the touch.

To start the 308, a press button Start/Stop system is employed, with the button in the centre console and for safety’s sake must be held for a second or so. The park brake comes on automatically when the doors are opened and although there is a setting to disengage it, it’s just as easy to start, then press it off as it’s right behind the Start button.

The indicator stalk is on the left hand side, with auto wipers engaged and disengaged by a dip of the right hand stalk. The wipers themselves aren’t terribly robust in motion.Airvents are thin horizontally and the touchscreen is the only option in controlling the system. And until you re-touch another tab, it’ll stay on the chosen (i.e. aircon) screen until the car powers off.

That centre console holds just one cup, with smallish bottle holders in the four doors.

The rear hatch is manually operated, opening to a 435L cargo section, with the press tab logically located in the upper section of the number plate recess. Seats down, there’s 1,274L. The spare, incidentally, is a space saver.On The Road It’s: A firm ride on the highways, with just the right amount of damping when required.

It does, though, exhibit skittishness on some road joins and the like, with a mild but noticeable steering rack shake and accompanying left or right hop.

The location of the steering wheel, a Peugeot design signature, allows the GT-Line to feel sporty in the hands and in the handling. Its light, but not so that it isolates feedback.

The eight speed auto is a pearler, with quick shifts and perfectly matched to the tiny engine’s torque delivery.

We did notice though that the engine isn’t a fan of cold morning starts. Our time with the Peugeot 308 GT-Line coincided with some varying La Nina weather, with some mornings having a lacklustre and slow to react driveline.

We also noticed that the turbo behaviour would be different in nature at the same driving points, such as being ready to kick in or well off boost at the same speed coming to the same stop sign or give way sign.

In some instances, this lead to a few deep breath as the lack of urge at times had oncoming traffic looking to be in proximity earlier than they should, whereas at other times the engine would be ready to pull the 308 away without fuss. Disconcerting? Just a bit…

When it’s all cooperating, the engine and auto make a wonderful around town companion. There’s some decent urge from a standing start, and rolling acceleration is also decent without being outstanding.It’s a good highway cruiser, and is relatively quiet, even with the limpet grip Michelin tyres.

Unfortunately for us, the 308 wasn’t as suitable as needed for our Christmas travel requirements. This means the economy for the distance knowing to be travelled would be problematic with four humans and a decent amount of luggage.

Also, in some areas, the 1.2L would have struggled in the numerous uphill runs known for the route, and again would have played havoc with the economy.

What About Safety?: Pretty standard nowadays with AEB, Forward Collision Warning, and Sign Recognition.
Blind Spot Alert, reverse camera, and six airbags complement the main features.

What About Warranty And Service?: Five years warranty and unlimited kilometres are standard, and servicing is capped price, with Peugeot’s website providing specific pricing per vehicle type.

At The End Of The Drive. In a very competitive market, the 308 range is up against the Cerato, i30, Corolla, offerings from Ford and Mazda, and Renault’s Megane.

The drive is good, the drive-train a willing package, and it’s not unattractive inside and out.

In our opinion, it’s a very good city car and a not unworthy consideration on price. Having just two models to choose from makes choice an easy one but when others offer a broader range, it can be seen as a factor against it.

The dichotomy of the engine’s performance left us wondering about the overall consistency of delivery, a factor that doesn’t appear to be an issue in other brands.