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The Ford CEO’s EV Road Trip Reality Check

Well, kudos where kudos is due.  I came across an automotive news story recently that was too good not to pass on.  It’s always good when you read of the CEO of any company getting out of their ivory tower or glass-walled office to get their hands dirty and/or do a bit of road-testing for themselves rather than letting those in the lower echelons do it. That’s exactly what happened recently in the case of Jim Farley, the CEO of Ford in the USA.

Ford USA has been putting a fair bit of R&D investment into the upcoming electrical ute, the F-150 Lightning (not yet available in Australia at the time of writing, but we can keep our fingers crossed).  Now, the idea of this vehicle was that it was supposed to be for rural types in rural areas. The idea was to make the sort of thing that belongs in a Country and Western song: the trusty old pickup that can handle dirt roads.  However, instead of just leaving things to the developers and the number-crunchers and the sort of people who test battery life and performance under ideal conditions, Mr Farley decided that the best thing to do was to pull a Bertha Benz and take the new vehicle out on the road, partly as a real-world road test and partly as a publicity stunt.

And if you’re going to go on a high-profile road trip across the United States, there’s only one road that springs to mind (hint: it’s not the Pan-American Highway). Yes, Jim Farley headed out in the all-electric Ford F-150 Lightning on the legendary Route 66. Naturally, he posted the highlights of his trip on social media, specifically on Linked In and on Twitter or X or whatever it’s calling itself today. Yes, the fact that the Ford CEO documented his experiences with this ute that’s specifically designed to be a rival to Tesla’s Cybertruck on the platform owned by the CEO of Tesla is deliciously ironic (but I guess it’s proof that Musk is serious about the no censorship thing – so kudos to him as well).

The F-150 Lightning behaved itself nicely on the road, but there was one issue that Mr Farley described as a “reality check”: charging times.  Not that he ran out of zap or anything like that, but one thing he found was that when he came to some of the more popular charging stations, all the really fast superchargers were taken up, so he had to plug in to one of the slower ones.  He reported that it took him 40 minutes to get to 40% charge, and he acknowledged that this is a “challenge” faced by customers. Superfast charging was great, he found, but the slower chargers, not so much.  And, being in the position to do something about it, it looks like plans are afoot to improve the charging infrastructure in the USA.

It would be interesting if someone would do a similar road trip here in Australia. It should include the Great Ocean Road, but as that’s only 240-ish kms long, perhaps the Big Lap on Highway 1 would be a real test (give us your suggestions as to what would be a good test in the comments).  Do we have suitable charging infrastructure here to ensure that road trips for business or pleasure – to say nothing of everyday driving – is smooth and efficient?  Perhaps we’ll find, like those in the US, that perhaps we don’t have the infrastructure in place to go all-out electric (to say nothing of the ability to generate electricity).  After all, EVs are only part of the equation when it comes to cutting down or cutting out fossil fuels, with biofuels and hydrogen being the other pathways that don’t seem to be quite getting enough attention.

However, the longer charging times weren’t all bad.  One thing that Mr Farley reported was that there seemed to be something of a community of EV drivers gathering around the charging stations, and perfect strangers would start talking to each other in the time spent waiting for (a) a free charger and (b) the battery to charge.  It’s like the car and the shared need created a connection and introduced people. If you’ve got a motorbike, you’ve probably experienced something similar even at petrol stations: other bikers (and former bikers and those who admire bikers) will start chatting.  If there’s one thing that we learned during the Covid lockdowns, as well as washing our hands properly, it’s that in-person connections are important.  Perhaps the enforced waiting and slowing down of EV charging stations will be good for humanity at a psychological level… or perhaps I’m being idealistic here, as it could equally lead to frustrations and the opportunity for entitled people to show their worst sides.

Spot the Difference?

Did you know that the Renault Koleos is very much a Nissan X-Trail?  Were you also aware that the current BMW 7-Series is the platform for the new Rolls-Royce Dawn?  These days car manufacturers are sharing a lot of the components that go into making a new vehicle.  A lot of the electronic systems and computer chips are shared between makes and models, even engines and an entire body platform.  As the costs of designing and building a complex new car rise, by getting together and pooling money, skills, assets, and sharing the costs of the new build, these are definitely clever ways for manufacturers to reduce their overheads, and the overall cost of designing and building a new vehicle.

Platform sharing between manufacturers and between models is, perhaps, more common than you may have thought; and particularly now more than ever.  In some cases, the similarities between a particular car, truck, or ute and its platform-twin are obvious.  However, at other times it’s not so easy to detect the resemblance.

A car’s platform is the base (including body shell, floor, and even some of the chassis and engine parts) on which it is built.  Not only can these components be common to more than one manufacturer, but they can also be shared between models in a manufacturer’s line-up.  The initial platform design and its production or engineering works can be shared across a number of different models.  Kia and Hyundai are some of the best brands at doing this sort of thing, and so too is VW.

Sharing componentry between different manufacturers/brands has to be built on an existing good business relationship.  So, when two or more automotive manufacturers with a good relationship have shared the same desire to save money, they can operate together and agree to share development costs and also essentially sell the same cars but under different badges.  Renault and Nissan are great examples of this.  Some of the most talked about illustrations of this occurring recently will have been the Toyota GT86 and the Subaru BRZ, which are essentially the same cars tarted up slightly differently.  Also, the Toyota Corolla station wagon and the Suzuki Swace (a less known model here in Australia) are exactly the same car.  Another illustration would be the awesome new Toyota Supra and BMW Z4 cars.  Also, Volvo has platformed shared quite frequently over the years.  The Global C-car Platform from Ford saw the Volvo S40 and V40 share much with the Ford Focus and Mazda 3.  Well known Hyundai and Kia have utilized several duplications of platforms for their small automobile line-up since 1997.

Having a shared engineering platform, where manufacturers build a basic foundation that can be used across many of its own models is an advantage.  The Volkswagen Group (VW), and the brands it owns, (Audi, Bentley, Lamborghini, Porsche, Seat and Skoda) are masters of this craft.  VW has a common practice where they will build a smaller number of platforms, but the benefits come when they will then re-purpose these platforms across their own different brands.  When VW designed and built the MQB (Modularer Querbaukasten) platform, it was shared across the Audi A3, Skoda Octavia, and Seat Leon.  Also, one of its SUV platforms is shared and utilized by the Audi Q7 and Q8, the Bentley Bentayga, the Lamborghini Urus, and Porsche’s Cayenne.

BMW’s 7-Series is the platform for the immensely luxurious and expensive Rolls Royce Dawn.  The new 7-Series is luxurious and sleek in its own right, but it is also much, much cheaper to buy – comparatively.

Some other new vehicles that are currently sharing platforms:

Cadillac CTS and Chevrolet Camaro

VW Polo and Skoda Scala

Mercedes Benz GLE and Jeep Grand Cherokee

Renault Koleos and Nissan X-Trail

Fiat 500 X and Jeep Renegade

New Cars, New Year.

Happy New Year to you all!  2023 sees some brand new cars coming into view, and we’re set to observe a considerable increase in the number of EVs sold on our shores.  Here’s a brief look at some of the exciting cars and SUVs you can get your hands on in the near future!

Alfa Romeo Tonale

Here’s the first of the Alfas that take the special brand into EV mode.  The Alfa Romeo Tonale Hybrid kicks it off with its hybrid engine offering the new 48-volt hybrid propulsion system.  You’d expect an Alfa to be sporty, and the nicely designed compact SUV delivers on this front.  Comfortable interiors and decent technology make this a good way of upgrading into 2023.


The smallest X model from BMW comes in as the X1, and the iX1 is the EV model with a battery range up over 400 km.  Nicely laid out interiors, an athletic driving style (typical Beemer), and a good dollop of performance make this a great new compact SUV.

BYD Atto 3

The BYD Atto 3 is a new kid on the block for Australia.  Being an electric medium-sized SUV with a decent range makes this an efficient EV for the new year.  The Atto 3 also offers a comfy interior and plenty of the latest technology and safety features.


CUPRA cars are exciting.  They have plenty of performance and are generally a well-priced product with high-end features.  This new model called the CUPRA Born is an EV with a handsome range of beyond 500 km.  The CUPRA Born is an exciting car to look at, and it comes with advanced technology and great connectivity.

Ford E-Transit

Ford’s lovable Transit has a new ticker with the latest vans now offering electric power.  This is a brand new, full-size, pure-electric E-Transit that features a 68 kWh battery and a driving range of up to 317 km.  Ford say that it is possible to fast-charge the E-Transit from 15% to 80% in a bit over 30 minutes.

GWM Tank 300

One of the best vehicles to come out of 2023 will be the impressive looking GWM Tank 300.  Doesn’t it make a statement!  The Tank is powered by a 2.0-litre petrol-electric hybrid system, and the internal-combustion engine offers a juicy 180 kW.  Nappa leather, all the tech, and very handy off-road makes this a hugely appealing.

Lexus RX

Toyota has their luxury Lexus brand offering their latest RX.  If you’re wanting a new hybrid, these are some of the best ones out there.  Toyota make a great hybrid powertrain with smooth performance and impressive efficiency.  The RX interior sees an updated luxury interior design with ever-impressive build quality.  The RX is roomy too and very comfortable.

Maserati Grecale

Maserati is becoming ever more affordable.  That’s a great thing because they make great cars.  The new Maserati Grecale is a front-engine, medium-sized luxury SUV that comes with the promise of plenty of performance.  Three engines are available: two 2.0-litre petrol motors and a 3.0-litre V6 petrol.  Generous on the equipment levels, the Grecale will be rewarding to drive.


MG offers the new MG4 hatchback this year.  It is an affordable electric hatchback that has been packed full of innovation, style, technology, and an impressive 440 km driving range.

Nissan X-Trail E-Power Hybrid

Nice to look at, and equally at home off-road as it is on, the Nissan X-Trail E-Power Hybrid SUV is very comfortable and very well-equipped.  Rear cargo capacity in the 5 seat version of this awesome SUV is 575 litres (super handy for a family).  A 7-seat option is also available.  The entry point model is a mild hybrid version and uses a 1.5-litre petrol most of the time.  The other powerplant uses the same 1.5-liter ICE, but it doesn’t connect to the wheels directly.  Instead, it becomes the electrical generator of the system that works in unison with a small battery operating as a buffer.  The wheels are fed power via electric motors.

Renault Kangoo

Renault’s new Kangoo definitely can do, especially with its brand new E-Tech EV versions becoming available for the Australian market.  This will be Australia’s cheapest electric van.  The E-Tech has a 90 kW/245 Nm electric motor that drives the front wheels via a single-speed transmission.  You should easily run about town for well over 250 km before needing to recharge.

Keep your eyes open for these new models travelling our roads and on showroom floors across Australia.  Also keep your ears open via Private Fleet, where we’ll keep you up to date with what other new models are coming our way shortly.  All the best for 2023!

AMG One Nürburgring Record

Doesn’t this car look immense!  The AMG One has become the fastest road-legal production car to run around Germany’s famous track, the Nürburgring.  The track is just shy of 21 kilometres long and is full of challenging corners with some scintillatingly quick straights thrown in for good measure.

The AMG One’s two-seat cockpit is accessed via doors that open up on the diagonal – forwards and upwards. The car’s seats are moulded into the structure of the car to save weight and are made of a magma grey nappa leather and black Dinamica microfibre.  The backrest can be adjusted to two different angles.  Despite the minimalist design, the AMG One comes with features like climate control, electric windows, an infotainment system, and a rear-view camera.

It is quite a car!  The exterior looks stunning, with the exterior having an airbrush finish to it that features hundreds of little three-pointed stars – like on the current Mercedes Formula One cars.  The car’s front wheels boast 19-inch rims, and the rear rims are 20-inch.  The push-rod spring struts are aluminium and can be adapted to three settings: Comfort, Sport and Sport Plus.  Anti-lock brakes, a three-stage stability control system, and a nine-stage traction control system all work in unison to keep the AMG One firmly in control and well-planted.  Shod with the best Michelin Pilot Sport Cup 2R M01 tyres, there is a load of grip to be had.

The car’s ride height can be hydraulically dropped 37 mm at the front and 30 mm at the rear.  A Drag Reduction System has been implemented into the design for reducing downforce by around 20%.  The drag reduction works by closing the louvres over the front wheels and retracting the rear wing so that the car can accelerate to higher speeds more rapidly.  This feature, of course, is deactivated automatically when the driver hits the carbon ceramic brakes or takes on a corner.

Designed with a carbon-fibre monocoque structure, the platform helps to reduce the weight and enhance the car’s stiffness.  AMG has managed to keep the kerb weight of the AMG One down to below 1700 kg.  A lot of special work has been done in the aerodynamics department.  That’s why the AMG One has an active front splitter, a massive deployable rear wing, louvres that are visible over the top of each of the front wheels, and even a distinctive fin that runs down the backbone of the car.  All of these important components are there to enhance the flow of the air over and around the car.

The AMG One has four electric drive motors, and Mercedes say that the car has an all-electric range of 18.1 km.  Two of the electric motors (located at the front) also work a torque vectoring system across the front axle.  When the ICE engine is running at the same time as the electric motors, the car is in full AWD mode.  The ICE motor is a 1.6-litre turbocharged unit, derived from the 2015 Mercedes-AMG Petronas Formula One Team’s car.  This engine runs alongside the MGU-K hybrid system, giving the AMG One a combined power output of 782 kW.

The AMG One’s official performance stats include a 0-100 km/h time of 2.9 seconds, a 0-200 km/h sprint time of just 7.0 seconds, and a top speed of 352 km/h.

Maro Engel was the car’s driver for the record lap time, and he was able to run the AMG One around the Nürburgring in a record time of 6 min: 35.183 seconds.  This time is eight seconds faster than the previous record set last year by Lars Kern in a Porsche 911 GT2 RS MR.  Maro mentioned that the track conditions weren’t ideal at the time the record was set, suggesting that the AMG One could definitely run the lap faster still with better track conditions.