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Carbon Dioxide Emissions and EVs

Founder of Greenpeace, Patrick Moore, has some knowledgeable things to say about carbon emissions and CO2 in the atmosphere.  Many politicians and “scientists” are stating that CO2 is the big baddie that will cause us all to burn up in smoke as the temperature of the earth will continue to heat up; and that life on earth is in terrible danger, and that the only way out of this escalating CO2 is to inflict all humans to pay higher taxes and drive EVs.  It all sounds a little fishy!

According to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), CO2 emissions from fossil fuels, which constitute 85% of our energy use, must be reduced to zero by 2100.  It is their idea that a vast and diverse mix of policies should be employed to restrain and reduce the use of light duty vehicles (LDVs), the sort of vehicles that you and I drive.  The IPCC suggests “aggressive policy intervention to significantly reduce fuel carbon intensity and energy intensity of modes, encourage travel by the most efficient modes, and cut activity growth where possible and reasonable”.  That sounds like severe action going down like a lead balloon upon hard-working people in the world trying to pay escalating taxes to the fat cats in high places.  Maybe some of it’s true.

Apparently, those in the IPCC claim that “if we don’t save ourselves from ourselves we’re toast!”  Scientist Patrick Moore says that “Here is what is strange, though.  All life is carbon-based; and the carbon for all that life originates from CO2 in the atmosphere.  All of the carbon in the fossil fuels we are burning for energy today was once in the atmosphere as CO2 before it was consumed by plankton in the sea and plants on the land.  Coal, oil and natural gas are the remains of those plankton and plants that have been transformed by heat and pressure deep in the earth’s crust.  In other words, fossil fuels are 100% organic and were produced with solar energy.  That sounds positively green!”

Other scientists also say these coal and oil remains were laid down during the catastrophic flood that occurred over the earth’s surface as recorded in biblical events.

Patrick Moore, and other scientists, also state that if there were no CO2 in the earth’s atmosphere, the earth would be a dead planet.  The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has deemed this essential ingredient for life a pollutant!  How can CO2 be bad?

Carbon Emissions is the term used by governments and policymakers as the emissions that come from burning fossil fuels for energy.  Patrick Moore continues, “…This term is entirely misleading because CO2 is not carbon.  CO2 is a colourless, odourless, tasteless gas which is an indispensable food for all living things.  Can you have too much of it?  In theory, yes.  That is what climate alarmists say is happening now!  They are stating that “CO2 levels are getting too high!”  Are they right?  The Big Picture tells us something surprising.  For most of the history of life on earth, CO2 has been present in the atmosphere at much higher levels then it is today.  During the Cambrian explosion, when multicellular life came on the scene, CO2 levels were as much as 10x higher than they are today.  From a Big Picture perspective, we are actually living in a low CO2 era…”

Patrick also suggests that science tells us that “… the optimum growth for CO2 is 4–5x what is currently found in our atmosphere.  This is why quality greenhouse growers all around the world actually inject CO2 into their greenhouses.  They want to promote plant growth, and this is the way that they do it.  Likewise, higher levels of CO2 in the global atmosphere will promote plant growth.  This is a good thing!  This will actually boost food and forest productivity, which will come in handy with the human population of earth set to continue to grow.”

Patrick Moore, co-founder of Greenpeace, for Prager University, states that “… we are seeing the positive effects of increased CO2 now.  Satellite measurements have noted the greening of the earth as crops and forests grow due to our higher levels of CO2.  It turns out that Carbon Dioxide (CO2) are not dirty words after all.  We should celebrate CO2 as the giver of life that it is.”

What are the more dangerous emissions from fossil fuels?  The majority of vehicle exhaust emissions are composed of carbon dioxide, nitrogen, water vapour, and oxygen in unconsumed air.  Carbon monoxide, unburned fuel, nitrogen oxides, nitrated hydrocarbons, and particulate matter such as mercury are also present in vehicle exhaust emissions in smaller quantities.  Catch these nastier particulates, which are hazardous to our respiratory system, via the catalytic converter or other means, and the conventional internal combustion engine is not quite such a monster.  In fact, a decent hybrid vehicle for city driving along with hydrogen fuel-based vehicles seems a much better alternative to a mass wave of EVs and taxes.  Hybrids and hygrogen-celled cars in congested areas seem a perfect fit for now.

Hybrids currently available in Australia include: many Toyota and Lexus models, Toyota Corolla SX Hybrid, Toyota RAV4 GXL Hybrid, Toyota Camry Ascent Sport Hybrid, Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV, Hyundai Ioniq, BMW X5 xDrive45e, Lexus ES300h Sports Luxury, Volvo XC90 T8 Twin Engine Hybrid, Mercedes-Benz C 300e PHEV and BMW 330e iPerformance PHEV.

If you’re interested in more from Patrick, have a look at: https://www.prageru.com/video/the-truth-about-co2/

EVs and the Japanese Manufacturers

I like to get a feel for what is truly happening in the EV world by heading over to the Japanese to see what they are up to.  The Japanese make the best cars in the world, at least from a reliability and practical point of view, so it makes sense to me to have a look at what their plans are when it comes to EV innovation, invention and implementation.

Mazda

Mazda MX 30 EV

Mazda is planning to introduce ‘Skyactiv Multi-Solution Scalable Architecture’ for hybrids, PHEVs and EVs in 2022, and they plan to offer three EV models, five PHEV models and five hybrid models sometime between 2022 and 2025.  Mazda will also keep hybrids and PHEVs as part of their saleable new cars beyond 2030.

By the end of 2023, Mazda plans to show at least two plug-in hybrids by the end of the year.

In 2026 Mazda plans to show the platform for a new generation of EVs in the early part of the year.

By 2030 Mazda plans to offer a hybrid or electric variant for every model that Mazda has in their line-up.  However, even though Mazda will develop a dedicated EV platform by 2025, Mazda’s majority of vehicles beyond 2030 will be hybrids and plug-in hybrids, and, as such, Mazda is not about to stop developing its internal combustion engines anytime soon.

Honda

Honda EV Crossover

Honda plans to develop its own solid-state battery tech, rather than relying on outside developers.

By 2023, a Honda EV built in partnership with GM, reportedly a crossover, is expected to enter production.

Honda foresees that 40% of their models will be electric or hydrogen fuel-cell powered by 2030, climbing to 100% by 2040.  Honda is one of just a handful of automakers alongside Toyota, Hyundai, and BMW, to devote plenty of their development energy into to hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles.

Toyota

Toyota BZ EV Concept

By 2025, Toyota plans to launch 60 new hybrid, electric, or fuel-cell vehicles by the end of that year, and it also expects to have reached its goal of selling 5.5 million EVs each year.  Their dedication to hydrogen fuel-cell vehicles is strong, and they remain big game players in this sort of technology.

Looking across the Tasman (where NZ’s PM, Jacinda Ardern, put her foot in it by claiming that Toyota would be providing EV utes in just 2 more years) it is evident that Toyota will not be putting all their eggs in one basket and going totally bent on EV production.  Toyota is adamant that a slow EV uptake is more likely, and hence they would not be giving up on their particularly good hybrid engine technology any time soon.

Nissan

Nissan ids Concept EV

Nissan is the manufacturer of the highly successful Nissan Leaf EV Hatchback, which has been in production for some years now.  By 2023, Nissan plans to have launched eight EVs by the end of the year and will be hoping to be on target to sell 1-million hybrid or electric vehicles, globally, per-year.  Nissan states that their hybrid technology and their technology to improve their internal combustion engines won’t be stopping before 2030, at least.

Mitsubishi

Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV

Mitsubishi has the marvellous Outlander PHEV, which has been in production for many years now.  By 2030, Mitsubishi plans for 50% of its global sales to come from hybrid or electric vehicles.  I guess that leaves 50% to be still made up of efficient internal combustion vehicles.

Subaru

Subaru Solterra EV Concept

Subaru, by 2030, expects 40% of its global sales to come from hybrid or electric vehicles.  By 2035, Subaru plans to have a hybrid or electric version of every vehicle in its line-up.  Subaru seems to be singing off a similar song sheet to Toyota, where they both suggest that the hybrid vehicle will prove to be more popular in the short term, particularly as the EV infrastructure has a long way to go.

By 2050, Mazda, Mitsubishi, and Nissan have made bold plans to reach net-zero carbon emissions.

The big questions are: Will the EV-charging infrastructure match the manufacturer claims?  Will people be able to afford an EV, let alone the huge cost to make their home charge ready, as the ideologically bold demands that some governments introduce along with big taxes?  Who is going to pay for all of this?

I read a recent comment where a reader of ‘Car and Driver’ made a very informed comment:

“It’s a ‘no thanks’ on Li batteries from me.  Lithium extraction has already spoiled the Atacama desert in Chile and now they have their sights set on the American West.  I can reduce my CO2 footprint far more by just driving less than by purchasing a 100 kWh battery, and the 10-20T of CO2 that was released to make it. I’ll wait for fuel cells.  As a Toyota driver… I have time.”

Small Overlap Crash Test

The influx of all the amazing new electronic safety aids and crash avoidance systems found on-board new cars has been exceptional.  There is no doubt that these systems are helping save lives and minimising injury.  There has been one part of the latest car crash testing regime that the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) has brought in as part of their testing in order to help make cars safer.

The IIHS is an independent, non-profit scientific and educational organization dedicated to reducing deaths, injuries and property damage from motor vehicle crashes through their ongoing research and evaluation, and through the education of consumers, policymakers and safety professionals.  The IIHS is funded by auto insurance companies and was established back in 1959.  Its headquarters is in Arlington, Virginia, USA.  A lot of what the IIHS does is crash test cars in a variety of ways to gather data, analyse the data, and observe the vehicles during and after the crash tests to quantify how safe each car is.  The results and findings are published on their website at IIHS.org.  Car manufacturers have been forced to take these tests seriously because, at the end of the day, these results matter and will affect car sales as the public become informed about how safe their cars will likely be in the event of an accident.

Since 2012, the IIHS has introduced a couple of new tests that they put the vehicles through to see how safe they are in an event of small overlap collision.  The driver-side small overlap frontal test was brought about to help encourage further improvements in vehicle frontal crash protection.  Keeping in mind that these IIHS tests are carried out using cars with left-hand-drive, the test is designed to replicate what happens when the front left corner of a vehicle collides with another vehicle or an object like a tree or utility pole.  This crash test is a challenge for some safety belt and airbag designs because occupants move both forward and toward the side of the vehicle from the time of impact.  In the driver-side small overlap frontal test, a vehicle travels at 40 mph (64 km/h) toward a 5-foot-tall rigid barrier.  A Hybrid III dummy representing an average-size man is positioned in the driver seat.  25% percent of the total width of the vehicle strikes the barrier on the driver side.

Most modern cars have safety cages encapsulating the occupant compartment and are built to withstand head-on collisions and moderate overlap frontal crashes with little deformation.  At the same time, crush zones help manage crash energy to reduce forces on the occupant compartment.  The main crush-zone structures are concentrated in the middle 50% of the front end.  When a crash involves these structures, the occupant compartment is protected from intrusion, and front airbags and safety belts can effectively restrain and protect occupants.

However, the small overlap frontal crashes primarily affect a vehicle’s outer edges, which aren’t well protected by the crush-zone structures.  Crash forces go directly into the front wheel, the suspension system and the firewall.  It is not uncommon for the wheel to be forced rearward into the footwell, contributing to even more intrusion into the occupant compartment, which often results in serious leg and foot injuries.  To provide effective protection in these small overlap crashes, the safety cage needs to resist crash forces that haven’t been amplified, concentrated on one area or aren’t tempered by crush-zone structures.  Widening these front-end crash protection structures does help.

The IIHS also performs the passenger-side small overlap frontal test.  The passenger-side test is the same as the driver-side test, except the vehicle overlaps the barrier on the right side.  In addition, instead of just one Hybrid III dummy, there are two — one in the driver seat and one in the passenger seat.

Automotive manufacturers initially responded to these driver-side small overlap test results by improving vehicle structures and airbags, and most vehicles now earn good ratings.  However, IIHS research tests demonstrated that those improvements didn’t always carry over to the passenger side.  Discrepancies between the left and right sides of vehicles spurred the IIHS to develop a passenger-side small overlap test and begin issuing passenger-side ratings in 2017.

It is good that vehicle safety always seems to be on the improve and, with each new model, the new-car buyer can expect a safer vehicle.  Thanks to crash testers like the IIHS, ANCAP and Euro NCAP, we are experiencing safer cars on our roads.

Cars For “When you get to my age!”

“When you get to my age…” is a statement commonly made by those of us who may well be getting on in years.  Older drivers will likely have more to consider when they come to buying themselves a new car.  The need for lots of power may not be such a deciding factor either, and comfort and safety might be the attributes you’d be needing instead.  It can also be a fun time buying the new car because you haven’t got all the family commitments to keep in the back of your mind, which would otherwise have swayed your choice of car in the past.

The list of new cars below has been put together with the ‘oldies’ in mind but it by no means is definitive.  It is nice to have a practical car which will take the grandkids out to the park or off to the zoo, but these cars also have comfort, reliability, decent space, good safety features, easy infotainment technology and good climate controls.  You’ll also find that the following cars are pretty economical and reasonably easy to get in and out of.

The Peugeot non-commercial range of cars are fine cars with style, comfort and practicality.  They offer five-star safety and good pricing.  Who says motoring has to be boring!

Peugeot 508 Wagon

Toyota’s Camry, Corolla, or RAV4 models are well-priced, safe, efficient and reliable.  Lexus models are premium Toyota cars with lavish comfort, excellent reliability, economy and safety.

The Subaru Impreza or Forester are a good go to car for practicality.  Maybe you have a dog or need comfort and AWD traction.  Their efficiency, safety and reliability have always been good.

Volvo’s new S60, XC60 or XC40 are sensationally comfortable, safe and lovely to drive.

Volvo XC40

Mercedes Benz B-Class range are a great package for comfort and practicality.  The style is hard to beat, and they also have the amazing big infotainment screens that wowed the world.

Honda Civic or Accord cars are hugely efficient, reliable and comfortable cars.

Citroen C3, C3 Aircross or C5 Aircross are remarkably comfortable, practical and look cool.

Hyundai Kona has electric power and comfort leading the way, with practicality to boot.

Jaguar’s XE is a lovely car with everything an ‘oldie’ could wish for.

Jaguar XE

Renault has the Captur model range that provides classy SUV looks, outstanding comfort and safety, practicality and nice solid driving dynamics.

Skoda’s entire range of cars are comfortable, well-priced and spacious.  Superb models are very stylish and they come in sedan and wagon.  There is a model for everyone.

Nissan Qashqai and X-Trail variants are very comfortable, safe and practical; they also offer one of the better SUVs in AWD form with decent go anywhere ability.

Nissan X-Trail

GMSV Releases Corvette Pricing & Addition To Silverado.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Information courtesy GMSV).

 

2021 Convertibles with Reasonable Prices

Abarth 595 Convertible

Very cute and not too expensive, the Abarth 595 Convertible has stacks of style and plenty of road presence even though it happens to come in rather small packaging.  The Competizione is the more expensive (around $36k) of the two models available but offers more features and more grunt.  You have FWD and the weight of the car is only a little over 1000 kg, so the driving experience is dynamic and loads of fun.  The 1.4-litre Turbo unleaded petrol engine offers 132 kW and 250 Nm in the Competizione (0-100 km/h in less than 7 seconds, top speed 220k m/h) and 107 kW and 206 Nm in the standard version.  Fuel economy sits on average at around 6-to-6.5 litres/100 km.  With a 3-year 150,000 km warranty and 3 years roadside assist you are well covered.  Expect to pay from around $35k for the base model and $41 k for the Competizione.

Audi A5 40 TFSI S line

It costs around $96k new, but Audi’s A5 Convertible is top quality and superb to drive.  Gorgeous interiors, excellent comfort and technology make this AWD Audi Convertible a very nice ownership prospect.  There are two 2.0-litre petrol engines: A very economical mild-hybrid (6.5 litres/100 km) 140 kW/320 Nm version for those who like FWD (0-100 km/h in around 7 seconds), and a smooth and powerful 183 kW/370 Nm version with AWD (0-100 km/h in around 6.5 seconds).  Both engines are linked to Audi’s efficient seven-speed S tronic dual-clutch automatic gearbox.  To be honest, the AWD version is only a few grand more at a bit over $100k, so I’d be looking to get into this one.  Both versions should return between 6 and 7 litres/100km.  A 3 year unlimited km warranty is good, as too the 3 year roadside assist package.

Audi S5 Convertible

Like the Audi A5 convertibles above, the S5 has all the goodies, gorgeous lines and comfortable interiors with all the modern gadgets.  The S5 has the awesome 3.0-litre turbo V6 Petrol delivering a potent 260 kW of power and 500 Nm of torque to the AWD system, and it uses an eight-speed Tiptronic transmission.  You can scamper from a standstill to 100 km/h in around 5 seconds, while the top speed is limited to 250 km/h.  A 3 year unlimited km warranty is good, as too the 3 year roadside assist package.  Expect to pay around $135k for a new one of these.

BMW 2 Series Convertible

The BMW 220i Luxury Line and 220i M Sport convertibles use the same 2.0-litre Turbo powerplant with 135 kW of power and 270 Nm of torque.  The eight speed sport automatic does a great job of providing quick gear changes while linking the smooth operative action to the optimum power levels.  This engine should offer a combined fuel consumption of around 6.5 litres/100 km.  The car rides nicely.  Those wanting the best in comfort and equipment will go for the Luxury Line, while the M Sport concentrates the suspension more towards sport and the flavour a bit racier.  BMW The 220i M Sport uses the performance 3.0-litre Turbo engine with 250 kW of power and 500 Nm of torque.  This is a quick car and you can expect a run through the 0-100 dash to take less than 6 seconds.  The car’s top speed is limited to 250 km/h, while average fuel consumption will be around 8 litres/100 km.  All BMW 2 Series convertibles are RWD and offer premium quality interiors and technology.  Prices start at around $65k for the Luxury Line, $68k for the M Sport 2.0-litre and $92k for the 3.0-litre M Sport.

BMW 4 Series Convertible

This is one of the prettiest convertibles available for 2021.  The new BMW 4 Series Convertible is offered with a 2.0-litre turbo-petrol four-cylinder producing either 135 kW/300 Nm (420i, around $90k) or 190 kW/400 Nm (430i, around $108k); while the flagship M440i xDrive AWD (around $136k) variant uses a mild-hybrid 3.0-litre inline turbo-six that unleashes 285 kW/500 Nm and is capable of reaching 100km/h in 4.5 seconds. A 3 year unlimited km warranty along with 3 year roadside assist makes life easy.  All are well equipped, comfortable and stylish cars.

BMW Z4 Convertible

Another gorgeous looking convertible is the latest Z4 two-seater Convertible Roadster, which has a lower centre of gravity than before and is further helped dynamically by a 50-50 weight distribution. Three engines are available: The BMW Z4 sDrive 20i M Sport has the 145 kW/320 Nm 2.0-litre; the BMW Z4 sDrive 30i M Sport uses the 190 kW/400 Nm upgraded 2.0-litre version; the BMW Z4 40i offers 250 kW and 500 Nm with its 3.0-litre turbo in-line six petrol.  Prices are around $98k, $122k and $144k, respectively.  Even the 145 kW engine sings sweetly and packs a punch.  All handle beautifully, making this the best Z4, yet.  This has to be one of the best looking Roadsters on the road, and they are delightful to drive.  The Z4 40i can dispatch the 0-100 km/h dash in just 4 seconds.  A 3 year unlimited km warranty along with 3 year roadside assist is available to new car buyers.

Fiat 500C

For somewhere between $25k and 28k, you could get yourself into a brand new Fiat 500 Convertible.  They boast a 5-star ANCAP safety rating for what is a very cute, small car.  In case you weren’t aware, the Abarth models, mentioned above, are the performance based versions of the Fiat 500C.  You should average even less than 5 litres/100 km at times, and the 1.2-litre ULP motors are free revving, fun and relatively refined.  Weighing in at just 935 kg these have a bit of zip about town and will happily hold their own at the legal open road limit.  Both the 500C Club and 500C Lounge are well kitted out with modern technology and practicality, so life with a small 500C brings plenty of smiles. A 3 year 150,000 km warranty and 3 year roadside assist is good piece of mind motoring.

Mustang Convertible

Here would be the coolest convertible on the market.  The Mustang’s muscle, sound and power delivery is nothing short of amazing.  The GT version (0-100 km/h in around 4.5 seconds) costs around $75k new and boasts a 339 kW/556 Nm 5.0-litre V8.  It can be had with either the standard six-speed manual, or the optional 10-speed auto gearbox.  For around $61k, the Mustang High Performance 2.3-litre four-cylinder still delivers on performance (0-100 km/h in around 5.5 seconds) and has 236 kW of power and 448 Nm of torque to play with.  Manual and auto versions are also available for the 2.3 High Performance.  Both versions are RWD and are immensely rewarding to drive with the top up or down.  These are hard to beat for value, performance and road presence.  You can’t argue with the 5 year/unlimited km warranty, either.

Lotus Elise

Here is another very cool convertible.  The strikingly stylish Lotus Elise Convertible offers two models for 2021.  The Sport 220 offers a 1.8 litre, 162 kW, 250 Nm ULP engine with RWD and a six-speed manual gearbox. A 0-100 km/h sprint for this version takes around 4.9 seconds.  The Lotus Elise Cup 250 offers a 1.8 litre, 183 kW, 250 Nm ULP engine with RWD and a six-speed manual gearbox. A 0-100 km/h sprint for this version takes around 4.7 seconds.  Few other convertibles cars can keep up with a Lotus Elise around a tight track as they are so light, agile and fast.  A 3 year unlimited km warranty links with a 3 year roadside assist package when you buy a new one of these, which will be a little north of $100k.

Mazda MX-5

There are two engines available: The 97 kW/152 Nm 1.5-litre and the 135 kW/205 Nm 2.0-litre, both offering the choice of six-speed manual or automatic transmission and RWD.  A limited-slip differential and a finely-tuned suspension ensure a superbly balanced and grippy chassis with plenty of fun in the sun a certainty.  Expect to pay between $40 and $52k depending on the model and trim.  Enjoy!  This has become a roadster icon over the years, and the latest model looks sharp and is kitted with all the latest safety gear.

Mini Convertible

You’re paying anywhere around $50k-and-$75k for a new Mini Convertible – it all depends on the model.  They can be had with various engines and styles.  Three-door models include the base 100 kW/220 Nm 1.5-litre three-cylinder Cooper, the 141 kW/280 Nm four-cylinder Cooper S, and the mighty 225 kW/450 Nm JCW.  Always cool and always impressively well-built, Mini’s are a classic.  JCW versions are insanely fast and capable, and all come with 3 year/unlimited km warranty and a 3 year roadside assist package.

You could also look at some other marques like Porsche, Jaguar, Mercedes Benz or Lexus when it comes to buying a new convertible but you’ll be paying well north of $100, $200k or even $300k for some of these.  Aston Martin, Bentley, Ferrari, Lamborghini, McLaren and Rolls Royce also offer convertible options in Australia, however their prices are for those loaded with money.

The Modern-Day Guide to Servicing Your New Car

Even for experienced car owners, or motorheads, car servicing can be an uncertain and difficult minefield to navigate. From capped-price servicing, to decisions on what parts to use and where to take the vehicle, or even the frequency with which your vehicle enters the garage – there are no shortage of decisions to consider.

First things first, servicing should be considered for what it really is – preventative maintenance. The purpose is to keep your car in good shape and identify any potential issues before they become a concern. As such, the key is to keep on top of your service schedule and book your car in regularly as per its recommended service intervals.

 

 

How often should I service my car?

An unfortunate habit that many motorists have gotten used to is waiting for a problem to arise and then taking their vehicle in for repairs as well as general servicing.

The problem with this approach is, not only does preventative maintenance potentially help prevent an issue in the first place, but it can save you considerable money.

With that said, the latest cars are beginning to incorporate a slightly different approach to servicing. Whereas it was once necessary to take your car in for service every 6 months or 10,000 km, an increasing number of manufacturers are drawing service intervals out to as much as 12 months or 15-20,000km. In fact, some car-makers like Renault are quoting a service interval as high as 30,000km!

Of course, not every manufacturer feels the same way, with Mazda sticking to its recommendation of 10,000km based on the mileage its customer base clocks up each year, which certainly seems a little on the lower side of distances covered.

In the meantime, if you’re driving one of the latest cars on the market, you can probably rest easy knowing that your service probably isn’t required as often as some of your past vehicles, even if certain manufacturers are pushing otherwise.

 

 

Should I go to a dealer for servicing?

Another thing you may want to consider is servicing your vehicle through an independent mechanic.

Motorists often feel as though they are obliged to take their vehicle to a dealership for servicing, or they will void their warranty. This is not quite true. If your car is affected by a warranty issue, the independent mechanic will refer you back to your dealer for the manufacturer to subsidise the work.

Outside of the above, independent mechanics can offer very competitive prices, particularly if they utilise aftermarket, rebuilt or reconditioned parts. They also now have access to greater data from manufacturers, making their jobs easier and repair costs more affordable.

Transparency into the servicing process has also become a growing theme.

Whereas previously a motorist would be flying blind with regards to the prices they would receive, servicing has become a little more structured. Drivers now have access to dealers who offer fixed or capped-price servicing programs, where motorists are provided with a price ceiling for their service, usually for a certain amount of years.

As always, however, motorists need to pay attention to inclusions and exclusions, the eligible timeframe, the frequency of the service, as well as any other terms and conditions. It is an option mostly worth considering for owners of up-marker or premium brands where servicing costs can add up pretty quickly.

Finally, the other matter that has become more prominent is menu-based servicing. This details the specific components and labour included in your vehicle’s service and their respective cost(s). Effectively, it is an itemised breakdown. When referenced with prices for individual parts, this type of summation provides some insight to understand the margins your mechanic is charging.

It goes without saying that motorists have considerably greater scope to shop around and compare their service costs between service providers, or for varying makes of cars.

With that said, motorists shouldn’t confuse price differences between different car manufacturers as being attributable to the mechanic or dealership. After all, there are a multitude of vehicle-related factors which play their part, not least of which concerns things like availability of parts and the frequency of servicing.

A Class-C Update From Mercedes.

Mercedes-Benz have updated their evergreen C-Class saloon and Estate with what Gordon Wagener, the chief design officer of the Daimler group said reflected the desire to apply “sensual purity”. It’s due for release in the northern hemisphere’s summer season.

Mercedes-Benz C-Klasse, 2021 // Mercedes-Benz C-Class, 2021

The new C-Class will feature both forms of hybrid tech, being petrol and PHEV, and will run 48V technology. The battery alone will power the C-Class for up to 100 kilometres, the company says. The petrol engines will be four cylinders from what M-B call FAME (Family of Modular Engines). Along with turbocharging both the petrol and diesel engines the C-Class will have, M-B add in an ISG or integrated starter-generator. This provides low speed assistance using a 48 volt on-board electrical system that ensures functions such as gliding, boosting or energy recovery. Fast re-engagement has seamless switching from off to on when at lights or a stop sign.

Two engines with petrol will be available, one of 1.5L, the other of 2.0L. 125kW/250Nm for the C180, 150kW/300Nm for the C200 and C200 4MATIC from the 1.5L, with 190kW/400Nm for the C300 and C300 3MATIC versions. A pair of 2.0L diesels factor in, with 147kW/440Nm and 195kW/550Nm. Top speeds are limited at the upper end of the range to 250kph.

The plug-in hybrid C-Class will operate in all-electric mode in many cases thanks to an electric output of 95 kW (129 hp) and an all-electric range of around 100 kilometres. For many areas in Europe this could mean little to no ICE (Internal Combustion Engine) usage. The battery is an in-house design and built in a “pouch configuration” with 96 cells, with a total capacity of 25.4kWh. There is an internal cooling system fitted, managing heat discharge in any driving environment. The high density structure allows a charge rate of 30 minutes to full from empty using a 55kW charger. An 11kW charger is standard.

Mercedes-Benz C-Klasse, 2021 // Mercedes-Benz C-Class, 2021

Energy recovery rates can be driver controlled via rocker switches in the console across all driving modes except for Sport. Lifting the foot from the accelerator has the regenerative system act like brakes, slowing the C-Class whilst simultaneously feeding back energy to the battery. Mercedes-Benz have engineered in two additional driving modes which will enable the driver to take advantage of what the powertrain offers: BATTERY HOLD: Maintaining the charge state of the high-voltage battery is given priority, e.g. when intending to drive in a city centre or green zone later on; selection of the most suitable drive configuration by the hybrid powertrain system, depending on the driving situation and route, and ELECTRIC: Electric driving up to 140 km/h, adjustable energy recovery rate in overrun mode, adaptation of Active Distance Assist DISTRONIC for electric driving, activation of the combustion engine using a pressure point of the accelerator pedal (kick-down).

Extra tech sees optional rear-axle steering with 2.5 degrees of angle reducing a turning circle to 10.5 metres. These have the rear wheels in an opposite direction in steering at speeds up to 60kph, then align with the direct front steering above 60kph. The rear steering also effectively reduces the steering ratio to 2.1 turns lock to lock, down from 2.35.

Notable changes to both the saloon and wagon have seen increase to the overall dimensions. The previous model saloon jumps from 4,686mm to 4,751mm in length, the Estate from 4,702mm to 4,751mm. Width is up by 10mm and 20mm respectively to 1,820mm each. Both share an increased wheelbase of 2,865mm, up from 2,840mm each. Luggage capacity for the Estate ranges from 490L to 1,510L, with a slightly lower load lip, and the rears eats have a 40/20/40 split for extra versatility. A powered tailgate is standard across the range.

Australian delivery dates are yet to be confirmed.

Mercedes-Benz C-Klasse, 2021 // Mercedes-Benz C-Class, 2021

Japan’s Automotive Brilliance

Tokyo, Japan

You can’t go anywhere around Australia without noticing just how many Japanese made vehicles are motoring around our roads (and off them).  Since the 1960s, Japan has been among the top 3 automotive manufacturers in the world.  The country is home to a number of motor companies, and you’ll be familiar with them: Toyota, Honda, Nissan, Mitsubishi, Suzuki, Subaru, Isuzu.  There are, of course, more than these mainstream manufacturers.  Japan has around 78 car-manufacturing factories in 22 regions, and these employ over 5.5 million people (more than the entire population of New Zealand).

The strong competition that is happening on a global scale in the automotive industry has forced the manufacturers to come up with a new model design every four to five years.  Along with the new models, new innovative designs and new technologies are presented and used by the automakers in their new vehicles.  Automotive manufacturing is the prominent manufacturing type in Japan, which takes up 89% of the country’s manufacturing sector.  A large amount of time and money are invested into developing and improving the automotive manufacturing process, which, in turn, increases the quality and efficiency of their manufactured automotive products.

Some of the brilliant new developments from Japan automobile manufacturers have led to distinct and innovative new designs for current and future automobiles.  In order to control the market dependency on fuels, and in order to design vehicles that are more fuel-efficient, Japanese automakers have invested and built hybrid vehicles and fuel-cell vehicles.

The ideology and popularity of environmentally friendly vehicles is creating a wave of global interest and demand for these sorts of vehicles.  More and more automakers around the globe are focusing on creating the types of vehicles that are friendlier on the environment to their production line.  Japan’s automotive manufacturers are leaders in this field.  Japanese innovations in these technology sectors include autonomous taxi services and airport transportation, high-definition maps and open-source software modules for autonomous vehicles, advanced hydrogen fuel cell and alternating-current battery technology, and silicon carbide (SiC) semiconductor films for EV power electronics.  Japanese companies have been developing hydrogen fuel cell technology, which is projected to reach a market size of approximately $43 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 66.9% from 2019 to 2026.  Japan’s prowess in creating autonomous vehicles and their resulting cutting edge safety features puts them well ahead of the game.

An electric vehicle is an automobile that produces power from electrical energy stored in batteries instead of from the burning of fossil fuels.  Top automakers such as Toyota, Honda, and Nissan are already class leaders.

Hybrid vehicles use two or more distinct power sources to move the car.  Typically, electric motors combine with traditional internal combustion engines to produce power. Hybrid vehicles are highly fuel efficient.  Again, Japan’s Toyota motor company is one of the automotive industry leaders in hybrid vehicle research and production – with the Toyota  Prius model leading the way.  Hybrid variants are available on many of Toyota’s collection of new vehicles.

A Fuel Cell Vehicle is equipped with a “Fuel Cell” in which electricity is generated through the chemical reaction between hydrogen and oxygen.  This chemical reaction provides the source of power to the motor.  Fuel cell systems operate by compressing hydrogen made from natural gas and gasoline, which is then converted to hydrogen by on-board systems.  Toyota’s latest fuel cell vehicle, the Mirai II, is sold in Japan.  The Mirai II uses a Hydrogen Electrochemical fuel cell that creates 130 kW.  The electric motor that is powered by the fuel cell produces 136 kW and 300 Nm.  It’s very stylish, too.

Toyota Mirai II

New Reasonably-Priced Cars (Commodore/Falcon Replacements)

By now you’ve probably recovered from the loss of not being able to purchase a new Falcon or Commodore in Australia.  These were lovely, big, spacious cars that could travel long distances in superb comfort.  So what other alternatives are there for the buyer looking for a new car with those ‘good-ol’ Commodore and Falcon traits?  Well, the good news is there are some potential new vehicles for you.

I’ve had a look at some of the roomier cars with decent performance, decent comfort and reasonable pricing; and when I mean reasonable pricing I mean anywhere up to $60k.  There are one-or-two vehicles on the list that are priced beyond the $60k mark, but I’ve added them because I reckon that they would still be worth considering for those of you who have a few more dollars in your back pocket.  None on the list run out to much beyond $80k.

The pricing given for each vehicle should be regarded as the estimated standard model price, so if you go for the higher-end models or want more options, then you would expect that these variants will be pricier.  Don’t forget to get in touch with our sales team at Private Fleet because often we can get you some great deals!

Alfa Romeo Giulia ($60,900)

Alfa Romeo Stelvio ($65,900)

Alfa Romeo might just have a car that fixes your Commodore or Falcon withdrawal symptoms.  The Giulia is a really nice drive, is quick and gets five-star safety. The Stelvio is the SUV version that’s superbly nice-looking and great to drive.  These two Alfas tick all the right boxes for those who are after a great driving experience and something a bit special.

Audi A5 ($71,900)

Audi A6 ($84,900)

Audi Q5 ($66,900)

Three Audis come to mind – all of which are impeccably built, comfortable and high-tech.

BMW 3 Series ($70,900)

BMW 4 Series Coupe ($71,900)

These two Beemers are worth a look.  Any of the line-up are dynamic and efficient cars to drive.  They’ve just been updated with all the latest new technology.  The sexiest car in this list might be the 2021 4-Series Coupe.

Chrysler 300 ($59,950)

Do try one of these!  Superbly comfortable and roomy, the 2021 Chrysler 300 is loaded with luxury and style.  There is heaps of smooth engine torque and plenty of performance available with the 300.  A Chrysler 300 comes with the choice of a V6 or V8 petrol engine, and the pricing is outstanding, too.

Ford Everest ($50,090)

Ford Mustang ($51,590)

Ford Ranger ($29,190)

Three Fords might do it for you.  The Mustang has loads of performance available, but it is a bit tight on rear seat space.  The Ranger is a comfortable ute that doubles as a workhorse.  The Everest is an SUV Ranger, and is lovely to drive long distance with the family and gear on-board.  The Ranger and Everest boast five-star safety, 4×4 capability and come with all the latest technology.

Genesis G70 ($59,300)

Genesis G80 ($68,900)

Here are two very underrated cars, or perhaps just not so well known.  The G70 and G80 are smooth, luxury cars built by Hyundai, and come with gobs of style, refinement and high-tech features.  They are also superb at covering long distances quickly.  Nice lookers, too!

Haval H9 ($40,990)

Thought I’d throw the new Haval H9 into the mix.  It’s a stylish, spacious, big SUV that’s loaded, safe and comfortable to drive.  Check out the price!

Honda Accord ($51,990)

Honda might be able to tempt you into the fold with their new Accord.  There are few spacious FWD sedans that can do everything as nicely as an Accord.  Comfort, new technology, new features and reliability go hand-in-hand at Honda.

Jaguar XE ($65,670)

It might be a bit small for some, but the Jaguar XE is a pleasant drive.

Jeep Grand Cherokee ($59,950)

Ride high in a well-priced Jeep that can head off-road, is big on space and can cosset you in luxury.

Kia Sorento ($45,850)

Kia Stinger ($49,550)

Kia has these two models that are as different from each other as chalk and cheese.  However, they are roomy, good performers and are packed with up-to-date features as standard.  The pricing is excellent, and the Stinger goes like a stabbed rat!

Land Rover Discovery Sport ($65,700)

This new Landie might be the right option for you.  4×4 capability, loaded with kit and stylish.

Lexus ES 300h ($62,525)

Lexus GS 300 ($74,838)

Lexus IS 300 ($61,500)

Lexus IS 300h ($64,500)

Lexus IS 350 ($66,500)

Lexus NX 300 ($57,500)

Lexus NX 300h ($60,500)

Lexus RC 300 ($67,990)

Lexus RC 350 ($70,736)

I can count nine Lexus vehicles which might be the right fit for you.  Each variant is different, so there is a high chance that one of these will meet your requirements.  Lexus vehicles are high-end Toyotas with excellent reliability, performance, luxury and style.  Five-star safety comes with each of these machines, while the RC is a quick performer.  Hybrid versions are extremely efficient.  The NX is an SUV-type vehicle.

Mazda 6 ($34,490)

Mazda BT-50 ($36,550)

Mazda CX-8 ($39,910)

Mazda CX-9 ($45,990)

Aussie people seem to like Mazdas, and one of these four versions might appeal to you.  Mazda vehicles are well-priced, safe, comfortable and reliable performers.  The CX-9 is very roomy, and the 6 comes with sedan and wagon variants.

Mercedes-Benz C-Class ($66,300)

Mercedes-Benz CLA ($62,600)

Owning a new Merc doesn’t come cheap, so I’ve added just the C-Class and CLA as an alternative.  These 2 classy cars are excellent to drive, comfortable and safe.  They might be a bit small, however.

 

Mitsubishi Pajero ($54,490)

Mitsubishi Pajero Sport ($46,990)

Don’t forget the Pajero!  The latest version is very good at touring long distances, great for towing, spacious and a 4×4 king.  All the latest technology is on-board one of these.  Again, the pricing is first-rate.

Nissan Pathfinder ($44,240)

Check out the classy new Nissan Pathfinder.  It has plenty of space for the family, has five-star safety and it rides nicely on and off the road.

Peugeot 508 ($57,490)

Peugeot 5008 ($51,990)

Two classy Peugeot variants are well worth a look.  The new 508 and 5008 are very stylish and safe, and they are possibly some of the nicest cars to look at on this short list (that’s quite long).  Seating is spacious and comfortable, and the technology and features are all up-to-the-minute.  They cover the ground effortlessly and efficiently, and they are priced very well for what they offer.

RAM 1500 ($79,950)

I thought I’d add the highly rated RAM 1500.  “NZ Four Wheel Drive” magazine has classed this as the best ute for 2021.  4×4 action is a breeze in one of these tough yet comfortable machines, and space is abundant inside the cabin and out on the deck.

Skoda Kodiaq ($46,390)

The Kodiaq is one of the most practical vehicles you can buy.  Off-road ability, space and comfort are all part of the Kodiaq’s repertoire.  It also boasts one of the biggest boots.

Ssangyong Rexton ($39,990)

Ssangyong’s are tough, reliable and practical.  The Rexton is the latest SUV 4×4 variant that has all the latest new technology, comfort and space you’ll need.  Pricing is excellent and the styling looks pretty good, especially with big alloys and fat rubber.

Subaru Levorg ($37,240)

 Subaru Outback 3.6R.

Subaru Outback ($37,440)

How about the Levorg or Outback wagons?  Safety, AWD, reliability and practicality are all found inside one of these.  There are also some quick versions of these, as well.

Toyota Camry ($28,990)

This is one of the cheapest cars on the list that starts out at under $30k.  A new Camry is very modern, practical, efficient, safe and reliable.  What more could you want?

Volkswagen Passat ($46,590)

VW has the Passat.  Essentially it’s the European version of the Toyota Camry.  These are nice to drive, a bit more luxurious and great on style.  Here is a good practical car.

Volvo S60 ($55,990)

Volvo V60 ($57,990)

Volvo XC60 ($64,990)

Three Volvos slot into the price bracket range that I’ve been looking for – each a bit different from the other – but all built on Volvo’s latest 60 platform.  They are very modern, very stylish, very comfortable and very safe.  The Volvo XC60 has AWD and some handy off-road ability, while the V60 is a classy wagon.  The S60 is the sedan version.  Performance models come with hybrid technology, and all are great long-distance tourers.