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Buying a New Car with a Colour In Mind

We’re all different in many ways, and each of us has a list of favourite colours we draw upon in preference to others.  That’s why when we redecorate our house, we’ll often choose the colours that suit our own tastes, or we’ll opt for a set of colours we like to dress ourselves in when it comes to buying and wearing clothes.  While a car’s colour doesn’t actually affect its performance (“red cars go faster!”) or its handling, colour can certainly have a psychological effect on the car-buyer and the beholder.

Colours in the Rainbow

A car’s colour can also affect safety out on the road, and it might even affect the price of the car – in the case of second-hand vehicles, especially.  And if you’re buying a new car, you often get a choice of colour, so it pays to be informed on car colour and why some colours are more popular than others!

Ready to buy a car?  Research has shown that opting for a neutral colour like white, black, grey, and silver are your safest bets if you intend to sell the car to someone else later.  In addition to the rising popularity of grey and silvery tones, other colours from greens to blues, reds and even violet colours currently seem to hit a chord with new car buyers.

However, if you want to expand your car colour palette, you may also appreciate learning that egg-yolk yellows, bright yellows, brown, bright orange, or even a vibrant purple colour for your new car could put you at a disadvantage when it comes time to selling or trading in for another vehicle.  Naturally, these colours will appeal to a small niche of car buyers buying second-hand.  Strike one of these limited buyers and I guess you could say it could also work in your favour.  That said, younger drivers are making a move toward bright neon colours and bolder primary colours.

Some cars do look amazing, even quite spectacular in certain colours.  Nevertheless, here is the list of car colours you should get the lowdown on, which will offer a heads-up before handing any money over and some handy hints and advice.

White: Here is the most popular car colour on the road.  White is in the easy-to-care-for group and tends to look newer for longer, but white also tends to show mud and splashes easier than grey or silver.  White is the safest colour for driving, thus making it one of the most common car colours we see out on the road.  As our roads tend to be black or dark-grey, a white car stands out more readily and can be seen more easily by other road users.  White cars are better noticed even during poor light conditions (e.g., during dusk or dawn).  Still, because white is such a common car colour, white cars can be seen as a little bit bland and boring.

Black: A sleek black is always popular and looks amazing on almost any car.  It is a prestige colour, being the colour of business suits and briefcases.  Black is also a dark, sleek, and mysterious colour – think sunglasses, a black leather jacket, and boots.  From an image perspective, black is sexy and savvy, and it is seen as being suave, a colour appealing to both the masculine and feminine.  Black also makes a great canvas for a company logo.

From a safety perspective, black isn’t a terrific colour to be driving in because black cars are harder to see in conditions of poor light.  Black also looks best when it’s fresh out of the car wash. Just give it a few minutes on a windy day and it will likely be covered with pollen, dirt, and dust all over again.

Silver and Grey: According to various studies, grey and silvery coloured cars are the easiest to clean, and they remain looking cleaner for longer.  Dirt and dust can hide a little easier on grey surfaces, so your grey/silver car can look cleaner for longer.  Silver looks a little brighter and shinier than your standard grey tones, adding a bit more class and elegance to the look in much the same way black can do.  Silver, like black, might be worth considering then if you happen to regularly attend executive boardroom meets in the business world.

Red: Red is quite a popular car colour once you steer clear of the top three.  Psychologists tell us that red is stimulating and alerting.  Red cars are also cheerful and friendly, attracting the kids.  Red is a flashy car colour and tends to hide mud easier than some of the other more vibrant colours.  Nonetheless, red does become dull when dirty.  Red colours are also more vulnerable to sunlight fade, requiring the need to head to the paint shop for a spruce up much sooner than many other colour types.

Blue:  Blue is a colour on the rise and with the latest paint technology you can get all sport sorts of different shades from ocean blue to summer blue skies.  Blue car colours are often associated with the environment and sustainability.  There are many bright and bold blues that are quite eye-catching and attractive.  This colour isn’t an easy colour to keep clean.  Blues tend to show water spots easily. Scratches and swirl marks, and body bumps and bruises are more readily noticed on blue cars.

Brown:  This colour is quite rarely seen on cars, as are golds and bronzes, however it is making a comeback in some of the more luxurious brands of car.  Brown is a warm, eco-friendly colour that doesn’t show the dirt too badly.  Browns are harder to see out on the road and are frowned upon from a safety perspective, but that’s where your DRLs come in handy!

Green: Green is also associated with the environment, so you would think that it would be the top choice for hybrids and bio-fuel vehicles.  Oddly enough it isn’t particularly, unless of course you want to make more of a point about being a really green and sustainable person.  Green colours come in two types: a) bright apple and lime tones, which tend to be associated with small, fun hatchbacks like a Toyota Yaris or b) dark greens, which are more sophisticated and often found on Jaguars, BMWs, and Audis.  Green makes a reasonable canvas for a company logo and is often the choice for gardening contractors or conservationists.

From a safety perspective, the brighter shades of green tend to be quite eye-catching in daylight, mostly because it’s not a common colour out on the road.  A darker green colour combines quite honourably with the dirt of an off-road 4×4.  Generally, green coloured cars are easier to keep cleaner for longer than many other colours you can choose from. But green also shows paint and surface imperfections easier than grey, silver, and white cars do.

Orange: This lovely bright colour not only commands the beholder’s attention but it’s easy to clean.  Orange isn’t always everybody’s cup of tea, so selling on might be harder than you might think.  It tends to be good for road safety because there are only a few orange cars on the road, so they stand out.

Yellow: Yellow definitely stands out on highways.  Yellows also easily hide dust and pollen. Nevertheless, yellows do emphasize mud splashes when you find yourself driving in wet and muddy conditions.  Not everyone is a fan of yellow cars.

Purple:  purple is another rarely seen colour.  Violet and lavender purples tend to be associated with creativity and quirkiness, and the dark eggplant tones associated more with royalty.  Purple cars are very noticeable and can look very striking, but this is also because they are rarer.

Pink:  Traditionally, pink has been a colour that is considered to be sweet, soft, and feminine.  Bright pinks tend to be rather visible – probably on a level with yellow from a safety perspective – but is also a rather fun colour for a car.

People who like to drive sports cars or who want to simply stand out from the crowd will be the car buyers who opt for a brighter, bolder colour – and why not!?

Let’s Torque ICE and EV Physics

As technology improves with each passing year, the inside mechanicals of an internal combustion engine (ICE) have become more refined, stronger, lighter, and more efficient at harnessing power from the combustion process and feeding it out to the wheels.  Adding Hybrid technology to the ICE has also enabled car manufacturers to make greater gains in power and efficiency.  Hybrid engines are designed to try and use electric power from the electric motor(s) instead of fossil fuel power from the ICE for as much of the commute as possible.  When required, the ICE takes over the power delivery when electric power has been drained, or electric and ICE can work together for enhanced power on acceleration.  Purely electric vehicles (EVs) don’t have combustion energy but can still produce phenomenal levels of power and torque.

If you’ve ever taken the slightest look at any car review in a magazine or online, or even browsed through a car brochure, somewhere in the read you’ll come across some of the main bits on the engine stats and specs. Some of the specs are easy enough to understand – like the 0–100 km/h time measured in seconds, which is a measurement of the quickest time it takes the car to go from a standstill to 100 km/h.  100 km/h is equivalent to 62.14 mph, so if you are presented with an Imperial measurement looking at the 0–60 mph sprint (USA reviewers use this), it’s roughly the same as the usual nought-to-the-ton metric figure.

However, some specs are a bit harder to get a handle on – like power output.  Power is described as the rate at which work is done, or else the rate at which energy is converted into motion.  In cars and vehicles of all types, the formula for calculating power is relatively complicated (or kind of).  The power output of an engine is measured in kW (kilowatts) using metrics, which is the force times the velocity: power = work/time = (force x distance)/time.

All sorts of things go into delivering the power and torque created from an ICE out to the road, such as the number of cams (pistons) in the engine, the number of combustion chambers in the engine, the flywheels, the gear set, the tyres, and even the size of the combustion chambers.  The reason why EVs can make power and torque quickly and efficiently is that they do away with all the internal mechanical workings of an ICE (the ICE motor) and use magnetism instead of combustion for making power and torque available to the driveline.

Yes, power actually used to be measured in horsepower, which was originally used to compare how well a steam engine or traction engine could work in comparison to a big Clydesdale horse (hp).  Here’s some stats for you:

1 kW equals 1.34 hp

1 kW equals 737.56 foot pounds per second

1 hp = 550 foot-pounds per second (ft lb/s)

1 hp = 0.75 kW

As you may already know, power is closely related to torque.  Torque is a measure of the force that can cause an object to rotate about its axis point.  The whole set-up with a vehicle’s engine, transmission, and drivetrain involves rotational motion, so where the rubber finally hits the road is where the final delivery of the torque from the vehicle’s engine and mechanical components are then converted back to straight-line motion, where and when the rubber applies a force to the road.

Torque is measured in Newton meters (Nm).  Newton metres are the metric units used for torque.  The non-metric unit used for American cars is in pound-force per feet, also known as pound-feet. Just to be confusing, pound-feet is also used for torque, while foot-pounds are used for power, something that’s likely to drive you half dotty. However, the formula for conversion is 1 pound-foot = 1.356 Nm.

An ICE engine loses a lot of its initial combustion power and torque as this gets delivered mechanically to the rubber on the road, where all the action happens.  All the weight and friction of the moving ICE powerplant components drain the power and torque levels before what’s left of it is delivered to the wheels, the rubber on the road used for motion.

Hybrid vehicles (those that combine electric and ICE motors) can use electric motors to boost ICE power and torque output, thus improving fuel efficiency and power and torque delivery.  EVs can deliver so much more power and torque to the rubber on the road because they haven’t got all the extra weight and friction of the ICE’s mechanical componentry.  EV motors don’t need all of this to create a big enough force for motion.

Lightyear One – a Solar Powered EV

Lightyear One – a Solar Powered EV

In a country like Australia where the sun shines brightly for most of the year a car like the Lightyear One might be just the thing for getting around in.  Sleek and comfortable, the Lightyear One is a solar-powered electric vehicle (EV) that has been designed and engineered in the Netherlands by Lightyear.

Having been recently tested in Italy, the Lightyear One completed 400 km on a single charge while driving at a constant speed of 130 km/h.  According to Lightyear One’s manufacturer, regular driving will easily result in a range of 725 km (WLTP).  If you’re like me and don’t know what WLTP means, then WLTP stands for Worldwide Harmonized Light-Duty Test Procedure.  This mouthful is a new standard to measure fuel consumption, CO2 emissions, and range.  The standard was introduced in 2017 and takes the measurements of test vehicles when driven in realistic driving situations to determine their fuel consumption, range, and emissions.

Lightyear One Interior

Because the Lightyear One is a solar-powered EV, its manufacturer also states that it would be possible to drive the car for months without needing to recharge.  In Australia, where the sun shines most days of the year, a car like the Lightyear One would be perfect for this scenario.  Take a good look at the car’s exterior and you’ll see the array of solar panels incorporated into the sleek exterior design.  All of the panels facing skyward are made of solar panels and are ready for harvesting energy from the sun to charge the 60 kWh battery.  5 m2 of solar panels cover the Lightyear One’s roof, bonnet and tail and are capable of harnessing up to 12 km of range every hour. That means during a sunny 8-hour workday, a parked up Lightyear One could harvest 96 km of driving range – more than enough for most people’s work commutes.  Even in cloudy conditions, its maker claims the Lightyear One that around 40 km of range can be harvested in that time.  Obviously, you can also plug the car in for a quick recharge if you ever needed to.

Jump in the Lightyear One and drive on a full charge, and the Lightyear One’s 60 kWh battery pack provides a claimed 725 km of range, making it one of the most energy efficient EVs on the market.  Efficiency of this standard is also achieved thanks to its construction consisting essentially of aluminium and carbon-fibre which gives it a weight of just 1315 kg.  Also the car’s drag coefficient of just 0.20cd is sensational.  As you can imagine, the aluminium and carbo-fibre underpinnings also drive the price of the car upward.

The Lightyear One is being manufactured in Finland, where its first deliveries will be made to Europe in mid-2022.  The car’s price is around the AUD $238,000 mark.  Just 946 of these cars will be built, however the company is already working on a more affordable solar-powered EV called the Lightyear Two which is expected to go on sale in 2024/25.  It will have a much more affordable price, maybe even as low as AUD $50,000.

Lightyear One Sedan

In the Lightyear One there are 4 electric motors on board, one for each wheel.  These provide the driving power.  Together, they produce a combined 101 kW of power and 1200 Nm of torque.  The car’s manufacturers say that the Lightyear One Sedan can seat 5 in comfort, and it has been designed especially for cruising and efficiency, and not for outright speed, thus claiming a 0-100 km/h sprint time of around 10 seconds.

I hope we see cars like this become available to people in Australia very soon.  It also begs the question: Couldn’t the Holden name resurrect itself by Holden designers and engineers making a similar type of car in Australia for primarily Australians?

A to J of Surfing Vehicles Dude

“Surfs up!”

“Dude, how am I gonna get there?”

“Bro, you need a car!”

Summer is here, and surfing is a great lifestyle for getting out, chasing the waves, and getting some immunity-boosting Vitamin D.  In fact, any sort of outdoor adventure and exercise will see you a fitter and healthier person for getting out there and doing it.  What 2022 cars make for an ideal surfer’s companion?  The following are several useful vehicles that, if you’re wanting something to get you places, will transport you, a friend or two, some gear, and surfboards/mountain bikes through something more than just a little puddle, mud or soft sand.

Dedicated vans or MPVs with AWD like the Volkswagen Multivan, LDV G10, Mercedes-Benz V-Class, Kia Carnival, Mercedes-Benz Valente, Volkswagen Caravelle, Honda Odyssey, Hyundai STARIA, Volkswagen California, Toyota Granvia, Mercedes-Benz Marco Polo ACTIVITY, and the Volkswagen Caddy are potentially great for surfing travels with one, two or more mates.  Some, but not all, will offer AWD.  Depending on how far down onto the beach you want to get your MPV or Van, AWD is definitely the way to go for getting through soft sand and out of sticky situations.

For years, wagons and SUVs have also been a go-to machine for the surfer; for good reason too as they offer plenty of space, the capacity for lugging gear, and for sleeping.  But having a vehicle that can get you across country and down onto the beach makes for the ultimate surfer’s vehicle.  Outside of the list of vans and MPVs above, there are some great vehicles still worth a look if you’re into doing a bit of surfing, fishing or any type of outdoor adventure.

Here is the best of them, first article of three, from A (Alfa Romeo) to J (Jeep).  Let us know if we’ve missed anything in between!

Alfa Romeo Stelvio

Three petrol engines offer the Stelvio between 147–375 kW of power and 330–600 Nm of torque.  The 8-speed automatic and 4×4 (AWD) ability make it ideal for heading off tar seal.  It has 5-doors, 5-seats, a 5-star ANCAP safety rating, and 1600 litres of boot space when the rear seats are folded flat.

Audi Q Wagons


Audi Q5 and Q7 models are idyllic; the Q3 maybe a little small, however.  All of these are stylish, AWD and superbly comfortable.  Diesel and petrol engines are available that offer the Q5 and Q7 between 150–251 kW of power and 370–700 Nm of torque.  4×4 (AWD) ability make them perfect for nosing about off-road.  Both Q models have 5-doors, 5-seats, and a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.  The Q5 has 1530 litres of boot space with the rear seats folded flat; Q7 has 1971 litres.

Audi A6 Allroad

Cargo room extends to 1680 litres with the rear seats folded down, and the AWD Quattro system ensures that you’ll get around secondary roads and the odd track pretty comfortably in an A6 Allroad.  A nice wagon to drive, and the surfboard can go on the roof or slide in along the flat cargo area.  A sportier drive than a similarly capable Subaru Outback.  The Audi A6 Allroad Wagon 45TDI is offered in Australia and runs with a tiptronic 8-speed quattro drive.  The 3.0-litre Turbo-Diesel is a peach, packing a healthy 183 kW/600 Nm from its V6 configuration, and scampers from a standstill to 100 km/h in less than 7 seconds.

BMW X3, X5


BMW X3 and X5 models are really nice SUV wagons for open road touring.  All are stylish, AWD, and superbly comfortable.  Diesel, electric and petrol engines are available for the X3 that offers between 135–285 kW of power and 300–620 Nm of torque.  X5 models get between 170 and 460 kW of power and 450–750 Nm of torque.  4×4 (AWD) ability make them handy when getting down to the beach or picnic area.  All X models have 5-doors, 5-seats, a 5-star ANCAP safety rating, and the X3 has 1600 litres of boot space with the rear seats folded flat; X5 has 2047 litres.

Ford Everest

The Ford Everest is magnificent.  Its 3.2 Diesel Turbo engine delivers 157 kW and 500 Nm.  The 10-speed automatic and serious 4×4 capability ensure you won’t easily get stuck in this one.  Smooth, loads of road presence, and comfortable, there isn’t many negatives.  1796 litres of boot space is available with the seats folded down.  It has 5-doors, 5-seats, and a 5-star ANCAP safety rating.

Haval H9

The big Haval H9 SUV Wagon gets a standard adaptive six-mode 4×4 terrain control system and a 700 mm wading depth.  The 180 kW/350 Nm turbo-four petrol/eight-speed auto is smooth and impresses.  A massive boot space combined with excellent features and a relaxing drive makes it a great surfing/adventure vehicle.  It’s also keenly priced.

Hyundai Santa Fe

Hyundai’s 7-seat Santa Fe SUV is large.  With a choice between a 206 kW/336 Nm 3.5-litre V6 petrol or a 147 kW/440 Nm 2.2-litre turbo-diesel four, the Santa Fe range is a great driving machine and is available in AWD.  Comfortable, and particularly well set-up in diesel guise, the Santa Fe is a warm travelling companion.  Boot space: 2042 litres.

Isuzu MU-X

A 7-seater with five doors and a rugged 3.0 Turbo-diesel motor is hard to overlook.  Stylish and tough, Isuzu’s new MU-X seven-seat off-roader comes in three spec levels (LS-M, LS-U and range-topping LS-T), each with the option of RWD or 4WD and standard with a six-speed automatic transmission.  140 kW and 450 Nm of torque match with a 3.5 tonne towing capacity.  ANCAP five-star safety and a boot space of 2138 litres makes the MU-X a perfect surfer’s wagon.

Jeep Wrangler

The LWB Jeep Wranglers are stunning lookers.  Perfect in every way but only let down by a rather mediocre safety rating 3 out of 5 stars.  2050 litres of boot space and 4×4 tenacity.

Jeep Grand Cherokee

An awesome, comfortable surfer’s wagon, the Jeep Grand Cherokee comes with a choice of a 3.6-litre petrol 8-speed automatic 4×4, or a 3.0-litre turbo-diesel 8 speed automatic 4×4.  True off-road potential and loads of space with up to 2005 litres of cargo space.  Offering between 184–522 kW (Yes, 522!) of power and 347–868 Nm of torque this packs a punch.  Superior 4×4 (AWD) ability make these ideal, and they are seriously comfortable.  All are 5-star safe.

Christmas Gifts For Driving Enthusiasts

Christmas is incoming and it’s nice to imagine what some ideal gifts might be for the drivers in our lives.  Christmas is the time of year when we can think about God’s greatest gift to mankind: His Son Jesus.  What better way to acknowledge this by giving some great automotive gifts to our family and friends, so here are some Christmas gift ideas for the driving enthusiast in your life:

A gift voucher

A gift voucher to a local automotive trade store gives a driver access to a world of automotive retail.  Repco or Supercheapauto are two big outlets with so many possibilities that will make a driver happy over the Christmas period and into the new year.  You can purchase anything from sound systems, after market GPS units, reversing cameras, tools and so much more…

Seat Covers

A new set of seat covers can make the environment of a vehicle that little bit nicer.  We’ve just recently put a fine set of burgundy sheepskin covers on the front seats of our car, and I can say that they have instantly made the seats more comfortable, particularly for long journeys, and have given the interior a lift in its own individuality and style.

Cabin Air Freshener

It won’t be a gift for just anyone, but I’ve seen some little yellow sunflower air freshener diffusers.  These are made from an eco-friendly material and deliver a high quality fragrance for the car which is, importantly, non-toxic.  The sunflower design is cute and attractive, and it simply clips onto the air vents.  Having bright little sunflowers around the dash conveying their sweet aroma is a sure way to brighten up any long journey this summer.

You can also buy some more manly looking air freshener diffusers (i.e., in the shape of a pine tree or rugby ball).  I’ve also just seen a cool car aromatherapy set of round essential oil jars that clip onto the vents.  On the front of the diffuser is a stunning scene of a night sky full of stars.

Cup Holder Coasters

Even a set of stylish coasters for the cup holders can brighten up a car’s interior.  There are many types available with auto logos (e.g., Ford, Alfa Romeo, BMW), and then many abstract designs as well.

Car Mats

One part of the car’s interior that can quickly look drab is the floor mats.  A new set of rubber or carpet mats for a car can lift the interior instantly.  Just make sure that the floor mat design is appropriate for the car and the driver in your life.

Car Valet Voucher

This is a very nice gift.  A voucher for a professional car grooming session at a valet business nearby should be a real winner, particularly when Christmas and New Years is a remarkably busy and, sometimes, messy time of year.  The car at the centre of all the attention will likely be the driver’s pride and joy, so it should be a much appreciated gift.

A racing ticket

If the driver happens to enjoy a bit of motorsport action, then a ticket to the next race meet should be an ideal Christmas gift.  Better still, why don’t you buy two tickets and go along with them to make a day of it!

The Things We Do in Our Cars

I was thinking about the different demands that we all put our vehicle through on our daily drives throughout a year.  It got me thinking about all the changes that can happen to us inside 12 months – whether the weather seasons change dramatically, families get larger or smaller, job promotions happen, we can change jobs for whatever reason, building renovations happen, moving house occurs, we make new friends, we start a fitness schedule at the gym, we try out a new sport across town, go fishing, go for that caravan trip around Australia and what not…  Our lives are fun and full of regular tasks that we both love or put up with, have jobs that we stick with or change, are full of people that come and go and people that we just love to be around and who will always be a part of our life.  The cars we drive regularly, are often a reflection of our lifestyle and can tell us a story about who we are and where we are in life.

With this ticking through my thought processing, I started to think about the changes that may or may not happen to our cars as we drive them, and how the lifestyle changes and choices that we make can affect the cars we drive.  In essence, a car is a very adaptable machine (or at least should be), and it has to be fit for purpose to cater to our own individual needs.  Often, I find myself needing to hitch up the trailer to grab some more compost for the garden, take a load to the recycling centre or help out a mate who is shifting house.  I like to make use of my drive into town to charge my mobile phone up on the way and listen to my favourite music with the volume wound right up.  Some days the temperature outside can get so cold in wintertime that I need to wind up the heater in order to thaw my fingers out and demist the rear window.  But then in summer, when the temperatures soar, I’ll have the air-conditioning wound up to maximum to keep the family inside the car nice and cool, particularly when we have the tiny grandchild travelling with us.

We have different drives that we frequently make in a month, and they all take different roads and cover varying landscapes.  Some journeys require us to drive up steep streets to get us to our friend’s house on top of the cliffs overlooking the sea, other roads have us in the middle of congested city streets and then another drive may take us for an hour or two north into the wild blue yonder through flat and undulating scenery to visit family.

We’ve learned to trust our cars to get us from A-to-B whatever the weather, whoever we have onboard, whatever we have to tow or carry.  Can a new EV manage all the lifestyle changes and demands dependably?  I’d hate to be late for my daughter’s graduation because my EV ran out of power halfway there, or that I missed the ferry because the EV had to be topped up at a charging point that had a long queue, and what about the police who aborted a chase after a dangerous criminal because he spent too long with the heater on and the siren going at the same time.

We need a car fit for purpose, a car that is cheap to run, nice to the environment and above all dependable!

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:

Ammonia as a Fuel for Cars

Who would have thought that liquid ammonia might just be that untapped energy source the world needs.  All the flimflam around carbon emissions, EVs and hydrogen powered cars pales substantially when you start to grasp how ammonia could well become the biggest driving force for global transportation, given the right technology.  All it would take is more clean, green electricity via solar and wind energy and, hey presto, the ability to make more liquid ammonia becomes way easier, less costly and environmentally friendlier.  But let’s not stop there; let’s match that new ammonia production methodology with perfected ammonia combustion technology, and we have ourselves a green ammonia-fuelled vehicle.

Ammonia has been around for well over a hundred years and has many uses.  The current dated process of making ammonia isn’t green.  Combining nitrogen molecules that come from the air with hydrogen molecules that come from natural gas and coal creates huge amounts of greenhouse gases.  So to make ammonia the green way has taken scientists to perfect the art of taking hydrogen from water and separating it from oxygen atoms using electricity.

Australia is the place to be for producing liquid ammonia the green way.  There is so much practical solar energy available here in Australia for getting electricity from an array of solar panels which feed into the liquid ammonia production plant.  Wind energy can equally be harnessed and fed into the production plant.

When this clean electricity gets to the production plant, electro chemical cells use electricity and catalysts to make components of air and water into ammonia.  All of this process is clean and is performed without fossil fuels and the extreme heat that is required by older methods of ammonia production.

The older ammonia production plants are also costly to run and produce carbon dioxide emissions.  Australia could easily be a world leader in producing cleanly made liquid ammonia via solar and wind energy

Research for perfected ammonia combustion technology for vehicle engines is ongoing and could well be all we’re waiting for.  Ammonia (NH3) is made up of 3 hydrogen atoms bonded to a single nitrogen atom; it can serve as a low-carbon fuel, where the only emissions after ammonia combustion would be that of nitrogen and water.

An ammonia-fuelled vehicle would operate in much the same way as our conventional combustion motor designed for running on fossil fuels.  The liquid ammonia is burned with oxygen to create energy.  Unlike conventional gasoline vehicles, ammonia-powered vehicles would not emit CO2.  Here is a win-win scenario that it would seem necessary to mandate.

In a hydrogen-powered car, a hydrogen fuel cell powers the vehicles’ on board electric motor, only giving off heat and water vapour as a result.  Likewise, an ammonia fuel cell gives off heat, nitrogen and water vapour.

Researchers in spark-ignition systems are continuing to perfect ammonia combustion technology.  The main hurdle that needs to be overcome in an ammonia-fuelled combustion engine is that when ammonia is combusted, the combustion produces a flame with a relatively low propagation speed.  This low combustion rate of ammonia causes the combustion to be inconsistent under low engine load and/or high engine speed operating conditions.  Scientists are also investigating the possibility for ammonia to be used in fuel cells as a cheap, clean and powerful energy source for vehicles.  Researchers have succeeded in developing a new catalyst that burns ammonia (NH3) at a low temperature.

Australia could create solar- and wind-powered ammonia production plants which could then be the tap sources for liquid ammonia.  The Australian grown ammonia could be used locally to power large vehicle fleets as well as for exporting around the world for overseas use.  This is all very exciting stuff and will be something I’ll continue to follow as information and details become available.

Robert Opron and the Simca Fulgur: Better Than Nostradamus?

The question as to where all the flying cars are now that we’re in 2020 has become a bit of a cliché.  It’s been a bit of a cliché ever since we hit the new millennium. This is a reference to the way that popular culture envisioned what family cars would look like in the 21st century.

However, at least one car designer had ideas that were a bit more down to earth – literally.  The year was 1958 and the designer was Robert Opron. This designer had accepted a challenge to produce a concept car for the 1959 Geneva Motor Show for his parent company Simca. Never heard of Simca? This was a French company owned by Fiat that rivalled Citroen for the title of “France’s answer to the VW Beetle”. I owned one back in my student days – possibly a Simca 1300; it had a front engine like a normal car rather than a rear engine and it’s probably worth a mint now, so I’m rather regretting selling it. Its only quirk was a flaw in the speedo: after it hit 50 mph, the needle went back down even when I accelerated.

Anyway, enough memories of student cars and back to Robert Opron.  Opron later took his genius to Citroën, then Renault, then Alfa Romeo. He has been recognised as one of the top 25 designers of the 20th century, although he wasn’t the chap responsible for the very distinctive Citroen 2CV. The Renault Alpine was his, though, as were a number of 1980s Renaults.

Opron had come across a challenge issued by the Journal de Tintin.  Yes, that’s Tintin as in the intrepid red-haired reporter who has a dog called Snowy and a best friend called Captain Haddock.  The challenge was to design a “typical” car for the 1980s or for the year 2000. The challenge included a list of specifications that had to be included in the design, including the following:

  • fuelled by a nuclear-powered battery or a hydrogen fuel cell with a range of 5000 km
  • running on two wheels, balanced gyroscopically, at speeds over 150 km/h,
  • voice controlled
  • radar guidance for navigation and for detecting hazards
  • top speed of over 300 km/h
  • automatic braking if it detected a hazard
  • headlights that adjust automatically with speed

Although Opron didn’t produce a full working prototype, he did show a shell of the concept at the 1959 motor show and the full details of the concept car, known as the Simca Fulgur, were published in the Journal de Tintin (this suggests that it would have appeared alongside The Red Sea Sharks and/or Tintin in Tibet – just in case you were curious, like I was).

The Simca Fulgur – which takes its name from the Latin word meaning “lightning” – looked like the classic Jetsons flying car, except it didn’t fly. It captured the public imagination somewhat and became the basis for what people thought futuristic cars would look like. Or what UFOs would look like – take your pick.

Anyway, from the perspective of late October in 2020, 61 years later, it’s amusing to take a look at the cars of today and see how close we’ve actually come to getting some of these features. How well did the Fulgur predict what we’d have on our roads?

  • Voice control: Yes, we’ve got this, although it’s not quite a case of telling the car your destination and letting it get there (they’re working on that). But you can use voice control on quite a few things, including the navigation system.
  • Top speed of over 300 km/h: Yes, but most cars that are capable of this have their speeds limited for safety purposes.
  • Autonomous braking and hazard detection: Yes. However, human input is still needed.
  • Automatically adjusting headlights: Yes, although they adjust for the ambient light levels rather than how fast you’re going.
  • Electric motor with hydrogen fuel cell technology: Yes, although the range isn’t anywhere near what was predicted. We’d all love a range of 5000 km in an EV (electric vehicle) or HFCV (hydrogen fuel cell vehicle).
  • Electrical motor with nuclear power: Are you kidding me? Since Chernobyl and Fukushima, nuclear power isn’t quite the sexy answer to our energy problems that it was back in the 1950s.
  • Balancing on two wheels with gyroscopic stabilisers at speeds over 150 km/h: No. Just no. If you want that sort of thing, get a motorbike, not a family saloon.

All in all, not too bad a job of predicting the future, Monsieur Opron – you did a better job than your compatriot Nostradamus.

An Automated Way of Life

Instead of a person performing tasks like accelerating, braking, turning or changing lanes, an autonomous vehicle uses its sophisticated vehicle computer system to calculate, monitor and perform these everyday driving tasks itself.  Australian governments are working together to make sure that automated/autonomous vehicles can be legally and safely used when they are available for purchase in Australia.  Already today, some new cars have automated features such as self-parking, active cruise control or lane-keep assist.  These features assist the driver with driving, but a licensed human driver is still in control of the car.  Over the next few decades vehicles will likely become increasingly automated, and eventually a human will not need to drive a car at all.  Think of the road network of the future being a giant computer programme that is performing the road transport requirements for the people.

Whether we like it or not, the onset of automated vehicles is upon us.  In fact, in America, automatic road trains/trucks to get goods from one depot to the next is already reality.  Several companies, including Aurora, Daimler, and Embark Trucks, are competing for a slice of the future of self-driving freight trucks.  Waymo is also expanding its own self-driving trucking routes throughout the American Southwest and Texas, following previous tests in Arizona, California, Michigan, and Georgia. This long-haul automated trucking works well in America, and it could be key for Australian trucking companies in the near future.  While most of the current use has been on iron ore and coal mines, the roll-out of autonomous fleets in Australia is spreading.  Newmont, Australia recently announced plans to make the Boddington mine the world’s first open-pit gold mine with an autonomous haul truck fleet.

So maybe the order of automation roll-out might be trucks first along with public transport, and then private vehicles to follow?  The implementation of autonomous vehicles isn’t a cheap dream.  Understandably, the level of research and development, as costly as it is, is so important to ensure all road users remain safe in-and around an autonomous vehicle.  The sort of research and development needed for safety reasons costs loads of money, and this (as always), along with the requirement of actually keeping people safe while implementing the use of autonomous vehicles, are the real brakes on the realization of the dream for complete global autonomous vehicles.  But is that just the tip of the iceberg?

Autonomous vehicles obtain emerging technologies that can potentially disrupt cities, economies, infrastructure and the way we do life together.  Add those truths into the mix and we can see what a phenomenally expensive, chaotic and disruptive new technology this is, but the actuality of total autonomous transport could be astounding!  Not something that’s everyone’s cup of tea but definitely worthy of at least partial implementation.  Maybe that’s the way it is going to be introduced, subtly and gradually over time so people can get used to paying for it as well as using it.