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Subaru’s 2018 performance range: first look

Subaru’s 2018 performance range has debuted with technical specs, design insights and pricing info.

The all-wheel drive turbocharged WRX, WRX STi and Levorg 2.0 GT-S displays a number of exterior design changes which include new alloy wheel designs, front grilles, front bumpers and LED headlight designs.

The MY18 Subaru WRX STi.

Subaru of New Zealand managing director Wallis Dumper says that the WRX and STi have gained a special place in their rally heritage market over the years.

“There are a huge amount of safety and specification improvements to the full range of WRX, STi and Levorg cars. These are cars that are exciting to drive and have very little competition,” Dumper says.

New breaking and wheel upgrades feature on all the new WRX STi models, to 340mm front and 326mm rear cross-drilled rotors clamped by six piston front and two piston rear yellow Brembo calipers.

Entry-level WRX STi’s gain heated door mirrors, while WRX STi Premium and WRX STi add the Front View Monitor.

All STi models have also received changes to suspension components and the driver control systems.

Every Levorg 2.0 GT-S, WRX and WRX STI has an independent five-star rating for occupant safety.

The models will come in the following variants and prices; WRX 6-speed manual at $48,990 and the WRX 8-speed SLT at $50,990. The WRX Premium 6-speed manual at $53,990 and the WRX Premium 8-speed SLT at $55,990. The WRX STi at $59,990 and the WRX STi Premium $64,990, both available with and optional rear spoiler, and the Levorg 2.0 GT at $57,990.

Subaru has not yet announced a specific date for the launch of the range.

The MY18 Subaru Levorg.

 

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XC60 pricing info released

Volvo’s new XC60 will be available to New Zealand customers in November, from $84,000 plus on-roads.

The XC60 will offer both petrol and diesel alternatives as well as the flagship of the range, the T8 Twin Engine Plug-In Hybrid, first seen in New Zealand in the XC90. All new XC60 models feature all-wheel drive, and three different levels of specification.

Volvo Cars’ T8 Twin Engine Range.

Pricing for the XC60 T5 Momentum with the turbocharged 2-litre engine will start at $84,900 plus on-roads, while the top line XC60 T8 R-Design is priced from $117,900 plus on-roads.

Volvo’s NZ general manager Coby Duggan says early interest in the new model has been strong with self driving technology becoming more important to premium SUV buyers.

“Kiwi consumers are increasingly aware of the safety benefits of automation in vehicles,” he said.

All XC60s will come equipped with standard equipment that includes a 360-degree camera, navigation, parking assistance, keyless entry, handsfree tailgate and Apple Carplay / Android Auto integrated into the stereo system.

The new Volvo XC60’s interior.

Optional features such as soft Nappa Leather seats with ventilation and massage, Bowers & Wilkins speakers and four-corner air suspension are available.

The first XC60s are set to arrive in NZ in November in limited numbers, and pre-sales are now underway.

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Fuel stocks stable: Z Energy, BP

Disruption continues and the costs are rising following the rupture of a fuel pipeline in Northland on Thursday.

Though nearly 30 flights have been cancelled today, and estimates indicate that the spill may cost up to $15 million, councils and fuel retailers remain positive that the situation is being handled competently.

Z Energy today said that four of its Auckland stations ran out of 95 octane fuel yesterday, due to the company prioritising the delivery of diesel and 91 octane petrol.

The pipeline which connects Marsden Point Oil Refinery and Auckland Airport was breached on a farm near Ruakaka. Source: stuff.co.nz

The company assured drivers today though that despite yesterday’s shortages, good stocks of 95 octane fuel were continuing to be trucked into Auckland and there should be no Z stations running out of it.

BP also confirmed that its fuel stocks were stable.

“Availability of all fuel grades currently continues at BP sites across New Zealand. This includes Regular 91, Premium 95, Ultimate 98 and Ultimate Diesel as usually stocked,” BP said in a statement released just before midday today.

The pipeline, which carries all aviation fuel to Auckland Airport, is 169km long and operated by refining company Refining NZ, ruptures Thursday following what is thought to be damage caused by a digger earlier in the year.

In an update released at 9am this morning, Northland Regional Council said that around 80,000 litres of fuel has been reported spilled, but that this is not likely to cause any significant environmental damage, owing to the timely response from the refinery.

In a statement yesterday, Refining NZ said that a 30 person team has been working on a 24 hour basis over the last four days to clean up the spill, and that most of the jet fuel has been recovered from the spill site.

Energy and Resources Minister Judith Collins told RNZ’s Morning Report today that a number of measures were being taken to speed up fuel distribution.

The NZTA was making it easier for tankers to get over-weight permits to be allowed to carry more fuel, Collins said.

Auckland Transport and NZTA were working together to phase traffic lights so trucks could get to fuel stations more quickly.

Auckland Council would also extend the times when fuel drop-offs were allowed in the city, she said.

The Government also said the NZ Defence Force was making 890,000 litres of military fuel available to civilian aircraft, and 20 of their drivers were being drafted in to help local operators manage the workload.

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EV car sharing platform to launch in Auckland

Auckland is set to get its own car sharing platform with electric vehicles.

Electricity provider Mercury and start-up Cityhop are offering a new transport alternative that the group helps will address some of Auckland’s transport challenges.

They say that the addition of EVs to Cityhop’s established car sharing platform brings together two parts of the solution to the problems caused by too much city traffic: clean electric-powered vehicles to reduce pollution and noise, and car sharing to reduce the number of vehicles.

The ride sharing scheme will provide a Mitsubishi Outlander PHEV.

“Car sharing and electric vehicles are part of the solution for decongesting Auckland and reducing pollution,” said Mayor Phil Goff, who himself drives an electric car.

“Every car share vehicle takes up to 13 cars off our roads and every electric vehicle is one less car sending carbon into our atmosphere.”

Mercury and Cityhop’s EV car-sharing trial is being extended with a second EV available at the Downtown carpark in the CBD – the same location where Mercury installed the Auckland CBD’s first ever EV charger in 2015.

The new car-share vehicle is a Mitsubishi Outlander Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle (PHEV), offering the option of a larger SUV while giving drivers another EV model to try. It is located in the Auckland CBD, where over 60,000 people live and around 65,000 work each day, including 1,500 current Cityhop members.

The scheme follows the launch of an EV ride sharing platform earlier this month in Christchurch, a collaboration between Kiwi fleet management company Yoogo and the Christchurch City Council.

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VINZ to provide global inspection and audit to THL

One of New Zealand’s and the world’s largest operators of motorhomes has voluntarily opted into an independent and random safety inspection program for their commercial fleet.

Tourism Holdings Limited (THL) will subject their fleet to the inspections from Vehicle Inspection New Zealand (VINZ) throughout NZ, Australia, the United States of America and the United Kingdom.

THL operates under the Maui, Britz, Mighty, KEA Australia and Motek Vehicle Sales brands. Within NZ, THL also operates Kiwi Experience and other localised tourism operations.

THL chief executive Grant Webster says that in the RV industry, the biggest health and safety risk is moving vehicles.

THL operate the Kiwi Experience brand, and many other rental and tourism businesses in NZ.

“We do all we can to ensure the safety of our fleet – giving customers peace of mind along with other road users. This initiative is part of our continued commitment to having the safest fleet of commercial motorhomes on the road – both in New Zealand and around the world,” Webster said.

VINZ will carry out the inspections on-site at THL facilities, providing the equipment and staff in each location. The vehicles will be serviced a checked by an onsite mechanic team as each camper is returned and before it leaves the site.

VINZ will provide the service directly in New Zealand and Australia, and will deliver the audits through other companies in Optimus Group (of which VINZ is a subsidiary) in markets where it does not have a direct presence.

“This agreement, and the work we have put into developing a service delivery and reporting model, represents an opportunity for VINZ to demonstrate its ability to provide customised inspection services on a global scale,” says VINZ Chief Executive, Gordon Shaw. “By working with other Optimus Group companies and their affiliates we can inspect to a global standard and also ensure compliance with regulatory standards in each sovereign market.”

VINZ and THL have a longstanding partnership incorporating entry certification for imported vehicles, along with onsite Certificate of Fitness Testing.

Vehicles rented through Mighway, THL’s peer-to-peer campervan hire company, will also be part of the independent testing.

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Mitsubishi debuts eCanter

Mitsubishi has unveiled the eCanter, the Japanese car makers first electric medium-duty electric delivery truck.

Unveiled by Mitsubishi Fuso Truck and Bus Corportation (MFTBC), a part of Daimler Trucks, the vehicle will aim to transform urban areas, FleetOwner reports.

According to the company, reduced noise and zero emissions is a key to making cities more liveable.

The eCanter in New York City

The truck was driven through New York city by Fuso president and CEO Jecka Glasman, where Fuso converted an old gas station into its temporary “Energy Station of the Future”.

Introducing the truck, Marc Llistosella, president and CEO of MFTBC and head of Daimler Trucks Asia, said some of the main trends he’s seen that will have major impacts on the trucking and bus industries are urbanisation, emissions reduction, and energy efficiency.

“We have been seeing more and more renewable, clean energy,” Llistosella explained. “There were a lot of hesitations and resistance, but now I would say [electrification] is coming.”

Llistosella noted that 54 per cent of the world’s population lives in cities, which has become a main driver for electrification and the need for clean trucks and buses.

“Cities have a voice,” he says. “It’s clear they want less pollution, less emissions and much less noise. We see a lot of tendencies and strong statements – from cities like Paris – that from 2040 on, they will no longer allow combustion-engine vehicles and trucks allowed into the cities. We will see changes driven by the cities.”

The eCanter has a range of about 100kms and a load capacity up to three and a half tons – depending on body and usage. The vehicle’s electric powertrain contains six high voltage lithium ion battery packs with 420 V and13.8 kWh each. According to the company, when comparing the eCanter to a conventional diesel truck, it offers savings up to US$2,000 per 16,000 kms on operating costs.

The eCanter will be delivered to customers starting this year in the US, Europe and Japan. MFTBC says it is planning to deliver 500 units of this generation to customers within the next two years. Larger scale production is intended to start in 2019.

 

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Renault-Nissan dismisses ‘peak car’ notion

The chief executive officer of the Renault-Nissan alliance has dismissed the notion that the era of personal ownership of cars is ending, predicting in Paris yesterday that his alliance will sell more than 14 million cars a year by 2022, Forbes reports.

Carlos Ghosn says that this number is more or less inevitable.

“Fourteen million is not a target, it is not an objective,” Ghosn says. “What I am telling you is what our assumptions are. Our forecast is that by the end of 2022, we should reach 14 million cars. We estimate that the total market by the end of 2022 will be between 108 and 110 million cars.”

This would be significantly up from a worldwide volume of 95 million units in 2016. In this sense Ghosn seems to dismiss the notion that ride sharing and autonomous vehicles will eat into the personal car market.

“When you take a look at the total revenues from selling cars and the expected revenues of mobility services, even six years down the road it will be totally imbalanced,” Ghosn says.  “I don’t think that mobility services will represent a big portion of revenues, compared to selling cars, parts, accessories, servicing of cars etc.”

With Avtovaz, the Alliance has Russia’s largest carmaker. In India, Renault outsells all European and American OEMs. The Alliance’s Mitsubishi is also strong in South East Asia.

Renault and Nissan are invested in the EV market, having recently announced a joint venture with a Chinese company to produce EVs in the PRC. There are some 1.4 million EVs on the world’s roads, and more than half a million of those have been made by Alliance partners.

 

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Samsung follows Intel into auto drive tech

South Korean electronics giant Samsung is looking to enter the autonomous vehicles market, Reuters reports.

Samsung Electronics Co Ltd is building on its recent USD$8 billion acquisition of audio and auto parts supplier Harman.

Samsung announced on Thursday at the Frankfurt Motor Show that is has set up a new business unit to research and develop autonomous driving technologies. It has also created a USD$300 million fund to invest in automotive start-ups and technology.

Samsung’s competitors have also moved to enter the autonomous vehicles market. Intel announced plans to purchase Israeli technology company Mobileye in March.

“It’s time to communicate our intent to enter the autonomous driving market,” Young Sohn, the company’s president and chief strategy officer, told Reuters. “Samsung has been incubating this business for quite a while.”

Sohn says that Samsung’s hugely diverse electronics business, and its recent acquisition of Harman, provides the company with the technical expertise and experience it needs to succeed in the autonomous vehicle market.

Samsung’s two biggest rivals have also moved into the connected car market over the past year, at greater cost: Intel Corp paid $15.3 billion last month to acquire Mobileye, the current market leader in collision-detection ADAS software, while Qualcomm Inc is seeking regulatory approval for its USD$47 billion deal to buy NXP Semiconductors NV, the world’s biggest maker of automotive-grade chips.

Sohn said the Autonomous/ADAS business unit will absorb hundreds of engineers Samsung already has working on autonomous driving technologies.

The new unit will sit within the connected car business of Harman, an independent subsidiary of Samsung, a spokesman added.

In recent months, Samsung has secured licenses for autonomous driving pilot projects in South Korea and California.

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Scotland to end sales of diesel, petrol cars by 2032

Scotland has announced they will phase out sales of diesel and petrol vehicles by 2032.

Scotland now follows a growing list of counties that have outlined intentions to move away from the internal combustion engine.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, outlined plans to “massively expand” charging points and set up pilot projects to encourage uptake of electric vehicles.

If Scotland meets its target, it will do so eight years ahead of the UK as a whole.

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s First Minister, outlined the plans.

“Our aim is for new petrol and diesel cars and vans to be phased out in Scotland by 2032,” Ms Sturgeon said.

The Government said the commitment was necessary due to the avoidable impact poor air quality was having on people’s health.

Jesse Norman, the parliamentary under-secretary at the Department for Transport, confirmed the Government’s plans.

“The Government has a manifesto commitment for almost all cars and vans on our roads to be zero emission by 2050. We believe this would necessitate all new cars and van being zero emission vehicles by 2040,” Mr Norman said in a written answer to the Commons.

The UK government said earlier this year that in the interests of meeting targets under the Paris climate accord and to reduce emissions to zero by 2050, they would end the production of new petrol and diesel vehicles by 2040.

France has an even stricter target, announcing they would ban sales of the internal combustion engine the same year as the UK plans to have them phased out.

Earlier this week China also announced it would phase out the combustion engine, and focus on the production of electric vehicles.

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Navya moves into Aus

A French autonomous vehicle company is planning to establish a manufacturing facility in Adelaide, South Australia.

Navya announced today that it would expand its operations in North America and Europe to include the Asia-Pacific and that Adelaide was an obvious choice given the South Australian Government’s backing of autonomous vehicle technology and trials.

Navya CEO Christophe Sapet said the Asia-Pacific expansion was a natural progression and he was happy to find a partner in South Australia.

“We are delighted to have been able to lay the groundwork of a partnership agreement with the Government of South Australia,” he said.

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill said South Australia was already leading Australia in driverless vehicle technology and this was the next logical step.

A Navya Autonomous vehicle.

“Establishing a driverless car vehicle operation in South Australia is the perfect bridge connecting our past in traditional vehicle manufacturing and our future in advanced manufacturing in a clean, carbon neutral environment,” he said from the negotiations in France.

South Australia has established a $10 million fund to drive local development of autonomous vehicle technology, and was the first state in Australia to legalise on-road trials of autonomous vehicles.

In March the South Australian Government announced AU$5.6m in funding for driverless shuttle and pod trials to take place in Adelaide.


VW to recall 4.86 million cars in China

Volkswagen AG will recall 4.86 million vehicles due to issues with air bags supplied by bankrupt auto parts maker Takata Corp, China’s quality watchdog has said today.

Reuters reports that Volkswagen and its Chinese joint venture FAW-Volkswagen and SAIC Volkswagen delivered 3.98 million vehicles in China last year.

The recall comes after the watchdog asked the German automaker, General Motors Co (GM.N) and Daimler AG’s Mercedes-Benz earlier this year to recall vehicles equipped with Takata air bags.

Over 20 million cars in China had air bags made by Takata, the watch dog has estimated.

The airbags which have been linked to at least 16 deaths and 180 injuries globally, and have the potential to explode with too much force and spray shrapnel.

China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said across all of VW’s Chinese operations, it would be required to recall over 5 million vehicles.

The watchdog said the recall would begin in March next year and continue into 2019.

Volkswagen officials did not provide immediate comment when contacted by Reuters.

Of 37 vehicle manufacturers affected by the faulty air bag issue in China, 24 had recalled 10.59 million cars as at the end of June. A further five had made plans to recall 1.26 million vehicles.

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