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Ateco announces 2018 RAM 1500

2015 Ram 1500 Laramie Limited Crew Cab 4×4 EcoDiesel

The 2018 RAM 1500 will be launched in New Zealand in the middle of this year providing buyers with a unique full-size pickup truck that sets new benchmarks for towing, cabin space and ability, according to the Ateco Group, the sole New Zealand authorised importer and distributor of the RAM brand.

The RAM 1500 will enable the RAM to compete in what is the largest segment of the Ute Market for the first time. It will complement the RAM 2500 and 3500 range that was launched in 2015 and which increased its sales by 80 per cent in 2017 compared to the previous year according to official MIA figures.

Powered by a class-exclusive 5.7L Hemi V8 engine, the new RAM 1500 will be a formidable competitor, delivering best in class towing, power, cab size and cargo space with a tub length of up to nearly two meters long as well as options like the class-exclusive RamBox® Cargo Management System. The RAM 1500 will offer customers in New Zealand a unique and exciting addition to the New Zealand Ute market.

The North American-built RAM 1500 will arrive in Australia as a left-hand drive (LHD) vehicle and then be remanufactured to right hand drive (RHD) at a purpose-built facility in Melbourne. The chassis and body are first separated before a re-engineered RHD specific steering system is fitted, then a new dashboard which was designed, developed and produced in Australia is installed along with a RHD-specific heating and ventilation system before the body and chassis are re-married to produce the final product.

The work is so substantial that it is officially classed as a remanufactured vehicle, not a conversion. The vehicles are then sent to New Zealand for to be sold through a nationwide RAM dealer network and backed by a comprehensive three year/100,000 km warranty.

David Smitherman

“The RAM range is remanufactured to meet New Zealand market demands,” says David Smitherman, Chief Executive Officer of the Ateco Group in New Zealand.

“This means that the RAM 2500 and 3500 now and from mid-year the 1500, offer a range of unique abilities, be it the towing capacity, the size of the tray or space in the cab and much more that cannot be matched by their rivals and which make them ideal for both business and leisure use in New Zealand. The 2500 and 3500 has introduced RAM to New Zealand; the 1500 will take RAM to a whole new level.”

Full details, pricing and specifications of the 2018 RAM 1500 range for New Zealand will be announced when it goes on sale around the middle of this year.

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MOL car carriers making good progress

The Courageous Ace alongside in Singapore with the Glovis Caravel in the background

A photo of the Courageous Ace and the Glovis Caravel, two vessels who have been sent to Singapore due to the risk of entering New Zealand with possible stink bug infestations, has been released. 

Ken Quigley and a team from New Zealand and ATJ Japan have been in Singapore since the Courageous Ace first arrived to carry out the treatment and inspection procedures. 

It has been reported that they are making very good progress in Singapore’s very hot conditions.  

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Positive news for affected car carriers

An update has been released on progress of the Toyofuji car carriers; Trans Future 6, Sepang Express and Trans Future 7, all delayed by the discovery of BMSB.

Trans Future 6

On March 7th the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) allowed the discharge of all cargo from the vessel after MPI inspection, fogging and re-inspection at Auckland port. The vessel has since completed all discharging at all New Zealand ports and is expected arrive back in Osaka, Japan on March 26th. 

Sepang Express

On March 6th, MPI gave the vessel permission to berth again at Auckland port but was required to wait until another affected vessel departed to allow less disruption to the ports normal operation. 

Due to cyclone Hola, there was a delay however the vessel managed to berth at Auckland port on March 15th. Once MPI’s inspections and procedures have taken place and the vessel receives negative results for BMSB contamination, MPI will allow the vessel to discharge all cargo.

The vessel is still undergoing treatment and has not yet been cleared. 

Trans Future 7

The Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) inspected and fogged the vessel at Brisbane on March 7th. 

The vessel is currently sailing to Auckland. The vessel will need to go through the appropriate MPI procedures to allow possible discharge on March 21st, this is all subject to berth availability. 


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CEO of Zephyr to headline at T-Tech

Intelligent Transport Services New Zealand (ITSNZ) has just announced that Fred Reid, CEO of Zephyr, will be one of the headline speakers at their T-Tech conference in a few days time. Reid is flying to New Zealand especially to speak at the Conference.

An electric-powered, autonomous aircraft is beginning testing in New Zealand, with the aim of carrying passengers in three years. Kitty Hawk, the company led by Google X founder Sebastian Thrun and funded by Google co-founder Larry Page, will begin tests as part of an official certification process.

 Kitty Hawk operates the flights through Zephyr Airworks, which Kitty Hawk set up in New Zealand in 2016.

Prior to being CEO of Zephyr, Reid was the founding CEO of Virgin America and former president of Delta Air Lines. 

T-Tech Conference

Examining trends, innovations, challenges and opportunities the T-Tech Transport Innovation Conference is organised by ITSNZ.  Featuring presentations by world-renowned thought-leaders, senior experts, academics and innovators. 

“T-Tech aims to inform and inspire attendees, looking at international ideas and activity and examining New Zealand’s own activity and strategies.”

New and superior technology, new modes of transport, emerging business models and better connectivity are creating opportunities to improve transport networks and urban design that will create better communities, efficient, sustainable and safer transport for people and business.  

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Tesla’s parts struggle

Tesla Model 3 – Source: Washington Post

Several current and former Tesla employees say the electric vehicle (EV) car manufacturer is building a high ratio of flawed parts and vehicles that need rework and repairs.

According to sources, Tesla has had to ship some flawed parts to remanufacturing facilities to avoid scrapping them, rather than fixing them in-line, however Tesla is denying the claim.

A current Tesla engineer told CNBC news that around 40 per cent of the parts made or received at its Fremont factory require rework. The need for reviews of parts coming off the line, and rework, has contributed to Model 3 delays, the engineer said.

To deal with a build-up of flawed parts and vehicles, Tesla has brought in teams of technicians and engineers from its service centres and remanufacturing lines to help with rework and repairs on site in Fremont, according to the sources.

Tesla flatly denies that its remanufacturing teams engage in rework. “Our remanufacturing team does not ‘rework’ cars,” a spokesperson said. The company said the employees might be conflating rework and remanufacturing. It also said every vehicle is subjected to rigorous quality control involving more than 500 inspections and tests.

CEO Elon Musk has been under serious pressure to increase production of the Model 3 sedan, Tesla’s first mass-market EV. More than 400,000 customers have reserved the EV, paying US$1,000 refundable fees to do so.

Originally Musk said that Tesla would be making around 20,000 Model 3s per month by December. The company then later downgraded those expectations – Tesla is currently making around 2,500 Model 3s per week.

Tesla has acknowledged problems with production of batteries, but said it is still on track to meet its target of 2,500 Model 3s per week by the end of March, and 5,000 Model 3s per week by the end of the second quarter.


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GDP rises due to strength in services

The economy, as measured by GDP, grew 0.6 per cent in the December 2017 quarter, Stats NZ said today. Growth was driven by increases in the service industries but was tempered by falls in the primary sector.  

“Growth was widespread across many service industries, with business services, and rental hiring and real estate services providing momentum,” national accounts senior manager Gary Dunnet said. “Retail trade and wholesale trade were also key contributors to growth this quarter.”

Service industries drive growth

Activity in the service industries rose 1.1 per cent, with 10 of the 11 service industries in the December 2017 quarter. Overall growth in the service industries was led by a 2.3 per cent increase in business services. 

Other service industries making a significant contribution included wholesale, retail, real estate, and transport.

Primary industries weaken, down 2.4 per cent

Following a wet spring, New Zealand’s hottest summer on record appears to have negatively affected the primary sector. Agricultural production fell 2.7 per cent this quarter and dairy exports fell 4.4 per cent.

Capital goods lift investment

Investment in fixed assets was up 2.1 percent in the December 2017 quarter, following a revised 1.8 percent increase in the September 2017 quarter.

Higher investment in transport equipment (up 17 per cent) and plant, machinery, and equipment (up 5.9 per cent) were the two main drivers of investment growth this quarter. This saw higher imports of capital goods.

Imports of passenger motor cars also contributed to the increase in imported goods. In the December quarter, imports of passenger motor cars increased by 1.8 per cent, following a 2.9 per cent decrease in the September 2017 quarter.

GDP per capita rises 0.1 per cent

When comparing GDP growth to population change, GDP per capita was up 0.1 percent in the December 2017 quarter. This follows a 0.2 percent increase in the September 2017 quarter.

Real purchasing power up 1.4 per cent

New Zealand’s ability to buy goods and services from its income rose over the December 2017 quarter by 1.4 per cent. 

Over the December 2017 year, real purchasing power per capita increased 1.3 percent. This shows that New Zealand’s real purchasing power increased more than New Zealand’s population over this period.


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Good news for Dream Orchid

The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) have completed their fogging and inspection procedures and have cleared the Dream Orchid for discharge in Auckland, according to the latest update from Autohub. 

Wellington and Nelson vehicles from the vessel will be now be discharged in Auckland. A transshipping vessel will be notified as soon as possible.

Any outstanding NZ D2D invoices need to be paid to enable prompt delivery of vehicles.

The vessel will be heading to Lyttelton with a current ETA of 1500 on the 18th of March. 

No update on Sepang Express as of yet.

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EVs are cleaner than ever, study says

Electric vehicles (EVs) don’t produce any “tailpipe” emissions, but their overall environmental impact remains controversial. 

Critics note that charging an EV from a power grid that uses fossil fuels to generate electricity still leads to carbon emissions.

However, based on data from the US Environmental Protection Agency on power plant green house emissions released in February 2018, driving an EV is cleaner than gasoline for most drivers in the US. 

Driving an EV in the US today is the equivalent of an 80 MPG car, much lower than any gasoline-only car available.

The 80 MPG figure is sales-weighted, meaning people who have already bought electric cars are actually achieving that reduced level of greenhouse-gas emissions.

In addition, the study claims that 75 per cent of Americans live in a region where driving an electric car is equivalent to driving a 50 MPG gasoline car.

The difference is based on the mix of energy sources used to generate electricity. The more fossil fuels, the higher the emissions levels.

Burning gasoline will never get cleaner, but the overall carbon emissions of electric cars can be reduced by eliminating fossil fuels from the grid. 

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RMTU withdraws strike notices

The Rail and Maritime Transport Union (RMTU) Port workers have agreed to temporarily lift their strike action until the 20th of March due to negotiations with the Lyttelton Port Company (LPC). 

Union organiser John Kerr said the negotiations with the port tomorrow morning. 

The port also agreed to pay the workers returning to work today regardless of whether there were ships ready to be serviced or not. 

The port’s refusal to pay union members after a previous occasion when a strike notice was lifted has been a major discussion piece in the negotiations.

LPC Operations Manager Paul Monk says the withdrawal of the strike notices for the next six days will allow meaningful trade to begin to return to the Port.

“With this level of strike withdrawal notification, the shipping lines, exporters and importers will be able to reorganise their schedules to some extent, allowing at least a minimum amount of shipping to return to the Port.

“As a demonstration of good will and our commitment to resolving the dispute, LPC will pay the RMTU members who will be rostered to work on the days strike notices have been withdrawn (from 15 – 20 March). This is in spite of there being little work for them the next two days as there may be no ships in Port to service.

 “While we realise uncertainty still remains beyond 20 March, with strike notices still in place for 21 to 25 March, what has happened today is a positive development.”


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Autonomous vehicle trials for Christchurch

Ohmio Automation is building the first New Zealand made autonomous vehicle which will be trialed at Christchurch Airport in the next few months.

LIFT, the autonomous vehicle, will be able to carry up to 20 people and will be used to transport passengers from car parks to the terminal.

Stephen Matthews, Ohmio chief executive, is hopeful that the LIFT will be certified to carry passengers on-road inside a year. 

“Human cost is the biggest cost of transporting people and if we can take that cost out of moving people, we can lower the operating costs,” said Matthews. “It’s a trade off between the capital cost and the operating cost.”

The vehicles are designed to operate on predetermined repetitive routes, and their mapping function means that they can learn a route and repeat it over and over. 

Multiple Ohmio vehicles could also join up to form a convoy, then split up as required to take passengers to different destinations. 

Ohmio is in discussion with other potential users, such as retirement villages and hospitals, who are also interested in using the vehicle to transport passengers between hospital wings. 

The body of the LIFT is being made in Auckland and the chassis in Wellington.

Christchurch Airport general manager corporate affairs, Michael Singleton, said the second phase of the trial meant the vehicle could be proven and licensed, and was built specifically for New Zealand conditions. 

“Collaborating with Ohmio means we have a technology partner and producer which is able to take the learnings from the trial to date and then adapt and enhance the vehicle to New Zealand needs.”

Ohmio is planning to launch several variations later this year.

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New Zealand’s first electric bus

New Zealand’s first electric bus – Source: AUT

New Zealand’s first battery-powered electric bus hit the road in Auckland last week.

“This bus, which was assembled in New Zealand, shows how electric vehicle technology is now moving into the heavy vehicle space,” says Liz Yeaman, EECA’s Transport Development Manager.

The 35 seater bus is part of Auckland University of Technology’s (AUT) fleet, servicing the university’s North-City Campus and South-City Campus bus routes. 

The electric bus not only provides sustainable transport for hundreds of students every day, it will operate as a research tool providing critical data to understand the economics and performance of electric buses on New Zealand roads.

Through the government’s Low Emission Vehicles Contestable Fund which promotes  innovation and ideas in low emission vehicles, EECA is supporting this venture to create awareness and influence change in the sector.

The $738,500 funding from Tranzit Group and the Government’s Low Emissions Vehicle Contestable Fund covered the cost of the development and build, charging infrastructure, and the upskilling of Kiwi engineers.

Kiwi Bus Builders in Tauranga constructed the body of the bus, with electric engines and chassis built by Times Electric Group in China.

Applications for the current round of contestable funding are open until 11 April.

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